PDF of the Study Guide Available HERE.

Sometimes we struggle to give thanks.  Our daily difficulties often blind us to the wonderful realities that sustain those who follow Jesus. Today is a good day to remind ourselves that short-lived troubles will never displace eternal realities.

The Power of Thanksgiving

Turn Your Day Around. Debbie Downer is everywhere and the Devil has enough advocates. Most people have a rather pessimistic outlook on life. We do not generally look for the good stuff, but rather, focus on the bad stuff. We don’t scour our experience for the things that are going well or better. We are looking for anything that will confirm our bias that life stinks.

When you realize that you need to transform your outlook and attitude, gratitude is the beginning of major change. Things are likely going better than you realize. God is always working just out of sight on great things.

Learn the Power of Thanksgiving. We can learn to notice, acknowledge, and enjoy God’s Good Gifts. What we notice becomes our praise and thanks toward Him.

2 Corinthians 4:14 (NLT) We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you. 

Our Future Is Secure

Jesus is Our Example. There are so many scriptures to verify this… “Follow Me” – Matthew 16:24. “For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did” – John 13:13. “Walk as Jesus walked” – 1 John 2:6. And Paul wrote, “Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.” 1 Cor 11:1.

We should stop making the excuse, “Well, He was Jesus.” Jesus came to teach us how the sons of God were supposed to live.  The impression he sought to make on us was not to overwhelm us but rather to beckon us along His path. God clearly believes we are able to represent His Son on this Earth. He must also believe we are capable of finishing His mission.

Jesus is the Promise. So… Jesus rose from the dead. Isn’t it a little strange that we struggle to believe Jesus intends for us to see miracles, healings, and power, but we don’t struggle that we will resurrect as He did? Why is one impossibility easy to believe and the other unbelievable?

Jesus rising from the dead – His GREATEST miracle – is an example to us. As he rose, so do we in our spirits, and will we in our resurrected bodies. Paul made this point repeatedly. (2 Cor 4, Romans 6, Romans 8, and 1 Cor 15)

Isn’t that worth some thanksgiving? Isn’t eternal life, eternal purpose, and reigning eternally with Christ worth something? 

  • What makes the practice of Gratitude and Praise difficult? When is it easy?
  • Does your attitude change when you practice Gratitude and Praise? In what way?
  • How is Jesus an example for us? What did He do that we are supposed to do?

2 Corinthians 4:15-16 (NLT) All of this is for your benefit. And as God’s grace reaches more and more people, there will be great thanksgiving, and God will receive more and more glory. 16 That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.

Our Family Is Special

A Larger Family. Finding Sons and Daughters, that is our business. This is our only concern with numbers. Lots of people coming to church is NOT the goal. More and more people who are following, listening to, and obeying Jesus, that is the goal. 

This brings great thanksgiving. You see, the true family of God doesn’t resent Jesus. They don’t resent Jesus’ commands. They don’t resent Holy Spirit’s invitations. They are not inconvenienced by the Father’s call, purpose, and will.

2 Corinthians 5:13-14 (NLT) If it seems we are crazy, it is to bring glory to God. And if we are in our right minds, it is for your benefit. 14 Either way, Christ’s love controls us…

The Blessing of a Large Family.  Big families are a kick. When my grown sons get together, it’s hilarious. Yes, it gets out of hand sooner or later, but it’s good to watch and listen to them enjoy each other. Big families are fun. But, you don’t passively seek a big family to join.  Big families are actively built with love, intimacy, compassion, and patience.

Family is Worth it. Family is a pain, but it’s worth it. It seems God’s plan is a family plan. After all, he started with a family and then restarted with a family a few times. It seems like Jesus’ idea for his church wasn’t an organizational plan but a family plan. Jesus believes in family.

Family is not efficient. It’s not logical. It’s not orderly. It’s organic. Family interrupts your life and ruins your schedule. Family is so inconvenient. But Family is worth it.

  • How do you feel about your family? How do you feel about the Family of God?
  • What makes our church family hard? What makes it rewarding?

2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NLT) For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! 18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

Our Troubles Are Short-Lived

Yes, I Know It’s Hard. Have you read a Wyoming history book? People traveled across the west in stagecoaches. People traveled across oceans to work the railroad. They dug out holes in the walls of Bitter Creek for shelter. They build homes out of the dirt just for a bit of freedom and an opportunity to build something for their kids.

If comfort is your measure of God’s love for you, your faith will fail. Because your faith isn’t in God, it’s in his provision. Read John chapter 6 if you would like to hear Jesus’ feelings on that matter. The cross is the measure of God’s love for you. If that doesn’t capture your heart, nothing will. 

But it doesn’t last. I believe there is worse to come, but it won’t last. Paul believed that one day each of us will forget how hard this life was because we will finally be home. Have you ever been on a bad camping trip? You likely remember it and have forgotten the good ones. This trip is a rough one. But, we will get home soon.

There is so much for which we should be thankful. There is so much for us, in us, and with us. The family reunion is on the calendar.  And, everyone who is supposed to be there WILL be there. Let’s give thanks today. Let’s find our Thanksgiving.

  • Heaven is our eternal hope. It is how countless Christians have managed difficult times. What excites you about God’s eternal plans for you?
  • Share a trial that you have come through in your life? How do you feel about it now?