Over the past couple weeks, I have been reading various Psalms in my Chronological Bible.
It has been so eye opening about how all of these passages are intertwined, and although they say so many different things, they all lead to one main truth.
The truth that God loves us more than we can imagine, and in return, He longs for us to live with a mindset of thanksgiving.
So this week I am trying to focus on how much God really loves me and how His promises ring true in my life.
A focus on being acutely aware of what is at the core of Gods promises that I should be thankful for, instead of merely thanking Him for the tangible things that I can see with my human eyes.
A focus on even being able to thank Him for things that I wish He had not allowed in my life, or storms that I have had to endure.
So as I have considered over the past few weeks how overwhelmingly thankful I am for all God has done for me, in me, and through me, over the all the years in my life, a simple prayer of saying “thanks God” just seemed pathetically insufficient.
I found myself wondering how I could ever really show my Father my heartfelt thankfulness. How can I not only FEEL thankful, but truly BE thankful…. and not just be thankful, but ACT thankful.
I discovered that God has provided a plethora of creative ways that we can SHOW Him, not just tell Him, of our thankfulness.
Consider this – if you do something nice for a friend, and they say “thanks”, we appreciate their words. But if they take time to send a special Hallmark card expressing their heartfelt gratitude, we have a stronger understanding of how thankful they really were. In the same way, I believe that God desires us to go out of our way to show Him our thankfulness, not just use words to tell Him about it.
The Psalmist poses the question we are all thinking in Psalm 116:12 when he said “How can I repay the LORD for all his goodness to me?. So lets take a quick look at some ways how we can do just that.
Psalms 111:2 says that everyone who loves Him should ponder on Him daily.
Psalms 116 gives us many ways to be thankful, such as:
vs 9 – walk in the Lords presence while we are here on earth
vs 13 – lift up the cup of salvation, ask God to fill it up daily with grace
vs 14 – keep my promises to the Lord, in private, and in public
vs 17 – offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and call on the name of the Lord
vs 18 – fulfill my vows to the Lord, in private, and in public
Psalms 119 is my favorite Psalm. It is loaded to the brim with instructions on how to be truly thankful. We can show our thankfulness to God:
vs 7 – by living as we should
vs 11 – by hiding His Word in our hearts
vs 15 – by studying His commands, and reflection on Him
vs 18 – by recognizing that His ways are wonderful
vs 30 – by choosing to be faithful
vs 34 – by putting His laws into practice in our hearts
vs 35 – by finding happiness in following His commands
vs 36 – by being eager to follow His commands and laws
vs 37 – by living a life that is focused on His Word
vs 55 – by reflecting on Him at night
vs 56 – by spending my life obeying His commandments
vs 61 – by being firmly anchored to His instructions
vs 66 – by praying for good judgement and knowledge
vs 71 – by delighting in Him and His instructions
vs 81-88 – by putting our hope in Him
vs 97 – by thinking about Gods instructions all day, and loving them
Then in Psalms 118:17, we read that if we desire to thank God for who He is, we will live to tell what He has done for us. (this is also reiterated in Psalm 107:2)
Psalm 118:24 tells us to rejoice and be glad in each and every day.
Whew. I could keep going, but I will stop there! There are so many suggestions for how we can truly FEEL/BE/ACT/SHOW thankfulness to God, but despite that, there are many days when I completely forget to be thankful.
Days when I grumble and mumble over things I dont like, or needs and desires that are not being met. Days when I wonder why God is not making all of my dreams come true (check back later this week to talk about that subject). Days when I am just frustrated or frazzled, and focus on the bad, instead of the good.
Looking at such a comprehensive list of how God calls us to be thankful can be a bit intimidating, and possibly discouraging. It leads us to wonder how could we possibly live up to those expectations?
So it is crucial to remember that God knows our limitations. He created our mortality. He lovingly understands that we cannot possibly have perfect, grateful hearts, and focused minds, every second of every day. And as I reviewed the exhaustive list of ways to be thankful, one phrase kept coming to mind – absolute devotion.
Absolute means free from imperfection; complete; pure; positive; not limited in any way.
Devotion means profound dedication; consecration; an earnest attachment to a cause or person.
God calls us to be thankful simply by being absolutely devoted to Him. Committed. Sold out. Living out loud. For Him.
In doing so, we show our deep gratitude by the way we live – not by following a detailed list of to-dos. We show it through our pure, positive, unlimited desire to earnestly be attached to Him, and live out that commitment every day.
God is concerned about our desire for absolute devotion, not our ability to carry it out perfectly.
Colossians 3:16 sums it all up for us:
“Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.”
Christ in our hearts…. His Word in our minds…. His truth playing out in our lives …. equals a life sprinkled with thankfulness in all that we do.
Being thankful is not merely a conscious choice of words. but a committed choice of how we live.
Funny how that only saying rings true here, that actions really do speak louder than words.