Cultivating A Thankful Heart

Eph. 5:20 

“Always give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Read Luke 17:11 – 19

Leprosy is a physically debilitating disease. You lose limbs and it deforms your body. Faces are unrecognizable. Often you lose fingers, hands, arms, and legs. It can affect your nerves and respiratory system too. Without proper treatment you will die from it. It is highly contagious and is easily transferred. That is why in the Bible, all lepers were ordered to stay outside the city to keep the rest of the population safe.

People were outcasts if they had leprosy. No interaction with their families or friends. The colony of lepers were their only social interaction.

How many of those ex-lepers do you think felt glad to be free from leprosy as they walked away from Jesus, completely healed of their incurable, disgusting, socially isolating disease? There’s no question about it—all ten did. But how many came back, threw themselves at Jesus’ feet, and thanked him, and was made whole by their gratitude?

Just one.

They all received the outward cure; only one received a spiritual blessing:  wholeness (verse 19).

Luke 17:19

“And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.”

Just like the lepers we can receive a healing too, yet the one leper knew what it was like to be made whole.

The nine thought they were whole. At least they were not suffering like they use to. Their skin healed up, and I believe their deformities from the leprosy were also healed. Yet, the nine had no idea what it really was like to be totally and completely whole.

How can one be completely whole without the Master’s touch? We cannot. We cannot be whole on our own; we need a Savior to make us whole.

The one who came back to thank Jesus was thankful, humble, and broken all at the same time. He shouted praises to Jesus and fell on his face at Jesus’ feet. This was brokenness in action.

Leprosy is progressive, causing permanent damage to the skin, nerves, limbs and eyes.

Ten lepers were healed of leprosy, but only one was healed of spiritual leprosy. Why didn’t the others go back and show their thankfulness?

Was it because of…

►Pride?

►Self-centeredness?

Were they too self-centered wanting to go back to their families, their jobs, and their lives? How quickly they forgot the hardship they endured before their healing.

How simple it would have been to go and thank Jesus, the One who healed them of their disease and deformities.

Why did the one go back and thank Jesus?

►He was truly thankful and wanted to show his gratefulness.

►He recognized who Jesus was and he couldn’t help but show it outwardly

Do you think he knew he would be healed from his spiritual leprosy just by saying and showing his thankfulness? No, but what an awesome benefit for a thankful heart.

Cultivating a thankful heart is imperative to our spiritual life.

Another example is the woman who touched the hem of Jesus’ garment.

Mark 5:25 – 34

“And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague. And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes? And his disciples said unto him, Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? And he looked round about to see her that had done this thing. But the woman fearing and trembling, knowing what was done in her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague.” 

She was an outcast by this time, as women, who were on their monthly, were sent out of the city for the week because they were considered “unclean.” She constantly bled. She constantly was unclean. She was an outcast, and I am sure was scorned by society. How do you think she felt? I believe she felt insecure. She felt she had no value or future. All her hope was gone. Yet she pressed in, through the crowd, and touched someone. This act alone was forbidden by anyone who was bleeding. She didn’t care. She went against society and the law to receive her healing. The woman was broken and fell at Jesus’ feet.

She also received an extra blessing of being made whole. I believe this was not only a physical healing, but an emotional and spiritual healing as well.

In these two examples, neither of them knew they needed to be spiritually whole; they just had a need to go to Jesus. Jesus is the only One who can make us whole. When He touches us we are healed. This alone should bring thankfulness out of your heart.

Cultivate a thankful heart

There are several steps in cultivating a thankful heart. Before we look at those steps, lets look at the word: “Cultivate” for a minute.

The word “cultivate” from the Dictionary means:

1. Prepare and use (land) for crops or gardening.

• break up (soil) in preparation for sowing or planting.

• raise or grow (plants), esp. on a large scale for commercial purposes.

• Biology grow or maintain (living cells or tissue) in culture.

2. Try to acquire or develop (a quality, sentiment, or skill): he cultivated an air of indifference.

• try to win the friendship or favor of (someone): it helps if you go out of your way to cultivate the local people.

•apply oneself to improving or developing (one’s mind or manners).

World English Dictionary

  1. To till and prepare (land or soil) for the growth of crops
  2. To plant, tend, harvest, or improve (plants) by labour and skill
  3. To break up (land or soil) with a cultivator or hoe
  4. To improve or foster (the mind, body, etc) as by study, education, or labour
  5. To give special attention to: to cultivate a friendship ; to cultivate a hobby
  6. To give or bring culture to (a person, society, etc); civilize

This shows us that we need to be constantly tilling and working our hearts to grow thankfulness. It doesn’t come naturally. We really are born selfish. We have to teach ourselves to share and be nice to others. To cultivate a thankful heart takes work, yet it should spring from deep within when it comes to being thankful for all God has done in our lives.

Steps to cultivate a thankful heart:

1. We have to focus on the good and not the bad. 

Far too often we humans only see the bad in our life. We have to open our eyes to the bigger picture. God has blessed us with many blessings. Even for the fact of you breathing is enough to be thankful for. Still there’s more! Take a look in your life. Refuse to look at all the bad. Take inventory of all the blessings and good. I know you can do this. Remind yourself of all the good: Family, home, food, vehicle, health, relationships, freedom, and so much more are reasons to be thankful.

Romans 1:21 (GW)

“They knew God but did not praise and thank him for being God. