Pastor Steven referenced Psalm 69:30-31, Psalm 110:4 and Luke 6:45.
He started off by saying You can't ask God for anything until you've given Him thanks for all He has done. I can't take credit for anything in my life. God has made everything that has happened in my life possible! I can't go to God and ask Him for anything in my life without giving thanks for what I already have.
Pastor then spoke on five observations about gratitude.
1. Gratitude is never invisible or silent. People often try to say that they are not good at expressing thanks, but you know my heart, so it's okay! But, that is not so. I am not a cardiologist ;-). You have to give thanks for everything in your life. When Pastor is saying this, I immediately thought about how overwhelmed with gratitude I was when I was invited to the Newspring Leadership Conference by Kelly Draddy, the whole time at the Leadership Conference, leaving the conference and even days after. I made sure to express that gratitude. I actually couldn't get through telling Kelly, Brandon and Jessi thank you without crying. I was so thankful they chose me. I couldn't leave there without saying thank you to all of them.
2. Gratitude sustains joy and blessing. There are a lot of people out there who are very blessed, but do not know how to sustain that blessing. Has someone ever hurt you? You replay that offense in your mind over and over again. 10 years later the offense is more vivid in your mind than when it happened. Can you think of something like this? You are sustaining that offense. You can sustain a blessing in the same way! Relive your salvation over and over again. I have pictures of the day I got baptized all over my apartment as a constant reminder of the greatest blessing in my life.
3. Gratitude begins where my sense of entitlement ends. We are not entitled to the life that we have. We are not entitled to the forgiveness of all of our sins. We do not deserve this life!! Pastor spoke about the first time he was offered a job where he was going to be on salary and the company would pay for his benefits. He called all of his friends to brag about this. He was so excited. None of his friends were excited, because they expected this. What use to be a perk may become part of the package. We use to be thankful when God performed a miracle in our lives, but now we expect him to bring us a better job. Is this coming home for any of you? It sure hit home to me. Do you get direct deposit? I do. Don't you hate that you never get a chance to hold that money that you get? It goes straight into the bank and then bill pay takes it right out for rent and electricity and cable. WE HAVE A DAILY DIRECT DEPOSIT OF MERCY AND GRACE INTO THE ACCOUNT OF OUR LIFE. Rejoice in that! Rejoice in the fact that every single day Christ has new mercies for your life. Rejoice that Christ didn't have to bless you.
4. Grateful people can find a blessing, enlarge a blessing or create a blessing in almost any situation. Do you know someone like this in your life? Someone who can find a blessing in any situation? I try my best to do that. On days when I am discouraged about not being able to pay my bills, I have to take a minute and remember that I have so much to be thankful for. I have a family who is willing to help me in my time of need. I have a job that pays most of my bills. I have a warm bed to crawl into at night. There are some people in my life, and probably in your life who are crap factories. Every amazing thing in their life, they can turn into a negative. Pastor spoke about a friend of his who received a raise. Pastor rejoiced with his friend, and his friends only response was, "I am going to have to pay more taxes." WOW! Can you think of someone like this in your life? I know I can. This rang home for me. Not just for my life, but for many people in my life.
5. Gratitude increases favor and creates opportunity. Have you ever read 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18? This verse says Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for us to thank Him because He has low self-esteem. He instructs us to thank him because favor follows those who are grateful. You can get to the place in your life where favor follows you everywhere if you have a grateful heart.
I am continually praying through a difficult situation with a friend. I am praying that God instructs me on how to help a friend who is a crap factory. I believe that it is easy not to realize you are a crap factory. I have been asking God to instruct me on how to point out to this person that they are a crap factory and help them deal with this situation. This is a tough situation, as this person is one of my closest friends. God has helped me through this recently, but I still have a lot to learn on how to deal with this situation. I pray that Satan never has enough power over me to where I become a crap factory and can find something to complain about in every situation. I am thankful that God has given me the ability to find something to be thankful for in every situation in my life. I am thankful that everyone around me would say that I find the positive in every situation. :-)
I am thankful for my Pastor. He speaks the Word of God every week. I am thankful that he is so obedient to God's word. He wrote this message on napkins at Pizza Hut, and it will go at the top of my most impactful sermons of the year. Thank you, Pastor Steven for listening to the Word of God and following His lead not your own.