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Sunday, November 25, 2018

Giving Thanks When It's Tough Doesn't Mean To Fake It

This is the manuscript of a sermon I preached at Christ Church, Los Angeles, CA on Sunday November 25, 2018. Giving thanks in all things; cultivates your character, increases your joy, and conquers your problems in that thanking God takes your mind off your problem and while thanking and praising God your attention is on Him.  

But when times are tough it's hard sometimes to be thankful.  While we can thank God in all things we shouldn't be faking our thanks, acting like we aren't affected by or bothered by our troubles. We are human beings and we have emotions.  If we try to hide those emotions we aren't being honest with ourselves and more importantly, we are not being honest with God.  We should let  our real emotions show in our conversations, or prayer time with Him.  To hear the audio click on the YouTube image at the end of the manuscript.  

Last week we talked about giving thanks when it's tough.  The Scriptures tell us that we should give thanks in everything.

Ephesians 5:20 (NKJV)20  giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NKJV)18  in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

This means that there is no limit on the time or the  extent of our thanksgiving.  God’s will for us includes constant joy, ceaseless prayer, and boundless thanks.

We said that giving thanks; cultivates your character, increases your joy, and conquers your problems in that thanking God takes your mind off your problem and while thanking and praising God your attention is on Him.    Your problems may not go away when you give thanks, but they stop being such a problem. You live from the inside out. What goes on around you no longer controls the condition of the world within you.You can't control the problems that come into your life but you can control how you respond to them.

These are the things we talked about last week. 

But when times are tough it's hard sometimes to be thankful.

While we can thank God in all things we shouldn't be faking our thanks, acting like we aren't affected by or bothered by our troubles. We are human beings and we have emotions.  If we try to hide those emotions we aren't being honest with ourselves and more importantly, we are not being honest with God.  We should let  our real emotions show in our conversations, or prayer time with Him. 

After all He has emotions and He doesn’t deny them, or hide them from us. 

He gets angry

Psalm 7:11 (NLT)11  God is an honest judge. He is angry with the wicked every day. 

He experiences grief

Genesis 6:6 (NLT)6  So the LORD was sorry he had ever made them and put them on the earth. It broke his heart.

Ephesians 4:30 (NLT)30  And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption.

And you remember before Jesus raised Lazarus

John 11:33-37 NLT When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. “Where have you put him?” he asked them. They told him, “Lord, come and see.” Then Jesus wept. The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!” But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?”

He is jealous for our love

Exodus 34:14 (NLT)14  You must worship no other gods, for the LORD, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you.

He shows His impatience

God is patient and longsuffering when it comes to our sins,

2 Peter 3:9 NLT The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.

but impatient over our suffering.

Judges 10:15-16 CEB (Common English Bible) The Israelites responded to the LORD , "We’ve sinned. Do to us whatever you see as right, but please save us this time." They put away the foreign gods from among them and served the LORD . And the LORD could no longer stand to see Israel suffer.

The emotions of God are mysterious and complex, and Scripture never tells us to ignore His emotion (or ours). If God lets us see His emotions, then why are we resistant to showing ours, and to inviting Him in to what is really going on inside of us? If our lives are to mirror His, well, then, we should not deny our difficult feelings. God does not spiritualize our pain away, and neither should we.

Now that doesn't mean that you can be disrespectful.   What I mean is that you can be real with God, He won't come down on you for telling Him how you really feel.  He is always open and real with you and he wants you to be real with Him.  He's your friend and he loves you.  When you have a true friend you can talk to them about anything, anytime, and pour out your soul to them.  So let’s be real with God. Our prayers should be conversations where we talk to our friend and He talks to us and we are both open with each other.

Sometimes it really is a sacrifice to offer praise and thanks. We may not feel like it. We’re struggling. We’re weary. Or maybe, we feel like He let us down. We think God seems distant, like he’s far away, or doesn’t really care about what’s troubling us.  Life has a way of knocking you down. It always seems to happen when life is going really well.

Isn’t that how life usually works? You make a plan, set some great goals, are totally onboard to make some great changes…then “life happens”?

Let's Be Real

So what do you do when you’ve exhausted all your efforts and resources to make life good again, you’ve prayed and fasted, and begged God for healing or for a change in your circumstances? What if God chooses to be still and your circumstances never change? Well to be honest, most of us get pretty ticked off at our circumstances, other people, and then ultimately at God.  We don't want to admit that but if we're honest we are questioning if God is listening.  We have seen Him answer prayers for other folks so we know that He can do anything and that there is nothing that's impossible for Him but we wonder why He isn't doing it for us?

