As we approach the month of November, we tend to focus on Thanksgiving. Obviously, this includes the turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, and dessert.
However, thanksgiving is much more. For the month of November (including today!), we are going to focus on thankfulness.
How do we cultivate a heart of thanksgiving? We are commanded to be thankful! Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church, “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18, NASB). It is God’s will for us to be thankful. We must cultivate a heart of thankfulness. That is, we want to develop a spirit of consistent thankfulness. We want to develop a habit of thanksgiving.
The psalms, which address the whole gamut of human emotion and experience, helps us cultivate such a heart. Psalm 100 offers us a wonderful starting point:
Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. 2 Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing. 3 Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
4 Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. 5 For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations.
We are commanded to worship the LORD through thanksgiving. The psalmist offers us a wonderful starting point: For the LORD is good. We praise God, and therefore continually cultivate thankfulness for the goodness of God!
We can come up with a whole book of the goodness of God in our lives. While we do not all enjoy equally good health, we enjoy various aspects at the hands of our good God. For example, anyone who has ever smelled a flower has reason to praise God for His goodness. Another example is taste. Tasting the sweetness of Key Lime pie is a reason to thank God for His goodness. While these, and many more physically-based reasons for thanksgiving could be provided, when we shift our focus from this life to life eternal we move into a new depth of praise.
The psalmist mentions this, “His lovingkindness is everlasting.” That is, God’s covenantal mercy is forever. God’s love for His people is boundless. Is this not a reason to offer our thanks to God? He sent His Son to die for our sins.
The words of the London Baptist Confession of Faith are wonderful,
“It pleased God, in His eternal purpose, to choose and ordain the Lord Jesus, his only begotten Son, according to the covenant made between them both, to be the mediator between God and man; the prophet, priest, and king; head and saviour of the church, the heir of all things, and judge of the world; unto whom he did from all eternity give a people to be his seed and to be by him in time redeemed, called, justified, sanctified, and glorified.”
This paragraph (saturated with Scriptural proofs) offers us an infinite amount of praiseworthy focus! Let us spend eternity, beginning right now, praising God for His goodness in our salvation!
I want to end our time with three suggestions for cultivating a heart of thankfulness.
Focus on God, regardless of your experiences
Remember your salvation in Christ (see the paragraph from the London Confession)
Find something to thank God for in each circumstance
As we engage in these steps, we will cultivate a heart of thankfulness, obey our Triune God, and bring Him glory with our lives.