Thankful heart? Who has the time? It’s November and Thanksgiving is fast approaching. I don’t know about you, but I get so caught up in cleaning, shopping, preparing food, and decorating for Christmas, I forget to have a thankful heart.
Today we’ll read about five biblical people who had a thankful heart and look at some practical ways to develop the same kind of thankfulness in our lives. Not just on Thanksgiving, but all year.
HEZEKIAH’S THANKFUL HEART: HE FOCUSED ON GOD’S WORD
“In all that he did in the service of the Temple of God and in his efforts to follow God’s laws and commands. Hezekiah sought his God wholeheartedly. As a result, he was very successful” (2 Chronicles 31:21 NLT).
Hezekiah became king during a time when the people were not following God’s laws and commands. Accordingly, this man revived God’s Word in the kingdom by consecrating the priests and the Temple. So there was:
“…thanks and praise to the LORD at the gates of the Temple” (2 Chronicles 31: 2b).
Additionally, Hezekiah brought back the celebration of Passover as well as other God mandated festivals, got rid of idols throughout the land, and instituted the tithe once again.
Therefore, the people turned to God with a thankful heart and there was a revival in the land.
How to reflect on God’s Word in thankfulness.
Choose one word a month to focus on from a biblical perspective. Write an acrostic around this word and put it where everyone can see – perhaps on the refrigerator. Moreover, choose a Scripture that defines or uses the word of the month and memorize the verse.
An example using the word Jesus:
Sacrificed for me
United brothers and sisters in Christ
Saved me from my sin.
Here are twelve words with verses you can use next year: Awesome (Daniel 9:4), Blessed (Romans 10:12), Cares (1 Peter 5:7), Comforts (Psalm 86:17), Compassion (Psalm 145:8), Forgives (1 John 1:9), Holy (Psalm 30:4), Just (Psalm 7:17), Love (Ephesians 5: 1-2), Patient (2 Peter 3:9), Saves (Psalm 25:5), and Truth (John 14:6).
PAUL’S THANKFUL HEART: HE SHOWED APPRECIATION FOR OTHERS
“Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God” (Philippians 1:3).
In his letter to the Romans, Paul wrote how grateful he was for Phoebe, who helped many. He also expressed his appreciation for Priscilla and Aquila. Not only did this couple welcome believers to meet in their home but they also risked their lives for Paul.
Most of Paul’s letters began by thanking God for the recipients of his epistles. He was often specific about his gratitude. He appreciated their endurance, faithfulness, friendship, generosity, as well as other attributes.
A way to show appreciation for others.
Make one day a month “card” day. Send out thinking of you cards with a personal note to one or more people each month during 2020. Let them know they are special and why you appreciate them. Oh, and by the way, send it snail mail.
HANNAH’S THANKFUL HEART: THANK GOD WITHOUT ASKING FOR ANYTHING
Now most of us know Hannah because of her prayer of supplication. She desperately wanted a child and promised to dedicate him to the Lord. God granted her request and she kept her promise as documented in 1 Samuel 1: 24-27. Immediately after leaving the child at the Tabernacle in Shiloh, Hannah rejoiced and lifted her voice in praise and thanksgiving to God.
Now I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t have been in a praise and thanksgiving mode after giving up my child. However, her thankful heart was rewarded with five more children!
How to have a thankful heart like Hannah.
This next year make every Thursday (or one Thursday a month) thankful heart Thursdays. Don’t petition God for needs or wants on these designated days. Instead, focus on all you are grateful for and the many blessings of God.
ANNA’S THANKFUL HEART: PRAISING GOD FOR THE MESSIAH AND SALVATION
Anna lost her husband at a young age and was left childless. Was she bitter and angry at God? No. This woman lived in the Temple worshiping, fasting, and praying. So, of course, she was present when Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the Temple for the dedication and purification offering.
When Anna saw Jesus, she was obviously given special insight from the Holy Spirit, for she knew He was the Messiah. Her immediate reaction was to praise God and tell everyone this wonderful news.
Focus our thankful hearts on salvation.
I think we take our salvation for granted. We are cavalier regarding the greatest gift ever given that continues on through eternity.
To help us develop a more thankful heart and be more aware of the great sacrifice, meditate on salvation Scriptures each month in 2020. Some suggestions are listed below. Use a commentary to understand these verses better.
Psalm 27:1, Isaiah 51:6, Luke 2:29-32, John 10:28, Acts 4:12, Romans 10:9, 2 Corinthians 7:10, Ephesians 2: 8-9, Philippians 2:12, 2 Timonty 3:15, Hebrews 2: 3 and 1 Peter 2: 2-3.
MARY’S THANKFUL HEART: SHE WAS THANKFUL IN DIFFICULT TIMES
Mary is pregnant and not married. At best her pregnancy was a source of gossip and condemnation. At worst stoning was not out of the question for this sin.
Surely, bewildered and scared she visited a favorite relative, Elizabeth, for comfort. Elizabeth was also expecting a baby under some exceptional circumstances. At Mary’s greeting, the child in Elizabeth’s womb jumped with joy; hence Elizabeth told Mary she was blessed.
Mary’s response was not one of pride. Despite the shock and difficulties ahead, she praised God for the honor bestowed upon her.
This visit was surely a blessing from God. I imagine Elizabeth, an older woman who was further along in her pregnancy, probably helped Mary to understand what to expect and shared many life lessons during this confusing time in Mary’s life.
You can read this story in Luke 1: 36-55.
How to be thankful in difficult times.
We all know there are difficulties ahead. Rarely, if ever, do we go through a year without some sadness, confusion, or troublesome times.
This year hang 12 papers (one for each month) on a closet door or any other convenient place in your home. Before going to bed, each member of the family writes something they are thankful for or a blessing they received that day.
When problems arise, it is easy to forget our blessings and to focus on the negative. However, these lists remind us of the goodness of God and help us to remain thankful during the difficult times.
You might want to start this project in November. Review these blessings at the next Thanksgiving dinner. I think we will be amazed at how blessed we are by God.
This post is our Christian Workout for November. For those of you who don’t know about our workouts click here to learn more and find links to our previous workout blogs.
As with all our workout blogs we have a service project. Since each of the five ways to a thankful heart lists an idea for serving God and others try to do at least one of these in 2020.
At this Thanksgiving dinner, I plan to read Psalm 100 or 136 – maybe both! Psalm 100 is short and uplifting, however, I love 136 for it praises God by telling Israel’s history. It is so important for young people to understand the beginning and end of God’s great redemption of mankind.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES AND COMMENTS
Click here for an interesting article about the origins and traditions of Thanksgiving. It’s not long and I’m sure, like me, you will learn something about this holiday you didn’t know.
Last month’s workout suggested you find a person you usually ignore and be helpful in some way. It was suggested to include them in an activity, meet a material need, or provide a service for this person. If you participated in this service project, please share it with our readers by commenting below.
If anyone has other suggestions on how to be thankful year-round, please share those in the comment section too.
Blessings until next time.