Being ‘Thankful’

29 November 22

The Pilgrims originated the Thanksgiving Day feast because they were thankful for the provisions of food. I submit that there is ‘something’ WAY MORE IMPORTANT than that to be THANKFUL FOR!

INTRODUCTION
In the U.S., an important part of Thanksgiving Day is families coming together with their loved ones and sharing a very special meal.

It is a day that the food is the ‘centerpiece’, and many families prepare large, elaborate dinners with ingredients associated with the fall harvest. Roast turkey is the ‘traditional’ meat served, so it is common that some people call Thanksgiving Day “Turkey Day.” The turkey is usually served with gravy and stuffing. The ‘sides’ include green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, corn on the cob, Brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, and rolls. Pies are usually served for dessert, and the most commonly served are sweet potato, apple, pecan, and pumpkin. [ I add a LOT of Egg Nog! ].

[ VIDEO: “My Ideal Thanksgiving Dinner” ]

Other than the food, Thanksgiving has a few other ‘traditions’ associated with it. Being together and spending time with loved ones or friends is probably the most important. Many people express what they are thankful for before dinner, as a way of showing their gratitude for what they have.

Some go to (or watch) a Thanksgiving parade or run in a “Turkey Trot” (usually in the morning). Others put up Christmas lights on their house, and some put up their Christmas tree. After dinner, many can be seen in front of the ‘TV’ watching some (American) football, or they go to the movie theater. It is also a ‘season’ that people donate ‘things’ (and money on “Giving Tuesday”), and some volunteer their time to help out those in need.


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The following is a collection of ‘snippets’ from the post that aims to give you the overall ‘jest’ of this post.
[ 10-15 Minute Read ].


THE ‘FIRST’ THANKSGIVING
Americans think that the first Thanksgiving had to do with happy Pilgrims wearing hats with big buckles and feasting on huge, fat turkeys. However, the facts are actually more fascinating than that fiction.

Take Plymouth Rock, for instance. Most accept that the big boulder marked “1620” and sitting just feet away from the water is where the Pilgrims first landed in the area. The thing is, the Pilgrims themselves never mentioned stepping off their boat onto a rock.

Well, as for verifiable facts, one thing is for sure that these Pilgrims started building their first American settlement in the harsh winter of 1620-1621 in Plymouth, where they lost half their population—and there were only 51 of 102 people left at the end of that season. At one point, their daily food ration was down to five kernels of corn apiece. However, an unexpected trading vessel arrived and swapped grain for their beaver pelts, providing for their severe need. They finally developed enough food to make it through the next winter, and the next summer’s crop brought hope.

[ Note: View a poem written about “Five Kernels of Corn” in the Articles Section below ].

For the very first feast that they had the Governor, William Bradford, sent four men out “fowling” and in just a few hours, the four men were able to take enough wildfowl to feed the “company” for a week.

Another sure fact is that these grateful Pilgrims didn’t dine alone since they knew they would not have survived without the Indians, who showed them what could grow in this radically different soil that was so unkind to the English seeds they had brought with them.

They felt that King Massasoit—the chief of the Wampanoag Indians—was so instrumental in their survival that they invited him and his immediate family to this celebration. However, Massasoit misunderstood the invitation a bit and brought 90 of his men.

Now, that many people could have wiped out all the Pilgrims’ supplies, but the chief and his braves brought plenty of food with them—venison, turkey, fish, and vegetables. Together they had enough food for a three-day celebration where they honored one another and became better friends.
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HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
In 1607, after breaking from the Church of England, the Separatists (Puritans) settled in the Netherlands, first in Amsterdam and later in the town of Leiden, where they remained for the next decade under the relatively lenient Dutch laws. Due to economic difficulties, as well as fears that they would lose their English language and heritage, they began to make plans to settle in the New World (America). Their intended destination was a region near the Hudson River, which at the time was thought to be part of the already-established colony of Virginia.

In 1620, the would-be settlers joined a London stock company that would finance their trip aboard the Mayflower. A smaller vessel, the Speedwell, had initially accompanied the Mayflower and carried some of the travelers, but it proved unseaworthy and was forced to return to port by September.

Rough seas and storms prevented the Mayflower from reaching their initial destination in Virginia, and after a voyage of 65 days the ship reached the shores of Cape Cod, anchoring on the site of Provincetown Harbor in mid-November.

While still on board the ship, a group of 41 men signed the “Mayflower Compact,” in which they agreed to join together in a “civil body politic.” This document would become the foundation of the new colony’s government. Signed on November 11, 1620, the Mayflower Compact was the first document to establish self-government in the New World.

Upon landing in America, the Pilgrims conducted a prayer service, then quickly turned to building shelters. Starvation and sickness during the ensuing New England winter killed almost half their population, but through prayer and hard work, with the assistance of their Indian friends, the Pilgrims reaped a rich harvest in the summer of 1621. (Most of what we know about the Pilgrim Thanksgiving of 1621 comes from original accounts of the young colony’s leaders, Governor William Bradford and Master Edward Winslow.)

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After the early 1630s, some prominent members of the original group, including Brewster, Winslow and Standish, left the colony to found their own communities. The cost of fighting King Philip’s War further damaged the colony’s struggling economy. Less than a decade after the war King James II appointed a colonial governor to rule over New England, and in 1692, Plymouth was absorbed into the larger entity of Massachusetts.

[ “The Pilgrims” documentary trailer ]

Fast-forward a bit to the mid-17th century, the custom of autumnal Thanksgivings was established throughout New England. Observance of “Thanksgiving Festivals” began to spread southward during the American Revolution, as the newly established Congress officially recognized the need to celebrate this day.

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Over the next 75 years, Presidents followed Lincoln’s precedent, annually declaring a national Thanksgiving Day. In 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving Day up one week earlier than had been the tradition, to appease merchants who wanted more time to feed the growing pre-Christmas consumer frenzy. Folding to congressional pressure two years later, Roosevelt signed a resolution returning Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday of November, as Congress, in 1941, permanently set the fourth Thursday of each November as our national day of Thanksgiving.

GRATITUDE
Ever since the Pilgrims’ first thanksgiving, it has been focused on the concept of ‘gratitude’. So then, what specifically is gratitude?

Well, in general, gratitude is a positive emotion that involves being thankful and appreciative and is associated with several mental and physical health benefits. When you experience gratitude, you feel grateful for something or someone in your life and respond with feelings of kindness, warmth, and other forms of generosity.

The word gratitude can have a number of different meanings depending on how others use it and in what context. Researchers Lúzie Fofonka Cunha, Lucia Campos Pellanda, and Caroline Tozzi Reppold give a more ‘detailed’ definition:

“In general terms, gratitude stems from the recognition that something good happened to you, accompanied by an appraisal that someone, whether another individual or an impersonal source, such as nature or a divine entity, was responsible for it.”

So, simply, gratitude is when we acknowledge another person who intentionally, altruistically, and at some cost gives us something of personal value.
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‘OBSTACLES’ TO GRATITUDE
Dr. Emmons said that, “So this is the paradox of gratitude: while the evidence is clear that cultivating gratitude, in our lives and in our attitude to life, makes us happier and healthier people more attuned to the flow of blessings in our lives, it is still difficult. Practicing gratitude is easier said than done.”

Oakes-Mueller then identified one of the main challenges in this regard as anxiety. “For some people, it is really a fear of intimacy. Gratitude involves me saying, ‘I’m dependent on you,’ and that can be really scary. And if it isn’t responded to in a compassionate way, it can leave you with a negative feeling. So, a lot of people don’t do it because of the risk involved.”
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‘SIGNS’ OF GRATITUDE
So, what does gratitude look like? How do you know if you are experiencing a sense of gratitude? Well, expressing your appreciation and thanks for what you have can happen in a number of different ways. For example, it might entail:
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‘MEASURING’ GRATITUDE
You can ‘evaluate’ your tendency to experience gratitude by asking yourself the following questions:
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‘TYPES’ OF GRATITUDE
Studies have categorized gratitude in three different ways: A trait; a mood; or an emotion. (FYI: Mood and emotion are considered “states.”)

As an affective trait—meaning that it is related to a person’s general disposition—some people naturally experience gratitude more frequently than others. However, research has not demonstrated a clear connection to any of the “Big Five” personality traits such as conscientiousness, agreeableness, and extroversion.

[ FYI: For more details on the “Big Five” or “O.C.E.A.N.” personality model, view this previous “Life’s Deep Thoughts” post:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/developing-ones-character-v283/ ].

As a mood—which means it may fluctuate over time—people might experience periods where they feel more grateful in general, and at other times they may experience this less often.

As an emotion—which is a briefer feeling that people experience in the moment—people might have a particular experience that inspires feelings of gratitude.

‘PRACTICING’ GRATITUDE
Developing a sense of gratitude isn’t complex or challenging. It doesn’t require any special tools or training, and the more you practice it, the better you will become and put yourself into a grateful state of mind. Here is how to do this:

– Observe the Moment
– Write it Down
– Create Gratitude ‘Rituals’
– Give Thanks
– Recognize and Appreciate

Expressing your appreciation for others is an important component that can affect your interpersonal relationships and can help improve the quality and satisfaction of your relationships.
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THE ‘IMPACT’ OF GRATITUDE
The practice of gratitude can have a significant positive impact on both physical and psychological health. Some of the benefits of gratitude that researchers have uncovered include:

– Better Sleep
– Better Immunity
– Higher Self-esteem
– Decreased Stress
– Lower Blood Pressure
– Less Anxiety And Depression
– Stronger Relationships
– Higher Levels Of Optimism

Research also suggests that people who tend to be more grateful are also more likely to engage in other health-promoting behaviors, including exercising, following their doctor’s recommendations, and sticking to a healthier lifestyle.
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‘CULTIVATING’ GRATITUDE
Many different exercises and interventions have been shown to help people cultivate a stronger sense of gratitude in their day-to-day life. To develop your gratitude, you might want to:

– Keep A Gratitude Journal
– Reframe Experiences
– Focus On Your Senses
– Practice Counting You Blessings
– Use Reminders To Practice Gratitude
– Discussions With Others
– Send “Thank You” Notes
– Meditation and “Mental Subtraction”

So, cultivating gratitude starts with noticing the ‘goodness’ in life. A materialistic culture that encourages constant wanting and sees possessions as the source of happiness—like the U.S.—is not the most fertile ground for gratitude. However, it is not an insurmountable barrier to developing it. Envy and especially cynicism and narcissism are similarly ‘thieves’ of gratitude. (In fact, the cultivation of gratitude may be at least a partial remedy for narcissism.)
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‘STAGES’ OF GRATITUDE
According to Dr. Robert Emmons, the feeling of gratitude involves two ‘stages’: affirmation of goodness, and figuring out where that goodness comes from.

“First comes the acknowledgment of goodness in one’s life. In a state of gratitude, we say yes to life. We affirm that all in all, life is good, and has elements that make it worth living, and rich in texture. The acknowledgment that we have received something gratifies us, both by its presence and by the effort the giver put into choosing it.

Second, gratitude is recognizing that some of the sources of this goodness lie outside the self. One can be grateful to other people, to animals, and to the world, but not to oneself. At this stage, we recognize the goodness in our lives and who to thank for it, i.e., who made sacrifices so that we could be happy?
The two stages of gratitude comprise the recognition of the goodness in our lives, and then how this goodness came to us externally lies. By this process, we recognize the luck of everything that makes our lives—and ourselves—better.”

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WHY GRATITUDE ‘WORKS’
Gratitude is a ‘selfless’ act. Its ‘acts’ are done unconditionally, to show to people that they are appreciated. “A gift that is freely given” is one way to understand what these acts are like.

For example, if someone is sad and you write them a note of appreciation, you are likely not asking for something in return for this person. Instead, you are reminding them of their value, and expressing gratitude for their existence (and you are not waiting for a “return note” from this person). However, even when we do not expect a return, sometimes they happen—gratitude can be contagious, in a good way and the person will respond ‘in kind’.
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TRAIT OR STATE?
Gratitude is generally regarded as either a trait (dispositional) or state (of being).

As a trait, an individual practices gratitude as part of their daily life and it would be considered a character strength, to possess gratitude. As a trait, gratitude can be developed with practice and awareness.

When a person experiences the rich emotion from someone expressing gratitude for them, it is referred to as a state. Gratitude is both of these: a trait and a state.
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‘EFFECTS’ OF GRATITUDE
A study by Dr. Rollin McCraty and his colleagues (in 1998) showed that there was a mean 23% reduction in the stress hormone cortisol after the intervention period. During the use of the techniques, 80% of the participants exhibited an increased coherence in heart rate variability patterns, indicating reduced stress.

In other words, these findings suggest that people with an “attitude of gratitude” experience lower levels of stress.

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Gratitude can be observed at a greater ‘social’ level. The recipient of gratitude may not reciprocate directly back, but in turn, they may lend a favor to a third party, effectively expanding a network of good (the concept of “paying it forward”). Sometimes, the recipient may give back to the initiator as well.

[ FYI: For more details on ‘paying it forward’, view this previous “Life’s Deep Thoughts” post:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/mar-02-v37/ ].
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‘APPLYING’ TO ONE’S LIFE
This very evening, before you go to sleep, think of the positive things that happened during the day. Then try taking a moment to do this every night. (Consider a gratitude journal as well.)

For those struggling with depression or anxiety, this can also frame the beginning of a day: Before getting out of bed, consider three things—however small—that you are grateful for. Even on a really hard day, make yourself do this, (even if your internal ‘voice’ is one of sarcasm).

[ For more on this topic, view the videos by Dr. Robert Emmons on “The Power of Gratitude” and “Cultivating Gratitude” in the “Articles” section below. ]

Probably one of the more well-known ‘applications’ of how gratitude can be ‘applied’ to one’s life—and totally change it—is the “A Christmas Carol” story. Essentially, it is about Ebenezer Scrooge being ‘transformed’ from an ungrateful person to a grateful one. Charles Dickens was right that gratitude can be learned, although most of us would choose not to be visited by ghosts all night long to learn what was needed.

[ VIDEO: “Scrooge: A Christmas Carol” ]

PASSING THE ‘TEST’
Dr. Robert Emmons perhaps sums it up best when he states that “Gratitude’s intrinsic function is to affirm the good in life, embrace that good, and then transform the good in purposeful actions to accomplish something that is at once meaningful to the self and of consequence to the world beyond the self.”

Affirming and embracing the good in life seems to be the simple and natural outcome of living gratefully, and the true test of gratitude then seems to come in its last function: transforming the good into ‘action’.

“Thinking about gratitude is good, but it is even better if it causes you to go out and act because of it,” Kelsey Richardson confirmed. “The effects are greater when you are doing something about it.”

‘BENEFITS’ OF GRATITUDE
Thanksgiving Day is when many people take time to think about what they are thankful for—which tends to be the ‘focus’ for that day and, sadly, sometimes forgotten the next day. However, there are actually SUBSTANTIAL ‘BENEFITS’ to being a grateful person. Evidence suggests that people who consciously “count their blessings” tend to be happier and less depressed. Regularly practicing and expressing gratitude has many benefits, both short- and long-term.
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‘PERSONAL’ BENEFITS
– Gratitude Makes You ‘Optimistic’ and Giving
A 2014 research conducted on a sample of students has shown that keeping a gratitude journal on a regular basis can increase optimism between five and fifteen percent. People who write just a few sentences each week focusing on gratitude felt more optimistic.

The experiment they conducted showed that promoting gratitude as a moral virtue made the participants more likely to share, even if it came at their own expense, and even if the receiver wasn’t somebody they knew.

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While not conclusive, this finding suggests that practicing gratitude may help train the brain to be more sensitive to the experience of gratitude down the line, and this could contribute to improved mental health over time.

[ For more details on the ‘science’ of gratitude, view the “Greater Good Science Center” website and their “Expanding Gratitude” project:
https://ggsc.berkeley.edu/what_we_do/major_initiatives/expanding_gratitude ].
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‘EMOTIONAL’ BENEFITS
– Happiness and ‘Resilience’ Increase
Leading researchers on gratitude discovered that keeping a gratitude journal and spending only five minutes on it per day can make you at least 10% happier in the long run. When we are grateful for things, it is a natural occurrence to be happier about life. You realize the things you have rather than the things you don’t.

Furthermore, practicing gratitude can help reduce negative emotions, such as envy, and promote positive emotions, such as joy, serenity, interest, and hope. Practicing gratitude also enhances our self-esteem, consequently leading to higher life satisfaction and greater resilience.

President Emeritus of the Foundation for Economic Education, Lawrence W. Reed said that, “Research shows, that gratitude is an indispensable key to happiness—the more of it you can muster, the happier you will be—and that happiness adds up to nine years to life expectancy.”
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‘SOCIAL’ BENEFITS
– Gratitude Improves Our ‘Relationships’
Friendships tend to grow stronger when we express gratitude to our friends. The act of expressing gratitude makes problems more easily resolvable and mutual perception between friends becomes more positive.

Through gratitude, we increase our capacity for forgiveness, become more likely to help others, and develop compassion for others. Gratitude can make team members feel more satisfied and fulfilled, possibly reducing the likelihood of burnout.
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‘CAREER-RELATED’ BENEFITS
– Gratitude Improves Work ‘Performance’
Gratitude tends to improve our patience and decision-making processes by shifting our focus from short-term gratifications to long-term goals. This is particularly important when it comes to work and office culture, as following short-term goals leads to confusion and chaos.
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‘HEALTH’ BENEFITS
– Gratitude Improves ‘Mental Health’
As expressing gratitude reduces stress and promotes positive emotions, it changes our brain’s and body’s chemistry. This protects our vital organ systems, especially those that are stress-sensitive, such as the cardiovascular system.
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THANKSGIVING DAY, ‘SPIRITUALLY’ SPEAKING
Originally, the holiday of Thanksgiving was ‘born’ in and further nurtured during times of great adversity and struggle for the Pilgrims. So, then what was the ‘source’ of such resilience and gratitude? The answer, I believe, lies in the their ‘theology’.

We have referred to the passengers of the Mayflower as “Pilgrims” for so long that the term has lost all its significance to us today. Literally, the word “pilgrim” refers to a person on a journey, often to a place of particular ‘religious’ significance.

When the Pilgrims thought of themselves as “pilgrims,” they meant that they were temporary ‘travelers’ in a world that was not their home. (This is clear from the context in which Governor William Bradford used the term in his famous book of the history of the colony, “Of Plymouth Plantation.”)

In the world as the Pilgrims knew it, material comforts were scarce, daily existence was arduous, starvation was possible, and death was always near. They would probably echo the Apostle Paul’s sentiment: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” [ 1 Corinthians 15:19 ]. What a consolation to believe that, when their “earthly house” had returned to the dust, they would inherit “a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” [ 2 Corinthians 5:1 ]. William Bradford emphasized this when he said: “What a help, in time of heartache, to lift up their eyes to the heavens, their dearest country.” Bradford continued by calling the Plymouth settlers “pilgrims” when he wrote about their departure from Leiden, Holland to come to America: “They knew they were pilgrims, and looked not much on those things, but lifted up their eyes to the heavens, their dearest country; and quieted their spirits.”

We Americans might think that times of adversity and challenge would spawn ingratitude, while times of prosperity would spawn gratitude. However, sadly, the ‘REVERSE’ is true!

A scene from the animated television show “The Simpsons” demonstrates this. Bart Simpson was called upon to pray for a meal, to which he promptly prayed, “Dear God, We paid for all of this stuff ourselves, so thanks for nothing.”

Prosperity ‘breeds’ ingratitude. The writers of the Heidelberg Catechism knew this. Question 28 asks what it benefits us to know that God creates and sustains all things. The answer is it gives patience in adversity and gratitude in prosperity. Moses also knew this. In Deuteronomy, he looks ahead to times of material prosperity for Israel, then sternly warns, inspired by the Holy Spirit, not to forget God. “Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth’” [ Deuteronomy 8:17 ]. We did this all ourselves. Thanks for nothing. Sadly, human nature trends toward ingratitude.
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‘BIBLICAL’ VIEW OF GRATITUDE
The Bible has much to say about thankfulness. In fact, giving thanks to God is of such fundamental importance that the Bible mentions the failure to do so as part of the basis for God’s judgment against mankind (Romans 1:21). “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” [ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ]. Clearly, thankfulness should be ‘characteristic’ of believers.

The thing is, the Bible defines and differentiates gratitude and thankfulness. In Colossians 3:17, the word used for “thanks” in the Greek is “εὐχαριστοῦντες” (“eucharistountes”), literally translated “good grace,” and it means to acknowledge God’s good grace or be thankful.

This word was used by Jesus when He broke the bread to feed the 5,000 people on the hill (Mark 8:6). He also used it at the Last Supper: “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body’” [ Matthew 26:26 ].

So, what is translated as “giving thanks” in these instances means to acknowledge that God is the provider of something good. However, the Bible takes the meaning of the word “thank” one step further than the world’s definition of being “conscious of benefit received.” Biblical thanks means acknowledging the giver, not just the gift. It is ‘God-focused’, rather than self-focused.
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GIVING GOD THANKS
Thanksgiving Day is a uniquely American holiday, since it originally was a day set aside with the specific purpose of giving THANKS TO GOD, for all of His provisions.

In the Old Testament book of Psalms, we find “A Psalm of Thanksgiving” that begins, “Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture” [ Psalm 100:1-3 ].

This psalm originally was given to the people of Israel after they finally left Egypt and made their long trek through the wilderness—ultimately arriving in the Promised Land. God essentially said to them, “When you enter the Promised Land, settle down in your homes and have plenty to eat, and don’t forget about Me.”

Well, they ‘forgot’ God then and, sadly, this can happen very easily to us today as well. God was saying to the Israelites, “I want you to remember to give thanks to Me.” They needed constant reminders, as do we today.
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A ‘MODEL’ FOR THANKFULNESS
So, I started this post writing about the Thanksgiving holiday—which was just a few days ago—and I am sending this out on “Giving Tuesday.” (Definitely ‘focused’ on thankfulness).

In getting ready ‘spiritually’ for Thanksgiving, I realized that even with all the challenges and struggles from the past few years, there is still much to be grateful for. (Each Thanksgiving I try to think of a fresh way to think of being grateful and reaffirm why gratitude is even important in the first place.)

Sometimes it is the little things—that I am simply the ‘observer’ of—that mean so much: the joyful laughter of a small child, a couple planning their wedding, a baby deer scampering through my yard, a clear moonlight night on my lake, and the radiance of the morning sun on a cold, blistery day. (Just a very few ‘simple’ things that I observed in the past few days.)
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‘OVERFLOWING’ WITH GRATITUDE
As believers, their gratitude should overflow in response to the benefits they receive as ‘children’ of God. In fact, a thankful heart is a defining ‘CHARACTERISTIC’ of a godly person, since it is an outward ‘expression’ of His indwelling presence. A thankful person also acknowledges that God IS the ‘Source’ of every provision and blessing.

Even in the Old Testament, the Lord desired gratitude from His people. They didn’t have the Bible, so He used a sacrificial system of worship to teach them that He—the holy, sovereign God—was the Source of every good thing. They learned to express their gratitude by bringing Him offerings.

The believer’s thanksgiving begins as soon as they acknowledge that Jesus is their Savior and is alone ‘responsible’ for their salvation. From that moment, He begins to develop the qualities that produce grateful hearts. In Colossians 2:6-7, Paul teaches us that the believer should be thankful because:
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THANKS FOR ONE’S ‘SALVATION’
Any list of the blessings for believers must begin with their ‘SALVATION’. The grace of God freely provided them the privilege to become His ‘children’.

There are many benefits that accompany one’s salvation. Some include:

– The restored relationship with God
– The freedom from guilt regarding the past
– The indwelling Holy Spirit
– The ability to understand the Scriptures

However, the GREATEST ‘BLESSING’ of all is the one the believer has not yet received. Salvation offers them the CERTAIN ‘HOPE’ of ETERNAL LIFE with God in Heaven! This world is merely the ‘doorway’ to eternal life. (For the believer, the best is truly yet to come!)

Evangelist D. L. Moody put it this way:

“Some day you will read in the papers that D.L. Moody of East Northfield, is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now; I shall have gone up higher, that is all, out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal—a body that death cannot touch, that sin cannot taint; a body fashioned like unto His glorious body.”

So, of all of God’s wonderful ‘gifts’, the GREATEST one He has given is the gift of His Son, Jesus. On the Cross of Calvary, Jesus paid the believer’s sin debt, so a holy and just Judge could forgive their sins and give them eternal life as a free gift.

This ‘gift’ is only available to those who will ‘call’ on Jesus to save them from their sin in simple but sincere faith (John 3:16; Romans 3:19-26; Romans 6:23; Romans 10:13; Ephesians 2:8-10). This gift meets one’s greatest need, as the Apostle Paul says, “…because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” [ 2 Corinthians 9:14b-15 ].

In presenting the concept of salvation ‘in’ Jesus to the Colossians, the Apostle Paul presented five ‘facets’:

– He Qualified Us
– He Rescued Us
– He Transferred Us
– He Redeemed Us
– He Forgave Us

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I love the portrayal that John Bunyan used in his book, “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” when describing the sin of the protagonist Christian. He walked about in tattered clothes with a big burden on his back. It was always weighing him down. When he fell into the Slough of Despond, the burden of sin made it especially difficult for him to get out of his despair. But later, when he looked to the Cross of Christ, his burden fell from his back and rolled into the tomb, never to be seen again!

[ VIDEO: “The Pilgrim’s Progress” – Protagonist Christian loses his burden ]

All this to say that one’s response to these things ought to generate within the believer a stirring of JOYFUL THANKSGIVING for the GREAT ‘GRACE’ that God has shown them!

WAYS TO ‘IMPACT’ ONE’S LIFE
Salvation is what we are most grateful for in this life—and that is a great thing!

Jesus Himself taught that our greatest joy should be that our names are written in Heaven (Luke 10:20), or in the “Book of Life” (Revelation 21:27). So, it is well in order to feel IMMENSELY ‘GRATEFUL’ to God for our salvation and also allow that joyful attitude to ‘reflect’ in our daily living. (If you don’t value your salvation, you will underestimate the need to love other people with the same love God has loved you with.)

It is my belief that if the believer is constantly thankful to God for the free gift of salvation we received in Christ, it will positively impact the way they respond to God and the way they treat other people.

So, here are some ways of being grateful for your salvation will impact your life positively:
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PRAYER OF THANKS FOR ONE’S SALVATION
“Dear Father God, thank You for Your Son Jesus Christ our Savior and for the salvation that we have received through trusting in His death on the cross and His resurrection. My heart overflows with grateful thanks and praise for His amazing sacrifice for sin.

Thank You, that He was sent to pay the price for my sins and the sins of the whole world. Lord, I simply want to live in Him and be rooted in Him. I pray that I may grow in grace, mature in the faith and to find my strength in Him.

There is no greater blessing that You could have given to us than the precious life of Your only begotten Son, so that in Him we may be redeemed from death and hell and receive forgiveness of sins and everlasting life.

I pray that I may live my life in a manner that glorifies You. I just thank You, Father, for Your amazing gift of salvation, and pray that many who have not accepted Jesus as their Savior may do so before it is too late. This I ask in His dear name’s sake,

Amen.”

WRAP-UP
I think—as do MANY others—that Thanksgiving Day is the greatest feasting day of the year, hands down. It is all about cooking, eating, sharing, and enjoying, as well as reminiscing about family memories and recipes, and savoring some tastes we only get once a year.

The lifestyle website “Real Simple” offered up how to make your feast extra memorable by sprucing up a classic course or two with a new dish or technique that, they say, is destined to “become a staple at your annual Thanksgiving Day feast.”

The following is what they suggested to cook if you are looking to serve a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with a modern ‘twist’ (At this point, probably something to consider for next year—or maybe for Christmas!).

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Now, after all the great food, expressing thanks might be that ‘tradition’ you can add to your next Thanksgiving Day (if y’all don’t do it already). This holiday—from its inception—has been specially set aside for us not only to be mindful of our blessings, but also to express and ‘appreciate’ them!

Most of us find ourselves surrounded by creature comforts these days that those early Pilgrims could not have never imagined. So then, how could the Pilgrims offer thanks in such austere circumstances? Well, they were ‘GENUINELY’ GRATEFUL.

So then, what makes one grateful? Well, the ‘simple’ definition of gratitude is when one acknowledges another person who intentionally, altruistically, and at some cost to themselves, gives them something of value, and then they respond with feelings of kindness, warmth, and other forms of generosity.

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Another illustration might help here. There is a story in the Bible that I am going to call “The Thankful Leper.” It is about the ten lepers that came to Jesus for healing.

First off, to understand the ‘back story, the effects of leprosy itself were horrendous, and then secondly, they were an outcast from society.

So, the story goes that Jesus encountered a group of ten lepers and they knew better than to draw near to Him. They “stood far off” and cried out to Jesus: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” [ Luke 17:12-13 ]. So, He did! Without touching them, He ordered them to go and show themselves to the priest who would validate their healing and ritual cleanliness: “As they went, they were cleansed” [ Luke 17:14 ]. (This required some belief on their part before the healing would happen—just like some things in our lives require before they are ‘solved’).

So, all ten left to go see the priest. However, only one, upon realizing he had been cleansed of his disease, “returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His [Jesus] feet, giving Him thanks” [ Luke 17:15-16 ]. Ten were healed but only one said, “Thank You”—and that one “was a Samaritan” [ Luke 17:16 ]. (In those times, a ‘second-class’ citizen).

Jesus asked, “But where are the nine?” [ Luke 17:17 ]. The fact that we are told that the one who said, “Thank You,” was a Samaritan suggests that the others were Jews, their natural ‘enemies’.

[ ApologetiX: “Boulevard of Both Extremes” ]

So, did the nine take their healing for granted? Did they feel entitled and worthy to be blessed because they were members of the Israeli ‘Covenant’ community of God? Had they grown jaded, even cynical, about the relationship to God? Did they feel it was about time God ‘showed’ up in did something for them?

So then, why did this Samaritan return to say, “Thank You” to Jesus? Well, probably for the same reason that a blind man—at another time—was so overjoyed when Jesus heal him: “though I was blind, now I see” [ John 98:25 ].

[ For more details about ‘blindness’, view this previous “Life’s Deep Thoughts” post:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/are-you-blind-v252/ ]

The one man who was a ‘foreigner’ to the grace of God is the only one who was bowled over by God’s goodness to him.

Question: Would you say you are most like the nine or most like the one? Are you still grateful and appreciative to God and others for the gifts of grace and favor that you have received that you have said, “Thank You” to them?

Hopefully, you realize that I am ‘ENCOURAGING’ you to be that ‘ONE’ person out of ten who overflows with thanks and gratitude—and won’t leave without saying so!
[ more… ]

TOUGH ‘CIRCUMSTANCES’
Now, the Thanksgiving holiday is not always easy for people, even when, as a nation, the U.S. sets aside a holiday for the express purpose of doing so. During this holiday, many of us become keenly aware of life circumstances that don’t stir up feelings of thankfulness. Some may be facing their ‘lowliest’ days—with the crushing burden of a loved one having just passed away.

Still others enter the season greatly disappointed as a result of various failures—a broken relationship, a lost job, or many other ‘failures’. We sometimes find ourselves absolutely stuck, unable to pull ourselves out of despond, and feel as far from gratitude as the east is from the west.

When one is facing such situations and they read “give thanks in all circumstances,” they often wonder how they are supposed to respond. The thing is, the Bible never offers expectations without also offering aid.

The answer lies in God’s sanctifying work in the believer. The word “sanctify” means “to set apart for God.” When Jesus comes to rule and reign in a believer’s life, the Holy Spirit enters them in order to produce the ongoing cleansing necessary for spiritual growth. It is the work of God that enables them to be what he desires them to be. “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” [ Philippians 2:13 ]. When the believer of abides in Jesus—“rooted and built up in Him” (Colossians 2:7)—they are reminded of all that God has done for them, and all that He will do in and through them.

[ FYI: For more details on “sanctification,” view this previous “Life’s Deep Thoughts” post:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/developing-ones-character-v283/ ].
[ more… ]

‘BENEFITS’ OF GIVING GOD THANKS
The thing is, the Bible presents many examples of the great power of gratitude, and some benefits of giving God thanks:

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Developing a grateful heart brings incredible blessings. SO, why not START RIGHT NOW!

BENEFITS OF ‘PRACTICING’ GRATITUDE
God’s will for us is to be thankful, specifying “in all circumstances” just in case there was confusion. That means we are to have an attitude of gratitude when things are going well and when things are going bad.

Again, professor Dr. Robert Emmons says that, “Gratitude blocks toxic emotions such as envy, resentment, regret, and depression, which can destroy our happiness. it is impossible to feel envious and grateful at the same time.”

Here are a few ways to reap the benefits of practicing gratitude:

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Developing new patterns doesn’t happen overnight. Be patient. Be prayerful. Trust that God wants this for you even more than you want it for yourself.

So, it is easy to be grateful when circumstances turn out well, but thankfulness doesn’t have to be limited just to the good times. Not only is it possible to be thankful in difficulties, it is also beneficial. Thankful people cope better than those who grumble and complain. So, then, how does one develop an attitude of gratitude when life is tough? Well, the letters of “gratitude” give us some clues.

Give praise to God at all times
Remember what God has done
Always be thankful
Trust God completely
Intentionally choose your attitude
Think before you grumble and complain
Understand that attitudes are learned
Develop friendships with positive, encouraging people
Enjoy God’s blessings

Having an attitude of gratitude is not a denial of unpleasant circumstances, nor is it a response that only a few people can demonstrate. it is a matter of ‘choice’. We can choose to be grateful and reap the related benefits or we can choose to gripe and give way to negativity. In both the good and bad experiences of life, I want my choice to be a consistent attitude of gratitude. How about you?

So, if gratitude is so important, if it is the ‘heart’ of the Christian life, it begs the question: Are you grateful and, if so, for what?
[ more… ]

THANKFUL FOR ‘SALVATION’
It is great to be thankful for the bountiful array of foods at the Thanksgiving table for a wonderful family and reliable friends, for good neighbors, for a safe neighborhood to live in, for a good job, for the many ‘creature comforts’ afforded you (especially in America), BUT the MOST IMPORTANT ‘THING’ to be thankful for is that you have been ‘SAVED’ from the penalty of your sins by the atoning blood of Jesus, you have been ‘RECONCILED’ to God the Father, and you will have eternal life in Heaven after you depart this world!

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Any list of the blessings for believers must begin with their ‘SALVATION’. The grace of God freely provided them the privilege to become His ‘children’.

There are many benefits that accompany one’s salvation. Some include:

– The restored relationship with God
– The freedom from guilt regarding the past
– The indwelling Holy Spirit
– The ability to understand the Scriptures

However, the GREATEST ‘BLESSING’ of all is the one the believer has not yet received. SALVATION offers them the CERTAIN ‘HOPE’ of ETERNAL LIFE with God in Heaven! This world is merely the ‘doorway’ to eternal life. (For the believer, the best is truly yet to come!)
[ more… ]

BECOME ‘SAVED’
IF you cannot honestly say the above about yourself, please allow me to STRONGLY ‘ENCOURAGE’ you to consider the following: Plead to God for His mercy and grace to SAVE you—to REGENERATE your soul, and make you a NEW ‘CREATION’!

Jesus said, “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened” [ Luke 11:9-10 ]. So, one must be zealous and perseverant when asking for this AMAZING GIFT of being ‘saved’ from eternal Hell!

There happens to be a parable that Jesus told about just how one should ‘ask’:
[ more… ]

THE “ABC’s OF SALVATION”
This gives one a rough ‘roadmap’ on how to become “saved” and become a ‘child’ of God. It is just a ‘guide’ for one to have a personal ‘discussion’ with God about their sins and eternal destiny.

– ADMIT THAT YOU’RE A SINNER
– BELIEVE IN YOUR HEART THAT JESUS CHRIST DIED FOR YOUR SINS, WAS BURIED, AND THAT GOD RAISED JESUS FROM THE DEAD
– CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD

[ VIDEO: “The ABC’s of Salvation” – JD Farag ]

DO NOT put this off any longer! DO NOT delay the MOST IMPORTANT ‘DECISION’ of your life—for ETERNAL LIFE ‘hangs’ in the balance! Make TODAY ‘THE’ DAY of your SALVATION!!!

GIVE THANKS!
We, like the Pilgrims, have a choice. In life, there will always be those things that we can complain about (the Pilgrims had lost many loved ones), but there will also be much to be thankful for. As our society becomes increasingly secular, the actual “giving of thanks to God” during our annual Thanksgiving holiday is being overlooked, leaving only the feasting and watching football.

So then, let me ‘pray’ that God gives rest to your heart and mind, may He bless and keep you and your family, and may He continue to extend His blessings upon our great nation, guiding us, one and all, by His Word. May He also grant you patience and perseverance in the unexpected ‘tests’ to come, and may He impress upon you the ‘spirit’ of our Pilgrim forefathers—their soul-deep craving for freedom, expressed with courage and wisdom—as we all meet the particular challenges in the coming days.

For those who ‘know’ Jesus as their Savior, may God work out everything together for good, even the events that you would not necessarily consider good (Romans 8:28-30), and may He find you to be His GRATEFUL ‘CHILDREN’, since EVERY good gift comes from Him! (James 1:17).

Believers, count your blessings, not sheep! Thankfulness will help you see that God’s ‘hand’ is all over your circumstances, and that He ‘promises’ that, when you give Him thanks, He will give you a ‘supernatural’ peace:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”
[ Philippians 4:6-7 ].

SO, remember to…

…“Give thanks to the Lord with your whole heart, recounting all of His wonderful deeds.”
[ Psalm 9:1 ];

…“Always give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
[ Ephesians 5:20 ];

…“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!
[ Psalm 107:1 ];

…“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
[ 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ];

…“Thank God for the inexpressible gift of His Son, Jesus!
[ 2 Corinthians 9:15 ]

May God find EVERY BELIEVER grateful EVERY DAY for all of His gifts—spiritual and material—and especially for THE MOST IMPORTANT ‘GIFT’ of His Son, Jesus, which provided for the atonement of their sins, their reconciliation to God the Father, and the blessed hope of eternal life in Heaven!

[ VIDEO: “Give Thanks” – Don Moen (Lyrics in the “Songs” section below) ]

<<< END OF SUMMARY >>>


<<< ALL THE DETAILS >>>

The following is a comprehensive presentation of the topic that follows the ‘headings’ laid out in the Summary.


THE ‘FIRST’ THANKSGIVING
Americans think that the first Thanksgiving had to do with happy Pilgrims wearing hats with big buckles and feasting on huge, fat turkeys. However, the facts are actually more fascinating than that fiction.

Take Plymouth Rock, for instance. Most accept that the big boulder marked “1620” and sitting just feet away from the water is where the Pilgrims first landed in the area. The thing is, the Pilgrims themselves never mentioned stepping off their boat onto a rock.

Well, as for verifiable facts, one thing is for sure that these Pilgrims started building their first American settlement in the harsh winter of 1620-1621 in Plymouth, where they lost half their population—and there were only 51 of 102 people left at the end of that season. At one point, their daily food ration was down to five kernels of corn apiece. However, an unexpected trading vessel arrived and swapped grain for their beaver pelts, providing for their severe need. They finally developed enough food to make it through the next winter, and the next summer’s crop brought hope.

[ Note: View a poem written about “Five Kernels of Corn” in the Articles Section below ].

For the very first feast that they had the Governor, William Bradford, sent four men out “fowling” and in just a few hours, the four men were able to take enough wildfowl to feed the “company” for a week.

Another sure fact is that these grateful Pilgrims didn’t dine alone since they knew they would not have survived without the Indians, who showed them what could grow in this radically different soil that was so unkind to the English seeds they had brought with them.

They felt that King Massasoit—the chief of the Wampanoag Indians—was so instrumental in their survival that they invited him and his immediate family to this celebration. However, Massasoit misunderstood the invitation a bit and brought 90 of his men.

Now, that many people could have wiped out all the Pilgrims’ supplies, but the chief and his braves brought plenty of food with them—venison, turkey, fish, and vegetables. Together they had enough food for a three-day celebration where they honored one another and became better friends.

[ Note: The Pilgrims celebrated at Plymouth for three days after their first harvest in 1621. The exact time is unknown, but James Baker, the Plimoth Plantation vice president of research, stated in 1996, “The event occurred between Sept. 21 and Nov. 11, 1621, with the most likely time being around Michaelmas (Sept. 29), the traditional time.” ]

Most of what we know about the first Thanksgiving is from Edward Winslow’s account, which he wrote in a letter dated December 12, 1621:

“Our corn [i.e. wheat] did prove well, and God be praised, we had a good increase of Indian corn, and our barley indifferent good, but our peas not worth the gathering, for we feared they were too late sown. They came up very well, and blossomed, but the sun parched them in the blossom. Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others. And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.”
[ Note: Language updated a bit for readability. ]

The second description was written about twenty years after the fact by William Bradford in his “Of Plymouth Plantation” book. Bradford’s History was rediscovered in 1854 after having been taken by British looters during the Revolutionary War. Its discovery prompted a greater American interest in the history of the Pilgrims. It is also in this account that the Thanksgiving turkey tradition is founded.

“They began now to gather in the small harvest they had, and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercising in fishing, about cod and bass and other fish, of which they took good store, of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want; and now began to come in store of fowl, as winter approached, of which this place did abound when they came first (but afterward decreased by degrees). And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides they had about a peck of meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proportion. Which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England, which were not feigned but true reports.”

The primary sources above only list a few items that were on the Thanksgiving “menu,” namely deer, wild turkeys, venison, waterfowl, cod, and bass—plus the harvest, which consisted of wheat, corn, barley, and perhaps any peas that survived the scorching. To that list, we can probably add a few additional things that are known to have been native to the area and eaten by the Pilgrims like clams, mussels, lobster, eel, ground nuts, acorns, walnuts, chestnuts, squashes, and beans. Fruits and berries such as strawberries, raspberries, grapes, and gooseberries were available growing wild. Pilgrim house-gardens may have included a number of English vegetables and herbs, perhaps things like onions, leeks, sorrel, yarrow, lettuce, carrots, radishes, currants, liverwort, watercress, and others. It is unlikely much in the way of supplies brought on the Mayflower survived, such as Holland Cheese, olive oil, butter, salt pork, sugar, spices, lemons, beer, aqua-vitae, or bacon. It appears the Pilgrims may have had some chickens with them, so likely they had access to a limited number of eggs. No mention of swine is found in any account of the first year. They did not yet have any goats or cattle: the first of those arrived on the ship Anne in 1623.

The “Popcorn Myth” would have us believe the Indians introduced the Pilgrims to popcorn at this Thanksgiving: but the Indian corn they grew was Northern Flint, which does not pop well. It was parched to make a simple snack, and the Indians sometimes ground it up and mixed it with strawberries for a cake-like desert. Potatoes and sweet potatoes had not yet been introduced to New England.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
In 1607, after breaking from the Church of England, the Separatists (Puritans) settled in the Netherlands, first in Amsterdam and later in the town of Leiden, where they remained for the next decade under the relatively lenient Dutch laws. Due to economic difficulties, as well as fears that they would lose their English language and heritage, they began to make plans to settle in the New World (America). Their intended destination was a region near the Hudson River, which at the time was thought to be part of the already-established colony of Virginia.

In 1620, the would-be settlers joined a London stock company that would finance their trip aboard the Mayflower. A smaller vessel, the Speedwell, had initially accompanied the Mayflower and carried some of the travelers, but it proved unseaworthy and was forced to return to port by September.

Rough seas and storms prevented the Mayflower from reaching its initial destination in Virginia, and after a voyage of 65 days, the ship reached the shores of Cape Cod, anchoring on the site of Provincetown Harbor in mid-November.

While still on board the ship, a group of 41 men signed the “Mayflower Compact,” in which they agreed to join together in a “civil body politic.” This document would become the foundation of the new colony’s government. Signed on November 11, 1620, the Mayflower Compact was the first document to establish self-government in the New World.

Upon landing in America, the Pilgrims conducted a prayer service, then quickly turned to build shelters. Starvation and sickness during the ensuing New England winter killed almost half their population, but through prayer and hard work, with the assistance of their Indian friends, the Pilgrims reaped a rich harvest in the summer of 1621. (Most of what we know about the Pilgrim Thanksgiving of 1621 comes from original accounts of the young colony’s leaders, Governor William Bradford and Master Edward Winslow.)

The Pilgrim Fathers’ assessment of themselves as “partakers of plenty” on the first Thanksgiving comes into sharper focus when we consider the mediocrity of their first harvest. Though they had planted 20 acres of corn—thanks to the help of their native friend Squanto who showed them how to grow the strange North American crop—all the Pilgrims’ English crops failed. Yet amid that failure, the Separatists still deemed their first harvest “plentiful” by “the goodness of God” and worthy of a thanksgiving celebration.

The Pilgrim Fathers could be thankful for mixed success because they viewed every good thing in life—no matter how small—as the provision of a sovereign God. “A True Confession,” the 1596 creed adopted by the Separatists who set sail on the Mayflower, declared, “God hath decreed in himself from everlasting touching all things, and the very least circumstances of every thing, effectually to work and dispose them according to the counsell of his own will, to the prayse and glorie of his great name.”

One of the Pilgrim Fathers’ most striking moments of thankfulness occurred the first Sunday after they reached North America. A scouting party of 16 men returned to the Mayflower with a good report about the land. The collective sense of relief spurred an impromptu worship service. As Bradford put it, “They fell upon their knees and blessed ye God of heaven.”

This scene was not an isolated incident. Bradford’s history of Plymouth references the giving of thanks no less than 30 times. The first Thanksgiving, rather than being an anomaly amid the drudgery of forging a new colony, fell within a rhythm of gratitude in the Pilgrims’ life.

Facing disease and death, near starvation, as well as other hardships, the Pilgrims carried on in those early years. In 1623, a two-month drought threatened to wipe out the carefully planted crops. What would these steadfast Pilgrims do? In Bradford’s words, “They set apart a solemn day of humiliation, to seek the Lord by humble and fervent prayer, in this great distress. And he was pleased to give them a gracious and speedy answer.”

On the very day of their fasting and prayer, they received rain, followed by “such seasonable showers… as, through his blessing, caused a fruitful and liberal harvest, to their no small comfort and rejoicing. For which mercy… they also set apart a day of thanksgiving.”

Over the next decades, relations between settlers and Native Americans deteriorated as the former group occupied more and more land. By the time William Bradford died in 1657, he had already expressed anxiety that New England would soon be torn apart by violence. In 1675, Bradford’s predictions came true, in the form of King Philip’s War. (Philip was the English name of Metacomet, the son of Massasoit and leader of the Pokanokets since the early 1660s.) That conflict left some 5,000 inhabitants of New England dead, three-quarters of those Native Americans. In terms of the percentage of the population killed, King Philip’s War was more than twice as costly as the American Civil War and seven times more so than the American Revolution.

Repressive policies toward religious nonconformists in England under King James I and his successor, Charles I, had driven many men and women to follow the Pilgrims’ path to the New World. Three more ships traveled to Plymouth after the Mayflower, including the Fortune (1621), the Anne, and the Little James (both 1623). In 1630, a group of some 1,000 Puritan refugees under Governor John Winthrop settled in Massachusetts according to a charter obtained from King Charles I by the Massachusetts Bay Company. Winthrop soon established Boston as the capital of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which would become the most populous and prosperous colony in the region.

Compared with later groups who founded colonies in New England, such as the Puritans, the Pilgrims of Plymouth failed to achieve lasting economic success. After the early 1630s, some prominent members of the original group, including Brewster, Winslow and Standish, left the colony to found their own communities. The cost of fighting King Philip’s War further damaged the colony’s struggling economy. Less than a decade after the war King James II appointed a colonial governor to rule over New England, and in 1692, Plymouth was absorbed into the larger entity of Massachusetts.

[ “The Pilgrims” documentary trailer ]

Fast-forward a bit to the mid-17th century, the custom of autumnal Thanksgivings was established throughout New England. Observance of “Thanksgiving Festivals” began to spread southward during the American Revolution, as the newly established Congress officially recognized the need to celebrate this day.

The first Thanksgiving Proclamation was issued by the revolutionary
Continental Congress on November 1, 1777. Authored by Samuel Adams, it read, in part:

“Forasmuch as it is the indispensable duty of all men to adore the superintending providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with gratitude their obligation to him for benefits received…together with penitent confession of their sins, whereby they had forfeited every favor; and their humble and earnest supplications that it may please God through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance…it is therefore recommended…to set apart Thursday the eighteenth day of December next, for solemn thanksgiving and praise, that with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feeling of their hearts and consecrate themselves to the service of their Divine Benefactor…acknowledging with gratitude their obligations to Him for benefits received….To prosper the means of religion, for the promotion and enlargement of that kingdom which consisteth ‘in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost’.”

