I believe one of the greatest challenges we face is to develop a real attitude of gratitude—a true heart-filled wonder at God’s goodness so that we are focusing on the good things instead of being swallowed up by the troubles and difficulties of this life. Don’t you know that the enemy of our soul would love to keep us from being thankful people? If we stay mired in worry, complaining, and negative attitudes, then we’re not much of a witness for our Lord.
However, a person who develops a real, genuine attitude of gratitude is the kind of person you love to be with, the kind who exudes the joy of the Lord. In this Thanksgiving month, I want to remind you of some ways you and I can develop a life-long attitude of gratitude. We have to be intentional about it; it won’t just happen. It’s all in our minds—how we think and what we think about.
I think we need to go back to the wonder of all that God has done for us. It is that childlike wonder that we so often and so easily lose in our walk with the Lord. Yes, we’ve got the doctrine straight; yes, we’re faithful to our church; yes, we read the Bible and pray occasionally. But we lose the wonder—the joy, the excitement, the curiosity, the sunshine-basking that is ours to enjoy. We lose it, and we lose that attitude of gratefulness.
The church at Ephesus had lost the wonder. In Revelation 2 we read about all the good things they had done and were doing, but it was written about them that they had forsaken their first love. That’s another way of saying they lost the wonder.
Have you lost the wonder? Check up on yourself as I mention some of the wonders we need to recover.
Have you lost the wonder of your salvation?
Have you lost the wonder of being born from above? When was the last time you shared your story of the time when you became a child of God? When was the last time you prayed: “Lord, thank you so much that I’m born from above and I know that I’ll spend eternity with you”?
Nothing could be more wonderful than our salvation—to wonder that the God of heaven sent his Son to die as a sacrifice for our sins; that he has enabled us to believe in him; and, because we have believed, we are now his children and destined for heaven. That is wonderful! Have you lost the wonder of it?
If so, here are some ways to regain it: Meditate on it daily. Thank God for your salvation every day. Think about where you would be if you were not saved. Think of the pit from which God picked you up. To help me remember the wonder of my salvation, I often pray this passage from Psalm 40:2-3:
He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.
Oh, the wonder of salvation! Recover the wonder. Next time you’re with some Christian friends, instead of small talk or some equally unedifying conversation, why not have everyone share their salvation testimony? It’s a great way to spend an evening and, believe me, it will help you recover the wonder of your salvation.
Have you lost the wonder of God’s creation?
Do you just take all the beauty and extravagance of the world for granted? When was the last time you enjoyed a beautiful flower or sunset? Many of us have little balance in our life when it comes to enjoying God’s creation, and we miss a great deal when we ignore the wonder of creation. David was a man after God’s own heart. One reason was because he never lost the wonder of God. He wrote:
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? (Psalm 8:3-4)
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. (Psalm 19:1)
You see, when we lose the wonder of God’s creation, we lose a lot of the wonder of who God is. Many times I just sit and think about how God spoke the worlds into being. He created this unfathomable universe where we live. Our galaxy has over 100 billion stars and he knows everyone of them by name. Snowflakes are all designed by him. He created atoms and angels and ants and crocodiles and chiggers and clouds and elephants and eagles and electricity and orchids and onions and octopuses and frogs and hummingbirds and tigers and raindrops and sweat drops and blood drops and dew drops!
If we were any closer to the sun we would burn to a crisp. If we were further away our planet would turn to ice. But God keeps our earth exactly the right distance from the sun. The oceans and tides are controlled by him—he keeps them in bounds.
Have you lost the wonder of his creation? Take some time to sit and look around you at the beauty of the world. Whether it’s boat rides or long walks in the woods, you need to find some way to recover the wonder of the creation of God.
Have you lost the wonder of your uniqueness?
So often we forget who we are in Christ and the wonder of how God has created us. David wrote:
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:13-14)
You are made full of wonder; have you ever really appreciated the wonder of who you are? I’m certainly not talking about improving your self-esteem or working on your self-image. Much of that teaching is not biblical. But it is totally biblical to be awestruck at the wonder of God’s creativity in you.
Right now, list out loud the things about you that are unique. You may be a wonderful listener, a great encourager, a gifted writer or speaker; a gift of joy that you bring to others. Are you a helper—someone who is just there for others in their times of need? That’s wonderful! Say so. Thank God for who you are.
If you’ve lost the wonder of who you are, maybe it’s because you keep comparing yourself to others and wishing you were like them. That really cramps your style, keeping you discouraged and depressed. Recover the wonder of who you are by appreciating who others are but not envying them. Thank God for who you are.
If you’ve lost the wonder of who you are, maybe it’s because you haven’t been a good steward of what God has given you. If you fail to use your gifts and abilities, if you never develop your skills and talents to their potential, then you really don’t know how wonderfully God has created you.
Have you lost the wonder of what God has called you to do?
Sometimes we get caught up in the hard work, the busy schedule, and the long days—and we lose the wonder that God calls us to serve him, and uses us in the lives of other people. As I read emails from our listeners and meet many of you in my travels, I am awestruck when you tell me how God has used a message or a book of mine to help you. Truly it is wonderful that God would use me to help others—it still blows my mind because I know that I personally have nothing to offer anyone. Yet God uses the weak and lowly things of this world, the despised things and the foolish things—like me—to shame the strong. That is awesome, isn’t it?
Has your ministry and work for God simply become another thing on your to-do list? Have you lost the wonder that God would, could, and does use you as part of his kingdom work? Ask God to restore the wonder of what you have been called to do. It makes it so much easier to get up each day when you feel a sense of wonder at God’s working in your life.
Have you lost the wonder of Jesus?
In Mark 9:15 we read, “As soon as the people saw Jesus, they were overwhelmed with wonder and ran to greet him.” When was the last time you were “overwhelmed with wonder” because of Jesus? Have you thought about these truths lately:
- He is the centerpiece of civilization – he stands in the solitude of himself.
- He is august and he is unique.
- He is unparalleled.
- He is unprecedented.
- He is undisputed.
- He is unsurpassed.
- He is the miracle of the ages.
- No means of measure can define his limitless love.
- No far-seeing telescope can bring into visibility the coastline of his shoreless supply.
- He is enduringly strong.
- He is entirely sincere.
- He is eternally steadfast.
- He is immortally gracious.
- He is imperially powerful.
- He is impartially merciful.
- He is the greatest phenomenon that has ever crossed the horizons of the globe.
- His life is matchless.
- His love is limitless.
- His mercy is enough.
- His grace is sufficient.
- His reign is righteous.
- His yoke is easy.
- He is indestructible.
- He is indescribable.
- He is incomprehensible.
- He is invincible.
- He is irresistible.
- He is inescapable.
- He is inestimable.
- You can’t outlive him, and you can’t live without him.
- You can’t get him out of your mind and you can’t get him out of your heart.
- The Pharisees couldn’t stand him, but they found they couldn’t stop him.
- Pilot couldn’t find any fault with him.
- Herod couldn’t kill him.
- Death couldn’t handle him, and the grave couldn’t hold him.
Recapture the wonder of Jesus. Go back into that first love, that awestruck wonder that Jesus came to earth for you, died for you, rose again for you, and ever lives to make intercession for you. If that’s not wonderful, I don’t know what is!
This Thanksgiving month is a great time to recover the wonder of your salvation, God’s creation, the unique way God has created you, the special gifts and calling he has given you, and Jesus.