Wednesday, January 1, 2014

An Attitude of Gratitude

During the Thanksgiving season, as I was spending time with the Lord in prayer, he placed a word in my heart - gratitude (thankfulness). God showed me how, before he healed the sick, performed miracles, or cast out demons, Jesus thanked God.  At the time, my eyes were opened to Jesus' way of approaching God, but I didn't do anything about it. It was a new revelation and one I didn't fully understand.

On Sunday, December 29th, I went to church with my sister Enid. She attends The Brooklyn Tabernacle, and every time I come to New York, I enjoy attending worship service with her. When one walks into the BT sanctuary, one enters into a room of praise and worship, not only worship by the choir, but worship and adoration by all who are in attendance. People are standing and singing songs of praise to God as one! Even if you don't know the songs, the words are on the prompters, so you have no excuse for not joining in. Surely, I thought, this is the key to a great worship experience: entering God's court with praises to our Lord!

The message was brought by Pastor Tim Dilena, the Associate Pastor at BT.  Pastor Dilena preached about a word the Lord had placed in his heart the previous night.  The word was thanks. When Pastor Dilena began to speak, my mind started racing. Surely I had heard this before, I thought. As he began quoting scripture it clicked in my mind. This is what I'd heard from the Lord during Thanksgiving! As I listened and took notes, I understood that I needed to share this with those in my circle.

So, here is the word God wants me to share: one should have an attitude of gratitude. In other words, one should be thankful in every circumstance be it good or bad.  According to the message shared by Pastor Dilena, "we are overdue with our thanks to God. Thanks should come before a miracle; before starting off with 'I need,' one should begin with 'thank you"; before one asks, one should give thanks.

Why is giving thanks important?  Pastor Dilena pointed out several scriptures underlining this point. The first is Luke 17:12-19, the story of the 10 lepers healed of leprosy. Of the ten lepers, only one returned to give thanks. According to Pastor Dilena, "when one feels entitled, one will never be thankful". Pay close attention to verse 19. Jesus told the leper his faith had made him well, This thankful leper not only received cleansing, but salvation as well.  God notices gratitude, and being thankful multiplies ones blessings!

The second is in John 11:41-42, the scripture referencing Lazarus' resurrection. Note that Jesus gave thanks to God. He didn't thank him for resurrecting Lazarus or for raising him from the dead. Here's the point, 'when one is thankful, dead things are brought to life'. Do you have a dream you think will never materialize or a business you think is on the point of failing?   Try thanking God for your dream to come through, not after it becomes reality! I'm not saying that God is a sugar daddy who will give you what you want when you thank him beforehand. We tend to go to God with demands and even threats, expecting he'll give us what we want or else we'll backslide, or stop believing in him. Well, it doesn't work like that. Our goal should be to believe in him, have a relationship with him, know him, love him, be obedient to him, and trust him. Once this occurs, we can believe God for our blessings and thank him before they materialize.

The third scripture is Matthew 15:32-39, the feeding of the five thousand. Jesus gave thanks prior to breaking bread and feeding the hungry.  The key message here is, "thankfulness multiplies what you have" You've heard it said many times, 'when the praises go up, the blessings, come down'.

So, as we enter into 2014, it is my wish we will think about and change the way we approach God. I pray we will approach him with an attitude of gratefulness and thank him before we even make our requests known to him. I pray that giving thanks will be viewed as your passport to accessing the blessings of God. Would you give thanks to God before you ask for anything and watch what happens?

Though I didn't follow up the revelation I received during Thanksgiving by writing about it, I did create a jpeg image depicting my thankfulness to God.  Here it is below. 

I close by wishing you blessings for a prosperous and joyous New Year filled with the blessings of the Lord.

"Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." Philippians 4:6 (NRSV)