Small group, Mobberly Baptist Church, June 29, 2014
WHO IS THE MOST THANKFUL PERSON YOU KNOW? WHY?
WHAT ARE THE OPPOSITES OF GRATITUDE? Complaining, whining, entitlement
We have been studying hope. When hope is expressed, it looks like gratitude.
We may not be ungrateful, but we can forget to BE grateful. We get used to the things we’ve been given, and we begin to take them for granted. Believers can do that in their relationship with Jesus. The longer we have been believers, the more we can get used to the blessings and benefits of knowing Jesus. Over time, we can forget what it was like not to have that hope in Him. Psalm 138 reminds us of the hope we have and pulls us into an attitude of thankfulness and gratitude to God.
READ Psalm 138:1-3
We do not know when David wrote this Psalm, but it reflects a lifetime of trust in God. God is exalted over all others and He demonstrated His protection to David in all circumstances. That is why David expressed thankfulness and trust.
A major quality of a trusting disciple is gratefulness to God for the hope we have in Him. Gratitude to God must begin with faith in Jesus and with the idea that our lives are a gift of grace –
HOW DO YOU DEFINE GRACE? (Undeserving and unearned gift from the Father’s hand)
That is the attitude David comes to God in these verses. It is also found in other places –
READ Psalm 100
READ Philippians 4:6-7
READ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
WHAT SPECIFICALLY WAS DAVID THANKFUL FOR? What God did, His purposes, His Word, His listening ear, His protection for those who trust Him.
In his book, Let Hope In, Pete Wilson, tells of a time he came home from work tired and stressed. He found his children had left their bicycles in the way of his putting his truck in the garage. (HOW WOULD YOU FEEL/REACT?) This irritated and upset him; but, after he had moved the bikes and was back in the truck, he felt the Lord reminding him that he was viewing his life in a way that was robbing him of the blessings he enjoyed. He realized that gratitude is a choice. (WHAT SHOULD HE HAVE BEEN THANKFUL FOR?) As we recognize, accept and practice gratitude, our entire lives will be enriched.
In 2001 Stephen Post, a medical school professor of bioethics, created a research group called the Institute for Research on Unlimited Love, dedicated to testing and measuring the effects of love, gratitude, and other positive caring emotions in human life.
Dr. Post’s research has discovered that spending 15 minutes a day focused on things you’re grateful for can have the following effects on our physical health:
1. It increases your body’s natural antibodies.
2. It increases mental capacity and reduces vulnerability to depression.
3. It creates a physiological state of “resonance”, improving your blood pressure and heart rate.
That’s gratitude for you, really. It not only lifts up the recipient, it also gives life to the one expressing it. This is why we’re told time and time again in scripture to give thanks: A thankful heart puts us in right alignment with God and one another.
Paul wrote about this:
READ Colossians 3:15-17
David spoke to God, the great I AM. We are to trust, love, obey, and serve Him alone. Sadly, we do not do this consistently. HOW CAN WE BE MORE CONSISTENT? 1 Thessalonians has a good answer – re-read it.
One interesting note from these verses – David tells us that he will sing before the heavenly beings? WHAT DO YOU THINK THAT REFERS TO? It may refer to heavenly servant beings (angels), judges and governors appointed by God as political leaders (spoken of in Exodus) or the supposed “gods” of the surrounding nations. Whatever the exact meaning, we are to not be ashamed to honor God in any environment. We are to let the powers that be know that our trust is in God – that is who we bow down to.
So – verses 1-3 thank God for His love and truth. Now, let’s thank Him that we don’t have to call attention to ourselves to get His attention:
READ Psalm 138:4-6
Even kings and other leaders will give thanks to the Lord when they hear God’s own words. When people, even those in places of leadership, hear and believe the truth revealed in God’s Word, they will respond as well.
GRATITUDE IS A VERB – Fulton J. Sheen wrote:
“An interesting phenomenon in children is that gratitude or thankfulness comes relatively late in their young lives. They almost have to be taught it; if not, they grow up thinking that the world owes them a living.”
A friend once told me that she didn’t want to force her son to say “Thank you” unless he really felt like it saying it. She said, “If I teach him to say ‘thank you’ when he doesn’t feel thankful, I’m teaching him that it’s OK to be a hypocrite.”
That’s not even close to what gratitude is. Our feelings have nothing to do with why we express it. Gratitude is not an emotion, it’s an action. The act of saying “thank you” is for the benefit of the other person. It’s about their feelings, not yours.
The same is true when it comes to saying “Thank you” to God. Thankfulness is the proper response to the goodness of God. We say “thank you” because he is good, not just because we happen to feel good at the moment.
This is why the Psalms so often refer to the “sacrifice of thanksgiving” — it’s an act of obedience, not just an emotional outburst.
David said, “I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord.” (Psalm 116:17)
Like children, believers need to learn how to be thankful. Most of the time, when we consider all the good things God has done for us, we’ll feel thankful. Even when our feelings don’t cooperate, we need to properly express gratitude, offering God a sacrifice of thanksgiving for the kindness and mercy he has shown us.
David tells us in these verses that the Lord, even though He is exalted, takes note of us when we are humble. God delights in revealing Himself and His will to those who humbly seek Him.
READ Proverbs 15:8 “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, but the prayer of the upright is His delight.” NASB
READ 2 Chronicles 7:14
WHAT ARE THE ENEMIES OF HUMILITY AND GRATITUDE?
1. Assuming you have to live like a king to be grateful – not thanking for all
2. Thinking God will not notice you – poor, poor, pitiful me or above it all
3. Feeling entitled to what God gives you – what do people feel entitled to?
4. Forgetting that life is a gift – taking everything for granted
“Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.”
~ John Wooden
Choosing humility is a posture of the heart toward God that wards off entitlement and other enemies of gratitude. Gratitude is our response to the hope we have in God – even to His protection:
READ Psalm 138:7-8
We can live full, meaningful lives because our hope is based on His preservation rather than our own efforts. Whether we realize it or not, we are all engaged in spiritual battle. There are spiritual forces of evil (Ephesians 6) who do battle with us daily and we would do well to fasten our armor tightly.
God (and EMS) can rescue you from danger or protect you from danger.
HAS SOMEONE PROTECTED YOU WITHOUT YOU KNOWING IT AT THE TIME? Kids
HAVE YOU BECOME AWARE OF GOD’S PROTECTION IN A CIRCUMSTANCE?
We should keep in mind that our gratitude to God is not based on how good our situation is but on how we view the situation. Gratitude should be our response to all situations.
READ 1 Thessalonians 5:18 again
1. Record it – make a daily list of why you are grateful – you can use your lesson guide to start
2. Say it – tell people why you are grateful instead of complaining, murmuring and arguing. See what difference it makes in your world.
3. Share it – find someone in your world to share the love of Jesus, even if they don’t express their gratitude toward you. Maybe that way, you will know what God feels like when we fail to do it to Him.
WHAT DOES HOPE LOOK LIKE? Gratitude