Sir John Templeton
- Sir John Templeton is a world-famous investor and humanitarian who gives away millions of dollars to organizations and charities all over the world.
- Every morning when Sir John wakes up, he quietly lies on his bed and thinks of five new ways in which he has been blessed.
- He says that he finds this simple procedure spiritually enriching and believes that this is one of the chief reasons why so much peace and contentment floods his life.
- I want you to stop and think about how you start most days!
- Do you pour yourself a cup of coffee, turn on the radio to get the latest news report, at the same time exposing yourself to the countless advertisers who tell you what you must do to make yourself happy?
- This week, I would encourage you to do what Sir John Templeton does each morning – immediately after waking up, think of five new ways you have been blessed.
- Write this in a journal and you will be amazed how your life is transformed when you cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
- When you focus more on the blessings that God has given you than you do on the negative things that come along in life, you will live out the what the scripture says in Philippians 4:8:
“Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
Fellow believers, we need to learn to dwell on what we have [God’s blessings] rather than what we don’t have.
- You may be here today and you might be thinking, “My life is difficult! Nothing good seems to be happening [or ever happens] in my life. I have nothing to be thankful for.”
- My response to this is simple: if you cultivate the right perspective there is something to be thankful for in every situation.
- You do this through meditating on scripture, cultivating a lifestyle of worship and developing intimacy with God in prayer.
- Ephesians 5:18-20:
“18Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, let the Holy Spirit fill and control you. 19Then you will sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, making music to the Lord in your hearts. 20And you will always give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
- It is so easy to become preoccupied with the bad things that can happen in life. After all, our world is flooded with bad news.
- Have you ever just stopped and turned off the radio or TV, or put down the newspaper because you could just not bear anymore bad news?
- Well, don’t just stop at that – pick up the Good News [hold your Bible up] and listen to the report of the Lord.
- Our society is brainwashed into negative thinking. Even the people of God can fall into this trap!
- But I believe that God has called us to come out and be separate from the influence of the world.
- If we want to become like Christ, we need to have the mind of Christ and learn to not only dwell on the Good News, but be carriers of it to a world that is continually focused on all that is negative.
- Let me encourage you this morning – for every problem that you might face in life, there are at least ten blessings.
- You ask God to open your heart to count these blessings.
- Brothers and sisters, what would happen if we cultivated the attitude of looking for the blessings that we have in our lives instead of focusing only on the bad things that happen to us?
- I believe that life would take on a whole different meaning.
- Imagine what would happen if you started phoning, emailing or writing people to thank them for how they have helped you along the journey of your Christian walk.
- Try it and I guarantee that it will assist you in developing an attitude of gratitude.
- A number of years ago just prior to Father’s Day, I decided to sit down and write letters of appreciation to both my father and my father-in-law.
- I thanked them for their support and contribution in my life.
- After my father passed away, I was helping my mother clean up in preparation to move to her home in Winnipeg, and I came across the letter I wrote.
- My dad had kept this letter because it encouraged him.
- You just never know how such a phone call, email or letter might minister to that individual when they are going through a period of discouragement.
- Church, when we do this, it not only ministers to a fellow believer but it blesses the heart of God.
- God often sends His special blessings by way of people.
- We need to be aware that mercies stream to us not only from heaven but from our fellow men as well.
- Humanity can be divided into two groups: those who take things for granted, and those who take things with gratitude.
- My prayer is that each of you would abound in taking things with gratitude.
Choose to Be Thankful
- Do you find it difficult to think of things to give thanks for?
- I invite you to turn in your Bible to Psalm 103. I want us to read the first 5 verses.
- The psalmist goes on for another 17 verses and finishes on the same note that he started: “As for me – I too, will praise the Lord.”
- As David writes this psalm, he is experiencing the spontaneous overflow of a swelling heart.
- David is charging his soul to praise the Lord.
- He is using his will to stir up his mind to focus on reasons why he should praise the Lord.
- We need to do the same!
- We may not always feel like praising and thanking God but we do it anyway!
- We make a choice to praise God.
- We don’t have to wait until something happens that stirs up our heart to praise the Lord.
- We can by an act of our will stir our minds to contemplate the goodness of God.
- In the toughest of situations, when you choose to give thanks and praise to God for all of His goodness, it will affect the way you live in and look at that situation.
- Have you ever asked someone who is going through a tough time, “How are you doing?” And they responded, “Good, I guess, under the circumstances.”
- I heard one preacher respond to this by saying, “Well, what on earth are you doing under the circumstances? Get out from under those circumstances, give praise and thanks to God for all He has done, is doing and will do on your behalf, and rise above those circumstances!”
