Sometimes I am Not Thankful (Grateful)

Sometimes I am Not Thankful

 

I am bothered by a response that you now hear when you say “thank you” to someone

Instead of “You’re welcome” we now mostly hear “No problem!”

As I checked out with two turkeys yesterday I wanted to scream – “Of course it’s no problem. I am a gentle person, I am not angry, what I have caused you to become involved in is part of your job for which you are paid and is not really that taxing on your abilities….”

But, the real issue is how seldom you even hear people say “thank you”

As I was thinking about this all week – mostly because we were approaching Thanksgiving – God said that this was true even in my relationship with Him

That I am not expressing thanks to Him for who He is and all that He does for me

When I do something for someone I always appreciate it when they thank me for my time, my work, my concern…

It is always nice when you feel “appreciated” for who you are and what you have done

The other day I went a little above and beyond what would normally be expected of a person

And the people involved thanked me for taking the time to be there for them and for caring and sharing

It feels good when I know I’m appreciated — not just for what I do but for who I am

Well, it is the same for God

Why do human beings like to be thanked and appreciated?

Because God likes to be thanked and appreciated – And, we were created in His image

He appreciates people expressing heartfelt gratitude and thankfulness for who He is and what He is doing in their lives

Summary of the point:

People like to be thanked and praised because that is how we are made / created

God made us in His image.

He wants to be thanked and praised and He made us to desire to be praised and thanked (appreciated) if only to send us a hint that He wants the same, too. 

A realization leading to a decision:

I think I am fairly good at thanking people and expressing appreciation for who they are and what they just did

Of course, everything can stand a little improvement

But, as all of this slowly dawned on me regarding my relationship with God – touching my heart and head – I realized that, at times, I tend to be a moaner and groaner / complainer – grumbler

I tend to be ungrateful and unappreciative in my relationship with the Lord

I decided that developing the habit of “thankfulness” toward God needs to be part of my daily life

Something that flows from the heart regularly and quite naturally (without forcing it)

So, every morning when I wake up I now spend 5 to 10 minutes being thankful for who God is and who I am because of Him

And that every evening before falling asleep I take 5 to 10 minutes to thank Him for everything – everything – that has taken place in the last 24 hours

It did not take long to run across some verses to reinforce that decision…

1 Chronicles 17:16 “Then King David went in and sat before the LORD and said, “Who am I, O LORD God, and what is my house, that you have brought me thus far?”

Psalm 68:19 “Blessed be the Lord, who daily bears us up; God is our salvation.”

Romans 11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!”

“Who could ever wrap their minds around the riches of God, the depth of his wisdom, and the marvel of his perfect knowledge? Who could ever explain the wonder of his decisions or search out the mysterious way he carries out his plans?” (TPT)

Ephesians 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places…”

But the verse that really hit home – and hit hard – is Philippians 4:6

“…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

“Don’t be pulled in different directions or worried about a thing. Be saturated in prayer throughout each day, offering your faith-filled requests before God with overflowing gratitude. Tell him every detail of your life.” (TPT)

“In everything…”

In the good, the bad, and the ugly – Give thanks

Express your heartfelt thanks and gratitude to God

Remembering that even the “bad and the ugly” help you to develop character and are part of you becoming mature and wise and more like Jesus

Tests and trials help to develop our character and allow God opportunity to show Himself strong on our behalf

One retired pastor wrote: “Trials have made me who I am”

“In everything…”

So we thank Him for what He has done and is doing in our lives even though He knows we are thankful deep inside

He needs to hear us express our thanksgiving — our gratitude

It is the same when we are praying about some needs in our life – He already knows what you have need of even before you ask

But He wants you to ask – to express what you believe your needs to be

God loves gratitude

God hates ingratitude

But, as I have been discovering, gratitude must be learned

That is why we teach children to say “thank you” as it simply is not natural 

Martin Luther (1483-1546):

“See that you do not forget what you were before, lest you take for granted the grace and mercy you received from God and forget to express your gratitude each day.”

Let’s look at a familiar Bible story where Jesus heals ten lepers … an amazing display of God’s grace and mercy …

Luke 17:11-19 “On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” And he said to him, ‘Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.’”

Let’s just bring out some points that relate to our being thankful and expressing our gratitude for what God has done and is doing

1> There is a right approach to God that we would do well to take to heart

“Jesus, Master, have mercy (pity) on us.” 

Mercy is, of course, the opposite to grace

Grace is receiving what you do not deserve – like salvation

Mercy is not receiving what you do deserve – like punishment and hell

And so the lepers come to Jesus and say, “have mercy on us”

Hebrews 4:16 states, “Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

So, the first thing we focus on – ask for – when approaching the throne of grace and the presence of our heavenly Father is “mercy”

The approach for the lepers and for us is to seek for and ask for mercy

Question: When was the last time you prayed for mercy?

But more than that, it should be the first thing we pray for when approaching God

It should be the humble attitude in which we come to prayer

Because we don’t deserve … actually deserve the opposite – so mercy needed

This can be difficult when we live with an “entitlement mentality” as most do today

2> They cried out

When a person – like the lepers – is really desperate they “cry out” in prayer

It means more than to pray loudly … which the majority of believers don’t do

We tend to be very quiet when praying … like being quiet is more holy

To ‘cry out’ means to engage in prayer with your whole being

To be seriously engaged body, soul, and spirit

To be active and in gear

To pray expectantly

To pray anticipating

To pray as if it all depended on God

To lean in to God with your whole heart

To not be passive 

To not be casual about prayer

We need to ‘cry out’ which also includes praying in a loud voice

I witness this overseas when attending prayer meetings

Why a loud voice? After all, God is not deaf!

Well, He responds to us when, in our desperation, we pray

And desperate people tend to pray more loudly 

God isn’t deaf — very true. BUT, He’s not nervous either!

3> They did not make a demand

They did not demand that Jesus heal them

They asked for mercy

Again, somewhat difficult in this time when people feel entitled

That they have the right to be healed because they are believers

Matthew 8:1-2 “When he came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And behold, a leper came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.”

“Lord, if you will, you can make me clean” is a plea for mercy (I don’t deserve it but…) and not a demand

You plead for mercy when you feel utterly helpless

You plead for mercy when you have no bargaining power

You plead for mercy when you are desperate

4> Our gratitude – our remembering to be thankful – is in direct proportion to our sense of feeling unworthily blessed – receiving and sensing His grace and mercy

Jesus could have ignored the ten lepers – but, He didn’t

God’s sovereign blessing  — being there for us when we don’t deserve it — should give us a keen sense of gratitude

Our gratitude, then, is going to be in proportion to our sense of awe that God did what He did so graciously — but didn’t have to

So, a feeling of “Why me?”

And a feeling of, “Wow, God!”

Paul, the apostle understood this… 

As he shares his testimony he states, “…though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy …” 1 Timothy 1:13a 

5> Our praise and thanksgiving are determined by our understanding of mercy

He cried out for mercy with a ‘loud voice’

He came back and praised God with a ‘loud voice’

He fell on his face in worship and deep gratitude

Luke 17:15-16 “Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.”

I mean, he was SO SO thankful

Are we?

Often I feel like I am one of the nine who did not return to give thanks

I cried out believing that I deserve His help or healing

That it is my right as a believer to be healed / helped / delivered

Maybe I just forget to thank him – take it all for granted

And then I noted that the one who returned to give thanks was a Samaritan

One who was an outcast and not part of the covenant that the Jews had with God where He had promised healing to them

Then I am more embarrassed by my lack of gratitude and thanksgiving…. As a member of the New Covenant

Living like an unsaved sinner who often is more thankful for what God has done than I am as a disciple and follower

6> God notices gratitude – and ingratitude

Jesus asks the Samaritan leper now healed … “were there not ten?” (Luke 17:18)

Jesus noticed that the other nine did not return to give thanks…

God knows when I take God and His many daily blessings for granted

And when I have often not expressed my gratitude and thankfulness when I should have

7> Your mood – the space you are in – is not the issue

Showing gratitude when we are happy is easier to do than when we are sad or down

However, even when happy showing gratitude can still be an inconvenience and a bit of a sacrifice

God likes it when we thank Him in a happy mood

But, He likes it even more when we keep saying “thank you” even when we are in a down state of mind and not feeling thankful

Then it is a “sacrifice of praise” (Hebrews 13:15) because we are praising Him and thanking Him in adverse circumstances and trying times

One of the lessons from the Book of Job is to be thankful and filled with praise even when deep in pain, feeling unnoticed, unloved and alone…

8> It is simply our duty to praise and thank Him

Luke 17:7-10 … the parable or story before the healing of the ten lepers

“Will any one of you who has a servant plowing or keeping sheep say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come at once and recline at table’? Will he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, and dress properly, and serve me while I eat and drink, and afterward you will eat and drink’? Does he thank the servant because he did what was commanded? So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”

The servants worked all day and then came home and prepared the master’s supper, dressed properly, and served the master.

And the master does not thank them because this was what was expected of those who serve

“We have only done what was our duty”

So, in the next passage about the ten lepers, we notice that Jesus did not commend the leper for coming back and thanking Him for mercy received

Jesus, in reply to the Samaritan leper, said ”Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?” (Luke 17:17)

The one leper was “only doing his duty” in coming back and praising Jesus 

So no extra “well done” as only doing what the master requires

When we remember to praise Him and express our gratitude and thankfulness – we are only doing what is expected of us as believers

Gratitude and being thankful is a duty and a privilege not to be rewarded

So, in my walk with Jesus I am working to be much more thankful regarding who God is and what He has and is doing – and to express my gratitude at least in the early morning and in the evening

And, hopefully as this becomes a way of life I will be frequently thankful even during my every day activities

I would like heart-felt gratitude to be an underlying foundation of all that I do in life.