A Heart of Thanksgiving

Sandra Moats Executive Director New Hope For Adopted International Kids A Heart of Thanksgiving The harvest is full and the day of Thanksgiving is coming soon. This is a special time when we can celebrate together as families for all the blessings we have enjoyed over the last year. In the Bible we are told to have hearts of thanksgiving all through the year. “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.” Ps 100:4. Thanksgiving and praise in our hearts is a key to victorious Christian living. Thanksgiving is released from a heart filled with praise to God, trusting every situation unto Him. God loves a heart of thanksgiving and warns about grumbling and fretting. Ps 37. Grumbling comes easily while thanksgiving is difficult in hard times. Thanksgiving at times require a sacrifice of praise. “I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the LORD.” Ps 116:17. Years ago our home had pipes break under the kitchen cabinet and it flooded the whole downstairs. We cleaned up the mess, and walked through getting it all back together again over a three month period of time. A few months later, during the night, I awoke to hear water running downstairs. I stepped off the last stair into our living room flooded. Feeling overwhelmed I raised my hands in the air to Jesus and began to praise him. As I did that the heavy burden of the situation was lifted and I had the victory. Heb 13:15. God uses trials of praise to mold us into mature Christians. The sign of a heart of thanksgiving is to have true gratitude in all situations. I Thess 5:18. The Bible in James 1:2 commands that we should “consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials.” Paul says in Romans 5:3 that “we exult in our tribulations.” There is an interesting fact to note, you cannot complain and rejoice at the same time, but you can rejoice and give thanks at the same time. For some who have lost loved ones Thanksgiving Day can be a challenge. Our oldest son passed away three years ago; very close to Thanksgiving Day. As we approach this Thanksgiving Day my heart misses him, yet I am thankful that our son Nathan is enjoying Heaven with Jesus. Our great loss is Heaven’s great gain. It is not always easy to give thanks, but this is what we must to do in order for God to work in our lives. Our forefathers knew the value of a thankful heart. In July of 1623, the first colonists who came to America were critically low on food. For months they had been expecting a ship with supplies and additional settlers to arrive. They were discouraged, and their joy turned into mourning. They prayed and fasted and their answer came when Captain Myles Standish returned from the north with the good news; the supplies and new colonists were safe, and on their way. They all rejoiced and gave thanks to God. The first winter at the small settlement in Plymouth was harsh. William Bradford was chosen to take Carver’s place as governor after his death. Bradford wrote, “Forty seven out of the 102 that had left England that previous September were now dead” including Bradford’s wife. Almost half of the Mayflower’s crew of 50 had also died.” The first Thanksgiving Day was begun with a prayer service and every Sunday they continued to meet to give thanks to God, even in the worst times. The pilgrims carried hearts of Thanksgiving to America. Even earlier than the colonists we find a call to all lands to thank God in Psalms 100. “Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the lands! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD is God! It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him, bless his name! For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures for ever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” It is God who has made us, and not we ourselves, and He that made us maintains us, and gives us all good things richly to enjoy. Above all the nations on earth, America has been richly blessed. As we walk the path of the upward call, let our mouths speak thanksgiving and praise to release the fragrant aroma of Jesus Christ to the lost souls around us. In England, The Duke of Wellington, the great British military leader who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo stated that he missed learning the secret of praise during his lifetime. It is a great accomplishment to learn to praise God in all situations and to release thanksgiving in our hearts. In 1999 when arrest seemed close in China, I praised, fasted, prayed and wrestled with God, “Lord, if I am arrested I possibly will never see my family again, nor my homeland, nor be able to complete the mission I thought you sent me to China for; which was the adoption of a special little girl.” Quietly I drew near to Jesus, and I saw in His word, Hebrew 13:5-6, “I will never leave you nor forsake you…The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” Early the next morning as I prayed the milling of the police around our area cleared, and a few days later I found the little girl God sent me to China to find. Because of special help from believers I was able to begin the adoption process to bring her home, even before leaving China. Returning in November that year from China Thanksgiving Day took on new meaning for me. Never again would I take for granted the gift of living in a land where we are free to worship and believe in God. That experience gave me an appreciation for the original colonists and their input into this country. I was and still am thankful for that great gift in my life. A thankful heart is a key to your life. It turns impossible situations and walks you into the possible. It changes you, your outlook, and your outward look. There is great power that can be released through a thankful heart. “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” Col 3:15 “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess 5:16-18. He gives us the victory through praise!