- When David stirs his mind to praise and thanksgiving, he mentions eight reasons why he needs to praise the Lord:
- Divine benefits – never forget the good things He does for me [vs. 2];call it to remembrance often!
- Forgiveness – forgives all my sins [vs. 3]
- Healing – heals all my diseases [vs. 3]
- Redemption – ransoms me from death; salvation, deliverance, freedom [vs. 4]
- Love – surrounds me with love [vs. 4]; did you know that you are surrounded with His love?
- Compassion – tender mercies [vs. 4]; God’s mercy and forgiveness go hand in hand
- Satisfaction – He fills my life with good things [vs. 5]. Remember that it is easier to praise and worship God when you trust His goodness. Stop looking down and start looking up and you will see how many good things God has filled your life with!
- Renewal – my youth is renewed like the eagle [vs. 5]. You were meant to soar like the eagle. God wants to bring a restitution, a rekindling, a replenishing, a restoration, and a repair to your spirit, soul and body.
- Here God’s Word concerning this church [Isaiah 40:30]:
31But those who wait on the LORD will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.
- You would experience so much peace and confidence when you faced difficult circumstances if you would regularly reflect upon how God has moved on your behalf in the past, because you would be able to say with faith that the God who delivered you before would not desert you now.
- One of the reasons we are so fearful in the presence of new trials is because we forget the good things God has done for us in the past.
- This is why it is so important to keep a journal so we can keep a record of God’s goodness in our lives.
Think – And Give Thanks
- Romans 12:2 outlines a powerful truth:
2Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect his will really is.
- This truth says that when you let God change your thinking, your feelings change, and ultimately your behaviour changes.
- We act according to our identity. For instance, if you think that you are sinner, you will act like one. But if you recognize who you are in Christ, you will think and act like an overcomer.
- So where do we begin when we want to cultivate an attitude of gratitude?
- Think of the common blessings of life – the blessings so easily overlooked [food, water, air to breathe, energy to do life’s tasks, sight, hearing, etc].
- Think of the love of friends and family, including the family of God. God designed us to be relational beings.
- Think also of those special blessings that come to you, but which are often forgotten [a telephone call at the right moment, an unexpected gift, protection, etc].
- Think of the spiritual blessings God has given you [the Word, the Holy Spirit, the work of angels, and the intercessory work of Jesus on your behalf].
- One of the worst moments for an atheist is when he feels thankful for some special blessing but has no one to thank.
- We are not in that position, thank God! We can trace every good and perfect gift to the Father above. This is what James 1:17 and 18 says:
17Whatever is good and perfect comes to us from God above, who created all heaven’s lights.[d] Unlike them, he never changes or casts shifting shadows. 18In his goodness he chose to make us his own children by giving us his true word. And we, out of all creation, became his choice possession.
- We know that we are to give thanks to God in everything. After all, we read in 1 Thessalonians 5:18:
18No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. [Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus]
We know that it is a choice that we have to make, and that the battle takes place in our minds.
- But, I will confess to you today that it is not always easy to give thanks, especially when you are facing very difficult trials and testings.
- But when you begin to have faith to believe that somewhere at the heart of this trial there is mercy, you can begin to give thanks and praise to God. There are mercies at the heart of every trial you face!
- What God allows, He also uses. He never deserts His children and we can thank Him for that.
We can thank Him that “all things [say this with me] work for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” [Romans 8:28]
No matter what happens to you, God is committed to working good out of it and because of that it is possible to thank Him for everything that happens to you.
- That does not mean that we are thanking Him for the evil, but we are thanking Him for the good that He is going to bring out of it, and for the way that He is going to redeem the situation and bring something out of it that brings Him glory!
- So if you are facing a difficult situation right now and you are having difficulty thanking Him for what has taken place, then start my giving thanks for His presence in the situation.
- Rejoice that He is a God who is ever-present and who is committed to redeeming the situation.
- Remember that He can take the worst thing that happened to you and turn it into the best thing that ever happened to you.
- Think about the risen Christ – this is the greatest reminder that even the evil of the cross can be transformed into a new and exalted life. Why not start there?
- Start by saying, “Thank you Lord, for letting this happen. I can’t wait to see how You are going to turn it to good.”
- Before I close today, I would like to remind you to be thankful for the CHURCH and the gifts that God has given.
11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. 14 Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. 15 Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:11-16)
- God has given these ministry gifts to equip the church for ministry and so that the church can grow to maturity in the faith.
4 For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, 5 so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 8 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully. (Romans 12:4-8)
- You each have a gift that God has given you to contribute to the church.
- I would encourage you to discover what gifts you have to offer and make yourself available to the Lord.