Joyce Meyer - A Thankful Attitude
- How to know Jesus
Well, welcome to "Enjoying Everyday Life". I'm so glad that you're with me today, and I pray that you're gonna really enjoy the teaching today. You know, attitudes is a very important subject, and you can change your attitude from bad to good, and literally, change your whole life with it. And so, I'm gonna talk today about just having a thankful attitude. And really, no matter how often we hear about having a thankful attitude, we need to hear it over, and over, and over. Because it is so easy to slip into murmuring, and grumbling, and complaining about the things we don't like or that we don't have, forgetting about all the blessings we have and how many things we have in our life to be thankful for.
You know, your attitude begins in your mind. It begins with your thoughts, and then it becomes your words, and your actions, and your attitude. And your attitude is really like just the posture that you take toward something. Your attitude will affect your body language. If you don't like something there's gonna be a face made or a certain way that you'll stand. But if you like something, you'll usually have a smile on your face. And I just wanna to tell you, God is so good to us.
Now, I know we hear that a lot and say it a lot, but God is really very, very good to us and many times we do not deserve it. And there's so many things to be thankful for. And I don't know who might be watching today, but maybe, just maybe, there's a few of you that kinda got up on the cranky side of the bed this morning. And you started, right away, because the devil loves to do this, put thoughts in our mind about, "Well, you did this to me. And you didn't do that for me. And I've been praying about this and nothing's happened. And, you know, we need this, and we don't have it". But this is a wake-up call to say you can stop that right now. And instead, you can think about all the things that you have to be thankful for.
You know, a lot of mornings, I just thank God that I can walk, and talk, and see, and hear. Just think of how many people there are that wake up in the morning and if they're crippled and have to use a wheelchair, just how hard it is just to go to the bathroom. And those of us who can just jump out of bed and go do that, we forget about sometimes what we do have, and we start thinking too much about what we don't have. So, Philippians 2:5 says, "Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [let him be your example in humility]". And, you know, I think humility does have a lot to do with being grateful. Because if you're humble, you realize that there's so many blessings in your life that you have that you really don't deserve, and it makes you very thankful for them. But we're gonna focus on "Let this same attitude be in you which was in Christ Jesus".
Now, he had a good attitude. We never hear Jesus complaining. He didn't complain when he was on the cross. He didn't complain in the Garden of Gethsemane. He didn't complain when his disciples acted like little babies and fought over which of them was the greatest. He was always thankful. A thankful attitude is the will of God. It's kind of interesting, you know, so many people, they wanna know, "What is God's will for my life? How can I know God's will for my life"? Well, maybe there is something specific that God wants you to do, but there are things that the Bible talks about that are what I would call general things that we all are supposed to do. And being thankful is one of them. And I think sometimes if we're not doing those things, then if there is something specific God wants us to do, we may never find out what that is because these are basic things that are very, very important.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 and 19: "Thank [God] in everything". I must say that a few times, because I wanna make sure we don't just rush past that. "Thank [God] in everything". It goes on to say, "[no matter what the circumstances might be]". Think about that. Thank God in everything. So, if you're having a problem right now, even a very big problem, or even if you've gotten a bad report from the doctor, or if one of your kids is giving you a lot of trouble, or there's an issue in your marriage, or you have a financial issue, don't just focus on the problem, but focus also on all the things in your life that are going good. And you can be honest with God, "Father, I don't like what's going on in my life right now. It hurts and it's hard, but I'm thankful to you".
If you can't think of anything else, just be thankful that you're born again and you're gonna go to heaven when your time here on earth is up. We should be thankful that our names are written in the lamb's book of life and that we're gonna spend eternity with God. "Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances might be, be thankful and give thanks]". And I really like that, "[be thankful and give thanks]". You know, if you talk to people about, "Are you a thankful person"? A lot of people would say, "Well, yeah, sure, I'm a thankful person". But how often do you give thanks not just to God, but also to people? This morning, I was thinking about, oh, well, actually, it was yesterday, I was thinking about how much time I spend writing books and how Dave is so really agreeable to give me that time.
You know, there's a lot of times when he would like me to go and do something with him, and I say, "I can't. I need to write today". Actually, that happens a lot. And so, I thanked him this morning for giving me the time to write without it being an irritation to him. You know, there's a lot of things that I have to take time to do that doesn't allow me to be maybe what you would call "A normal wife," because I have this call on my life to preach the gospel. And Dave is very good about all that. Matter of fact, he said this morning when I thanked him, he said, "Well, sure". He said, "What you're doing when you write those books is helping people all over the world. And I'm glad that you have that time". But I wonder how many things you could thank your kids for, or the person you're married to, or a good friend, or your parents, or whatever, that you just don't, you know?
So often, we just don't take the time to verbalize. I even called my daughter this morning and I thanked her because she does so much for me that makes my life easier. And I called her and told her, "I just want you to know I love you and I wanna thank you for all the things that you do for me". And can I tell you this? The more thankful you are, the happier you're going to be. Let me say it again. The more thankful you are, the happier you're going to be. But you know, when we murmur, and grumble, and complain, and find fault with so many things, all it does is make us unhappy. But you can increase your joy just by increasing your attitude of gratitude.