It then took 180 years after the first day of thanksgiving in America for our Founding Fathers to officially recognized the day by proclamation of the Constitutional government. Soon after adopting the Bill of Rights, a motion in Congress to initiate the proclamation of a national day of thanksgiving was approved.

Much of the credit for the adoption of a later annual national Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. can be attributed to Mrs. Sarah Joseph Hale, the editor of “Godey’s Lady’s Book.” For 30 years, she promoted the idea of a national Thanksgiving Day, contacting President after President, until President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation in 1863 by setting aside the last Thursday of November as a national Day of Thanksgiving. He began the proclamation by declaring:

“The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.”

Lincoln goes on to say that, despite three years of civil war, they were surrounded by the gracious gifts of God. He said:

“It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged [these gifts from God], as… fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens… In testimony whereof, I have here unto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.”

Over the next 75 years, Presidents followed Lincoln’s precedent, annually declaring a national Thanksgiving Day. In 1939, Franklin D. Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving Day up one week earlier than had been the tradition, to appease merchants who wanted more time to feed the growing pre-Christmas consumer frenzy. Folding to congressional pressure two years later, Roosevelt signed a resolution returning Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday of November, as Congress, in 1941, permanently set the fourth Thursday of each November as our national day of Thanksgiving.

GRATITUDE
Ever since the Pilgrims’ first thanksgiving, it has been focused on the concept of ‘gratitude’. So then, what specifically is gratitude?

Well, in general, gratitude is a positive emotion that involves being thankful and appreciative and is associated with several mental and physical health benefits. When you experience gratitude, you feel grateful for something or someone in your life and respond with feelings of kindness, warmth, and other forms of generosity.

The word gratitude can have a number of different meanings depending on how others use it and in what context. Researchers Lúzie Fofonka Cunha, Lucia Campos Pellanda, and Caroline Tozzi Reppold give a more ‘detailed’ definition:

“In general terms, gratitude stems from the recognition that something good happened to you, accompanied by an appraisal that someone, whether another individual or an impersonal source, such as nature or a divine entity, was responsible for it.”

So, simply, gratitude is when we acknowledge another person who intentionally, altruistically, and at some cost gives us something of personal value.

Gratitude, however, is more than rote politeness or a ‘calculated strategy’ to keep the gifts coming. Being grateful is linked to higher levels of life satisfaction, optimism, vitality, helpfulness, empathy, forgiveness, and positive affect. Gratefulness broadens our perspective on life, allowing us to be more creative and insightful. Gratitude also reduces feelings of envy, negativity, depression, and anxiety. Some have argued that gratitude is central to our relationships with other people and to the human experience as a whole.

This cuts to the very ‘heart’ of psychologist Robert Emmons’ definition of gratitude, which has two components. First, it is an ‘affirmation’ of goodness. We affirm that there are good things in the world, gifts, and benefits we have received. This doesn’t mean that life is perfect; it doesn’t ignore complaints, burdens, and hassles. But when we look at life as a whole, gratitude encourages us to identify some amount of goodness in our life.

The second part of gratitude is figuring out where that goodness ‘comes from’. We recognize the ‘sources’ of this goodness as being outside of ourselves. It didn’t stem from anything we necessarily did ourselves in which we might take pride. We can appreciate positive traits in ourselves, but I think true gratitude involves a humble dependence on others: We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, if you are of a spiritual mindset—gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.

Living a life of gratitude isn’t easy. Like any spiritual discipline, it requires time, effort, and faithful practice.

Without effort, feelings of gratitude are often fleeting, passing as quickly as they come. Psychologists interested in moral development have spent a great deal of time trying to understand what the benefits of gratitude are and how to foster higher levels of gratitude in individuals.

Research suggests that gratitude can’t simply be grouped with other emotions, like happiness or anger, because, unlike other emotions, gratitude takes a ‘conscious’ effort. Meaning that to be grateful, we must first take the time to recognize that something has been done for our benefit.

This ability to recognize the kindness of others has earned gratitude the title of “moral barometer.” Professor of psychology Dr. Ross Oakes-Mueller said that “Psychologically, we have a lot of barometers. For example, anxiety tells us when a threat is present. In the same way, when we feel that warm, fuzzy feeling, we know something relationally is happening. Gratitude helps detect acts of kindness and generosity and is an indicator that something good has taken place.” So then, is there a difference between experiencing that “warm, fuzzy feeling” from time to time and living a life of gratitude?

To this, professor of psychology Dr. Robert Emmons—one of the leading experts on gratitude psychology—agrees. He said that, “Feeling grateful is not the same as being a grateful person. [ A grateful person ] is one who regularly affirms the goodness in his or her life and recognizes that the sources of this goodness lie at least partially outside of themselves.”

Emmons goes on to pinpoint four factors that determine one’s disposition toward gratitude: frequency, intensity, span, and density. These are essentially used to describe how often we feel grateful, the degree or depth to which we feel grateful, the number of things for which we feel grateful at a particular time, and to how many people we feel grateful for a single, positive event. Accordingly, those with a strong disposition feel more intensely grateful, on a regular basis, for multiple things, toward multiple people.

‘OBSTACLES’ TO GRATITUDE
Dr. Emmons said that, “So this is the paradox of gratitude: while the evidence is clear that cultivating gratitude, in our lives and in our attitude to life, makes us happier and healthier people more attuned to the flow of blessings in our lives, it is still difficult. Practicing gratitude is easier said than done.”

Oakes-Mueller then identified one of the main challenges in this regard as anxiety. “For some people, it is really a fear of intimacy. Gratitude involves me saying, ‘I’m dependent on you,’ and that can be really scary. And if it isn’t responded to in a compassionate way, it can leave you with a negative feeling. So, a lot of people don’t do it because of the risk involved.”

So, in addition to this anxiety, psychological researcher Kelsy Richardson, named pride as a major deterrent: “You would think the opposite of gratitude is being ungrateful, but it is actually selfishness or self-conceit. When you believe you deserve the good things you receive, you don’t feel the need to be grateful to others.”

Along these lines, Emmons points out that gratitude can be difficult because it requires a new way of thinking. While we often credit ourselves for the good things in our lives, and others for the bad, gratitude rejects this mentality by recognizing others as a part of our success. “Gratitude also goes against our need to feel in control of our environment. Sometimes with gratitude, you just have to accept life as it is and be grateful for what you have.”

While the presence of these potential obstacles may discourage some, research suggests that the return on investment is too abundant to ignore.

‘SIGNS’ OF GRATITUDE
So, what does gratitude look like? How do you know if you are experiencing a sense of gratitude? Well, expressing your appreciation and thanks for what you have can happen in a number of different ways. For example, it might entail:

– Spending a few moments thinking about the things in your life that you are grateful for
– Stopping to observe and acknowledge the beauty of wonder of something you encounter in your daily life
– Being thankful for your health
– Thanking someone for the positive influence they have in your life
– Doing something kind for another person to show that you are grateful
– Paying attention to the small things in your life that bring you joy and peace
– Meditation or prayer focused on giving thanks

Gratitude is often a spontaneous emotion that you feel in the moment. Some people are naturally prone to experiencing it more often than others, but experts suggest that it is also something that you can cultivate and learn to practice more often.

‘MEASURING’ GRATITUDE
You can ‘evaluate’ your tendency to experience gratitude by asking yourself the following questions:

– Do you feel like you have a lot to be thankful for in your life?
– If you made a list of all the things you are grateful for, would that list be very long?
– When you look at the world, can you find many things to be grateful for?
– Do you feel like your appreciation for life and other people has grown stronger as you get older?
– Do you frequently experience moments where you appreciate someone or something?
– Do you appreciate a wide variety of people in your life?

If you answered yes to most of these questions, you probably have a strong sense of gratitude. If not, you may want to consider working on some of those “No’s.”

‘TYPES’ OF GRATITUDE
Studies have categorized gratitude in three different ways: A trait; a mood; or an emotion. (FYI: Mood and emotion are considered “states.”)

As an affective trait—meaning that it is related to a person’s general disposition—some people naturally experience gratitude more frequently than others. However, research has not demonstrated a clear connection to any of the “Big Five” personality traits such as conscientiousness, agreeableness, and extroversion.

[ FYI: For more details on the “Big Five” or “O.C.E.A.N.” personality model, view this previous “Life’s Deep Thoughts” post:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/developing-ones-character-v283/ ].

As a mood—which means it may fluctuate over time—people might experience periods where they feel more grateful in general, and at other times they may experience this less often.

As an emotion—which is a briefer feeling that people experience in the moment—people might have a particular experience that inspires feelings of gratitude.

‘PRACTICING’ GRATITUDE
Developing a sense of gratitude isn’t complex or challenging. It doesn’t require any special tools or training, and the more you practice it, the better you will become and put yourself into a grateful state of mind. Here is how to do this:

– Observe the Moment
– Write it Down
– Create Gratitude ‘Rituals’
– Give Thanks
– Recognize and Appreciate

Expressing your appreciation for others is an important component that can affect your interpersonal relationships and can help improve the quality and satisfaction of your relationships.

Now, like any skill, gratitude can be learned and strengthened. Here are a few tips on how to practice gratitude:

– Think of three things you are thankful for
– Start a gratitude journal
– Thank someone new every week
– Ruminate on being grateful
– Focus more on others’ intentions

THE ‘IMPACT’ OF GRATITUDE
The practice of gratitude can have a significant positive impact on both physical and psychological health. Some of the benefits of gratitude that researchers have uncovered include:

– Better Sleep
– Better Immunity
– Higher Self-esteem
– Decreased Stress
– Lower Blood Pressure
– Less Anxiety And Depression
– Stronger Relationships
– Higher Levels Of Optimism

Research also suggests that people who tend to be more grateful are also more likely to engage in other health-promoting behaviors, including exercising, following their doctor’s recommendations, and sticking to a healthier lifestyle.

According to psychologist Robert Emmons, gratitude can have a transformative effect on people’s lives for several reasons. Because it helps people focus on the present, it plays a role in magnifying positive emotions. He also suggests that it can help improve people’s self-worth. When you acknowledge that there are people in the world who care about you and are looking out for your interests, it can help you recognize your value.

Gratitude blocks toxic emotions, such as envy, resentment, regret, and depression, which can destroy our happiness.

‘CULTIVATING’ GRATITUDE
Many different exercises and interventions have been shown to help people cultivate a stronger sense of gratitude in their day-to-day life. To develop your gratitude, you might want to:

– Keep A Gratitude Journal
– Reframe Experiences
– Focus On Your Senses
– Practice Counting You Blessings
– Use Reminders To Practice Gratitude
– Discussions With Others
– Send “Thank You” Notes
– Meditation and “Mental Subtraction”

So, cultivating gratitude starts with noticing the ‘goodness’ in life. A materialistic culture that encourages constant wanting and sees possessions as the source of happiness—like the U.S.—is not the most fertile ground for gratitude. However, it is not an insurmountable barrier to developing it. Envy and especially cynicism and narcissism are similarly ‘thieves’ of gratitude. (In fact, the cultivation of gratitude may be at least a partial remedy for narcissism.)

Gratitude is, without question, a great emotion to cultivate. Hopefully, we can make it a habit that translates into a trait. Note that practice and patience are key ingredients to our purposes and intentions.

‘STAGES’ OF GRATITUDE
According to Dr. Robert Emmons, the feeling of gratitude involves two ‘stages’: affirmation of goodness, and figuring out where that goodness comes from.

“First comes the acknowledgment of goodness in one’s life. In a state of gratitude, we say yes to life. We affirm that all in all, life is good, and has elements that make it worth living, and rich in texture. The acknowledgment that we have received something gratifies us, both by its presence and by the effort the giver put into choosing it.

Second, gratitude is recognizing that some of the sources of this goodness lie outside the self. One can be grateful to other people, to animals, and to the world, but not to oneself. At this stage, we recognize the goodness in our lives and who to thank for it, i.e., who made sacrifices so that we could be happy?
The two stages of gratitude comprise the recognition of the goodness in our lives, and then how this goodness came to us externally lies. By this process, we recognize the luck of everything that makes our lives—and ourselves—better.”

– Acknowledge The Goodness In Your Life
Our brain tends to focus on what’s wrong, but why is that? Well, it is all about ‘survival’. We need to be able to identify the things that need to be fixed to reach ‘solutions’. Nonetheless, we need to gain perspective and allow ourselves to rest and enjoy what is going right!

It is good for one to take a ‘moment’ daily to realize everything good in our lives. As one does this practice, one starts to identify the good things and a natural feeling of joy and gratitude.

– Recognizing That Some Sources Are Outside Of Oneself
Once one has identified the ‘good’ in their life, they can actively access the second stage of gratitude: recognizing the good that comes from the outer world.

Gratitude allows us to recognize our connection to the rest of humanity and acknowledge others’ roles in our lives. It leads us to an active recognition of our interdependence, regardless of whether it leads us to a specific action or not.

Gratitude is primarily an emotion, but can, as with other emotions, can also become a ‘trait’ when it describes someone who is always grateful, and ‘expressing’ a state of being.

WHY GRATITUDE ‘WORKS’
Gratitude is a ‘selfless’ act. Its ‘acts’ are done unconditionally, to show to people that they are appreciated. “A gift that is freely given” is one way to understand what these acts are like.

For example, if someone is sad and you write them a note of appreciation, you are likely not asking for something in return for this person. Instead, you are reminding them of their value, and expressing gratitude for their existence (and you are not waiting for a “return note” from this person). However, even when we do not expect a return, sometimes they happen—gratitude can be contagious, in a good way and the person will respond ‘in kind’.

The thing is, there are two ‘processes’ that gratitude can influence: Catharsis and Reciprocity

– Catharsis
So, after a stressful or traumatic event, crying provides a means for such a strong ‘release’, rendering the activity cathartic. Catharsis works with gratitude.

To illustrate this, consider the guilt associated with “failing” to meet obligations. Perhaps in this situation, you would express gratitude to those you let down, in an attempt to release that guilt. The acts are meant to convey the appreciation that the friends possess, despite a recent disappointment.

Additionally, possessions from passed loved ones may provide a sense of serenity that enables the new owner to reflect with gratitude on that object and in essence, that person.

The use of gratitude serves as an agent of catharsis, where both parties feel satisfied in the end.

– Reciprocity
In this case, it is about the ‘exchange’ of positive emotion. When someone performs an act of gratitude for another person, in turn, that person may be motivated to do something gracious for the former person or continue the favor for a stranger.

Imagine having coffee or a meal with a friend, and they politely demand to pay for the outing. You may quibble back and forth about splitting the bill, but should they insist, you are likely to feel grateful, and an extended duty that the next meal is “your treat.” In essence, this is exactly how reciprocity works.

TRAIT OR STATE?
Gratitude is generally regarded as either a trait (dispositional) or state (of being).

As a trait, an individual practices gratitude as part of their daily life and it would be considered a character strength, to possess gratitude. As a trait, gratitude can be developed with practice and awareness.

When a person experiences the rich emotion from someone expressing gratitude for them, it is referred to as a state. Gratitude is both of these: a trait and a state.

For at least 2,000 years, intellectuals have been considering the important role gratitude plays in daily life.

Ancient and not-so-ancient philosophers, such as Cicero, Seneca, and Adam Smith, ‘preached’ the importance of giving thanks. Cicero and Seneca thought of gratitude as a key virtue foundational to any successful civilization.

So then, if gratitude is a ‘foundational’ human emotion, then it makes sense why humans have been studying it for millennia. Our species benefits from it, in so many ways.

Unsurprisingly, ‘religions’ refer to gratitude strictly regarding the need to be thankful for a “higher power.” More so, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism stressed gratitude as an integral step on the path to a ‘good’ life.

For example, in Judaism, followers of Yahweh are encouraged to start every day by being grateful for waking up again, and followers of Christianity incorporate a “gratitude to God” that binds Christians together.

Several recent studies explore the relationship between religious gratitude and well-being. This is a burgeoning area of research in the field of positive psychology.

More recently, positive psychology has expanded research on the importance of gratitude, largely led by researcher Dr. Robert Emmons.

Emmons has authored several papers on the psychology of gratitude, showing that being more grateful can lead to increased levels of well-being. Some of Emmons’ work has also dealt specifically on how gratitude may lead to increased physical health.

Here is an overview of nine recent psychological findings related to the study of gratitude:

– Enhanced Wellbeing
– Deeper Relationships
– Improved Optimism
– Increased Happiness
– Stronger self-control
– Better Physical and Mental Health
– An Overall Better Life
– Stronger Athleticism
– Stronger Neurologically-based Morality

‘EFFECTS’ OF GRATITUDE
A study by Dr. Rollin McCraty and his colleagues (in 1998) showed that there was a mean 23% reduction in the stress hormone cortisol after the intervention period. During the use of the techniques, 80% of the participants exhibited an increased coherence in heart rate variability patterns, indicating reduced stress.

In other words, these findings suggest that people with an “attitude of gratitude” experience lower levels of stress.

In a more recent study (by Seligman, Steen, and Peterson in 2005), they gave participants one week to write and deliver a letter of thanks, in person, to someone who had been especially kind to them—but who had never been properly thanked.

The results showed that participants who engaged in the letter-writing exercise reported more happiness for one month after the intervention compared to a control group.

So, expressing gratitude not only helps people appreciate what they have received in life, but it also helps people feel like they have given something back to those who helped them.

Gratitude can be observed at a greater ‘social’ level. The recipient of gratitude may not reciprocate directly back, but in turn, they may lend a favor to a third party, effectively expanding a network of good (the concept of “paying it forward”). Sometimes, the recipient may give back to the initiator as well.

[ FYI: For more details on ‘paying it forward’, view this previous “Life’s Deep Thoughts” post:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/mar-02-v37/ ].

Gratitude and ‘indebtedness’ are associated with the intention to repay for the received benefit. It leads to internal motivation and external motivation to reciprocate.

When people express gratitude to each other, it compels a desire to reciprocate, and this is a positive chain reaction to encourage in any family, workplace, town, and society.

‘APPLYING’ TO ONE’S LIFE
This very evening, before you go to sleep, think of the positive things that happened during the day. Then try taking a moment to do this every night. (Consider a gratitude journal as well.)

For those struggling with depression or anxiety, this can also frame the beginning of a day: Before getting out of bed, consider three things—however small—that you are grateful for. Even on a really hard day, make yourself do this, (even if your internal ‘voice’ is one of sarcasm).

[ For more on this topic, view the videos by Dr. Robert Emmons on “The Power of Gratitude” and “Cultivating Gratitude” in the “Articles” section below. ]

Probably one of the more well-known ‘applications’ of how gratitude can be ‘applied’ to one’s life—and totally change it—is the “A Christmas Carol” story. Essentially, it is about Ebenezer Scrooge being ‘transformed’ from an ungrateful person to a grateful one. Charles Dickens was right that gratitude can be learned, although most of us would choose not to be visited by ghosts all night long to learn what was needed.

[ VIDEO: “Scrooge: A Christmas Carol” ]

PASSING THE ‘TEST’
Dr. Robert Emmons perhaps sums it up best when he states that “Gratitude’s intrinsic function is to affirm the good in life, embrace that good, and then transform the good in purposeful actions to accomplish something that is at once meaningful to the self and of consequence to the world beyond the self.”

Affirming and embracing the good in life seems to be the simple and natural outcome of living gratefully, and the true test of gratitude then seems to come in its last function: transforming the good into ‘action’.

“Thinking about gratitude is good, but it is even better if it causes you to go out and act because of it,” Kelsey Richardson confirmed. “The effects are greater when you are doing something about it.”

‘BENEFITS’ OF GRATITUDE
Thanksgiving Day is when many people take time to think about what they are thankful for—which tends to be the ‘focus’ for that day and, sadly, sometimes forgotten the next day. However, there are actually SUBSTANTIAL ‘BENEFITS’ to being a grateful person. Evidence suggests that people who consciously “count their blessings” tend to be happier and less depressed. Regularly practicing and expressing gratitude has many benefits, both short- and long-term.

In addition to acting as a kind of feelings ‘barometer’, gratitude also serves as a reinforcer and motive for ‘moral’ actions. Psychology professor Dr. Michael McCullough expanded on the nature of these qualities in his article “Is Gratitude a Moral Affect?” He said, “When a beneficiary expresses gratitude, either by saying ‘thank you’ or providing some other acknowledgment or appreciation, the benefactor is reinforced for his or her benevolence. Thus, the benefactor becomes more likely to enact such benevolent behaviors in the future.”

Put simply, as Oakes-Mueller said, “The reinforcement side of gratitude is much like receiving a gold star from your teacher. It essentially says, ‘Job well done.’”

Gratitude also impacts us as recipients of kindness by motivating us to perform our own acts of kindness for others. Oakes-Mueller said that “When I recognize what I have and what I’ve been given, I want to give. As a motivator, gratitude creates a pay-it-forward mentality. It doesn’t matter whether I give something back to the person who gave it to me or to the world around me. It doesn’t end with giving to one person but emanates like ripples, getting bigger and bigger.”

So then, what is the result? Well, research suggests that gratitude’s reinforcement and motivation capabilities lead to an INCREASED sense of SELF-WORTH. As givers of kindness, when our actions or gifts are met with expressions of gratitude, our personal worth is affirmed, making us likely to repeat the behavior in the future. As recipients of kindness, we feel that we are of value to our benefactor. As a result, we are likely to feel more loved and cared for and are thus likely to practice our own acts of generosity.

Research also indicates that along with an increase in moral behavior, gratitude also boosts emotional and mental well-being and decreases antisocial tendencies.

Again, Oakes-Mueller said that, “Gratitude makes you a better person, not just in the sense of doing nice things for other people, but it also carries with it joy. When I’m more grateful, even though I’m acknowledging that I’m indebted to other people, life feels more like a gift. When life feels like a gift, I feel more engaged and rejoice in the little things around me. In this way, it can act as a helpful balance to irritation, anger, and frustration.” Gratitude ‘motivates’ us to perform our own acts of kindness for others.

Dr. Robert Emmons adds that this mindset can keep people “inhibited from committing destructive interpersonal behaviors” and could possibly explain the low occurrence of depression among grateful people, as gratitude forces acknowledgment of love, kindness, and compassion in the world.

Additionally, Emmons mentions how gratitude can enhance our ability to feel pleasure by helping us appreciate things we might otherwise take for granted, and prolong feelings of contentment, allowing us to savor positive situations and maximize satisfaction.

So, you might be thinking that before implementing a new habit, you want to find out about its ‘specific’ benefits (Why start with a new ‘regime’ if you don’t know if it will be good for you. Right?)

Well, here are some science-backed benefits of gratitude split into five different, but somewhat overlapping groups:

– Personal benefits of gratitude
– Emotional benefits of gratitude
– Social benefits of gratitude
– Career-related benefits of gratitude
– Health benefits of gratitude

‘PERSONAL’ BENEFITS

– Gratitude Makes You ‘Optimistic’ and Giving
A 2014 research conducted on a sample of students has shown that keeping a gratitude journal on a regular basis can increase optimism between five and fifteen percent. People who write just a few sentences each week focusing on gratitude felt more optimistic.

The experiment they conducted showed that promoting gratitude as a moral virtue made the participants more likely to share, even if it came at their own expense, and even if the receiver wasn’t somebody they knew.

– It Can Lead to Positive ‘Actions’
Whether expressing thankfulness or boosting our motivation to help others, a grateful attitude has been shown to increase our likelihood to spread the encouragement and joy it generates in us. Research suggests gratitude may also play a role in motivating individuals to engage in positive behaviors leading to self-improvement.

This can positively affect us on two levels. First, when we have a grateful mindset, we tend to involve ourselves in other practices that improve our well-being, such as meditation, sports, and recognizing our strengths. Second, it moves us to be kinder, more thoughtful, and more altruistic.

Also, research carried out by American psychology professor Dr. Barbara Lee Frederickson showed that gratitude, when expressed effectively, increases the probability of the recipient to lend favor to a third party, effectively expanding a network of good.

– Gratitude Shifts Your ‘Focus’
Whatever we focus on, we move towards. Gratitude ‘breathes’ positivity into everything we do.

– It Improves The ‘Quality’ Of Your Life
Gratitude can change your life by quite literally improving the quality of it. You are the sum of all your parts, and it is gratitude that can help to benefit each of those small parts.

Studies have linked gratitude with the satisfaction of life and people who are grateful for things are far more satisfied in their lives.

– Gratitude ‘Reduces’ Materialism
People who regularly practice gratitude tend to be more satisfied with their lives and the material possessions they already have.

– Gratitude ‘Changes’ Our Brains
Research has found that people who tend to be more grateful have more brain activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, the area associated with learning and decision-making. This brain activity persisted a month later, suggesting that gratitude has long-lasting effects.

A study used an fMRI scanner to measure brain activity while people from each group did a “pay it forward” task. In that task, the individuals were regularly given a small amount of money by a nice person, called the “benefactor.” This benefactor only asked that they pass the money on to someone if they felt grateful. The participants then decided how much of the money, if any, to pass on to a worthy cause.

Then the researchers asked the participants to rate how grateful they felt toward the benefactor, and how much they wanted to help each charitable cause (as well as how guilty they would feel if they didn’t help).

They found that across the participants, when people felt more grateful, their brain activity was distinct from brain activity related to guilt and the desire to help a cause. More specifically, they found that when people are generally more grateful they gave more money to a cause, and they showed greater neural sensitivity in the medial prefrontal cortex, (a brain area associated with learning and decision-making). This suggested that people who are more grateful are also more ‘attentive’ to how they express gratitude.

While not conclusive, this finding suggests that practicing gratitude may help train the brain to be more sensitive to the experience of gratitude down the line, and this could contribute to improved mental health over time.

[ For more details on the ‘science’ of gratitude, view the “Greater Good Science Center” website and their “Expanding Gratitude” project:
https://ggsc.berkeley.edu/what_we_do/major_initiatives/expanding_gratitude ].

– Gratitude Gives You ‘Piece Of Mind’
There is a respect that develops for those that can stay humble, even while enduring the meteoric rise to success, fame, or stardom. Humility is definitely one of the prevailing qualities of many of the most successful people in the world because they have had to endure and recover from the heartache and pain of failure and defeat.

They have become grateful by not taking things for granted because they have lived that other life and have had to wade through ‘seas’ of pain. There is a certain humility and empathetic nature that is instilled in the hearts of successful people who had to endure a lot of failure before tasting the sweet victory of success.

‘EMOTIONAL’ BENEFITS

– Happiness and ‘Resilience’ Increase
Leading researchers on gratitude discovered that keeping a gratitude journal and spending only five minutes on it per day can make you at least 10% happier in the long run. When we are grateful for things, it is a natural occurrence to be happier about life. You realize the things you have rather than the things you don’t.

Furthermore, practicing gratitude can help reduce negative emotions, such as envy, and promote positive emotions, such as joy, serenity, interest, and hope. Practicing gratitude also enhances our self-esteem, consequently leading to higher life satisfaction and greater resilience.

President Emeritus of the Foundation for Economic Education, Lawrence W. Reed said that, “Research shows, that gratitude is an indispensable key to happiness—the more of it you can muster, the happier you will be—and that happiness adds up to nine years to life expectancy.”

It is far easier to go about your day in a state of appreciation when you are grateful than when you are not. The incessant drive to accumulate things that only bring momentary bliss but don’t offer sustained happiness.

– Overall Psychological ‘Well-Being’ Improves
All it takes to shift our mindset towards positivity is a willingness to improve our life for the better, practice, commitment, and only a couple of minutes per day.

– Gratitude Can ‘Overpower’ Negative Emotions
Feeling grateful boosts positive emotions like joy and compassion while encouraging us to look for and connect with what’s good in life. This helps us switch our attention from toxic emotions, such as resentment and envy.

– Having Gratitude Reduces Your Innermost ‘Fears’
Fear is what occurs when we are left to dwell on topics that we feel are out of our control. We extrapolate the worst-possible scenarios and picture our future plight and our eventual demise when we are living in a state of fear.

The thing is, it is hard to be fearful and grateful at the same time. By being grateful, fear can be overcome. When one is utterly grateful for everything they have, including their problems, fear has little place to live in their minds.

Being grateful instills the belief that you are thankful for what you have, right now, in this very moment, rather than worrying about what you don’t have or won’t have at some future point in time.

So, decide, right now, that you will create the daily habit of gratitude and watch as your fears dissipate over time.

– It Emboldens You To Reach For Your ‘Goals’
Gratitude helps you to succeed by first creating a ‘platform’ of internal success. As long as you are happy, healthy, and sound in your mind, body, and spirit, you can reach your goals without too much external distraction.

When you are so focused on things that are wrong with your life, how can you possibly push tirelessly towards goals that are potentially years away from becoming a reality? You can’t. In fact, what tends to happen is that we get distracted, waste time, and engage in pursuits that hinder us rather than help us.

– Gratitude ‘Builds’ Over Time
A continued gratitude practice starts having long-lasting effects on mood and behavior, which can snowball over time.

– Gratitude Can Help ‘Combat’ Depression
A study showed that a single thoughtful appreciation leads to an immediate 10% increase in happiness and a 35% reduction in depressive symptoms. When it becomes a habit, it can help prevent anxiety and depression.

– Gratitude ‘Unshackles’ Us From Toxic Emotions
When one writes about how grateful they are to others and how much other people have blessed their life, it becomes considerably harder for them to ruminate on their negative experiences.

– Gratitude Increases ‘Self-esteem’
We live in a society of judgment, competition, and unreachable standards that tries to crush our self-esteem, resulting in negative and unhealthy relationships to our bodies and selves. Practicing gratitude is a great way to combat negative self-talk and feeling less than. Rather than compare ourselves to others (whether it be physically, emotionally, career, etc.) gratitude helps us to ‘center’ ourselves and focus on the positives, improving our overall outlook on life and ourselves!

– Gratitude Helps ‘Trauma’
As simple as it may sound, having the ability to reflect on what we are grateful for can help us heal in the hardest of times. There have been numerous studies on the positive impact gratitude has on people who have experienced trauma.

– It Strengthens And Enhances One’s ‘Faith’
Gratitude can strengthen and enhance your faith and belief in whatever ‘school’ of thought you subscribe to. [ For me, it is my belief in the God of the Bible that makes me completely grateful for everything in my life, including all my problems (which ‘refine’ me). ]

Gratitude transforms your faith by instilling the belief that you are not alone and that whatever it is that you are going through, it will pass, and on the other end you will emerge victorious. You will accomplish your goals, overcome your obstacles, and become a better person—one who’s more sympathetic and even empathetic to the plight of others.

As a result of all of this, you will seek out ways you can contribute to society—searching out for opportunities because you realize that what you have truly is enough and that the focus must become helping others.

‘SOCIAL’ BENEFITS

– Gratitude Improves Our ‘Relationships’
Friendships tend to grow stronger when we express gratitude to our friends. The act of expressing gratitude makes problems more easily resolvable and mutual perception between friends becomes more positive.

Through gratitude, we increase our capacity for forgiveness, become more likely to help others, and develop compassion for others. Gratitude can make team members feel more satisfied and fulfilled, possibly reducing the likelihood of burnout.

Researchers at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania found that workers were 50% more efficient when they had managers who actively expressed gratitude.

Similar research by psychologists Adam Grant and Francesca Gino found that receiving thanks for good performance made team members feel a strong sense of self-worth and confidence. It also led to an increase in trust and initiative to help one another.

– Gratitude Increases ‘Social Support’
Research has revealed that gratitude is connected to both lower levels of stress and depression and higher social support. Expressing gratitude actually fosters social support, and, as a result, perceived stress levels and depression tend to drop.

Furthermore, gratitude promotes in-family support by lowering levels of anxiety and depression. Gratitude operates like a ‘buffer’ that balances our internal and external lives.

– Gratitude Helps When One ‘Expresses’ It
The mere act of writing a letter can help one appreciate the people in their life and shift their focus away from negative feelings and thoughts.

‘CAREER-RELATED’ BENEFITS

– Gratitude Improves Work ‘Performance’
Gratitude tends to improve our patience and decision-making processes by shifting our focus from short-term gratifications to long-term goals. This is particularly important when it comes to work and office culture, as following short-term goals leads to confusion and chaos.

– Gratitude Improves Work ‘Satisfaction’
Gratitude is one of the most important factors that impact people’s sense of meaning at work. Grateful people seem to be the ones who end up “living their life’s purpose,” plus, they are happier in their workplace.

But, that is not all. Implementing gratitude at work significantly improves employees’ mental health and reduces their perceived stress and depressive symptoms at work. Gratitude turns out to be a ‘protective’ factor, which improves people’s resilience in all kinds of stressful situations.

‘HEALTH’ BENEFITS

– Gratitude Improves ‘Mental Health’
As expressing gratitude reduces stress and promotes positive emotions, it changes our brain’s and body’s chemistry. This protects our vital organ systems, especially those that are stress-sensitive, such as the cardiovascular system.

Gratitude is also an antidote to aggression. Participants who practiced gratitude on a regular basis were more likely to express prosocial behaviors and were more sensitive and empathetic. (Gratitude also turned out to be crucial in lowering the post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms among Vietnam War veterans.)

– Gratitude Improves ‘Physical Health’
Gratitude lowers perceived stress levels, consequently making us stronger and healthier.

According to research, people who practice gratitude are more likely to exercise regularly and are more willing to take care of themselves and cut out bad habits such as smoking or eating unhealthy food. (They also experience less stress which is crucial for combating coronary diseases.)

Studies suggest a wide range of improved health in people who practice gratitude including better sleep, lower inflammation, and “fewer aches and pains.”

Besides reducing and countering negative emotions, practicing gratitude is linked to other healthy behaviors, such as working out. Research has also associated gratitude with more robust immune systems, fewer aches and pains, and lower blood pressure.

– Gratitude Improves ‘Sleep’
The thing is, we all need more sleep, and the people who practice gratitude before bed are proven to sleep better. It totally makes sense. We all know that spiral of negativity that keeps so many of us awake—asking ourselves many questions.

So, by regularly practicing gratitude, you are more likely to be able to focus on positive thoughts at bedtime and avoid that negative self-talk that keeps us awake.

Now, remember, NONE of these changes will happen overnight. One needs to be patient and remember that the benefits of gratitude take time to ‘kick in’. So, take a few minutes a day to reflect on what you are grateful for can make a positive, long-lasting impact on your health and well-being.

The importance of gratitude cannot be underestimated. There are specific reasons why gratitude can change your life, and if you listen to them and truly hear the message beyond the words, there are some incredible things that will begin to happen to you over time.

Some of the most successful people in the world live by this ‘school’ of thought. They believe, deep down inside, that the pathway to success—whatever definition that might take on for you—is through an ever-grateful attitude for what you have today, right now, in this very moment, rather than what you are lacking.

Gratitude is something that should be practiced a lot more than for a couple of minutes one day a year. I am thinking more like a couple of minutes EVERY HOUR of EVERY DAY of the year!

THANKSGIVING DAY, ‘SPIRITUALLY’ SPEAKING
Originally, the holiday of Thanksgiving was ‘born’ in and further nurtured during times of great adversity and struggle for the Pilgrims. So, then what was the ‘source’ of such resilience and gratitude? The answer, I believe, lies in the their ‘theology’.

We have referred to the passengers of the Mayflower as “Pilgrims” for so long that the term has lost all its significance to us today. Literally, the word “pilgrim” refers to a person on a journey, often to a place of particular ‘religious’ significance.

When the Pilgrims thought of themselves as “pilgrims,” they meant that they were temporary ‘travelers’ in a world that was not their home. (This is clear from the context in which Governor William Bradford used the term in his famous book of the history of the colony, “Of Plymouth Plantation.”)

In the world as the Pilgrims knew it, material comforts were scarce, daily existence was arduous, starvation was possible, and death was always near. They would probably echo the Apostle Paul’s sentiment: “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” [ 1 Corinthians 15:19 ]. What a consolation to believe that, when their “earthly house” had returned to the dust, they would inherit “a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” [ 2 Corinthians 5:1 ]. William Bradford emphasized this when he said: “What a help, in time of heartache, to lift up their eyes to the heavens, their dearest country.” Bradford continued by calling the Plymouth settlers “pilgrims” when he wrote about their departure from Leiden, Holland to come to America: “They knew they were pilgrims, and looked not much on those things, but lifted up their eyes to the heavens, their dearest country; and quieted their spirits.”

We Americans might think that times of adversity and challenge would spawn ingratitude, while times of prosperity would spawn gratitude. However, sadly, the ‘REVERSE’ is true!

A scene from the animated television show “The Simpsons” demonstrates this. Bart Simpson was called upon to pray for a meal, to which he promptly prayed, “Dear God, We paid for all of this stuff ourselves, so thanks for nothing.”

Prosperity ‘breeds’ ingratitude. The writers of the Heidelberg Catechism knew this. Question 28 asks what it benefits us to know that God creates and sustains all things. The answer is it gives patience in adversity and gratitude in prosperity. Moses also knew this. In Deuteronomy, he looks ahead to times of material prosperity for Israel, then sternly warns, inspired by the Holy Spirit, not to forget God. “Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth’” [ Deuteronomy 8:17 ]. We did this all ourselves. Thanks for nothing. Sadly, human nature tends toward ingratitude.

Another culprit breeding ingratitude is our ‘entitlement’ culture. Simply put, why should we be grateful for what we ‘deserve’ and what we have a ‘right’ to? “I was owed this,” goes the culture, therefore why would I say “thank you”?

A third culprit concerns what Dr. Robert Emmons calls the “to whom” question (which I briefly mentioned previously). In his scientific study of gratitude, Emmons came to the realization that gratitude raises a singular and significant question: When we say thank you, to whom are we grateful?

The interesting thing here is that if we trace this “to whom” line of questioning back, we find a singular answer—the God of the Bible. God does “good by giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness” (Acts 14:17). Theologians call this “common grace.” God as creator cares for all His creation and provides for our needs. He gives us our very lives and our very breath.

God also does good by giving His most precious ‘gift’, His Beloved Son Jesus. Theologians call this “saving grace.” Gifts often cost the giver. What a costly gift God the Father has given us in sending the Son. So, Paul exclaims, “Thanks be to God for His inexpressible gift” [ 2 Corinthians 9:15 ].

So, when we consider God as the “to whom” we are thankful, we may well be seeing both the ‘necessity’ of thanksgiving and the ‘dimming’ of thanksgiving. As culture veers more and more towards a secular state it shrinks back from gratitude. Wrongly we think that we ‘deserve’ or even have a fundamental ‘right’ to all of this.

Saying “Thank you” means that we are dependent, not independent. Then the downward ‘spiral’ begins, and a culture of ingratitude careens ever downward into decline.

However, the believer should never be counted among those who see the fourth Thursday in November as nothing more than a day of football and over-indulgence. They should be thankful for one day set apart to consider all that they have and realize that ALL that they have has been ‘GIVEN’ to them! (Of course, such gratitude should in no way be limited to one day out of 365!)

Having been imprisoned for over a year in a small Nazi cell—measuring 6’ x 9’—Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote what certainly should be a reminder of the ‘REAL’ meaning of the Thanksgiving Day holiday:

“You must never doubt that I’m traveling with gratitude and cheerfulness along the road where I’m being led. My past life is brim-full of God’s goodness, and my sins are covered by the forgiving love of Christ crucified. I’m so thankful for the people I have met, and I only hope that they never have to grieve about me, but that they, too, will always be certain of and thankful for God’s mercy and forgiveness.”

Reiterating, Pilgrim Edward Winslow described the Pilgrims’ Thanksgiving in these words:

“Our harvest being gotten in, our Governor sent four men on fowling [bird hunting] so that we might, after a special manner, rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as… served the company almost a week… Many of the Indians [came] amongst us and… their greatest King, Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted; and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought… And although it be not always so plentiful as it was at this time with us, yet by the goodness of God we are… far from want.”

Believers are called to do many things: pray, love their neighbor, and give of their time, talents and treasures. However, they sometimes become so involved with their own desires and worldly obligations, that finding time to invest in their spiritual lives often takes a ‘back seat’. The same is often true of their ‘call’ to be grateful.

Multiple times in the Bible, believers are reminded of the importance of being thankful and continually expressing our gratitude.

While being grateful for positive events or moments of good fortune seems simple, having a disposition toward gratitude, especially as it applies to the believer, seems to suggest something more. A grateful heart is thankful for salvation and for God’s blessings, but it is also able to be grateful in difficult circumstances.

Take the Apostle Paul who, though persecuted and confined, produced some of the most inspired writing of the New Testament. Despite being imprisoned, Paul not only remained grateful, but encouraged others to be grateful as well, writing, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” [ Philippians 4:16 ].

Because of the grateful disposition he cultivated and his relationship with Jesus, Paul could find reasons to be thankful even in the midst of his suffering. Not only is he thankful to God, but he also spends much of the first chapter expressing his gratitude for the Philippians, his fellow believers. He goes on to focus on the good in his plight: “As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear” [ Philippians 1:13-14 ].

Paul set an example for all believers. Through his writing, we learn that being truly grateful extends beyond convenience. Instead, as receivers of salvation and divine grace, we should strive to be grateful in all seasons of our lives.

The Apostle Paul also reminds the believer to set an example in everything they do: in our speech, our conduct, our faith, and, arguably, in their gratitude (1 Timothy 4:12; Titus 2:7). By practicing gratitude, they don’t just stand to gain the numerous benefits identified through research, but they also learn to identify the numerous ways God reveals Himself in the intricacies of their lives. They learn to better appreciate His sovereignty, better emulate His moral character, and, perhaps most importantly, better understand their worth as recipients of His unyielding grace.

May this be said of all believers today!

‘BIBLICAL’ VIEW OF GRATITUDE
The Bible has much to say about thankfulness. In fact, giving thanks to God is of such fundamental importance that the Bible mentions the failure to do so as part of the basis for God’s judgment against mankind (Romans 1:21). “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” [ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ]. Clearly, thankfulness should be ‘characteristic’ of believers.

The thing is, the Bible defines and differentiates gratitude and thankfulness. In Colossians 3:17, the word used for “thanks” in the Greek is “εὐχαριστοῦντες” (“eucharistountes”), literally translated “good grace,” and it means to acknowledge God’s good grace or be thankful.

This word was used by Jesus when He broke the bread to feed the 5,000 people on the hill (Mark 8:6). He also used it at the Last Supper: “While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body’” [ Matthew 26:26 ].

So, what is translated as “giving thanks” in these instances means to acknowledge that God is the provider of something good. However, the Bible takes the meaning of the word “thank” one step further than the world’s definition of being “conscious of benefit received.” Biblical thanks means acknowledging the giver, not just the gift. It is ‘God-focused’, rather than self-focused.

Biblical thankfulness also means acknowledging the ‘kindness’ of the giver. It turns the focus on to the One who gives. Thankfulness in the Bible means showing appreciation for the goodness, effort, and thoughtfulness of the giver.

Now, in Colossians 3:16, the word for “gratitude” in the Greek is “χάριτι” (“chariti”), literally translated “extending favor towards” and means giving grace, favor, gratitude, or kindness. It is more often translated as “grace” than “gratitude.”

In 1 Corinthians 10:30, the word for gratitude is also used. In fact, this verse uses both gratitude and thanks, though you might not know it from some translations.

The Weymouth New Testament translation says: “If, so far as I am concerned, I partake with a grateful heart, why am I to be found fault with in regard to a thing for which I give thanks?”

In this verse, the first word is “chariti” (gratitude), and the second is “eucharisto” (thankfulness). So, another way to say this would be: “If I participate in a meal, giving grace, favor, gratitude, and kindness, why am I slandered for that which I acknowledge God’s good grace for?”

We see that in this verse “chariti” is about extending goodwill and gratitude towards another, in this case, God. Whereas “eucharisto” means acknowledging goodness received.

So, we see the difference in the word for gratitude in the Bible is more about the way you do or approach something. It is a ‘seasoning’ to your actions, a sustenance that strengthens, and is a quality that makes you stand out in a positive way. The gratitude here is a result of having experienced God’s goodness and, in response, blessing others likewise.

Now, to show biblical gratitude is to give goodness and grace to others, as the giver has first received from God. It means to extend the joy of receiving to others and God through gestures of kindness and goodness.

A great example of gratitude in the Bible is found in the story of the woman who washed Jesus’ feet. Jesus explained it to his dinner host, Simon:

“Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little”
[ Luke 7:44-47 ].

This woman was so filled with thankfulness for the forgiveness of her sins and the goodness of God in Jesus, that she couldn’t keep herself from spilling that gratitude all over Jesus. She literally brought a fragrance of having been touched by God’s goodness to the party.

Now, God doesn’t just give us good things so we can enjoy them. We, too, are ‘called’ to respond like the woman who washed the feet of Jesus:

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”
[ Ephesians 2:4-10 ].

It is made all the clearer that the believer has been given the gift of salvation through faith by means of God’s goodness towards them—and this gift has been given, not so one can brag about it. NO, it is so one can fulfill their ‘design’ to do good in return.

It means after having been filled with God’s goodness, the believer should bless others as they have been blessed.

The number of times a word shows up in the Bible shows it measure of importance. I think it is also important to consider how it is used, as well.

The word “gratitude”—and all its variations in the Greek—shows up 157 times (and a good amount relative to other ‘important’ words).

In addition to the number of times mentioned, it is one of the first words used to describe Jesus (explaining salvation). “For by [chariti] you have been saved through faith” [ Ephesians 2:8 ]. It is a quality used to praise God and to describe the power of Jesus. [ Note: When you read “Thanks be to God,” charis is the word used. ]

Even though “thankfulness” (“eucharisto” and it is variations) only shows up in the New Testament 38 times, you should note that it shows up as a ‘DIRECTIVE’ of Scripture.

– “In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus toward you” [ 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ].

– “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful” [ Colossians 3:15 ].

– “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” [ Philippians 4:6 ].

– “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe” [ Hebrews 12:28 ].

Biblical gratitude and thankfulness are valuable in the Kingdom of God. They turn our attention towards the giver honoring their effort by responding with kindness, appreciation, and goodwill.

Gratitude is not just being thankful to have received something. It is also not just about politeness, although that has its own value too. When we come to God with gratitude, it leads to praise. Our gratitude is worshipful and honors our Creator. “And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” [ Colossians 3:17 ].

The believer has so many reasons to thank God, and yet it is a far too rare practice for many. Complaining and grumbling come all too easily for them. Rather than look at what is lacking in their lives, may they learn to thank God in everything realizing that God ‘OWES’ US NOTHING and yet has GRACIOUSLY GIVEN them all things in Jesus (Romans 8:31-32; Ephesians 1:3-14; 2 Peter 1:3).

Jesus pointed out both the importance and the rarity of thanksgiving when only one of the ten lepers that He healed returned to thank Him. We would do well to imitate that one former leper (Luke 17:11-19). For in a spiritual sense, we are all born lepers with the disfiguring and alienating disease called sin. Yet, Christ voluntarily took on the punishment due to our ingratitude, the bruises due to our iniquities, and the ‘stripes’ due to our sins.

Thankfulness is the ONLY ‘PROPER’ RESPONSE to such ‘LAVISH’ GRACE. Our lives and every good thing in them are gifts from God (James 1:17). We have done and can do nothing to deserve these gifts (Job 41:11). We are forever debtors to God and to His grace which reached its zenith in His sacrificing His only Son for our salvation (John 3:16-17). The eternal life that we have received through faith in Jesus deserves an eternity of gratitude (John 3:15).

Now, gratitude is not merely passive and reflexive, it is also active and willful.
More than that, expressions of genuine heartfelt thanks seem to point others in a palpable way to grace. For instance, take the following description of gratitude published by a ‘secular’ person: “What marks gratitude is the psychological response to the gift, whatever its nature, and the experience, however briefly, of the transcendent emotion of grace—the sense that we have benefited from the actions of another” [ American Psychological Association in a book titled, “Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification” ]. It appears that even those writing in the purely secular sphere recognize that grace is the central feature of the experience of gratitude, though they fail to apprehend the One whose gracious nature stands behind such experiences (Ephesians 2:8).

The Apostle Paul, writing to the Philippians, said it this way:

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, 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 understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”
[ Philippians 4:4-7 ].

According to Paul, when one willingly chooses to focus on those things for which they are thankful it has a ‘HEART-SHAPING’ EFFECT. When one stewards their minds to meditate on the gracious gifts of God, then peace from God—which surpasses all ability to cognitively work out—it seems to rule in their hearts.

