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Steven Furtick — Practicing Gratitude


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I watch some interesting stuff on YouTube, if I can get that out there. I go on kicks. And a couple years ago, I went on a kick where I watched commencement speeches at Stanford, and Harvard, and other different little colleges. I watched a commencement address from Steve Jobs, which was pretty cool. He talked about how failure in his life was actually the thing that freed him from his fear so he could succeed. So that was cool. I watched one by David Foster Wallace, the novelist. His was more funny. He was really witty about talking about the every-day mundane life that you live after graduation, and if you don't prepare for that, it can catch you off guard because life is not just like a party. So he's preparing these graduates for that reality.

I watched one from Oprah. Hers was amazing. I think she's always interesting to listen to. She's very real, and so her just walking through how she became Oprah and what that looked like, to me, was fascinating. I've heard it before, but just something about who she was addressing. These people who are going into the next stage of their life. They're moving from one level to another level, and to hear the words that they choose to use in transition, to me, is very interesting. In that season where you have so many questions, and so many hopes, and so many dreams.

And I think it's cool how God put a commencement speech in the Bible from Moses. You know, the valedictorian of the prophets. He saw God face to face. God said other prophets have I spoken to, but Moses I speak with face to face. And that's cool because it means that Moses had an experience with God that he could pass to the people. And that's what a commencement speech, I guess, is all about. It's a bunch of people who aren't paying attention 'cause they really just want to just throw their cap and go get drunk, listening to someone tell them kind of what's next, and give me some keys to figure out where I'm going, and what I'm doing.

And in a sense, we're watching a graduation ceremony for the Israelites. They still have some battles ahead of them before they enter the promised land, but Moses is telling them it's about to happen. You're about to flip the tassel. But before you go there, make up your mind that when you get there, you won't forget who brought you. And he must know that they have a tendency because he led them for 40 years through the wilderness. Millions of people. A tendency to kind of, as God provides for them, let their preferences cause them to miss God's provision. If they didn't like the way that the food tasted or the schedule on which the food came, they were very quick to complain under Moses' leadership.

So he says to them, you're going to a better place. Your best is before you. And on one hand, he's prophesying the potential of the Promised Land, but he's also pointing out the proclivities of people who enter the promise that forget the provider once they've received it. So as he does this, he goes through the kinds of things they're going to experience, and he tells them, be really careful because God's gifts alone are not able to give you joy. God's gifts alone are not able to give you joy. God's gifts can only bring you joy when they are joined with your gratitude.

You know, Holly and I live in the woods. We have like 19 acres of land. But although we have many trees, we didn't have firewood because I don't know what to do to turn the trees into firewood. I don't have that equipment. I don't have that training. I'm surrounded by the raw material to heat my house, yet I had to pay someone to come over the other day and take what I had on my land and turn it into something that could heat my home. You know, you can be surrounded by all these blessings, all these relationships, all this provision, all this goodness, all these opportunities. But if you don't know how to turn the blessing into praise, it'll turn to pride in your heart, and your life will never be filled with joy because your heart will have holes in it.

And Moses speaks to this. Moses speaks to this. He's come to give us a commencement address to say that maybe what you need in your life isn't the next level of accomplishment or the next level of accumulation, but the next level of appreciation for what you have that will set the stage for you to make the most out of what you accumulate in the future. Because if you grow in gifts but don't grow in gratitude, what have you gained? If God gives it, but you don't know what to do with it, it won't make you happy.

Some of you — if God gave you a husband right now, you don't like yourself enough to unwrap the gift and appreciate it. It's about how to be happy. And they study more and more that the happy people are not the ones who have the best of everything, but those who make the most of everything they do have. You know this. You've met people with less than you that seemed to have more joy. Brené Brown, this researcher that I like to read her books. She studies a lot on the topics of wholeness. What makes a person whole. And she doesn't even approach it from like a religious perspective. Its more research based. More sociological.

And I like this book that she wrote called "The Gifts of Imperfection". She has a whole section devoted to gratitude. And I thought since, you know, many of us don't read as much as we should, we'll have a little book club time with Pastor Steven today. You can count this toward your "Book It" chart and get you a personal pan pizza at the end of the school year. You all don't know nothing about a personal pan pizza. But I just want to read you directly from this book the parts I highlighted because this really spoke to me. She said when it comes to gratitude — when she was researching, the word that jumped out throughout the process is practice. Practicing gratitude.