There is a word that we see a lot in the Bible, and  that word is lament, which is a passionate expression of grief or sorrow.  Moaning, crying, sobbing, weeping are synonyms of lament.  It can be something that is shown physically or can be felt emotionally and not shown outwardly.  When someone laments in prayer we say that they are crying out to God. These are unfiltered, and unedited prayers. 

Lament is one of those words we don’t use very much today. It’s not a regular entry in our vocabulary, even with us church people.Lament, is simply expressing honest emotions to God when life is not going as planned. Whether we’re hurt, frustrated, confused, betrayed, overwhelmed, sad, or disappointed, lament is the language God has given us to talk to Him right in the middle of life’s messes. It’s real talk with God when you’re hurting, when all you can do is cry out for His help. It’s a prayer that says, God, I’m hurting.
Not everyone experiences prosperity, but everyone we know will know loss and grief. Each and every one of us will experience setbacks, letdowns, failures, and betrayals. Every one of us will encounter change that is hard, lose loved ones before their time, and see relationships fail with people we counted on.
So what do we do when everything is not fine?

“There is no attempt in Scripture to whitewash the anguish of God’s people when they undergo suffering. They argue with God, they complain to God, they weep before God.

The book of Psalms is full of prayers of lament there may be as many as 65 or 67 lament psalms, depending on who is doing the counting.  are  It is interesting that the lament or complaint psalm dominates the 150 Psalms. Most of these are individual laments, such as Ps. 3, 22, 57, 139;

Psalms 3:1-8 NLT O Lord , I have so many enemies; so many are against me. So many are saying, “God will never rescue him!” Interlude But you, O Lord , are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high. I cried out to the Lord , and he answered me from his holy mountain. Interlude I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the Lord was watching over me. I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies who surround me on every side. Arise, O Lord ! Rescue me, my God! Slap all my enemies in the face! Shatter the teeth of the wicked! Victory comes from you, O Lord . May you bless your people. Interlude

but there are also corporate laments, such as Ps. 12, 44, 74, 80. 

The entire book of Lamentations written by Jeremiah is one long lament. Job is full of statements of lament. 

The Bible is full of statements of lament especially throughput the Old Testament Prophets.   Jesus cried out to His Father in the Garden and on the cross when He said;

Mark 15:34 NLT Then at three o’clock Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”

Which was also in one of David’s Lament Psalms

Psalms 22:1 NLT My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help?

The Risk of Being Real

Our friendship with God deepens when we risk being open and honest as we talk with Him.  

Christians like to quote this scripture when things get a little tough
Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)11  For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

But if we’re honest, when things don’t turn around right away it seems that God’s plans were not prospering you at all; in fact, it feels like they’re hurting you. What is He trying to do? Make you tough? Make you stronger? How were these plans bringing you hope? Where is all this peace and prosperity He promised?

When we become convinced that God is really our friend, we can talk to Him about what we’re feeling.  We can ask Him those questions.

Hebrews 4:16 (NLT)16  So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.

We often have the  misconception that we have to be perfect. So we fake it by pretending to have our lives in order, smiling and saying all the right things. We’re ashamed to admit our shortcomings to God.  We don’t really buy into the fact that when Jesus becomes our personal Lord and Savior,  God forgave us and sees us as righteous. 

We are righteous because of Jesus.

Romans 3:21-22 (NLT)21  But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago.22  We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

God’s word says that He hears the prayers of the righteous.

Proverbs 15:8 (NLT)8  The LORD detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but he delights in the prayers of the upright.

Proverbs 15:29 (NLT)29  The LORD is far from the wicked, but he hears the prayers of the righteous.

When we fake it we are really doubting Jesus’ work of salvation on the cross, and we somehow believe that we still have to prove something to God.  We are depending on ourselves and our own righteousness which don’t amount to a hill of beans.

Isaiah 64:6 (NLT)6  We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.

We need to get it in our heads that we don’t have to be perfect because Jesus is perfect.  When we realize this we can passionately seek Him, obey Him, and confess and repent when we miss the mark then we will stop faking.

We can look to Jesus as our example of being open.  He expressed a full range of emotions, positive ones like joy, love, and compassion and some we would consider negative like, anger, indignation, and impatience.

He expressed a range of emotions in this passage;

Matthew 26:36-46 (NLT)36  Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.”37  He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and he became anguished and distressed.38  He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death.(sorrow) Stay here and keep watch with me.”39  He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me (fear). Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”40  Then he returned to the disciples and found them asleep. He said to Peter, “Couldn’t you watch with me even one hour?(frustration)41  Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!”42  Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.”43  When he returned to them again, he found them sleeping, for they couldn’t keep their eyes open.44  So he went to pray a third time, saying the same things again.45  Then he came to the disciples and said, “Go ahead and sleep. Have your rest. But look—the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.46  Up, let’s be going. Look, my betrayer is here!”

In this passage Jesus shows emotions of sorrow, frustration, impatience, and fear.

Jesus didn’t ignore His emotions or keep them hidden, He shared Himself openly.  That’s what He wants us to do.  Stop faking. I know it’s not alway easy.  In life we struggle with sin, injustice, pain, and temptation.  These things arouse feelings that aren’t comfortable.  It’s risky to be honest when we feel isolated, guilty, irritated, intimidated, ashamed, angry, inadequate, rejected, or worthless.
We may be hesitant to open up because, in the past we’ve gotten negative responses from people.  One of the typical things we hear when we open up about how we feel is, “this too shall pass” (we talked about that a few weeks ago).  Once you open up and get that kind  of response you are not likely to open up again. 

This is the prayer of someone who was not afraid to let his friend know what he was feeling. 

Psalm 42:1-11 (NLT)1 As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.2  I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him?3  Day and night I have only tears for food, while my enemies continually taunt me, saying, “Where is this God of yours?”4  My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration!5  Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and6  my God! Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you— even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan, from the land of Mount Mizar.7  I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me.8  But each day the LORD pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life.9  “O God my rock,” I cry, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies?”10  Their taunts break my bones. They scoff, “Where is this God of yours?”11  Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again— my Savior and my God!

Feelings of sadness and discouragement are inevitable. This life has times of dancing and praising, but also times of deep anguish and despair. Jesus understands. In the scripture I read earlier of Jesus crying out to His Father in the Garden, please “Take this cup from me”, but even in the middle of crying out He told His Father that He wanted His Father’s will to be done.  God hears and answers prayer, even when it may seem He has forgotten you.  And because God the Son left his throne in heaven to walk the earth in human flesh, he knows and understands what you are going through on every level — physical, spiritual and emotional. So you can, in confidence put your hope in Him, knowing that you will  experience the presence of God and his goodness.
That takes the pressure off because it’s not about us. It’s about Him. It’s never about us. Everything we have—including our ability to pray in power—comes from God.

2 Corinthians 3:4-5 (NLT)4  We are confident of all this because of our great trust in God through Christ.5  It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own.

Our qualifications come from God.

We just have to pray as He leads us, and He leads us through His Word and by the Holy Spirit.

John 14:26 (NLT)26  But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.

Romans 8:26-27 (NLT)26  And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.27  And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.

I know that opening ourselves up is risky because when we do we become vulnerable but we don’t have be be afraid of being vulnerable with God because it’s safe. 

God is a safe person — the safest person! — to go to when life is falling apart. He is right there to catch us every time.

God does not want just our happy; He also really wants our sad.

When everything is not fine God wants to hear about it. He is drawn to us when we’re mourning and blesses us in a special way. God is not up there minimizing our pain and comparing it to others who have it worse than we do. God wants all pain to be surrendered to Him, and He has the capacity to respond to it all with infinite compassion.

He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.
Psalms 147:3 NLT 

The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
Psalms 34:17-18 NLT

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28 NLT

We are robbing ourselves of a divine mystery and a divine intimacy when we pretend to have it all together and fake it.

Scripture doesn’t tell us to pretend we’re peaceful when we’re not, act like everything is fine when it’s not, and do everything we can to suppress our sorrow. God doesn’t insist that we go to our “happy place” and ignore our sad.   So many of our churches preach that we will have peace and prosperity just by virtue of being Christians. Scripture, in contrast, tells us that as followers of Christ, we are called to serve a “man of sorrows” who died a gruesome death.

Isaiah 53:3 NLT He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.

