Only one prayer? Give thanks!

Only one prayer? Give thanks!

I’ve been feeling rather blank, dull, fatigued from a strenuous, constant, energy-expending fall. I even had to pass when my husband and I were praying together the other evening…I couldn’t think. But then I remembered this thought, first posted in 2014 … one of my very first “blogging Thanksgiving” posts. And so I’m no longer blank but rather voicing my thanks to my God and to others. Join me here even if you have “no other prayer”?

Read More

Only one prayer? Give thanks!

Only one prayer? Give thanks!

Early one fall, I had a few moments in between errands, so I decided to follow the "garage sale" signs into a neighborhood off the main road I was traveling on. It was at the end of the day...and the house I stopped at looked a bit bare and disheveled.  But I got out of my car anyway.  And by the time I got back in my car, I was so glad I had stopped.

Read More

Only one prayer? Give thanks!

garage sale

garage sale

Early one fall, I had a few moments in between errands, so I decided to follow the "garage sale" signs into a neighborhood off the main road I was traveling on. It was at the end of the day...and the house I stopped at looked a bit bare and disheveled.  But I got out of my car anyway.  And by the time I got back in my car, I was so glad I had stopped.

No, I didn't buy any treasures....in fact, I didn't spend a cent.  But I did leave with the treasure of a truth etched in my mind.  It was from a somewhat banged up looking plaque:

If you only have one prayer...give thanks!

I wrote the words down in my little notebook, and I've been mulling them over ever since:  Just one prayer...thank you!

I've thought of the words that we love to hear from our babies...ma-ma, da-da, wuv oo...  Wouldn't tah-too {thank you} be in that early list?  How lovely as a mom or dad to be appreciated!  And when those kind words just tumble forth from a toddlers mouth...oh, sweetness and delight!

So then it makes sense that the primary characteristic of a child of God would be gratitude.

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught abounding in thanksgiving. Colossians 2:6-7 ESV

In fact, the first words of affection coming from a baby believer may very well be "Thank you, Father God!"

give thanks

give thanks

Our modern culture has lost the art of "thank you"...no more "thank you notes"...more about entitlement, I guess.  But I suppose that it's not just our modern culture.  In the epistle to the Romans, Paul points out that one of the main characteristics of the pagan was not giving God thanks, despite knowing and seeing Him in creation.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened... Romans 1:20-21 NIV

{If you want a real eye-opener, read the surrounding verses in Romans.  It sounds more like modern day America than we might like to think!}

I wonder if that's why our own minds, though believing, may at times be plagued by dark and depressing thoughts.

Give thanks, O child of God!  Abba, our Creator, is worthy!

So as we approach our very American holiday of Thanksgiving, start your list...and never stop!  Thank God and others every day.  What a great way to prepare for the language of heaven...where we will thank our Savior face to face...and perhaps thank those He used in our earthly lives to draw us to our great God!

...since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God... Hebrews 12:28 NIV

 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Don't miss this -- For an amazing story and video of modern day pagans spontaneously bursting into thanksgiving at the moment of salvation, view Rich & Karen Brown's account.  Click on picture to read their story and view the video at the end of the post:

6-brown_family

6-brown_family

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Are you overflowing with gratitude?  For some fun, as well as profound, thoughts about Thanksgiving, click on picture:

pilgrims dancing

pilgrims dancing

Mystery of Christ in Colossians: Overflowing with Gratitude

giving thanks

giving thanks

A few years ago, I started teaching language and writing to GED students.  Every Wednesday, we would do an exercise together as a class to practice writing a five paragraph essay. As the end of November approached, I chose the topic of Thanksgiving.  I thought that in this age of entitlement it might be a double “win” for the students to count their blessings and practice their writing.

So to prepare for my lesson, I sent out an email to friends and colleagues for quotes about being thankful.  I received some great ones!

