"Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. "
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
I’m truly pleased that you are reading this book. Many times we begin reading a book and never finish it. That is why I put this section first. If you walk away with nothing else, it is my hope that you recognize the urgency to be thankful for what you have. There are kings that are miserable and homeless that possess peace. In fact, there are homeless people that I’ve met who are happier than people living in my neighborhood. Being happy with what you have and content with where you are is half the battle. Having nice things is not a sin. However, placing that which is in the world above those things which God has designed for us which can neither be seen nor touched will never yield contentment. God has designed these things specifically for each of us at the dawn of time. We can not put God in a box leaving the creation of our own life as our only recognized instance of divine intervention.
My last words for my children will include being thankful for what God has given them. Born of such gratitude is purest joy.
The hard cold truth is life is not designed for us to be happy all the time. If we learn to be satisfied and thankful for what we have, we may not always be happy. However, it is possible to always find peace. Even through the worse of times, God grants us peace if we acknowledge His presence and are thankful for the things we do have, even that which He has given us in the past. Knowing in your mind and heart that God’s hand is working in your life gives hope as well as a reason for life’s adversity.
If God never bestows upon you another blessing, what He has already granted you is sufficient for His reign to be prevalent in your life. He gave us life. He granted life to those we love.
Being thankful for what you have or once had does not change. It is not dependant on what happens today or tomorrow. Becoming sour for what God does not give you from your list of wants is an abomination to Him. An essential part of Christianity is being first thankful for all or what little God has given you, acting out of appreciation, for all the blessings that He has given. It becomes our social responsibility to do good works for others, showing love for one another all from the well spring of God’s infinite love for us. Being thankful to God and Glorifying Him brings great joy to God. In turn, He will transform your life to be the best it can be here on this Earth and in Heaven throughout eternity. Eternity is a long, long time. The here and now will be gone with the passing of the wind.
I became a new father 16 years ago. Like most, I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I made it up as I went and still make it up as I go. However, I look toward Jesus for guidance. Doing my best to understand and adhere to His example, I can reasonably conclude that I’m doing OK so far. I am an ordinary guy who desires to live a Godly life.
While in grade school my daughter, Caroline, had been the student anchor person for the school morning news. Being on the school television every morning, she became very popular amongst the other students and teachers. My wife, Coleen, is a kindergarten teacher at the same school our children attended.
It used to crack me right up how the little kindergarten rascals would ask for my Caroline’s autograph. In their little world she was a big deal. Caroline played the part with grace and flair. Caroline left grade school a star.
She went on to middle school. While in the drama club there, my Caroline was given critical parts in the school plays. Once again her popularity grew amongst student and faculty. Caroline was very happy and proud of her success. We all were. I felt it crucial to emphasize to her that talent was a blessing from God. I stressed that she needed to thank God for what she was given.
Caroline left middle school and continued her drama career in high school. She had her first audition for a role in the high school play. I asked her how she did. She said, "Not so good." I told her to pray about it and maybe God would help her. She did not get the part. Did God abandon her? It may have appeared as such. However, I knew from my life even when it seems God is looking the other way, He has a reason for everything that happened. He is in control.
When the right moment presented itself, I sat down with my Caroline and asked her if she was still thankful for all the fame and glory God granted her in the past. Since she has been my daughter of 14 years, she new dad was going somewhere with this. Way early in her life I did my best to teach her the importance of thankfulness. I prepared her for times like these. I continue to teach her as God continues to teach me.
During our father to daughter talk I followed up previous conversation by confirming that our thankfulness to God for what we once had is just as important as our thankfulness for what we have now. To do other wise would be the same as returning a gift that someone had given you from their heart. We know not to do that to others. Yet people seem to think it’s OK to do that to God all the time. Often time His gifts are miracles. How soon we forget that while He is holding the planets in space, He takes the time to tend to us individually on our level and where we are.
Too often we accuse God of looking the other way when we call upon Him for intervention in regard to our specific needs. Though this appears to be the case, it never is. Like love, thankfulness does not have a time. It is either there or it isn’t. We can’t love someone at one point and then cease to love them. True love is timeless. It endures forever. Otherwise, it was never love. Love is an absolute. It can not be partial, almost, or halfway. Like God Himself, love does not change. It is always there. We merely need to find it.
This is the same for thankfulness, as well as hope. If you were thankful yesterday but not thankful today, you may have been proud of what you feel you accomplished on your own. However, you did not recognize the gift you received as God’s blessing, being thankful to Him. Hence, you were never truly thankful. You were merely pleased with yourself.