Finally, the virtue of gratitude is that thanks is one of the major ‘tributaries’ which finds itself terminating in that beautifully deep and wide ‘river’ the believer knows as ‘AWE’. As they become a person who is intentionally transforming their lives to recognize the nearly innumerable gifts given to them by God, their hearts are taken by the ‘currents’ of gratitude and they find themselves in awe and wonder of God’s good graces.

Scripture is infused with thanksgiving to God for all of His gifts to the believer, even in the midst of suffering. It is easy for them to focus their attention on what they don’t have, to “complain in all circumstances” rather than give thanks. Yet, God’s will for the believer is to GIVE THANKS—ALL THE TIME!

GIVING GOD THANKS
Thanksgiving Day is a uniquely American holiday, since it originally was a day set aside with the specific purpose of giving THANKS TO GOD, for all of His provisions.

In the Old Testament book of Psalms, we find “A Psalm of Thanksgiving” that begins, “Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture” [ Psalm 100:1-3 ].

This psalm originally was given to the people of Israel after they finally left Egypt and made their long trek through the wilderness—ultimately arriving in the Promised Land. God essentially said to them, “When you enter the Promised Land, settle down in your homes and have plenty to eat, and don’t forget about Me.”

Well, they ‘forgot’ God then and, sadly, this can happen very easily to us today as well. God was saying to the Israelites, “I want you to remember to give thanks to Me.” They needed constant reminders, as do we today.

Now, notice this psalm is addressed not only to Israel but to “all the earth” (verse 1). It is addressed to ALL people and ALL generations.

Also, notice that not a word is said about ‘material’ things. Our rejoicing on Thanksgiving Day (and really, every day) should not be based on what we have materially. It should be based on WHO is providing everything.

Material possessions come and go. Friends come and go. So, does time and, eventually, even our health. But God DOES NOT come and go. Jesus said, “Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, ‘I will never fail you. I will never abandon you’” [ Hebrews 13:5 ].

So, even in ‘troubled’ times, you can still give thanks. “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever” [ Psalm 107:1 ]. You can give thanks because He IS ‘good’. You can give thanks because God IS in ‘control’ of your life. You can also give thanks because, ultimately, God will “work all things together for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose” [ Romans 8:28 ].

Digging deeper into the Scriptures, they tell us why we should be thankful:

Psalm 136:1 says, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.” Here we have two reasons to be thankful: God’s constant ‘GOODNESS’ and His steadfast ‘LOVE’. When we recognize the nature of our depravity and understand that, apart from God, there is only death (John 10:10; Romans 7:5), our natural response is to be grateful for the life He gives.

Psalm 30 gives praise to God for His ‘DELIVERANCE’. David writes, “I will exalt you, O Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. O Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. O Lord, you brought me up from the grave; you spared me from going down into the pit… You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever” [ Psalm 30:1-12 ]. Here David gives thanks to God following an obviously difficult circumstance. This psalm of thanksgiving not only praises God in the moment but remembers God’s past ‘FAITHFULNESS’. It is a statement of God’s character, which is so wonderful that praise is the only appropriate response.

We also have examples of being thankful in the midst of hard circumstances. Psalm 28, for example, depicts David’s distress. It is a cry to God for ‘MERCY’, ‘PROTECTION’, and ‘JUSTICE’. After David cries out to God, he writes, “Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy, and I will give thanks to him in song” [ Psalm 28:6-7 ]. In the midst of hardship, David remembers who God is and, as a result of knowing and trusting God, gives thanks. Job had a similar attitude of praise, even in the face of death: “The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised” [ Job 1:21 ].

There are examples of believers’ thankfulness in the New Testament as well. The Apostle Paul was heavily persecuted, yet he wrote, “Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of Him” [ 2 Corinthians 2:14 ]. The writer of Hebrews said, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe” [ Hebrews 12:28 ]. The Apostle Peter also gives a reason to be thankful for “grief and all kinds of trials,” saying that, through the hardships, our faith “may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed” [ 1 Peter 1:6-7 ].

The people of God should be thankful people, for they should realize how much they have been given. One of the characteristics of the ‘Last Days’ is a lack of thanksgiving: “People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy” [ 2 Timothy 3:2 ]. (I think we are seeing much more of this these days.)

As was discussed earlier, feeling and expressing appreciation is actually ‘good’ for us. Like any wise father, God wants us to learn to be thankful for all the gifts He has given us (James 1:17). It is in our best interest to be reminded that everything we have is a ‘gift’ from Him. Without gratitude, we become arrogant and self-centered. We begin to believe that we have achieved everything on our own. Thankfulness keeps our hearts in right relationship to the Giver of all good gifts—God.

Giving thanks also reminds us of how much we DO HAVE. Human beings are prone to covetousness. We tend to focus on what we don’t have. By giving thanks continually we are reminded of how much we do have. When we focus on blessings rather than wants, we are happier. When we start thanking God for the things we usually take for granted, our perspective changes. We realize that we could not even exist without the merciful blessings of God.

The Apostle Paul said, “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” [ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ]. The believer is to be thankful not only for the things they like, but for the circumstances they don’t like. When they purpose to thank God for everything that He allows to come into their lives, they keep bitterness at bay. They cannot be both thankful and bitter at the same time. Now, they do not thank Him for evil, but that He is sustaining us through it (James 1:12). They don’t thank Him for harm He did not cause, but they thank Him when He gives them the strength to endure it (2 Corinthians 12:9). They finally thank Him for His promise that “all things will work together for the good, to those who love God and are called according to His purpose” [ Romans 8:28 ].

The believer can have a thankful heart toward God even when they do not feel thankful for the circumstance(s). They can grieve and still be thankful. They can hurt and still be thankful. They can be angry at sin and still be thankful toward God. That is what the Bible calls a “sacrifice of praise” (Hebrews 13:15). Giving thanks to God keeps their hearts in ‘right’ relationship with Him and saves them from a host of harmful emotions and attitudes that will rob them of the peace God wants them to experience (Philippians 4:6-7).

So, as the believer celebrates Thanksgiving Day, they need to remember that God is the One who has given them ALL the wonderful things and blessings. They also can go back further than the presidential proclamations for the holiday to a much earlier Thanksgiving ‘proclamation’:

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
For his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
to him who alone does great wonders,
for his steadfast love endures forever.”

And as we get to the end of the psalm, the psalmist says,

“It is he who remembered us in our lowest state,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
and he rescued us from our foes,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
he who gives food to all flesh,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of heaven,
for his steadfast love endures forever.”

[ Psalm 136:1-3; 23-26 ].

Believers should be thankful because God IS ‘WORTHY’ of their thanksgiving. It is only right to credit Him for “every good and perfect gift” He gives (James 1:17). When one is thankful, their focus moves off selfish desires and off the ‘pain’ of current circumstances. Expressing thankfulness helps them remember that God is in control.

Thankfulness, then, is not only appropriate, but it is also actually healthy and beneficial to them. It reminds them of the BIGGER ‘PICTURE’, that they ‘belong’ to God, and that they have been blessed with every spiritual blessing (Ephesians 1:3). Truly, they have an abundant life (John 10:10), and gratefulness is fitting.

A ‘MODEL’ FOR THANKFULNESS
So, I started this post writing about the Thanksgiving holiday—which was just a few days ago—and I am sending this out on “Giving Tuesday.” (Definitely ‘focused’ on thankfulness).

In getting ready ‘spiritually’ for Thanksgiving, I realized that even with all the challenges and struggles from the past few years, there is still much to be grateful for. (Each Thanksgiving I try to think of a fresh way to think of being grateful and reaffirm why gratitude is even important in the first place.)

Sometimes it is the little things—that I am simply the ‘observer’ of—that mean so much: the joyful laughter of a small child, a couple planning their wedding, a baby deer scampering through my yard, a clear moonlight night on my lake, and the radiance of the morning sun on a cold, blistery day. (Just a very few ‘simple’ things that I observed in the past few days.)

As it has been said, gratitude is important because it ‘connects’ us with God. It is about acknowledging our relationship with Him as the ‘Source’ of all the good and blessings in one’s life. Being grateful to God is always an empowering thing to do, no matter what time of year it is, and I thought it would be a good time to ponder what Jesus was thankful for, and how HE ‘expressed’ that gratitude.

I imagine that Jesus lived in a ‘constant’ state of gratitude to God. He was always quick to point out to His followers that He could only do what He did because of His relationship with God the Father. (As you read how Jesus expressed gratitude, think of how you can follow His example.)

The Bible presents four different times that Jesus ‘gave’ thanks. The first time is when Jesus has been teaching, preaching, and healing, all over the area. He said:

“O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way”
[ Luke 10:21 ].

Jesus first thanks God that these deep spiritual truths have been hidden from those who are “wise and clever” in their own eyes. He then thanks God for revealing the truth to the childlike (disciples) hearts. Two ‘opposite’ things.

So then, why was Jesus grateful for the wise and clever not receiving the truth? Well, it is easy to be grateful to God when things work out the way you want them to or even better than you could have imagined. But, how do you find something to be grateful for when people reject your God-given purpose and message, when you face opposition, defeat, or setback? When you have been rejected, misunderstood, and mistreated, and it seems more natural to have a ‘pity party’.

Gratitude is often the ‘way out’, but this is the ‘prayer’ for the hearts of the ‘childlike’ folks who were ready and prepared to receive the truth Jesus came to bear witness to. They began to hope and glimpse that He was the fulfillment of their deepest longings—for their Messiah.

However, the wise and clever were not ready for Jesus’ message. They were like the people whom God rebuked in the past because they trusted in their own wisdom: “Your wisdom and your knowledge led you astray” [ Isaiah 47:10 ].

The second time Jesus expressed thanks was when He multiplied the loaves and the fish to feed the multitudes (Matthew 15:36; Mark 8:6; John 6:11). In the presence of very little food—hardly enough for one family—Jesus prayed and thanked God.

Jesus focused on first seeking the Kingdom of God and God’s righteousness. (When one does this, they will be given all that they ‘need’ – Matthew 6:33).

The third time Jesus expresses gratitude is just before He raised Lazarus from the grave. He thanks God for always hearing and answering His prayer (John 11:41, 42).

Usually one expresses their thanks to God AFTER a blessing or a healing. But Jesus sets the supreme example of gratitude by thanking God for hearing His prayer BEFORE He has even prayed it and before it is answered. (That takes quite a trust in God and a confidence in how God will respond.)

So, do you pray with that same degree of gratitude and confidence that God will hear and answer your prayers? Well, you should! Because the believer has the “mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16). If one prays with their own human mind—with its fears and doubts—they will not pray as Jesus did. However, if one prays with the ‘mindset’ of Jesus, there WILL be a difference! “You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father” [ John 14:13 ]. (Notice the ‘focus’ of the prayer: For God’s glory, not yours!)

The fourth time Jesus expressed gratitude was during the Last Supper when He gave His disciples wine to drink and bread to eat to commemorate His life purpose (Matthew 26:26-29; Luke 22:17-20).

Jesus knew that, in just a few hours, He would be betrayed, arrested, put on trial, falsely accused, and crucified—yet He gave thanks!

The thing is, this is more than thanks for food and drink. The bread represented His body that was to be broken; the cup represented His blood that was to be shed. (Which is what “Holy Communion” represents today).

Then, Jesus could also foresee His disciples would follow in His ‘footsteps’ and spread the Gospel to the furthest reaches of their world at that time, by the ‘emboldening’ of the Holy Spirit. There was indeed much to be grateful for (also shown in the “Priestly Prayer” in John 17).

Question: When you feel the world is ‘caving in’ on you and it seems evil forces are united to defeat you, is it possible, in the midst of all that tension, to pause and give thanks? Well, if it is hard to do, maybe try taking a ‘cue’ from Jesus next time. (Jesus was grateful for ALL that He has accomplished—all that God had ‘asked’ of Him. He had preached the Gospel to thousands; healed the multitudes; and loved mankind with more love than any other person who had ever set foot on the earth. This was much to be grateful for.)

So, how can you follow Jesus’ example of giving thanks? Well, when you are faced with challenges, whether large or small, pause to give thanks for all the blessings of the past, as well as the blessings to come in the future.

Jesus gave us a few ‘lessons’ in practicing gratitude, and an attitude of gratitude and faith always go together. The believer should never take for granted that God DOES hear and DOES answer a believer’s prayers—it just might be in HIS ‘time’, which one will find is the ‘BEST’ time.

‘OVERFLOWING’ WITH GRATITUDE
As believers, their gratitude should overflow in response to the benefits they receive as ‘children’ of God. In fact, a thankful heart is a defining ‘CHARACTERISTIC’ of a godly person, since it is an outward ‘expression’ of His indwelling presence. A thankful person also acknowledges that God IS the ‘Source’ of every provision and blessing.

Even in the Old Testament, the Lord desired gratitude from His people. They didn’t have the Bible, so He used a sacrificial system of worship to teach them that He—the holy, sovereign God—was the Source of every good thing. They learned to express their gratitude by bringing Him offerings.

The believer’s thanksgiving begins as soon as they acknowledge that Jesus is their Savior and is alone ‘responsible’ for their salvation. From that moment, He begins to develop the qualities that produce grateful hearts. In Colossians 2:6-7, Paul teaches us that the believer should be thankful because:

– They have been ‘sealed’
– They can ‘walk’ with Him
– They have been firmly ‘rooted’
– They are being ‘built up’
– They are ‘established’ in their faith

Although it is good to be thankful for blessings such as good health and family, the believer should not overlook the many spiritual blessings they gain ‘through’ Jesus. For example:

– They were chosen by God before the foundation of the world
– They are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who guides and enables them to do the Father’s will
– They are eternally secure, and no one can take that from them.
– They have been given the gifts of the Spirit to help them accomplish what God calls them to do
– They enjoy an intimate relationship with God, which is much more satisfying than any human bond
– They have God’s peace in their ‘hearts’
– They are loved unconditionally by God, regardless of their mistakes
– They will experience the Lord’s presence with them moment by moment, no matter where they are
– They serve a God who has promised to meet all their needs.
– They enjoy His protection (which is something they will not fully understand until they reach Heaven)
– They can rely on the promise of a bodily resurrection
– They have a home in Heaven that they will see one day
– They actually can understand the Bible to teach and guide them

Now, one can ‘evaluate’ their relationships with God by measuring their gratitude. That is why the Apostle Paul used the word “overflowing” to describe how great the believer’s thankfulness should be. People who have grateful hearts are positive, humble, peaceful, thoughtful, generous, unselfish, friendly, contagious, servant-hearted, faithful, fruitful, and joyful!

Thankfulness is a choice. If it is lacking in us, we must decide to make a change.
As we recognize and acknowledge God’s wonderful blessings and ask Him to give us grateful hearts, He will begin transforming our lives. The thing is, no one can deliver on that promise for you but Jesus.

Then, as we live ‘in’ Christ, His characteristics of goodness, love, kindness, and generosity will pour through us until we are truly ‘overflowing’ with thankfulness.

An illustration of this could be if we walk around with a full glass and someone bumps into us unexpectedly. It won’t take much of a ‘bump’ for what is ‘within’ us to overflow—which, sadly, most of the time is bitterness, ingratitude, envy, or jealousy. Whatever is ‘inside’ will come flowing out. (Hopefully, ‘good’ things will also come out sometimes!)

As an example, the Apostle Paul wrote to the Colossian believers encouraging them to be ‘marked’ by a grateful heart—a key characteristic of a believer. The word Paul uses to describe this thankfulness, “abounding,” comes from a fairly common and Greek word, “perisseuo.” In other places in Scripture, its root is translated as “overflowing.” Paul’s meeting is clear: when people ‘bumped into’ these believers, the overspill, he instructed, was to be thankfulness.

When people have not been transformed by Jesus, ingratitude—along with its resulting bitterness, complaining, anger, and malice—often marks their lives. ‘In’ Jesus, however, believers trade ingratitude for thanksgiving, bitterness for joy, and anger for peace!

The thing is, having heard of God’s grace—in all its truth—and having turned to him in repentance and faith, the believer’s sins have been forgiven, and they have the Holy Spirit dwelling ‘inside’ them. They have a new ‘family’ in God’s Church on the earth. They have access to God in prayer. They have eternal life ahead of them. In other words, they have MUCH to be grateful for. Thankfulness should become the ‘overflow’ of the believer.

This kind of gratitude has significant effects. It turns a believer’s gaze to God and away from themselves and their circumstances. It defends them against the Devil’s ‘whisper’, which incites them to despair and to distrust what God has said. It also protects them from pride. Phrases like “I deserve more of this,” and “I don’t deserve this,” are eradicated from their vocabulary. It allows them to rest in the knowledge of God working out is loving purpose not only in pleasant and encouraging experiences, but also in unsettling and painful ones. It is only by grace that they learn to “give thanks in ALL circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). The antidote to thanklessness is found only in ‘union’ with Jesus (Ephesian 1:7, 1:13; Philippians 3:9; 1 Corinthians 1:30, 15:22; Romans 8:1).

So, do you see in yourself any lingering ingratitude over what God has chosen not to give you? If so, seek Jesus’ forgiveness and ask for His help to see all that you HAVE BEEN ‘GIVEN’. Then, you will truly ‘overflow’ with thankfulness!

THANKS FOR ONE’S ‘SALVATION’
Any list of the blessings for believers must begin with their ‘SALVATION’. The grace of God freely provided them the privilege to become His ‘children’.

There are many benefits that accompany one’s salvation. Some include:

– The restored relationship with God
– The freedom from guilt regarding the past
– The indwelling Holy Spirit
– The ability to understand the Scriptures

However, the GREATEST ‘BLESSING’ of all is the one the believer has not yet received. Salvation offers them the CERTAIN ‘HOPE’ of ETERNAL LIFE with God in Heaven! This world is merely the ‘doorway’ to eternal life. (For the believer, the best is truly yet to come!)

Evangelist D. L. Moody put it this way:

“Some day you will read in the papers that D.L. Moody of East Northfield, is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now; I shall have gone up higher, that is all, out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal—a body that death cannot touch, that sin cannot taint; a body fashioned like unto His glorious body.”

So, of all of God’s wonderful ‘gifts’, the GREATEST one He has given is the gift of His Son, Jesus. On the Cross of Calvary, Jesus paid the believer’s sin debt, so a holy and just Judge could forgive their sins and give them eternal life as a free gift.

This ‘gift’ is only available to those who will ‘call’ on Jesus to save them from their sin in simple but sincere faith (John 3:16; Romans 3:19-26; Romans 6:23; Romans 10:13; Ephesians 2:8-10). This gift meets one’s greatest need, as the Apostle Paul says, “…because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” [ 2 Corinthians 9:14b-15 ].

In presenting the concept of salvation ‘in’ Jesus to the Colossians, the Apostle Paul presented five ‘facets’:

– He Qualified Us
– He Rescued Us
– He Transferred Us
– He Redeemed Us
– He Forgave Us

“Giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the Kingdom of light. For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins”
[ Colossians 1:12-14 ].

So, with each one of these points, I will look into this ‘jewel’ of salvation, from different ‘angles’, and allow its glory to seep deep into our hearts.

– He ‘Qualified’ Us (Verse 12)
For example, before one enters college, one needs to qualify by obtaining high enough grades on the ACT or SAT ‘exams’. Then, before receiving a diploma, one needs to qualify by ‘passing’ all of their classes. Before entering a stadium, one needs to qualify to enter, by possessing a ‘ticket’. Obtaining the heavenly inheritance is no different. You need to have the proper ‘qualifications’ to enter.

So then, what are the qualifications? Well, it is simple: You need to be ‘like’ God. You need to be holy and pure like He is. You need to be sinless. Jesus said it this way: “You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” [ Matthew 5:48 ].

That is the problem, we are ALL are ‘disqualified’—and we will NEVER even have the opportunity to be qualified. (We are like the track runner who drifted over into the wrong lane and was disqualified.) Our sin has prevented us from meeting the qualification requirements on our own. Every one of us has been born into sin. Every one of us have sinned many times. None of us have the ability on our own to qualify to receive the heavenly inheritance!

BUT, it says that, “the Father… has qualified us.” This is the glorious news of the Gospel! Although we cannot qualify ourselves on our own, God has done it on His own. In other words, God has done something that has given us ‘permission’ to share in the inheritance. He did it through His Son, Jesus.

When Jesus died upon the Cross, He was making us sufficient to share with Him in the inheritance that the Father would give Him. It is completely undeserved on our part. It is completely unearned on our part. It is all of His doing. We simply need to believe in the Gospel to receive it. We simply need to believe that Jesus has done it all for us!

– He ‘Rescued’ Us (Verse 13).
For example, you are in a burning building, trapped with a wall of flames all around you, with no way out of the blaze. You are behind enemy lines, having been taken captive, with no hope of escape. You had no chance of saving yourself. Your only hope was that others would come and help you. Your rescue depends upon the ‘heroic’ actions of OTHERS, who are seeking to rescue you.

So, spiritually, your troubles haven’t come about merely because you happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Your troubles came about because of your own ‘sin’. Your perilous situation came about because of your own ‘choices’. You were behind enemy lines because you have ‘rejected’ God under the authority of the “world forces of darkness” (Ephesians 6:12), in real danger of perishing along with Satan and His angels into that fiery furnace (Matthew 25:41).

However, again, the good news is God goes behind ‘enemy lines’ and IS that ‘Hero’ that saves souls out of the fire (Psalm 107).

Now, when you have reached the end of yourself and have nowhere to turn, God will be gracious to save you from the ‘storm’. Then, in your gladness of being rescued—like them in Psalm 107—give thanks to the LORD for His lovingkindness toward you!

– He ‘Transferred’ Us (Verse 13)
For example, picture miners trapped in a coal mine. Imagine now rescuers lifting them out of their darkness, setting them free. Then, imagine the president calling these miners to the White House. Not to congratulate them. Not to rejoice with them. But rather, to give them a new residence. He tells them, “I know that once you worked in darkness and were trapped and in need of rescue. Not only have I sent my men to rescue you, but I am giving you this house in which to live. You don’t ever need to go back to your coal mining community, with its modest houses. From now on, you can stay here. From now on, you will live in my house with me.”

That is what God has done for the believer. When God rescued them from the darkness of their sin (1 John 1:6), He didn’t just let them go our merry way—that we might find ourselves in darkness once again. No, He “transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.” (In Ephesians 5:8, Paul said, “You were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord.”)

Those who believe and trust in Jesus have a ‘new’ King and a new ‘loyalty’. They live in a new ‘setting’—in the Kingdom of God. (He is preparing a better one for believers right now – John 14:2).

This is why Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Our citizenship is in Heaven” (Phil. 3:20). It is there that our loyalty lies. Believers in Christ are no longer under the authority of Satan. We are now ‘residents’ of the loved Son of God.

This is such great news that Peter says that you should proclaim His excellencies (1 Peter 1:9). One way to do this is through the giving of joyful thanks to God (as Colossians 1:12 instructs us to do).

– He ‘Redeemed’ Us (Verse 14)
The idea here is that God paid a price the WE ‘OWE’—and the price was high! One doesn’t get transferred from the domain of darkness into the Kingdom of God without a high cost. (Those who have adopted children into their own families know that a high price needs to be paid to adopt.)

Every single one of our sins needed to have a ‘payment’. In the Old Testament, the cost was the sacrifice of a lamb or of a goat. At the Cross of Calvary, Jesus was the one great sacrifice, Who paid the redemption price with His own blood. “You were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” [ 1 Peter. 1:18-19 ].

When one reads such a statement they can easily miss the ‘magnitude’ of what took place on the Cross. When Jesus died upon the Cross, He was paying for the sin of EVERYONE who would ever ‘believe’ upon Him. Do you have any idea of how many sins this was? (I want for each of you to think about your own life. How many sins have you ever committed? A few? Many? A whole bunch?)

Well, let’s try to estimate how many sins you (and me) have committed. Let’s just suppose that you sin only twice an hour that you are awake. (At least for me, that is quite conservative). Suppose then you are awake for 15 hours each day. (Again, this is quite generous. It allows you to sleep each day for nine hours). That would then be 30 sins every day. So, if you multiply that by seven days in a week, you come up with 210 sins every week. Assuming only 4 weeks in a month, that puts you at 840 sins each month. With twelve months each year, you are up to 10,080 sins each year. At this rate, you sin more than 100,000 times each decade of your life. The average lifetime—in the U.S.—is 70 years, so this puts the total number of your sins somewhere in the neighborhood of 750,000 sins in a lifetime (by the most conservative of estimates).

Here is the point: Every ONE of your sins needed to be paid for upon the Cross at Calvary. However, Jesus died for the sins of a multitude that is so large that “no one could count them” (Revelation 7:9). The redemption ‘price’ is OVERWHELMING!

[ I just wanted for you to see the magnitude of the redemption. I trust that when you see the size of the redemption, it will stir you to the giving of THANKS! ]

When one receives a small gift, they are usually a ‘little’ thankful. HOWEVER, when one receives a very large gift, they are ‘very, very’ thankful!

Jesus taught this same concept when He visited the home of a Pharisee. When He arrived, there was a woman in the city who was a notorious sinner. She came with some perfume and anointed His feet with the perfume. She was wetting His feet with her tears and wiping them with the hair of her head. She was kissing His feet continually. Such a thing caused the Pharisee to think less of Jesus, reasoning that if He were really a prophet, He would have known that such a woman was a sinner. So then, Jesus told a parable.

He said that there were two debtors. Each of them owned an amount that they were unable to pay back. One of them owed ten times the amount that the other one did. Graciously, their debts were forgiven. Then Jesus asked the Pharisee, “Which of them will love him more?” [ Luke 7:42 ]. Of course, the response is that the one who owed the bigger debt. Jesus said that such a response explains the actions of this woman. “Her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little” [ Luke 7:47 ]. So, it is also with our redemption.

When you come to understand the size of the gift that Jesus gave to redeem us all, you cannot help, but to give GREAT THANKS and praise to God. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” [ 2 Corinthians 9:15 ].

– He ‘Forgave’ Us (Verse 14)
When Jesus redeemed us, He forgave our sins and they were wiped away. [ The idea of forgiveness is the idea of “sending away,” as the Israelites did with the second lamb that was sent out into the wilderness with the sins of the people ’transferred’ onto it by the High Priest. ]

God said, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). When your sins are far removed from you, they no longer ‘condemn’ you! King David said, “How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven” (Psalm 32:1). The ‘burden’ of your sins has been lifted. You are no longer under condemnation.

I love the portrayal that John Bunyan used in his book, “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” when describing the sin of the protagonist Christian. He walked about in tattered clothes with a big burden on his back. It was always weighing him down. When he fell into the Slough of Despond, the burden of sin made it especially difficult for him to get out of his despair. But later, when he looked to the Cross of Christ, his burden fell from his back and rolled into the tomb, never to be seen again!

[ VIDEO: “The Pilgrim’s Progress” – Protagonist Christian loses his burden ]

All this to say that one’s response to these things ought to generate within the believer a stirring of JOYFUL THANKSGIVING for the GREAT ‘GRACE’ that God has shown them!

WAYS TO ‘IMPACT’ ONE’S LIFE
Salvation is what we are most grateful for in this life—and that is a great thing!

Jesus Himself taught that our greatest joy should be that our names are written in Heaven (Luke 10:20), or in the “Book of Life” (Revelation 21:27). So, it is well in order to feel IMMENSELY ‘GRATEFUL’ to God for our salvation and also allow that joyful attitude to ‘reflect’ in our daily living. (If you don’t value your salvation, you will underestimate the need to love other people with the same love God has loved you with.)

It is my belief that if the believer is constantly thankful to God for the free gift of salvation we received in Christ, it will positively impact the way they respond to God and the way they treat other people.

So, here are some ways of being grateful for your salvation will impact your life positively:

– Find It Easier To Live A Life Of Gratitude
The Bible tells us that, “In all things, we should give thanks to God.” That is a way of saying you should always maintain a heart of gratitude.

I am not saying it will be easy to do, but it is something that CAN be done, even when life doesn’t go the way you want it.

As someone pointed out, “It is not everything that happens that is the will of God. But it is the will of God that you should give thanks to God no matter what happens.”

– Live To Please God Rather Than Yourself (or anyone else)
When you appreciate your salvation as something you could never achieve by your best efforts, but which God delivered to you undeservedly, it becomes imperative that you ‘focus’ on pleasing the One Who saved you in the first place.

God paid the highest ‘price’ for your salvation—the death of His Son, Jesus—so He deserves to get your highest love, greatest pleasure, and deepest loyalty. Before you were saved, you were living for yourself and for the devil. Once you have been saved, you should begin to live your life to the glory of God.

– You Will Love Other People More
At salvation, you received the love of God in your ‘heart’. This love enables you to love other people, whether they are lovely or not.

– You Will Live A Hopeful Life
Hopelessness is a consequence of not having any expectations for a future good. But ‘in’ Christ, you are guaranteed a good future.

God has promised to bring you to a glorious expected end!

A believer’s salvation is not an end in itself. It is the ‘restoration’ of our relationship with God here on earth, and it ‘points’ us to a more glorious future—Heaven.

A ‘saved’ person has a ‘living’ hope that starts here on earth and extends beyond this world into a glorious eternity. If you are someone that always appreciates your salvation, you will not lose sight of that.

The Apostle Paul argues that, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable” [ 1 Corinthians 15:19 ].

Hopelessness is a consequence of not having any expectations for a future good. But in Christ, you are ‘guaranteed’ of a good future.

– Your Faith Will Be Strengthened
Ingratitude will ‘drain’ your strength! But gratitude will ‘empower’ you.

The greatest thing God did for mankind was to send Jesus to die for the atonement of believers. This singular act coupled with your positive response to it by faith is what afforded you the benefit/hope of eternal salvation.

Hopefully, just like Apostle Paul, you will reason that, “He [God] who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” [ Romans 8:32 ].

No work of God’s grace is more beyond our comprehension yet more worthy of gratitude than one’s salvation. Before coming to ‘know’ Jesus, each of us lived in a self-imposed ‘prison’. Guilty, condemned, spiritually blind, and with no means to pay our sin ‘debt’, our destiny was one of eternal separation from God.

HOWEVER, Jesus not only rescued us from the power and penalty of our sins, He also lifted us to a place of blessing. He delivered the believer from punishment and took away the threat of eternal Hell—giving them the hope of eternal life in Heaven. He dismissed them from divine wrath and gave them a divine peace and happiness.

What’s more, Jesus ‘ASSURED’ the believer of their salvation (John 6:37), and they can rest in the confidence of His guarantee, which is another cause for thanksgiving!

We, like the Pilgrims, have a choice. In life there will always be those things that we can complain about (the Pilgrims had lost many loved ones), but there will also be much to be thankful for. As our society becomes increasingly secular, the actual “giving of thanks to God” during our annual Thanksgiving holiday is being overlooked, leaving only the feasting. May God grant that He may find us grateful every day for all of His gifts, spiritual and material. God is good, and every good gift comes from Him (James 1:17). For those who know Christ, God also works everything together for good, even events we would not necessarily consider good (Romans 8:28-30). May He find us to be His grateful children.

PRAYER OF THANKS FOR ONE’S SALVATION
“Dear Father God, thank You for Your Son Jesus Christ our Savior and for the salvation that we have received through trusting in His death on the cross and His resurrection. My heart overflows with grateful thanks and praise for His amazing sacrifice for sin.

Thank You, that He was sent to pay the price for my sins and the sins of the whole world. Lord, I simply want to live in Him and be rooted in Him. I pray that I may grow in grace, mature in the faith, and find my strength in Him.

There is no greater blessing that You could have given to us than the precious life of Your only begotten Son, so that in Him we may be redeemed from death and hell and receive forgiveness of sins and everlasting life.

I pray that I may live my life in a manner that glorifies You. I just thank You, Father, for Your amazing gift of salvation, and pray that many who have not accepted Jesus as their Savior may do so before it is too late. This I ask in His dear name’s sake,

Amen.”

WRAP-UP
I think—as do MANY others—that Thanksgiving Day is the greatest feasting day of the year, hands down. It is all about cooking, eating, sharing, and enjoying, as well as reminiscing about family memories and recipes, and savoring some tastes we only get once a year.

The lifestyle website “Real Simple” offered up how to make your feast extra memorable by sprucing up a classic course or two with a new dish or technique that, they say, is destined to “become a staple at your annual Thanksgiving Day feast.”

The following is what they suggested to cook if you are looking to serve a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with a modern ‘twist’ (At this point, probably something to consider for next year—or maybe for Christmas!).

Appetizers
Thanksgiving appetizers might not be the stars of the day, but they are the first dishes you and your guests enjoy. Make a lasting impression with these classic options”

– Turkey Pumpkin Chili
– Brussels Sprouts Salad
– Sweet Potato and Brie Flatbread
– Butternut Squash Soup With Sage
– Curried Cauliflower Soup

Main Course
A traditional main course on Thanksgiving is turkey, and plenty of it. Take a look at the different preparations below and decide which one works best for you.

– Smokey Maple Turkey
– Roast Turkey Legs
– Smoked Turkey

Sides
For many, including those who don’t eat meat or can’t stand turkey, the sides are the real stars of a traditional Thanksgiving feast. We’ve included all the classics, such as mashed potatoes, stuffing, and more.

– Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes
– Sourdough and Sage Stuffing
– Green Beans With Bacon Vinaigrette
– Honey-Butter Creamed Corn
– Bourbon Cranberry Compote

Desserts
No holiday meal is complete without dessert, especially not Thanksgiving dinner. Go with a classic, like pumpkin pie, or switch things up a bit with an apropos cake. it is your choice!

– Cranberry Ricotta Cake
– Pumpkin Pie
– Sweet Potato Pie

[ FYI: For all the recipes, view their website:
https://www.realsimple.com/holidays-entertaining/holidays/thanksgiving/dinner-ideas/traditional-thanksgiving-dinner-menu ].

Now, after all the great food, expressing thanks might be that ‘tradition’ you can add to your next Thanksgiving Day (if y’all don’t do it already). This holiday—from its inception—has been specially set aside for us not only to be mindful of our blessings, but also to express and ‘appreciate’ them!

Most of us find ourselves surrounded by creature comforts these days that those early Pilgrims could not have never imagined. So then, how could the Pilgrims offer thanks in such austere circumstances? Well, they were ‘GENUINELY’ GRATEFUL.

So then, what makes one grateful? Well, the ‘simple’ definition of gratitude is when one acknowledges another person who intentionally, altruistically, and at some cost to themselves, gives them something of value, and then they respond with feelings of kindness, warmth, and other forms of generosity.

The psychologist Robert Emmons refines the definition of gratitude into two ‘components’. First, it is an ‘affirmation’ of goodness, and secondly, it is figuring out where that goodness ‘comes from’. We recognize that the ‘sources’ of this goodness as being ‘outside’ of ourselves—other people or even ‘higher powers’—that gave us a ‘gift’ to help us achieve ‘goodness’ in our lives.

Emmons continues by saying that, there is a sort of ‘paradox’ associated with gratitude: “While the evidence is clear that cultivating gratitude, in our lives and in our attitude to life, makes us happier and healthier people more attuned to the flow of blessings in our lives, it is still difficult. Practicing gratitude is easier said than done.”

Well, probably the most popular ‘method’ of practicing gratitude is just saying, “Thank you.” This is a phrase that is repeated innumerable times each day—more often in some cultures than others. But, as much as we say it, we probably don’t say it as often as we should. Sadly, thanks or gratitude has become one of those things that we neglect these days.

Not saying, “Thank you,” suggests that one is taking blessings FOR ‘GRANTED’. It suggests that we think people are ‘obligated’ to be nice to us without us being obligated to be nice in return. So then, let us look at the ‘roots’ and reasons for gratitude.

The word “thank” goes all the way back to the Latin word “tongere.” It means, “I will remember (think of) what you did for me” (or to expand that idea, “I will think of you when I think of what you did for me”)

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “thank” is the expression of that thought to that person responsible for the favor.

However, the roots of “thank you” go back further than old English in Latin. Thanksgiving was a significant dimension of religious life in the Old Testament.

Of the five types of sacrifices prescribed in the Old Testament, one was a voluntary sacrifice call a “fellowship offering” or “thank offering.” This was an act of worship on the part of those who were at peace with God to express gratitude and fellowship (Leviticus 3; 7:11-34). Thank offerings were voluntary thank you’s to God for his blessings–and a ‘voluntary’ thank you is really the only kind that matters!

Voluntary “Thank you’s” were the kind that Jesus most often expressed. He thanked God for the food at the feeding of the 4,000 (Mark 8:6), and the feeding of the 5,000 (Matthew 14:19). Most notably, He thank God for the bread and the wine at the Passover meal that He shared with His disciples (Matthew 26:26; 1 Corinthians 10:16; 11:24). In fact, today, many Christians refer to the communion service—the “Lord’s Supper”—as the Eucharist (the English word derived from “eucharistia,” the Greek word for thanksgiving). For the believer, one should ESPECIALLY give thanks to God for the ‘gift’ of His Son Jesus and what He means to them—the atoning sacrifice for all of their sins.

Whether in secular terms—or sacred terms—saying, “Thank you” has deep ‘roots’—and it is not surprising that there are ‘substantial’ BENEFITS associated with gratitude. A few ‘primary’ ones are community, humility, health, and reciprocation.

– Benefits of Community
By definition, thanks are something we extend to others—whether to God or to other people. Therefore, one way to recognize and acknowledge our relationships (our community) is by saying, “Thank you.” People who say, “thank you” are saying to others, “I acknowledge your role in my life,” or “I appreciate what you have done for me.”

– Benefits of Humility
Saying, “Thank you,” acknowledges that someone has done something for you. It is a way of saying, “I need you”—an act of humility on one’s part. We like to pretend that we can manage our life on our own, but as we live out our days, we find out that we cannot. We ‘need’ others. So, saying, “Thank you,” reminds us of our need for humility.

– Benefits of Health
Studies abound that demonstrate the health benefits of being grateful. It is not that the words “Thank you” promote health, rather, it is the ‘state of mind’ that is manifested by saying, “Thank you,” that fuels the body with peace, joy, respect, love, humility, and generosity. It is impossible to be angry and resentful and be grateful and thankful at the same time!

– Benefits of Reciprocation
So, do you want to leave a ‘legacy’ for your contribution to others’ lives? Well, the Bible says we reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7), in order to reap thanks and appreciation, we need to sow (give) thanks and appreciation. It is like saying, “To have friends, one must first be a friend.” By extension, “To be thanked, one must be a person who first gives thanks to others.”

So, to incorporate gratitude into their life, one can do a variety of things. One can write thank you notes, keep a gratitude journal, have weekly family thanksgiving expressions and, most importantly, give thanks to God in prayer. There is no shortage of reasons to express gratitude to God and others!

Thankfully, gratitude is a ‘learned’ skill, and we learned it best by seeing it ‘modeled’. That is where Jesus comes in. Just as He is the perfect ‘Guide’ in showing love, compassion, forgiveness, and wisdom, He is also our ultimate example of giving thanks in all things. He is THE person of gratitude and He gave us some ‘concrete’ examples to follow.

When Jesus broke the five loaves and in the two fish to feed 5,000 people, He gave thanks (John 6:11). He did the same when feeding the 4,000 with some loaves and fish (Matthew 15:36).

When Jesus stood by the tomb of Lazarus, He prayed, “Father, I think you that you have heard me. And I know that you always hear me” [ John 11:41-42 ].

When He prayed at the Last Supper with His disciples, He thinks God: “Any just bread, gave days, and broke it, and gave it to them” [ Luke 22:19 ]. Matthew added, “Then He took the cup, and gave things, and gave it to them” [ Matthew 26:27 ].

In another example, on the evening of His resurrection, He walked with some disciples to the town of Emmaus, answering their questions and explaining how His death and resurrection fulfilled Old Testament prophecy. When He asked to have dinner, “He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and began to give it to them” [ Luke 24:30 ]. Imagine, the Creator of everything giving thanks for simple provisions. (I can just imagine Jesus going through His day saying, “Thank you, father, for the blessings.”) Jesus is THE example for the believer to emulate gratitude!

The thing is, none of this is really that ‘tough’ to do. We can start by thanking God for our food before each meal—just as Jesus did (Matthew 6:11).

Jesus also teaches us to be thankful when we ‘experience’ what God is doing in the lives of others. (Remember how He thanked God when the disciples began to grasp his teaching – Matthew 11:25). This should remind all of us of the joy and Thanksgiving the Apostle Paul expressed when his disciples made progress in grasping and living the Christian life. “I think my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine making requests for you all with joy” [ Philippians 1:3-4 ].

So, when you wake each morning (and we all should be thankful that God ‘allowed’ us to awaken), you need to be prepared for what the day will bring—good or bad, routine or disruption, laughter or tears. The uncertainty of our times seems to render us anxious, but there’s always something for which to be thankful for.

Even in difficult moments, one can say, “Thank you, Jesus!” even if something seems like it is ‘devastating’ at the time (which, research says, 90% of what we worry about never happens).

There is a story that is told about a boy who was playing on a pier. Suddenly, he fell into the water. Some distance away, a soldier saw what was happening and ran with all his might, dove into the water, and lifted him to the surface. Once on land, he gave him CPR and saved his life. He then took the boy home to his parents.

When the parents came to the door and were told what had happened, they look at the soldier and said, “But, where is his hat? We want to know where his hat is!” Instead of receiving gratitude, the soldier was harshly lambasted for not finding and retrieving the boy’s hat!

Now, that might be a ridiculous illustration, but it is pretty similar to what Jesus has done for us—and our gratefulness for it. Jesus saw us fall into the deadly ‘waters’, He jumped in after us and saved us. So, just as the parents should have done, a believer should go through life full of ENDLESS ‘GRATITUDE’ to Jesus and not be concerned that they can’t find their ‘hat’—something ‘temporal’ we think is important—so to speak. The believer has been reconciled to God the Father and will spend an eternity in Heaven with Him!!!

Another illustration might help here. There is a story in the Bible that I am going to call “The Thankful Leper.” It is about the ten lepers that came to Jesus for healing.

First off, to understand the ‘back story, the effects of leprosy itself were horrendous, and then secondly, they were an outcast from society.

So, the story goes that Jesus encountered a group of ten lepers and they knew better than to draw near to Him. They “stood far off” and cried out to Jesus: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” [ Luke 17:12-13 ]. So, He did! Without touching them, He ordered them to go and show themselves to the priest who would validate their healing and ritual cleanliness: “As they went, they were cleansed” [ Luke 17:14 ]. (This required some belief on their part before the healing would happen—just like some things in our lives require before they are ‘solved’).

So, all ten left to go see the priest. However, only one, upon realizing he had been cleansed of his disease, “returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His [Jesus] feet, giving Him thanks” [ Luke 17:15-16 ]. Ten were healed but only one said, “Thank You”—and that one “was a Samaritan” [ Luke 17:16 ]. (In those times, a ‘second-class’ citizen).

Jesus asked, “But where are the nine?” [ Luke 17:17 ]. The fact that we are told that the one who said, “Thank You,” was a Samaritan suggests that the others were Jews, their natural ‘enemies’.

[ ApologetiX: “Boulevard of Both Extremes” ]

So, did the nine take their healing for granted? Did they feel entitled and worthy to be blessed because they were members of the Israeli ‘Covenant’ community of God? Had they grown jaded, even cynical, about the relationship to God? Did they feel it was about time God ‘showed’ up in did something for them?

So then, why did this Samaritan return to say, “Thank You” to Jesus? Well, probably for the same reason that a blind man—at another time—was so overjoyed when Jesus heal him: “though I was blind, now I see” [ John 98:25 ].

[ For more details about ‘blindness’, view this previous “Life’s Deep Thoughts” post:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/are-you-blind-v252/ ]

The one man who was a ‘foreigner’ to the grace of God is the only one who was bowled over by God’s goodness to him.

Question: Would you say you are most like the nine or most like the one? Are you still grateful and appreciative to God and others for the gifts of grace and favor that you have received that you have said, “Thank You” to them?

Hopefully, you realize that I am ‘ENCOURAGING’ you to be that ‘ONE’ person out of ten who overflows with thanks and gratitude—and won’t leave without saying so!

So, when we really appreciate the blessings we have received, we then need to become ‘exporters’ of the same type of grace and gratitude to others.

Pastor David Jeremiah suggests this simple formula: “Grace Given + Gratitude Expressed = Grace Extended.” He reminds us that the Bible says that we have all benefited from the rich blessings He brought to us, “blessing upon blessing upon us!” [ John 1:16b ]. [ This would be “Grace Given” ].

When one recognizes that every good and perfect gift is from God (James 1:17), they become quicker and more eager to express their gratitude.

Dr. Robert A. Emmons wrote, “The grateful state of mine, as accessible as it is, can be fleeting, difficult to sustain over the long-haul unless [practiced] with attention and intention. So, we need to immerse ourselves in practices and techniques that will foster gratitude every day.” [ This would be “Grace Expressed” ].

So, to graduate the ‘school’ of grace, one would learn to pass along the blessings for which they had been thankful [ This would be “Grace Extended” ]. They are not the last ‘runner’ in the baton race. Since someone had passed along kindness or encouragement to them, they then must pass it along to the next ‘runner’ they meet.

As an example, God told Abraham he would bless him and make him a blessing (Genesis 12). Author, speaker, artist, and quadriplegic Joni Eareckson Tada wrote:

“God promised to bless Abraham—and then he turned right around and told him he would be a blessing to all the nations of the earth. Although few of us today are called to bring God’s favor to people across the globe, everyone can pass along God blessing to a neighbor, a friend, or a total stranger. That is when you know for sure that happens blessing rests on your life—when you pass that along to someone else. It happens when you show a kindness or share a smile instead of complaining or grumbling. It takes place when you offer someone a helping hand or take time to listen and encourage them. Whatever you graciously tell someone what Jesus means to you and deliberately point people toward the guy you love and serve, you become God’s blessing to them. It will make their day—and yours.”

So, when one fails to practice kindness, they become like the characters in Jesus’ parable of the forgiving servant (Matthew 18:21-35). A king discovered that one of his servants owe him 10,000 ‘bags’ of gold. Since the man could not pay his debt, the king ordered his family to be sold into slavery. But, when the servant begged for mercy, the king took pity on him and forgave his debt.

Now, you would have thought the experience would have taught this servant about kindness. However, it did not! A fellow servant owed him only 10 silver ‘coins’. The forgiven servant refused to show mercy to him and grabbed him by the throat and began to choke him. After a bit, he had him thrown into prison.

The king learned what had happened, and said, “You wicked servant. I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” [ Matthew 18:32-33 ]. He was thrown back into jail to pay for everything he owed (which would be never!).

So, the moral of the story is that if one has received great kindness in their life—which the believer has been by God—then they must also practice the same kind of kindness to others.

Here is a suggestion: Think of some way in which you have been blessed this month. Then, how can you ‘pass it on’ to someone else?

[ For more details on “paying it forward,” view this previous “Life’s Deep Thoughts” post:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/mar-02-v37/ ].

TOUGH ‘CIRCUMSTANCES’
Now, the Thanksgiving holiday is not always easy for people, even when, as a nation, the U.S. sets aside a holiday for the express purpose of doing so. During this holiday, many of us become keenly aware of life circumstances that don’t stir up feelings of thankfulness. Some may be facing their ‘lowliest’ days—with the crushing burden of a loved one having just passed away.

Still others enter the season greatly disappointed as a result of various failures—a broken relationship, a lost job, or many other ‘failures’. We sometimes find ourselves absolutely stuck, unable to pull ourselves out of despond and feel as far from gratitude as the east is from the west.

When one is facing such situations and they read “give thanks in all circumstances,” they often wonder how they are supposed to respond. The thing is, the Bible never offers expectations without also offering aid.

The answer lies in God’s sanctifying work in the believer. The word “sanctify” means “to set apart for God.” When Jesus comes to rule and reign in a believer’s life, the Holy Spirit enters them in order to produce the ongoing cleansing necessary for spiritual growth. It is the work of God that enables them to be what he desires them to be. “For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” [ Philippians 2:13 ]. When the believer of abides in Jesus—“rooted and built up in Him” (Colossians 2:7)—they are reminded of all that God has done for them, and all that He will do in and through them.

[ FYI: For more details on “sanctification,” view this previous “Life’s Deep Thoughts” post:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/developing-ones-character-v283/ ].