Practicing gratitude. Because let me break this to you. Gratitude is not natural. Disagree with me on that, and you'll only prove that you have never fed a two-year-old. There is nothing natural about gratitude. There's nothing instinctive that makes your child appreciate the sacrifices that you made to put food on the table. So she said the phrase that came to her in research was practicing gratitude. And she said to her, this was shocking and somewhat of a call to action. She said: "For years, I subscribed to the notion of an 'attitude of gratitude.' I've since learned that an attitude is an orientation or a way of thinking and that 'having an attitude' doesn't always translate to a behavior.

For example, it would be reasonable to say that I have a yoga attitude. The ideals and beliefs that guide my life are very in line with the ideas and beliefs that I associate with yoga". OK? She said: "But let me assure you, my yoga attitude and my yoga pants don't mean jack if you put me on a yoga mat and ask me to stand on my head or strike a pose. As I'm sitting here writing this, I've never practiced yoga. I've never put the attitude into action. It seems that gratitude without practice may be a little like faith without works. It's not alive". So we don't so much want to know, do you have a grateful heart, but do you have grateful habits? Because your joy is not produced by what's in your heart. It's produced by your habits with which you build your life.

I told somebody one time, they said: you know my heart. You know, they were explaining why they never say things out loud — appreciative things out loud. You know my heart. To which my silent answer was NO, I don't. I'm not a freaking cardiologist, is what I was thinking. The Bible teaches something very powerful, and it's very simple. It says let the redeemed of the Lord say so. Touch your neighbor. Say, "say so". If you think I'm doing good, say so. That's why I can't stand when y'all are quiet during my sermon. I work hard on this mess to turn it into a message. And if you think I'm preaching, you ought to shout. You ought to holler at me. You ought to let me know this is alright. This is hitting the spot. This is better than crockpot macaroni. Come on, somebody. I'm having Thanksgiving flashbacks.

Say so. Say so. You like my outfit? Say so. Say so. It's very basic, you know. This is the most basic level of gratitude. And Moses is saying hey, make sure that when God blesses you, you say the blessing. That's my first point. This is our first level. This is the foundation of real gratitude and, perhaps, real faith. Say the blessing. Say the blessing. I think there's power in teaching your kids how to act at the table if you can. At least try to teach them how to act at the table if you can.

So like at our table — bring out the table, guys. At our table at the house, we have like a family blessing that we say. Meal times at our house are chaotic. Abbey always gets threatened to get sent to her room because of what she's not eating, Elijah and Graham are always fighting over something with each other relative to portion size, but we do one thing right. I think we do this right. I wrote us a family blessing. Holly said, babe, you know, you can't cook so maybe your contribution to our culinary experience — you could write a family blessing that our family — we can sing around the table. So I didn't make my own music. This music is borrowed, but I did write the words to this. Would you like to hear the Furtick family blessing? I'm not going to do it if you don't want it. Alright.

This is proprietary stuff, people, OK? This is family stuff. At our kitchen table — so you have to kind of play along with this to get the sense of it. We bang on the table. Establish the beat. There you go. Don't speed it up too much. Keep the rhythm. White people, I know it's hard for you to keep the rhythm, but just lock it right there. So here's our blessing. Thank you, Lord for all you've done For this food and for Christ your Son, Amen Let's eat some food And thank you, Mommy... That's the blessing. You like that? Alright, come on. Try it with me. Here we go. And when they're ready to eat, they just start pounding on the table like inmates. Thank, thank, thank, thank thank, thank, thank, thank Thank you, Lord For all you've done For this food And for Christ Your Son, Amen Let's eat some food And thank you, Mommy And that's the blessing. Moses said when you eat, say the blessing.

I love my mom. My mom is in this worship experience, so I want to be really careful how I say this. She raised me right, but she had one dumb rule. Unbiblical. Unbiblical rule. She taught me never sing at the table. I guess I was prone to make all kinds of noises at the table. And I understand the heart behind it. That we wanted to eat in peace. But Moses said, you better learn to sing at the table. That is, while God is blessing you, while God is pouring out provision for you, you ought not just sit there and act like you earned it, or act like you deserved it.

