Grateful for the Gift

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 By Kathy Carlton Willis

STORY: Gratitude Revival

Giving thanks with family and or friends is always a terrific way to kick off the fall season leading up to Christmas! One of the greatest reasons of all to give thanks is because we have the gift of Christ from our Heavenly Father. God’s unconditional love allowed Him to give up what He held most dear, His perfect Son, to provide a way of salvation for His created humanity. How fitting, then, to be intentionally grateful during this time leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas. They go hand in hand.

When we think about it, we must admit, we are so blessed. Even families enduring great hardships can find something for which to be thankful. In fact, when we focus on gratitude we can create the right environment to transform a downcast spirit into a countenance that radiates joy. Others may not even realize the trials you are enduring because your shoulders are not weighted down and there’s still a spring in your step. Happiness depends on happenings, but joy comes when we focus on all the reasons we have to be grateful.

I know at least two families who read their calendars wrong and celebrated Thanksgiving a week early one year! At first, I laughed at their silly mistake. But then I couldn’t help but realize there is nothing wrong with wanting to hurry up Thanksgiving. In fact, it is one holiday that could change our world, if each of us would have a grateful mindset all year long.

Just think what a transformation would take place if we were all thankful.

• Thankful for our salvation, we’d tell others about Christ. They would become thankful for the gift and have their own spiritual birthday.

• Blessed by God’s provision, we would share our provisions with those in need.

• Grateful for friendships, we would get along better with others.

• Appreciating our families more, we would spend extra time together.

• Thankful for our jobs, we would become the best employees possible.

Can you see how developing a grateful mindset could transform our world? It wouldn’t just become a positive place to live. It would become a Christ-filled world.

May this Thanksgiving start your own gratitude revival!

STUDY: Grateful Gratitudes

When we are revived by gratitude it spills out of us and splashes on others. When coupled with the Good News, lives are transformed. Look what these Bible passages tell us.

Grateful Mentorship
I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints. (Philemon 1:4-5 ESV)

• One reason to be thankful is when we think of those God brings into our lives.

• When we mentor others in the foundations of the faith, we are thrilled to hear of their spiritual growth.

Overflowing Thankfulness
And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow Him. Let your roots grow down into Him, and let your lives be built on Him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6-7 NLT).

• According to this passage, what process takes place that causes us to overflow with thankfulness?

• What does the word “overflow” mean to you? Why is the ability to overflow with thankfulness such a wonderful result of spiritual growth? Since something that’s overflowing can’t be contained, where will the excess spill out and touch?

Insuppressible Thankfulness
As for us, we can’t help but thank God for you, dear brothers and sisters loved by the Lord. We are always thankful that God chose you to be among the first to experience salvation—a salvation that came through the Spirit who makes you holy and through your belief in the truth. (2 Thessalonians 2:13 NLT)

• We are told to be thankful but sometimes it’s hard to feel grateful. What does this verse say we can thank God for?

• This verse says “we can’t help but thank God.” There are times when all of us struggle with wanting to get our minds off the problems and onto the positive works and gifts of God. How might you get into a better mindset to get to the place where you can’t help but thank God?

• Here, the objects of gratitude are those who came first into the faith through the ministry of Paul’s missionary journey. Do you think it’s possible that when our focus is on telling others about Jesus, and we see them changed by the Good News of His gift, that we can’t help but thank God? Then gratitude overflows from us!

STEPS: Each one, Reach one, with Gratitude

1. Mentor another into the faith. Let your thanksgiving overflow as you teach with your words and your life. You’ll find a never-ending supply of gratitude welling up inside of you and flowing over onto others, just like a spring brings forth water.

2. Create your own gratitude growth chart. If our thankfulness is able to overflow, then create a way to allow this to happen.

3. Tell someone else why you are thankful for God. Often we’ll tell others the good news about a good shopping bargain or a promotion at work, but we don’t tell them how God has made a difference in our lives. If we want to feel more thankful, we need to be more dedicated to the process. Can you think of one reason right now that makes you thankful for God? Who does God want you to share that with?

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