One learns to sing with the psalmist: “We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks, for your Name is near; men recount your wondrous deeds” [ Psalm 75:1 ]. So, whatever regrets and disappointments, the believer is able to overflow with thankfulness as they remember Jesus’ wondrous deeds—the Cross; His resurrection; His ascension; and His work in us via his Holy Spirit living ‘inside’ them to keep them growing in the faith.

The believer’s trials may be tough and gloomy, and they may not feel thankful for every moment of the day. But, that is okay because that is not the point. God enables the believer to be grateful regardless of circumstances. He provides strength for them to fulfill the Apostle Paul’s instruction he told to the Philippians: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” [ Philippians 4:6 ].

If you are experiencing an absence of thankfulness in your life right now, then you need to turn your attention away from your circumstances, at least for the moment, and reflect on God’s gift of love to you. As you abide in Jesus, and allow God’s Holy Spirit to continue His sanctifying work in you, He will ‘quicken’ you from within so that, even through tears, pain, and disappointment, you will be able to respond when He bids you, “Come ye thankful people, come.” [ This is the title of an old hymn by Henry Alford, that is in the “Songs” section below. ]

‘BENEFITS’ OF GIVING GOD THANKS
The thing is, the Bible presents many examples of the great power of gratitude, and some benefits of giving God thanks:

– Gratitude ‘Glorifies’ God
This alone would be reason to give thanks to God. Our gratitude glorifies God as we exalt not the gifts, but the Giver. Gratitude helps us realize all we have comes not because of us, but from God. “And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory” [ 2 Corinthians 4:15 ].

– Gratitude Helps Us ‘See’ God
Gratitude opens our spiritual ‘eyes’. There’s a beautiful ‘cycle’ in giving God thanks: the more we thank Him, the more we see Him working in us and around us. Gratitude helps us sense God’s presence, His personal care, and His perfect timing. “Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights” [ James 1:16-17 ].

– Gratitude Puts Us Squarely In God’s ‘Will’
We often make God’s will out to be some big, mystical plan when sometimes, it is simply obedience. Part of His will for us is to be thankful, not just on the sunny days but on the hard ones as well “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” [ 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ].

– Gratitude Brings ‘Peace’
Count your blessings, not sheep, to get rid of the worry keeping us up at night. Gratitude helps us see that God’s hand is all over our circumstances—and God tells us when we give him our thanks, He gives us supernatural peace. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” [ Philippians 4:6-7 ].

– Gratitude Draws Us ‘Closer’ To God.
Gratitude for the magnitude of God’s undeserved kindness ‘draws’ us to Him. We saw that when Jesus healed the ten lepers. Certainly, they were all happy, but only one was thankful. Since he was the only one that came back to Jesus, fell as His feet and thanked Him. “Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?’ Then he said to him, ‘Rise and go; your faith has made you well’” [ Luke 17:17-19 ].

– Gratitude Brings ‘Contentment’
It is said that gratitude makes what we have to be enough. If we aren’t grateful for what God has given us, getting more won’t satisfy us either. Being thankful is the key to contentment. “Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and neither can we carry anything out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these.” [ 1 Timothy 6:6-8 ].

– Gratitude ‘Deepens’ Our Faith
Keeping a record of God’s past faithfulness is a faith boost when we face new difficulties. “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever” [ Psalm 136:1 ].

– Gratitude Leads To ‘Joy’
Realizing God’s abundant goodness, even in the hard, is a gateway for joy. “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed. Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy” [ Psalm 126:1-3 ].

– Gratitude ‘Defies’ Satan’s Lies
Satan is so wily! He whispers that God isn’t good; that He’s withholding good from us. But his scheme’s as old as the garden of Eden, where he questioned Eve: “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” When Eve responded only the tree of good and evil was off-limits, Satan suggested God was keeping good from them. “You will not certainly die… For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

The Garden produced abundantly without any effort, and every single plant but ONE had been given to Adam and Eve. Satan focused on the ‘lack’ (as he still does with us today!). True gratitude for God and the abundance He gives protects us from caving to the enemy’s lies: “No good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly” [ Psalm 84:11 ].

– Gratitude Guards Against ‘Envy’
Envy makes us want what someone else has. We say, “We ‘deserve’ it!” Gratitude makes us realize that God has given us far more than we deserve. Because there is enough for everyone, we can cheer rather than compare. A heart wholly grateful has no room left for envy: “I will give You thanks with all my heart” [ Psalm 138:1 ].

– Gratitude Helps Us ‘Live’ In The Present
Gratitude opens our eyes to the simple beauty of ordinary days. It lets us see this day and this moment as gifts and to take in the abundance right now. “Do not say, ‘Why were the old days better than these?’ For it is not wise to ask such questions.” [ Ecclesiastes 7:10 ].

– Gratitude Is A ‘Testimony’
When we thank God openly and acknowledge what He’s done for us, we proclaim a personal, caring God to the world around us. We show that contentment and peace come not from what we have but Who we know. “Give thanks to the LORD and proclaim His greatness. Let the whole world know what He has done” [ Psalm 105:1 ].

Developing a grateful heart brings incredible blessings. SO, why not START RIGHT NOW!

BENEFITS OF ‘PRACTICING’ GRATITUDE
God’s will for us is to be thankful, specifying “in all circumstances” just in case there was confusion. That means we are to have an attitude of gratitude when things are going well and when things are going bad.

Again, professor Dr. Robert Emmons says that, “Gratitude blocks toxic emotions such as envy, resentment, regret, and depression, which can destroy our happiness. it is impossible to feel envious and grateful at the same time.”

Here are a few ways to reap the benefits of practicing gratitude:

– Make A Habit Of ‘Remembering’
It is in our nature to remember the bad stuff that happens, however, when we make it a habit to remember our blessings it cultivates an attitude of gratitude. Meditate on the blessings God has given you: “I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago” [ Psalm 77:11 ].

– Tell Others About Your ‘Blessings’
Declaring God’s blessings affects the people who hear it. It encourages people in the faith. It literally gives praise to God glorifying His name: “Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell of all His wonderful acts” [Psalm 105:2 ].

– Keep A Gratitude ‘Journal’
The believer can review how God’s ‘hand’ has moved in their life when they are having a difficulty feeling His presence: “Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits” [ Psalm 103:2 ].

– Pray For A Grateful ‘Heart’
Pray God would open up your eyes to the blessings that surround you. When we come to God and pray for His will to be done, we have confidence that He will give us what we ask: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him” [ 1 John 5:14-15 ].

Developing new patterns doesn’t happen overnight. Be patient. Be prayerful. Trust that God wants this for you even more than you want it for yourself.

So, it is easy to be grateful when circumstances turn out well, but thankfulness doesn’t have to be limited just to the good times. Not only is it possible to be thankful in difficulties, it is also beneficial. Thankful people cope better than those who grumble and complain. So, then, how does one develop an attitude of gratitude when life is tough? Well, the letters of “gratitude” give us some clues.

Give praise to God at all times
Remember what God has done
Always be thankful
Trust God completely
Intentionally choose your attitude
Think before you grumble and complain
Understand that attitudes are learned
Develop friendships with positive, encouraging people
Enjoy God’s blessings

Having an attitude of gratitude is not a denial of unpleasant circumstances, nor is it a response that only a few people can demonstrate. it is a matter of ‘choice’. We can choose to be grateful and reap the related benefits or we can choose to gripe and give way to negativity. In both the good and bad experiences of life, I want my choice to be a consistent attitude of gratitude. How about you?

So, if gratitude is so important, if it is the ‘heart’ of the Christian life, it begs the question: Are you grateful and, if so, for what?

As Reverend Dr. Don Postema writes:

“Gratitude takes nothing for granted. It acknowledges each favor, each gift—both big and small. It also recognizes the giver—the relative who shows her love by giving you a gift; the friend who remembers to call you; the person who gives you a compliment or goes out of his way to invite you to go for a walk on a beautiful day; the spouse or friend who brings you a cup of coffee when you are exhausted, cooks you a fine dinner, or throws a party for you.”

When we stop to think about it, we have received many gifts from many people, especially from God. We have much to be thankful for. However, often we are too busy to see it. This is what makes Thanksgiving Day so important. Because on this day we are given the time and space we need to recognize the gifts and the givers of those gifts.

So, in this season of thanksgiving, I’m inviting you to thank others for ‘SPECIFIC’ GIFTS received. I’m also inviting to thank you God for the many gifts He has given you, ESPECIALLY for the gift of grace and His Son, Jesus.

So then, what are YOU thankful for?

THANKFUL FOR ‘SALVATION’
It is great to be thankful for the bountiful array of foods at the Thanksgiving table for a wonderful family and reliable friends, for good neighbors, for a safe neighborhood to live in, for a good job, for the many ‘creature comforts’ afforded you (especially in America), BUT the MOST IMPORTANT ‘THING’ to be thankful for is that you have been ‘SAVED’ from the penalty of your sins by the atoning blood of Jesus, you have been ‘RECONCILED’ to God the Father, and you will have eternal life in Heaven after you depart this world!

“Giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the Kingdom of light. For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins”
[ Colossians 1:12-14 ].

The believer needs to give careful thought to what Jesus has done for them. He died so there is no more condemnation for them. He lived so they might be clothed in His righteousness. He rose again to provide them with new life now and life after death in a resurrected body. The Holy Spirit applies the work of Christ to their life to transform them. They can live as God’s beloved child. So, contemplating these realities, are you full of thanksgiving?

Any list of the blessings for believers must begin with their ‘SALVATION’. The grace of God freely provided them the privilege to become His ‘children’.

There are many benefits that accompany one’s salvation. Some include:

– The restored relationship with God
– The freedom from guilt regarding the past
– The indwelling Holy Spirit
– The ability to understand the Scriptures

However, the GREATEST ‘BLESSING’ of all is the one the believer has not yet received. SALVATION offers them the CERTAIN ‘HOPE’ of ETERNAL LIFE with God in Heaven! This world is merely the ‘doorway’ to eternal life. (For the believer, the best is truly yet to come!)

No work of God’s grace is more beyond our comprehension yet more worthy of gratitude than one’s salvation. Before coming to ‘know’ Jesus, each of us lived in a self-imposed ‘prison’. Guilty, condemned, spiritually blind, and with no means to pay our sin ‘debt’, our destiny was one of eternal separation from God.

HOWEVER, Jesus not only rescued us from the power and penalty of our sins, He also lifted us to a place of blessing. He delivered the believer from punishment and took away the threat of eternal Hell—giving them the hope of eternal life in Heaven. He dismissed them from divine wrath and gave them a divine peace and happiness.

What’s more, Jesus ‘ASSURED’ the believer of their salvation (John 6:37), and that they can rest in the confidence of His Father’s guarantee, which is another cause for thanksgiving. So, as a believer, THANK HIM for that:

“Dear Father God, thank You for Your Son Jesus Christ our Savior, and for the salvation that we have received through trusting in His death on the Cross and His resurrection. My heart overflows with grateful thanks and praise for His amazing sacrifice for my sin.

Thank You that He was sent to pay the price for my sins and the sins of everyone who believes in Him. Lord, I simply want to live and be ‘rooted’ in Him. I pray that I may grow in grace, mature in the faith, and find my strength in Him.

There is no greater blessing that You could have given to me than the precious life of Your only begotten Son, so that in Him we may be redeemed from death and Hell, and receive everlasting life.

I pray that I may live my life in a manner that glorifies You. I just thank You, Father, for Your amazing gift of salvation, and pray that many who have not accepted Jesus as their Savior may do so before it is too late. This I ask all in the name of Your dear Son, Amen.”

BECOME ‘SAVED’
IF you cannot honestly say the above about yourself, please allow me to STRONGLY ‘ENCOURAGE’ you to consider the following: Plead to God for His mercy and grace to SAVE you—to REGENERATE your soul, and make you a NEW ‘CREATION’!

Jesus said, “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened” [ Luke 11:9-10 ]. So, one must be zealous and perseverant when asking for this AMAZING GIFT of being ‘saved’ from eternal Hell!

There happens to be a parable that Jesus told about just how one should ‘ask’:

“Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’

But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted”
[ Luke 18:9-14 ].

The ‘moral’ of the parable is you need to be TOTALLY CONVINCED in your ‘heart’ that your sins are going to send you to an eternal Hell, and that only the grace and mercy of God can help you avoid that inevitability! So then, cry out, “Lord, BE MERCIFUL TO ME, a sinner, and SAVE ME!” Keep pounding on the ‘door’! (Luke 11:5-10; Luke 18:1-8). This so happens to be the ‘method’ God has expected us to use even before Jesus came:

“Seek the Lord while you can find Him.
Call on Him now while He is near.
Let the wicked change their ways
and banish the very thought of doing wrong.
Let them turn to the Lord that He may have mercy on them.
Yes, turn to our God, for He will forgive generously”

[ Isaiah 55:6-7 ].

THE “ABC’s OF SALVATION”
This gives one a rough ‘roadmap’ on how to become “saved” and become a ‘child’ of God. It is just a ‘guide’ for one to have a personal ‘discussion’ with God about their sins and eternal destiny.

– ADMIT THAT YOU’RE A SINNER
This is where that godly sorrow leads to genuine repentance for sinning against the righteous God and there is a change of heart, we change our mind and God changes our hearts and regenerates us from the inside out” [ Romans 3:10; Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23 ].

– BELIEVE IN YOUR HEART THAT JESUS CHRIST DIED FOR YOUR SINS, WAS BURIED, AND THAT GOD RAISED JESUS FROM THE DEAD
“Believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and that God raised Jesus from the dead. This is trusting with all of your heart that Jesus Christ is who He said He was” [ Romans 10:9-10 ].

– CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD
This is trusting with all of your heart that Jesus Christ is who He said he was. Every single person who ever lived since Adam will bend their knee and confess with their mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings” [ Romans 14:11; Romans 10:13 ].

[ VIDEO: “The ABC’s of Salvation” – JD Farag ]

DO NOT put this off any longer! DO NOT delay the MOST IMPORTANT ‘DECISION’ of your life—for ETERNAL LIFE ‘hangs’ in the balance! Make TODAY ‘THE’ DAY of your SALVATION!!!

[ NOTE: If you are ‘struggling’ with what exactly to say, don’t worry about it. God knows what you are thinking! Just tell Him what you are feeling in your ‘gut’. If you would like something to guide you, use the paragraph below, or use the “Prayer of Repentance” at the end of this ‘section’.

“Father, I know that I have broken your laws and my sins have separated me from you. I am truly sorry, and now I want to turn away from my past sinful life toward you. Please forgive me, and help me avoid sinning again. I believe that your son, Jesus Christ died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and hears my prayer. I invite Jesus to become the Lord of my life, to rule and reign in my heart from this day forward. Please send your Holy Spirit to help me obey You, and to do Your will for the rest of my life. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.” ]

GIVE THANKS!
We, like the Pilgrims, have a choice. In life, there will always be those things that we can complain about (the Pilgrims had lost many loved ones), but there will also be much to be thankful for. As our society becomes increasingly secular, the actual “giving of thanks to God” during our annual Thanksgiving holiday is being overlooked, leaving only the feasting and watching football.

So then, let me ‘pray’ that God gives rest to your heart and mind, may He bless and keep you and your family, and may He continue to extend His blessings upon our great nation, guiding us, one and all, by His Word. May He also grant you patience and perseverance in the unexpected ‘tests’ to come, and may He impress upon you the ‘spirit’ of our Pilgrim forefathers—their soul-deep craving for freedom, expressed with courage and wisdom—as we all meet the particular challenges in the coming days.

For those who ‘know’ Jesus as their Savior, may God work out everything together for good, even the events that you would not necessarily consider good (Romans 8:28-30), and may He find you to be His GRATEFUL ‘CHILDREN’, since EVERY good gift comes from Him! (James 1:17).

Believers, count your blessings, not sheep! Thankfulness will help you see that God’s ‘hand’ is all over your circumstances, and that He ‘promises’ that, when you give Him thanks, He will give you a ‘supernatural’ peace:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”
[ Philippians 4:6-7 ].

SO, remember to…

…“Give thanks to the Lord with your whole heart, recounting all of His wonderful deeds.”
[ Psalm 9:1 ];

…“Always give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
[ Ephesians 5:20 ];

…“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever!
[ Psalm 107:1 ];

…“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
[ 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ];

…“Thank God for the inexpressible gift of His Son, Jesus!
[ 2 Corinthians 9:15 ]

May God find EVERY BELIEVER grateful EVERY DAY for all of His gifts—spiritual and material—and especially for THE MOST IMPORTANT ‘GIFT’ of His Son, Jesus, which provided for the atonement of their sins, their reconciliation to God the Father, and the blessed hope of eternal life in Heaven!

[ VIDEO: “Give Thanks” – Don Moen (Lyrics in the “Songs” section below) ]

[ Excerpts from: J. Warner Wallace; Jeanette Whittaker; Robert Tracy McKenzie; Kendra Cherry; Paulina Cal y Mayor Galindo; Stephen Nichols; Joshua Brown; Joel Wong; Intelligent Change; Robert Kanaat; Greg Laurie; Tiffany Musick; Jenna Holden; Charles Stanley; Alistair Begg; Steve Brandon; Victor Uyanwanne; Sunshine Gray; David Jeremiah ]


RELATED POSTS:

Being ‘Thankful’”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/being-thankful-v285/

Amazing ‘Grace’”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/amazing-grace-v239/

Thanks For ‘Giving’”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/thanks-for-giving-v225/

‘Saved’ From Death”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/saved-from-death-v219/

‘Mayday!-Mayday!-Mayday!’”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/mayday-mayday-mayday-v218/

Know ‘Peace’”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/know-peace-v201/

Just A ‘Fan’”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/just-a-fan-v166/

Giving Thanks”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/dec-08-v118/

Gratefully Generous”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/dec-07-v106/

Radical Gratitude”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/dec-06-v94/

Giving Thanks | Patriotism”:
https://markbesh.wordpress.com/nov-01-v33/


‘PRAYER’ OF REPENTANCE
In the Bible, there is a parable that Jesus told about a Pharisee and a tax collector praying the Temple. He notes that the tax collector didn’t even dare to lift his eyes toward Heaven as he prayed. Instead he “beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner’”—and Jesus said that the tax collector “went home justified,” he had been “born again” and ‘reconciled’ by God. (Luke 18:9-14).

If you are ‘sensing’ something like that right now, let me strongly encourage you to HUMBLE YOURSELF, CRY OUT to God, and PLEAD for Him to mercifully ‘SAVE’ YOU! None of us have a ‘claim’ on our salvation, nor do we have any ‘works’ that would cause us to deserve it or earn it—it is purely a gift of Divine grace—and all any of us can do is ask. So, CONFESS YOUR SINS and acknowledge to God that you have no hope for Heaven apart from what He provides through Jesus. [ See Psalm 51 ].

There is no ‘formula’ or certain words for this. So just talk to God, in your own words—He knows your ‘heart’. If you are genuinely sincere, and God does respond to your plea, one will usually have a sense of joy and peace.

Jesus said, “He that comes to Me, I will not cast out” [ John 6:37 ].

[ FYI: This is a great sermon on the “Call to Repentance” by John MacArthur from his book “The Gospel According to Jesus”: https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/90-22/the-call-to-repentance (Transcript: http://www.spiritedesign.com/TheCallToRepentance-JohnMacArthur(Jul-27-2019).pdf) ].

[ NOTE: If you have ‘tasted the kindness of the Lord’, please e-mail me—I would love to CELEBRATE with you, and help you get started on your ‘journey’ with Jesus! ].


<<< RESOURCES >>>


Giving Tuesday
A Global Day of Giving Back

GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.

Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving.

One of the best ways to get involved is in your own community. We’ve created a directory to help you find organizations, charities, events, and more in your own community.

WEBSITE: http://www.givingtuesday.org/


They Knew They Were Pilgrims: Plymouth Colony and the Contest for American Liberty
By: John G. Turner

Published for the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s landing, this ambitious new history of the Pilgrims and Plymouth Colony “will become the new standard work on the Plymouth Colony.” (Thomas Kidd)

“Informative, accessible, and compelling. . . . A welcome invitation to rediscover the Mayflower voyage and the founding of Plymouth Colony.”—Daniel M. Gullotta, Christianity Today

“[An] excellent new history. . . . [Turner] asserts that the Pilgrims matter for more than their legend, and he deftly uses the history of Plymouth to explore ideas of liberty in the American colonies.”—Nathanael Blake, National Review
In 1620, separatists from the Church of England set sail across the Atlantic aboard the Mayflower. Understanding themselves as spiritual pilgrims, they left to preserve their liberty to worship God in accordance with their understanding of the Bible.

There exists, however, an alternative, more dispiriting version of their story. In it, the Pilgrims are religious zealots who persecuted dissenters and decimated Native peoples through warfare and by stealing their land. The Pilgrims’ definition of liberty was, in practice, very narrow.

Drawing on original research using underutilized sources, John G. Turner moves beyond these familiar narratives in his sweeping and authoritative new history of Plymouth Colony. Instead of depicting the Pilgrims as otherworldly saints or extraordinary sinners, he tells how a variety of English settlers and Native peoples engaged in a contest for the meaning of American liberty.


Squanto and the Miracle of Thanksgiving: A Harvest Story from Colonial America of How One Native American’s Friendship Saved the Pilgrims
By: Eric Metaxas

Experience the true story from American history about the spiritual roots and historical beginnings of Thanksgiving.

This entertaining and historical story shows that the actual hero of Thanksgiving was neither white nor Indian but God. In 1608, English traders came to Massachusetts and captured a twelve-year-old Indian, Squanto, and sold him into slavery. He was raised by Christians and taught faith in God. Ten years later he was sent home to America. Upon arrival, he learned an epidemic had wiped out his entire village. But God had plans for Squanto. God delivered a Thanksgiving miracle: an English-speaking Indian living in the exact place where the Pilgrims landed in a strange new world.


The First Thanksgiving: What the Real Story Tells Us About Loving God and Learning from History
By: Robert Tracy McKenzie

The Pilgrims’ celebration of the first Thanksgiving is a keystone of America’s national and spiritual identity. But is what we’ve been taught about them or their harvest feast what actually happened? And if not, what difference does it make?

Through the captivating story of the birth of this quintessentially American holiday, veteran historian Tracy McKenzie helps us to better understand the tale of America’s origins―and for Christians, to grasp the significance of this story and those like it. McKenzie avoids both idolizing and demonizing the Pilgrims, and calls us to love and learn from our flawed yet fascinating forebears.

The First Thanksgiving is narrative history at its best, and promises to be an indispensable guide to the interplay of historical thinking and Christian reflection on the meaning of the past for the present.


Of Plymouth Plantation
By: William Bradford

The most important and influential source of information about the Pilgrims and Plymouth Colony, this landmark account was written between 1630 and 1647. It vividly documents the Pilgrims’ adventures: their first stop in Holland, the harrowing transatlantic crossing aboard the Mayflower, the first harsh winter in the new colony, and the help from friendly Native Americans that saved their lives.
No one was better equipped to report on the affairs of the Plymouth community than William Bradford. Revered for his patience, wisdom, and courage, Bradford was elected to the office of governor in 1621, and he continued to serve in that position for more than three decades. His memoirs of the colony remained virtually unknown until the nineteenth century. Lost during the American Revolution, they were discovered years later in London and published after a protracted legal battle. The current edition rendered into modern English and with an introduction by Harold Paget, remains among the most readable books from seventeenth-century America.


The Pilgrim Chronicles: An Eyewitness History of the Pilgrims and the Founding of Plymouth Colony
By: Rod Gragg

A Quest for Freedom

All Americans are familiar with the story of the Pilgrims—persecuted for their religion in the Old World, they crossed the ocean to settle in a wild and dangerous land. But for most of us, the story ends after their brutal first winter at Plymouth with a supposedly peaceful encounter with the Native Americans and a happy Thanksgiving.

Now, through the vivid memoirs, letters, and personal accounts in The Pilgrim Chronicles, you will discover the full, compelling story of their anguished journey and heroic strength. Award-winning historian Rod Gragg brings the Pilgrims to life in this lavishly illustrated guide, filled with moving, eyewitness narratives. From their persecution in England and painful exile in Holland to their voyage across the Atlantic and their struggle to survive among the Indians in an untamed wilderness, Gragg takes you on the harrowing and inspiring journey of a people seeking religious freedom.


Thanks!: How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier
By: Robert A. Emmons

A proponent of the field of positive psychology offers a close-up study of the positive influence on people’s lives of the systematic cultivation of gratitude, explaining how the practice of grateful thinking can increase one’s chances for happiness and help one cope more effectively with stress, recover more quickly from illness, enjoy better physical health, improve relationships, and other benefits.


The Gratitude Effect
By: Dr. John Demartini

Would you like to go to the next quantum level beyond the world of simply “positive thinking?”
Are you ready to experience new levels of inspiration, creativity, and achievement?
Well, now you can!

Let The Gratitude Effect open your heart, inspire your mind, awaken your inner powers and hidden seeds of greatness. Allow it to help you break through any limiting beliefs and guide you to a more empowered life filled with deeper meaning and awareness.

One of the teachers of the hit movie The Secret, Dr. Demartini wrote this book as a practical guide to a new life of happiness and thankfulness, proclaiming the importance of gratitude in an individual’s life.

You will learn:
To be happy with and grateful for what you have
How to accept much more you’ll receive in return
How to enjoy a new, happier and more gracious perspective on life
To empower yourself and use the latent power within
John provides you with a deeper understanding of your current attitudes and takes you into a transformation process. This volume includes exercises and affirmations that help you let the gift of gratitude into your minds and hearts. Follow his lead, and let his wisdom inspire you and remain with you for years to come!

Dr. John F. Demartini is a professional speaker, author and business consultant whose clients range from Wall Street financiers, financial planners, and corporate executives to healthcare professionals, actors and sports personalities. corporate executives to healthcare professionals, actors and sports personalities.


The Little Book of Gratitude: Create a life of happiness and well-being by giving thanks
By: Dr. Robert A. Emmons PhD

Gratitude is the simple, scientifically proven way to increase happiness and encourage greater joy, love, peace, and optimism into our lives.

Through easy practices such as keeping a daily gratitude journal, writing letters of thanks, and meditating on the good we have received, we can improve our health and well-being, enhance our relationships, encourage healthy sleep, and heighten feelings of connectedness.

Easily accessible and available to everyone, the practice of gratitude will benefit every area of your life and generate a positive ripple effect.

This beautiful book discusses the benefits of gratitude and teaches easy techniques to foster gratitude every day. It also includes an 8-week gratitude plan.


Good Days Start With Gratitude: A 52 Week Guide To Cultivate An Attitude Of Gratitude: Gratitude Journal
By: Pretty Simple Press

Good Days Start With Gratitude is a 52 week guide to cultivate an attitude of gratitude! It is a self exploration journal designed to focus on being thankful for what we have, the big things in life, as well as the simple joys. Each well designed weekly spread contains an inspirational quote, space to write 3 things you are thankful for each day of the week, and a weekly checkpoint. If you start each day by writing down three things you are thankful for – a good cup of coffee, the smell of rain, starting a good book – you begin each day on the right note. Do it daily and make it a habit to focus on the blessings you have been given! Grab a copy for a friend and share the journey together!


Attitudes of Gratitude: How to Give and Receive Joy Every Day of Your Life
By: M.J. Ryan

“Exquisitely reconnects us to the wonder and satisfaction which can be found in our daily lives.” ―Judy Ford, author of Wonderful Ways to Love a Child

In a series of brief, evocative, motivational gratitude essays, international executive coach M.J. Ryan teaches us how to unlock the fullness of life through the simple joy of living from a grateful heart.

Discover amazing gratitude benefits. Gratitude is a simple, profound practice that can change your life. Research has confirmed its many emotional and physical benefits. Taking the time to notice and reflect upon good things opens our hearts, creates happiness, and restores us to a natural place where we notice what’s right instead of wrong.

Find happiness and joy with positive thinking. When you find ways to be grateful every day, you experience more joy in life. Author and personal success mentor M. J. Ryan writes, “Gratitude births only positive feelings—love, compassion, joy, and hope. As we focus on what we are thankful for, fear, anger, and bitterness simply melt away, seemingly without effort.” Her book Attitudes of Gratitude teaches you how to reach this positive place.

Inside find:
– Essays on a variety of topics that are perfect for gratitude meditation
– Encouragement to begin practicing, commit to, and celebrate gratitude
– A variety of ways to practice gratitude in your own life

Readers of inspirational books and personal growth books like The Little Book of Gratitude, Good Days Start With Gratitude, The Book of Joy, The Gratitude Diaries, or The Happiness Project will love Attitudes of Gratitude.


Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy
By: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Gratitude is a choice. If we fail to chose it, by default we choose ingratitude. And once allowed into the heart, ingratitude does not come by itself, but with other seedy companions that only succeed in stealing joy.

Derived from a popular Revive Our Hearts radio series, Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy challenges and equips the reader to live a life of intention, a life based on thankfulness for the freedom Christ has provided and for the blessings of others.

By intentionally thanking God and others, bitterness and entitlement are replaced with joy and the humble realization of just how undeserving we really are.

To not choose gratitude is more costly than we usually realize. When we do choose a lifestyle of heartfelt, humble gratitude, we are mindful of the benefits received from our gracious Savior and those He has placed around us, and our joy becomes full.

Includes a bonus 30-day plan of journaling, prayer, and activities to help the reader on her path to joy


TWELVE PRACTICAL REASONS TO BE THANKFUL: A Christian Approach to Year-Round Thanksgiving
By: DR. JEAN ROBERT LAINE

In addition to all the delicious meals we enjoy around Thanksgiving, we have so much more for which to be thankful. This book aims to bring our attention to God, the Creator of the universe, and many priceless benefits that can only be found in Christ, the Savior.


In Everything Give Thanks
By: Love God Greatly

We are reminded in Ephesians 5:20 to “… always give thanks to God the Father for everything.” For everything, Lord? Does God really want us to give thanks for things like relationships that cause us pain, heartaches, empty bank accounts, and sick bodies? EVERYTHING? In this two-week Love God Greatly Bible study, you’ll learn what God’s Word has to say about cultivating a life of thankfulness and how YOU can intentionally begin applying these uplifting truths in your everyday life. You’re invited to journal with us as we dive into God’s Word together… reading and writing what God speaks into your heart along the way. Just think of what could happen if we began choosing to see everything in our lives through a lens of gratitude… Join us at LoveGodGreatly.com for further insights, community, and content to supplement your time in God’s Word!


Thank God It’s Thursday: Encountering Jesus at the Lord’s Table As If for the Last Time
By William H. Willimon

Thank God It’s Thursday is the prequel to bestselling author Will Willimon’s highly successful, Thank God It’s Friday. Following the book of John, Will Willimon focuses on Jesus’ teaching of his disciples prior to his own death but also before their own hour of decision. The climax of the Gospel is when Jesus pours out his life on the cross―surely an enactment and demonstration of the power of God’s self-sacrificial love.
So to sustain and fortify his followers for the difficulties ahead, Jesus prepares them by teaching and offering sacraments of self-giving, through which they (and we) experience the grace and presence of the risen Lord. This book can equip Christians to face their hardships as they humbly serve with the promise of God’s abiding presence already made good by his outpouring of sacrificial love. Written with the clarity, depth, and insight that are Will Willimon’s trademark, this book offers afresh the challenge and grace of the message of the Resurrected One.


Thank God It’s Friday: Encountering the Seven Last Words from the Cross
by William H. Willimon

Christ’s seven last words from the cross have long been a source of reflection, challenge, and soul-searching. These simple statements contain the full range of human emotions and divine self-revelation: grief, compassion, despair, forgiveness, physical need, the promise of redemption. In many ways they embody the core of the gospel. In this brief book one of today’s most noted church persons and preachers confronts the reader with the seven last word’s claim on her or his life. Written with the clarity, depth, and insight that are Will Willimon’s trademark, this book offers afresh the challenge and grace of the message of the Crucified One.


I Thank God for Jesus Christ: For the Love of Jesus is Worth More than Silver or Gold
By Dr. Carolyn S Fields-Smith

Dr. Carolyn Sue Smith (formerly Carolyn Sue Haney) suffered a major psychological crisis leaving her without any memory of who she was or what she had accomplished in life. Struggling with these mental disorders, Dr. Smith managed to complete studies for two Masters degrees in special education and went on to earn her doctorate degree in Human Services specializing in Counseling with a minor in mental disorders. She has attended The University of Alabama, Mississippi State University as well as Capella University. Dr. Smith currently resides in Columbus with her husband Kenneth D. Smith. Together the couple have five children and seven grandchildren. Carolyn has been a volunteer at Baptist Memorial Hospital- Golden Triangle for the last nine-teen years. She has an intense passion and love for God, the Word, prayer, and, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ., MS, Carolyn is also a member of Southside Missionary Baptist Church under the leadership of Pastor Rayfield Evins, Jr.


An Attitude of Thankfulness
By Jim Davenport

The twenty articles contained in this book cover topics close to Jim’s heart including: thankfulness, thanklessness, the Christian’s attitude, strength from God in the times of need, the sanctity of life and marriage, the consequences of our sin, praying with confidence, class warfare, and God’s presence in our lives. One article recalls the Pine Lake Baptist Church fire and how God used that tragedy to further His purpose throughout the world from the small town of Stone Mountain, Georgia, USA. This is the second in a series of books by Jim Davenport dealing with the general topic of Christian Devotions and Quick Studies, which was the title of the first volume.

! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

SPECIAL ‘GENERAL’ RESOURCE

ApologetiX Songbook
(An interactive PDF)

It features the lyrics to every song on every CD and every “download” from 1993-2020

Special features:

  • indexed by title, original song, original artist, subject, and Bible verse
  • each song’s page has icons showing what albums it appears on
  • each song’s page has a commentary from lyricist J. Jackson
  • each album’s page includes liner notes and track listing
  • print any pages you like or use for slides in church
  • photos from ApologetiX’s debut concert in 1992
  • discography of out-of-print cassettes
  • downloadable in PDF format

New features in this edition:

  • all song commentaries from J. Jackson updated and expanded
  • also indexed by year when original song spoofed was a hit
  • J.’s original handwritten rough lyrics to 40 ApX classics
  • scads of photos from ApX 25th-anniversary concerts
  • list of 40 ApX parodies most likely to be redone
  • over 200 new parodies and journal entries
  • list of the first ApX concerts in each state
  • six new full-length feature articles
  • DVD discography and synopses
  • never-before-seen rare photos
  • lyrics for over 700 parodies
  • over 1000 pages!

Interactive features:

  • click on any page number in indexes or TOC to go to that page
  • click on any album icon to go to its liner notes and track listings
  • click on any song title on an album page to go to that song

Note: This e-book is a download-only and doesn’t include sheet music.

The songbook is available for a donation of $50 or more. After we receive your donation, we’ll send you a follow-up email with the link.

Get the Songbook for a donation:
http://www.apologetix.com/store/store.php#songbook

Songbook Demo Video: https://rumble.com/vfazhl-apologetix-songbook-2020-demo.html


“THE SEARCH FOR MEANING” WEBSITE

This site presents discussions on the 12 most commonly asked questions about the Christian faith.

The 12 discussions are accessed by the “tabs” at the bottom of the page. The tabs are numbered 1-12. Roll your mouse over them and you will see the question displayed at the right. Click on the number to select that question.

Within each question (i.e. tabs 1-12), there are subtopics (or dialogues) to select that appear as smaller tabs underneath the numbered tabs. Roll your mouse over them and the title of these topics is also displayed to the right. Click on the open rectangle to select that dialogue.

For each question (1-12), a link to related resources and an optional flowchart is provided. To access this material, click on the respective words, “Related Resources” or “Options Flowchart.”

To play a more detailed discussion of the subject, between two people, select the desired dialogue and click on “Play Audio Dialogue.”

In the upper right-hand corner of the page, there is an icon that looks like binoculars looking at a question mark. Click on this icon to return to the homepage.

In the upper right-hand corner of a “Related Resources” page, there is an icon that looks like some books. Click on this icon to get to an “overview” page that has links to all of the resources for all of the questions. There also are additional “appendices” for most of the questions.

In the upper right-hand corner of a “Flowchart” page, there is an icon that looks like an Org chart. Click on this icon to get to an “overview” page that has links to all of the flowcharts.

http://4vis.com/sfm/sfm_pres/sp_q1_d1_1of10.html

[ Content by: Bill Kraftson and Lamar Smith; Website by Mark Besh ]


“FRUITS OF THE BEATITUDES” WEBSITE
(The ATTITUDES of Jesus that produce the CHARACTER of Jesus)

CLICK ON THE LINK to view:
http://fruitsofthebeatitudes.org/

FACEBOOK PAGE:
https://www.facebook.com/FruitsOfTheBeatitudes/

[ Mark Besh ]


[ P.S.: If you would like to investigate further about what it really means to “believe,” visit the following link:
http://4vis.com/sfm/sfm_pres/sp_q10_d1_1of10.html ].


<<< ARTICLES >>>


“6 Pro Chefs Make Their Favorite Thanksgiving Sides”

Join Chris Morocco, Kendra Vaculin, Shilpa Uskokovic, Hana Asbrink, Rachel Gurjar, and Brad Leone in the Bon Appétit Test Kitchen as they each make their favorite Thanksgiving side dishes. From brussels sprouts and potatoes to sweet pastry bites, one of these sides is sure to steal the spotlight from the main course.

[ Test Kitchen Talks – Bon Appétit ]

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddnRWmfpyCg


“Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner Menu”

Tastes of Lizzy T participates in affiliate advertising programs. We may earn a commission when you make a purchase through links on our site.

Wondering how to put together a traditional Thanksgiving dinner menu? Here are classic Thanksgiving recipes that you’ll come back to year after year.

Table of Contents

Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner Menu
Thanksgiving Appetizers
Thanksgiving Drinks
Thanksgiving Jello Salads
Thanksgiving Turkey
Thanksgiving Side Dishes
Thanksgiving Dinner Rolls
Thanksgiving Desserts
Thanksgiving FAQ’s

[more…]

[ Julie Clark ]

Article: https://www.tastesoflizzyt.com/traditional-thanksgiving-dinner-menu/


“10 Thanksgiving Recipes”

Here are 10 delicious Thanksgiving recipes that you can choose from to share with your family and friends for a perfect Thanksgiving dinner.

0:17 – Parmesan Potato Stacks
1:20 – Dinner Rolls
2:38 – Roasted Turkey Breast
3:22 – Cranberry Sauce
4:20 – Macaroni and Cheese
5:28 – Honey Roasted Carrots
6:40 – Homemade Crescent Rolls
7:54 – Baked Parmesan Sweet Potato Fries
9:02 – Roasted Brussels Sprouts
9:57 – Potato Gratin

[ Home Cooking Adventure ]

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n1u5XDbm4YU


“50 Delicious Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas”

Looking for new holiday inspiration? These Thanksgiving dinner ideas are great for traditionalists as well as folks looking to add new dishes to the family table.

[ Lesley Balla ]

Article: https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/thanksgiving-dinner-ideas/


“105 Traditional Thanksgiving Recipes”

Gather your family around the table with these traditional Thanksgiving recipes, complete with holiday-worthy turkey recipes, casseroles, desserts and more.

[ Colleen Ludovice ]

Article: https://www.tasteofhome.com/collection/traditional-thanksgiving-recipes/


“48 Traditional Dishes You Need For The Ultimate Thanksgiving Menu”

Thanksgiving only comes once a year (or twice if you count all those leftovers). And it’s hard to beat a traditional Thanksgiving feast, from turkey to stuffing to allllll the potatoes with enough gravy to top it all off. And you must save room for dessert. We see a whole lot of pecan pie cheesecake and pumpkin pie in your near future, so definitely save some room (or just take one of those amazing post-turkey naps before digging in again).

On turkey duty this year? No matter if you’re a newbie to roasting up a whole bird or a seasoned pro looking for new inspiration, we’ve rounded up all the best turkey rubs, how to dry brine a turkey, how long to thaw out a turkey, as well as a handy size chart for how much turkey to cook per person. We’re pretty partial to using our best-ever turkey brine, which makes roasting a whole turkey (without drying it out) super-easy.

We know that the turkey is the showstopper on the table, but we’re mostly here for the stuffing. Check out all of our favorite stuffing recipes; our classic stuffing is the undisputed champ of the bunch. Speaking of Thanksgiving sides, we tested (and tested, and tested) our recipes so you can rest assured you’ll be digging into the most perfect mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and sweet potato casserole ever. Let’s just say you’ll be very happy you have these leftovers for one of these giant Thanksgiving leftover sandwiches.

Still hungry? Round out your meal with plenty of our favorite Thanksgiving desserts (especially this clever Thanksgiving pie board).

[ MACKENZIE FILSON ]

Article: https://www.delish.com/holiday-recipes/thanksgiving/g3023/traditional-thanksgiving-menu/


“How to Throw a Thanksgiving Feast that Everyone Will Love | Best Thanksgiving Dishes”

Make this Thanksgiving Feast epic with our deep fried turkey and our favorite side dishes!

[ Cowboy Kent Rollins ]

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpTKUu0J5Xc


“Making the Ultimate Thanksgiving Holiday Feast”

Making the Ultimate Thanksgiving Holiday Feast
[ Cooking With Ria ]

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNzJ2LkqX1Y


“My Ideal Thanksgiving Dinner”

This is my ideal thanksgiving because you’ve asked for years and I love you.

[ Joshua Weissman ]

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ke_MbvmDP0g&t=10s


“The Easiest Way to Prepare an Entire Thanksgiving Meal Start to Finish!”

[ Acre Homestead ]

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hGo2XaHsp0I


“The Perfect 5-Course Thanksgiving Meal”

Everything you need for the perfect Thanksgiving! Including creamy and decadent mashed potatoes and the ultimate green bean casserole.

[ Tasty ]

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPqavmoC0pg


“You cooked for 20 and fed 6 people. What to do with all of those leftovers”

After the last plate has been cleared from the table and everyone — except the person stuck washing dishes — has migrated to the couch, it’s time to begin the next part of the Thanksgiving tradition.

“Best by” dates on food packaging tell the consumer when the quality of the product will start to decline, not when it is unsafe to eat.
Reducing food waste is good for the planet and your wallet.
Yes, it’s time to divvy up and work through the leftovers.

These recommendations aren’t about reinventing the wheel. We’re offering a few options that will give you something to look forward to on your post-holiday meal plan. These are foods we already love, with Thanksgiving dishes folded into the familiar recipes.

Sorry, same old next-day sandwiches and turkey tetrazzini. We’re going in a different direction this time around.

Turkey enchiladas
Many of us turn to ground turkey as a healthier option in a variety of recipes. But it’s just as easy to chop up leftover Thanksgiving turkey and sneak it into non-holiday comfort food. Start by adding it to your favorite enchilada (or taco or burrito bowl) recipe.

Try these turkey black bean enchiladas and feel free to substitute a quality canned or jarred enchilada sauce if you don’t have it in you after the big day to make your own from scratch.

Use leftover Thanksgiving turkey to make turkey black bean enchiladas.
Use leftover Thanksgiving turkey to make turkey black bean enchiladas.
Shutterstock
Still have more turkey to dispatch after making a pan of enchiladas? Freeze extra portions of leftover meat and use them in any recipe where you’d typically turn to rotisserie chicken.

Grain bowls
Post-Thanksgiving, use up roasted sweet potatoes and other veggie sides in a grain bowl.
Post-Thanksgiving, use up roasted sweet potatoes and other veggie sides in a grain bowl.
Shutterstock
Along the same lines as a burrito bowl, grain bowls are a versatile blank slate for using up turkey and vegetable leftovers. Specifically, we recommend brussels sprouts and roasted sweet potatoes here.

While any grain will work as a base for a grain bowl, farro, quinoa and brown rice are some of the most popular. Top a generous spoonful of grains, either warm or at room temperature, with leftover vegetables. Add any other greens like kale and a protein like chickpeas.

A lemony Dijon dressing can brighten a grain bowl made with holiday leftovers.
A lemony Dijon dressing can brighten a grain bowl made with holiday leftovers.
Shutterstock
For dressing ideas, raid the fridge or make something new — try a lemony Dijon for brightness or a maple tahini version that’s nutty and sweet.

Stuffing waffles
Will it waffle? Yes, it will! Leftover stuffing mixed with eggs and a touch of broth or gravy are all you need to turn Thanksgiving stuffing into a savory next-day breakfast.

20211123_thanksgiving_family recipes
A sweet potato pie tradition that almost wasn’t, and other stories of unforgettable family recipes
Whether you like white bread or cornbread stuffing, the process of making stuffing waffles remains the same. Serve the waffles topped with eggs any way you like them — poached, scrambled or fried — and throw on a sausage patty or a few slices of bacon if you’d like to go all out.

Stuffins
If you’d rather bake instead of pulling out the waffle maker, grab a standard muffin tin and make stuffins — that’s the cutesy term for stuffing muffins. Eggs, turkey or ham and frozen spinach or other chopped vegetables blended with leftover stuffing make these an option for breakfast or a midday snack.

Both stuffins and stuffing waffles can be frozen for reheating later — up to three months later, when you might be excited to eat Thanksgiving foods again.

Mashed potato fritters
Even the most ardent mashed potato fan has to admit that after a few days, the idea of eating a reheated pile of potatoes loses its charm. Enter the fritter to make things sizzle once again.

Corn and cheddar mashed potato fritters are a two-in-one way to use up any corn left over from the feast. If you also want to finely chop any extra roasted cauliflower and add it to the mix, that works, too.

Who could say no to potato fritters made from leftover mashed potatoes? Bonus points if you also include the last of the corn from your Thanksgiving feast.
Who could say no to potato fritters made from leftover mashed potatoes? Bonus points if you also include the last of the corn from your Thanksgiving feast.
Shutterstock
Or go for indulgence and make poutine-style potato fritters by topping them with warm gravy and small cubes of white cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese.

Green bean casserole quiche
Low section of unrecognizable people cutting pie and vegetables standing around dinner table with homemade food on it
How to answer those dreaded personal questions at holiday gatherings
Here’s a tip: Buy an extra frozen deep-dish pie crust, then bring it out over the weekend to whip up a quick quiche with the rest of your green bean casserole.

Follow the basic quiche ratio of 4 large eggs, 1 cup dairy (whole milk, half-and-half or cream), 1 cup shredded cheese and 2 cups vegetables or other mix-ins to fill your pie crust.

Prebake the pie crust shell according to package directions, then fill and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 45 to 60 minutes, until the quiche no longer jiggles in the center. Let rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing.

Thanksgiving leftover pizza
This one’s for the folks looking for a twist on the after-Thanksgiving turkey sandwich stacked with all the leftovers — turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing and cranberry sauce — on a leftover Parker House roll or soft bread.

Beautiful woman sitting at the table working with laptop at home around christmas tree rubbing eyes for fatigue and headache, sleepy and tired expression. Vision problem
Expert tips on how to save your sleep from holiday stress and indulgence
If that kind of post-holiday meal suits you, make this Thanksgiving leftover pizza and savor the classic flavors on a slice rather than between bread.

Refrigerated pizza dough can substitute for the homemade dinner roll pizza crust here, and if you want to try something even more filling, make your pizza into a calzone with a few spoonfuls of ricotta. Serve with gravy on the side for dipping.

Cranberry sauce cocktails
Why does there always seem to be more cranberry sauce after the meal than there was at the start of it? Use it up in these two quick shake-together cocktails inspired by the Cosmopolitan and the Manhattan.

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For two cocktails: Fill a cocktail shaker halfway with ice, then add 2 ounces vodka or gin, 1 ounce Cointreau or other orange liqueur, and a healthy spoonful of cranberry sauce. Close and shake, then strain into two chilled martini glasses or coupes.

Or substitute bourbon or rye for the vodka and maple syrup for the Cointreau and make it an extra-seasonal drink.

[ Casey Barber ]


“First Thanksgiving Meal”

CONTENTS

Thanksgiving Turkey
Fruits and Vegetables
Fish and Shellfish
Potatoes
Pumpkin Pie
Who Attended the First Thanksgiving?

For many Americans, the Thanksgiving meal includes seasonal dishes such as roast turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. The holiday dates back to November 1621, when the newly arrived Pilgrims and the Wampanoag Indians gathered at Plymouth for an autumn harvest feast, an event regarded as America’s “first Thanksgiving.” But what was really on the menu at the famous banquet, and which of today’s time-honored favorites didn’t earn a place at the table until later in the holiday’s 400-year history?

