Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
—1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
A person with a thankful heart is a person of great power. A thankful heart is a victorious heart, which sees victory in the face of defeat.
In the course of battle, we can often get frustrated and find ourselves wrestling with God instead of contending the mountains in our lives. Through our frustration we end up rebuking God, instead of rebuking principalities and powers. We can get caught in the cycle of complaint with God concerning how long it is taking Him to meet our need, instead of thanking Him for all that He has already done for us. Our unhappiness can keep us continually seeking explanations from God, instead of thanking Him for the mountains He has already moved and the seas that He has parted to get us this far.
How soon we lose sight of all the miracles He has performed to bring us the victories we have already been given. While waiting for God to do the "big" thing for us, we forget to be thankful for the little victories along the way. I believe the small blessings we receive from God are a special test of our heart; He wants to know if we will be thankful even for the smallest gift.
On the other hand, satan wants us to become dissatisfied with the victories God has given us, for a dissatisfied heart is easy for him to manipulate. When we are frustrated, he can get us to do and say things we would not otherwise, and attitudes can develop that hurt our faith. Jealousy and selfish ambition are both rooted in an ungrateful, dissatisfied heart. For a dissatisfied heart is like a hunger that is never filled, or a fire that never dies out. If we allow it, it will eat away at the enjoyment we find in this life.
The Safe Zone
Having a thankful heart keeps us in a "safe zone" – a place where satan cannot gain access to our minds. That place is where we give thanksgiving and praise to God for ALL He has done for us. "In everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
I have a friend who is a pastor, and he recently went through a situation in his church where many people in his congregation left. Instead of becoming embittered about what he had lost, he made a conscious effort to thank God for the people who stayed with him. In a time of loss, it is easy to lose sight of all we still have! In all circumstances and at all times, we must find something to be grateful for, and remain thankful in the place God has put us.
When God shows us something He wants to give us and it does not happen right away, it is easy to become frustrated. If God has promised it, He will complete it. But we have our part to do, and that is thanking Him in spite of how things look in the natural. Our frustration and anxiety will only hinder God. Praise and thanksgiving prove we are trusting in God to do the impossible for us in His timing and in His way.
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication WITH THANKSGIVING let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.—Philippians 4:6-7, emphasis mine
The presence, peace and power of God are gifts given freely to those who trust Him and do not allow fear and anxiety to remain in their heart. The peace of God will be a guard to our heart, fighting against anxiety and dissatisfaction. Anxiety will erode our faith and trust in God, but the peace of God that passes all understanding will produce a thankful heart. I truly believe that a thankful heart will touch God and enable us to experience His presence anywhere at any time.
Two Power-Filled Words
There are two simple words that release heavenly power to those who will use them. They are foundational words that most of us learn as small children – small, but mighty words that will unlock the windows of Heaven. God's heart is captured by the heartfelt words, "Thank you." I have personally seen these two simple words unleash the blessings of Heaven!
Years ago my husband and I needed a great deal of money and we had just a short time to come up with the amount we needed. I wanted to panic when faced with what seemed like an impossible situation, but instead, I went to my heavenly Father who owns the cattle on a thousand hills. As I poured out my heart (and my fears) to Him, He filled me with His peace. I asked Him how we should deal with our need. He replied, "Just thank Me and the money will come in!"
After only six months God supplied all that we needed and more! It was six wonder-filled months! Six months of praise, thanksgiving and rejoicing in God. We saw Him display His power in a great way and felt His awesome love for us!
God loves it when we trust in Him. One way we can show Him our trust is to thank Him for meeting our needs, even before we see it made evident in the natural. As we begin to thank Him, our appreciation keeps our eyes on God's faithfulness. It shows us how big and awesome He is; it reminds us of how He has helped us in the past and assures us He will help us in the present and future.
God's Power in Us
Complaining keeps our vision small and us focused on our problem. Praising raises our eyes to our great big Daddy God who is constantly looking after us. We need to focus not just on rebuking the devil – but on magnifying God! With our praise and adoration of Him, we will begin to see that there is no problem too big for our God.
Our thankful heart will produce an honest and accurate view of God. We will see that He alone holds the world in the palm of His hand, and that He alone is the Creator of all things. As this awesome God blesses us every day, we simply need to take the time to renew our minds by thinking of the blessings and victories He has given us. When we do this, we enlarge our capacity to believe in Him to do even greater things, and then we will trust Him more and lean more on the power and authority He has given us.
If we understand that God created the mountains, we will believe that He has the power to move mountains. And dear friends, He has chosen to give that power to us that the world may glorify Him as we walk in the power of His majesty and greatness.
Please pray this with me: Dear Father, please forgive me for limiting You with grumbling and complaining. Help me to thank You at all times, and may heartfelt praise for You forever be on my lips. May I always appreciate You and enjoy You with a heart of thanksgiving. Thank You for all You do!
Speaking Life Ministries