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Friday, 31 May 2013

From The Pulpit: The Greatness Of Gratitude

A story is told of a farmer who was famous for his negative attitude. One day a neighbour stopped by and commented on the farmer’s wonderful crop. “You must be extremely happy with this year’s harvest,” the neighbour said. The farmer grudgingly replied, “Well, yes, it looks like a pretty good one, but a bumper crop is awfully hard on the soil.”
 
The Israelites can be compared to the farmer, because they had the same attitude of complaining. After their rescue from captivity in Egypt, God had miraculously taken care of them as they wandered in the wilderness. Yet they complained.
For example, they grumbled about the special food, manna, that God had so graciously provided. Remembering the fish, cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic they used to eat in captivity in Egypt, they whined, “There is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!” as exemplified in Numbers Chapter 11 verse 6. What ungrateful spirits the Israelites had!

All too often, we tend to focus on the negatives rather than the positives of life. We murmur against the Lord when we should be praising Him for His countless blessings. We let ourselves be distracted by the disappointments and deprivations that God allows for our spiritual good. Whenever we are tempted to grumble, let us remember words from the Book of Numbers Chapter 11 Verse 1: “And the people complained in the hearing of the Lord about their misfortunes; and when the Lord heard it, his anger was kindled, and the fire of the Lord burned among them, and consumed some outlying parts of the camp. Then the people cried to Moses; and Moses prayed to the Lord, and the fire abated.”

Every time you want to complain, think of others who have less or nothing at all; ask the Lord to keep you humble and grateful for what He has done for you. Some people go through life without ever ceasing to complain.

Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem when ten lepers approached him. Standing at a distance, as lepers were required to do, they called to Him: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” Luke 17:13. When Jesus saw them, He commanded, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they journeyed, they were healed.

When one of them saw that he was healed, he came back, threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him. “Where are the nine?” Jesus asked. Good question. Jesus referred to the grateful man as a Samaritan, an outsider, perhaps to underscore His saying that “the sons of this world are more shrewd… than the sons of light.” 16:18. The word ‘shrewd’ is translated to mean ‘thoughtful’. Sometimes people of the world have better manners than Jesus’ followers do.
 
In the day-to-day activities and challenges of life, we often forget to give thanks. For instance, someone may have blessed us with a gift, performed a task, delivered a timely sermon or provided a word of counsel or comfort. But we fail to thank them. Has someone done something for you this week? Give that friend a call or send a thank you note. We don’t need more to be thankful; we just need to be more thankful.

The Apostle Paul had a long list of people who had helped him and for whom he was grateful as exemplified in Romans 16: 1-16. He wrote that Phoebe had “been a helper,” Priscilla and Aquila had “risked their own necks” for his life, and Mary had “laboured much” for him. And he took time to write his thanks in a letter to the church at Rome.

Who has helped to shape your life? Could you make a visit of gratitude – for their sake and for yours? Consider what the Lord has done through those who have shown you love and thank them for their faithful deeds, as they are blessings from above. Whatever our situation is today, we must be thankful for all of God’s seasons and reasons.a

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