Until we identify ourselves with our Savior and acknowledge, as He did, just how painful life can be, we won’t be able to lament or to overcome. And if we silence our own cries, then we will inevitably silence the cries of those around us. We cannot carefully address the wounds of others if we are carelessly addressing our own.
The fact is, God does not expect us to have it all together, so it is a real disservice when our Chuches create this expectation. We will be unsuccessful at helping hurting people if we have not allowed ourselves to grieve and wail and mourn and go through the lament process ourselves. God understands that life is full of pressures, hurts, stings. He took on flesh so He could relate to us in both our joy and pain.

Philippians 2:7-8 NLT Instead, he gave up his divine privileges ; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

Hebrews 2:14-15 NLT Because God’s children are human beings—made of flesh and blood—the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death. Only in this way could he set free all who have lived their lives as slaves to the fear of dying.

He wants us to feel and express every emotion before Him and not minimize a thing. There is no “fake it till you make it” in Scripture. When we fake fine, we fake our way out of authentic relationship with God, others, and ourselves.

According to Scripture, pretending we’re fine and suppressing our raw emotions is not wisdom or maturity. Rather, God lovingly says to us that His grace is sufficient.

2 Corinthians 12:8-9 NLT Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

May our laments open our eyes to show us that God’s thoughts toward us are good, His love toward us is great, and He blesses us and draws near us even in our most broken places.

Heavenly Father thank you for caring about all my problems and pains.  Help me to always cry out to you first and leave my concerns at your feet.  You know how difficult and how painful this life can be. When I am discouraged, please comfort me with your love and remind me of what’s important: which is  my future with you.  In the name of Jesus and in His authority I pray Amen. 

Sermon Audio 

Sunday, November 18, 2018

When Giving Thanks Is Tough

This is the manuscript of a sermon I preached at Christ Church, Los Angeles, CA on Sunday November 18, 2018.  This coming Thursday is Thanksgiving Day.  You hear all the time, and it’s certainly true, that you don’t need a turkey, dressing, greens, pumpkin and sweet potato pies to celebrate Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving for people of faith represents more than an annual holiday, it serves as a reminder that giving thanks is part of who we are as believers because we demonstrate faith when we are grateful.  But when times are tough it's hard sometimes to be thankful.To hear the audio click on the YouTube image at the end of the manuscript.  

This coming Thursday is Thanksgiving Day.  You hear all the time, and it’s certainly true, that you don’t need a turkey, dressing, greens, pumpkin and sweet potato pies to celebrate Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving for people of faith represents more than an annual holiday, it serves as a reminder that giving thanks is part of who we are as believers because we demonstrate faith when we are grateful.

All you need is a reason, and God has given us plenty of reasons to be grateful.

Start with what you see—the clothes you’re wearing, the food in the fridge, the beauty of a fall day (and we have a lot of those in Los Angeles). Then think about the people you love and how they’ve touched your life. Next, think about the things God has given you that can’t be held in your hands—things like hope, forgiveness, freedom, salvation, and your future home in heaven. Stopping to say thanks will remind you of how big God is and how good your life is, no matter what’s going on.  
You can’t separate gratitude and faith. Giving thanks=gratitude… Giving God thanks (or gratitude)  is an expression of your faith in His Sovereignty.

It is impossible to understand and receive all that Christ did for us on the cross and not be grateful. For those of us who have been given so much, it is important that we continually express our genuine appreciation to our Heavenly Father both in words and by the way we live our lives.  For the Christian, every day should be a day of thanksgiving…


Thankfulness is a mental and/or verbal expression of one's acknowledgement and appreciation of God's person, His grace, His blessings, and His sovereign work in our livea and the world.
Thankfulness is a skill we can develop with practice. It’s just a matter of pausing and noticing the abundance with which God has filled our lives.
We can choose to view life through the lens of deprivation (noticing everything we don’t have and worrying that there is never enough for us) or through the lens of abundance (noticing everything we do have and trusting that a good God will provide for us).
When Should We Give Thanks?

