Cultivate a Heart of Thanksgiving

I will give you a sacrifice of thanksgiving and offer my prayer to you.

Psalm 116:17 (GNT)

“There is this: We give thanks to God not because of how we feel but because of who He is.”

Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts Devotional: Reflections on Finding Everyday Graces

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

G.K. Chesterton

Gratitude gets us through the hard stuff. To reflect on your blessings is to rehearse God’s accomplishments. To rehearse His accomplishments is to discover His heart. Gratitude always leaves us looking at God and away from dread. So practice gratitude! As Ephesians 5:20 puts it, “Give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Max Lucado, You’ll Get Through This

If having a thankful heart came naturally, if it was something we easily do, we wouldn’t need to be reminded to do it. Looking on Biblegateway/NIV, Scripture mentions giving thanks and thanksgiving 133 in the Old Testament and 72 times in the New Testament. Paul mentions it 46 times in his letters.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

God’s will for us. To give thanks. In all circumstances. Not just when things are going our way. Not just when we feel like it. Not just when God answers our prayers the way we want.

In. All. Circumstances.

That’s not easy. That takes cultivation. Work. A renewing of our mind (Romans 12:2). A renewed spirit (Psalm 51:10). A new self (Ephesians 4:24).

It’s easy to be a grumbler, complainer, whiner, protestor, groucher, fusser, criticizer. Allowing negativity, cynicism, and a bad attitude to poison our thoughts, our hearts, our spirits. For that is what they are. Poison. Like an insect invasion to a garden destroying plant and fruit. Or fungus in the roots killing the plant’s ability to take in life giving nutrients. Or toxins leeched into the soil damaging the plant’s growth and health.

God’s prescription? Gratitude. Thanksgiving. Appreciation. Remembering the good things he has done. Trusting his promises. Acknowledging his gifts. Giving him thanks, not because he needs it, but because we do.

Ann Voskamp in her book One Thousand Gifts speaks of the first sin being “the sin of ingratitude.” The first man and woman, instead of giving thanks for all God provided, were painfully ungrateful and wanted what God did not give.

In the book, Ann tells of a dare she received from a friend: could she write a list of a thousand things she loves? Name one thousand blessings? One thousand gifts?

And so Ann grabs a scrap of paper and begins the list.

I encourage you to begin a list as well. Grab a piece of paper, a notebook, the next page in your journal, and number down the left hand side, all the way to the bottom. Today. Right now. Close your eyes. Picture the special moments from the week, think of the unexpected interruptions, remember the ordinary. Because they all hold that which you can be thankful. Write them down. See them as gifts from our Father. Blessings poured out. Expressions of his love.

  1. Crescent moon rising in the cool clear sky
  2. Little girls’ giggles late into the night
  3. Worship, music swelling, hands held high
  4. Sunshine splashing across the backyard deck
  5. Cuckoo clock striking twelve
  6. Wind chimes playing melody in the breeze
  7. Furry warmth curled up in lap
  8. Shelves stocked full at the grocery store
  9. Desk cluttered with keepsakes and mementos
  10. Growing list and filling heart
  11. Continue the list…

Receive these gifts, theses blessings, these things given to you in love. And keep going.

Now it’s your turn. Go and be thankful.

Grace and Peace


About Jill English Johnston

God writes His story on every heart, if we only pause to read it. My heart has lived in a fantasy world since early childhood and am delighted that God has finally brought me to the place where I can bring the fantasies to life through story. I am currently working on a fantasy trilogy (of course) but I also post thoughts, reflections and (hopefully) inspiration to my website: I am a follower of the Rabbi Jesus, married to my best friend and inspiration, and the mother of three incredible children, one daughter and two sons, a son-in-love, a daughter-in-love and two adorable granddaughters. When not writing, I passionately pursue prayer, reading (never enough time to read them all!), and the outdoors. My husband and I both served in the US Navy and have lived/travelled through many states and all over Asia. We both still enjoy travelling, but we really love our home in New Braunfels, located at the Texas Hill Country.
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