Some were fun:

What we’re really talking about is a wonderful day set aside on the fourth Thursday of November when no one diets.  I mean, why else would they call it Thanksgiving? Erma Bombeck

Thnksgiving turkey

Thnksgiving turkey

May your stuffing be tasty May your turkey plump May your potatoes and gravy Have nary a lump May your yams be delicious And may your pies take the prize And may you Thanksgiving dinner Stay off your thighs! Anonymous

Others, really profound:

Gratitude is the least of the virtues, but ingratitude is the worst of the vices. Thomas Fuller

The pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts….nevertheless, they set aside a day of thanksgiving.  H.W. Westermayer

A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the others. Cicero

And my favorite:

It’s not the happy person who is thankful but the thankful person who is happy. Anonymous

But as always, God’s Word takes the prize for the most profoundly sublime quote on being thankful.

Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. Col 2:6-7

Let’s meditate for a few moments on this beautiful phrase, overflowing with gratitude:

What does it mean to overflow?

roosevelt dam overflow

roosevelt dam overflow

A reservoir holds water.  When it rains too much or the snows in the mountains melt, the water flows over the edge.  When my husband John was a child he lived near the Roosevelt Dam.  When the dam spilled over, it was quite an event…a wonder to behold!

And that’s what this word in the original language means:  to be in excess, to have more than enough, to super-abound…to overflow!

What is gratitude?

This word means appreciation, thanksgiving and and praise to God…and to others who have enriched our lives. After all, …what do you have that you did not receive? 1Cor 4:7

communion set

communion set

The original word in Greek is eucharistia. In Christian liturgical traditions,

Eucharist is used in modern language for Holy Communion, embodying the highest act of thanksgiving for the greatest gift from God, the sacrifice of Jesus.  It is the grateful acknowledgement of past mercies. Spiro Zodiates

In fact, Jesus Himselfgave thanks to the Father as He broke the bread and blessed the cup at the Last Supper with His disciples.  He acknowledged His Father as the Giver of every good gift and every perfect gift.James 1:17

So let us also, dear brothers and sisters, be a people overflowing with gratitude...always...not just this week!

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Gratitude Exercises:

:)

:)

  1. What 5 things can you thank God for right now? In your journal list them. Then chose one of the 5 and list 5 more. Keep going if you’d like. If you’re having a hard time getting started, take a peek at this link and thank God for the gift of sight. Incredible!

  2. Have a time of family or personal communion, thanking the Father for the gift of His precious Son.

  3. Do this Bible study exercise:

Read through the book of Colossians and find at least one verse in each chapter about giving thanks. Be sure to read the context to get the complete message.

First posted in November 2011 :)

Mystery of Christ in Colossians: Thanking Week

Thank you...beach

Thank you...beach

It’s not the happy person who is thankful but the thankful person who is happy. Anonymous

I love this quote!

If you've spent any time reading the apostle Paul's writings, you most likely would say that Paul is a happy, joyful person...and this despite many trials and much suffering.  Listen to these verses from our current study book, the letter to the Colossians:

Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you... to make known... the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory...To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me. Colossians 1:24-28 NIV

Now if it is true that...

It’s not the happy person who is thankful but the thankful person who is happy.

...then I think it's reasonable to believe that Paul's joy and happiness sprang from a thankful heart.

So this week at A Branch in the Vine is Thanking Week.

In each of the four chapters of Colossians, we read a "thankful word" (such as thanks, thanksgiving, gratitude, etc).  Read through Colossians again (yes, again :) ) and see if you can find all of them.

Here's a hint:  there are 2 in chapter 1; 1 in chapter 2; 3 in chapter 3; and 1 in chapter 4.  [Let me know if you find more.]

Then list what Paul says he's thankful for.  Go on also to list what he says for US to be thankful for.

book 1000 Gifts

book 1000 Gifts

After that, start a list of your own.  Start a section in your journal and list 5 today...then 5 more tomorrow...and then the next day...

Or maybe you'd like to take up Ann Voskamp's challenge in her best-selling book One Thousand Gifts:  Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are.

Start your own list of a thousand (just 3 a day will do it in a year).  For some fun help, see her July Joy Dare...download and print it out for yourself.

And last but not least, if you would like to see gratitude spring forth from a believing heart, read Rich Brown's story, Moi Joy.  He and his wife Karen have been working with the Moi tribe in Indonesia.

Many of these naturally treacherous, ungrateful people were transformed when they received the good news of the Lord Christ.  View the moving, spontaneous testimony of one man.   Immediately after his conversion to Christ, Mbanapeoma gave thanks to his Creator and to the missionaries.  Don't miss this!