      We should give thanks whenever we pray.  The reason we should give thanks when we pray is because when we are thankful we take our eyes of ourselves and our problems so we can focus on others and on God. 
Look at these examples from the apostle Paul:
Ephesians 1:15-17 (NKJV)15  Therefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints,16  do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers:17  that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him,
1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 (NKJV)2  We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers,3  remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father,
When we pray with thanksgiving it helps us to see life through the perspective of God, His principles, His promises, His plan, His provisions, and His purposes. This focus on God promotes faith and courage in the face of the trying and painful situations that we all eventually face. 
      Second, we should always give thanks in everything and for everything
Ephesians 5:20 (NKJV)20  giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NKJV)18  in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
This means that there is no limit on the time or the  extent of our thanksgiving.  God’s will for us includes constant joy, ceaseless prayer, and boundless thanks.
But when times are tough it's hard sometimes to be thankful.
That’s what I want to talk about today.  When giving thanks is tough.
 When Giving Thanks Is Tough

One night the Biblical scholar Matthew Henry was robbed. When he got home he was still trembling with fear. Yet, he regained his calm as he prayed This is the prayer he offered and wrote in his journal: "Father, I thank You first because I was never robbed before; second, I thank You because although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, I thank You because although they took everything I had, it was not very much; and fourth, I thank You because it was I who was robbed and not I who robbed"

One of the greatest marks of spiritual maturity is the ability to give thanks when it's tough. This is what Paul meant in;

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJV Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Here is something that I read once.   "The greatest lesson I have learned is to take things with gratitude and not take them for granted. "You say grace before meals,  but I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, walking, playing, and grace before I dip the pen in the ink."

Throughout the Scripture, we hear the call to give thanks.

Thanksgiving is really faith in action:

1 Chronicles 16:8 NIV Give praise to the Lord , proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done.

When you give thanks in tough times, it does three things...

I. Cultivates Your Character

Did you notice that the Scripture that we read from 1 Thessalonians says that giving thanks is is the will of God.
Cicero, the Roman poet, observed: "Thanksgiving is not only the greatest of all virtues, it is the parent of all virtues."
Talking about parents, they recognize this principle when raising children. One of the first virtues they try to instill in their children is the virtue of thanksgiving. Without it, they grow up to be selfish, narcissistic, manipulative, complaining, and thinking that the world owes them a living.
Remember the hymn that says;
 "Count your blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done?" When we do that we are look at what we do have not what we don't have.  
As the psalmist said,
Psalms 103:1-5 NKJV Bless the Lord , O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord , O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So  that  your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

II. Thanksgiving Increases Your Joy

Again number one; giving thanks cultivates your character.  Number 2 giving thanks increases your joy.
Notice the connection between verses 16 and 18 in I Thessalonians 5 verse 16 says; “Rejoice always”, and verse 18 says “Give thanks in all circumstances”.

The words thanksgiving and joy come from the same Greek root, charis, meaning "grace."
Thanksgiving is eucharis, and joy is chara. If you don't give thanks, what will you give? Anger, resentment, doubt, complaint? The secret to abounding joy is the gratitude attitude or thanks.
Gratitude is the world’s healthiest human emotion. It actually increases your immunity to sickness. There are studies that show that happier people are healthier people.
 Ungrateful people tend to be unhappy people. Nothing ever satisfies them. They never have enough. They are “when-and-then” people who think, “When such and such happens, then I’ll be happy.”

But the Bible gives us another way.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 GW Whatever happens, give thanks, because it is God’s will in Christ Jesus that you do this.

Gratitude can change everything. For example, try this: If you’re feeling depressed, make a list of 50 things you can be grateful for. Your gratefulness will help shift your focus away from your problems and toward everything good God has done and is doing in your life.

We take too much for granted. Develop the attitude of gratitude and watch your stress level go down—because there is always something to be grateful for.

III. Thanksgiving Conquers Your Problems

Okay number one; giving thanks cultivates your character,  number 2 giving thanks increases your joy, and number 3 giving thanks conquers your problems.
No, I don't mean that all your problems go away when you give thanks. I mean that your problems stop being such a problem. You live from the inside out. What goes on around you no longer controls the condition of the world within you.
You can't control the problems that come into your life but you can control how you respond to them.
There's a saying; "Bitterness comes to all. It sours some; it sweetens others”. Use the bitterness of your problems to sweeten your spirit even in the midst of them through thanksgiving and praising God.  Not for the problems but in the middle of them.  When we praise God and thank Him the focus is on God and no longer on the problem. 
Thanking God delivers us from a victim mentality and gives us a victor's mentality.
Romans 8:31-39 NKJV What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can  be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It  is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It  is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I once read that nothing can help the person with the wrong mental attitude, and nothing can stop a person with the right mental attitude. The right mental attitude to overcome your obstacles and win your battles is thanksgiving.
Change your way of thinking;
Philippians 4:8 NKJV Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are  noble, whatever things are  just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are  lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there  is any virtue and if there  is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
And thank God.

