Does your life reflect Thankfulness?

As a rollercoaster holiday season approaches one word gets tossed around quite a bit… thankfulness. What does it mean to be thankful? How does one live life thankfully? Is it a natural response or a choice? What are we thankful for?

Often times we dumb down a life of thankfulness to simply giving “thanks.” When in reality it’s so much more… a life of thankfulness is a behavioral style, a thought pattern and mindset, an attitude, and a choice most of all.

Psalm 107:8-9 says,

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

Being thankful is something that’s always within our control.

Nothing turns us into bitter dissatisfied people more quickly than an ungrateful heart. We see it all around us! We live in an ungrateful dissatisfied society and unfortunately that spirit has made its way in and is prevalent in our churches. Nothing robs us of the joy of Christ and our salvation faster than neglecting to recognize and be thankful for the things around us.

We see in Romans 1:21 that when humanity rebels we neglect to recognize and give thanks to God. It says,

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Have we forgotten how dependent we are on God for everything?

Let’s not be foolish or ungrateful. Let’s give thanks.

Below I will offer some thoughts and applications on how we can develop, maintain, and nurture a thankful heart which is then exhibited through a thankful lifestyle.


  • Focus on Christ.

Psalm 103:1-6 says,

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. The Lord works righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.

When we read this thankful Psalm it is necessary to notice that the first thing we must do is focus mind and heart on God! Looking at the passage we can see the priority that the Psalmist David places on recognizing that all we have to be thankful for comes from Christ. Everything within the Psalmist David, and hopefully us, should rejoice and say “Bless the Lord” first in all situations.

Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:19-20,

Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

James 1:17 says,

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Let’s open our eyes to the glory of God! But, if that alone isn’t enough to spark your flame just count up the numerous undeserved gifts God spreads before each of us every day!

  • Remember how far we’ve been Brought.

This lengthy section out Psalms 107:13-32 recalls the numerous deliverances the Lord has provided His people,

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron.

Some were fools through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities suffered affliction; they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!

Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters; they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep. For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight; they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits’ end. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

We can also look into the Old Testament at the story of Moses and see how God used him to accomplish His task of delivering the Israelites out of Egypt. Even when Pharaoh and his army pursued they were crushed by the sea at the hand of God.

So… let me ask…

How has the Lord delivered you?

What is your testimony? What did the Lord bring you out of? We all have a story, because we are all undeserving of anything expect a sinful, pitiful life that ends with us being in Hell.

But… God ransomed us while we were still undeserving sinners.

Isaiah 53:4-6 says,

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

We all have plenty to be thankful for. Give thanks.

  • Make the Choice.

Paul wrote in Colossians 3:15,

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.

A spirit of thanksgiving is always the mark of a joyous Christian.

Colossians 3:15-17 goes on to say,

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 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. 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.

As believers we are called to be a thankful people! We have the most to be thankful for out of anyone… think about it, the riches of the earth are temporal but the gift of Heaven is eternal. So… we don’t have to be the richest, most successful, or popular people on earth to have a thankful Spirit. In Christ we have more than enough to rejoice over!

2 Corinthians 9:15 says,

Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!

Thankfulness is a choice.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 says,

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

It is the will of God that we live in a constant thankful attitude!

Choose thankfulness. There will always be hardships and trials but because of Christ we have hope and that is enough to be thankful for.


Psalm 106:1 says,

Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!

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We Do What It Takes.

When the projectors aren’t working, when the sanctuary is too cold, when drama breaks out who are they gonna call? Unfortunately not Ghostbusters…

No job description can truly summarize the duties of a minister.

In John 6 we see a very familiar and well-known Bible story unfold. John 6:1-5 says,

After this Jesus went away to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, which is the Sea of Tiberias. And a large crowd was following him, because they saw the signs that he was doing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. Now the Passover, the feast of the Jews, was at hand. Lifting up his eyes, then, and seeing that a large crowd was coming toward him, Jesus said to Philip, “Where are we to buy bread, so that these people may eat?”

Most of us recognize this story as one of the miraculous works of Jesus’ earthly ministry, and it is, but I also see this as a description of the life of a minister or disciple. Jesus, the Son of God, the miracle worker, the God incarnate feeds the crowd that was following Him! We know that the crowd obviously needed more than earthly bread and fish, but Jesus recognized a need and fulfilled it.

The job description of one in ministry is exactly that. The work is never ending, and the demands of ministry don’t conveniently fall into a 9-5 schedule. Like a doctor who is on call, ministers are merely between tasks… never really “off the job.”

Ministry is a 24/7 job because the needs of church or ministry remain constant.

We do what it takes to get the job done… regardless of what the job description may say. So… how do we maintain this lifestyle? We obviously aren’t superhuman. Below we will think together on how to be an effective minister, get the tasks done, and not kill ourselves in the process.


  • When possible leave work at work.

In some fields of work when you go home you are free from the duties that come with your job. You can’t really take a piece of machinery home or hold face-to-face meetings from the comfort of your bedroom. Ministry cannot be described in this manner. People have needs that arise at all times of the day and night and need your help “on-the-spot” without warning.

That is exactly what we signed up for.

Pastoral ministry is relational, and relationships are developed in and grown in times of need… and we all know that needs don’t arise according to our convenience or schedule.

However, some things just aren’t that urgent. Some things can be left at work until tomorrow. That bulletin can be printed 12 hours from now, and those lights can be adjusted and programmed another time. When possible leave work at work and allow yourself to rest and be refreshed.

Even Jesus needed some “time-off.” In Matthew 14:23 it says,

And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.

  • Family first.

It is pretty well known that the families of a minister are often the one’s sacrificing the most. Often the needs of a minister’s family are the last to be taken care of. They usually receive the leftovers… however little that is.

But… we must work diligently to see that our family is prioritized correctly and not deserted for the church. In fact, we see in 1 Timothy 3:12 that part of the qualifications for a minister is to have a healthy household.

Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well.

All throughout Scripture we see the importance of family in ministry. In 1 Peter 3:7 Paul calls us to live in “understanding” with our families and to care for each other’s needs in more than just physical ways. 1 Peter 3:7 says,

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

For those of us who are married we are called to love our wives/ spouses like Christ loved the church! Ephesians 5:25 says,

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.

Lastly, Matthew 19:4-6 says,

He said, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh”? So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”

The ESV Study Bible commentary is very beneficial when interpreting this passage. It says,

From the moment they are married, they are unified in a mysterious way that belongs to no other human relationship, having all the God-given rights and responsibilities of marriage that they did not have before. Being “one flesh” includes the sexual union of a husband and wife … but it is more than that because it means that they have left their parents’ household … and have established a new family, such that their primary human loyalty is now to each other, before anyone else.

Our loyalty to our families is unlike loyalty shared with any other mortal being. We must place priority on those who help hold us up, who we come home to, who understand us, and care deeply for us.

We cannot forsake our families.

  • Do not over-commit.

This is a category than I myself struggle with in a very real way. How many times have you over-committed yourself to the point of breakdown? I have over and over again… in fact; I am over-committed at this very moment.

It never happens on purpose! We have an opportunity that arises that really is a good thing and we hop on board eagerly to offer our assistance. Boom! We have too much going on and things get neglected… for me the thing that usually gets neglected is my own physical health/ rest and my poor wife.

Busyness is a real issue!

The devil would love to take us “out of the game” by bogging us down and making it impossible for us to do exceptionally well in any area of our ministry.

This is where priorities are key… we must learn the art of saying “no.”

In ministry sometimes I think we are scared of saying “no” for the fear of letting someone down or missing an opportunity to further the Kingdom of God. But what we often forget is that we are meant to equip… not do ALL the work alone!

Ephesians 4:12 actually says what our ministry is…

To equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.

If we are spending our time equipping others then we should be able to share the workload! It is important for us to remember that it isn’t us that builds the church… it is Christ.

In Matthew 16:18 Jesus says exactly that to Simon Peter,

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

  • Make time to care for your own spiritual needs.

This should seem obvious, but unfortunately it is easier said than done. As ministers we are constantly pouring ourselves out and into others and if we don’t take time to be refilled then the supply is going to run dry. It’s not a matter or IF… but rather WHEN.

Even Jesus separated Himself from others to pray and refuel.

Mark 1:35 says,

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

Matthew 14:23 says,

After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.

We must not sacrifice our own relationship with the Father to get a job “done.” In reality our congregations NEED us to be ever connected to the Lord. Take time. Get alone. Allow God’s Word to speak to you.

It is through the Father alone that we have the strength to handle the tasks of ministry. Rely on Him.

Does your Demeanor encourage Worship?

Think back to an awkward moment you’ve experienced where you watched a person speak and through their actions, attitude, or demeanor you could even tell from your perspective that they didn’t truly believe what they were saying. Maybe you are thinking of a politician or a public speaker… but how many of us thought of believers? Do people see that we believe what we say, sing, and preach?

Take a moment and think about it.

What is weirder than a joyless Christian leader? How is the way that we carry ourselves in front of others impacting the way they look at our beliefs? We may believe everything we say and stand for, but if our demeanor doesn’t reflect that belief then we are fighting an uphill battle when evangelizing or speaking about Christ. We certainly aren’t going to kindle a fire or joy inside others while our hearts remain cold and our attitude and faces remain joyless.

How amazing is Christ? We’ve ben given the gift of grace and we have the privilege to sing about the good news!

How can we remain stone-faced?

Philippians 4:4 says,

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.

Are we expressing joy? I dare to say that we live in a narcissistic culture, and we often fall into the temptation of placing the emphasis on ourselves and because of that our worship has the tendency of turning inwards. How many selfies are posted on social media everyday? What is worse is then people will turn around and check back on their own picture to see how many people have liked or complimented it!

There are many obvious problems with this inward focused attitude that we have developed, including the fact that an inward focus in worship cannot provide pure genuine joy because we are placing our joy in the hands of our culture and circumstances.

Where do you gather your self-worth? The world? Your friends and family? Or Jesus?

Matthew 6:21 says,

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

What are you treasuring? Where does your joy come from or what does it depend on?

Does your demeanor from stage properly reflect the fullness of joy which you have in Christ? How can we show it?


  • Truly develop a heart for Worship

I fully believe that we sometimes get too bound up with the technical aspects of worship and forget the relational side of it. Technology is a great thing! Providing an atmosphere for our worship is a good thing too! But… when we allow our focus to shift or our emphasis to waver from why we are doing what we do then our joy becomes dependent on the execution of the technical aspects of our worship. When things don’t go as planned or we feel like something wasn’t “up to par” then our joy suffers.

Then what are we truly worshipping? Are we worshipping the way we do worship? Or are we worshiping God who is worthy of our worship?

We may admonish our praise teams to hit all the right notes and say, “Don’t forget to smile while your doing it.” But often times the emphasis is still on the execution and not the hearts of the worshipper. I believe that genuine worship truly begins when we get our hearts right and because of that we can sing, play, dance, etc.

There is a difference between great worship and a great concert. We leave great concerts unchanged… but worship calls us to move.

  • Have a Joyous and Worshipful Attitude

When it comes to a worshippers attitude it is important to understand who we are worshipping and why.

Acts 17:24-25 tells us exactly who we are worshiping and puts God in perspective to us when it says,

God who made the world and everything in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands, as though He needed anything, since He gives life, breath, and all things.

The purpose of our worship is to glorify, honor, praise, exalt, and please God our Creator who is in need of nothing we can give, but who delights in our praise. The fact that our God delights in anything that we do should provide enough reasoning and joy to worship continually. If that alone isn’t enough we must remember that our worship is a way that we can show our adoration and loyalty to God for His wonderful undeserved gift of grace in which He provides us with the way to escape the bondage of our sin.

Our worship should occur with a joyous attitude because it should cause us to reflect on the majesty and graciousness of God and Christ, in contrast to our own unworthiness.

God does not have to have our worship, but we should be joyful that He gives us the fact to worship Him.

  • Express your Joy through your Face

This should be a given. When we are joyful we smile, and it is through that smile that our joy becomes contagious.

Have you ever seen a person and just felt that there was something different about them? Maybe they were just positive all the time? Maybe you’ve never seen them without a smile on their face?

I guarantee you that their life isn’t perfect… so why are they smiling? Through Christ we have much to be thankful and joyful over, and we should place those things above our circumstances.

Let’s face it… people don’t want to sing along with a worship leader about the joy of salvation while the worship leader remains unexpressive. How is that believable? An even better question is: How is that possible?

Don’t be afraid to show your emotion.

Keep your circumstances in perspective and smile on! It will be beneficial for not just you… but also for your congregation.

  • Make sure your Joy is Genuine

Worship comes from deep within. We simply cannot fake authentic worship. When we worship our God it appears on our faces, in our voices, and is evident in our demeanor. As worship leaders it should be our goal every time we lead to truly worship our God.

Did you catch that? We should truly worship God. It is personal.

When we can truly worship our God while leading, others around us will benefit. Our worship isn’t about us. It is about God, and in the end we are nothing more than “lead worshippers.” We can’t make people worship… but we can provide the opportunity and a God-honoring Biblical example.


I will leave you with the words of John 15:9-11,

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

Have you received the love of the Father? If you believe that you have then your face and demeanor will show it.

You Expect me to do What?

Too often we can get a single-track mind on what our “worship” really is. As a Worship Pastor I immediately think of our singing and praising, and other artistic expressions. Others may think of our lifestyle outside of church, how we interact with people, praying, performing any task with excellence, etc. What we often conveniently leave out is our giving.

What has always interested me is the fact that we even call our “giving” to God giving. In actuality aren’t we just returning what we’ve been given? God created it all. It’s all His. God is the owner… we are merely the manager.

Psalm 24:1-2 makes it known that the earth and all that is in it has belonged to God since it’s founding. It says,

The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, for he has founded it upon the seas and established it upon the rivers.

Our giving obviously includes more than just giving monetarily. We are called to give everything… all we are. Our giving does indeed include our money, but it also includes our time/service, attitudes, devotion, etc.

1 Peter 4:10 says,

Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

1 Corinthians 4:2 says,

Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful

In fact, I would even go so far as to say that giving is not just a “part” of our worship, but instead it IS our worship. It can’t be separated or left out in true God-honoring worship.

Ralph Cushman says,

The worship that is empty handed is, according to the Scriptures, simply not worship at all. The bringing of an offering to God is pictured in the Scripture as a high and inestimable part of worship.

If we aren’t giving then are we truly worshipping? Is our worship truly affecting us in a way that is renewing and transforming us more into the image of God or are we just fooling ourselves?

Don’t just take my word though! The Bible is full of examples of people coming to worship God with offering in hand. Throughout Scripture people approached the glory of God with gift in hand… why do we think we can come empty handed?

Matthew 2:10-11 gives us a clear depiction of worship being directly connected to giving when the wise men enter into the presence baby Jesus. See where it says,

When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And going into the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

That part of the story always used to throw me off. I mean… who gives gifts of that type to a baby? But when you connect the wise men’s worship to their giving of these gifts it totally makes sense!

Let’s face it… many of us have allowed ourselves to get the mindset of entering into worship looking to see what we can get out of it. Let’s remind ourselves that our worship isn’t about us! It isn’t about what we can take away! Our worship is meant for the sole purpose of glorifying the Father… nothing else and nothing less. I guarantee you though that with a correct mindset and attitude you will leave having taken something away because we serve a generous God.

Romans 12:1 says,

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

We see here that giving our entire lives before God is how we are to enter into worship… and yes that includes your time, gifts, attitudes, and money! When we correctly do this we give Him what He rightfully deserves, the first place in our life.

God doesn’t tell us to give because He needs anything that we have… in reality He is the one that gave it to us!

God doesn’t need your money! In fact, God doesn’t even want your money… He wants your devotion!

Matthew 6:19-24 says,

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light, but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.

How are you entering into worship? Are you giving faithfully your time, money, and devotion?

Proverbs 3:9 says,

Honor the Lord with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops.