12 Benefits of Being Thankful

I have a sign in my family room that says: “There is Always Always Always something to be thankful for.” And while I know it’s true, I’ll be honest, I don’t always feel like being thankful. (Like um, last Tuesday.) BUT the Bible says to give thanks in all circumstances. Stating in matter of fact fashion that being thankful is God’s will for me (1 Thessalonians 5:18). So, well, I best be giving thanks.

But this doesn’t mean I walk around with a fake smile plastered on my face. It doesn’t mean I can’t be sad. It doesn’t mean I can’t cry or struggle or wish things were different.

It simply means despite my circumstances, I still agree, God is good and faithful and worthy of praise. A statement even more breathtaking in the wake of a broken heart, don’t you think?

But there are benefits to this thankfulness thing. It isn’t just for kicks God urges us to “Give thanks” sixty-two times in the Bible. Buffering our Christianity with verses like, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise…giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:15, 20).

Specifically, I thought of twelve noteworthy benefits. (Feel free to add more!)

  1. It Rights Relationships. I think you’d agree, it’s hard to stay mad at someone when you turn to God in thanks for them. The seeds of a thankful heart are able to overtake the roots of bitterness any day.

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you.” (Philippians 1:3)

  1. It Gives Light to the Heart. To give thanks is to blaze a pathway for righteousness. It readies the mind for more, but ingratitude is an avid partner in turning one’s back on God.

“For 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. Claiming to be wise, they became fools.” (Romans 1:21-22)

  1. It Makes Unbearable Circumstances Bearable. Do you know what Christ did the night before he was crucified? He gave thanks (Luke 22:19). An unbearable situation was made bearable because Christ set his mind on one thing and one thing only – the Father.

“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-24)

  1. It Silences the Enemy – Satan holds no power over a heart full of thanksgiving. As a sacrifice of praise, thanksgiving focuses our attention where it should be, on the provisions of the Father. While self-pity puts us right where Satan wants us – defeated, disappointed, doubtful, and despairing.

“Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger” (Psalm 8:2; NIV). And if a child can silence them, just think what the conscience choice of thanksgiving on the heels of heartbreaking circumstances might be able to do!

  1. It Glorifies God – And there is no greater accomplishment. Nor is there anything more fulfilling.

“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” (Psalm 50:23)

  1. It stills anxiety – Oh but the bitter bite of anxiety is fierce. Stealing any sense of control we may feel. BUT to be thankful in the wake of uncertainty is to embrace a heart of peace.

“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)

  1. It Shields Against Other Sin. Psalm 86:12 When I’m giving thanks with my whole heart there is little room for much else. But when I’m grumpy or bitter or moping around like a sad Eeyore (think Winnie-the-Pooh) the flood gates swing wide for a wide array of sins.

“I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. For great is your steadfast love toward me.” (Psalm 86:12-13a)

  1. It Helps Us Remember. When we give thanks, we tend to remember a little better who God is and what He has done. But a thankless heart is a heart that’s forgotten who God is compared to who we are, and yet he died for us anyway.

“I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” (Psalm 9:1)

  1. It Leads to Joy. When I stop and consider all the blessings I’ve been given in Christ, how can I not be joyful? And I don’t mean the kind the kind of joy that comes with opening a fresh box of Lucky Charms. I mean the kind of joy that permeates even the hardest of days.

“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” (Psalm 118:1)

  1. It Gives Way to Contentment. To be thankful is to nourish contentment. And to be content is to recognize God is a faithful provider.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:25-26, 33)

  1. It Teaches the Next Generation to Do the Same. Truth be told, if we don’t live it, they won’t either. But if we live a life of thanksgiving, giving praise to God for everything, so will they.

“But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.” (Psalm 79:13)

  1. It Brings Us Together. Tragedy may bring people together, but it’s thanksgiving that keeps them together.

“Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.” (Psalm 111:1)

In addition, Proverbs 15:15 says, “The cheerful of heart has a continual feast.” But I dare say the feast begins with thanksgiving.

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A Christian’s Connection to the Burning Bush

I’d call it the iconic symbol of Moses’ life – the burning bush. It was the moment of his calling. A moment that took him by complete surprise. Out shepherding his father-in-law’s flocks, who had wandered up Mt. Horeb. Or perhaps he led them there, unaware of the sovereign hand guiding him along, when he noticed a bush on fire but not really.

Devotional Scripture: Exodus 3:1-10
Key Verse: “And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed.” Exodus 3:2

It was burning but wasn’t burned up. Intrigued Moses got closer. But stopped short when God – the one and only, Maker of Heaven and earth – called to him out of the bush.

“Moses, Moses!” said the LORD. Or the angel of the LORD as it says in verse 2. Not “an angel” but “the angel.” Identified as none other than the LORD by Hagar, Abraham, Jacob, and a few others.

Including Zechariah who saw a vision of Joshua the High Priest standing before the angel of the LORD while Satan stood close by to accuse him. Do you know what the angel of the LORD did in that vision? He looked at Joshua clothed in his filthy garments and said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments” (Zech. 3:4).

I could read Zechariah 3 all day and never tire of it. The picture it draws. The reminder it gives. The comfort it brings. But the point today – it’s Jesus that takes away our iniquities and Jesus that clothes us with garments of righteousness.

Thus, it’s my humble opinion, along with some certainly smart scholars, that THE angel of the LORD spoken of in the Old Testament is none other than the preincarnate Jesus Christ. Who we know, without the slightest bit of doubt, is God himself. (Jn. 1:1; Jn. 10:30)

So let’s recap the scene before us. There alone, on a mountain perhaps six or seven thousand feet in elevation, with who knows how many sheep nearby, stood Moses at eighty years young. Staff in hand, before a bush burning with the radiance of God’s glory, Christ Jesus himself.

Yet little did he know it. Until God introduced himself. “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (v. 6). “Well hey there God, how’s it goin’?” No, he hid his face in fear.

Because this God of ours is not a cute grandpa somewhere up in the sky. He’s not close kin with Santa. He’s not hanging out at the end of a rainbow or stuffed inside a bottle ready to grant our wishes. Nor is he a tyrant, club in hand, waiting for us to mess up.

He’s a consuming fire. A just and holy God. Righteous in all his ways. Appropriately jealous for the affections of his people. Unwilling to share his well-deserved glory. Requiring heart, unbending, unyielding allegiance.

So he appears to Moses as fire. Just as he did perhaps a year later or so, at the very same mountain, to a consecrated Israel awaiting a word from the LORD at the bottom. Only that time it wasn’t a bush God consumed with his all-encompassing presence, but an entire mountain.

“The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly” (Ex. 20:18). The scene so frightening the next time God wanted to speak to Israel they told Moses to just go and meet with him alone. “No thanks Moses, you take care of it for us.”

Fire often representative of God’s wrath in Scripture it not only warned Israel of the judgment that would come on them, if they did not accept and obey the law of the LORD, but it also gave them a visual of God’s powerful protection over the righteous. And his judgment on their enemies. His willingness to consume without resignation the evil, the vile, the enemies of His goodness.

As he did on Sodom and Gomorrah when sulfur and fire rained down from heaven on the ungodly. And will yet do again when fire consumes heaven and earth on “the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly” (2 Peter 3:7). (Scripture is no bed of roses.)

But in between those two events, God’s wrath was fully, unequivocally poured out on Christ; every bit of it. Yet he was not consumed, just as the bush before Moses was not consumed. A “root out of dry ground” as Christ is called in Isaiah 53. Scarred by our sin, but unscathed in nature, as was the bush.

A root that grew into nothing more than a simple shrub mind you. Not a tall, stately tree. Not a majestic sapling. Just an ordinary, run of the mill, nothing special about it bush. Unnoticed by the typical passerby. Unawares in beauty. As was Christ, who “had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him” (Is. 53:2).

Furthermore, the Hebrew word used for bush in this passage is seneh believed to be representative of a thorny bush. And if so, it’s no less perfectly fitting, for thorns are a direct result of a curse upon the ground (Gen. 3:18). A brutal consequence of sin. Sin that eventually placed a crown of thorns upon our Savior’s head as he so graciously “redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us – for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” (Gal. 3:13).