WATCH: Desperate Crossing: The Untold Story of the Mayflower

Thanksgiving Turkey
While no records exist of the exact bill of fare, the Pilgrim chronicler Edward Winslow noted in his journal that the colony’s governor, William Bradford, sent four men on a “fowling” mission in preparation for the three-day event:

“Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together, after we had gathered the fruits of our labors; they four in one day killed as much fowl, as with a little help beside, served the Company almost a week.”

In “On Plymouth Plantation,” Bradford’s famous account of the founding of Plymouth Colony, he remarked of the fall harvest that year that: “there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc.” Wild—but not domestic—turkey was indeed plentiful in the region and a common food source for both English settlers and Native Americans. But it is just as likely that the fowling party returned with other birds we know the colonists regularly consumed, such as ducks, geese and swans. Instead of bread-based stuffing, herbs, onions or nuts might have been added to the birds for extra flavor.

Did you know? Many people report feeling drowsy after eating a Thanksgiving meal. Turkey often gets blamed because it contains tryptophan, an amino acid that can have a somnolent effect. But studies suggest it’s the carbohydrate-rich sides and desserts that allow tryptophan to enter the brain. In other words, eating turkey without the trimmings could prevent that post-Thanksgiving energy lull

Turkey or no turkey, the first Thanksgiving’s attendees almost certainly got their fill of meat. Winslow wrote that the Wampanoag arrived with an offering of five deer. Culinary historians speculate that the deer was roasted on a spit over a smoldering fire and that the colonists might have used some of the venison to whip up a hearty stew.

Fruits and Vegetables
The 1621 Thanksgiving celebration marked the Pilgrims’ first autumn harvest, so it is likely that the colonists feasted on the bounty they had reaped with the help of their Native American neighbors. Local vegetables that likely appeared on the table include onions, beans, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, carrots and perhaps peas. Corn, which records show was plentiful at the first harvest, might also have been served, but not in the way most people enjoy it now. In those days, the corn would have been removed from the cob and turned into cornmeal, which was then boiled and pounded into a thick corn mush or porridge that was occasionally sweetened with molasses.

Detail of illustration depicting Native American Squanto (a.k.a. Tisquantum), of the Patuxet tribe, serving as guide and interpreter for the Pilgrims at the Plymouth Colony, circa 1621.

Who Was Squanto and What Was His Role in the First Thanksgiving?
Fruits indigenous to the region included blueberries, plums, grapes, gooseberries, raspberries and, of course cranberries, which Native Americans ate and used as a natural dye. The Pilgrims might have been familiar with cranberries by the first Thanksgiving, but they wouldn’t have made sauces and relishes with the tart orbs. That’s because the sacks of sugar that traveled across the Atlantic on the Mayflower were nearly or fully depleted by November 1621. Cooks didn’t begin boiling cranberries with sugar and using the mixture as an accompaniment for meats until about 50 years later.

Fish and Shellfish
Culinary historians believe that much of the Thanksgiving meal consisted of seafood, which is often absent from today’s menus. Mussels in particular were abundant in New England and could be easily harvested because they clung to rocks along the shoreline. The colonists occasionally served mussels with curds, a dairy product with a similar consistency to cottage cheese. Lobster, bass, clams and oysters might also have been part of the feast. Colonist Edward Winslow describes the bounty of seafood near Plymouth:

“Our bay is full of lobsters all the summer and affordeth variety of other fish; in September we can take a hogshead of eels in a night with small labor, and can dig them out of their beds all the winter. We have mussels… at our doors. Oysters we have none near, but we can have them brought by the Indians when we will.”

Potatoes
Whether mashed or roasted, white or sweet, potatoes had no place at the first Thanksgiving. After encountering it in its native South America, the Spanish began introducing the potato to Europeans around 1570. But by the time the Pilgrims boarded the Mayflower, the tuber had neither doubled back to North America nor become popular enough with the English to hitch a ride. New England’s native inhabitants are known to have eaten other plant roots such as Indian turnips and groundnuts, which they may or may not have brought to the party.

Pumpkin Pie
Both the Pilgrims and members of the Wampanoag tribe ate pumpkins and other squashes indigenous to New England—possibly even during the harvest festival—but the fledgling colony lacked the butter and wheat flour necessary for making pie crust. Moreover, settlers hadn’t yet constructed an oven for baking. According to some accounts, early English settlers in North America improvised by hollowing out pumpkins, filling the shells with milk, honey and spices to make a custard, then roasting the gourds whole in hot ashes.

Who Attended the First Thanksgiving?

At the first Thanksgiving, colonists were likely outnumbered more than two to one by the Native Americans in attendance. Winslow writes: “many of the Indians coming amongst us, and amongst the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men.” In fact, the Indigenous people at the feast would have been familiar with the tradition of “thanksgiving” since it was central to their regular spiritual practices—to give thanks for natural bounty.

The preceding winter had been a harsh one for the colonists. Seventy-eight percent of the women who had traveled on the Mayflower had perished that winter, leaving only around 50 colonists to attend the first Thanksgiving. According to eyewitness accounts, among the pilgrims, there were 22 men, just four women and over 25 children and teenagers.

[ History.com ]


“What Was on the Menu at the First Thanksgiving?”

The history of the holiday meal tells us that turkey was always the centerpiece, but other courses have since disappeared

First Thanksgiving
Traditional Thanksgiving dinner includes turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes but the First Thanksgiving likely included wildfowl, corn, porridge and venison.

Today, the traditional Thanksgiving dinner includes any number of dishes: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, candied yams, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. But if one were to create a historically accurate feast, consisting of only those foods that historians are certain were served at the so-called “first Thanksgiving,” there would be slimmer pickings. “Wildfowl was there. Corn, in grain form for bread or for porridge, was there. Venison was there,” says Kathleen Wall. “These are absolutes.”

Two primary sources—the only surviving documents that reference the meal—confirm that these staples were part of the harvest celebration shared by the Pilgrims and Wampanoag at Plymouth Colony in 1621. Edward Winslow, an English leader who attended, wrote home to a friend:

“Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together after we had gathered the fruit of our labors. They four in one day killed as much fowl as, with a little help beside, served the company almost a week. At which time, amongst other recreations, we exercised our arms, many of the Indians coming amongst us, and among the rest their greatest king Massasoit, with some ninety men, whom for three days we entertained and feasted, and they went out and killed five deer, which they brought to the plantation and bestowed on our governor, and upon the captain and others.”

William Bradford, the governor Winslow mentions, also described the autumn of 1621, adding, “And besides waterfowl there was great store of wild turkeys, of which they took many, besides venison, etc. Besides, they had about a peck a meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proportion.”

But determining what else the colonists and Wampanoag might have eaten at the 17th-century feast takes some digging. To form educated guesses, Wall, a foodways culinarian at Plimoth Plantation, a living history museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts, studies cookbooks and descriptions of gardens from the period, archaeological remains such as pollen samples that might clue her in to what the colonists were growing.

Our discussion begins with the bird. Turkey was not the centerpiece of the meal, as it is today, explains Wall. Though it is possible the colonists and American Indians cooked wild turkey, she suspects that goose or duck was the wildfowl of choice. In her research, she has found that swan and passenger pigeons would have been available as well. “Passenger pigeons—extinct in the wild for over a century now—were so thick in the 1620s, they said you could hear them a quarter-hour before you saw them,” says Wall. “They say a man could shoot at the birds in flight and bring down 200.”

Small birds were often spit-roasted, while larger birds were boiled. “I also think some birds—in a lot of recipes you see this—were boiled first, then roasted to finish them off. Or things are roasted first and then boiled,” says Wall. “The early roasting gives them nicer flavor, sort of caramelizes them on the outside and makes the broth darker.”

It is possible that the birds were stuffed, though probably not with bread. (Bread, made from maize not wheat, was likely a part of the meal, but exactly how it was made is unknown.) The Pilgrims instead stuffed birds with chunks of onion and herbs. “There is a wonderful stuffing for goose in the 17th-century that is just shelled chestnuts,” says Wall. “I am thinking of that right now, and it is sounding very nice.” Since the first Thanksgiving was a three-day celebration, she adds, “I have no doubt whatsoever that birds that are roasted one day, the remains of them are all thrown in a pot and boiled up to make broth the next day. That broth thickened with grain to make a pottage.”

In addition to wildfowl and deer, the colonists and Wampanoag probably ate eels and shellfish, such as lobster, clams and mussels. “They were drying shellfish and smoking other sorts of fish,” says Wall.

According to the culinarian, the Wampanoag, like most eastern woodlands people, had a “varied and extremely good diet.” The forest provided chestnuts, walnuts and beechnuts. “They grew flint corn (multicolored Indian corn), and that was their staple. They grew beans, which they used from when they were small and green until when they were mature,” says Wall. “They also had different sorts of pumpkins or squashes.”

As we are taught in school, the Indians showed the colonists how to plant native crops. “The English colonists plant gardens in March of 1620 and 1621,” says Wall. “We don’t know exactly what’s in those gardens. But in later sources, they talk about turnips, carrots, onions, garlic and pumpkins as the sorts of things that they were growing.”

Of course, to some extent, the exercise of reimagining the spread of food at the 1621 celebration becomes a process of elimination. “You look at what an English celebration in England is at this time. What are the things on the table? You see lots of pies in the first course and in the second course, meat and fish pies. To cook a turkey in a pie was not terribly uncommon,” says Wall. “But it is like, no, the pastry isn’t there.” The colonists did not have butter and wheat flour to make crusts for pies and tarts. (That’s right: No pumpkin pie!) “That is a blank in the table, for an English eye. So what are they putting on instead? I think meat, meat and more meat,” says Wall.

Meat without potatoes, that is. White potatoes, originating in South America, and sweet potatoes, from the Caribbean, had yet to infiltrate North America. Also, there would have been no cranberry sauce. It would be another 50 years before an Englishman wrote about boiling cranberries and sugar into a “Sauce to eat with. . . .Meat.” Says Wall: “If there was beer, there were only a couple of gallons for 150 people for three days.” She thinks that to wash it all down the English and Wampanoag drank water.

All this, naturally, begs a follow-up question. So how did the Thanksgiving menu evolve into what it is today?

Wall explains that the Thanksgiving holiday, as we know it, took root in the mid-19th century. At this time, Edward Winslow’s letter, printed in a pamphlet called Mourt’s Relation, and Governor Bradford’s manuscript, titled Of Plimoth Plantation, were rediscovered and published. Boston clergyman Alexander Young printed Winslow’s letter in his Chronicles of the Pilgrim Fathers, and in the footnotes to the resurrected letter, he somewhat arbitrarily declared the feast the first Thanksgiving. (Wall and others at Plimoth Plantation prefer to call it “the harvest celebration in 1621.”) There was nostalgia for colonial times, and by the 1850s, most states and territories were celebrating Thanksgiving.

Sarah Josepha Hale, editor of the popular women’s magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book, , a real trendsetter for running a household, was a leading voice in establishing Thanksgiving as an annual event. Beginning in 1827, Hale petitioned 13 presidents, the last of whom was Abraham Lincoln. She pitched her idea to President Lincoln as a way to unite the country in the midst of the Civil War, and, in 1863, he made Thanksgiving a national holiday.

Throughout her campaign, Hale printed Thanksgiving recipes and menus in Godey’s Lady’s Book. She also published close to a dozen cookbooks. “She is really planting this idea in the heads of lots of women that this is something they should want to do,” says Wall. “So when there finally is a national day of Thanksgiving, there is a whole body of women who are ready for it, who know what to do because she told them. A lot of the food that we think of—roast turkey with sage dressing, creamed onions, mashed turnips, even some of the mashed potato dishes, which were kind of exotic then—are there.”

[ Megan Gambino ]


“Who Were the Pilgrims?”

What Happened to Sarah Morton?
The people we know as Pilgrims have become so surrounded by legend that we are tempted to forget that they were real people. Against great odds, they made the famous 1620 voyage aboard the ship Mayflower and founded Plymouth Colony, but they were also ordinary English men and women. To understand them, it is important that we look beyond the legend. This story will help you get to know these people, now known as the Pilgrims, through their first years in New England.

England was a Roman Catholic nation until 1534, when King Henry VIII (reigned 1509-1547) declared himself head of a new national church called the Church of England. Although he and his daughter, Queen Elizabeth I (reigned 1558-1603), changed some things that made the Church of England different from the Roman Catholic Church, a few people felt that the new Church retained too many practices of the Roman Church. They called for a return to a simpler faith and less structured forms of worship. In short, they wanted to return to worshipping in the way the early Christians had. Because these people wanted to purify the church, they came to be known as “Puritans.” Another group, considered very radical, went even further. They thought the new Church of England was beyond reform. Called “Separatists,” they demanded the formation of new, separate church congregations. This opinion was very dangerous; in England in the 1600s, it was illegal to be part of any church other than the Church of England.

The Separatist church congregation that established Plymouth Colony in New England was originally centered around the town of Scrooby in Nottinghamshire, England. Members included the young William Bradford and William Brewster. Like others who refused to follow the Church of England’s teachings, some of them were harassed, fined or even sent to jail. When they felt they could no longer suffer these difficulties in England, they chose to flee to the Dutch Netherlands. There, they could practice their own religion without fear of persecution from the English government or its church.

The Pilgrims in Holland (the Netherlands)
Although they had religious freedom, life in the Netherlands was not easy. The Separatists had to leave their homeland and friends to live in a foreign country without a clear idea of how they would support themselves. The congregation stayed briefly in Amsterdam and then moved to the city of Leiden. There they remained for the next 11 or 12 years. Most found work in the cloth trades, while others were carpenters, tailors and printers. Their lives required hard work. Even young children had to work. Some older children were tempted by the Dutch culture and left their families to become soldiers and sailors. Their parents feared that they would lose their identity as English people. To make matters worse, the congregation worried that another war might break out between the Dutch and Spanish. They decided to move again.

The Move to America
After careful thought, the congregation decided to leave Holland to establish a farming village in the northern part of the Virginia Colony. At that time, Virginia extended from Jamestown in the south to the mouth of the Hudson River in the north, so the Pilgrims planned to settle near present-day New York City. There they hoped to live under the English government, but they would worship in their own, separate church. Because their own money wasn’t enough to establish their village, they entered into an agreement with financial investors. The company of investors would provide passage for the colonists and supply them with tools, clothing and other supplies. The colonists in turn would work for the company, sending natural resources such as fish, timber and furs back to England. All assets, including the land and the Pilgrims’ houses, would belong to the company until the end of seven years when all of it would be divided among each of the investors and colonists. The colonists and investors had many disagreements, but eventually the Pilgrims were able to leave Europe for America.

The entire congregation could not come to America together. Those who could settle their affairs in Leiden went first while the greater number, including their pastor John Robinson, remained behind. The congregation purchased a small ship, Speedwell, to transport them across the sea and to use for fishing and trading in America. At Southampton, a port in England, they were joined by a group of English colonists who had been gathered by the investors. Speedwell and Mayflower – a ship rented by the investors – departed for America together. After twice turning back to England because Speedwell leaked, they were forced to leave the ship. As a result, many families were divided when some passengers had to be turned back for lack of space. A month after first leaving England, on September 6, 1620, Mayflower set out alone with 102 passengers.

Mayflower sails on ocean
Arrival at Plymouth
Mayflower arrived in New England on November 11, 1620 after a voyage of 66 days. Although the Pilgrims had originally intended to settle near the Hudson River in New York, dangerous shoals and poor winds forced the ship to seek shelter at Cape Cod. Because it was so late in the year and travel around Cape Cod was proving difficult, the passengers decided not to sail further and to remain in New England. It was here, in Cape Cod Bay, that most of the adult men on the ship signed the document that we know as the Mayflower Compact. It laid the foundation for the community’s government.

A party of the most able men began exploring the area to find a suitable place to settle. After several weeks, the exploring party arrived at what appeared to be an abandoned Wampanoag community. The plentiful water supply, good harbor, cleared fields, and location on a hill made the area a favorable place for settlement.

Mayflower arrived in Plymouth Harbor on December 16, 1620 and the colonists began building their town. While houses were being built, the group continued to live on the ship. Many of the colonists fell ill. They were probably suffering from scurvy and pneumonia caused by a lack of shelter in the cold, wet weather. Although the Pilgrims were not starving, their sea-diet was very high in salt, which weakened their bodies on the long journey and during that first winter. As many as two or three people died each day during their first two months on land. Only 52 people survived the first year in Plymouth. When Mayflower left Plymouth on April 5, 1621, she was sailed back to England by only half of her crew.

Building a Town & Relationships with Native People
Although they occasionally caught glimpses of Native People, it wasn’t until four months after their arrival that the colonists met and communicated with them. In March 1621, they made a treaty of mutual protection with the Pokanoket Wampanoag leader, Ousamequin (also known as Massasoit to the Pilgrims). The treaty had six points. Neither party would harm the other. If anything was stolen, it would be returned and the offending person returned to his own people for punishment. Both sides agreed to leave their weapons behind when meeting, and the two groups would serve as allies in times of war. Squanto, a Wampanoag man who had been taken captive by English sailors and lived for a time in London, came to live with the colonists and instructed them in growing Indian corn.

In the fall of 1621, the colonists marked their first harvest with a three-day celebration. Massasoit and 90 of his men joined the English for feasting and entertainment. In the 1800s this famous celebration became the basis for the story of the First Thanksgiving.

Over the next six years, more English colonists arrived and many of the people who had to stay behind in England or Holland when Mayflower left England were able to join their families. By 1627, Plymouth Colony was stable and comfortable. Harvests were good and families were growing. In 1627, about 160 people lived in Plymouth Colony.

Why “Pilgrims”?
A pilgrim is a person who goes on a long journey often with a religious or moral purpose, and especially to a foreign land. After the Mayflower arrived, the first baby born was a boy. His parents (William and Susannah White) named him Peregrine – a word which means travelling from far away and also means pilgrim. The writer of Mourt’s Relation in 1622 refers to the Plymouth Colonists as pilgrims. Governor William Bradford calls the Plymouth settlers pilgrims when he writes about their departure from Leiden, Holland to come to America: “They knew they were pilgrims, and looked not much on those things, but lifted up their eyes to the heavens, their dearest country; and quieted their spirits.” Governor Bradford also wrote a poem in which he refers to himself as a pilgrim.

‘Pilgrim’ became (by the early 1800s at least) the popular term applied to all the Mayflower passengers – and even to other people arriving in Plymouth in those early years – so that the English people who settled Plymouth in the 1620s are generally called the Pilgrims.

[ Plimoth Patuxet Museums ]


“Mayflower Compact”

[ PBS – “The Pilgrims: AMERICAN EXPERIENCE” ]

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GPWHi676EMg


“Mayflower Compact”

Mutiny on the Mayflower
What Was the Mayflower Compact?
Who Wrote the Mayflower Compact?
What Was the Purpose of the Mayflower Compact?
Plymouth Colony
Why Was the Mayflower Compact Important?
Text of The Mayflower Compact
Sources

The Mayflower Compact was a set of rules for self-governance established by the English settlers who traveled to the New World on the Mayflower. When Pilgrims and other settlers set out on the ship for America in 1620, they intended to lay anchor in northern Virginia. But after treacherous shoals and storms drove their ship off course, the settlers landed in Massachusetts instead, near Cape Cod, outside of Virginia’s jurisdiction. Knowing life without laws could prove catastrophic, colonist leaders created the Mayflower Compact to ensure a functioning social structure would prevail.

Mutiny on the Mayflower
Of the 102 passengers on the Mayflower, there were 50 men, 19 women and 33 young adults and children. Just 41 were true Pilgrims, religious separatists seeking freedom from the Church of England.

The others were considered common folk and included merchants, craftsmen, indentured servants and orphaned children—the Pilgrims called them “strangers.”

Seeking the right to worship as they wished, the Pilgrims had signed a contract with the Virginia Company to settle on land near the Hudson River, which was then part of northern Virginia. The Virginia Company was a trading company chartered by King James I with the goal of colonizing parts of the eastern coast of the New World. London stockholders financed the Pilgrim’s voyage with the understanding they’d be repaid in profits from the new settlement.

But when the Mayflower landed in Massachusetts instead of Virginia, discord began before the colonists even left the ship. The strangers argued the Virginia Company contract was void. They felt since the Mayflower had landed outside of Virginia Company territory, they were no longer bound to the company’s charter.

The defiant strangers refused to recognize any rules since there was no official government over them. Pilgrim leader William Bradford later wrote, “several strangers made discontented and mutinous speeches.”

The Pilgrims knew if something wasn’t done quickly it could be every man, woman and family for themselves.

READ MORE: What’s the Difference Between Puritans and Pilgrims?

What Was the Mayflower Compact?
Pilgrim leaders wanted to quell the rebellion before it took hold. After all, establishing a New World colony would be difficult enough without dissent in the ranks. The Pilgrims knew they needed as many productive, law-abiding souls as possible to make the colony successful.

With that in mind, they set out to create a temporary set of laws for ruling themselves as per majority agreement.

On November 11, 1620, 41 adult male colonists, including two indentured servants, signed the Mayflower Compact, although it wasn’t called that at the time.

Who Wrote the Mayflower Compact?
It’s unclear who wrote the Mayflower Compact, but the well-educated Separatist and pastor William Brewster is usually given credit.

One now-famous colonist who signed the Mayflower Compact was Myles Standish. He was an English military officer hired by the Pilgrims to accompany them to the New World to serve as military leader for the colony. Standish played an important role in enforcing the new laws and protecting colonists against unfriendly Native Americans.

What Was the Purpose of the Mayflower Compact?
No one knows exactly what happened to the original Mayflower Compact. The accepted translation was found in William Bradford’s journal, Of Plymouth Plantation, in which he wrote about his experiences as a colonist.

The Mayflower Compact created laws for Mayflower Pilgrims and non-Pilgrims alike for the good of their new colony. It was a short document which established that:

5 Myths About Slavery
the colonists would remain loyal subjects to King James, despite their need for self-governance

the colonists would create and enact “laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions and offices…” for the good of the colony, and abide by those laws

the colonists would create one society and work together to further it

the colonists would live in accordance with the Christian faith

READ MORE: How the Mayflower Compact Laid a Foundation for American Democracy

Plymouth Colony
Once the colonists agreed to work together, the hard work of starting the colony began. They elected John Carver governor on November 21, 1620.

Carver had helped secure financing for the Mayflower expedition and served in a leadership role during the voyage to America. He’s also sometimes given credit for helping write the Mayflower Compact.

Search parties then went ashore to find an ideal place to settle. They decided on Plymouth, where the colonists endured a brutal winter. Ravaged by starvation, disease and lack of shelter, more than half of the colonists died, yet Plymouth Colony survived.

It has been argued the Mayflower Compact’s role in cementing the colonists’ dedication to each other and their mission was critical to their endurance that first winter.

John Carver survived the hard winter of 1620 but died in April 1621, and the colonists chose William Bradford to replace him. Under his leadership, Plymouth Colony started to thrive.

As more and more settlers arrived and colonized the surrounding areas, a General Court was established. Each town elected representatives to attend the court, thereby creating an early representative government.

Why Was the Mayflower Compact Important?
The Mayflower Compact was important because it was the first document to establish self-government in the New World. It remained active until 1691 when Plymouth Colony became part of Massachusetts Bay Colony.

The Mayflower Compact was an early, successful attempt at democracy and undoubtedly played a role in future colonists seeking permanent independence from British rule and shaping the nation that eventually became the United States of America.

Text of The Mayflower Compact
The full text of the Mayflower Compact is as follows:

In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten, the Loyal Subjects of our dread Sovereign Lord King James, by the Grace of God, of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, King, defender of the Faith, etc.:

Having undertaken, for the Glory of God, and advancements of the Christian faith, and the honor of our King and Country, a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia; do by these presents, solemnly and mutually, in the presence of God, and one another; covenant and combine ourselves together into a civil body politic; for our better ordering, and preservation and furtherance of the ends aforesaid; and by virtue hereof to enact, constitute, and frame, such just and equal laws, ordinances, acts, constitutions, and offices, from time to time, as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general good of the colony; unto which we promise all due submission and obedience.

In witness whereof we have hereunto subscribed our names at Cape Cod the 11th of November, in the year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord King James, of England, France, and Ireland, the eighteenth, and of Scotland the fifty-fourth, 1620.

Sources
Mayflower Compact: 1620. The Avalon Project.
Mayflower Compact: A Foundation for Our Constitution. ACLJ.
Of Plymouth Plantation by William Bradford. HistoryofMassachusetts.org.
The Plymouth Colony Archive Project.
The Mayflower Compact. Constitutional Rights Foundation.

[ History.com ]


“5 Myths About Thanksgiving Food—Debunked”

If only the turkey on your Thanksgiving table could talk. That bird would like a word about how “exhausting” it is.

The idea that turkey makes us tired has been passed around holiday celebrations for a long time—and it’s not the only myth shared year after year. Is canned pumpkin really less nutritious than fresh? Is dousing the cranberries in sugar an absolute must?

Here, we debunk these and other myths about Thanksgiving food—so you can serve up the facts at this year’s feast.

Myth: Turkey makes you tired.
Truth: Turkey meat contains L-tryptophan, which is an essential amino acid that helps produce serotonin—often described as the “feel-good” hormone—and melatonin, which promotes sleep. “But you’d have to eat a lot of turkey—actually about 4 pounds of it—by yourself, in one sitting, for it to make you sleepy,” says Roxana Ehsani, a registered dietitian nutritionist based in Miami.

So why do we get drowsy after inhaling a big holiday feast? “Likely because you’re consuming high amounts of carbohydrate-rich foods—like stuffing or mashed potatoes, rolls, cornbread, all the desserts, maybe even a few alcoholic beverages,” Ehsani says. “All those things will cause a rise in blood sugar and then a crash, which will lead to fatigue.” Research indicates that high-carb, high-fat meals—hello, Thanksgiving dinner—lead to sleepiness that usually hits the hardest about 60 to 90 minutes after eating.

If you’re hoping to remain energetic for that flag-football game, opt for small portions, take breaks and then get seconds if you’re still hungry after 20 minutes, and stop eating after you’re full. Turkey, vindicated.

Myth: Canned pumpkin is less nutritious than fresh.
Truth: Canned foods tend to get a bad rap. But both fresh pumpkin and canned pumpkin are full of nutrients—including potassium, vitamin A, and iron—and suitable for your pumpkin pie.

“One should feel totally OK about having canned pumpkin,” says Keri Gans, a registered dietitian nutritionist based in New York City. “A lot of times, vegetables are canned at peak ripeness,” when they have the most vitamins and nutrients they’ll ever have. Research indicates that in addition to being nutritious, canned vegetables are cost-effective and often have a conveniently long shelf-life.

But don’t just grab the first can of pumpkin you see: It’s important to check out the labels first, Gans says. Look for a brand that’s 100% pure pumpkin and doesn’t contain any other ingredients, such as added sugars.

Myth: Cranberries require a ton of added sugar to taste good.
Truth: Cranberries are a Thanksgiving staple—and because they’re tart, they’re usually made with copious amounts of sugar in dishes like cobblers or cranberry sauce.

But here’s some sweet news: They don’t have to be sugar minefields. “A lot of people don’t know this, but you can eat them raw, without sugar,” Ehsani says. Yes, they’ll taste bitter, but consider the health benefits: Cranberries are full of nutrients like potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin K, and magnesium.

Still, there’s no need to snack on raw cranberries like they’re peanuts. Instead, use them as garnishes, tossing them into salads or dropping them into cocktails. That can add a delicious, savory twist to your meal, Ehsani says.

You can also simply cut back on the amount of sugar you use in your cranberry sauce, and it’ll still taste great.

Myth: Dark turkey meat is worse for you than breast meat.
Truth: There’s some truth to the idea that white meat is healthier, Gans says: It contains less saturated fat and calories than dark meat. However, the differences are negligible.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 3 ounces of roasted turkey dark meat contain 175 calories, 2.49 grams of saturated fat, and 114 mg of cholesterol. Roasted light meat, meanwhile, has 150 calories, 1.36 grams of saturated fat, and 75.6 mg of cholesterol.

Dark meat actually tops white meat when it comes to several nutrients: A 3-ounce serving contains a little more iron, zinc, and selenium. So nutritionally, it’s pretty much a wash.

“If you prefer the dark meat over the white meat, go for it,” Gans says. “Let’s be honest—the dark meat has more flavor.”

Myth: Post-meal is the best time to take a Thanksgiving nap.
Truth: The couch develops an almost magnetic pull after you’ve satiated yourself with mashed potatoes, doughy pies, and butter-soaked rolls. But it’s actually “the worst time” to take a nap, Gans says. Lying down could lead to digestive issues like heartburn and acid reflux—which you can better avoid by staying upright for 45 to 60 minutes after eating.

Plus, there are benefits to being active post-meal. According to research published earlier this year, a short walk—even just 2 to 5 minutes will do—can lower blood sugar levels after a meal. “If you’re able to move a little, that’s definitely preferred,” Ehsani says. “Get up, maybe clean the dishes, put some food away, and get a little active,” perhaps whisking a dining companion outside for a lap around the block.

[ Angela Haupt ]


“The True Story of Thanksgiving”

Article by David Mathis
Executive Editor, desiringGod.org

Come Thanksgiving Day each year, many of us give the nod to Pilgrims and Indians and talk of making ready for a harsh first winter in the New World.

But for the Christian, the deepest roots of our thanksgiving go back to the Old World, way back before the Pilgrims, to a story as old as creation, with a two-millennia-old climax. It’s a story that keeps going right on into the present and gives meaning to our little lives, even when we’re a half a globe removed from history’s ground zero at a place called Golgotha.

You could call it the true story of thanksgiving — or you could call it the Christian gospel viewed through the lens of that often undervalued virtue known as “gratitude.” It opens up a few biblical texts we otherwise may be prone to downplay.

Here’s the true story of thanksgiving in four stages.

Created for Thanksgiving
“God created humanity for gratitude. You exist to appreciate God.”
First, God created humanity for gratitude. You exist to appreciate God. He created you to honor him by giving him thanks. Appreciating both who God is and his actions for us — in creating us and sustaining our lives — is fundamental to proper human life in God’s created world.

As he describes in Romans 1 what’s gone wrong with the world, the apostle Paul gives us this glimpse of the place of appreciation in the created order:

Although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:21)

Part of what the first man and woman were created to do was honor God by being thankful. And part of what we exist to do is honor God by being thankful — and thus the numerous biblical commands enjoining gratitude.

Humanity was created to appreciate God. But as we’ve already seen from Romans 1, ingratitude wasn’t far away.

Fallen from Thanksgiving
Second, we all have failed miserably in appreciating God as we should. In her book on gratitude, Ann Voskamp gives memorable expression to the failure of the first man and woman — and the devil before them — to rightly experience and express gratitude.

From all of our beginnings, we keep reliving the Garden story.

Satan, he wanted more. More power, more glory. Ultimately, in his essence, Satan is an ingrate. And he sinks his venom into the heart of Eden. Satan’s sin becomes the first sin of all humanity: the sin of ingratitude. Adam and Eve are, simply, painfully ungrateful for what God gave.

Isn’t that the catalyst of all my sin?

Our fall was, has always been, and always will be, that we aren’t satisfied in God and what He gives. We hunger for something more, something other. (One Thousand Gifts, 15)

Satan the ingrate spawns unthankfulness in Adam and Eve, who pass it along to all of us. Both before our conversion and after, we are unthankful people. This is so painfully true.

“Our fall was, and has always been, that we aren’t satisfied in God and what he gives. We hunger for something more.”
And we not only fail to be thankful like we ought, but we also fail to get the balance right between physical and spiritual. Two obstacles often stand in our way to God-exalting gratitude. You could call them “hyperspirituality” and “hyperphysicality.”

Perhaps hyperphysicality is all too well known in 21st-century Western society at large. A milieu of materialists is so unaware of spiritual reality that even when there is gratitude for the physical, the spiritual is neglected, if not outright rejected. We can be thankful for the temporal, even while we couldn’t care less about the eternal.

But hyperspirituality is often particularly dangerous among the so-called “spiritual” types, even in the church. We can be prone to mute God’s physical goodness to us out of fear that appreciation for such would somehow detract from our thanksgiving for spiritual blessings.

In our sin, we fail again and again to get the proportions right. Only with divine redemption are we able to grow toward a balance that goes something like this: Christians are thankful for all God’s gifts, especially his eternal gifts, and especially the surpassing value of knowing his Son (Philippians 3:8), the Spirit-become-physical.

Redeemed by Thanksgiving
Third, God himself, in the person of his Son, Jesus, entered into our thankless world, lived in flawless appreciation of his Father, and died on our behalf for our chronic ingratitude. It is Jesus, the God-man, who has manifested the perfect life of thankfulness. If you’ve ever tracked the texts where Jesus gives his Father thanks, you’ll know it’s quite an impressive list.

Matthew 11:25 [also Luke 10:21]: “At that time [note the context of unrepentant and unthankful “cities where most of his mighty works had been done,” verse 20] Jesus declared, ‘I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.’”

John 11:41: “ . . . they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me.’” [Jesus then raises Lazarus from the dead.]

Matthew 15:36 [also Mark 8:6]: Jesus “took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples . . . ” [See also John 6:11 and John 6:23 which refer to the location as “the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks.”]

Luke 22:17–20 [also Matthew 26:27 and Mark 14:23]: “He took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, ‘Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.’” [And so following Jesus’s pattern, Paul in Acts 27:35 “took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it . . . ”]

First Corinthians 11:23–24: Our “Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it . . . ”

Jesus is not only God himself but also the quintessentially thankful human. The God-man not only died to forgive our failures in giving God the thanks he’s due, but also lived the perfect life of appreciation on our behalf toward his Father.

Freed for Thanksgiving
“Christians are thankful for all God’s gifts, especially his eternal gifts.”
Finally, by faith in Jesus, we are redeemed from ingratitude and its just eternal penalty in hell, and freed to enjoy the pleasure of being doubly thankful for God’s favor toward us — not only as his creatures, but also as his redeemed.

It is fitting for a creature to be in a continuous posture of gratitude toward his Creator. And it is even more fitting for a redeemed rebel to be in an ongoing posture of gratitude toward his Redeemer. The kind of life that flows from such amazing grace is the life of continual thankfulness. This is the kind of life in which the born-again Christian is being continually renewed, progressively being made more like Jesus.

And so the apostle Paul encourages Christians to have lives characterized by thanksgiving.

Colossians 1:11–12: May you be “strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.”

Colossians 2:6–7: “as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”

Colossians 3:15–17 [note the hat trick (3x) in this one text]: “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Ephesians 5:20: “ . . . giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

First Thessalonians 5:18: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

Only in Jesus, the paragon of creaturely appreciation, are we able to become the kind of persistently thankful people God created us to be and fulfill the human destiny of thanksgiving. For the Christian, with both feet standing firmly in the good news of Jesus, there are possibilities for a true thanksgiving which we otherwise would never know.

[ David Mathis ]


By the mid-17th century, the custom of autumnal Thanksgivings was established throughout New England. Observance of Thanksgiving Festivals began to spread southward during the American Revolution, as the newly established Congress officially recognized the need to celebrate this holy day.

The first Thanksgiving Proclamation was issued by the revolutionary
Continental Congress on November 1, 1777. Authored by Samuel Adams, it was one sentence of 360 words, which read in part: “Forasmuch as it is the indispensable duty of all men to adore the superintending providence of Almighty God; to acknowledge with gratitude their obligation to him for benefits received…together with penitent confession of their sins, whereby they had forfeited every favor; and their humble and earnest supplications that it may please God through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance…it is therefore recommended…to set apart Thursday the eighteenth day of December next, for solemn thanksgiving and praise, that with one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feeling of their hearts and consecrate themselves to the service of their Divine Benefactor…acknowledging with gratitude their obligations to Him for benefits received….To prosper the means of religion, for the promotion and enlargement of that kingdom which consisteth ‘in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost’.”

It was one-hundred and eighty years after the first day of thanksgiving in America, that our Founding Fathers officially recognized the day by proclamation of the Constitutional government. Soon after adopting the Bill of Rights, a motion in Congress to initiate the proclamation of a national day of thanksgiving was approved.

Congressional Record, September 25, 1789

“Mr. [Elias] Boudinot (who was the President of Congress during the American Revolution) said he could not think of letting the congressional session pass over without offering an opportunity to all the citizens of the United States of joining with one voice in returning to Almighty God their sincere thanks for the many blessings He had poured down upon them. With this view, therefore, he would move the following resolution: Resolved, That a joint committee of both Houses be directed to wait upon the President of the United States to request that he would recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God….

“Mr. [Roger] Sherman (a signer of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution) justified the practice of thanksgiving on any signal event not only as a laudable one in itself, but as warranted by a number of precedents in Holy Writ….This example he thought worthy of a Christian imitation on the present occasion; and he would agree with the gentleman who moved the resolution….The question was put on the resolution and it was carried in the affirmative.”

This resolution was delivered to President George Washington, who readily agreed with its suggestion and put forth the following proclamation by his signature:

A NATIONAL THANKSGIVING

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and

Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness”:

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the Beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed; for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted; for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and, in general, for all the great and various favors which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplication to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our national government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a government of wise, just and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shown kindness to us), and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally, to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as He alone knows to be best. Given under my hand, at the city of New York, the 3d day of October, AD 1789 George Washington

After 1815, prophetically, there were no further annual proclamations of Thanksgiving until the Civil War, when Abraham Lincoln declared November 26, 1863, the last Thursday in November, a Day of Thanksgiving. In early July of 1863, there were some 50,000 American casualties at the Battle of Gettysburg, and President Lincoln traveled to the field of battle some four months afterward to deliver the “Gettysburg Address.” Deeply moved by the sacrifice of these soldiers, Lincoln first committed his life to Christ while walking among the graves there. He later explained: “When I left Springfield [to become President] I asked the people to pray for me. I was not a Christian when I buried my son, the severest trial of my life, I was not a Christian. But when I went to Gettysburg and saw the graves of thousands of our soldiers, I then and there consecrated myself to Christ.”

During this time of internal strife in the United States, and at this turning point in his own spiritual life, President Lincoln issued the following proclamation.

PROCLAMATION OF THANKSGIVING BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful years and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the Source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary a nature that they can not fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever-watchful providence….

In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign states to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict, while that theater has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union.

Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defense have not arrested the plow, the shuttle, or the ship; the ax has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than theretofore.

Population has steadily increased notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege, and the battlefield, and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.

No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged, as with one heart and one voice, by the whole American people. I do therefore invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Abraham Lincoln (October 3, 1863, passed by an Act of Congress.)


Puritan clerk Edward Rawson’s words represent his Christian beliefs and Biblical understanding:

“The Holy God having by a long and Continual Series of his Afflictive dispensations in and by the present War with the Heathen Natives of this land, written and brought to pass bitter things against his own Covenant people in this wilderness, yet so that we evidently discern that in the midst of his judgments he hath remembered mercy, having remembered his Footstool in the day of his sore displeasure against us for our sins, with many singular Intimations of his Fatherly Compassion, and regard; reserving many of our Towns from Desolation Threatened, and attempted by the Enemy, and giving us especially of late with many of our Confederates many signal Advantages against them, without such Disadvantage to ourselves as formerly we have been sensible of, if it be the Lord’s mercy that we are not consumed, It certainly bespeaks our positive Thankfulness, when our Enemies are in any measure disappointed or destroyed; and fearing the Lord should take notice under so many Intimations of his returning mercy, we should be found an Insensible people, as not standing before Him with Thanksgiving, as well as lading him with our Complaints in the time of pressing Afflictions: The Council has thought meet to appoint and set apart the 29th day of this instant June, as a day of Solemn Thanksgiving and praise to God for such his Goodness and Favor, many Particulars of which mercy might be Instanced, but we doubt not those who are sensible of God’s Afflictions, have been as diligent to espy him returning to us; and that the Lord may behold us as a People offering Praise and thereby glorifying Him; the Council doth commend it to the Respective Ministers, Elders and people of this Jurisdiction; Solemnly and seriously to keep the same Beseeching that being persuaded by the mercies of God we may all, even this whole people offer up our bodies and souls as a living and acceptable Service unto God by Jesus Christ.”


Washington’s words clearly reflected a Christian theology and notion about God as the Provider of all things, unchanging, and ruling the nations:

“WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;– for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;– for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;– and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions; – to enable us all, whether in publick or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.”

[Signed] G. Washington


“A Thanksgiving Day Proclamation”

Thursday December 18, 1777

“Did you know that the Continental Congress adopted a recommendation put forth by Samuel Adams, declaring that Thursday, December 18, 1777 to be “A day of thanksgiving to God,” Samuel Adams went on to say that “In particular, God hath been pleased in so great a measure to prosper the means used for the support of our troops and to crown our arms with most signal success.” The resolution went on to say that the day would be set aside so that: “With one heart and one voice the good people may express the grateful feelings of their hearts, and consecrate themselves to the service of their Divine Benefactor; and that together with their sincere acknowledgments and offerings, they may join the penitent confession of their manifold sins, whereby they had forfeited every favor, and their humble and earnest supplication that it may please God, through the merits of Jesus Christ, mercifully to forgive and blot them out of remembrance; that it may please him graciously to afford His blessing on the governments of these States respectively, and prosper the public council of the whole; to inspire our commanders both by land and sea, and all under them, with that wisdom and fortitude which may render them fit instruments, under the providence of Almighty God, to secure for these United States the greatest of all human blessings, independence and peace; that it may please Him to prosper the trade and manufactures of the people and the labor of the husbandman, that our land may yet yield its increase; to take schools and seminaries of education, so necessary for cultivating the principles of true liberty, virtue and piety, under His nurturing hand, and to prosper the means of religion for the promotion and enlargement of that kingdom which consisteth “in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost.”

[ Samuel Adams, Continental Congress ]


“Thanksgiving Special”

Nick gives us a history lesson on Thanksgiving.

[ WORLD Watch News ]

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_o75vKk3bqg


“The Pilgrims”

This week is Thanksgiving, and it’s particularly noteworthy this year, because it’s the 400th anniversary of the first Thanksgiving held by the Pilgrims at Plymouth. Over the past century, the Pilgrims have become vilified—as university faculties have moved increasingly leftward.

Because of widespread historical ignorance, they have been able to uproot our history by portraying the Pilgrims as bloodthirsty imperialists bent on subjugating people. The Providence Forum, an outreach of this ministry, and our own Dr. Jerry Newcombe have produced a new documentary called The Pilgrims, which we will share portions of in today’s program, which tells the true history of these Christian settlers in America, .

[ D James Kennedy Ministries ]

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMIEkFdLHiQ


“THE PILGRIMS”

The recent war on history threatens to erase America’s past. Even the Pilgrims are now portrayed as bloodthirsty imperialists bent on subjugating people. But that false and libelous picture is ridiculous and must be challenged. Just in time for the 400th anniversary of the first Thanksgiving, the newly released documentary THE PILGRIMS, sets the record straight. THE PILGRIMS, hailed by Movieguide as “inspiring” combats the lies to reveal the true history of these Christian settlers in America. “The Pilgrims,” says Dennis Prager, PragerU, “created America for all intents and purposes.” Discover how they laid the groundwork for the liberty we still enjoy today.

[ The Foundation of American Liberty ]

ARTICLE: https://providenceforum.org/blog/the-pilgrims-a-film-in-the-foundation-series/

TRAILER: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGr2sbb4t4Q

MOVIE: https://watch.salemnow.com/series/77-barzsyeaiim7-the-pilgrims


“The Real Story Behind Thanksgiving”

William Federer spoke at a VCY Rally on November 4th, 2006. WILLIAM J. FEDERER is a nationally known speaker, best-selling author, and president of Amerisearch, Inc., a publishing company dedicated to researching America’s noble heritage.

[ William Federer ]

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7xZ6Qb2uURs


“What’s the Truth About the First Thanksgiving?”

Should Americans celebrate Thanksgiving as a day of gratitude? Or should they mourn it as a day of guilt? Michael Medved, author of The American Miracle, shares the fascinating story of the first Thanksgiving.

[ PragerU ]

TEACHING: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a33Fuz8wKDA


“‘Sincere and Humble Thanks’: George Washington’s Vision for American Thanksgiving”

With the 24/7 news cycle rapidly providing reasons to be deeply concerned for the state of our country, Thanksgiving offers an opportunity for us to reexamine our circumstances in life. President George Washington, who led under-supplied rag-tag American patriots in poor conditions against the mighty British army, was no stranger to hardship nor was he naive regarding the immense challenges faced by the new country he fought to establish. Instead of dwelling on the difficulties surrounding him — including internal divisions in his administration and even the fear that the burgeoning political system might fail — he pointed the American people to express gratitude to Almighty God.

It was the first national Thanksgiving, and he viewed this as a deeply important moment for the American people to reflect on the bounty with which they had been blessed. The proclamation read:

Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor — and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness.

With profound humility, Washington directed his fellow Americans to thank God for the many favors that had been bestowed upon them. Washington and the Congress issued this declaration with great thanks but also with hope for future provision from our heavenly father. The proclamation continues:

Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be — That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks — for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation — for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his Providence which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war — for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed — for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted—for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.

Washington was not reticent in thanking God for the “kind care and protection” shown to the colonists before the creation of the United States and the “manifold mercies” experienced during the Revolutionary War. His call to acknowledge what God had done for the American people is significant. The Psalmist similarly calls us to remember the good works that God has done in the past: “O God, we have heard with our ears, our fathers have told us, what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old” (Psalm 44:1, ESV). The proclamation concludes:
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And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions — to enable us all, whether in public or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually — to render our national government a blessing to all the people, by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed — to protect and guide all Sovereigns and Nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us) and to bless them with good government, peace, and concord — To promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us — and generally to grant unto all Mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

Throughout this text, Washington does not tie his expectations for the success of the United States to the determination of the Founders or the skills of his successors. His trust was in God alone to enable private citizens and government leaders to fulfill the duty they had been called to — that He would, in His wisdom, bless the nation. Today, our country faces many challenges which the Founders could not have envisioned. May we embrace their acknowledgement of God and proceed with a “firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence,” as the signers of the Declaration of Independence did.

The patriots who founded this great nation were firm believers in expressing thanks to God for our many blessings.

When we settle down for our own Thanksgivings this week, let us follow their example in humbly submitting to the will of God and thanking our Heavenly Father for those gifts which he has bestowed upon us.

[ Arielle Del Turco and Dr. Chris Gacek ]


“Five Kernels Of Corn”

It’s easy in our culture to lose sight of what we’re remembering on Thanksgiving. Even considering the economic downturn we are experiencing, we still have much abundance.

In the midst of the bountiful feasts we have with family and friends; for all the glitter and decorations in preparation for Christmas; of the mail circulars prompting us to be early for the big sale; and even for a well-deserved day off, it’s easy to forget the ‘true meaning’ of Thanksgiving.

The Pilgrims set ground at Plymouth Rock on December 11, 1620. Their first winter was devastating. At the beginning of the following fall, they had lost 46 of the original 102 who sailed on the Mayflower. But the harvest of 1621 was a bountiful one. And the remaining colonists decided to celebrate with a feast—including 91 Indians who had helped the Pilgrims survive their first year. It is believed that the Pilgrims would not have made it through the year without the help of the natives. The feast lasted three days.

But the Pilgrims’ trials were far from finished—their plentiful autumn was followed by a particularly treacherous winter. Unfortunately, the weather proved to be the least of their ailments. In November a ship called “The Fortune” dropped anchor in their harbor. Aboard the ship were 35 more colonists who had brought with them no provisions—no food, no extra clothing, no equipment for survival. Additionally, the oppression of the physical environment had become almost unbearable after a 12 week drought dried up their crops and withered their spirits. The newcomers arrival had drained already inadequate food rations and there was no obvious resource for sustenance. At their lowest point, the Pilgrims were all reduced to a daily ration of FIVE KERNELS OF CORN apiece.

The following poem was written by Hezekiah Butterworth, an American patriot schoolteacher from Boston, in April 1622, when their food supply was almost gone.

‘Twas the year of the famine in Plymouth of old,
The ice and the snow from the thatched roofs had rolled;
Through the warm purple skies steered the geese o’er the seas,
And the woodpeckers tapped in the clocks of the trees;
And the boughs on the slopes to the south winds lay bare,
and dreaming of summer, the buds swelled in the air.
The pale Pilgrims welcomed each reddening morn;
There were left but for rations Five Kernels of Corn.
Five Kernels of Corn!
Five Kernels of Corn!
But to Bradford a feast were Five Kernels of Corn!

