There are questions that nag me during Thanksgiving:
• Would I be thankful if...
• Am I only thankful because...
I wonder, if God started to take things away one at a time, how long before I would think God is mean and I would get angry?
Sometimes gratitude is circumstantial
• How healthy I am
• How much I have
• How good my day is going
• How uncomfortable I feel
If my gratitude is circumstantial then isn’t it just selfishness disguised?
It’s not happy people who are thankful, it’s thankful people who are happy.
Makes me ask a deeper question: Which comes first (happiness or gratitude)?
Are we thankful to God because of who He is? or because of what He’s done? (It is both, but which is more important and why?)
Story of Lepers Being Healed
Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. Luke 17:11-19 (NIV)
They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” Luke 17:11-19 (NIV)
How difficult is it to say something so vulnerable and humble? How difficult is it for you to call out to Jesus?
When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. Luke 17:11-19 (NIV)
As they went - Sometimes God is saying to you, “Just take a step. Do you trust me? Do you believe that my way is the right way?” Some of us know what God is calling us to do and yet we are waiting. Why?
One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw
himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Luke 17:11-19 (NIV)
Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” Luke 17:11-19 (NIV)
What did Jesus mean? Gratitude brought about something else in his life and heart - spiritual wholeness - a deeper kind of healing.
Where are the other nine? Luke 11:17b (NIV)
What would keep someone from coming back to say thank you after being healed?
• In a hurry - people to see?
• It is time to live my life?
• It is about time?
Sometimes gratitude is circumstantial - if it is true for us, then it is true for them. What are some of the conditions in your life and other’s that must be true in order for you/them to be grateful?
How many times has God blessed us and we find ourselves in a place of not saying thank you?
For gratitude to remain, it must be built on something that doesn’t change.
A great word is “Immutable" - It means unable to change.
a priori (latin) - “from the earlier”
• Based on theoretical knowledge
• Not a result of observations
• This is what we believe to be true and we do not need to prove it over and over again.
“a priori” is important because appearances can be deceiving and things aren’t always what they seem. “a priori” assumptions are immutable in our life, even when we don’t realize it.
Here are some "a priori” assumptions about God:
• God is with me.
• God loves me.
• God will take care of me.
Are we thankful to God because who he is? or because of what he’s done? When I focus on what God has done, then I open myself to disappointment and disillusionment with God. But when I focus on the “a priori” reality of God, then I am more likely to be grateful.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus - 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
The only way we can give thanks in all circumstances is to deeply believe in the “a priori” assumptions of God and build our life upon them.
We can learn to be thankful to God for who He is, that He is with us, that He loves us, and that He can take care of us - this leads to gratitude.
• Do you have any favorite Thanksgiving traditions?
• Phil mentioned that sometimes our happiness could be based on our circumstances. Are there areas in your life where you see your happiness being based on circumstances? Give an example.
• If good things were removed from your life or bad things began to happen, how long do you think it would take before you began to question God’s goodness or be tempted to get angry at God?
• Which comes first, happiness or gratitude? Why?
• Read Luke 17:11-19, what might be reasons why the other 9 did not come back to thank Jesus?
• Can you think of any areas where God has blessed you and you find yourself in the position of not saying thank you?
• For gratitude to remain, it must be built on something that doesn’t change. What are some unchanging truths that you can base your gratitude upon?
• Why is it important to hold these truths/assumptions to be true before difficulty comes?
• What are the consequences of a heart that gives thanks in all circumstances?
• Is there an area where you need to think or act differently based on the ideas from this study?
• How can you practice gratitude this week?