All of it – so we would not be consumed. So we could not only dwell in the presence of the all-consuming, holy God forever and ever but BE the dwelling of the holy God forever and ever.

Ordinary in our existence, yet extraordinary through his existence. He’s indwelt us. He’s remade us into a temple, a sanctuary for His very presence – just as he did the ordinary, run of the mill, thorny, unimpressive bush was those many years ago.

But are we on fire? Or have we squelched his igniting presence, his undeniable radiance, with our wants and lack thereof’s? Our busy and wishes for not so much busy. Our worries, our disappointments, our readily available entertainment and knee jerk reaction to go to our phones in the fading quiet moments – instead of the one who has the power to actually refill every bit of our empty cup?

He’s still a consuming fire and he’s consumed us. So let’s be the light and radiance of glory he’s intended for us to be, that others may see something different in us, and come and seek as Moses did. And in the end, see Jesus.

“In the same say, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Would you consider yourself on fire for God? Why or why not? Do you view God as an all-consuming fire or more like a good buddy that just winks at our sin?
How can you bear witness to God’s holy and mighty presence today?

Is Your Faith Genuine? A Comprehensive Look at Biblical Faith

Today the word faith gets tossed around Christian circles like a hot potato. You just gotta have faith. We say it regularly and we say it often. And there’s nothing wrong with encouraging one another to have faith. We should!

But with so many uses of the word faith today, I fear we’ve lost the foundation of what genuine biblical faith really is and what it looks like. Hebrews 11:6 says without faith it’s impossible to please God. So obviously faith is key.

Faith in Jesus as God and Savior, the only way, the righteous and perfect Lamb of God, who paid the price of my sin on a cross, conquered death, and rose again. Who is King today and forever. Who holds all things together. Who created all things and knows all things and is before all things. And deserves my allegiance.

Therefore, it looks like obedience.

Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word” (John 14:23). “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me” (John 14:21). “Whoever does not love me does not keep my words” (John 14:24).

Out of a thankful heart, out of gratitude, out of love – genuine faith says yes. It doesn’t mind the boundaries given by God because it knows they are best, understands they are life giving, and has a desire to please God.

Genuine faith doesn’t proclaim the name of Jesus and then run off and live however it wants to, because genuine faith is produced out of the transforming work of the Holy Spirit. Who convicts and brings us to a place of repentance. Not only sealing us for the day of redemption, but guiding us until we get there. Teaching and reminding us of God’s word.

Producing within the believer the fruit of righteousness (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, and self-control). Not “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these” (Gal. 5:19-21).

Because genuine faith does not walk in darkness. It cannot because God is light and his light indwells those who profess His name by way of the Holy Spirit. “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:6-7).

It doesn’t shove God’s commands aside or ignore them or disregard them or make up it’s own way. Neither does it defy God, or chide God, or disrespect God by purposely practicing sin day in and day out. Because it respects grace as the space by which God grants us eternal life, not an open invitation to sin, or a way out of responsibility, but a way into relationship.

Does genuine faith walk this life perfectly? No, absolutely no. Faith knows it will mess up, but believes in a God who forgives when we humble ourselves and confess and seek Him. And genuine faith will confess because genuine faith desires fellowship with God.

Breathing trust in hard places, faith does the hard work fear is unable to do. It stops to listen. It trusts. It looks to the Bible for strength and hope and peace. Convinced God is greater than the enemy, it surrenders to the will of God. And seeks for God’s glory.

Pouring forth prayers, it remains steadfast. Even when the answer isn’t what we thought it would be. Even when we don’t like it. Even when we’re confused. Even when it hurts – genuine faith holds tightly to Jesus.

When the world leans into luck, genuine faith leans into Jesus. When the world has no answers, genuine faith finds answers in Jesus. When the world says you can’t, genuine faith says you can if it’s the will of Jesus.

Genuine faith doesn’t just desire God’s presence later, after all life has been lived, but desires it now, while life is being lived. It responds to the love of Christ in such a way that it’s evident who you believe in.

Confident in the promises of God, confident in the eternal blessings, confident in the work of Christ – genuine biblical faith lives a God honoring life.

So today I ask only one question, is your faith in Christ genuine?


*Featured Image provided by Pixabay