“Five Kernels of Corn! Five Kernels of Corn!
Ye people, be glad for Five Kernels of Corn!”
So Bradford cried out on bleak Burial Hill,
And the thin women stood in their doors, white and still.
“Lo, the harbor of Plymouth rolls bright in the Spring,
The maples grow red, and the wood robins sing,
The west wind is blowing, and fading the snow,
And the pleasant pines sing, and arbutuses blow.
Five Kernels of Corn!
Five Kernels of Corn!
To each one be given Five Kernels of Corn!”

O Bradford of Austerfield hast on thy way,
The west winds are blowing o’er Provincetown Bay,
The white avens bloom, but the pine domes are chill,
And new graves have furrowed Precisioners’ Hill!
“Give thanks, all ye people, the warm skies have come,
The hilltops are sunny, and green grows the holm,
And the trumpets of winds, and the white March is gone,
Five Kernels of Corn!
Five Kernels of Corn!
Ye have for Thanksgiving Five Kernels of Corn!

“The raven’s gift eat and be humble and pray,
A new light is breaking and Truth leads your way;
One taper a thousand shall kindle; rejoice
That to you has been given the wilderness voice!”
O Bradford of Austerfield, daring the wave,
And safe through the sounding blasts leading the brave,
Of deeds such as thine was the free nation born,
And the festal world sings the “Five Kernels of Corn.”
Five Kernels of Corn!
Five Kernels of Corn!
The nation gives thanks for Five Kernels of Corn!
To the Thanksgiving Feast bring Five Kernels of Corn!

Again, things did turn around—14 days of rain followed. A second Day of Thanksgiving was declared, and the pilgrims feasted on game and turkey as they had during the previous celebration, only this time one dish was different. The first course, served on an empty plate in front of each person, consisted of FIVE KERNELS OF CORN, a gentle ‘reminder’ of what had happen in the past.

The Pilgrims’ humble response to their affliction is evidenced by their many writings which express deeply thankful hearts. We can learn countless lessons about sincere thankfulness from their example.

[ Poem by: Hezekiah Butterworth, April 1622 ].


“44 Thanksgiving Quotes to Fill You With Gratitude”
They’d also serve as excellent Instagram captions.

Thanksgiving brings a whole host of great things, most notably, the four Fs: family, friends, food, and football. But if all that prep work for the big day is starting to grate on you—or you’re staring at your holiday Instagram caption, unsure of what to write—we’ve got you covered. These quotes will help you reflect on what truly matters—and maybe get in a laugh if you read them at the dinner table. Print out these empowering and inspiring Thanksgiving quotes and place one at each table setting, or include them in gratitude cards to your guests.

[ House Beautiful ]

Article: https://www.housebeautiful.com/entertaining/holidays-celebrations/g4664/thanksgiving-quotes/


“I’m Thankful For…”

[ James Kaddis ]

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=45xd4a8jTVc


“The Mayflower Compact: As an Idea, America Began in 1620, Not 1776”

The Mayflower Compact is a quintessentially American story, and the philosophical wellspring from which the United States sprung.

Culture The Mayflower Mayflower Compact Pilgrims Social Contract Magna Carta History Declaration of Independence 1776 1620 Private Property
For the 102 English people aboard the Mayflower, this very week four centuries ago was one they would never forget.

After more than 65 days on a perilous, storm-tossed journey at sea, they sighted land (Cape Cod) on November 9, 1620. They dropped anchor on November 11. In between, they produced a document to establish what historian Rebecca Fraser describes as “the first experiment in consensual government in Western history between individuals with one another, and not with a monarch.”

We recognize that 200-word statement today as the Mayflower Compact. Its quadricentennial should be noted and appreciated by freedom-lovers everywhere.

Fraser’s observation is an important one. Previous statements and declarations in which freedom was a factor were agreements between an aggrieved people and the king or queen who ruled them. Magna Carta, for example, created a new relationship between English nobles and King John in 1215.

The Mayflower Compact, however, had nothing directly to do with the State. It was a private contract between the men among the Pilgrims and the men among the other half of the passengers, called “strangers” by the Pilgrims because they were placed on the ship by the sponsors in Britain to provide necessary skills to help the new colony succeed.

During the voyage, tensions between the Pilgrims and the strangers grew. When storms blew the ship off course and it became obvious they would land well north of Virginia, the strangers nearly mutinied. They argued that the wrong destination voided their agreement to assist the colony.

Compelled by circumstances (survival hung in the balance) to settle the issue one way or another, the passengers did the adult and civil thing. They put in writing a promise to each other to form a government of consent. Its laws would bind them all without religious or political discrimination. True to the longstanding customs of the day, women could not sign such a legal document but no evidence exists to suggest that if they could, they would have rejected it.

This short video from PBS provides some context:

Philosophers debate the legitimacy of the idea of a “social contract.” It is routinely taught in school these days that we are all bound by one, and that it demands our subservience to government. Personally, I cannot recall ever receiving my copy, let alone signing it. But if such a thing truly exists, the Mayflower Compact surely comes closest to its ideal. No one on the ship was compelled to sign, and the few who chose not to were either too ill to do so or were sailors intending to return to England.

Nathaniel Philbrick’s bestseller, Mayflower: Voyage, Community, War, expounds on the Compact’s significance:

What made the document truly extraordinary was that it applied to a group of people who were three thousand miles from their mother country. The physical reality of all that space—and all the terror, freedom and insularity it fostered—informed everything that occurred in the days and years ahead.

In the end, the Mayflower Compact represented a remarkable act of coolheaded and pragmatic resolve…[T]hey put pen to paper and created a document that ranks with the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution as a seminal American text.

The passengers then elected a Governor and went ashore on November 11. A month later, after some exploration, they opted to sail west to set up their permanent home, which they named Plymouth. Fortuitously, if not miraculously, friendly Indians whose names we should honor—Massasoit and Squanto in particular—helped the colony get through rough times. And the colonists learned an important lesson in economics early on when they rejected the starvation policy of communal socialism and embraced private property.

Personally, I love this story because it is so quintessentially American, so sublimely pro-liberty. Why? Let me summarize:

The Pilgrims fled religious persecution at the hands of a government. They made a deal with investors to privately finance a new settlement across the ocean. Half of the passengers on their ship did not share their religious views but together, the Pilgrims and “the strangers” put their differences aside and signed a social contract to establish a secular self-government. Then they made a peace with the local tribes that lasted half a century. They succeeded and prospered when freedom of enterprise and personal initiative formed the central bedrock of their new society.

In 1776, the American Declaration of Independence asserted that “all men are created equal” and that to secure their unalienable rights, “Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”

To Americans who remembered the Mayflower Compact, this was a glorious echo from a century and a half before.

It is no exaggeration to say that the great American experiment—the achievement of self-government, rule of law and enlightened liberty for all—began not in 1776 but in 1620. We are still on that same voyage and though occasional storms block and even set us back, we remain committed to the ideal.

That, I believe, is what it really means to be an American.

For additional information, see:
Text of Mayflower Compact

Mayflower: Voyage, Community, War by Nathaniel Philbrick

The Mayflower: The Families, the Voyage, and the Founding of America by Rebecca Fraser

Of Plymouth Plantation, 1620-1645 by William Bradford

America Wasn’t Founded on Slavery in 1619, But on Pilgrims’ Ideals Written in 1620 by Peter W. Wood

Remembering Warwick Charlton, Builder of Mayflower II by Lawrence W. Reed

Why the Pilgrims Abandoned Common Ownership for Private Property by Lawrence W. Reed

How the Mayflower Compact Laid a Foundation for American Democracy by Sarah Pruitt

1620: A Critical Response to the 1619 Project by Peter W. Wood

[ Lawrence W. Reed ]


“Robert Emmons: The Power of Gratitude”

Robert Emmons explains how gratitude has the ability to heal, energize, and change our lives.

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLjVOvZufNM


“Robert Emmons: Cultivating Gratitude”

In this video, Robert Emmons talks about how to be grateful in many different types of situations.

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8964envYh58


“How a simple act of kindness transformed a boy’s birthday”

When 13-year-old Gavin Mabes and some friends went to a skate park, nobody was there except Carter Bruynell, who was celebrating his 5th birthday with his mom. That’s when something unexpected happened. Steve Hartman has their story on the road.

[ CBS Evening News ]

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmQczPAz5Os


13 Most Popular Gratitude Exercises & Activities

28 Apr 2017 by Mike Oppland, BA, MBA
A List of 26 Gratitude Exercises, Activities, Worksheets, Games, and IdeasWe usually show our gratitude to others when we feel indebted to them, when we have benefitted from their actions, and when we want to make our feelings towards them known.

Showing gratitude is sometimes a required or expected thing, but at other times, a spontaneous “thank you” to someone who has unknowingly made our day. On most occasions, we show gratitude to bring the good feelings we have been gifted back to the gifter.

While it is admirable to want to share our gratitude and good feelings with others, we rarely stop to think about what giving others our gratitude does for us.

As it turns out, it does quite a lot for our brains and mental wellbeing.

Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Gratitude Exercises for free. These detailed, science-based exercises will help you or your clients connect to more positive emotions and enjoy the benefits of gratitude.

This Article Contains:
13 Most Popular Gratitude Exercises and Activities
A Gratitude Trick That Marie Forleo Learned from Robert Emmons
Gratitude Exercise: The Can of Heinz Beans
2 Gratitude Quizzes and Questionnaires
Handy Gratitude Worksheets
Examples of Gratitude Interventions for Adults
4 Gratitude Lesson Ideas for Teachers
Gratitude Games and Ideas for Kids
How to Develop Your Own Gratitude Ritual
Gratitude Apps That Help You Stick to It
7 Podcasts Focused on Gratitude
A Take-Home Message
References
Research shows that gratitude can:

Help you make friends. One study found that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek a more lasting relationship with you.
Improve your physical health. People who exhibit gratitude report fewer aches and pains, a general feeling of health, more regular exercise, and more frequent checkups with their doctor than those who don’t.

Improve your psychological health. Grateful people enjoy higher wellbeing and happiness and suffer from reduced symptoms of depression.
Enhance empathy and reduces aggression. Those who show their gratitude are less likely to seek revenge against others and more likely to behave in a prosocial manner, with sensitivity and empathy.

Improve your sleep. Practicing gratitude regularly can help you sleep longer and better.

Enhance your self-esteem. People who are grateful have increased self-esteem, partly due to their ability to appreciate other peoples’ accomplishments.
Increase in mental strength. Grateful people have an advantage in overcoming trauma and enhanced resilience, helping them to bounce back from highly stressful situations. (Morin, 2014).

The Benefits of Gratitude
With all of these benefits to practicing gratitude, your next question is probably “How do I do it?”

If so, you’re in luck! Read on to discover some of the most popular exercises and activities for this, as well as tips to cultivate your own gratitude practice.

13 Most Popular Gratitude Exercises and Activities
gratitude exercises happinessThere are infinite ways to show our gratitude to others, to ourselves, and to a higher power or even “the universe” itself.

However, it can be tough to get started without practical ideas. These gratitude exercises and activities are some of the most well-known and proven ways to practice and enhance your gratitude.

  1. Journaling
    Writing down a few things you are grateful for is one of the easiest and most popular exercises available.

The purpose of the exercise is to reflect on the past day, few days, or week, and remember 3-5 things you are especially grateful for. In this way, you are focusing on all the good things that happened to you in a given set of time.

What is the appropriate amount of journaling one should do per week? Some people propose doing it every day while others suggest once per week. The arguments against doing it every day are that it can be tedious and forced. It becomes a practice you feel you should do or need to do instead of something you want to do.

When journaling becomes a banal task and not an enjoyable practice then you need to adjust the amount of journaling you do.

Besides the benefit of focusing on the wonderful things, this practice actually can increase your quality of sleep, decrease symptoms of sickness, and increase joy (Marsh, 2011).

It is important to cater your practice to what you need. Perhaps journaling every day for a short amount of time works for you, but over time, it feels better to journal every Friday.

Paying attention to what you are grateful for becomes easier as you practice it.

Imagine your life without the things or people that matter to you, before you begin writing. That should definitely boost your gratitude barometer.

  1. Gratitude Jar
    The gratitude jar is a stunningly simple exercise that can have profound effects on your wellbeing and outlook. It only requires a few ingredients: a jar (a box can also work); a ribbon, stickers, glitter, or whatever else you like to decorate the jar; paper and a pen or pencil for writing your gratitude notes; and gratitude!

Step 1: Find a jar or box.

Step 2: Decorate the jar however you wish. You can tie a ribbon around the jar’s neck, put stickers on the sides, use clear glue and glitter to make it sparkle, paint it, keep it simple, or do whatever else you can think of to make it a pleasing sight.

Step 3: This is the most important step, which will be repeated every day. Think of at least three things throughout your day that you are grateful for. It can be something as benign as a coffee at your favorite place, or as grand as the love of your significant other or dear friend. Do this every day, write down what you are grateful for on little slips of paper and fill the jar.

Over time, you will find that you have a jar full of a myriad of reasons to be thankful for what you have and enjoy the life you are living. It also will cultivate a practice of expressing thanks.

If you are ever feeling especially down and need a quick pick-me-up, take a few notes out of the jar to remind yourself of who, and what, is good in your life.

  1. Gratitude Rock
    gratitude rock gratitude exercises
    This exercise may sound a little silly. You may be thinking, “A rock? How can a rock help me practice gratitude?”

The secret to this exercise is that the rock is a symbol, a physical object you can use, to remind yourself of what you have.

The instructions are about as simple as instructions can be: just find a rock!

Make sure to pick one you like, whether you like it because it’s pretty because it is smooth or has an interesting texture, or because you picked it up from a special place. If you have another small object you’d rather use instead, feel free to substitute that for the rock.

Carry this rock around in your pocket, leave it on your desk where you will see it throughout your day, or even wear it on a chain around your neck or your wrist.

Whenever you see it or touch it, pause to think about at least one thing you are grateful for. Whether it’s something as small as the sun shining down on you in this moment or as large as the job that allows you to feed yourself or your family, just think of one thing that brings you joy or fulfillment.

When you take the stone out of your pocket or off of your body at the end of the day, take a moment to remember the things that you were grateful for throughout the day. When you put it on or in your pocket again in the morning, repeat this process to remember what you were grateful for yesterday.

Not only will this help you remember the things you are grateful for, but also it can trigger a mini-mindfulness moment in your day. It will bring you out of your head and into the present moment, giving you something to focus your attention on. It can also act as a switch to more positive thinking.

When you flip this switch multiple times a day, you will likely find that your average day has become much more positive.

  1. Gratitude Tree
    The gratitude tree is a great activity for children, and it can also be effective for adults who are open to experiencing a childlike sense of fun and wonder. You will need several double-sided colored sheets of paper, string or ribbon, scissors, twigs or tree branches, some stones or marbles, a vase, and a sense of gratitude.

Step 1: Make one or more leaf cutouts to use as a template for your leaves. Trace leaves on your colored paper.

Step 2: Cut out the leaves, punch a hole at the top of each leaf, and loop your string or ribbon through each hole.

Step 3: Put the stones or marbles in a vase and stick the tree branch or twig in the middle.

Step 4: Have your (or your child) draw or write things that you (or your child) are grateful for on the leaves. You can also use photographs if you’d like.

Step 5: Hang the leaves from the branches, and behold your gratitude tree!

This activity is easy and results in a pretty reminder of the things that bring you or your child joy throughout your daily life. It may be intended for kids but there is no age limit on finding creative ways to cultivate your gratitude, so get to drawing!

Here’s a quick how-to video on the gratitude tree:

  1. Gratitude Garden

The gratitude garden activity is a good activity to follow creating gratitude trees. This is also intended for children, but adults can certainly follow along to get into the gratitude spirit.

Follow these steps to journey to the gratitude garden.

Start the Journey: Stand up in front of the group, with the Thankfulness/Gratitude Tree in clear view. Explain that you are all going on a trip to the Grateful Garden, but to get there you have to go through three dangerous places. (Insert a word other than “dangerous” if more appropriate to the age group). The Thankfulness Tree will help you get through each one so you can make it to the Grateful Garden.

The Frowny Forest: The first stop is the Frowny Forest. Have the kids all mimic you as you frown, cross your arms, and hunch over. There is a lot of wind in the Frowny Forest, so mimic being tossed about by the wind, turning back and forth as if you are trying to fight it. The only way to leave the Frowny Forest is to feel happy again, so ask the kids to shout out things they are grateful for (using the Thankfulness Tree as a prompt). After they have named a few things, mimic great relief, with a big smile.

The Sad Swamp: But, oh no! Just beyond the Frowny Forest is the Sad Swamp! Hunch over again, swing your arms down low, and walk (in place) in big, heavy steps, as if walking through mud or water. Again, have the kids shout out things they are grateful for, so you can all leave the Sad Swamp.
The Mad Mountain: Past the Sad Swamp is the Mad Mountain. Have them imitate you as you pretend to climb up the mountain with great effort, making angry faces. Again, have the kids shout out things they are grateful for, so you can all feel happy again.

The Grateful Garden: Finally, you have all arrived at the Grateful Garden! What a good job they have done! To celebrate, everyone can do a Happy Hop! (All Done Monkey, 2012)

gratitude graden gratitude exercises
Going through each of these negative emotions can be a fun and interactive learning opportunity for kids. For older children (or young-minded adults!), you can even add in a few other, more complex negative emotions, like the “Disgusted Dock” or the “Petty Pier.”

To read these instructions, click here.

  1. Gratitude Box
    The gratitude box is a thoughtful way to share your feelings with loved ones and cultivate your own sense of gratitude.

This is another easy activity that requires only a box, some paper, and a pen or pencil to write down gratitude messages. You can make the box yourself or buy one, the prettier the better!

On the paper, write down a heartfelt message of gratitude to your loved one. If you’re not sure how to start, here are some suggestions to begin your message:

1) “Thank you for…”

2) “What I love about you…”

3) “My holiday wish for you…”

You can also collect messages from others about your loved one, to pack the box with multiple messages of gratitude and love.

Place the message(s) into the box, wrap it up or put a bow on it, and give it to your loved one as a special gift, to both your loved one and yourself.

Read more about gratitude boxes here.

  1. Gratitude Prompts
    Gratitude prompts are a great way to get started, continue your practice, or kick-start a stalled gratitude practice. This is also a relatively simple exercise, with only one instruction: fill in the blank!

These prompts provide several ways to begin a gratitude statement, with infinite possibilities for completion. They cover multiple senses, colors, people, and things. The goal is to identify at least three things in each category that you are thankful for.

The prompts include:

I’m grateful for three things I hear:
I’m grateful for three things I see:
I’m grateful for three things I smell:
I’m grateful for three things I touch/feel:
I’m grateful for these three things I taste:
I’m grateful for these three blue things:
I’m grateful for these three animals/birds:
I’m grateful for these three friends:
I’m grateful for these three teachers:
I’m grateful for these three family members:
I’m grateful for these three things in my home:
I’m grateful for these three people who hired me:
Etc.

This simple exercise is a great way to identify all the things you are grateful for. To see all of the categories and examples for each category, click here.

  1. Gratitude Amble
    gratitude walk gratitude exercisesThis exercise only requires your sense of gratitude and a pair of feet or wheelchair.

When you are going through a particularly rough time, try cleansing your mind with a gratitude walk. Just as the combination of meditation and gratitude can combat stress or increase feelings of wellbeing, walking with a gratitude focal point can offer the same remedy.

Walking is therapeutic in itself.

It has health benefits like increased endorphins that decrease stress, increased heart health, and circulation in the body, decreased lethargy, and decreases in blood pressure. Couple this activity with a grateful state of mind and you are bound to nurture a positive mind and body (Rickman 2013).

The goal of the gratitude walk is to observe the things you see around you as you walk. Take it all in. Be aware of nature, the colors of the trees, the sounds the birds make, and the smell of the plants. Notice how your feet feel when you step onto the ground.

The effects are more potent when you can enjoy a gratitude walk with your partner or a friend. In this way, you can show them an appreciation for being able to spend the time walking together.

  1. Gratitude Reflection
    Reflection is an important part of mindfulness meditation and the cultivation of a sense of self-awareness. These practices can lead to an enhanced sense of wellbeing, among other benefits, although enhanced wellbeing is enough of a benefit for most of us.

To practice gratitude reflection, follow these steps:

Settle yourself in a relaxed posture. Take a few deep, calming breaths to relax and center. Let your awareness move to your immediate environment: all the things you can smell, taste, touch, see, hear. Say to yourself: “For this, I am grateful.”
Next, bring to mind those people in your life to whom you are close: your friends, family, partner…. Say to yourself, “For this, I am grateful.”

Next, turn your attention onto yourself: you are a unique individual, blessed with imagination, the ability to communicate, to learn from the past and plan for the future, to overcome any pain you may be experiencing. Say to yourself: “For this, I am grateful.”

Finally, rest in the realization that life is a precious gift. That you have been born into a period of immense prosperity, that you have the gift of health, culture, and access to spiritual teachings. Say to yourself: “For this, I am grateful.” (Still Mind, 2014)

  1. Gratitude Flower
    gratitude flower gratitude exercisesThe gratitude flower is similar to the gratitude tree, except that instead of creating leaves of gratitude, we create flower petals of gratitude.

Start by cutting out a circle from colored paper. Yellow is a popular color for this piece since it will be the center of the flower.

On the circle, write “Things I’m Thankful For” or write your name or family name, or even an overarching thing you’re grateful for (i.e., “my family”).

Next, use a template or freehand cut to create flower petals. You can use several different colors for a bright and vibrant flower, or the same color for a more uniform looking flower.

On the flower petals, write down things you are grateful for. These can be things like the sunny weather, having wonderful parents, or a promotion at work.

Glue or tape these petals to the center to create a flower. This is your gratitude flower!

  1. Gratitude Letter or Email / Gratitude Visit
    writing a gratitude letter email This might be the most powerful gratitude exercise. Write a hand-written letter to a person you are particularly grateful to have in your life.

Be detailed. Express all the wonderful qualities about this person, and how they personally have affected your life for the better.

If you have the time personally deliver this letter to the person yourself.

Do it unexpectedly. Your level of gratitude should skyrocket, as you observe the bliss the receiver gets from your generous act. It will probably be one of the greatest gifts you will ever receive.

The positive effects of this gratitude exercise were researched and carried out by Kent State professor Steve Toepfer, associate professor in Human Development and Family Studies.

In his 2007 study, his undergraduate students experienced enhanced levels of life satisfaction and happiness, as well as decreased symptoms of depression. Toepfer’s goal of this study was to determine the psychological benefits, if any, for the authors of these gratitude letters (Vincent, 2007).

The results of this study are quite straightforward. If you wish to increase your gratitude and happiness levels then intentionally script letters to inspiring people in your life.

If you are feeling down and maybe even depressed, you should most certainly give this practice a try. For an even further joy boost hand deliver your letter to the receivers so you can witness the receiver’s reactions for yourself.

This activity can be either an email or a letter which you can send off in the mail or deliver personally.

Think about a person who has recently done something good for you, to whom you have not yet expressed your gratitude. This person may be a friend, family member, coworker, teacher, or mentor.

Try to pick someone who you can visit within the next week if you are practicing the visit component.

Next, write them an email or letter. Use these guidelines to write an effective and grateful letter:

Write as though you are addressing the person directly.
Don’t worry about getting your grammar or spelling perfect (unless you are sending the email/letter to them).

Describe what this person has done that makes you grateful, and how they have impacted your life. Be as concrete as possible here.
Describe what you are doing in life now, and how frequently you remember their act of kindness or generosity.

Try to keep your letter to about 300 words or so.
If you are writing an email or a letter to be mailed, go through the letter to make sure it is clear and you get the intended message across. Hit the “send” button or drop it in a mailbox.

If you are delivering your letter in person via a gratitude visit, follow these steps:

Plan a visit with the recipient. Let him or her know you would like to meet with them to share something, but be vague about what you have to share.

When you meet this person, let them know that you are grateful and that you would like to read them a letter you wrote expressing your gratitude. Ask that he or she does not interrupt you until you are done reading the letter.

Take your time reading the letter. While you read, pay attention to the reactions of both you and the recipient.

After you have read the letter, listen to his or her reaction to the letter and be ready to discuss your feelings together.

Remember to leave the letter with this person when you leave.
If you are located far away from this person, you can arrange a phone call or video chat instead.

  1. Meditation
    gratitude meditationGratitude meditations are a double-whammy for wellbeing. You are performing two of the most impactful happiness practice at the same time.

Meditation isn’t always easy especially when the mind is aggressively wandering and distracting your attention, but if you practice this kind of mediation consistently be prepared to experience incredible upgrades in gratitude and joy.

Unlike a normal meditation where intentionally become aware of your breath and keep your mind clear, during a gratitude meditation you visualize all the things in your life that you are grateful for.

It is important to give each person or item the concentration it deserves. You can take the time to go through all the people you are grateful for or all the physical objects you are grateful for.

I like to simplify this sometimes and show gratitude for the things that are often taken for granted: the ability to breath, hands to touch, eyes to see, legs to walk and run, etc. There are numerous advantages to meditating. These advantages magnify when you take the time to target your reasons for gratitude.

Spend some time really taking stock of the things you are grateful for and I am certain you will feel much better afterward. It is a powerful exercise.

  1. Collage
    This is similar to the gratitude journal, except you are going to take pictures of all the things you are grateful for. This gives you the opportunity to visualize your gratitude.

Try taking a picture of one thing you are grateful for every day for a week. Notice how you feel. Take a look back at the pictures every week. You don’t have to find grandiose things to be grateful for. A simple picture of a flower will do.

The more you do this the easier it will be for you to spot out the things you are grateful for. You will no longer take these simple things for granted.

Perhaps you will document multiple pictures in a day. After a given time period put all your pictures together in a collage and simply be grateful for all that you have.

A Gratitude Trick That Marie Forleo Learned from Robert Emmons
The following video shows the results of a USC study where students kept a gratitude journal for 10 weeks. Watch what happened when the three groups had different prompts—and results.

If one of the three prompts mentioned in the video resonate with you, why not give it a try? If not for 10-weeks, for 2 weeks? You might be surprised with the slow and steady benefits this simple tip brings.

Gratitude Exercise: The Can of BeansSeph Pennock’s White Bean Exercise for Appreciation
The following gratitude exercise was invented by Seph Fontane Pennock. For this exercise you’re going to need:

A can of white beans
A can opener
A spoon
Many of us can buy a can of white beans without thinking much, let alone the food many of us are fortunate to put into our bodies. For this exercise, we invite you to have a meal of a can of beans. Nothing else that night. Just the beans.

There’s no warming them up or pouring the beans into a nice cup. That beats the purpose of the exercise. You simply grab a spoon, open up the can, imagine you’re sitting around the campfire at the foot of the Sierra Madra, and dig in.

What is the purpose of the exercise?
The purpose of this gratitude exercise is to realize and appreciate what we have. Appreciation. It can make you realize that every day, you are able to eat all sorts of foods, flown or shipped in from all over the world for you to eat. It is quite extraordinary if you think about it, but it can be easy to take for granted for those who have food security.

During this exercise, you may start to compare the beans that you’re eating with other meals you crave. This allows you to take a moment and appreciate those usual foods, and how they fuel you.

The benefits:
sierra madre gratitude Performing this gratitude exercise once a week:

Makes you a more mindful eater.
Makes you appreciate what you have in life, or at least, what you eat.
Makes you realize that we don’t need so much in order to satisfy our basic human needs.
Allows you to actually enjoy the ritual and experience positive emotions while your eating beans that tend to last throughout the whole evening.
The most powerful thing about this gratitude exercise is its simplicity. Performing this exercise is easier than its alternative, which means cooking up a whole meal (and ending up with the dishes).

What about your spouse or kids?
In case you are living with someone or if you have kids, you’re going to have more of a challenge in performing this exercise.

You can either explain the exercise to them and invite them to join you if they wish (it’s important that they decide to do so themselves), or do the exercise on one of those evenings that you don’t get to eat together with your family or spouse.

2 Gratitude Quizzes and Questionnaires
Looking for a quick way to assess how grateful you are? These quizzes and questionnaires are readily available on the internet.

Greater Good at Berkeley Quiz – This 20-item quiz is based on a scale developed by psychologists, Mitchel Adler, and Nancy Fagley. It is available online, and completion will give an overall gratitude score, as well as being given steps on how to promote further gratitude in life.

This is the GQ-6, a brief questionnaire that may take as little as about 30 seconds to complete. It was devised by Michael E. McCullough, Ph.D., Robert A. Emmons, Ph.D., Jo-Ann Tsang, Ph.D. The GQ-6 gives an impression of how grateful a person is already. It consists of 6 questions, with responses in a Likert-type scale from ‘strongly disagree’ to ‘strongly agree’.

Handy Gratitude Worksheets
If you like easy to follow worksheets, we have several suggestions that can help you get started practicing gratitude. Try one of the following worksheets.

Gratitude Exercises
This handout describes several useful gratitude exercises, some of which are included above, in a short paragraph. Consider this your master list of the best gratitude exercises with a quick and easy explanation.

You can find this worksheet here.

To learn about these gratitude exercises in more detail, try the worksheets below.

Gratitude Journal
This worksheet is a quick and easy way to document the things you are grateful for each day. It begins by noting that keeping a journal helps to improve your mood. The worksheet then instructs the user to write at least three entries for each day.

This simple worksheet lists each day of the week with five sections of blank space to fill out with things that make you grateful.

Why I’m Grateful WorksheetWhy I’m Grateful Worksheet
This simple worksheet helps you find things you are grateful for, complete with prompts to get you started. These prompts cover multiple areas of life and dive deeper into your sense of gratitude.

Instead of just helping you identify what you are grateful for, this worksheet digs into why you are grateful.

The prompts include:

“I am grateful for my family because…”
“Something good happened this week…”
“I am grateful for my friendship with… because…”
“I am grateful for who I am because…”
“Something silly that I am grateful for…”
“Something else I am grateful for…”
Simply fill in the blanks on this worksheet to discover more to be grateful for in your life! Click here to use this worksheet.

Gratitude Letter
thank you heart – Gratitude and Well-Being: The Benefits of Appreciation
Produced by Allina Health, this sheet looks at ‘overlooked blessings’ and reflections on positive things about the individual’s health and body, activities they enjoy, and relationships they are grateful for.

Finally, the worksheet prompts individuals to write a gratitude letter.

Daily Gratitude
This worksheet provides a template for a daily gratitude journal, with room to record three things in the last 24 hours the client is thankful for, and three things that they are looking forward to in the next 24 hours.

Gratitude Journal Activity
This provides a gratitude journal activity creating a list of 100 things an individual is grateful for by completing 5 mini-lists, each containing 20 lines. For example, the prompt for the first list is to “list 20 things that you are grateful worked out for you…evidence that the universe is on your side.”

Examples of Gratitude Interventions for Adults
Many of the gratitude exercises described above have been used in interventions to increase gratitude, with varying results. Check out the following studies.

Gratitude as a Psychotherapeutic Intervention
This paper by Robert A. Emmons and Robin Stern describes how gratitude can have a positive impact on patients and clients in therapeutic relationships.

The authors also outline several different methods of applying gratitude interventions to adults, including keeping a journal. The article includes a case study of a woman facing severe stress and multiple challenges in her life.

Susanna was suffering from thoughts of leaving her marriage, her husband’s motorcycle accident, the reveal of an extramarital affair on the part of her husband, and finding out that her husband had been hiding a gambling addiction that had nearly bankrupted them.

Susanna’s therapist worked with Susanna to develop a course of treatment that heavily incorporated gratitude. Her therapist encouraged Susanna to reflect on all of the things she had to be grateful for and helped her “self-right” her perspective to truly appreciate each moment in her daily life while building a new life that better suited her strengths, weaknesses, and her circumstances.

This treatment improved Susanna’s ability to function and helped her to remain emotionally available to her children and more self-aware.

The authors end by noting the ways that gratitude interventions differ from most other types of interventions.

First, the prosocial and relational nature of gratitude can build unique pathways to happiness and wellbeing. Gratitude is also a fulfilling practice, facilitating an appreciation of both the current moment and one’s past.

There is much evidence that gratitude interventions result in many positive benefits, and that incorporating gratitude into therapy can help clients and patients realize these benefits.

To read this paper for yourself, click here.

Using a Gratitude Intervention to Enhance Wellbeing in Older Adults
This article utilized the “three good things” exercise to enhance gratitude in adults 60 years and older. This exercise involves writing down three good things you have to be grateful for each day, generally at night.

The study was conducted on a group of 88 healthy adults aged 60 or over and lasted for 45 days. Results showed that this gratitude intervention improved wellbeing via flourishing, at multiple points throughout the duration of the study. Perceived stress also decreased over the first 15 days.

This intervention was effective whether administered via paper or online and showed that gratitude journaling can have a significant positive effect on older adults.

Gratitude and Wellbeing: The Benefits of Appreciation
Person Practicing Gratitude This piece by Randy A. Sansone and Lori A. Sansone explores the effects of gratitude on wellbeing.

The authors describe several studies that have provided evidence of a link between these two constructs.

For example, the authors describe three journaling methods for investigating these effects undertaken by gratitude researchers Emmon and McCullough, including one group that journaled about negative events or hassles in life, one group that journaled about things they were grateful for, and one group that journaled about neutral life events.

The group focusing on things they were grateful for reported significantly higher wellbeing than the other two groups.

Another study pitted a group who completed the “counting one’s blessings” exercise, in which participants wrote about things they were grateful for or for which they felt blessed at the end of each week, against a group who identified challenges or hassles in life and a control group. Those who counted their blessings seemed to experience a boost in wellbeing.

The authors conclude that gratitude can be an effective way to enhance wellbeing, and suggest several exercises that can be used as interventions in therapy, including:

Journaling about things for which to be grateful.
Thinking about someone for whom you are grateful.
Writing and/or sending a letter to someone for whom you are grateful.
Meditating on gratitude The “count your blessings” exercise.
Practicing saying “thank you” and really meaning it.
Writing thank you notes.
If you are religious, incorporating your gratitude in prayer.

To read about these examples and learn how to measure gratitude, you can read the paper here.

4 Gratitude Lesson Ideas for Teachers
The modern classroom sees teachers educating about far more than literacy and numeracy. Social and emotional learning is now incorporated into the curriculum. Teaching gratitude provides students with powerful life-skills. Here are some resources to utilize in planning gratitude lessons.

  1. What is Gratitude?
    After an initial ‘activation of thinking’ exercise, brainstorm about gratitude. Then, students can watch a video, such as Gratitude HD, Moving Art on YouTube, and jot down reflections from it on post-it notes. Then, in pairs, students work through guiding questions and the teacher introduces a book that is age-appropriate.

After the story, in pairs, have students discuss what they noticed in the book, what they connected with, and what they are thankful for.

Use photos, calendar images or Visual Talking Cards to provide a starting point for a discussion about gratitude and sharing knowledge among the class. Before closing the lesson, use an ABC Brainstorm Template (available from the link provided below) to generate a list of things students are grateful for.

Find the lesson idea here at its source (Heart-Mind online, 2014).

  1. Acts of Kindness (Grades K – 2)
    This lesson is designed for students to be given the opportunity to identify ways that they have acted with kindness and caring towards others.

Firstly, provide an explanation to the class about feeling grateful and have a discussion. Then, have the students close their eyes and visualize someone they have been kind to or helped, and to recall how this made them feel as well as what the other person said or did.

Ask students to open their eyes and share what they visualized. Then, ask students to draw a picture of what they visualized and write a caption to go with it. Alternatively, students could write a short paragraph about it.

To extend this lesson, older students could be encouraged to record times when they show kindness to others, the reasons why they did, and how they feel, in a gratitude journal. Or, the class could be prompted to talk about an act of kindness they could do for someone in the school and the teacher can help them put this into action.

  1. Food Gratitude (Grades 3 – 5)
    Fruit and Gratitude Exercise with Kids.
    The class lists as many different fruits as they can. Then, they vote on which fruit is the favorite fruit for most people in the class.

Guide students through a visualization of all of the people or resources who made it possible for them to enjoy this fruit.

In groups of four, students discuss the visualization and on a large piece of paper, draw all of the people, tools and natural elements necessary to produce the fruit. As students draw, discuss the many people involved in the process of making the fruit available, and prompt the class to think about how they would show gratitude to all of the people—they then add this to the drawing.

The following day, bring in some of the fruit that the students selected (being sure no student is allergic) and ask them to think of all of the properties of the fruit and reflect upon all the people involved in its production.

Finally, before the class enjoys eating the fruit, invite them to recall the expressions of gratitude that they wrote on the drawings and to feel that gratitude.

  1. People Who Made a Difference (Grades 6 – 8)
    This exercise is designed to help students understand that they can feel gratitude to people whose actions benefit the whole of society and these benefits can last for centuries.

Students identify a historical figure who did something that they feel grateful for. Then, helps students visualize the person, what it would be like to be with them, and the sense of gratitude the student has. Following this, students write an essay looking into what the person did that they were grateful for, and consider the intention and motives of the person.

Students should also think about the ‘cost’ of the figure’s actions, not only in terms of money but more general personal sacrifices. Ask students to reflect upon how they have benefited from the person’s actions and how the whole of society may have benefited.

To conclude the lesson, the class can present brief summaries of the historical figure they researched.

Here are the original sources for Lesson Plans 2-4 above (Zakrzewski, 2016).

Gratitude Games and Ideas for Kids7 Ways to Foster Gratitude in Children
By now, you’re probably thinking about all the good things that can happen when gratitude is incorporated into one’s life. This is particularly true for children and using gratitude to boost resilience, enhance wellbeing, and encourage a positive outlook on life.

7 Tips for Fostering Gratitude
This piece describes seven ways to encourage the development of gratitude in children.

These tips include:

Model and teach gratitude. This is the best way to teach any trait you want your child to develop.

Spend time with your kids and being mindful with them. Quality time is not only a positive experience for both children and adults; it also offers opportunities to model empathy and cultivates a sense of appreciation for the things you love.
Support your child’s autonomy. Allowing your children to be semi-autonomous helps them to build their strengths and talents, and encourages them to take ownership of their actions.

Use your children’s strengths to fuel gratitude. Create opportunities for your children to be helpful and cooperative with others, enhancing their ability to feel and express gratitude.

Help focus and support kids to achieve intrinsic goals. In steering children away from the pursuit of materialistic goals and toward intrinsic goals, you can help children fulfill their own higher-level needs and aid in their development. Savor their accomplishments with them as one way to boost their sense of gratitude even more.

Encourage children to help others and devote time to nurturing relationships. Volunteer to help others with your child, and encourage them to offer a helping hand to loved ones in need of support. Helping them to develop strong, positive relationships is a great way to make sure they have something to be grateful for.
Help kids find what matters to them. Assisting your child in finding what he or she is passionate about is a good way to help them find gratitude as well. A sense of purpose or meaning in life helps us all to discover what we love, contribute to society, and practice gratitude.

More information on cultivating a sense of gratitude in children can be found here.

Gratitude in the Classroom
gratitude in classroom childrenIf you’d like to build gratitude in your children or the children you teach or mentor, try these suggestions:

Create a classroom gratitude book for each child to take home and add a page of pictures and descriptions of what they’re grateful for. Switch out each week so every child has the opportunity to add a page.

Take a picture of each student holding a large piece of paper with one thing they are grateful for written on it, frame the picture, and send it home as a gift.
Create a gratitude collage or bulletin board, with pictures of things each student is grateful for.

Have each child write down something they are thankful for on strips of paper, and use the strips to create a gratitude chain, which can be hung around the classroom.

Hold a “Special Friends Day” before Thanksgiving, in which each student brings someone special to class. Each pair will write or draw something they are thankful for, which will be posted on a bulletin board.

Have the children create gratitude surprise sticky notes. Hand these sticky notes out to students and have them write down something they’re grateful for in regards to someone else around the school, then encourage them to “deliver” the note to that person’s locker, mailbox, or classroom door.

For many more classroom gratitude ideas, visit this website.

Gratitude Exercises for Children
The website http://www.blissfulkids.com also provides some popular gratitude exercises that can help develop gratitude in children.

The top three gratitude exercises according to Chris Bergstrom and Blissful Kids are:

  1. The Gratitude Journal. Provide your child with a journal and encourage them to write down five things they are grateful for each day. Bedtime is a great time to practice this exercise since children will have the whole day from which to choose what to write about.
  2. The ABCs of Gratitude. Have your child sit comfortably and close their eyes. Tell them to list things they are grateful for, beginning with “A” and working all the way through the alphabet to “Z.” Don’t be surprised if this exercise gets a little silly—it’s bound to get silly at some point, so just embrace it and enjoy the laughter with your child!
  3. Bedtime Thank Yous. This can be incorporated into the gratitude journal or practiced as a standalone exercise. Help your child to think of happy things that happened to them during their day. They can simply say these things aloud, write them down in their journal, draw a picture of them, or simply think of them. This exercise can ensure that your child drifts off to sleep with a heart full of love and gratitude.

How to Develop Your Own Gratitude Ritual
Creating a gratitude ritual can be tough, just as starting any new habit can be difficult to stick with at first. Like most other practices, the more you do it, the easier it will get.

Try these tips to help you cultivate a fulfilling and impactful gratitude ritual:

1) Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and take several slow, deep breaths.

2) Think of something good that has happened to you recently.

3) Think of a person or animal you love.

4) Think of an occasion when you were honored or appreciated by others.

5) Think about your present situation and what is going on in your life. (Rodrigues, 2017)

The popular website http://www.tinybuddha.com also provides several useful suggestions on implementing and sticking to a gratitude ritual.

Their steps are as follows:

Commit to your practice. There will be days when you feel like doing anything other than finding reasons to be grateful, but pushing through these days will empower you and help you build the strength and resilience necessary to push through other challenges.
Begin your practice. Just do it! Sit down with a pen and paper or a computer and start simply, with a prompt like “I am grateful for…” You may need to sit and think for a while, but that’s okay. If you give it time and put in the effort, it will come!
Write it down. Sometimes thinking about what you are grateful for will not be enough. Be sure to write down what you are grateful for. Writing can have a powerful impact that just thinking may not bring about.

Feel it. Allow yourself to fully experience gratitude. Let it come up from your heart and throughout your body. Savor the feeling.

Choose a set time of day. This can be extremely helpful when starting a practice. Some popular times to practice gratitude are first thing in the morning and last thing at night, but choose a time that works for you.

Practice present-moment gratitude. While you may be writing these things down at the beginning or end of the day, make sure to notice all of the things for which you are grateful as they pop up throughout your day. Allow yourself to be in the present and to fully appreciate each thing you are grateful for as it arises.
Share the gratitude. Find a gratitude partner to share your list of things you are grateful for with, to discuss your challenges and your successes with, and to motivate you when you are not feeling up to the task (and vice versa).

Don’t stop when you start noticing results! Although counterintuitive, it can be tempting to stop any practice once you start seeing the benefits. Make sure you are committed to your practice, whether it feels beneficial in the current moment or not.

Allow yourself to be human. It’s alright to miss a day once in a while, and it’s alright to feel grumpy about having to follow through on your commitment when it’s the last thing you want to do. We are human, and we will make mistakes. If you’re having trouble coming up with anything, at least write something like “I am grateful I am writing my gratitude list.” (Russell, 2016).

How to Develop Your Own Gratitude Ritual
The popular dating website eharmony also provides tips on how to cultivate gratitude, especially in the context of dating and relationships. They suggest four steps:

Breathing. Simply close your eyes and take a deep and intentional breath, repeating until you feel calm and grounded.

Awakening your awareness. Allow yourself to meditate on your truth in the present moment.

Recognize your blessings. Think about what you are experiencing with your five senses if you have trouble getting started.

Emotions flow. Allow your emotions to come and go, to rise and fall as they will. Focus your attention on enjoying the feeling of gratitude working its way through your mind and to your heart.

Finally, Chris Libby from http://www.livehappy.com provides four rituals that you can implement to build gratitude in your life.
These rituals are:

Amazing Grace. Reflect on what you are grateful for at the dinner table before you begin eating, whether alone or with your family.

Focus on the “Haves.” Instead of thinking about what you are missing, think about what you have. Write down at least three things you are grateful for each night.
The Write Stuff. Write a letter to someone you are grateful to or for, and read the letter aloud to them if possible. you can find more instructions for this exercise earlier in this piece.

Thankful Awareness. Try something new and fulfilling, such as volunteering at a food bank or soup kitchen, or handing out toys at a children’s hospital. Witnessing the trials and challenges of others can often be a spur for you to notice the good things in your own life. (Libby, 2016)

Gratitude Apps That Help You Stick to It
Sometimes, even when we know all of the right steps and have all of the right tips, practicing regular gratitude can be difficult. This is where an app can help! Try one of the gratitude apps described below to help you keep a regular gratitude practice.

  1. Gratitude Journal
    This classic gratitude exercise is put into digital form, with a daily journal for you to fill with things you are grateful for. It includes space for writing down several things each day, ratings of your feelings, daily quotes, and up to three photos per journal entry.

This app is available through iTunes here.

  1. Gratitude Journal 365
    This app is a bit cheaper than the Gratitude Journal app, but it can be just as useful. It also allows the user to create a daily gratitude entry with space for the one thing you are most grateful for. You can also share your gratitude on social networks, edit and add filters to your gratitude entries, and add frames to photos.

The entries are organized by a calendar and can be used to track progress on goals as well as count your blessings. You can find this app here.

  1. Mojo App
    The Mojo app is another app based on gratitude journaling, but here you can also tag it with emotions and emoticons, add pictures, and import entries from other apps.

This app is currently offered on special with a Wonder Woman emoji, and you can find out more about it here.

  1. Gratitude Garden App
    This app not only allows you to recall and record the things you are grateful for each day, it also rewards you with points for journaling. You can build up a gratitude garden with these points, a pretty space that can bring you joy by reminding you of what is good in your life. You can also receive gratitude cards, which contain suggestions for further actions that can increase gratitude and happiness.

This app is free, and you can download it on iTunes here.

  1. Grateful: A Gratitude Journal
    Grateful was developed to make expressing gratitude both easy and fun. By recording your blessings in Grateful, during those ‘down’ moments you can be reminded of all the things in your life that you have to be grateful for.

Available here from iTunes.

  1. Happyfeed
    This is a private gratitude journal app allowing you to record happy moments each day. As well as securely recording these moments as they happen, Happyfeed also writes fun, silly, and informative daily reminders. The more you use this app, the more valuable it becomes.

Head here to get the app.

7 Podcasts Focused on Gratitude
Podcasts are a convenient way to hear from experts, and can also be a good use of time such as when on public transport. There are some available on the topic of gratitude. Here they are…

The Gratitude Podcast is by Georgian Benta. It is devoted to all things gratitude, with over 500, 000 downloads. It includes interviews with successful people and getting them to share fascinating stories about how gratitude has helped them get to where they are now.

Episode 18 of the ‘Being Well’ podcast sees Dr Hanson and Forrest discuss the 5th of 12 strengths to be examined in the series – gratitude. They look at the role of positive emotions generally and especially the value of “thankfulness”.

This podcast, “Why Gratitude Works” is by Christine Carter and Rona Renner. In it, these experts discuss the science of gratitude and the reasons why consciously practicing gratitude can improve people’s happiness so markedly.

This podcast looks at the power of gratitude. The presenters explain how being grateful is actually scientifically proven to be beneficial. Shawn Achor, sometimes known as “The Happiness Guy” also shares his ideas on why we ought to be thankful. There is also a discussion of the small things in the presenters’ lives that they are grateful for.

Featuring acclaimed author and grounded theory researcher, Brene Brown, the topic of this podcast is “On gratitude, vulnerability, and courage”. When gratitude and the power of appreciating the smallest moments were discussed, the podcast became emotional.

This relatively short podcast, featuring Lewis Howes from the School of Greatness, looks at developing an ‘attitude of gratitude’. Howes shares both expertise and personal experience – such as almost losing his father in a car accident, and how he learned not to take things for granted.

This podcast is slightly different to the others discussed above. It looks at gratitude as a skill, and how to build this skill. There is a lot covered in the podcast. If you don’t have the time, or the inclination, to listen to a podcast a summary of the points covered is available on the site which is accessible from the hyperlink provided.

A Take-Home Message
I hope you have found this piece useful. I’m grateful for you, as a reader, who took the time to process some of these ideas.

The “gratitude muscle” is like any other muscle, in that it must be flexed periodically to remain strong.

Return to this page whenever you need a reminder about why gratitude is important to practice, or suggestions on how to boost your own sense of gratitude. Visit the section on developing gratitude in children to encourage your own children, clients, or students to commit to a lifetime of gratitude and happiness.

Thank you for reading, and please be sure to find at least three things to be grateful for today.

