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(Use this also for your thanksgiving family. Ask people to finish the sentence of each major phrase below before reading what is written. Then read lessons and discuss. Happy Thanksgiving!)
PEOPLE WHO ARE UNGRATEFUL…
Make excuses for why they aren’t in a better place and blame others.
Have unfinished business, which seals their hearts from gratitude.
Stopped being grateful when they chose to hold onto a wound.
Feel entitled and expect the world to wait upon them.
Have a distorted picture of God, like the angry elder brother.
PEOPLE WHO ARE GRATEFUL…
• Have chosen be thankful, regardless, rather than living circumstantially.
• Have their eyes open to the kindness of God, even with struggles.
• Know, like the prodigal, that they don’t deserve what God is giving them.
• Are saying that God is good.
WHEN YOU SAY “THANK YOU”…
You recognize that God is in charge.
It is so easy to complain about the weather, the coach, the teacher, the spouse, the parent, even God, but you choose not to.
WHEN YOU DON’T SAY “THANK YOU”…
You are more open to sexual temptation. Those who have fallen morally could have kept themselves pure with gratitude. (Eph.5:3-5).
You are missing a chance to see God working. Gratitude invites His activity.
YOU CAN DEVELOP THANKFULNESS BY…
Choosing to serve rather than to be served. The higher up you see yourself, the less thankful you will be.
LESSONS ON THANKSGIVING
1. Ingratitude is a serious offense, and it makes us irrational. “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Romans 1:21).
2. Thankful people are poor in spirit, aware of how desperately they need God. Giving thanks is like humbling ourselves; it always works. It will help us get out of trouble and keep a divine mindset. If people want to know God’s will, here it is: “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (I Thess. 5:18).
3. Paul uses words like “continually” and “always” when talking about thanksgiving. He was full of thanksgiving. He rates thanksgiving high for the character of a leader. He speaks often about the need for gratitude. He writes, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful” (Colossians 3:15). Then two verses later he says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (v.17).
4. Thanksgiving, singing, and joy are cousins. They are often found together: “Joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the sound of singing” (Isaiah 51:3, Jer. 30:19). Thanksgiving is found in times of healing and restoration (Jer. 30:19). Thanksgiving and generosity belong together: “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God” (2 Cor. 9:11).
5. Thankfulness is sowing seeds for a rich harvest. What you give comes back. Sowing complaints reaps a bitter harvest. Grateful people overcome. They are not victims, they are victors.