I hope my children have learned true thankfulness. I hope all the days of there life are filled with the joy of knowing that God pulled off another miracle for them. He does this on a daily bases. I pray that you gain a new or reinforced attitude of gratitude for all God has blessed you with, regardless of how little or great.
Discussing this issue with Caroline, I believe that I have done my job so far. I had established a common ground for us to come to for understanding, guidance, and peace. She still wasn’t very happy about the whole drama thing at that point. But, she had the peace that comes with reflecting on her past blessings. She knows who they came from and has no reason to believe that there isn’t more in store for her. She knows that her multifaceted-multitalented-daddy-man-truck-8000-pro-ultra-II (that would be me) was giving her the right scoop, explaining the real deal. She loves me and I know it. She hugged me for helping her. I was in turned blessed. God works in wonderful ways. He gives us a way to make something magnificent out of what seems to be bad. Pause this minute to engage in prayer of gratitude to the Lord.
Incidentally, the next auditions did come. She did get a part that she loved. I told her, “See, I was praying for you.” She said to me, “I was praying too, dad.” I just love that little girl!
"And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."
Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for God has said, “I will never leave you or abandon you.”, And so we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper. I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?
"But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
It is a tragedy and an insult to God when we look forward to having something we think is better before fully appreciating what we already have. Surely this is the essence of greed. Not learning to appreciate gives way to greed. Greed is from the evil one. However, thankfulness replaces greed. The greedy always want something better. What is better? Does it always have to be something new? Does it always have to be more? What’s wrong with the old one? What’s wrong with the amount you have.
Then he said to them, “Be careful to guard yourselves against every kind of greed, for a person’s life doesn’t consist of the amount of possessions he has."
Top executives often receive huge bonuses while others, that same year; in the same company have been laid off. It is a sin to be obsessed with the accumulation of wealth over charity for others. Who’s to say that those laid off but appreciative of their blessings are not of character demonstrating more success than those guilty of their financial obsession?
Then Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it will be for those who have wealth to get into the kingdom of God!” The disciples were startled by these words. But Jesus said to them again, “Children, how hard it is for those who trust in their wealth to get into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to get into the kingdom of God.” They were utterly amazed and said to one another, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them intently and said, “For humans it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.”
It’s not a sin to make a lot of money. However, money is not ours. Nothing is ours for that matter. All money, everyone’s money since the beginning of commerce belongs to God. He grants us the privilege to be stewards over His wealth and guardians over His children for a seemingly cruel, short span of time. We are to manage His assets, not hoard them as our own. All blessings that God grants us are to be used for His glory. Not being a generous steward of great wealth that God trust us with is a sin against humanity. Surely, that which is gained by sharing a blessing yields far more joy and satisfaction than hording that which is not ours to begin with.
We live in a society where most of us have never starved. If we are cold, we turn on heat. We are dry, and sleep on the same quality beds as kings. We work to buy toys. Yet we strive to have more, sacrificing interpersonal relations, too busy for charity or noble pursuit in regard to our fellow man. We continue on paths of discontent, toward goals seen no further than the next hour or item on our list. Less than one hundred years ago, we had visions of a better life beyond our neighbor’s yard. We lived with nothing in comparison. One Hundred years ago men worked to eat. We chopped wood to stay warm, swam to stay cool. Finding soft straw on which to lay ones head was a blessing. We have forgotten how to be thankful for that which we have.
Being thankful is an essential part of receiving a gift. Acknowledging what we have received as being from God pleases Him. It gives Him joy. Giving God joy is the purpose for which we were created.
God desires that we be part of His plan. However, He doesn’t need us. His plan will come to fruition with or without us. Being thankful is a choice. By making that choice we are acknowledging God’s omnipotence. God blesses us even while we do not acknowledge Him. Otherwise, we would all be dead. When we are pleased with that which God has blessed us with and desire to please Him in return, we are telling Him that we want to be part of His plan. We want to be on His team. We are on the same page. When God writes the next chapter in time, He will make sure that we get a part in His play. All that God does is part of His divine plan. The blessings we receive become necessary components to the completion of that plan.
When god blesses us we need to acknowledge Him. It is His way of fellowshipping with us. God is constantly knocking at the door of our hearts. If we are still, we can here His knocking. I’ve learned the hard way the value of sitting silently while He speaks. He wants us to open our hearts to Him. The game will go on without us, even if we choose not to be a part of it. It’s behooves us to be on His team. His team wins in the end.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”