Psalm 78:40-42 in the KJV says,
“How oft did they provoke Him in the wilderness, and grieve Him in the desert! Yea, ….they limited the Holy One of Israel.”
It is more than possible to limit God’s action in our lives. We usually think we do this when we sin but there is an attitude that limits God’s action as much as any “sin”. Listen to the sermon, click here. Sons and Daughters Pt 6 – Helping the Holy Spirit to help us – How about Thanksgiving every day?
The work of the Holy Spirit is to witness at the core of our being that we are sons and daughters of God. It is an experience of the Father’s love which convinces us that we are His children. It is not something we can do for ourselves. No amount of self talk can act as a substitute for the experience of His love. So, the question becomes, “is there anything I can do to co-operate with the Holy Spirit in providing the “Abba experience?” [I am not talking about the band] The fact is that everything that we receive from God comes by way of faith. We are saved by our believing into Him and we live “in Him” by faith. We fight the “good fight of faith.” We use our spiritual gifts in proportion to our faith. Increasing our faith is critical to accessing all of the Father’s blessings. So, how do we increase our faith?
One of the most effective ways of increasing your faith is through thanksgiving. Giving thanks increases your faith. When I was in the worse time of my life I cried out to the Lord and said, “I don’t have your peace anymore. I worry about my future all the time”. He said the hardest thing that He has ever said to me – He said, go to Philippians 4 and read it”. This is what I read:
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7
My first reaction was anger, “You’ve got to be kidding! Look at my life! What do I have to rejoice about!?”
Then I read on.
He showed me the connection between coming to Him for something I need and coming “with thanksgiving.” I say this was a hard thing for Him to ask, because it is. There is nothing more difficult than giving thanks when your life is in the toilet. “What have I got to be thankful for? My life is terrible and I want to die!” But I knew I had heard Him, so I started to give thanks.
I would come to prayer and I would sit. For the first 1/2 hour I would think of every single thing I could possibly be thankful for. It was hard at first. I started with my car and then my house and then I thought of my friend [my last friend.] And then I thought about my dad and mom and family, they are a good family. And I thought about my job – that I still had a pay check.
And then I thought that I am not dead and I am not sick [the second being the one I was thankful for]. I made a choice to rejoice. Hebrews speaks of a “sacrifice of praise”. The truth is there are times when our praise is a sacrifice because our circumstances are telling us we have nothing to give praise for. Not true! You can always find something to thank God for!
I am a very shallow person. I started with my car. It took me about 15 minutes of groping for things to be thankful for and then I started realizing, “Hey, God loves me and that is something to be thankful for”. “Hey, wait a minute, I am going to heaven!” “Hey, no matter what bad things happen to me, I am going to heaven! That was good news because what I was living through made going to heaven early very attractive!” Every day I would think about what I could be thankful for and write it in my prayer journal and go over it and over it. I thought I was doing quite well with the thanksgiving lesson, but then he went on to Part 2.
Next He said, “Be anxious about nothing!”
And I said, “I can’t! You know me. I am a “worrywart.” You are asking too much!”
Then He showed me that if I am coming for peace to quiet my anxiety, I have to come with thanksgiving. If I come with thanksgiving, He will give me peace and once I have peace it is much easier not to worry. There is a direct connection between our experience of God’s peace and our choice to give thanks.
Cultivating a thankful heart is one of the most powerful ways to increase your faith. There is a verse in Psalm 78:40-42, in the KJV it says, “How oft did they provoke Him in the wilderness, and grieve Him in the desert! Yea, they turned back and tempted God, and limited the Holy One of Israel. They remembered not His hand, nor the day when He delivered them from the enemy.”
They grieved God by not remembering His goodness! Listen, every single one of us has a faith history. You may have been through hell. You may have been through the worst time of your life. You may have suffered tremendously. But each one of us has a faith history with Jesus. Each one of us is going to heaven and there is nothing that can separate you from God. You have a faith history wherein He has watched you and kept you.
As you think of your faith history, your heart will swell up with a sense of His presence and His love for you. It is like opening a scrapbook and looking at pictures of when you fell in love, the first pictures of you with your lover. And every time you look at the photo there is something so real to remember. You remember and then you realize how powerful memory is.
Psychologists tell us we consciously remember only 10-15% of what actually happens to us but deep inside in our subconscious, we remember 90%. Every time you remember an event, more of it comes to your conscious recollection. It is like mining for gold. Every time you go back and remember God’s faithfulness in the past some of that experience of His faithfulness is brought into the present. Thanksgiving and rejoicing bring it forward and lift your faith in this present moment.
So how about you start it right now? Let’s do this exercise together. I like to think of a scrapbook of “God’s faithfulness and kindness to me”. I imagine opening the book at the beginning and seeing all the ways He has been faithful. You have that scrap book in the memories in your mind. Sit down and invite God to bring to mind all the moments of His faithfulness as you look back over your life with Him. Try it.
- America is one of the wealthiest nations on earth, yet it has the highest usage of anti-depressants. Could it be that material prosperity has done nothing more than make us discontented because somewhere we can see someone who has more than we do?
- Do you ever have a “what have you done for me lately?” attitude toward God?
- If God never answered another of your prayers what would you have to thank and praise Him for?
- Will you commit to spending 10 minutes every day in focused thanksgiving to God?
- Try this: sit down somewhere quiet and still your mind and heart and ask God to show you how He is bringing His love to you right now in this moment. Respond to what He shows you.
- Do the “God in my life scrapbook” exercise. (Listen to sermon for how to do this.)