Do you have a regular gratitude practice? Are there other gratitude exercises that work for you? Please let us know in the comments section below.

We love hearing from you!

We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Gratitude Exercises for free.

For further reading, we suggest:

The Neuroscience of Gratitude and How It Affects Anxiety & Grief (Incl. Exercises)

REFERENCES
All Done Monkey. (2012, November 2). Journey to the Gratitude Garden: Activity for Thanksgiving. Retrieved from http://alldonemonkey.com/2012/11/02/journey-to-the-gratitude-garden-activity-for-thanksgiving/.
Emmons, R. A., & Stern, R. (2013). Gratitude as a psychotherapeutic intervention. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 69, 846-855.
http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/.
Libby, C. (2016, September 30). 4 gratitude rituals to build kindness and increase joy. Live Happy. Retrieved from http://www.livehappy.com/practice/4-gratitude-rituals-build-kindness-and-increase-joy.
Killen, A., & Macaskill, A. (2015). Using a gratitude intervention to enhance well-being in older adults. Journal of Happiness Studies, 16, 947-964.
Marsh, J. (17 November 2011). Tips for keeping a gratitude journal. Greater Good Science Center.
Morin, A. (2014, November 23). 7 scientifically proven benefits of gratitude that will motivate you to give thanks year-round. Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2014/11/23/7-scientifically-proven-benefits-of-gratitude-that-will-motivate-you-to-give-thanks-year-round/#5173c7f5183c.
Rickman, C. (9 November 2013). Walking into well-being: The power of the gratitude walk. Huffington Post.
Rodrigues, C. (2017, January 8). Creating a gratitude ritual. Retrieved from http://www.everydaygaan.com.
Russell, H. (2016). How to start a gratitude practice to change your life. Tiny Buddha. Retrieved from http://tinybuddha.com/blog/how-to-start-a-gratitude-practice-to-change-your-life/.
Sansone, R. A., & Sansone, L. (2010). Gratitude and well being: The benefits of appreciation. Psychiatry (Edgemont), 7(11), 18-22.
Still Mind. (2014). Try this gratitude meditation, you’ll feel wonderful. Retrieved from http://www.stillmind.org/gratitude-meditation/.
Vincent, E. (2014). Writing power: Kent state professor studies benefits of writing gratitude letters. Kent State University.
http://www.therapistaid.com/.

[ Mike Oppland ]


“GiveThx”

GiveThx is a digital program and research-validated curriculum that strengthens student wellbeing & social-emotional skills through gratitude.

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6aKqmqxHGA


“Happy Thanks for Giving”

When you choose Walgreens, you choose to make a difference. So really, thanks for giving.

Get vitamins here. Change lives everywhere.
Every time you buy vitamins at Walgreens, you’ll help provide life-changing vitamins to undernourished children around the world and here at home. (Walgreens will donate 1% of participating products’ retail sales made 5/23/14–12/31/17 to Vitamin Angels.)

Your global impact
Walgreens’ partnership with Vitamin Angels is providing millions of children with life-changing vitamins and minerals. See how your vitamin purchase helps children worldwide:

– Since partnering with Walgreens in 2013, Vitamin Angels now reaches children in more than 66 countries.
– More than 95,000 children receive life-changing vitamins every day thanks to your Walgreens vitamin purchases.
– Together, we’re providing vitamin A to children unable to obtain sufficient amounts from their diet to help prevent blindness and strengthen the immune system.
– A de-worming tablet, like albendazole, helps to combat malnutrition in children living in areas where intestinal worm infection is common.

See the change
Walgreens is working to improve the lives of undernourished children around the world and here at home. Click on the map below to see how we’re making a big difference.

To learn more about Vitamin Angels, visit
http://www.vitaminangels.org/.

Children in the U.S. and around the world are expected to receive life-changing vitamins thanks to your help*

As of 26 NOV 17, the Walgreens website show that 141,493,154 children worldwide are expected to receive life-changing vitamins, thanks to everyone’s help. [ Note: The “counter” on the Walgreens website showing this number was changing about every 10 SECONDS!—so, EVERY MINUTE a 6 CHILDREN in the world are getting vitamins! ].

https://www.walgreens.com/topic/promotion/vitamin-angels.jsp


“A Christmas Carol”

It’s Christmas time, and the greedy Mister Scrooge is not feeling the holiday spirit. Three ghosts visit him overnight to change his ways. The Ghost of Christmas Past, the Ghost of Christmas Present, and the Ghost of Christmas Yet-to-Come teach him the true meaning of Christmas: kindness and love toward others. Mister Scrooge must show love to those around him to save himself from a sad and lonely future.

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqMfGq3okZY


“Scrooge: A Christmas Carol”

Charles Dickens’ ageless legend is reborn in this supernatural, time-travelling, musical adaptation of the definitive Christmas story.

[ Timeless Films ]

TRAILER: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZylTiyaWV8


“The Redemption of Scrooge”

Ebenezer Scrooge is a man in dire need of a second chance. Is redemption possible for such a greedy, dark and sad character? The Redemption of Scrooge, from Matt Rawle’s The Pop in Culture Series, shows us how the teachings of Jesus can be found in Dickens’ Christmas classic. From the ghosts of Christmas past, to the Life of the present, and the resurrection of Christmas future, this Advent study will “bless us every one” and reinvigorate our spiritual journeys as we look at this familiar story through the lens of faith

[ Abingdon Press ]

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czA4lI3Bb7Q


“What does the Bible say about thankfulness / gratitude?”

What does the Bible say about thankfulness / gratitude? Why are Christians supposed to be thankful? Why is it so difficult to show gratitude?

[ Got Questions ]

TEACHING: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMdl-VxaZP4


“A Thanksgiving Prayer”

There is an old song that tells us to count our blessings, but it is not possible! There are too many!

So, lets offer a prayer of Thanksgiving for some of them:

Heavenly Father, at this moment I am not coming with request, only with the sacrifice of praise and Thanksgiving.

Thank You for the sky—is blueness, its cloud, it’s sunrises and sunsets, its space for the birds to fly.

Thank You for the ground—it’s green grass, brown salmon, towering mountains, fruitful plains.

Thank You for the CDs—the vastness of the watery depths, the fish, the coral, the tides, the marvel of water itself.

Thank You for beauty—the petals of flowers, the grins of children, the existence of colors, the blackness of the night sky, and the twinkling sparkle of the stars.

Lord, thank You for providing everything for me to richly enjoy. The Bible says the cheerful heart has a continual feast, so thank You for all the flavors of life.

Whatever today brings—and tomorrow—Lord, thank You for You!

[ David Jeremiah ]


“The Thanksgiving Glass”

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4m0aKm8Uys0


“A Thanksgiving Prayer”

Remembering the origins of Thanksgiving—Giving thanks to God. The Pilgrims were so thankful of having a harvest of food to eat that they set a side a day to celebrate and give thanks to God. I hope you will too- blessings to you all!

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5chzfHJ31RY


“Pray Your Way into Thanksgiving”

Thanksgiving was always on Paul’s lips. And it was on his lips when he was talking about prayer and anxiety. In Philippians 4:6, Paul writes this: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Pray your way past anxiety. And pray your way into thanksgiving. Here’s Pastor John to explain.

Let’s go to Philippians 4:6–7. It’s very famous, very precious, and more embedded in the big picture of this letter than you may have thought. I want to draw out how Philippians 4:6–7 relates to the big things Paul is trying to do in this letter.

So now, finally, for the first time, he exhorts them to pray. I think that’s been implicit so far, but now it’s explicit. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything . . .” (Philippians 4:6). That’s a big word. Do you pray about everything? Everything? When Paul says, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), that probably is connected to “pray about everything.” Do you walk in a spirit of communion with God that — sometimes consciously, sometimes less so — is constantly offering up thanks, but especially sending up need? “I need help in this conversation. I can barely understand that person’s accent, and my hearing is bad. I need help right now at the dining-room table.” Do you live like that?

Do not be anxious about anything, 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 understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6–7)

Broad and Narrow Prayer
In one sense, this command to pray is all-encompassing because of the words in everything. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything” pray. Do you see the connection there? Don’t be anxious in anything because in everything you’re praying for what you need in the anxious moment, and you’re trusting God because of his promise to be there and help — and so, anxiety lifts. That’s the way prayer is supposed to work to take away anxiety.

In another sense, it’s not broad and all-encompassing. It’s very narrow and very focused because instead of saying the hundred things that God does in answer to prayer, he simply focuses on two things, which are really two sides of the same coin. “Do not be anxious” is one result of prayer. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6). So the first thing that happens when you pray about everything is that anxiety is lifted. “Cast all your anxieties on me because I care for you.” That’s Peter’s way of saying it (1 Peter 5:7).

“Negatively, aim by prayer to be done with anxiety. And positively, aim by prayer to enjoy constant peace.”
And the second thing is that the “peace of God” — which is the opposite of anxiety, right? — that passes all understanding comes in and takes over and protects, guards, your hearts and minds. So negatively, aim by prayer to be done with anxiety. And positively, aim by prayer, in everything, to enjoy constant peace.

Walk through the world of trouble — ministry troubles, family troubles, European troubles, refugee troubles, political troubles, financial troubles — in the protection of the peace of God that cannot be accounted for by human reason. It cannot. It goes beyond, it surpasses what human reasoning can do. When Paul is saying, “Enjoy peace through prayer,” if somebody says, “Yeah, but how could you have peace when that’s happening?” well, that word how has no answer humanly. That’s why it says, “beyond human understanding.” Human understanding will not be able to come up with an answer to how you enjoy peace in this circumstance. It is suprarational. Reasoning doesn’t make the peace happen; God makes the peace happen, and he does it in answer to prayer. It’s a wonderful experience.

Key to Philippians
Now let’s ask this: How do those two halves of verse 6 and 7 — get rid of anxiety by prayer; enjoy peace with God by prayer — how do those two results of praying in everything relate to the big picture of Philippians, which we’ve been seeing?

“Living or dying, make Christ look great. That’s the reason you’re on the planet.”
The first day, I argued from Philippians 1:20–21: “My eager expectation and hope [is] that I might not at all be ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live as Christ, and to die is gain.” That’s the big goal of this letter: Christ magnified in your bodily existence. Living or dying, make him look great. That’s the reason you’re on the planet. That’s the reason your family exists, your ministry exists. Make Christ look magnificent because that’s what he is. That’s what this big picture is in Philippians.

And we saw that Paul gets very specific. Another way of describing “make Christ look great” is “lead lives worthy of the gospel.” That’s Philippians 1:27–28. Live a life that is fearless before the adversary and united, arm in arm, in love with other believers. Unity in love and fearlessness, he says, become a sign to the world of “their destruction” and of “your salvation” (Philippians 1:28).

In other words, when you are fearless before your adversary, and you are full of love, driven by humility, counting others more significant than yourself, putting others’ interests before your own — when that’s the source of the loving unity and the fearlessness, it’s a sign. It’s a sign to the world that Christ is all-satisfying to these people. Christ will meet every need that they have. Christ is all they need. “I want to know about this because I don’t get it.” That’s the big picture.

How does that relate to the praying of Philippians 4:6? The answer is that “do not be anxious about anything” is the fearlessness of Philippians 1:27–28. The fearlessness before the adversary in Philippians 1:28 is another word for “don’t be anxious.” When you stand before the authorities in the university or the authorities in the capitol, when you stand before people who don’t like your position on this or that, don’t be afraid. Or to use the words of Philippians 4:6, “Don’t be anxious about anything, but in everything, let him know what you need.” All of which goes to say, prayer is the key to this book.

[ John Piper ]


“PURITAN PRAYER”

O Source of all good,
What shall I render to thee for the gift of gifts,
thine own dear Son, begotten, not created,
my Redeemer, proxy, surety, substitute,
his self-emptying incomprehensible,
his infinity of love beyond the heart’s grasp.

Herein is wonder of wonders:
he came below to raise me above,
was born like me that I might become like him.

Herein is love;
when I cannot rise to him he draws near on wings of grace,
to raise me to himself.

Herein is power;
when Deity and humanity were infinitely apart he united them in indissoluble unity,
the uncreated and the created.

Herein is wisdom;
when I was undone, with not will to return to him,
and no intellect to devise recovery,
he came, God-incarnate, to save me to the uttermost,
as man to die my death,
to shed satisfying blood on my behalf,
to work out a perfect righteousness for me.

O God, take me in spirit to the watchful of shepherds,
and enlarge my mind;
let me hear good tidings of great joy,
and hearing, believe, rejoice, praise, adore,
my conscience bathed in an ocean of repose,
my eyes uplifted to a reconciled Father;
place me with ox, ass, camel, goat,
to look with them upon my Redeemer’s face
and in him account myself delivered from sin;
let me with Simeon clasp the new-born child to my heart,
embrace him with undying faith,
exulting that he is mine and I am his.
In him thou has given me so much
that heaven can give no more.

[ From the published collection of Puritan prayers and devotions called “The Valley of Vision” ]


“The Song of Gratitude”

I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. —G. K. Chesterton

Happiness makes for great dancing posture. And for those of us who aren’t happy, Amazon sells a “clavicle brace and posture support” so we can fake it.

I’m kidding.

That said, it doesn’t take long to realize that I’m an incredible dancer when life is great. But life isn’t always great. In fact, sometimes—more often than what’s comfortable—life is hard.

By this point in the dance lessons, I’ve learned that to put on appearances is to march. I’ve traded in my marching boots for dancing shoes. I’ve abandoned a life driven by performance so I might live in abandon through the Spirit.

So the question arises: How can I dance beyond circumstances?

How can I dance with shoulders back and head high when heavy circumstances put a definite slump in my posture? Is there any hope beyond Amazon’s clavicle brace?

Yes. Absolutely. The solution to dancing through life’s circumstances is beautifully simple.

Give thanks.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever. (Psalm 118:1)

I know what you’re thinking. Pete, I just lost my job. My spouse just left. My house will be repossessed next month. Or, My child just said the most hurtful thing.

I’m asking you. Try asking Jesus to be thankful through you today, no matter what. See what happens. It’s the ultimate perspective shifter as your focus shifts from circumstances to the Lord who is good and loves you forever.

Father, I want to believe that I can dance through every circumstance, but some paralyze me. I thank You for Your Spirit who dwells in me and leads me too. May my list of gratitude be so lengthy that as I gaze toward the heavens, I lose my balance for one step, then two steps, and before I know it, I’m back in the dance again. Amen.

[ Peter Briscoe ]


“A LIFE OF THANKSGIVING”

What are you thankful for? Many countries and cultures have designated days set aside to express thanks for provision. For many, such gratitude is shown to a false god, or even to oneself. Often these days of thanksgiving occur around the time of the harvest. After all, it’s easy to give thanks when the fields are teeming with crops. It’s easy to give thanks when our lives are full—when the bank account is full, when the belly is full, when the womb is full.

But what about when life is hard and our hands are empty? What about when the news is dark and grim, and the future is bleak? That’s when it’s hard to give thanks, isn’t it?

The Apostle Paul instructed believers to give thanks in all things: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess. 5:16–18). Whatever our circumstance, when life is easy and when it is hard, we are called to be thankful. And more, this thanksgiving is God’s will for us; it’s what He desires of us.

How? How do we give thanks in all things? How do we live a life of thanksgiving in a world that is fallen, where there is seemingly more sorrow and grief than joy and happiness?

To be clear, to “give thanks in all circumstances” doesn’t mean that we are saying that something is good that is in fact not good. Rather, we thank God because we know that He is at work in all things for our good. We know that He rules over the lost jobs, the broken relationships, and the sufferings we endure, for nothing happens outside His control. We know that He is a God of redemption, that He can make things that were once broken whole again. After all, we’ve seen His work in our own hearts. Through the power of the Spirit, God breathed new life into our spiritually dead hearts. He drew us to Himself and enabled us to see our need for Him. He made us alive in Christ; we are new creations. That’s why we trust that He will use all things—even the things that are not good—for our good and His glory.

In Philippians, Paul tells us to bring our requests to God—all those things we are anxious and worried about—wrapped in thanksgiving (4:6). This means that when we pray about all the hard things, we give thanks as well. We ask the Lord to intervene, to help us in our circumstances, all the while giving thanks to Him for who He is and what He has done.

No matter what is happening in our lives or in the world around us, we know who our God is. He is a good God who does only what is good, as the psalmist writes: “You are good and do good” (Ps. 119:68). Let us give thanks to Him.

This is a life of thanksgiving.

[ Christina R. Fox ]


“The Spirit of Gratitude”

Right now many Americans are hurting. Though most of us have what we need, millions of others are either without work or have jobs but are still struggling to make ends meet and provide for their families. Even as we thank God for His blessings our hearts break for those who suffer and we continually pray for God to meet their needs while also seeking ways we can help.

Unfortunately, it’s far too easy for us to harden our hearts to God’s blessings, so that we become “habitually insensible,” no matter the circumstances. But the Bible teaches that gratitude has little to do with our circumstances and everything to do with our hearts. The Apostle Paul understood that. He wrote to the Philippian Christians:

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength” (Philippians 4: 11-13).
Paul and Silas actually sang praises to God after being beaten and imprisoned in Philippi for preaching Christ. As a result, they were released, and the jailer and his entire family were saved. The city experienced the power of God’s love.

What is the secret of being content in any and every situation? It’s seeing every event in our lives—whether it brings pleasure or pain—in the light of eternity. To be fully content, we must see everything through the lends of God’s ultimate gift: salvation. We must see everything as a blessing, not something we are entitled to.

This spirit of gratitude transforms how we receive everything else. It allows us to enjoy the obvious gifts, such as the pleasures of a warm house and a healthy family. We should not reject these pleasures because of a legalistic desire to suffer, but must not clutch them greedily. It’s not about what we have, but about what has us.

Many Americans are discontent because they have failed to cultivate a spirit of gratitude, not because they suffer lack or hunger. Even with increasing unemployment, most of us have our basic needs met, with some left over. We enjoy freedoms that earlier generations could only imagine. As bad as COVID was, it failed to cause the deaths originally predicted. We have also eradicated diseases that killed millions of people just a few decades ago. We live twice as long, on average, as our ancestors did a few generations back. Ordinary people enjoy more food, technology, leisure, and entertainment choices than the greatest kings and queens in history. Advances in technology happen so fast that our computers and cell phones are obsolete before we figure out how to use them.

If we don’t cultivate a spirit of gratitude, then even the most delightful blessings can cause us to forget to be thankful. I pray God will grant us the grace experienced in the New Testament to “count it all joy when we face various trials.” I hope that we will look for opportunities to help those in need. In doing so we will be giving thanks to God, encouraging others, and seeking ways to share life and love more freely.

[ James Robison ]


“Seriously? Thankful on Thanksgiving in 2022?”

I’m an optimist by nature. Like many others, I naturally try to look on the bright side…if I can find one. Every Christian should be an optimist because we know that everything will turn out good in the end. Look at the specific wording of this famous Bible promise:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28, emphasis added)

If we do “know” that God will work everything out for our good, we will have a joyful attitude in every circumstance. A pessimist is the opposite. The dictionary defines him as someone “tending to see the worst aspect of things or believe that the worst will happen.” How then could any Christian be a pessimist?

While it takes effort to be optimistic, it’s easy to be pessimistic. With little effort, a pessimist can daily find more joy than an optimist. Let me give you an example. If I’m driving toward a distant green light and optimistically say, “I hope that it’s going to stay green,” more than likely I’ll be disappointed. That’s just the way life and lights work.

If I instead pessimistically say, “That light is going to turn red on me. I just know it,” and it turns red, I’m proven right—and that’s my consolation. And, if it stays green and I sail through, I’m delightfully surprised. I have joy both ways. Life for a pessimist has far less disappointments when it comes to traffic lights, weather, politics, and daily problems.

I, therefore, don’t blame any unbeliever for backing into the refuge of a cynical pessimism. This is because we live in a fallen creation where sin and suffering pervade. There’s nothing to be optimistic about. Every day we look at the news, there’s been horrific school shootings; the economy is tanking; there are droughts, floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes. The future looks bleak—with impending nuclear war on the horizon. Disease is on the increase, and so is suicide and daily violence. How then can a Christian abound with thanksgiving without feeling like he or she is not being honest about life?

What Has He Done?
Here’s an interesting experiment. Ask any unbeliever if God has ever done anything for him. You’ll get a variety of answers. Some will point to a specific answer to prayer. God came through for them with a scholarship. Or they escaped harm in what could have been a deadly accident. Others might not be able to think of anything that God has done for them. These answers reveal a subtle form of idolatry. God is seen as a backup heavenly helper. That’s about all He does. But the Christian knows better. He knows that his ability to see, breathe, eat, swallow, sleep, and drink all comes from God. His heart beats because his Creator made it and keeps it beating. The Creator tells it to stop, and life on earth is over.

“When we’re going through a tough time, that’s when we are able to display our trust in God.”Share on twitterShare on facebook
Everything we have is a gift from God, including music, love and laughter, finances, friends, and family. We know that life itself is a gift from God. He formed us in the womb. Therefore, our hearts abound with thanksgiving to God for all His amazing benefits. But there are at least two other reasons for us to have a thankful heart.

The Bible says that without faith it’s impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). The inference is that with faith we can please Him. We can see this happening in the Gospels. When one man had faith in Jesus, He actually “marveled” (see Matthew 8:5-13). Here’s my point. When we’re going through a tough time, that’s when we are able to display our trust in God. We don’t look at the lion’s teeth. We look to the truth we know in Romans 8:28. When we’re at the edge of the Red Sea and see no way of escape but have a thankful attitude—that sort of faith pleases Him. That is a “trial” of our faith.

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ… (1 Peter 1:7, KJV)

Therefore, the next time you’re going through a fiery trial, pause and thank God from your heart that all things are working together for good—because you love Him and you are called according to His purposes. And then, with an optimism that is based on that promise, trust for Him to shut the mouth of the lion or open the Red Sea. Even if He—in His infinite wisdom—allows the lion to devour us or the Red Sea to cover us, the promise is still true…even in such a dark hour. That’s our joyful consolation.

“The next time you’re going through a fiery trial, pause and thank God from your heart that all things are working together for good—because you love Him and you are called according to His purposes.”Share on twitterShare on facebook
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6-7)

On top of all that, there is an even greater reason for our thanksgiving to abound. Again, it’s understandable that the world finds refuge in pessimism. But we see something the world cannot see: the gospel. In it, God stopped the lion’s mouth and opened the Red Sea. Through the cross, death lost its power to devour, and the path of everlasting life opened up through the resurrection. Now we say with the Apostle Paul, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15).

In the face of such a glorious gospel, how could we not explode with thanksgiving? We have an immutable and eternal display of love in the past, and we have the marvelous promise of a bright future.

But the path of the just is like the shining sun,
That shines ever brighter unto the perfect day. (Proverbs 4:18)

There’s no room for pessimism for the Christian. Whether the light turns green or stays red, we have His promise that it’s working for our good, no matter what. We are going to make it through.

[ Ray Comfort ]


“All Dressed Up and No One to Thank”

The atheists’ dilemma: whom do you thank when you think there’s no one to be grateful to?

Thankfulness is one of the distinguishing traits of the human spirit. We sense the need to say thanks, and we realize we ought to be more grateful than we are. We furthermore perceive that we are indebted to (and accountable to) a higher power than ourselves—the God who made us. According to Scripture, everyone has this knowledge, including those who refuse to honor God or thank Him (Romans 1:19–21).

Ingratitude is dishonorable by anyone’s reckoning, but to be willfully ungrateful toward the Creator in whose image we are made is to deny an essential aspect of our own humanity. The shame of such ingratitude is inscribed on the human conscience, and even the most dogmatic atheists are not immune from the knowledge that they ought to give thanks to God. Try as they might to suppress or deny the impulse, “what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them” (Romans 1:19).

During a November 2009 debate in England sponsored by a rationalist group known as Intelligence Squared, Richard Dawkins admitted that when he looks at the Milky Way or the Grand Canyon, he is overcome by a profound feeling of thankfulness. “It’s a feeling of sort of an abstract gratitude that I am alive to appreciate these wonders,” he said. “When I look down a microscope it’s the same feeling. I am grateful to be alive to appreciate these wonders.”

But to whom does an atheist like Dawkins express such gratitude?

I’m by no means the first person to point out this conundrum. In fact, the Internet is peppered with failed attempts to justify an atheistic celebration of Thanksgiving. Atheists insist they are not ungrateful. They confess that they feel thankful, and they clearly sense a need to avoid the ignominy of brazen ingratitude on a cosmic scale—especially at Thanksgiving.

One atheist has practically made a hobby of writing articles to explain why atheists feel the need to be thankful. He tackles the question of whom an atheist is supposed to thank. His best answer? Atheists can be grateful to farmers for the food we eat, to doctors for the health we enjoy, to engineers for the advantages of modern technology, to city workers for keeping our environment clean and orderly—and so on.

Here’s the problem with that: Tipping the waitress or tipping one’s hat to sanitation workers doesn’t even come close to resolving the problem of whom Dawkins should thank when he looks at the stars, stands at the edge of the Grand Canyon, or studies the world of countless wonders his microscope reveals in a single drop of pond water.

Of course we ought to be thankful on a human level to people who help make our lives better. But if thanking people exhausts your sense of blessedness and satisfies that “sort of . . . abstract gratitude” you feel when pondering the vastness of the universe, you have already suppressed your own conscience to a frightening degree. Your worldview is spiritually bankrupt.

Another atheist writer, acknowledging this problem, says the answer is easy for her: she thanks her lucky stars. “What it comes down to,” she writes, “is that an atheist is generally thankful for good luck, serendipity.”

That’s an odd and ironic answer from a point of view that repudiates theism on the grounds that it is not “rational” to believe in God. (Not that atheism itself truly stands on solid rational grounds. After all, the starting point for atheistic materialism is the equation Nobody times nothing equals everything. What could possibly be more irrational?)

Chance, luck, fortune, happenstance, fate, kismet—whatever label you want to put on it—is not a force or intelligence. “Chance” has to do with mathematical probability. Flip a coin and there’s a 50-50 chance it will come up tails. But “chance” has no power to flip the coin, much less design an ordered universe.

Nevertheless, this is how atheistic materialists have trained themselves to think: chance is the ultimate creator. In the words of one Nobel Prize-winning atheist, “Pure chance, absolutely free but blind, is at the very root of the stupendous edifice of evolution.” Fortune has thus been personified—imbued with the power to determine, order, and cause everything that happens.

That’s mythology, not science. At the end of the day the atheist is no more rational and no less superstitious than the astrologist (or the animist) who thinks impersonal “lucky stars” determine one’s fortune.

On some level, atheists themselves surely realize this. Proof of their internal angst is seen in the fact that so many of them are not content merely to disbelieve. They are militant in their opposition to God. They hate the very thought of God and would love to have every mention of Him removed from public discourse—as if that would somehow remove the burden of their own ingratitude and relieve the pangs of a guilty conscience.

Such hatred is as irrational as atheism itself, and it is further evidence that atheists have some awareness of God that they desperately want to bury. Who nurtures such hatred for someone they truly believe doesn’t even exist?

Indeed, as Scripture says, it is the ultimate folly to try to suppress our own innate sense of obligation to our Maker. “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (Psalm 14:1). In short, to deny God is to debase one’s own mind and dehumanize the whole person (Romans 1:28).

That’s why we remind ourselves to give thanks to God—specifically, the one true God who has revealed Himself in Scripture as a God of grace and forgiveness, who so loved the world that He gave His Son as an atonement for sin, so “that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24).

He graciously compels us to thank Him, and He himself should top the list of things we are thankful for.

[ John MacArthur ]


“Our Hearts Are Made for Thanksgiving”

This life is imperfect and painful. Mostly, however, this life is routine and mundane. Dull. Uneventful. As we grow older, the events are often not as happy as the eventfulness of our youth. Also, our eyes are opened wide to all that can and does happen in this world. How easy it is to grow weary and cynical, how tempting to entertain away the rest of our lives. Entertainment, with its canned laughter and mindlessness. Then we don’t have to think about anything, especially our fears and uncertainties and regrets. We don’t have to make changes—we can just keep trucking along, doing what we’ve always done, whether or not it’s good or right or God’s will or working. We don’t have to consider our chronic lack of joy. As if we’re paralyzed and helpless, we can simply allow the dullness to dull us, allow life to turn us lifeless, allow the pain to not profit us, allow the banality to make us blank inside. What’s the point, really? That’s what we ask ourselves even as we slip on our dress shoes and head to the office once again.

We’re in good company, because these thoughts echo King Solomon’s, who questioned everything and tried it all too.

I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity. I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. (Eccl. 2:1–3)

After considering the point of life, he came to this conclusion: “I perceived that there is nothing better for [people] than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man” (Eccl. 3:12–13).

What stands out to me in Solomon’s words is that God is handing out good gifts, and these gifts are the basic, even mundane, things of life: food and drink and fulfilling work. We’re told we must make it our goal to enjoy the simplest of things, like strawberries and coffee and teaching multiplication tables to second-graders. In other words, the routine and the mundane that we rarely think much about. But they are gifts given to all people—the bread, the water, the work of our hands—and Solomon, who went around the block a time or two, says this is it. This is where beauty is found. This is where joy is found. And it’s available to all who receive it from God with grateful hearts.

If you think about it, this makes sense. These very parts of life—food, water, creation, dominion—are remnants of Eden that, although marred and groaning, recall a better time when man and woman walked with God, their joy unhindered. To receive the simplest building blocks of life—relationships, nurture and nurturing, sustenance, opportunities for cultivation, sun and rain—is to walk with God with joy unhindered.

We don’t quite believe this is enough. The rich, the social media mavens, the leisured, the pampered, the hustlers and bustlers—they don’t seem to be complaining. From the perspective of our broken-down lives, they provide our happiness goals, so we busy ourselves up, dress ourselves up, fill ourselves up, grasping and seeking and climbing up, up, up. We seek after more, more, more. We try this, try that, and when it’s not immediately to our satisfaction or a step toward what we want out of life, we’re on to something else. What beauty we’ll find when we get there—wherever the elusive there is.

This kind of living is head-down, always moving, rarely thinking kind of living. In effect, when we do this, we put on beauty blinders of busyness, distraction, and consumption and then wonder why in the world we are so prone to despair and cynicism. We’re walking among man-made concrete when our hearts were made for the small wonders of God’s creation.

Our hearts are made for thankfulness.

THANKSGIVING REQUIRES NOTICING
Creation still speaks—of God and who He is and what He does and what delights Him—and one of the things it speaks is that there is a time for stillness and silence.

In the cycles and seasons of creation, loud gusts of wind flow over prairies, storms make cauldrons of waves, and cicadas cry out in summer heat. The cycles and seasons teach us that created things have volumes that can turn high and low. The ocean’s water, in the most far-flung sea, settles. The ocean’s water, pushed and prodded by hurricane winds, churns. Rain falling from storehouses in the clouds or frozen into dropping ice pellets, loud as it hits the roof, turns soft and mesmerizing when the water is formed into tiny fluttering snowflakes.

We must be thankful in order to experience joy.

It’s the snow, especially, that hushes the earth like a librarian moving among the shelves calling for quiet.

When it’s snowing outside, I stand at the kitchen window with my coffee mug and try to watch individual snowflakes fall. Prior to the snow’s arrival, when the forecast’s been calling for 8–10 inches, there have been trips to the store for bread and milk, salt has been poured on the driveway, cars have been moved and wipers raised, shovels and sleds have been gathered from the shed, and e-mails have been received from schools regarding inclement weather plans. At the sight of the first snowflake, my boys run through the house ecstatically, begging to put on their winter boots and head outside. When they go, I stand still again at the window, waiting for the quiet to descend.

After a few inches have accumulated, I go outside and listen. In our community, inches of snow shuts everything down and shut everyone up in their homes. I hear no cars, no trucks on the highway a mile away. I hear only the snowflakes calmly falling to their final resting places, and this is precisely what I’ve come outside for—to hear the sound of peace.

After all the bustle of store runs and firewood gathering and chatter with neighbors regarding the forecast, there is rest.

In God’s world, there are times when He directs the ocean to roar and the thunder to clap, but the snow is God’s message to us that there is a time for silence.

On snow days, all work and strivings cease. My senses are awakened from their dull slumber to wonder at the design of a snowflake or the crackle of a fire in the fireplace.

This is what happens when we are silent—we notice. Like covering our eyes and having our hearing suddenly made more alert, our purposeful silence and stillness offer us the opportunity to recognize beauty all around us just when we’ve found it difficult to see.

When was the last time you savored a bite of food? Took a walk in the woods? Listened to a bird’s call? Held a child’s hand? Smelled fresh-cut grass? Stood under falling rain without an umbrella’s covering? Looked someone you love in the eye and really noticed them?

Friend, life isn’t all doom and gloom. Certainly, there is pain. Certainly, mundane tasks require our attention, and, in general, we navigate uneventful days. However, let us have eyes to see and ears to hear. The invisible hand not only paints the invisible artwork of soul redemption but very visible beauty as well.

Let us be people who still ourselves so that our senses come alive, for we must think in order to be thankful. And we must be thankful in order to experience joy. The greatest tragedies of our age are our constant motion, our overscheduled lives, and our obsessive attachment to screens. We tend to believe we’ll be robbed of happiness if we fail to match the world’s pace step for step when, in fact, the pace robs of us of the simplicity that displays beauty, which in turn leads to thanksgiving and, after thanksgiving, joy.

If busyness mutes beauty, what mutes busyness? Beauty, of course. Paying attention to the small gifts of everyday life helps us see and savor and, in turn, makes our distracted, numb hearts beat with thankfulness.

Thankfulness will lead to joy, because when we’re still, we understand: This is what we’re made for.

Editor’s Note: This post was first published on August 8, 2018.

[ Christine Hoover ]


“Thanksgiving”

Later this week, most of us here in the U.S. will gather with friends and family to celebrate Thanksgiving. While the world’s view of the holiday is bound up in food, football, and Black Friday savings, believers ought to know better. Certainly we can enjoy those aspects of the day as well, but not at the cost of cultivating a heart of true gratitude for the Lord’s abundant blessings in our lives.

On this day in particular, we must not ignore the apostle Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, “In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” As we have previously written in this space, the holiday is essentially an extended gospel opportunity.

Frankly, nothing pleases Satan more than the way the world celebrates Thanksgiving: a perfunctory word of thanks to a mysterious, unknown god, followed by a festival of gluttony, mindless entertainment, and self-indulgence.

That’s particularly tragic when you consider that Thanksgiving Day is one of the rare holidays—along with Christmas and Easter—when the unsaved world at least pays lip service to God’s existence. Many people will go through the motions of offering thanks to their deity of choice—some might even mean it. And in an increasingly godless culture, we cannot waste the rare opportunities when unsaved friends and family may be open to hearing the truth about God and His Word.

As God’s people, we should be leaping at the chance to recount His goodness and faithfulness to us this Thanksgiving.

We want to encourage you to prayerfully consider what you have to be thankful for this year. And to stimulate those thoughts, we recently asked John MacArthur to tell us what he is most thankful for as Thanksgiving approaches. Here is what he had to say:

We want to put that same question to you. In the comments section, please tell us what you’re most thankful for this year. It doesn’t need to be related to Grace to You—we simply want to hear what the Lord has been doing in your life this year, and rejoice together in all He is accomplishing. Be as specific as you’d like, and don’t hesitate to comment more than once. We want this to be an encouragement to you as we glorify God together for His great faithfulness.

And while we’re on the subject, we want to express our thanks to you for your readership and participation here on the GTY blog. It’s a privilege to serve God by serving you.

[ Jeremiah Johnson/John MacArthur ]

VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3Vet6LIyjM


“Growing In Gratitude – 12 Reasons To Be Thankful”

We created this devotional as a guide for prayer, conversation, and reflection – to give thanks to God and grow in gratitude. This step-by-step devotional walks through 12 areas of life to be thankful for – including a Bible verse for each area, questions for reflection and conversation, and examples to help you think through God’s blessings in your life.

You can use this devotional personally, with your family and friends, or with a small group. You can also download and print the PDF version below. And feel free to share with others!

May God bless you and your family as you give thanks to the Lord.

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.
His love endures forever.”
(Psalm 136:1)

God’s Character
“The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.” (Psalm 145:8–9)
Question: What aspect of God’s character are you thankful for? What attribute of God leads you to praise Him?
Example: Thank God for His love, grace, mercy, sovereignty, patience, kindness, presence, compassion, faithfulness, power, etc.

Spiritual Blessings
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” (Ephesians 1:3)
Question: How has God blessed you in Christ? What spiritual blessing(s) are you thankful for?
Example: Thank God for the forgiveness of sins, promise of Heaven, adoption into God’s family, the indwelling Holy Spirit, God’s presence in our suffering, assurance of salvation, etc.

Favorite Passage of God’s Word
“The Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled.” (Romans 15:4 NLT)
Question: What is your favorite Bible verse, passage, or story? What promise or passage has been particularly meaningful to you lately?
Example: Thank God for a specific promise or passage that you regularly go back to; a passage that means something special to you or always encourages you.

The Church – Your Brothers & Sisters in Christ
“Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27)

Question: In what ways have you been encouraged by other believers? When you think of your church, what are you thankful for?
Example: Thank God for the fellowship of brothers and sisters; your pastor(s), leaders, teachers, Christian authors, or maybe someone specific who discipled you – who taught you God’s Word or who was pivotal in you coming to Christ or growing in your faith.

Family & Friends
“All the families on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:3)
Question: Who are you especially thankful for lately? What is one thing about each family member you’re thankful for? What do you love about your friends and family?

Example: Thank God for the gift of family and friends, your siblings, extended family, someone who has always been there for you, or someone who regularly encourages you.

Food
“He gives food to every creature. His love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:25)
Question: What is your favorite meal? What food have you enjoyed recently?
Example: Thank God for your favorite meal, snack, drink, dessert, spice, sauce, condiment, flavor, or your favorite home cooked meal, or your favorite restaurant meal.

Rest & Relaxation
“God gives rest to his loved ones.” (Psalm 127:2)
Question: Who or what helps you feel rested, relaxed, and/or refreshed? How has God helped you find rest and relaxation lately?

Example: Thank God for rest, for sleep, for your bed, favorite pillow, favorite chair to relax in, weekends, vacations, and all the activities and people that help you relax and be refreshed.

Memories
“I will remember the deeds of the LORD.” (Psalm 77:11)
Question: What memory are you thankful for this year? What is a favorite memory that you are thankful for?

Example: Thank God for the gift of memory, a favorite memory of your childhood or with your loved ones, a memory of your family or someone you’ve lost, or a memory that always makes you laugh and smile.

Nature & Pets
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” (Psalm 19:1)
Question: What is your favorite season? Where (or when) do you experience God in nature? What do you love about your pet(s) or favorite animal?

Example: Thank God for your favorite kind of weather, for animals, pets, or places you’ve been to where you’re just stunned by God’s creativity and beauty.

Health & Healing
“Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases” (Psalm 103:3)

Question: What aspect of your health (or that of loved ones) can you give thanks for? How was God sustained you in your health?

Example: Thank God for the gift of health, strength, medicine, surgery, doctors, and nurses; for the illnesses He has carried you through and protected you from. Thank Him for the gift of eternal life and the promise that in heaven, there will be no more pain (Revelation 21:4).

Work & Ministry
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” (1 Peter 4:10)

Question: What do you like about your job? What natural talents or spiritual gifts has God given you? What ministry opportunities have you had?

Example: Thank God for your co-workers, for the work and ministry you get to do, for the freedom to do it – for the opportunity to help others, to use your skills, to have purpose, to encourage and serve others, etc. Thank God for the physical, mental, and spiritual gifts He’s given you.

Lessons Learned
“Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” (Psalm 25:5)

Question: What has the Lord been teaching you lately? What have you learned about God, His Word, yourself, or others that has been meaningful to you?
Example: Thank God for the lessons He has taught you, for teachers and those who have helped you learn, and for the Lord’s work in your life.

“Give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
(1 Thessalonians 5:18)

[ Hope For The Heart ]


“16 Inspiring Bible Verses on Thanksgiving”

Thanksgiving Day is the perfect day to set apart a time to acknowledge the many blessings and favors God gives us with thanks, adoration and praise! Here are 16 of the most inspiring Bible verses I found on Thanksgiving.

Give Thanks to the Lord
Giving thanks to God goes beyond just a polite “thank you” for His blessings. The Hebrew word for thanksgiving is “towdah” and it’s meaning shows us an extra component of giving thanks. Its proper use means an extension of the hand in adoration and praise along with our thanksgiving.

Importance of Giving Thanks
Giving thanks honors God and focuses our attention on Him and His many attributes:

•“Give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” (Psalm 100:4b-5 NIV)

Paul tells us that giving thanks is in God’s plan for our lives:

•“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1Thessalonians 5:18 NIV.

Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving!
•“Enter His gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise!” Psalm 100:4a NIV.

In the Old Testament, the people of Israel could enter the outer court of the tabernacle and bring their sacrifice. They could not, however, enter the Most Holy Place where His Presence dwelled.

Because of Jesus, we can now boldly approach Him on His throne anytime we want or need to. Our hands are empty; no sacrifice is needed. He wants us there with Him as often as possible. That alone should make us fall on our knees in thanksgiving and praise!

Psalms of Thanksgiving
The Psalms are a treasure trove of praise and thanks for who God is and what He has done. They give us beautiful encouragement of how to give thanks to our awesome God.

Psalm 7:17-
•“I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.” (NIV)

•“O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.” Psalm 30:12 NIV.

•“Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.” Psalm 105:1 NIV.

Psalm 75:1-
•“We give thanks to You, O God, we give thanks! For Your wondrous works declare that Your name is near.” (NKJV)

•“Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.” Psalm 95:1-2 NIV.

•“Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.” Psalm 107:8-9 NIV.

•“You are my God, and I will give you thanks; you are my God, and I will exalt you.” Psalm 118:28 NIV.

Psalm 136:1-
•“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.”

Benefits of Giving Thanks to God
•“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6 NIV

Giving thanks to God puts our worries and concerns in the proper context. We can put them in God’s hands with thanksgiving knowing He hears our prayers, and His answers are always good.

•“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15 NIV.

The more we choose peace over conflict, the more thankful we become. The more thankful we become; more peace will rule in our hearts. Win- Win!

•“Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5: 18-20 NIV.

A life filled with thankfulness is a life filled with the Holy Spirit, which brings the fruits of the Spirit into our lives in abundance.

•“Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the majesty and the splendor, for everything in heaven and earth is yours… Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.” 1 Chronicles 29:11,13 NIV

A spirit of thankfulness brings contentment as we affirm that God is the one who brings goodness into our lives through His mighty power.

The Power of Thankfulness
Thankfulness is also a powerful weapon against the attacks of Satan. Satan wants us to question God’s goodness to us. He wants us to concentrate on the things we don’t have instead of the gifts God gives. Cultivating a life of thankfulness keeps our focus on God’s splendor and power. Satan’s lies and discouragement cannot find a foothold in a heart filled with thanks.

Be Thankful to God
A thankful heart and spirit draw us closer to God. It puts our challenges into perspective and helps us keep our eyes on Him. Thankfulness changes our outlook on life and our attitude. It allows us to say with conviction and complete peace, “thy will be done.”

Thanks be to God for His Indescribable Gift
•“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15 NKJV.

God always deserves our thanks and praise, but this verse of thanksgiving is unique. The Greek word for “indescribable” appears only once in the Bible, and it is in this verse! It translates to “unspeakable” meaning there are no words to describe the majesty and magnitude of this gift. It is beyond any human description.

God has given us the greatest gift of all time- His Son, Jesus, and the salvation we receive because of His sacrifice in our place. When we accept this no-strings-attached gift, He graces us with a multitude of blessings that never stop.

Reasons to be Thankful
We have seen that we have many reasons to be thankful! Giving thanks not only brings glory and worship to God, but it can also transform us when we make it a habit.

A life filled with thanksgiving puts the circumstances of our lives into a new context- thankful for what we have, that He is sufficient for us, and focusing on the blessings we have received.

Gratitude and Thanksgiving
Earlier this year, I was convicted to make thanksgiving a thoughtful, daily practice. I started writing down 3 things I was thankful for each morning. I challenged myself to never give thanks for the same thing twice. It turned out to be a uplifting way to start my day and to think about His many gifts with greater appreciation.

Much has been taken away from us this year, but our blessings continue to be numerous! This simple gratitude practice can be done anywhere, anytime. I do mine in the morning, but a review of the day done in the evening (or anytime) would be awesome as well. I highly recommend giving it a try!

God is the source of every good thing in our lives. When we gather this Thanksgiving, let’s remind ourselves of all we have to be thankful for, and express it to the One who gives so generously. Then let’s keep the practice going and make giving thanks a beautiful habit!

Related Post∼ What Does the Bible Say about Gratitude?

Blessings!

[ Ann Marie ]


“Overflowing With Gratitude”

Sometimes we lose our joy as we get sidetracked by life’s responsibilities, struggles, and challenges. Dr. Stanley talks about how Christians are to overflow with gratitude and reminds us of the security we have in our relationship with Christ.

[ Charles Stanley ]

SERMON: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E-vbTUvZzu0


“Rekindling the Gratitude”

The Thanksgiving season is a wonderful time to heighten your sensitivity to the blessings bestowed by God. Thanksgiving grabs your attention, shakes the cobwebs loose, and reminds you of all God’s most precious gifts. That’s one reason Thanksgiving has always held such a special place in my heart. It rekindles in me the kind of God-centered gratitude that our Lord demands and deserves—the kind that should readily be on our lips year round.

To help stimulate that kind of deeper gratitude, my family has adopted a Thanksgiving tradition we’ve found extremely helpful. Each year after our Thanksgiving meal we gather in our living room and simply recite the blessings of God that have touched our lives. One by one we circle the room, each one of us expressing our gratitude to God for His many physical and spiritual blessings.

Allow me to share with you just five blessings that deeply touch me every year and prompt me to thank God. Perhaps it’ll catch and you’ll be able to rekindle your gratitude! [more…]

[ John MacArthur ]

SERMON: https://www.gty.org/library/articles/A236/rekindling-the-gratitude


“Giving Thanks for Salvation”

Always when we come together for our time of thanksgiving, we culminate the evening around the Lord’s Table, which has been commanded of us by our Lord Himself who instituted this table as a point of remembrance, as well as a focal point of thanksgiving. Of all the things that we are thankful for, that for which we are most thankful is the salvation that was provided for us in the death of Christ, who died on the cross, under the wrath of God, bearing the punishment for our sin, the sins of all who would ever believe, and providing for them eternal life. We could never have a true thanksgiving evening together if we didn’t end it at the Lord’s Table and end it at the cross. And so that’s what we have always done.

Most of us think of the cross as it relates to us; and, certainly, we should. Most of us think of salvation as it relates to us. We think of salvation and are grateful, and rightly so, for its personal benefits in this life and the life to come. We are grateful to God for His sovereign grace. We are grateful for the power that gave us life. We are grateful for the conviction that brought us to repentance. We’re grateful for the gift of faith. We are grateful for redemption, reconciliation; we’re thankful for all that it entails, both now and forever.

We tend to think of salvation from our perspective, and that is certainly, that is certainly very important. But tonight as we come to the Lord’s Table, I want you to try to think about the cross, not from your perspective, but from God’s perspective. What did it mean for Him? The reality is that salvation is not ultimately for us. It is for us, but not ultimately. Ultimately, it is for God.

[more…]

[ John MacArthur ]

SERMON: https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/80-426


“March 3: A Prayer of Thanksgiving for Salvation”

| March 3, 2016 | | No Comments
Glorious Father, we thank You for Your unconditional love. Thank You for showing us just how great Your love is by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. Lord God, we thank You for the precious gift of eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. Your majestic Name fills the earth! Your glory is higher than the heavens! We will praise Your Name forever and ever, for You have all wisdom and power. We put our hope in You, Lord. You are our help and our shield. Our hearts rejoice in You, for we trust in Your holy Name. Father, You have performed many wonders for us. Your plans for us are too numerous to list. You have no equal! If we tried to recite all Your wonderful deeds we would never come to the end of them.

Triumphant Father, we commit to sharing the Gospel with our unsaved family members, friends, co-workers and enemies. We will fulfill The Great Commission by going into all the world and preaching the Good News to everyone, without prejudice. We confess that as Your Word is preached throughout the world it will convict the hearts of the unsaved. As the Body of Christ, we are not ashamed to tell the Good News about Jesus Christ, for we know that it is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes. We declare that as people confess with their mouths, the Lord Jesus, and believe in their hearts that You raised Him from the dead, they will be saved. When they receive Christ as their Lord and Savior, they will see themselves as Your masterpiece, created anew in Christ Jesus so that they can do the good things You predestined for them to do. They will learn to love You with all their heart and soul so that they may truly live. Lord, we decree that those who are set free by the Son of God will know that they are truly free indeed!

List the people that you know who have not accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. Ask the Holy Spirit for the wisdom to witness to these people. Trust Him to give you the courage to approach them and the words to say to them.









Merciful Father, we cry out to You to clear the way so that Your Gospel may be preached in every city, state, nation, and continent. There is much to be done to gather a great harvest of souls in our generation. Please send laborers to proclaim the Good News to the unsaved in every nation and every tongue. Strengthen missionaries around the world to proclaim Christ and do good works. We ask You, Holy Spirit, to remove the scales from the eyes of those who are blind and cannot see The Father’s goodness and faithfulness toward them. Lord God, we ask You to circumcise the hearts of those who are backslidden. Lead them back to the path of righteousness. Remind them of the huge crowd of witnesses that surround them and strengthen them to strip off every weight that slows them down, especially the sin that so easily trips them up. Please give them the endurance to continue the race You have set before them. We ask that You help them to keep their eyes focused on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects their faith.

Precious Father, forgive the unsaved for not acknowledging You or Your Son. Forgive them for rejecting Your love and forgiveness. Forgive them for living in ruthless rebellion and ignorance of the Truth. Please have mercy on their souls and extend Your grace toward them. Forgive us, the Body of Christ, for shrinking back and neglecting to share the Good News with more people. Forgive us for being constrained by fear instead of being motivated by faith. Forgive us for gossiping, backbiting, and slandering our backslidden brothers and sisters when we should have been helping them come back to Jesus. Lord, forgive me for (list the sins that you have committed). Holy Spirit, remind us all of those we need to forgive and help us to be quick to forgive. As for me, Holy Spirit, bring to my remembrance those I need to forgive. (Take a moment and ask the Holy Spirit to show you names or faces of people that you may need to forgive. As He shows you, say out loud, “I forgive name of person(s).” Now, trust the Lord to heal any wounds in your soul caused by unforgiveness.)

Holy Spirit, help us all not to yield to temptation; but deliver us all from the evil one.

No one is holy like the Lord! There is no one besides You. There is no Rock like You, our God. Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens. You are awesome in Your sanctuary. You are the God of Israel, who gives power and strength to His people. Praise be to You, O God! May Your glory shine over all the earth. Holy, holy, holy are You, the Lord of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with Your glory! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

[ The Prayer Institute ]


“Our Hearts Are Made for Thanksgiving”

This life is imperfect and painful. Mostly, however, this life is routine and mundane. Dull. Uneventful. As we grow older, the events are often not as happy as the eventfulness of our youth. Also, our eyes are opened wide to all that can and does happen in this world. How easy it is to grow weary and cynical, how tempting to entertain away the rest of our lives. Entertainment, with its canned laughter and mindlessness. Then we don’t have to think about anything, especially our fears and uncertainties and regrets. We don’t have to make changes—we can just keep trucking along, doing what we’ve always done, whether or not it’s good or right or God’s will or working. We don’t have to consider our chronic lack of joy. As if we’re paralyzed and helpless, we can simply allow the dullness to dull us, allow life to turn us lifeless, allow the pain to not profit us, allow the banality to make us blank inside. What’s the point, really? That’s what we ask ourselves even as we slip on our dress shoes and head to the office once again.

We’re in good company, because these thoughts echo King Solomon’s, who questioned everything and tried it all too.

I said in my heart, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.” But behold, this also was vanity. I said of laughter, “It is mad,” and of pleasure, “What use is it?” I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. (Eccl. 2:1–3)

After considering the point of life, he came to this conclusion: “I perceived that there is nothing better for [people] than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man” (Eccl. 3:12–13).

What stands out to me in Solomon’s words is that God is handing out good gifts, and these gifts are the basic, even mundane, things of life: food and drink and fulfilling work. We’re told we must make it our goal to enjoy the simplest of things, like strawberries and coffee and teaching multiplication tables to second-graders. In other words, the routine and the mundane that we rarely think much about. But they are gifts given to all people—the bread, the water, the work of our hands—and Solomon, who went around the block a time or two, says this is it. This is where beauty is found. This is where joy is found. And it’s available to all who receive it from God with grateful hearts.

If you think about it, this makes sense. These very parts of life—food, water, creation, dominion—are remnants of Eden that, although marred and groaning, recall a better time when man and woman walked with God, their joy unhindered. To receive the simplest building blocks of life—relationships, nurture and nurturing, sustenance, opportunities for cultivation, sun and rain—is to walk with God with joy unhindered.

We don’t quite believe this is enough. The rich, the social media mavens, the leisured, the pampered, the hustlers and bustlers—they don’t seem to be complaining. From the perspective of our broken-down lives, they provide our happiness goals, so we busy ourselves up, dress ourselves up, fill ourselves up, grasping and seeking and climbing up, up, up. We seek after more, more, more. We try this, try that, and when it’s not immediately to our satisfaction or a step toward what we want out of life, we’re on to something else. What beauty we’ll find when we get there—wherever the elusive there is.

This kind of living is head-down, always moving, rarely thinking kind of living. In effect, when we do this, we put on beauty blinders of busyness, distraction, and consumption and then wonder why in the world we are so prone to despair and cynicism. We’re walking among man-made concrete when our hearts were made for the small wonders of God’s creation.

Our hearts are made for thankfulness.

THANKSGIVING REQUIRES NOTICING
Creation still speaks—of God and who He is and what He does and what delights Him—and one of the things it speaks is that there is a time for stillness and silence.

In the cycles and seasons of creation, loud gusts of wind flow over prairies, storms make cauldrons of waves, and cicadas cry out in summer heat. The cycles and seasons teach us that created things have volumes that can turn high and low. The ocean’s water, in the most far-flung sea, settles. The ocean’s water, pushed and prodded by hurricane winds, churns. Rain falling from storehouses in the clouds or frozen into dropping ice pellets, loud as it hits the roof, turns soft and mesmerizing when the water is formed into tiny fluttering snowflakes.

We must be thankful in order to experience joy.

It’s the snow, especially, that hushes the earth like a librarian moving among the shelves calling for quiet.

When it’s snowing outside, I stand at the kitchen window with my coffee mug and try to watch individual snowflakes fall. Prior to the snow’s arrival, when the forecast’s been calling for 8–10 inches, there have been trips to the store for bread and milk, salt has been poured on the driveway, cars have been moved and wipers raised, shovels and sleds have been gathered from the shed, and e-mails have been received from schools regarding inclement weather plans. At the sight of the first snowflake, my boys run through the house ecstatically, begging to put on their winter boots and head outside. When they go, I stand still again at the window, waiting for the quiet to descend.

After a few inches have accumulated, I go outside and listen. In our community, inches of snow shuts everything down and shut everyone up in their homes. I hear no cars, no trucks on the highway a mile away. I hear only the snowflakes calmly falling to their final resting places, and this is precisely what I’ve come outside for—to hear the sound of peace.

After all the bustle of store runs and firewood gathering and chatter with neighbors regarding the forecast, there is rest.

In God’s world, there are times when He directs the ocean to roar and the thunder to clap, but the snow is God’s message to us that there is a time for silence.

On snow days, all work and strivings cease. My senses are awakened from their dull slumber to wonder at the design of a snowflake or the crackle of a fire in the fireplace.

This is what happens when we are silent—we notice. Like covering our eyes and having our hearing suddenly made more alert, our purposeful silence and stillness offer us the opportunity to recognize beauty all around us just when we’ve found it difficult to see.

When was the last time you savored a bite of food? Took a walk in the woods? Listened to a bird’s call? Held a child’s hand? Smelled fresh-cut grass? Stood under falling rain without an umbrella’s covering? Looked someone you love in the eye and really noticed them?

Friend, life isn’t all doom and gloom. Certainly, there is pain. Certainly, mundane tasks require our attention, and, in general, we navigate uneventful days. However, let us have eyes to see and ears to hear. The invisible hand not only paints the invisible artwork of soul redemption but very visible beauty as well.

Let us be people who still ourselves so that our senses come alive, for we must think in order to be thankful. And we must be thankful in order to experience joy. The greatest tragedies of our age are our constant motion, our overscheduled lives, and our obsessive attachment to screens. We tend to believe we’ll be robbed of happiness if we fail to match the world’s pace step for step when, in fact, the pace robs of us of the simplicity that displays beauty, which in turn leads to thanksgiving and, after thanksgiving, joy.

If busyness mutes beauty, what mutes busyness? Beauty, of course. Paying attention to the small gifts of everyday life helps us see and savor and, in turn, makes our distracted, numb hearts beat with thankfulness.

Thankfulness will lead to joy, because when we’re still, we understand: This is what we’re made for.

Editor’s Note: This post was first published on August 8, 2018.

[ Christine Hoover ]


<<< SONGS >>>


Give Thanks

Father, we wanna thank You
For givin’ us and gifted Your Son, Jesus
And in return we wanna give You all that we have
Our hearts, our lives and our thanks

Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He’s given
Jesus Christ, His Son

Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He’s given
Jesus Christ, His Son

And now let the weak say, “I am strong”
Let the poor say, “I am rich”
Because of what the Lord has done for us

And now let the weak say, “I am strong”
Let the poor say, “I am rich”
Because of what the Lord has done for us

Give thanks
We give thanks (give thanks)
We give thanks
Lord God, we thank You
Thank You from the bottom of our hearts
For giving Jesus to us

And we can say for a weak, “I am strong”
Because You promised
Your strength will be perfect in our weakness

And for every financial need we have
We can sing, “I am rich”
Because You promised to provide all of our needs
According to Your riches and glory
By Christ Jesus, let’s sing it together
And now let the weak say, “I am strong”
Let the poor say, “I am rich”
Because of what the Lord has done for us

And now let the weak say, “I am strong”
Let the poor say, “I am rich” (I am rich)
Because of what the Lord has done for us

Give thanks (give thanks)
We give You thanks (we give thanks)
Give thanks
We give thanks

[ Don Moen – “Give Thanks” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=blbslHDgceY&t=26s

FULL ALBUM: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NzLUdeDRM08


Thank You, Lord

Thank You Lord for the small things
Like me and her on the porch swing
For summer nights and fireflies
And the sound of my old six-string
Blessings on blessings on blessings on blessings
If I still got breath in these lungs
And that’s all I need to get down on my knees
And be thankful for all that He’s done

For my mama for my friends
For Your love that never ends
For the songs that make us dance
On this ole dirt floor
For my babies for my girl
For the way they changed my world
Waking up today
I just gotta say
Thank You Lord
I just wanna say
Thank You Lord

Thank You Lord for the hard times
For lighting the way in the dark times
For pulling me in forgiving again
The times that I took it too far
God I thank You for keeping me humble
For picking me up when I stumble
And although I change, You stay the same
And I don’t say thank You enough

For my mama for my friends
For Your love that never ends
For the songs that make us dance
On this ole dirt floor
For my babies for my girl
For the way they changed my world
Waking up today
I just gotta say
Thank You Lord
I just wanna say
Thank You Lord

Praise up
Eyes closed
One thing I know
I just wanna thank You Lord, thank You Lord
Praise up
Eyes closed
One thing I know
I just wanna thank You Lord, thank You Lord

For my mama for my friends
For Your love that never ends
For the songs that make us dance
On this ole dirt floor
For my babies for my girl
For the way they changed my world
Waking up today
I just gotta say
Thank You Lord

Praise up
Eyes closed
One thing I know
I just wanna thank You Lord, thank You Lord
Praise up
Eyes closed
One thing I know
I just wanna say
Thank You Lord

[ Chris Tomlin – “Chris Tomlin & Friends” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOgAmQvOUM0


Thank You Lord (For Being There for Me)

Thank You Lord for being there for me, for me
I’ve gotta say thank You Lord for being there for me
Seemed like I was going down, but Your love came in and rescued me
Wanna thank You Lord for being there for me
Wanna thank You Lord for being there for me

Now if it had not been for the Lord who
Who was on our side
There is no way that I could make it no
So I come to say
I just want to thank You
Thank You Lord for being there for me, ooh, ooh
Thank You Lord for being there for me, ooh, ooh

For life and health and strength I’m grateful
For life abundantly I wanna say thank You
For being a partaker of Your grace you know I’m grateful
For receiving Your mercy daily I wanna say thank You
For keeping my loved ones safe You know I’m grateful
For allowing my next breathe to take
I just want to say I’m grateful, I thank You
You see I can say it and you can say it and she can say it and he can say it
Thank You

Thank You Jesus, thank You Jesus, thank You
Thank You Jesus, thank You Jesus
Thank You
Thank You Jesus
Thank You
I wanna say thank You

Thank You Jesus, thank You Jesus, thank You
Thank You Jesus, thank You Jesus
Thank You
Thank You Jesus
Thank You
I just want to say I’m grateful I thank You
Thank You Lord for being there, for being there for me, ooh, ooh
Thank You Lord for being there
Thank You Lord for being there for me

[ Fred Hammond – “Purpose By Design” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rq-5UjgtiYA


Count Your Blessings

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost
Count your many blessings, name them one by one
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done

Count your blessings, name them one by one
Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done [And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.]
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly
And you will keep singing as the days go by
So, amid the conflict whether great or small
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end

[ Guy Penrod – “Guy Penrod: Hymns & Worship” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZECFq4BvRQ


Thank You, Lord, For Your Blessings On Me

While the world looks upon me
As I struggle along
They say I have nothing
But they are so wrong
In my heart I’m rejoicing
How I wish they could see
Thank You Lord
For Your blessings on me

There’s a roof up above me
I’ve a good place to sleep
There’s food on my table
And shoes on my feet
You gave me Your love Lord
And a fine family
Thank You Lord
For Your blessings on me

I know I’m not wealthy
And these clothes, they’re not new
I don’t have much money
But Lord I have You
And that’s all that matters
Though the world may not see
Thank You Lord
For Your blessings on me

There’s a roof up above me
I’ve a good place to sleep
There’s food on my table
And shoes on my feet
You gave me Your love Lord
And a fine family
Thank You Lord
For all Your blessings on me

[ Redeemed Quartet – “Timeless Classics” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jAT8qXn6UrU


Gratitude

Verse 1
All my words fall short
I got nothing new
How could I express
All my gratitude

Verse 2
I could sing these songs
As I often do
But every song must end
And You never do

Chorus
So I throw up my hands
And praise You again and again
‘Cause all that I have is a hallelujah, hallelujah
And I know it’s not much
But I’ve nothing else fit for a king
Except for a heart singing hallelujah
Hallelujah

Verse 3
I’ve got one response
I’ve got just one move
With my arms stretched wide
I will worship You

Bridge
Come on my soul
Oh don’t you get shy on me
Lift up your song
‘Cause you’ve got a lion inside of those lungs
Get up and praise the Lord

[ Brandon Lake – “House of Miracles” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vA83MufOCoA


Gratitude

Send some rain, would You send some rain?
‘Cause the earth is dry and needs to drink again
And the sun is high and we are sinking in the shade
Would You send a cloud, thunder long and loud?
Let the sky grow black and send some mercy down
Surely You can see that we are thirsty and afraid
But maybe not, not today
Maybe You’ll provide in other ways
And if that’s the case …

We’ll give thanks to You with gratitude
For lessons learned in how to thirst for You
How to bless the very sun that warms our face
If You never send us rain

Daily bread, give us daily bread
Bless our bodies, keep our children fed
Fill our cups, then fill them up again tonight
Wrap us up and warm us through
Tucked away beneath our sturdy roofs
Let us slumber safe from danger’s view this time
Or maybe not, not today
Maybe You’ll provide in other ways
And if that’s the case …

We’ll give thanks to You with gratitude
A lesson learned to hunger after You
That a starry sky offers a better view
If no roof is overhead
And if we never taste that bread

Oh, the differences that often are between
Everything we want and what we really need

So grant us peace, Jesus, grant us peace
Move our hearts to hear a single beat
Between alibis and enemies tonight
Or maybe not, not today
Peace might be another world away
And if that’s the case …

We’ll give thanks to You with gratitude
For lessons learned in how to trust in You
That we are blessd beyond what we could ever dream
In abundance or in need
And if You never grant us peace …

But, Jesus, would You please …

[ Nicole Nordeman – “Woven & Spun” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7IE91Om7sMY


Kind & Generous

La la la la
You’ve been so kind and generous
I don’t know how you keep on giving
For your kindness I’m in debt to you

For your selflessness my admiration
For everything you’ve done you know I’m bound
I’m bound to thank you for it
La la la la
Hey hey hey

You’ve been so kind and generous
I don’t know how you keep on giving
For your kindness I’m in debt to you
And I never could have come this far without you

For everything you’ve done, you know I’m bound
I’m bound to thank you for it
La la la la

Oh, I want to thank you for so many gifts you gave
The love, the tenderness, I want to thank you
I want to thank you for your generosity, the love
And the honesty that you gave me
I want to thank you show my gratitude
My love, and my respect for you, I want to thank you
Oh, I want to thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you
I want to thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you

[ Natalie Merchant – “Ophelia” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAwyIad93-c


Now Thank We All Our God

Now thank we all our God
with heart and hands and voices,
who wondrous things has done,
in whom his world rejoices;
who from our mothers’ arms
has blessed us on our way
with countless gifts of love,
and still is ours today.

O may this bounteous God
through all our life be near us,
with ever joyful hearts
and blessed peace to cheer us,
to keep us in his grace,
and guide us when perplexed,
and free us from all ills
of this world in the next.

All praise and thanks to God
the Father now be given,
the Son and Spirit blest,
who reign in highest heaven
the one eternal God,
whom heaven and earth adore;
for thus it was, is now,
and shall be evermore.

[ Celebrating Holidays ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5GvSMerBDUc


Come, Ye Thankful People, Come

Come, ye thankful people, come,
raise the song of harvest home;
all is safely gathered in,
ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide
for our wants to be supplied;
come to God’s own temple, come,
raise the song of harvest home.

All the world is God’s own field,
fruit as praise to God we yield;
wheat and tares together sown
are to joy or sorrow grown;
first the blade and then the ear,
then the full corn shall appear;
Lord of harvest, grant that we
wholesome grain and pure may be.

For the Lord our God shall come,
and shall take the harvest home;
from the field shall in that day
all offenses purge away,
giving angels charge at last
in the fire the tares to cast;
but the fruitful ears to store
in the garner evermore.

Even so, Lord, quickly come,
bring thy final harvest home;
gather thou thy people in,
free from sorrow, free from sin,
there, forever purified,
in thy presence to abide;
come, with all thine angels, come,
raise the glorious harvest home.

[ Words by Henry Alford ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imK0j7eBJsc


Thank You For Saving Me

Thank You for saving me, what can I say?
You are my everything, I will sing Your praise
You shed Your blood for me, what can I say?
You took my sin and shame
A sinner called by name

Great is the Lord
Great is the Lord
For we know Your truth has set us free
You’ve set Your hope in me

Mercy and grace are mine, forgiven is my sin
Jesus my only hope, the Saviour of the world
“Great is the Lord” we cry
God let Your Kingdom come
Your Word has let me see
Thank You for saving me

Yeah, Lord

Great is the Lord, oh yeah
Great is the Lord
For we know Your truth has set us free, oh Lord
You’ve set Your hope in me

Oh, we will sing
So great is the Lord
So great is the Lord, yeah
For we know Your truth has set us free
Jesus
You’ve set Your hope in me

[ Delirious – “Farewell Show” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m95Z3l_c1Ts&t=14s


We Give You Thanks

[ Alvin Slaughter – “Revive Us Again” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I1lr8WgHlTo


Amazing Love

I’m forgiven because you were forsaken
I’m accepted, You were condemned
I’m alive and well
Your spirit is within me
Because you died and rose again

I’m forgiven because you were forsaken
I’m accepted, you were condemned
I’m alive and well
Your spirit is within me
Because you died and rose again

Amazing love, how can it be?
That you, my king. would die for me
Amazing love, I know its true
Its my joy to honor you
Amazing love how can it be?
That my king would die for me
Amazing love I know its true
Its my joy to honor you
In all I do
I honor you

Im forgiven because you were forsaken
Im accepted, you were condemned
Im alive and well
Your spirit is within me
Because you died and rose again

Amazing love how can it be
That you, my king would die for me
Amazing love, I know its true
Its my joy to honor you
Amazing love how can it be?
That you, my king, would die for me
Amazing love, I know its true
Its my joy to honor you
In all I do I honor you

You are my king
You are my king
Jesus, You are my king
Jesus, You are my king

Amazing love, how can it be?
That you, my king, would die for me
Amazing love, I know its true
Its my joy to honor you
Amazing love, how can it be?
That you, my king would die for me
Amazing love I know its true
Its my joy to honor you
In all I do I honor you
In all I do honor you

[ Chris Tomlin – “You Are My King” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8yFwDvSWTbA


And Can It Be” (Amazing Love)

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tu2uA6U4Fxg
[ Stuart Townend ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzDes9IVdzg
[ Sovereign Grace Music ]


In All Things Give Him Thanks

[ Lifeway Worship – “Top 20 Hymns of Thanksgiving” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3oNDdSIvbU


Saved

I was blinded by the devil
Born already ruined
Stone-cold dead
As I stepped out of the womb
By His grace I have been touched
By His word I have been healed
By His hand I have been delivered
By His spirit I Have been sealed.
I’ve been saved
By the blood of the lamb
Saved
By the blood of the lamb
Saved
Saved
And I’m so glad
Yes, I’m so glad
I’m so glad
So glad
I want to thank you, Lord
I just want to thank You Lord
Thank You Lord.

By his truth I can be upright
By his strength I do endure
By His power I’ve been lifted
In His love I am secure
He bought me with a price
Freed me from the pit
Full of emptiness and wrath
And the fire that burns in it.
I’ve been saved
By the blood of the lamb
Saved
By the blood of the lamb
Saved
Saved
And I’m so glad
Yes, I’m so glad
I’m so glad
So glad
I want to thank you, Lord
I just want to thank You Lord
Thank You, Lord.
Nobody to rescue me
Nobody would dare
I was going down for the last time
But by His Mercy I’ve been spared
Not by works
But by faith in Him who called
For so long I’ve been hindered
For so long I’ve been stalled.
I’ve been saved
By the blood of the lamb
Saved
By the blood of the lamb
Saved
Saved
And I’m so glad
Yes, I’m so glad
I’m so glad
So glad
I want to thank you, Lord
I just want to thank You Lord
Thank You, Lord.

[ Bob Dylan – “Saved” album ]

ORIGINAL BY DYLAN: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIUNftAi_z4&t=8s

BY APOLOGETIX: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S33u4cRI29E&t=297s


<<< APOLOGETIX SONGS >>>


Thankfully
(Parody of “Faithfully” by Journey)

I may run — turn into an in-flight son
Still, Lord I have found — You’re on my side
Reckless heart — seems it won’t do right
Spendin’ all my life — among the wild

They say that the Romans Road makes us part of family
I’ve read Jeremiah 31 verse 3
And I’m just a stupid man — ain’t always what I’m s’posed to be
But, oh, Lord — You said and I read
I’m forever Yours — thankfully

Such is life — under this big-rock world
We all need the ground to help us hide
Through grace that’s kind — always You love us though
Wandering, wayward lambs — lost without You
And beggin’ Your pardon’s easy, but it wasn’t fair
You came to Earth and all You got was pain
And I get the joy that we discover in You
Oh, Lord, You bled, and I’m freed
I’m forever Yours — thankfully

Whoa oh-oh-oh
Whoa oh-oh-oh oh
Whoa oh-oh-oh oh-whoooooa-oh
Thankfully
I’m still Yours
Thankfully

On the Romans Road
Not alone
Thankfully

[ ApologetiX – “From Hair to Eternity” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuLKr41U_7E


Boulevard of Both Extremes
(Parody of “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” by Green Day)

I walk Galilee road – I know no one and I am an unknown
I’m Samaritan, though – got a known disease but I got no home
I’ve got this leprosy – all the folks who are approaching scream
Where’s their sympathy? They run and show me none, but I’m not alone
I’m not alone, I’m not alone, I’m not alone, I’m not a

My fellow homeless ones, they walk beside me
We share those marks that go with skin diseases
There’s nine Jewish among us — they don’t mind me
With them, I’m not alone

We’re all from Palestine – race divides us but their skin’s like mine
And like Frankenstein – ugly, wretched, scarred like Al Capone
We see Jesus Christ – let’s walk up to Him He seems all right
Yet in Bible times, we know it’s not allowed, we must walk alone
But I’m not alone, I’m not alone, I’m not alone, I’m not a-

My fellow homeless ones who walk beside me
They shout “Have mercy on us, please Lord Jesus!”
Then Christ says we should turn from there and find priests
To them I’ve got to go
I’m not alone, I’m not a-

My God just set me free from a cruel, bizarre, awful disease
Went to see the priests and on the road the Lord was my doctor
My fellow homeless ones were healed just like me
I shall embark to go give thanks to Jesus
The nine all wish me luck but stay behind me
And then I walk alone.

[ ApologetiX – “WordPlay” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zR99DpcaFcc


Nicky
(Parody of “Mickey” by Toni Basil)

Oh, Nicky, you’re so blind
Open wide your soul and mind, hey Nicky, hey Nicky
Oh, Nicky, you’re so blind
Open wide your soul and mind, hey Nicky, hey Nicky
Oh, Nicky, you’re so blind
Open wide your soul and mind, hey Nicky

Hey, Nicky
You come around at night and ask about the Law
You like to talk to Christ ’cause you think He comes from God
Why can’t you see the light so you can teach them all, Nicky?
The wind blows where it wills and no one sees it blow
The same with those He fills – they believe, they just know
Every night you still leave with heart of stone, Nicky

O, Nicky, what a pity, you don’t understand
Salvation’s kind of hard when you ain’t been born again
No, Nicky, there’s some things you can’t do as a man
But God likes you, Nicky
He’ll help you through, Nicky, through Nicky
Open your heart, Nicky

Hey, Nicky
Now when you take these Bible truths
Then you’re gonna know
Every time you do you’ll get a little more shown
There’s nothing to confuse
So don’t play dumb, Nicky
So come on now, Nicodemus, anybody can
Any man or woman who believes is born again
The breeze in the trees still leaves its evidence, Nicky

O, Nicky, what a pity, you don’t understand
Salvation’s kind of hard when you ain’t been born again
No, Nicky, there’s some things you can’t do as a man
But God likes you, Nicky
He’ll help you through, Nicky, through Nicky
Open your heart, Nicky

Oh, Nicky, you’re so blind
Open wide your soul and mind, hey Nicky, hey Nicky
Oh, Nicky, you’re so blind
Open wide your soul and mind, hey Nicky, hey Nicky
Oh, Nicky, you’re so blind
Open wide your soul and mind, hey Nicky

O, Nicky, what a pity, you don’t understand
Salvation’s kind of hard when you ain’t been born again
No, Nicky, there’s some things you can’t do as a man
But God likes you, Nicky
He’ll help you through, Nicky, through Nicky
Open your heart, Nicky

O, Nicky, John 3:3 through 21 expands
You take this all to heart and you’ll take the Promised Land
O, Nicky, 7:50 there in John again
We find out you, Nicky
Still want the truth, Nicky, truth, Nicky
Open your heart, Nicky

Oh, Nicky, John 19 verse 39 I scanned
You play a vital part in the Savior’s burial plan
Oh, Nicky, when it’s finished then you’ll understand
What God must do, Nicky
He loves you, too, Nicky, too, Nicky
Open your heart, Nicky

O, Nicky, what a pity, you don’t understand
Salvation’s kind of hard when you ain’t been born again

[ ApologetiX – “You Can’t Say Euphrates Without the 80’s” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmvKbWuMExk


Ephesians
(Parody of “The Reason” by Hoobastank)

I’m not allergic to workin’
But many things religious people do
Are ‘cause they think they’re earnin’
A Heaven they must work their way into
But no one has to pay before they go
The Bible wants you to know

I’ve found salvation is free
And changed why I do good deeds
From readin’ I started to do
In Ephesians chapter 2

It’s not about our virtue
It’s something that’s a gift we get through grace
And all the things for good you do
Are just the icing you put on the cake
Ephesians 2:8 makes all that clear
That’s why I’m leading you here

I’ve found Ephesians to read
It changed how I view good deeds
Salvation is not what we do
Are you readin’ it, too? Are you readin’ it, too?
Are you readin’ it, too? Are you readin’ it, too?

Another perfect person
Was Heaven-sent to do those things for you
And so no one who’s saved can ever boast
In any one but the Lord

I’ve found salvation’s a tree
And faith’s what you use for seed
But grace is the start of the roots
And good deeds are just fruit
1:9 Second Timothy shows
And Titus 3:5 says it’s so
And Romans provides added proof
In 11:6, too

[ ApologetiX – “Wordplay” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxxfOEW-FGE


Cornelius
(Parody of “Cecilia” by Simon & Garfunkel)

Cornelius — was favored by God
He prayed to Him constantly, daily
Oh, Cornelius was in the army
A pagan believer from Rome
Cornelius! An angel from God
Came straight to the spot he was praying
Oh, Cornelius! Acts 10 in verse 3
The angel said, Peter must come to your home

Makin’ lunch in the afternoon
Where was Peter? Up on Simon’s roof
(Makin’ lunch one day)
He went up on top to pray
And the Lord sent some men there to take him away

Cornelius said, “Hey, can we start?
“We’re waiting upon what you’re sayin’”
So Cornelius, fell down on his knees
But Peter said, “Please do not” so — he got up

Bo bo bo bo-oh bo
Bo bo bo bo bo bo bo bo-oh-oh

Look it up! Look it up!

Check it out! Check it out!

True salvation! They trusted in Him
They called on the Lord there on that day
To the nations that once were in sin
God opened the doors there on that day

Whoa-oh oh oh — oh oh-oh oh oh
Oh oh-oh oh oh oh-oh oh oh-oh-oh
Whoa-oh oh oh — oh oh-oh oh oh
Oh oh-oh oh oh oh-oh oh oh-oh-oh
Whoa-oh oh oh — oh oh-oh oh oh
Oh oh-oh oh oh oh-oh oh oh-oh-oh
Whoa-oh oh oh — oh oh-oh oh oh
Oh oh-oh oh oh oh-oh oh oh-oh-oh

[ ApologetiX – “Grace Period” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBIdmUs2tew


Old Time Romans Road
(Parody of “Old Time Rock and Roll” by Bob Seger)

Just take those old directions off the shelf
I’m sending us into the Bible Belt
To take you the way God can save souls
I’ll ride that old time Romans Road

Don’t try to take me to a different road
You’ll never even get me — I’ll never go
But take me on the highway straight for the Lord
Still like that old time Romans Road

CHORUS
Still like that old time Romans Road
That avenue it just saves your soul
I rev my engines down the streets of gold
With that old time Romans Road

Although I hear the way is narrow
All other avenues are bumpy old roads
There’s only one sure way to get me to God
That way’s the old time Romans Road

CHORUS

Romans 3:23 is what you read
Then find verse 5:8 then verse 6:23
Then take Romans 10:9 to save your soul
And that’s the old time Romans Road

CHORUS

I like that old time Romans Road
That avenue it just saves your soul
I read a missive ’bout the faith of old
It’s that old time Romans Road

[ ApologetiX – “You Can’t Say Euphrates Without the 80’s” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BmvKbWuMExk


Save Your Voice (Quiet Down Boy)
(Parody of “Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” by Big & Rich )

Da la lum de de lum de de lum de de lum de de lum de de lum de de la la
Dum de de lum de de lum de de lum de de la la la la la

When I walk in doom and gloom
Stressin’ ‘bout a hundred different bills, man, it kills any thrill
Like a thorn stuck in Cinderella’s heel
And I’m bothered by a couple pounds I’ve found
I think my body’s getting’ round and this clown
Ain’t never gonna be the same

But the battle is the Lord’s and I might as well get busy
I’m makin’ God annoyed when I wallow in self pity
Fightin’ must be done God’s way and God told us rejoice
When the world says, save your voice, quiet down, boy
Yeah, the Bible say, Praise the Lord nice and loud, boy

When I don’t give Him thanks about nothin’
I’m sinkin’ in bleak thinkin’ – my morale’s a stinkin’
Don’t get down!
And I wouldn’t trade my reward up in Heaven’s gates
For success that fades or some cheap charade
And there’s not a long wait left anyhow

And the battle is the Lord’s and He’ll fight it to the finish
I’m raisin’ up my voice, and it works like Popeye’s spinach
Fightin’ must be done God’s way and God told us rejoice
When the world says, save your voice, quiet down, boy
Then the Bible says, Praise the Lord nice and loud, boy

I was full of dread ’bout what’s ahead
I looked back at what God did when Christ was sweatin’ blood
God’s Son got onto that Calvary road
When I find that I’m inclined to whine, havin’ myself a rigorous time
I’ll be knowin’ this is not as far as He had to go
A thorough evaluation of my final destination
Had me thank Him for salvation all life long
So I look to God, He’s big and strong
He can use it when my whole world’s wrong
I figure if I really know His Son I should speak up when things get rough

And the battle is the Lord’s and my attitude is lifting
I make a lot of noise, like it says in Psalm 150
Fightin’ must be done God’s way and God told us rejoice
When the world says, save your voice, quiet down, boy
Then the Bible says, Praise the Lord nice and loud, boy

[ ApologetiX – “Wordplay” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=us6a9XjdO2s


Special Stone
(Parody of “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone” by The Monkees)

Chri-i-i-i-ist was a special stone
Chri-i-i-i-ist was a precious stone
They’re tryin’ to make a Marxist society
They’re usin’ all their bricks made from human deeds
But read along in Isaiah 8:14
The stone the world rejected caused a stumblin’ scene

I said, ‘cause
Chri-i-i-i-ist was a special stone
Chri-i-i-i-ist was a precious stone — Whoa!

Not just any stone (Uh uh uh uh uh — uh uh uh uh)
Not just any stone (Uh uh uh uh — uh uh uh)

In Isaiah the world was given several clues
About a Rock of Salvation some refuse
You read 28:16 and then you choose
But you can find His name in the Book of Luke, too
I say, ‘cause
Chri-i-i-i-ist was a special stone — Psalm 118
Chri-i-i-i-ist was a precious stone — Whoa!

Not just any stone (Uh uh uh uh uh — uh uh uh uh)
Not just any stone (Uh uh uh uh — uh uh uh)

Not just any stone (not — just any stone)
Not just any stone (not — just any stone)
Not just any stone (not — just any stone)
Not just any stone (not — just any stone)
Our Lord is not just any stone (not — just any stone)
Not just any stone
Not just any stone
Not just any stone
Not just any stone
Not just any stone

[ ApologetiX – “Hot Potato Soup” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJe_jyMjn0A


Life Restored
(Parody of “Last Resort” by Papa Roach)

Plug my life into Jesus—this gets my life restored
Such a cakewalk—no brainer
Don’t need to fuss if I call on our savior
This gets my life restored

Plugged my life into Jesus—I’ve seen my life restored
Such a cakewalk—no brainer
Don’t need to fuss since I called Him my savior
Do not even care if I die later
Cause I belong to Jesus Christ
If they took my life tonight—chances are I’d arrive
In a place that’s out of sight—and I’m confident I’m doin’ fine

‘Cause I’m improving my life, renewing my mind
This all started with Romans 10:9
Doing what’s right, doin’ quite fine
This all started with Romans 10:9

I never realized I was meant to live
To live a new life if I would let Him within
Told me—death is the payoff for living in sin
End the cycle when you’re born again
It all started when I first discovered
The Book on my shelf and read cover to cover
Searching—to find religion that held my attention
Finding—something called Christian redemption

‘Cause I’m improving my life, renewing my mind
This all started with Romans 10:9
Doing what’s right, doin’ quite fine
This all started with Romans 10:9

I’ll be all right—I’ll be just fine
You’re runnin’ out of time
I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine
I can’t go wrong living this way

Plug my life into Jesus
This gets my life restored
Selfish nature—don’t need it
Go give it up—you can conquer your demons
Would it be wrong for me to pry
If you give your life to Christ—Chances are dynamite
You will make it out alive—and I’m confident you’ll do it right

‘Cause I’m improving my life, renewing my mind
This all started with Romans 10:9
Doing what’s right, doin’ quite fine
This all started with Romans 10:9

I’ll be all right—I’ll be just fine—You’re runnin’ out of time
I can’t go wrong livin’ this way—Can’t go wrong living this way
I’ll be all—right

[ ApologetiX – “Keep The Change” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lmj2zIK5kAc


Regeneration
(Parody of “My Generation” by The Who)

People try to put us down (Talkin’ ’bout regeneration)
Just because we’re heaven-bound (Talkin’ ’bout …)
They may stew and scoff and scold (Talkin’ ’bout …)
I know I’ll die with a born-again soul (Talkin’ ’bout …)
This is regeneration — this is regeneration, baby
Who don’t you all find the Way (Talkin’ ’bout regeneration)
And go to Titus 3:5 and see what it says (Talkin’ ’bout …)
I’m not talkin’ ’bout artificial resuscitation (Talkin’ ’bout …)
Just talkin’ ’bout re-generation
This is regeneration — this regeneration, baby
Who don’t you all find the Way (Talkin’ ’bout regeneration)
What John chapter 3 verse 3 does say (Talkin’ ’bout …)
And First Peter 1:23 says the same thing (Talkin’ ’bout …)
It’s just talkin’ ’bout regeneration (Talkin’ ’bout …)
This is regeneration — this regeneration, baby
Re-re-re-re-re-generation
If you’re tired of puttin’ us down (Talkin’ ’bout regeneration)
And you wanna be heaven-bound (Talkin’ ’bout …)
Here’s what to do to save your soul (Talkin’ ’bout …)
Put hope in Christ before you get old (Talkin’ ’bout …)
This is regeneration — this regeneration, baby
Re-re-re-re-re-generation
This is not imagination — this is not exaggeration
This is not meditation — this is not vegetation
Hope you got reservations — please do not change the station

[ ApologetiX – “Grace Period” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1YoUc-HUjz0


Yes Today
(Parody of “Yesterday” by The Beatles)

If today
You should hear His voice don’t turn away
Now’s the time that you should kneel and pray
And finally say yes today

Suddenly
You might have to spend eternity
In a place you never want to be
Say yes today and just believe

Christ, He died for all
There’s no soul He wouldn’t save
There’s just one thing you
Have to do — say yes today

Yes today
Seems like such an easy thing to say
All you need is faith, so why delay?
Say, “I believe,” and “yes” today

Why you might say no
I don’t know — I couldn’t say
I’d say something’s wrong
If you don’t say “Yes” today

Yes, today
Might just be your final chance to pray
All you need is faith, so why delay?
Say, “I believe,” and “yes” today
Mmmmmmmmm

[ ApologetiX – “Apol-acoustiX” album ]

SONG: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJQguk4JvCk


Good News/Bad News

This is a Gospel presentation and personal testimony of J. Jackson, lead vocalist of ApologetiX from their 20th anniversary concert. It’s available on 20:20 Vision.

VIDEO (audio only): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q21Jnaq-EL8


<<< DEEP THOUGHTS >>>


“I am happy because I’m grateful. I choose to be grateful. That gratitude allows me to be happy.”
[ Will Arnett ]

“A grateful heart is the beginning of generosity.”
[Celtic prayer]

“Always have an attitude of gratitude.”
[ Sterling K. Brown ]

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”
[ John F. Kennedy ]

“Everything we do should be a result of our gratitude for what God has done for us.”
[ Lauryn Hill ]

“No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.”
[St. Ambrose]

“Gratitude is riches. Complaint is poverty.”
[ Doris Day ]

“I think gratitude is a big thing. It puts you in a place where you’re humble.”
[ Andra Day ]

“When we focus on our gratitude, the tide of disappointment goes out and the tide of love rushes in.”
[ Kristin Armstrong ]

“I awoke this morning with devout thanksgiving for my friends, the old and the new.”
[ Ralph Waldo Emerson ]

“When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.”
[ Tecumseh ]

“When eating fruit, remember the one who planted the tree.”
[ Vietnamese Proverb]

“Got no checkbooks, got no banks, still I’d like to express my thanks. I got the sun in the morning and the moon at night.”
[ Irving Berlin ]

“No duty is more urgent than giving thanks.”
[ James Allen ]

“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.”
[ Willie Nelson ]

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”
[ G.K. Chesterton ]

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”
[ Robert Brault ]

“Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”
[ Melody Beattie ]

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.”
[ Epictetus ]

“It’s a funny thing about life, once you begin to take note of the things you are grateful for, you begin to lose sight of the things that you lack.”
[ Germany Kent ]

“The heart that gives thanks is a happy one, for we cannot feel thankful and unhappy at the same time.”
[ Douglas Wood ]

“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”
[ A.A. Milne ]

“In ordinary life, we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.”
[ Dietrich Bonhoeffer ]

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”
[ Epicurus ]

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
[ Ralph Waldo Emerson ]

“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.”
[ John F. Kennedy ]

“Gratitude looks to the Past and love to the Present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead.”
[ C.S. Lewis ]

“The unthankful heart discovers no mercies; but the thankful heart will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings.”
[ Henry Ward Beecher ]

“What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude.”
[ Brené Brown ]

“When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.”
[ G.K. Chesterton ]

“Gratitude is the ability to experience life as a gift. It liberates us from the prison of self-preoccupation.”
[ John Ortberg ]

“The soul that gives thanks can find comfort in everything; the soul that complains can find comfort in nothing.”
[ Hannah Whitall Smith ]

“O Lord that lends me life, lend me a heart replete with thankfulness.”
[ William Shakespeare ]

“Gratitude is a powerful catalyst for happiness. It’s the spark that lights a fire of joy in your soul.”
[ Amy Collette ]

“If you fail to carry around with you a heart of gratitude for the love you’ve been so freely given, it is easy for you not to love others as you should.”
[ Paul David Tripp ]

“Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”
[ Charles Dickens ]

“Gratitude and attitude are not challenges; they are choices.”
[ Robert Braathe ]

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”
[ Thornton Wilder ]

“Gratitude is the sign of noble souls.”
[ Aesop ]

“Thankfulness is the quickest path to joy.”
[ Jefferson Bethke ]

“Gratitude bestows reverence…changing forever how we experience life and the world.”
[ John Milton ]

“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.”
[ Ralph Waldo Emerson ]

“A thankful appreciation for what an individual receives, whether tangible or intangible. With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives … As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals–whether to other people, nature, or a higher power”
[ Harvard Medical School ]

“The appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful to oneself and represents a general state of thankfulness and/or appreciation.”
[ Sansone & Sansone ]

“An emotion that is typically evoked when one receives costly, unexpected, and intentionally rendered benefits, and is thought to play a key role in regulating the initiation and maintenance of social relationships.”
[ D.E. Forster ]

“A social emotion that signals our recognition of the things others have done for us.”
[ G.R. Fox ]

“If we acquire a good through exchange, effort or achievement, or by right, then we don’t typically feel gratitude. Gratitude is an emotion we feel in response to receiving something good which is undeserved.”
[ M. Lacewing ]

“Gratitude is a positively valenced emotion that can arise when another person–a benefactor–does something kind for the self
[ S.B. Algoe ]

“Gratitude is not goods delivered in response to payment. It is a response to a gift … Gratitude, as a response to a gift, is also a form of generosity, of graciously crediting the other for something that was not strictly owed”
[ R.C. Roberts ]

“Has been conceptualized as an emotion, a virtue, a moral sentiment, a motive, a coping response, a skill, and an attitude. It is all of these and more. Minimally, gratitude is an emotional response to a gift. It is the appreciation felt after one has been the beneficiary of an altruistic act”
[ Robert Emmons ]

“Gratitude has a dual meaning: a worldly one and a transcendent one. In its worldly sense, gratitude is a feeling that occurs in interpersonal exchanges when one person acknowledges receiving a valuable benefit from another. Gratitude is a cognitive-affective state that is typically associated with the perception that one has received a personal benefit that was not intentionally sought after, deserved, or earned but rather because of the good intentions of another person”
[ R. Stern ]

“Adults who feel grateful have more energy, more optimism, more social connections and more happiness than those who do not, according to studies conducted over the past decade. They’re also less likely to be depressed, envious, greedy or alcoholics.”
[ Melinda Beck ]

“At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.”
[ Albert Schweitzer ]

“Gratitude is a powerful catalyst for happiness. It’s the spark that lights a fire of joy in your soul.”
[ Amy Collette ]

“Until you see the cross as that which is done by you, you will never appreciate that it is done for you.”
[ John Stott ]

“The doctrine of redemption by Jesus Christ is a glorious doctrine; it is the marrow and quintessence of the gospel, in which all a Christian’s comfort lies. Great was the work of creation, but greater the work of redemption; it cost more to redeem us than to make us; in the one there was but the speaking of a word, in the other the shedding of blood. The creation was but the work of God’s fingers (Psalm 8:3). Redemption is the work of His arm (Luke 1:51).”
[ Thomas Watson ]

“Christ is not only the goal of our gratitude but the guide of it as well.”
[ Leslie Flynn ]

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”
[ G. K. Chesterton ]

“The Christian’s life should be one of thankfulness to God.”
[ Charles Spurgeon ]

“The reconciliation of sins is the beginning of salvation.”
[ Martin Luther ]


RELATED SCRIPTURE VERSES:

Thanksgiving:
https://www.openbible.info/topics/thankgiving

Thankfulness:
https://www.openbible.info/topics/thankfulness

Gratitude:
https://www.openbible.info/topics/gratitude

Salvation:
https://www.openbible.info/topics/salvation

Pilgrims:
https://www.openbible.info/topics/pilgrims


“A quick summary of the Christian “Gospel”:
JESUS’ PROPITIATION made our SINS FORGIVEN and IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS to us so that we have GOD’S ACCEPTANCE into His Heaven and receive ETERNAL LIFE.”
[ Mark Besh ]


Hope you enjoyed some of these insights—share them with your friends and colleagues—so we can have a larger ’pool’ to receive from, and more to share with! Also, remember to include your name as the “source,” if some of this wisdom is of your doing. I would like to give credit where credit is due!


<<< FOCUS VERSES >>>


“Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy, and I will give thanks to him in song.”
[ Psalm 28:6-7 ]

“We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks, for your Name is near; men recount your wondrous deeds.”
[ Psalm 75:1 ]

“Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture.”
[ Psalm 100:1-3 ]

“Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”
[ Psalm 103:2 ]

“Give thanks to the LORD and proclaim His greatness. Let the whole world know what He has done.”
[ Psalm 105:1 ]

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.”
[ Psalm 107:1 ]

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
For his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
to him who alone does great wonders,
for his steadfast love endures forever.”

And as we get to the end of the psalm, the psalmist says,

“It is he who remembered us in our lowest state,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
and he rescued us from our foes,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
he who gives food to all flesh,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of heaven,
for his steadfast love endures forever.”
[ Psalm 136:1-3; 23-26 ]

“I will give You thanks with all my heart.”
[ Psalm 138:1 ]

“Seek the Lord while you can find him.
Call on him now while he is near.
Let the wicked change their ways
and banish the very thought of doing wrong.
Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them.
Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously.”
[ Isaiah 55:6-7 ]

“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’”
[ Matthew 26:26 ]

“Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
[ Luke 7:44-47 ]

“O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way”.
[ Luke 10:21 ]

“One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.”
[ Luke 17:15-16 ]

“He took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and began to give it to them.”
[ Luke 24:30 ]

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
[ Romans 8:28 ]

“If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.”
[ 1 Corinthians 15:19 ]

“…because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!“ [ 2 Corinthians 9:14b-15 ]

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do”
[ Ephesians 2:4-10 ]

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, 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 understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
[ Philippians 4:4-7 ]

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
[ Philippians 4:16 ]

“Giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the Kingdom of light. For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
[ Colossians 1:12-14 ]

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.”
[ Colossians 3:15 ]

“And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
[ Colossians 3:17 ]

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
[ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ]

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.”
[ Hebrews 12:28 ]

“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of Him.”
[ 1 John 5:14-15 ]


If you have a ‘neat’ story or some thoughts about an issue or current event that you would like me to try to respond to, I would be glad to give it a try…so, send them to me at: mbesh@comcast.net

Disclaimer: All the above jokes and inspirations are obtained from various sources and copyright is used when known. Other than our name and headers, we do not own the copyright to any of the materials sent to this list. We just want to spread the ministry of God’s love and cheerfulness throughout the world.

Mark

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