God led me to a book called “Lord, Change My Attitude Before It Is Too Late” by James MacDonald (if you can get past your attitude and read the book, it is great!). Much of this blog came from that book. You will not read a blog from me very often because the computer and I have agreed to hate each other … in fact the Lord had to change my computer attitude as I wrote this, because I was screaming at the machine for not doing what I wanted it to do! I am grateful for the computer. I think back to the years of ministry trying to use a Kodak slide projector and I praise God for helping us obtain a MUCH better system. I also praise God for a husband that knows how to run it so that I don’t have to!!!!
The word gratitude is defined in the dictionary as “to show that a kindness received is valued.” Genuine gratitude requires that we get past obligation (saying thanks when we don’t really mean it) and somehow show that we deeply appreciate what we’ve received. There’s a test that will help you analyze whether your thankfulness is genuine or obligatory. Think back to the last time you were in church. What was going through your mind as you parked and sat down? Truthfully, what was at the center of your heart? Did any of these thoughts enter your mind?
What am I going to get today?
Am I going to be encouraged?
Will I like the pastor’s message? Will he keep my attention, and make me smile?
I wonder who’s singing today. Oh, I hope it’s not ______ again; he is just awful!
Will I be glad I came?
If that kind of thinking was present as you “prepared” for worship, it reveals a self-centered, thankless theology that promotes complaining and stifles gratitude. The truth is, if we never received another thing from God for the rest of our lives, we could still fill each day with genuine gratitude:
Thank you, God for this new day.
Thank you, God for life that I can use to serve You.
Thank you, God for health
Thank you, Lord for my family
But somehow we make the choice to turn from all we have received and focus on what we still want to have -that’s where complaining comes in. We minimize the blessings of life and magnify every negative circumstance we encounter. The people’s complaints in Numbers 11 were heard by God but his anger was also kindled. The Israelites paid a price for complaining. Complaining is an attitude of choice and will rob you of joy. Thankfulness is an attitude that perfectly replaces my sinful tendency to complain and it will release joy plus blessing into my life. This Thanksgiving make a list of God blessings. If you find yourself just saying “thanks” because of obligation or if you find yourself complaining … look back at your list of things to be thankful for!
From the Johnson house to yours – have a God Blessed Thanksgiving!