Giving thanks cultivates your character, increases your joy, and conquers your problems.
A friend sent me this a couple of years ago. 

“Imagine the God of the universe speaking these words to you… ;Thankfulness takes the sting out of adversity. That is why I have instructed you to give thanks for everything. There is an element of mystery in this transaction: You give Me thanks (regardless of your feelings), and I give you Joy (regardless of your circumstances). This is a spiritual act of obedience—at times, blind obedience. To people who don’t know Me intimately, it can seem irrational and even impossible to thank Me for heartrending hardships. Nonetheless, those who obey Me in this way are invariably blessed, even though difficulties may remain.

Thankfulness opens your heart to My Presence and your mind to My thoughts. You may still be in the same place, with the same set of circumstances, but it is as if a light has been switched on, enabling you to see from My perspective. It is this Light of My Presence that removes the sting from adversity.

Being thankful in all things doesn't mean faking it either but we'll talk about that next week. We

Thanksgiving is more than a one-day family gathering with lots of good food.   It’s a way of living, a daily act of expressing gratitude to our Maker who first gave to us.
 There's no better thanksgiving wisdom than that found in;
 Psalms 100:1-5 NKJV Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It  is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We  are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord  is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.

In this one Psalm there are a number of instructions listed that can help us live our Thanksgiving . .

     Make a glad sound to the Lord
     Give worship to the Lord with joy
     Come before him with a song
     Be certain that you acknowledge that the Lord is God
     Come into his presence with joy, and into his house with praise
     [Remember] for the Lord is good . . . his mercy is never-ending . . . his faith is unchanging

Let me end with the thing that we should thank God most for …….. salvation. 

The Bible tells us that we are separated from God because we have sinned.
Isaiah 59:1-2 NKJV Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear.

Romans 3:23 NIV for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Romans 6:23 NKJV For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Psalm 118 is a song of thanksgiving to God for His salvation, verse 14 of that Psalm says

Psalms 118:14 NKJV The Lord  is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation.

That salvation is by the grace of God and our faith in which we acknowledge the sacrifice of Jesus to atone or pay the penalty for our sins. 

God loves us—He loves you, He loves me—and He wants us to be part of His family forever. He loves us so much that He sent His only Son into the world to die as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. All we need to do is reach out in faith and accept Christ as our Savior and Lord:
Romans 10:9-10 NIV If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Have you opened your heart to Jesus Christ? If not, turn to Him with a simple prayer of repentance and faith, and thank Him for what He has done for you. If you have never done this we can do it now. Come on down and I’ll help and lead you in a prayer of repentance and faith.   If you’re shy and don’t want to come up here that’s OK come talk to me after service and we can do it where there’s nobody but you and me and Jesus. 
If you do know Christ, how long has it been since you thanked God for your salvation? We should not let a day go by without thanking God for His mercy and His grace to us in Jesus Christ. 
"Lord, teach me to offer you a heart of thanksgiving and praise in all my daily experiences of life. Teach me to be joyful always, to pray continually and to give thanks in all my circumstances. I accept them as Your will for my life (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). I long to bring pleasure to Your heart daily. Break the power of the enemy in my life. Defeat Him through my sacrifice of praise. Change my outlook and attitude into one of joyful contentment with my present circumstances.
Jesus, I want to be like You who obeyed the Father without complaint. You embraced the chains of humanity when You walked this earth. Convict me whenever I complain or compare myself with others. Give me Your attitude of humility and thankful acceptance. I want to be like the Apostle Paul who learned contentment in every circumstance. I choose to continually offer You a sacrifice of praise, the fruit of lips that give praise to Your name (Hebrews 13:15). I long to bring a smile to Your face. Teach me the power of a thankful heart. I know that Your truth dwells in a thankful heart.
 “I will give thanks to the LORD because of His righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High. O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens” (Psalm 7:17-18:1). In Jesus’ name, Amen."

The Lord bless you, and keep you:. The Lord make his face shine upon you, and be gracious unto you:. The Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace Numbers 6:24-26.

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