When we know who it is we worship, we are able to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth and be the worshippers, God is seeking (John 4:22-24). Today, we will look at the discipline of thankful worship. Worshipping God by our gratitude. Of course, that requires we take note of the blessings in our lives, and we understand that every good blessing is from the Lord (James 1:17).
I believe it is important for a Jesus follower to be remain aware of the Holy Spirit’s work in her life so that she can respond with a grateful heart to all He is doing and giving but also that she can worshipfully live, exalting Him rather than herself for the awesome abundance, power, and goodness of her life. It is too easy to take credit for what God is doing; but giving the glory back to Him allows people to join in your worship.
Thankfulness begins with thankfulness not merely for blessings, provisions, or gifts but for the very presence of God, for appreciating that He is here, with us and He will never abandon us (Deuteronomy 31:6). He calls us His own people and He will never disown us. He has chosen us, and He will never reject us. He has adopted us as His children, and He will never renounce us.
If you are looking for a Psalm to sing to God in thankful worship, Psalm 136 is a great one. It is a Psalm which sings of God’s goodness, greatness, and love and enables a celebratory and thankful heart. Psalm 136:1-3 reads,
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
for his steadfast love endures forever;
This is thankful worship, seeing and appreciate God’s presence, work, and awesomeness in our lives. 1 Chronicles 16:31-34 is an another example of thankful worship
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice,
and let them say among the nations, “The Lord reigns!”
32 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it!
33 Then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth.
34 Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever!
Thankfulness is more than an attitude it is an act, a behavior, it begins with the Holy Spirit, with our permission and in our choice to obey Him, thankfulness flows out and impacts us and the others around us in worship. It brings us closer to who God has made us to be. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24 describes living in worship,
Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 19 Do not quench the Spirit. 20 Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. 22 Abstain from every form of evil.
23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
Worship begins with celebration and gratitude, it continues with allowing the Holy Spirit to do what He will. And as we appreciate His working, as we listen to Him speak, allow Him to open our eyes, and appreciate His work, we celebrate even more, we thank Him all the more and worship continues both within the church and in our lives.
Thankful worship is the beginning of prayer and the continuation of prayer; it is the heart of prayer. Philippians 4:4-7 puts it this way,
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
With an attitude of gratitude (sorry for the rhyme), even our requests will be made from a heart of praise and worship. Because we will pray knowing that God is good and gives us whatever we ask for in Jesus’ name (John 14:12-14). Gratitude keeps us from bothering with anxiety, there is no worry for the person who lives recognizing the presence of God in her life. There is no apprehension or unease for the person who appreciates the steadfast love of God. The follower of Jesus truly has nothing to be afraid of, worry about, or panic about. We can grow increasingly more into the perfect image of Jesus Christ and we know and trust that this work is already done even while it is in progress. 1 John 4:7-19 in The Message reads,
7-10 My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know him if you don’t love. This is how God showed his love for us: God sent his only Son into the world so we might live through him. This is the kind of love we are talking about—not that we once upon a time loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to clear away our sins and the damage they’ve done to our relationship with God.
11-12 My dear, dear friends, if God loved us like this, we certainly ought to love each other. No one has seen God, ever. But if we love one another, God dwells deeply within us, and his love becomes complete in us—perfect love!
13-16 This is how we know we’re living steadily and deeply in him, and he in us: He’s given us life from his life, from his very own Spirit. Also, we’ve seen for ourselves and continue to state openly that the Father sent his Son as Savior of the world. Everyone who confesses that Jesus is God’s Son participates continuously in an intimate relationship with God. We know it so well, we’ve embraced it heart and soul, this love that comes from God.
17-18 God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.
