“I thank Thee first because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse they did not take my life; third, although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed and not I who robbed.” ~ Matthew Henry
We all have sins we fall into easily, don’t we? I am embarrassed to admit that mine is anger–and it surfaces most often as complaining. What a painful thing to recognize in myself! James, in chapter 3 of his letter, compares the tongue to the bridle of a horse and to the rudder on a ship. Our tongue determines the path we will take. (He also calls it an organ set on fire by hell that then sets the entire course of our lives on fire. Gasp.)
There’s a free card set in this post for you during the month of November, 2017!….
In Luke 6:43-45 (ESV, emphasis mine), Jesus says:
For no good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit, for each tree is known by its own fruit. For figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart
So, if we’re not to bicker, gossip, complain, or bear false witness with our speech, what then are we to do? The Bible tells us repeatedly: We are to give thanks with a grateful heart. We’re to praise the Lord–loudly, often, in good times and bad.
In Luke 19:40 (ESV), when the Pharisees demanded that Jesus silence the crowd that was praising him during his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, he replies: “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”
Giving thanks to God is serious business. It’s a command we’re to take seriously.
Give Thanks to the Lord
The Thanksgiving holiday in a largely secular culture is a little confusing, isn’t it? After all, it’s really not about turkey and football. I think the blurry ideals over giving thanks and gratitude our culture holds have filtered into the church.
We don’t give thanks to the nebulous universe for our undefined blessings. We don’t hold an attitude of gratitude because it will benefit us in some way. We don’t draw good things to ourselves by being thankful.
We give thanks to the Lord–the King of the Universe–in all things, in all circumstances, for His will in our lives. Romans 5:3-5 (ESV, emphasis mine) says:
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
We give thanks to the Lord with grateful hearts for everything He ordains in our lives, knowing He will work all things to the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
Complaining Instead of Giving Thanks
I’ve struggled for a long time with complaining. It’s a pattern of speech that is deeply ingrained for me–from childhood, even–and it’s difficult to overcome.
It’s also a sin. Just think of the times the Israelites complained against God’s provision in the Old Testament! While the Lord responded to Israel when they cried out to him for relief (bringing them out of Egypt, providing food and water, protecting them from enemies, and more), he also punished them when they complained against his provision. Remember the times the earth swallowed them, there were plagues, fire shot out and consumed them? It would seem God takes complaining pretty seriously.
On pages 26-27 of Ronnie Martin’s excellent book Stop Your Complaining: From Grumbling to Gratitude, he says the following:
Complaining is a lack of self-control, choosing not to constrain our words because we’re deceived in believing we’re justified in voicing them.
…Ultimately, complaining is the verbal communication of this very real lie: God got it wrong.
I don’t believe God “got it wrong”. But when I complain, that’s exactly what I’m saying.
Thanksgiving Resources We Love
Squanto and the Miracle of ThanksgivingFisher-Price Little People Thanksgiving CelebrationLEGO Thanksgiving Harvest 2017 133pcsAdventures in Odyssey: Thanksgiving at HomeA Plymouth Pilgrim: William Bradford’s Eyewitness Account of the Mayflower PassengersFirst Thanksgiving Sticker Activity Book (Dover Little Activity Books Stickers)The Story of the Pilgrims (Dover History Coloring Book)Coloring Our Gratitude: The Art of Everyday ThankfulnessStop Your Complaining: From Grumbling to GratitudeSay Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes… in You and Your Kids
Gratitude: An Antidote to Complaining
It’s amazing how pervasive a sin like complaining can be. As with any sin, we must repent when we find it in our lives. We ask the Lord’s forgiveness and turn from that sin. But there’s more: we follow God’s commands instead.
The Lord has commanded (over and over and over) that we give thanks with a grateful heart. Gratitude is the antidote to complaining. Really.
When I give thanks with a grateful heart, I recognize the blessings the Lord has given me rather than focusing on how I think he “got it wrong”. Let’s be honest. God never gets it wrong, even when we can’t understand how what he’s given us is a good thing! God uses all things to grow our character and to bring glory to Himself.
Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart Bible Verse Memory Cards
There are 12 Bible verse memory cards. These are available in either ESV or KJV–just chose the set you’d like in the dropdown menu once you get to the store.
The Bible memory verse cards can be used a number of ways. Here are a few ideas:
- Memorize 3 a week as a family. In a month you’ll have them all memorized!
- Use the cards as copywork passages for your children.
- Read a card before your family prayer time and talk about what the verse or passage means.
The card set includes a divider for your memory verses. You can use this divider in a memory verse box your family decorates together (this box will hold the cards and dividers), or you can use it with a book ring to divide memory card sets, like the Prayer Bible Memory Verse Card Set.
Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart Gratitude List Bookmarks
There are 10 gratitude list bookmarks, each with room for 7 things you’re grateful for. Five bookmarks have a fall graphic for moms and a prayer list on one side, with a fun coordinating autumn and raccoon pattern on the other side. The other five bookmarks come with a raccoon graphic on the front side–these will be great for your children.
These bookmarks are a great reminder to give thanks to the Lord throughout the day. Here are a few ways to use them:
- Fill out the bookmarks with everything you are grateful for and rotate the bookmarks over 5 weeks, giving thanks to the Lord for new blessings each week.
- Fill out all 5 bookmarks and place them in your Bible, journal, daytimer, bedside book, and by your toothbrush to remind you to give thanks to the Lord throughout the day.
- Print a stack of bookmarks for your women’s group and give them as gifts.
- Give each of your children a set of bookmarks and help them brainstorm all that they can be grateful for. Be sure to read them Matthew Henry’s quote at the top of this post and discuss it.
Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart
There are 6 notecards to let others know your are thankful for them. Each has an autumn or raccoon graphic on the front, and the inside of each says, “I’m thankful for you today.” Use these cards to let someone know why you’re thankful for them!
These gratitude notecards are a great way to edify others. Here are a few ways for you and your children to use them:
- When the Lord puts someone on your heart, write them an encouraging note and drop it in the mail, letting them know you’re thankful for them.
- Encourage your friend know what you’re praying, encouraging her to seek the Lord in all she does.
- Write a helpful verse or two in the card.
- Attach the card to a small gift, like chocolate or a bouquet of flowers, to remind a friend she’s valued.
- Help your children write an encouraging note to a relative on a weekly basis. It’s great writing practice–and it will make someone special feel loved!
How to Print the Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart Card Set
I often get asked how to print Thinking Kids resources. Here’s my very best advice. Take it and adapt it for your own good uses.
- Once you purchase your Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart Card Set through the Thinking Kids Store, you will receive an email with a download link. You can also find the download link on the screen immediately following payment. If you don’t see your email show up soon after purchase, check your spam folder.
- Download your PDF file and save it to your computer.
- Print these cards on duplex (back-to-back or double-sided). You’ll want to flip on the SHORT edge for these. You should be able to change the settings for this in the Properties tab of your printer box once you download and tell your computer to print.
- I recommend printing on white cardstock so the cards will be more durable and the back won’t show through on the front. This is my very favorite cardstock: Neenah Premium Cardstock.
Ok, friend. Give thanks–today and every day. Soli Deo Gloria.
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~ Danika Cooley
Danika Cooley is the author of When Lightning Struck! The Story of Martin Luther (Fortress Press, 2015), Wonderfully Made (CF4K, 2016), and Bible Road Trip. Her work has been featured in internationally-recognized children's magazines over 150 times.