Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Giving Thanks From A Grateful Heart

“Thank you” is a pretty powerful combination of words and thankfulness is a powerfully uplifting condition of the heart. At the core of both is the attitude of ‘thanks’ or ‘giving thanks.’ This is a prominent attitude and practice in the Bible—both Old and New Testaments. Even our Lord on the night He was betrayed, sat with His disciples to share Passover with them. During the Passover meal we read that He took a cup and He gave thanks, and then He took bread and before breaking it, He again gave thanks. The Greek word used here for ‘given thanks’ is ‘eucharisteo,’ from which the term Eucharist comes. This word is a compound word comprised of the adverb ‘eu’ meaning well or well done and ‘charis’ meaning grace or kindness. Putting them together we arrive at a heartfelt appreciation for a well done act of grace or kindness—to show ourselves grateful, well-pleasing. It clearly is an attitude that comes from deep within and is intensely sincere.

Yet sometimes I know that I have said “Thank you” without really feeling thankful. There have even been times when I have been disappointed in what I am thanking someone for, and yet I forced the words because I was at least thankful for the thought or even more basic—it was the right thing to do. And I remember even being called on this a time or two, when maybe my parents or someone else said, “You sure don’t look like it.” I know I have even called my own children on this. It’s almost the same as saying “I’m sorry” when I’m really not.

This gives rise to the question as to whether we really take time to reflect not only on the things for which we give thanks, but even more importantly on our appreciation of the person whom we are thanking.

Jesus knew what laid ahead of Him, He knew the events of the night would lead to Him being arrested, falsely convicted, harshly treated, and then nailed to a cross. He knew it would lead to His death. Yet He also knew that in dying He also would have victory over death and would return to His original glory and presence with His Father, and in doing this salvation and eternal life would come to man. He knew He would have to endure the greatest rejection in order to provide even greater acceptance. Later that evening He would ask the Father to take the cup from Him if God the Father was willing, but then He immediately added, “yet not My will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42). Matthew records for us, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done” (Matthew 26:42)

The Eucharist, as recognized by the early church, has forever linked the shedding of blood and the breaking of the body with the giving of thanks. And today, when we approach our God we do so knowing that we have this access because Jesus, the Son of God, personally gave His life as a ransom for many and has subsequently given us confident access to the presence of God.

Ephesians 2:13-22 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. AND HE CAME AND PREACHED PEACE TO YOU WHO WERE FAR AWAY, AND PEACE TO THOSE WHO WERE NEAR; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.

The example of our Lord is a powerful reminder of what we can endure with joy, knowing that our good God has given us much and that we have so much more to look forward to.

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (7/24)

Thankfulness opens the door to My Presence. Though I am always with you, I have gone to great measures to preserve your freedom of choice. I have placed a door between you and Me, and I have empowered you to open or close that door. There are many ways to open it, but a grateful attitude is one of the most effective.

Thankfulness is built on a substructure of trust. When thankful words stick in your throat, you need to check up on your foundation of trust. When thankfulness flows freely from your heart and lips, let your gratitude draw you closer to Me. I want you to learn the art of giving thanks in all circumstances. See how many times you can thank Me daily; this will awaken your awareness to a multitude of blessings. It will also cushion the impact of trials when they come against you. Practice My Presence by practicing the discipline of thankfulness.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:4

Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

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