Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. Last Sunday, my pastor said we should practice thanksliving instead of thanksgiving. That really struck a chord in my heart, especially having just returned from our men’s retreat. I have so much to be thankful for, and yet many times you wouldn’t know it by my attitude. The old saying, “Your attitude determines your altitude,” is never truer than today.
For me to live thanksliving, it must become a deliberate act in my life. I have to purpose in my heart to be humbly grateful instead of grumbly hateful, as my pastor is wont to say. I must start my day as the psalmist wrote:
“Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.” (Psalm 100:4)
When we think of God’s gates and courts, particularly in the Old Testament, no doubt the Temple comes to mind. However, those of us who are born-again the Bible tells us that our bodies are temples, indwelled by the Holy Spirit. So, would not the verse above apply to our lives always?
Of course, coming to church with such a grateful attitude would be a great way to start off the new week (the week begins on Sunday, not Monday. Go check your calendars!). Nevertheless, I want to increase my heart of thankfulness to more than just one day a week.
Do you ever feel as though your prayers aren’t even reaching the ceiling, much less heaven? What type of prayers are you offering up to God? Are they always requests or demands? When was the last time you offered up a prayer of thanksgiving? When you tithe, do you do so joyfully or grudgingly, wondering how you’re going to make it after dropping the check in the collection plate? We must always approach God with a grateful heart:
“Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High.” (Psalm 50:14)
Does Psalm 100:4 remind you of a praise song that we sing in church? He Has Made Me Glad (I Will Enter His Gates) is a well-known and often sung praise hymn that I would have thought was written in the late 19th to early 20th Century. It was written in 1976 by Leona von Brethorst. Now with a name like that, it would be easy to think of this woman as someone of a higher station in life and significant theological training.
However, she was a single mom who grew up poor in Tennessee in the Great Depression. Writing at his blog Song Scoops, David Cain relates the story of Leona’s life, how her husband left her because of her Christian faith and her struggle with depression after her children were grown up and had left home. Cain writes:
“It was at that point that her heart turned to Psalm 100. Something about Israel’s experience as worshippers dedicating the Temple, about their thanksgiving, got her attention. She didn’t know how to play an instrument, and admits she couldn’t even read music – none of which mattered. What mattered was that she wanted to be filled like the Israelites’ Temple, accomplished through a thankful spirit, a message that Psalm 100 spoke to her.”
She wanted to be filled like the Israelites’ temple…
Do you want? A life of thanksliving must be our greatest desire. I understand that we have plenty of reasons to feel as though life has let us down. Leona von Brethorst certainly did, and yet she turned to Scripture, Psalm 100 to be specific, and found reason to write one of the most popular praise songs in Christendom. Psalm 100 even ends with three good reasons to live a life of thanksliving:
“For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.” (Psalm 100:5)
Think about our Lord Jesus Christ and who He is. He is good. His mercy never ends. His truth will always be truth. We are facing a lot of unknowns in this generation and yet we know our good and merciful God and His truth is always with us.
Tomorrow I’m going to be very grateful for that. In fact, I think I’ll begin thanksliving on Thanksgiving. I pray you’ll join me.
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Copyright © 2017 David Jeffers