So, "Thank [God] in everything, [no matter what the circumstances might be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the revealer and the mediator of that will]". And verse 19 says, "Do not quench (suppress or subdue) the [holy] spirit". So, this is basically saying that when we're not thankful, we are hindering the work of the Holy Spirit in our life. And I don't know about you, but I sure don't want to do that. I want the Holy Spirit to be able to do in and through me whatever he wants to do. He's our helper, our strengthener, and I need all the strength that I can get. So, thanking God in everything, no matter what the circumstances might be, is a tall order, no doubt about that. I think we're born grouchy, but we're born again thankful. And so, we're always having to say "No" to the flesh and "Yes" to the spirit. And that's gonna be that way as long as we're alive.
In Galatians 5, it says "The spirit wars against the flesh and the flesh wars against the spirit, and they are continually antagonistic toward one another". So, all day long, every day, we're making decisions whether we're gonna go with what we know God wants, or whether, we're gonna do what the enemy wants us to do. Now, there is a scripture in the Bible that I think really kinda, you know, it's hard to say it's the best scripture in the Bible because there's so many great ones, but I think this scripture is one that kind of brings everything together. And it's Romans 8:28, "All things work together for good to those who love God, and are called according to his purpose".
Now, I know that you probably hear that scripture a lot. And pretty much any time that I'm in front of a crowd and I use that scripture, people clap. It's a very comforting and encouraging scripture. But I want you to think about that, "All things end up working out for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose". If you love God and you're doing the best you can to walk in his will, then no matter what happens in your life, God can cause it to work out for your good. That's so encouraging to me. Think about it like this, you know, if you bake a cake, especially if you're not using a box mix, but you start from scratch, you have a lot of different ingredients. It's been so long since I've baked a cake, I don't know what they all are, but I know there's flour, and I know there's oil, and there's eggs, and there's sugar, and there's a lot of different things.
Well, you know, any one of those by themselves would be very distasteful. Who would wanna eat two or three cups of flour? I certainly wouldn't. Or even sugar, I mean, I wouldn't wanna sit and eat a whole cup of sugar, it would make me sick. But it's interesting when you put all those things together, they bake a cake, and everybody probably likes cake. And so, God is able to do that in our life. He can take maybe the good things that happen, and he can take the bad things that happen, and he can mix 'em all together and make them work out for our good. You know, one thing that people don't realize that I love to teach on is experience. And everything we go through that's difficult: we are getting experience. And that experience will do one of two things, or it'll do both. It will help us the next time we go through that to know how to handle it or we're getting experience that we can use to help other people when they're going through difficult times.
Psalm 107:2 says, "And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving". It may be a sacrifice sometimes to be thankful. Because really, you're going through a tough time, you're hurting and being thankful is not really what you really wanna do. Maybe some of you, right now, maybe you're hurting. Maybe you've got a migraine headache, or maybe your back is hurting, or you're having trouble with your kid at school, and the school has called and said they want you to come up and talk to the principal and you're like, "Oh, no, not again". Well, you might not feel like giving thanks. It might be sacrificial, but you can say that to God, "God, I offer up to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving, because no matter what is going on that I don't like, there are far more things in my life that I do like than those that I don't".
I have shared before that one time I was not real happy with Dave. And I was just thinking about all the things that he didn't do that I wished he would do. And God challenged me to make two lists: "Make a list of all the things you don't like about Dave and then make a list of all the things you do like about dave". And you know what? The things that I liked that list was so much longer than the few things, and I mean, it was very few things that I didn't like. And I think, really, all of us are like that. Sometimes you just need to stop and think, "What are my blessings"?
You know, I live in a city, St. Louis, where it gets really cold in the winter. And when it's really, really cold outside, very often I will thank God that I have a home and a comfortable bed to get in with all the covers that I want and that I'm not living out on the street somewhere, covered up with a cardboard box trying to stay warm because I'm homeless. Think about how blessed you are, and it will make you so much happier than if you think about what you don't have. Psalm 34:1 says, "I will extol the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth". I love that. Well, you know, thanking God for specific things is really good, but how 'bout if we just pray that God will help us just live with an attitude of gratitude? Where that's our normal go-to attitude is "I'm thankful. I'm always thankful".
When a person has an attitude of gratitude, it says a lot about their character. And, you know, character is really important. I love to have friends that have good character, people that I know that I can count on and depend on. And, you know, we teach sometimes about the character of God. He was always good. He's a God of justice. He always makes wrong things right. He's a provider. He always meets all of our needs. And these are things that we can count on all the time. We don't have to wonder: "Will he do this, this time and maybe not the next time"? He'll do that every time. Petition usually outweighs praise. It's much easier to ask God for things than it is to remember to go back and thank him for them. Ten lepers requested healing, but only one returned to give thanks.
