Thanksgiving #1 Thanksgiving Thieves


Thanksgiving #1 Thanksgiving Thieves

It seems every year around this time social media gets flooded with lists of what people are thankful for.  Some folks even take up that challenge of posting one thing they are thankful for each day of the month.  Nice.  Helps you count your blessings.

 Facebook with all its tricky ways of tracking your posts made a list of the top ten things that people are thankful for.  Friends, family, health, family and friends, job, husband, children, the roof over my head, life, and music are the top ten in order. Facebook also tracked the number one answer for each state, California was most thankful for YouTube.  []  I like YouTube, we even have our very own channel on YouTube, HBCC Life where you will find our video teachings archived for your reference.

Check it out, hit the like and subscribe buttons.

Have you ever been in that awkward situation where around the Thanksgiving table you’re asked what are you thankful for and you’re really hard-pressed to say something meaningful?   You come up with something obligatory that sounds good and will be generally accepted by all. In Oregon, you may have said “yoga.”  In Michigan, you may have said “electricity.” Idaho, Colorado, Arkansas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia you most likely would find people thankful for something spiritual: forgiveness, mercy, salvation, God’s love, and God’s word.  What’s on your top ten list?  Do you have ten things that you are truly thankful for?

There are Thanksgiving thieves.  There are thoughts about events that will take Thanksgiving right out of your heart.  We’re going to shine a light on them and then see what we can do to overcome them.  We can be truly thankful. 

 1 Thessalonians 5:15-23 (NIV)

Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.  Do not put out the Spirit's fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt. Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.  May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.

 Give thanks in and under all circumstances that’s what God wants you to do. Not for the circumstances but in them. This is very hard for people tangled up in spiritual conflict, entitlement, resentment, fear, or guilt.  These five inner turmoil’s make giving thanks really difficult.  They steal thanksgiving away.

 “The best way to change wrong thoughts is to replace them with right thoughts. And the Word of God is the perfect replacement. Simply put, in order to get wrong thoughts out, you need to put right thoughts in.”

(Karen Jensen Salisbury)

 A spiritual conflict occurs within us when we experience a disconnect between faith and experience.   When what we have read, have had preached to us, taught to us, believed, doesn’t seem to align with what we are living through we are tempted to conclude that all we have learned is a lie.  When you feel that you have been lied to it chokes out your voice of thanksgiving.

 Amid a spiritual conflict go to the scripture, let the Word change your thinking.

Psalms 103:2-5 (MSG)

O my soul, bless God, don't forget a single blessing!  He forgives your sins—every one.  He heals your diseases—every one.  He redeems you from hell—saves your life!  He crowns you with love and mercy—a paradise crown.  He wraps you in goodness—beauty eternal.  He renews your youth—you're always young in his presence.

 Entitlement is when you feel you deserve more, that you deserve better, that you are owed.  You rate the best, that’s what is due you; head-of-the-line, first-class, the biggest piece of the pie, VIP treatment all because you’re you.  The rules for the “sheepole and humvines” don’t apply to you.  When this becomes the prevailing attitude of your heart you suffocate thanksgiving.

 When you are feeling entitled go to the scripture, let the Word change your thinking.

Romans 12:3 (NIV) &  Hebrews 12:28-29 (MSG)

“Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment…” 

Do you see what we've got? An unshakable kingdom! And do you see how thankful we must be? Not only thankful but brimming with worship, deeply reverent before God. For God is not an indifferent bystander. 29 He's actively cleaning house, torching all that needs to burn, and he won't quit until it's all cleansed.  

 Resentment is when you feel you’ve been cheated.  Maybe you feel that God hasn’t been true to His promises.  You’ve worked hard to do good but have not been rewarded.  Any time you feel that you have been treated unfairly, and then allow this idea to become the way you look at life, that chip on your shoulder will keep you from thanksgiving.  Holding a grudge will strangle thanksgiving.

 Bad things happen to good people, when you feel resentment go to the scripture, let the Word change your thinking.

Mark 9:33-35 & John 13:16-17 (MSG)

"What were you discussing on the road?" The silence was deafening—they had been arguing with one another over who among them was greatest. He sat down and summoned the Twelve. "So you want first place? Then take the last place. Be the servant of all."  “I'm only pointing out the obvious. A servant is not ranked above his master; an employee doesn't give orders to the employer. If you understand what I'm telling you, act like it—and live a blessed life.

 Fear prophesies catastrophe.  Something bad is going to happen. You’re living as if Murphy’s Law is reality:  “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong at the worst possible time.”  If you are anticipating danger and disaster, you paint your entire world with pessimism.  You are waiting for the proverbial hammer to fall. This type of prognostication smothers thanksgiving.

 When you a feeling fear, go to the scripture, let the Word change your thinking.

Isaiah 38:17-19 (MSG)

It seems it was good for me to go through all those troubles. Throughout them all you held tight to my lifeline. You never let me tumble over the edge into nothing. But my sins you let go of, threw them over your shoulder—good riddance! The dead don't thank you, and choirs don't sing praises from the morgue. Those buried six feet under don't witness to your faithful ways.  It's the living—live men, live women—who thank you, just as I'm doing right now.

