Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
As the holiday season quickly approaches us, most people use this as a time to express their gratitude to others. There a tremendous uplift for everyone when sincere gratitude is expressed. We as Christians should be leading the way in this practice not only during the holidays, but every day! One of the great signs of salvation and growth in the Lord is gratitude towards Him that is apparent to all. This of course does not mean we never face times of depression, discouragement or sadness, but rather through it all, we express a thankfulness to our God for His forgiveness and daily grace to help us live for Him. If we come to a time in our life where we have no gratitude towards our Savior, we are in a very bad place indeed. For the purposes of this blog, let us look at how we can grow in gratitude. It may seem too simple, but the answer is simply to begin thanking Him in faith. If Jesus is our Lord and Savior, and we have the Holy Spirit in us, we need to step out in faith and just tell Him that no matter how we feel, we choose to thank Him in our prayers and in our relationships of life. Something just happens in our favor when we move in faith and obey our Lord as the scripture commands us to in Philippians 4:4-7. The Spirit of God in us works mightily through our obedience and faith to change our outlook in life and grow our level of gratitude. We have to be willing to deny the demands of our feelings toward self-pity and discontent to instead trust in the promises of God and the desires of His Spirit. This is a discipline and practice of life that every Christian needs to work on daily. In 1 Peter 5:8, the Bible tells us that the devil is like a roaring lion seeking who he may devour. The devil is a liar and often uses our emotions against us to trick us into thinking God has abandoned us or does not love us despite the promises of scripture. If we will remind him of what God has declared just as Jesus did when tempted in the wilderness, and stand firm in our faith as Christ did, he must flee! The great thing about praying in faith with thankfulness is that it has a way of changing our whole approach to life and bringing with it peace that guards our heart and mind. We also need to give witness of God’s grace to others, so telling others about how grateful we are for God and His grace in our life not only helps us, but is used of the Lord to reach others for His kingdom. We are to pray in thankfulness to God, and speak in thankfulness before others, to grow in thankfulness in our soul. If we practice this, we grow, the Lord is honored, and others get the witness of our relationship to God. It is a win, win, win! Why not begin even now with a prayer of gratitude to the Lord for all He has done for you, and then look for an opportunity to tell someone else the same thing?! This is how we grow in gratitude.
Pastor Gary Houdek