Let's look at Luke 11, I mean, Luke 17:11-16: "Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. And he was going into a village, and ten men who had leprosy met him. And they stood at a distance and they called out in a loud voice, 'Jesus, master, have pity on us'! And when he saw them, he said to them, 'now go and show yourself to the priests'. And as they went, they were cleansed". Well, they had to take a step of faith. They didn't know for sure what was gonna happen as they went. But we always have to take a step of faith in our dealings with God. "One of them, when he saw he was healed, one of them when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice".
You know, when God has done a lot for you in your life, sometimes it's hard to be quiet about it. We get a little bit loud: we get a little bit excited about all that God has done. "And he threw himself at Jesus' feet and he thanked him", and the Bible says, "And he was a Samaritan". Now, why does it say that? Well, the Samaritans were hated by the Jews. Now, I don't know if the other nine were Jews, but let's just suppose for a minute that they were, and the Jewish people were the ones that were supposed to be the religious ones. And in verse 17: "Jesus said, 'were not all ten cleansed? Where then are the other nine'"?
And you know what? That's a scripture that makes me feel sad. But if we think about that, if we're gonna go by that percentage, if 10% of the petitioners are truly thankful, that means 90% of all the people that God does things for, don't bother to come back and give thanks to God after they get what they want. Let's don't be the kind of people that forget the goodness of God. You know, especially in the Old Testament, God warns the people over, and over, and over, "Remember, do not forget the things that I brought you through and how I blessed you". It's dangerous to forget how good God has been to us. We need to remember and honestly, we need to think about it every day. Keep a "Thank you" journal. I do.
Thanking God for the things that he gives me, for little things that people do for me, for gifts that people send me, when I'm out and about and it's obvious that God is giving me favor. Don't ever get tired of thanking God and don't ever get tired of even thanking God for the same things over, and over, and over. In Philippians 1:3-5, Paul said, "I thank my God every time I remember you". He was talking to the people who were partnering with him in ministry, and he said, "In all my prayers for you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day you heard it until now".
Well, you know, that's always been interesting to me that here's people that from the very first time they heard the gospel, they started partnering financially with Paul because they understood that he could not preach the gospel and do the work needed to also support himself while he was doing it. And Paul said, "Every time I remember you, I thank God for you". So, what about the people in our life that do things for us on a continual basis that every time we think of them, we should say, "Father, thank you, that you put them in my life". Things like our families, our homes and our jobs, our health, our salvation, Jesus, the Holy Spirit. Thank God that you have a purpose.
You know, I'm so glad that I have a purpose in life. I don't wanna just sit around day after day, after day, and do nothing. I'm glad that I have a purpose, something to put myself into that's helping other people. You know, the word thanksgiving appears, the word thanks and thanksgiving appears 116 times in the Bible. And we're told 73 times to give thanks. So, that's about 200 times. So, I would say that that's something that is pretty important. And you know what, everything that God tells us to do, believe it or not, is for our benefit. That's why I say that the more thankful we are and the more we voice that thanksgiving, the happier we're going to be.
Now, one of my very favorite scriptures is Philippians 4:6, and it says that we should mix our prayers with thanksgiving, Philippians 4:6, "Do not be anxious about anything", I believe this scripture is the answer to anxiety. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God". Don't worry about anything. The minute that you start to worry about something, turn that worry into a prayer. Ask God to take care of it, and then start thanking him for things that he's already done in your life. That would be a good time to remember, "God, I remember the last time I had a problem, and I remember that you took care of it. And I know you're gonna take care of this one, too". This a great time. Don't ever ask God for something without thanking him for some things that he's already done. Could I say that again? Don't ever ask God for something without thanking him for something that he's already done. God is so good.
You know, Daniel was a great man of God, and he was very blessed. And the Bible says that three times a day Daniel prayed and gave thanks. And the king put out a law that nobody could pray to anybody but him for a certain amount of time. And David's habit was always to go to his room, these three times a day, open his windows and pray, get on his knees, and pray and give thanks to God. And Daniel 6:10 says, "Now but when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. And three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before". I love that. He was gonna continue to give thanks to God, no matter what the king said and no matter what kind of threat there was against him.
You know, thankfulness protects us from the poison of envy and jealousy. Sometimes it's so easy to get envious or jealous of somebody else. But if you thank God for what you have, and I wanna add a little something here that may sound strange: thank God for what you don't have. You say "Well, why in the world would I do that"? Well, you know what? If God hasn't given it to you yet, then that means that you're either not ready to handle it yet or it's not the right time yet. And I'll tell you something. There's nothing worse than to have something that you're really not ready to handle. So, how 'bout saying, "God, I thank you for the things that you've done in my life, and I thank you for the things that I've asked you for that you haven't done yet, because that means it's not the right timing for me". I believe that the Lord has shown me that if I ask him for something and I don't get it, it's only because he has something better in mind and I don't really know how to ask him for that yet. So, don't forget today's message. Be a thankful person.