I can't understand why some people come to church and cross their arms the whole time. When God brings you to the table and feeds you His faithfulness, when God brings you to the table and feeds you His words, I feel Kieth Greene. How can you be so dead when you been so well fed? You better say something. If this food is good, open up your mouth and sing.

The principle lies in verse 10. He said when you have eaten. This is after you get the blessing. This is basic. This is the kiddie table of Christianity, and most people never even make it here. God gives them seven days a week, 24 hours a day, and they won't even return two to God to come to church and thank Him. Not you. The people that are watching on line. You're good. Clap, clap, clap, Come on. You're good this week. When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God. See, it's almost like training a child because the Israelites are just coming to know God as their provider. And so Moses has to teach, praise the Lord your God for this food. For the good land He has given you. For the. For the. You better praise Him for the, OK?

This is the basics of praise. For the. This is where it starts. This is what you're trying to teach your kids to do. Thank you, Mommy, for the food. I enjoyed it. Thank you, God, for the use of my limbs. That's helpful. Thank you, God, for my eyesight. Just whatever you can think of. Let's do some more for the's because it's good to practice. This is a basic level. Thank you for the nose. He pointed at his nose. Thank you for the nose on my face. Thank you for the clothes on my back. Thank you for the roof over my head. Thank you, Lord, for the wife that encourages me from the front row. Thank you for the running water that came out of my sink like magic when I went to turn it on today. Thank you for the people in my life who believe in me. Who haven't given up. Thank you for the crazy family that you let me have.

All the dysfunction and everything is just teaching me and developing me. Thank you for the air conditioned, heated building. Whatever I need it to be, I can make it feel comfortable. Thank you for the freedom to worship in a place where I'm not persecuted. Thank you for the brothers and sisters sitting all around me, helping me praise God. Thank you for the grace you gave me when I failed this week. Thank you for the prayers you answered. Thank you for the ways you made. Thank you, Lord! Turn around and tell somebody one thing you're thankful for. Tell them I thank God for the. For the. For the money to pay my rent. For the money to pay my mortgage. I thank God for the. For the. For the sunshine. I thank Him for the fall. I thank Him for the winter. I thank Him for the holiday season. I thank Him for the Starbucks I can afford this week. I thank Him for the provision. That's what Moses is teaching at the kiddie table. Thank you for the.

Perhaps happiness is not about accumulation as much as it is about appreciation. But this world doesn't market appreciation to us. You can't even get through Thanksgiving before they're filling your newspaper with pictures of crap you don't need that you have to buy the next day. The worst Thanksgiving our family has ever had was a few Thanksgivings ago when some demon brought a newspaper in my house with the sale papers for Black Friday on Thanksgiving Thursday. It made me so mad to see my kids circling stuff. Can we not just have one day? Just one day?

And you know what I had a vision of in my mind? I'm going to hire a professional photographer to come to the house, and take a picture of all the crap I bought you last Christmas, and put it in a book like a catalog, and you can circle what you already have, and say thank you! Thank you, Dad! God wants to know, can we not just have one day? One season? Do you always need me to do something else?

See, God is gracious. God is more gracious than the utility company. Because the utility company makes sure that every month, you appreciate them. And if you fail to show appreciation, they'll stop providing power. They'll give you a chance to rectify and remedy the situation. It'll be a little invitation you'll get in the mail. An invitation to appreciate their faithfulness. It'll say something at the top like past due. Oh, God told me to tell somebody in the back, your praise is past due.

Your praise is past due. And maybe that's why there's been no power in your life lately. Because there hasn't been any praise. And God said, I can't get the power to your life because you won't release a praise. You want power? Then give Him a praise! Give Him a praise! Clap those hands baby! Give it! Is your praise past due? Are you walking in blessings that used to be your prayer requests, and you haven't even stopped to circle them and say thank you, Lord? For the. Moses said thank Him for the good land. Thank Him. When you tithe, you say thanks. When you bring an offering at the end of the year, you're saying thanks. When you graduate from just an attitude of gratitude to a way of life that is grateful. You say: Thank you, Lord!


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