Being Thankful

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.~ Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV)

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. ~ Colossians 3:15 (NIV)

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. ~ Colossians 4:2 (NIV)

Just because Richard and I were separated the things God asked me to do were not negated, because He knows what is good for us to get us through our hard times. It’s important for us to get our perspectives off ourselves and onto God first and foremost. Then to look to serve others in the ways God asks us to. Yes, even when depressed, despairing, etc.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. ~ 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 (NIV)

I learned that part of the cure for my depressed and pity was to “look to the good of others.” (1 Cor. 10:24 – Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.) It helped to put my problems in perspective.

What did I do to keep myself from focusing on my own problems? I still co-led a Bible study – even in my brokenness; helped with our community marriage initiative; reached out to the girls at work – ministering to them in their pain.

Some other ideas for you to do are to have a friend over to your house for lunch and encourage them, write a card to someone, call and leave an encouraging message on voice mail, or put together a love-basket for someone (You can do them very cheaply or completely homemade! Split the cost with a friend to bless another friend.), work at a soup kitchen, and if you have email availability – write quick notes with scriptures attached.

How did I get to the point where I could even THINK about serving someone else? Filling in my “thankful book”. Even before our separation, I was miserable and self-focused on all my problems and misery. I was reading in 1 Thessalonians one day and ran across this familiar scripture:

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)

I asked the Lord how I could become more thankful because I sure didn’t feel there was anything to be thankful for! I asked Him to help me to give thanks in ALL my circumstances. That was a huge obstacle at the time. God showed me this verse in answer to my question:     

He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God. ~ Psalm 50:23 (NIV)

Thanking God sometimes is a pure sacrifice from our hearts. When we don’t feel like it, we still take those thank offerings to Him and lay them on His altar. Just as the scripture says, with our sacrifice, we prepare our own way for God to bring salvation to us. Our salvation can be a myriad of things – not just salvation in Christ. Salvation in financial provision. Salvation in car repairs. Salvation in our kids having what they need. The kids and I never lacked for anything we NEEDED when we went though that hard time. We didn’t always have what we wanted, but we ALWAYS had what we needed.

What do you need God’s salvation in today? You can prepare the way for Him to “save” you by sacrificing thank offerings to Him.

Today, I continue to write thankful journals. They help me to be a grateful person and to keep my eyes on God who gives me everything to be thankful for!

I wrote a devotional a few years ago for someone else’s website sharing my experiences with my “thankful book”. Some of the things in it below were definitely sacrificial offerings (like my marriage and my husband).

He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God. ~ Psalm 50:23 (NIV)

Several years ago I struggled with an attitude of ungratefulness. I asked the Lord to help me overcome it. What He showed me to do turned my heart around. Each day I was to write down something I was thankful for. And not just on any piece of paper or in any journal. I was to buy a beautiful small spiral notebook to write in so that I would have a remembrance of the goodness of God. A kind of Ebenezer stone[1] I could re-read for years that would remind me of God’s love and provision.

I have learned that there is always something to be thankful for. Not just the big things that are obvious, but all of the little things that God blesses me with day-in and day-out. Some days I would write a long list of things to be thankful for; some days it was just one thing.

My first entry was Tuesday, December 18, 2001, and included the following: God’s Word, the ability to pray, my marriage and husband, clean carpets, and Christmas time.

More that same month it was: Christmas Eve services, families, snow on Christmas morning, hugs from my kids, cleaned out closets, fine crystal glasses, candlelight, microwave ovens, white light on grapevine trees, cold medicines for kids, full moons, cattle that load onto trucks easily, worship music, forgiveness, God’s power to break strongholds, trips to Russia, and dogs.

The repetition of intentionally reflecting on my day and remembering the things to be thankful for has changed my whole attitude about life in general. I find myself looking for blessings instead of dwelling on the negative each day. It also keeps me focused on the truth that God is the source of all blessings.

How would it help you to write down each day what you are thankful for? Try it for 10 days and see if it doesn’t help change your heart and your attitude towards God and others.

Prayer Lord, I am grateful that you have taught me to be more thankful each day. Please continue to open my eyes to the wonderful blessings you give. Thank you, today, for sunny skies, wind in the trees, cell phones to be able to talk to my family while they work in the fields, cards from friends, seeing new puppies on my walk this morning, and sweet time with you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

[1]1 Samuel 7:12 (NIV): Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far has the Lord helped us.”
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