 Guilt is a moral emotion.  Regret, over what you have done or what you have failed to do, brings embarrassment and shame.  Guilt is a good emotion when it's used to correct behavior and make amends.  When guilt becomes the lenses through which you view the world, everything is your fault.  You believe that you deserve to be punished.  Convinced of your culpability, self-condemnation throttles thanksgiving.  

 When you are feeling guilt, go to the scripture, let the Word change your thinking.

Psalms 32:5 & 1 John 1:9 (MSG)

"I'll make a clean breast of my failures to God."  Suddenly the pressure was gone—my guilt dissolved, my sin disappeared.  “…if we admit our sins—make a clean breast of them—he won't let us down; he'll be true to himself. He'll forgive our sins and purge us of all wrongdoing.

 Additionally, spiritual conflict, entitlement, resentment, fear, or guilt can manifest not only in thanklessness, but also in depression, anxiety, and anger.  We may conclude that thanksgiving is impossible when a person is engulfed in depression or anxiety or anger. We may also conclude that the ability to experience thanksgiving is a sign of righteous spiritual health.  God wants you spiritually healthy and the ability to feel thanks is an indication that you are.

 The way you banish spiritual conflict, resentment, fear, entitlement, and guilt is by changing the way you think.

 “Change your thoughts and you change your world.”

(Norman Vincent Peale)

 Romans 12:2 (NIV)

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.

 “I think therefore I feel and do.” If you change your thinking you will change your behavior.  To bring about the change you must first discover what you are thinking.  Now that we have recognized these five thanksgiving asphyxiators call them out.  You are bringing them out of the darkness of the subconscious into the light of consciousness. 

 The feeling will lead you to the trigger, the trigger leads you to the thought that requires transformation, the distorted thought leads to the event or events that created it.  The event exposed allows you to change your interpretation of what occurred.  Changing your interpretation will change the way you think about it, which once accomplished will change your behavior and you will feel thankful.   

 “One of the greatest truths in life: It’s not what happens to you (your past, present, or future circumstances) or what people do or say to you that cause your emotions. Your emotions come from what you think about after things happen to you! You control all of your emotions by what you think. Emotions are simply data telling you what you have been thinking.” Six Biblical Steps to Transform Your Mind (

           “What’s your why?  When you know why you do what you do, even the

          toughest days become easier>”

 These five thanksgiving killers can gang up on you.  Suppose God doesn’t respond the way you want to your prayer request.  You’ve done everything you know how to ask God to intercede.  You’ve prayed, you’ve fasted, you’ve asked the spiritually mature to pray, you’ve looked up every scripture on God helping in times of trouble, you’ve made your case and whatever it was you needed, wanted, begged for, didn’t come to pass.  Now so much depends on the quality of relationship you share with God.  Some people just take it all in stride and actualize the Holy Spirit's power to keep on keeping on. There have been times in my life when I was not “some people.”

 When my request was denied I interpreted it as God not keeping His promises.  I made a list, this scripture says you’ll do this and you didn’t, that scripture says you’ll come through and you didn’t.  This creates instant spiritual conflict.  When you feel someone has let you down it's hard to be thankful.  I felt let down because I’m a good person, well, an OK person, well… anyway I am me and therefore deserve to get what I ask for. When someone doesn’t receive the service they think they are entitled to they are not very thankful. Because I didn’t get what I wanted I felt resentment.  God, you could have but you didn’t.  Doesn’t it seem dangerous to have a bone to pick with God?  Consider God’s answer to Job. Resentment creates spiritual paralysis.  You’ve heard that country-western song—If you’re going through hell keep on going.  You can’t keep ongoing if you are paralyzed, you’re stuck.  It’s hard to give thanks when you feel like you are in hell.  What’s worse you’ll lose ground if you’re not moving forward. In that paralysis you begin to fear, fear that maybe what you have believed all along isn’t true.  You can’t be thankful when you’re plagued with doubts.  Then comes the heavy guilt trip, it’s like you hear that parental voice “After all I have done for you, this is how you repay me.” 

 Each one of the five thanksgiving assassins is defeated the same way, even if they gang up.  Examine your interpretation of events.  Ask yourself why you are feeling the way you do?  Why are you thinking the way you are.  Why do I feel conflicted?  Why do I feel entitled?  Why do I feel resentment? Why do I feel afraid? Why do I feel guilty? There are triggers that set those feelings off and sent you off course.  Keep digging and you will find an answer.  You will then be able to examine your answer and then proceed to submit that thought to God. 

 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV)

“…we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”

           [What you think you become.]

 In my battle against the five thanksgiving murderers, I found help in Lamentations.  Lamentations is written by the prophet Jeremiah, lamenting the destruction of Israel at the hand of the Babylonians.

 Lamentations 3:21-26 (NIV)

I have hope: Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him." The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.

 “Gratitude is a powerful prayer. You get more from God by thanking him than by begging him. And thanking him in advance for something he has promised but not yet given is a profound statement of faith.”

 (Chris Tiegreen)

 The Holy Spirit will help you discover your distorted thought, assumption, or idea and then you can choose to reinterpret the event, changing your thinking about it.  Defeat the thanksgiving stealers and you will be able to truly give thanks.   


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