19 We, though, are going to love—love and be loved. First we were loved, now we love. He loved us first.
If we know God, we cannot help but proclaim His love and proclaiming His love means proclaiming Jesus Christ who saved us and indwells us with His Spirit. It means knowing we have nothing to fear because God is Good and Holy and Awesome. Believer, if you think you have nothing to be thankful for and cannot think of anything to thank God for, begin with this, Jesus paid the price and took the punishment for your sins. He forgave, wiped out all your sinfulness. He is with you now and forever. He is taking you home to Heaven one day. He is LORD of all. In Him all things were created, find their purpose, and are perfected. 1 Colossians 1:15-24 gives us reason after reason to thank God to fall down and worship with our entire being. This passage in the Living Bible says,
Christ is the exact likeness of the unseen God. He existed before God made anything at all, and, in fact, 16 Christ himself is the Creator who made everything in heaven and earth, the things we can see and the things we can’t; the spirit world with its kings and kingdoms, its rulers and authorities; all were made by Christ for his own use and glory. 17 He was before all else began and it is his power that holds everything together. 18 He is the Head of the body made up of his people—that is, his Church—which he began; and he is the Leader of all those who arise from the dead, so that he is first in everything; 19 for God wanted all of himself to be in his Son.
20 It was through what his Son did that God cleared a path for everything to come to him—all things in heaven and on earth—for Christ’s death on the cross has made peace with God for all by his blood. 21 This includes you who were once so far away from God. You were his enemies and hated him and were separated from him by your evil thoughts and actions, yet now he has brought you back as his friends. 22 He has done this through the death on the cross of his own human body, and now as a result Christ has brought you into the very presence of God, and you are standing there before him with nothing left against you—nothing left that he could even chide you for; 23 the only condition is that you fully believe the Truth, standing in it steadfast and firm, strong in the Lord, convinced of the Good News that Jesus died for you, and never shifting from trusting him to save you. This is the wonderful news that came to each of you and is now spreading all over the world. And I, Paul, have the joy of telling it to others.
Thankful worship includes celebrating God’s goodness. Singing, dancing, and praying with a specific focus on God’s gifts, blessings, and greatness to us, with us, and in us. It embraces thanking others, being thankful to others as you recognize their generosity, obedience, or love lived out. It involves being generous ourselves. If we are blessed, we are faithful enough to share those blessings in gratitude and so can propagate thankfulness in others. We can show and sow gratitude to worship the Lord God. Thankfulness requires us to be humble as we acknowledge Christ’s preeminence in everything and allow His love to pour into and out of us. Colossians 3:12-17 shows this kind of life of gratitude as it affects the people around us,
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Giving to others, giving generously is an act of thankful worship. 1 Timothy 6:17-19 reads,
As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, 19 thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.
And it is not just for the rich, it is for all of us. Generosity is an act of love and worship 1 John 3:16-18 says,
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
Miracles don’t begin with our seeing what we do not have and complaining about it. Miracles being with gratitude, with seeing what God has given, thanking Him for it, and trusting that He provides all our needs. This was lived out for us by Jesus. Mark 8:1-10 tells is the narrative of what we refer to as The Feeding of the Four-Thousand. It begins with Jesus having compassion on the great crowd who had followed Him and were listening to Him teach. He said, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” Rather than worry, instead of complain, He looked for what they did have. The twelve counted seven loves of bread. Seven loaves of bread would have been barely enough to feed the twelve, it was not enough to feed four thousand men. But Jesus still did not whine or complain. Verses 6-7 describe Jesus’ response.
And he directed the crowd to sit down on the ground. And he took the seven loaves, and having given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people; and they set them before the crowd. 7 And they had a few small fish. And having blessed them, he said that these also should be set before them
He thanked the Father for His provision, He found more provision and thanked Him for that and generously passed out what God had given to the hungry people. So, what did God do? He made seven loaves and a few fishes into enough to feed four thousand people until they were satisfied! That miracle began with gratitude, appreciation of who God is, love for His people, and the humility to obey God and act in faith that He is Awesome All-Powerful Loving God.
Believer, be thankful in everything, truly notice where your help comes from, who it is that holds it all together and what He has done, is doing, and will do. Be blessed and notice you are blessed, Beloved Children of God.