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Eight Steps to Thankfulness, Part 1 (Thankfulness #5)

Close up of pinecone with tag that has the word "THANKFUL" tied with a string.

There are eight steps we can take that will lead us to a thankful attitude. The following are the first four steps.

1. Determine to Give Thanks in All Things

Thank God for the simple things.

Thank Him for clean water. For your sense of touch, sight, hearing, smell, taste. For legs that walk and arms that move. For hands to feed yourself. For the beautiful and awe-inspiring creation He has given you to enjoy. For the roof over your head. For food in the pantry. Even for dirty dishes, which symbolize the fact food has filled your stomach.

Thank Him for the sorrowful things.

Ephesians was written by the apostle Paul from prison. Unfairly accused of starting a riot, he was in prison encouraging believers (in word and in example) to “give thanks to God always for everything” (v. 20).

How is it possible to give thanks for all things? Because God rules over all things.

Thank Him for seemingly insufficient things.

Perhaps you feel you have insufficient health, or talents, or opportunities, or close friends, or material possessions. What seems insufficient to you might seem superabundant to someone else.

For example, you may feel you don’t enough money. Did you know that:

  • 925 million people do not have enough to eat—more than the combined populations of USA, Canada and the European Union.
  • Nearly half the world’s population, 2.8 billion people, survive on less than $2 a day
  • About 20 percent of the world’s population, 1.2 billion people, live on less than $1 a day

What you may spend during two or three trips to Starbucks is all that someone else has to live on for an entire week.

“Want a more grateful attitude? Determine to give thanks in all things. Thank God for the simple things, sorrowful things, and seemingly insufficient things, as well as the superb things.”
(Click to Tweet)

Thank Him for the superb things.

This goes without saying. Thank God for the obvious blessings—the job promotion, the excellent grades in school, the sale of your home at the desired time, the health improvement, the word of encouragement at the precise time it was desperately needed.

2. Give God Praise

Acts 16 gives the account of when Paul and Silas were beaten and thrown into prison. They could have complained and been angry and ungrateful. But instead, they praised God.

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them, and suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. And immediately all the doors were opened, and everyone’s bonds were unfastened” (Acts 16:25-26).

God inhabits the praises of His people (Psalm 22:3)! If Paul and Silas had moaned and groaned singing, “Gloom, despair, and agony on me,” dwelling on all the things that had gone wrong in their lives, do you think anything revolutionary would have happened?

Yet that’s exactly what we do! We moan, complain, dwell on the negative, get mad at God … and expect to feel His presence. God doesn’t inhabit the complaints of His people; He inhabits their praise. (Click to Tweet)

Praise is a Sacrifice

We no longer bring God sacrifices of blood for atonement. Instead, we’re to bring him a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving from our lips (Click to Tweet):

“By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name” (Hebrews 13:15). (Click to Tweet)

The Amplified Bible says:

“Through Him, therefore, let us constantly and at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name.”

At all times, we’re to thankfully acknowledge and confess and praise and glorify God!

One way to do this is to open the Bible to a Psalm that praises God and read it aloud. If you feel ungrateful and resentful, it will be miserable at first. But discipline yourself to do it. There is spiritual power in the words that we speak (Prov. 18:20-21). As your ears hear your mouth praising the character and glory of God, your flesh begins to come under the authority of the Spirit. The ungrateful, doubtful feelings and opinions of your natural man are overruled!

Another way to offer a sacrifice of praise is to play worship music. You may not have time to stop what you’re doing, but if you’re able (not at work), play worship music in the background. When you’re in your car, preparing a meal in the kitchen, getting ready for work in the morning, brushing your teeth at night. Find a time at some point in the day to turn off the news, the entertainment, the talk shows, and fill the air with worship to the One who is worthy of your praise!

3. Pray

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done” (Philippians 4:6 NLT).

With thanksgiving make your requests known to God. In your discontentment, do not neglect to come to God in prayer. It’s okay to voice your needs and desires…and even your frustrations, but do so with thanksgiving.

A Two-Way Conversation

It’s important to remember, however, that prayer, especially as it pertains to thankfulness and joy, is not going to God in order to give Him a list of our needs. (He knows what we need before we even ask, Matthew 6:8 says.) Going to God simply to give him a shopping list and spend the whole time talking is a one-way conversation. Prayer is a two-way conversation in which we wait on God and hear what He has to say to us—and what He wants to pray through us.

Changed By His Presence

Prayer involves going into God’s presence and shutting ourselves in with Him with one obsession: to gaze intently on Him and commune with Him in such devotion and abandon that we’re changed.

We’re changed because we’ve been with Jesus! As we’ve gazed upon Him, we’ve been transformed (2 Cor. 3:18). We’ve come to reflect His character. Who we are on the inside—our ungrateful, glass-half-empty, temporal-bound-perspective—has changed.

“What can change our ungrateful, glass-half-empty, temporal-bound
perspective? Beholding Christ!”
(Click to Tweet)

Suddenly, in His presence, it’s not even about what we do or don’t have on this earth…because the things of this earth have faded away. It’s become just Him and us. And in His presence, there is fullness of joy (Psalm 16:11)! Where there’s joy, there’s gratitude!

Better is One Day in His Courts

Better is one day in His courts than a thousand elsewhere—better than having everything on your wishlist for life! (Click to Tweet)

If you can’t be thankful with Christ and Christ alone, all the ‘things’ and possessions of this world will never satisfy or produce any more gratitude in you than you have today. (Click to Tweet)

The apostle Paul said everything was loss to him compared to the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus (Phil. 3:7-8). You can have all the things this world has to offer and still be joyless and dissatisfied apart from Christ. He is your real life (Col. 3:3). In Him is true joy, contentment, and perspective.

It’s through prayer and scripture that you get in touch with your real Life—the source of your attitude of gratitude.

4. Maintain a “good things” journal.

I’ve used two excellent journal apps. (One Day and Momento.) For my good things journal, I use 1000 Gifts. I love using an app for this because I can scroll back through and see photos and notes about each of my “good things.”

Whether you use an app or a pen and paper, find a place to consistently record your blessings. Keep your list in one place, a notebook or an app, where you can glance back through multiple items—rather than on a piece of paper here and another piece there. Keep it all in one location.

When your life is sorrowful and you find it hard to be grateful, peruse your journal. You’ll quickly realize what a wonderful life God has given you. It will give you new perspective, strength, hope, and joy.

Questions: Which of these steps do you think might be the easiest for you to implement? Which might be the hardest?

More Tweetables

  • Want a more grateful attitude? Determine to give thanks in all things. Thank God for the simple things, sorrowful things, & seemingly insufficient things, as well as the superb things. > Tweet
  • God doesn’t inhabit the complaints of His people; He inhabits the praises of His people. > Tweet
  • Instead of sacrifices of blood, we’re to bring God a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving from our lips. > Tweet
  • “…let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually…the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” ~ Heb.13:15 > Tweet
  • What can change our ungrateful, glass-half-empty, temporal-bound perspective? Beholding Christ! > Tweet
  • Better is one day in His courts than a thousand elsewhere—better than having everything on your wishlist for life! > Tweet
  • If you can’t be thankful with Christ and Christ alone, all the things and possessions of this world will never satisfy. > Tweet

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