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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Cultivating a Heart of Thanksgiving



by Nan Jones



"Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High. Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me." ~ Psalm 50:14


Thanksgiving.

Praise.

More often than not, a sacrifice of praise.

I've learned that having a thankful heart is key to managing the fierce battles that come with ministry.

I've learned that when I can't praise God for my circumstances, I can always praise Him for who He is. In my opinion, that is the very definition of sacrificial praise—an offering to the One who loves us.

Thanksgiving … in spite of it all.

Why is this so important? And why, in the above verse, would the Lord instruct us to offer thanksgiving and pay our vows to Him, and then call upon Him in the day of trouble for He will deliver us?

To begin with, a thankful heart is the best vehicle to accomplish God's will in our lives.
1 Thessalonians 3:18 reads, "in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." A thankful heart expresses complete trust in God's sovereignty. There are many wonderful things that occur in ministry, but along with the good comes the bad and the ugly. The Apostle Paul is instructing us to give thanks, even in the bad times, because this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for us. This kind of trust elevates our faith to new heights.


A thankful heart keeps us focused on the Lord and lifts us above the fray. There's something about praise and thanksgiving that, not only honors the Lord, but changes us from the inside out. Our attitudes change. Our fears and doubt dissipate. We are suddenly and thoroughly reminded of who we aren't and who He is. How amazing is that?

And a thankful heart expresses acceptance of God's will even when it's contrary to our own. This pleases the Lord and honors Him greatly because of its expression of complete trust. An intimacy of fellowship is formed with Him as we choose thankfulness and praise over complaint.
Elisabeth Elliott is a hero of my faith. Her husband, Jim, was killed by the Auca tribe of Equador as he shared the Gospel with them. She later spent two years ministering as a missionary to the very tribe who killed her husband. Can you imagine? A thankful heart is what set her free to be able to do that!  It was a sacrifice—an offering—of praise, an expression of contentment and accepting God's will. In her book, Secure in the Everlasting Arms, she says:
“To love God is to love His will. It is to wait quietly for life to be measured by one who knows us through and through. It is to be content with His timing and His wise apportionment. It is to follow in the steps of the Master, as did Paul, who was able to say that he had learned contentment no matter what the circumstances. His circumstances when he wrote that? Prison. No easy lesson, but great gain, which is the sum of godliness plus contentment (1 Timothy 6:6).”
I want to cultivate a heart of thanksgiving like Elizabeth Elliot. I want to readily offer my thanksgiving to the Lord in complete trust of, not only His love for me, but His will for my life wherever that may carry me.

For I know that if I obey the Lord in this instruction, when the day of trouble comes—and it surely will, especially for those in ministry—He will be faithful to deliver me that I might glorify Him.
Isn't that comforting? Reassuring? This knowledge gives me a sure place on which to stand steadfast in the work of the Lord. A thankful heart helps keep me centered in His perfect will, it keeps me filled with the wonder of His presence as He inhabits my praise.

A thankful heart helps me face each new day knowing I need not fear, for the Lord is with me.
How about you? Are you learning to cultivate a thankful heart in all things, especially those things that reek with struggle? What does a thankful heart mean to you? Has the Lord given you some insight you would like to share with others?


Oh, I certainly hope so. Lessons of thankfulness will not be soon forgotten.

About the Author:

Nan Jones is an author/speaker who uses the words of her heart to assist fellow Christians in discovering the Presence of God in their darkest hour. She has been published in several anthologies as well as the online inspirational sites Christian Devotions, and Inspire a Fire where she is a monthly contributor. She is also a monthly contributor to PW Connections, a blog and forum to encourage pastors' wives. Nan has had the honor of being featured as a guest blogger on several sites. She is thrilled to announce her debut book, The Perils of a Pastor's Wife released June 30, 2015 by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. This memoir was a 2016 Selah finalist. When Nan isn't writing, she enjoys leading prayer retreats, bible studies or sharing God’s love as keynote speaker for special events. She is becoming known by her brand: "Even so, I walk in the Presence of the Lord" as she teaches her audience to go beyond the veil to find God's Presence. You may visit Nan at her website: www.NanJones.com. Nan has also created a facebook community page, Seeing Beyond The Veil, to provide a place for folks to go and get away from the chaos for a few moments and focus on Jesus through scripture, worship, testimony, and inspirational quotes. For personal communication you may email Nan at nan@nanjones.com



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