3:16 (Part Four: For God So Loves a Grateful Heart)

John 3:16 KJV
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

1. Thursday is Thanksgiving. 
Thursday, we will all pause and be thankful for so many have a lot to be thankful for. We are blessed in so many ways. Being thankful is a good thing.

Most of us were taught to say, “Thank you.” It is a very good thing to be thankful. Here are a few insightful quotes on thanksgiving:

• Frank Clark said: “If a fellow isn’t thankful for what he’s got, he isn’t likely to be thankful for what he’s going to get.”

• “Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of thanksgiving.” W.T. Purkiser

• And, “God is glorified, not by our groans, but by our thanksgiving.” Edwin Percy Whipple

2. Gratefulness is different than thankfulness. Both are essential. Thankfulness is the cordial response to a favor done. It’s the affirmation we give when things go our way. It’s the reply we give to a gift or expression of favor.

Gratefulness, however, is different. It can only be developed intentionally. It beings with a spirit. It’s an attitude, a disposition that we carry and practice whether or not things go our way.

Gratefulness really is being content before any gifts are given – or even if they’re not. It’s being thankful regardless of the circumstances. You know, “Gratefulness” is saying, “Praise the Lord” even when there is no guarantee of a blessing. It is the confidence to accept whatever God brings.

3. Truth is, that’s one of the biggest and most difficult lessons we can ever learn. If something seems lacking in your life, even when you pray for it, and continually pray, and keep praying – and God’s answer just seems to be, “No,” then trust Him through the process. Trust Him that whatever His answer is, His answer is best.

Be grateful that God is leading you in a good path, even when you don’t see the outcome.
God always sees the outcome, and God is always good.

4. Now here’s where we get personal.

• We all know people who aren’t grateful but grumpy. Right? They just have that certain ability to be grumpy. It’s their spiritual gift.

• Gratefulness is a choice. We have the power to choose whether or not to be grateful.

In Matthew 6:22-23 (MSG), Jesus said:
Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!

• Jesus is referring to how we perceive life. If we go through life with our eyes looking at the wonders and with faith, then we are filled with light. The Greek word there for light is, “of a bright character.”

You see, if we go through life amazed at the wonder of God and of His creation and of life and love, then our whole character and nature is changed.

And what is it that makes Christ appealing to the lost? What is it that makes genuine – authentic Christianity infectious and contagious? It is that we see life and we see experiences differently from those outside of Jesus. We see life through the colorful lenses of God’s promises…of God’s assurances…of God’s constant care…and of His amazing love for us.

We see Jesus in the sunrise and sunsets. We see Him in the colorful leaves of autumn and the cold winter storms. We see His grace in the good and His mercy in the bad. We see not so much how bad it is, but rather, “Wonder how Jesus will pull this off?”

It’s that heart of gratitude that we choose to develop that sets us apart and makes us appealing to the unreached people of our community.

• Here’s the question, what are you letting in to your heart and soul?
A. It’s way too easy nowadays to go negative.
 The world’s a mess.
 Our culture is getting creepy.
 Stress is increasing.
 Hey, Christmas is coming and we are about to all spend more than we can afford!
 Thanksgiving is Thursday and old crazy Uncle Eddie will be there!

B. There’s always something. Some stressor. Some pressure. Some irritant. Some challenge. Some influence to take our joy. Rob us of peace. Attack our contentment.

But listen, Paul says it this way in Romans 12:1-3a (MSG):
So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.
I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me…

So, how do I get there? How do I work on my heart to become grateful and live an effective life of gratitude?
Well, according to the Scriptures here:
First, give your whole life as an offering to God.
Secondly, know that God does all things well.

Thirdly, don’t let the world squeeze you into its mold.

I hear Paul saying to the Christians in Rome, “Don’t blend in. Don’t become like everyone around you. You’ve been changed from the inside out.” 

Give yourself to God. Embrace what God does for you as the best thing that could happen. And live the changed life – inside out.