1 Thessalonians 5:18 – Give thanks in everything, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (HCSB)
1 Chronicles 16:34 – Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever. (HCSB)
I was having coffee with my friends and listening to them tell about their plans for Thanksgiving. The thought came to me that when most people think of Thanksgiving, they think of weeks of preparation that concludes with a day of the family gathering to eat too much. Thanksgiving should be more than a day of eating; it should be a life of giving thanks with true gratitude. So many times “giving thanks” is a term used to describe a rote prayer said before meals, words recited quickly without meaning. My father prayed before every meal – to this day I have no clue as to what he said! True thanksgiving is true gratitude, and gratitude is actually good for us! Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy of Duke University, is quoted as saying “If [thankfulness] were a drug, it would be the world’s best-selling product with a health maintenance indication for every major organ system.” I read that researchers at Baylor University found that gratitude leads directly to feelings of satisfaction and wellbeing. I take that to mean that I need to wake up every morning being thankful, not that my life is perfect by earthly standards, not that I own more than enough possessions, not that I have all that I think I need but because I have decided to live out 1 Thessalonians 5:18. Focusing on what I don’t have leads to self-pity, resentment, and bitterness. Focusing on the blessings in my life leads to contentment, joy, and gratitude. I think of the Pilgrims and their hardships, yet they chose to give thanks. I heard someone say that we should not focus on the glass being half empty or half full; we should be thankful that we have a glass at all. Practicing gratitude doesn’t cost me anything but can make such a difference in my life. John F. Kennedy said, “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.” Father, I just want to stop and say “thank You.” I pray that I will live out the gratitude I have to You and to others. Lord, I sincerely give thanks for all that I have and especially for the love You show to me every day.
Mark 8:15-17, 21: Then He commanded them: “Watch out! Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.” They were discussing among themselves that they did not have any bread. Aware of this, He said to them, “Why are you discussing that you do not have any bread? Don’t you understand or comprehend? Is your heart hardened?
And He said to them, “Don’t you understand yet?” (HCSB)
I was having coffee with a friend and talking about his daughter who was recently the flower girl in a wedding. They had heard so many stories about the flower girl refusing to walk down the aisle that everyone in the family had made a big deal about her walking down the aisle and throwing the flower petals. Every conversation included walking down the aisle and throwing the flower petals. At the rehearsal, the wedding director sent the little girl into the church sanctuary with instructions to walk to the front and not to forget to throw the flower petals. When she stepped through the door, she planted her foot, did her wind up, and threw a handful of flower petals! Her dad is thinking of checking out a future for her in the major leagues! Her parents thought they were very clear in what they were saying. She thought she was very clear in what she was hearing. They were using the same words but they definitely were not meaning the same thing. I have always told my grandchildren they only have one rule to remember when they are with me: “no getting hurt on my watch” One time my granddaughter looked at me and quite seriously, and with a hint of panic, said “I don’t know what to do. You aren’t even wearing a watch!” I thought I was very clear with what I was saying. She thought she was quite clear with what she was hearing. We were using the same words, but we not meaning the same thing. Church people do that so often. We say, “Let’s go witness”, and others are thinking “But I don’t want to go to court”. We say, “That person needs to be saved”, and others are thinking “But I’m not an EMT”. We say, “Are you lost?” and others are thinking, “No. I have GPS”. We know exactly what we are saying. They know exactly what they are hearing. Lord, sometimes it is just like when You talked about the yeast of the Pharisees in Mark 8 and the disciples thought you wanted them to buy bread. We are all using the same words, but we are not meaning the same thing. I know I do that with You. I know there are times You must look at me the same way You must have looked at the disciples and said “You STILL don’t understand?” Lord, I want you to be able to use me just like You were able to use the disciples. They misunderstood the words sometimes. They didn’t ask the questions they should have asked because they were too busy asking about things that didn’t matter. Lord, thank You for loving me and having patience with me. I pray that even though I sometimes don’t get the words right, my heart will always be right.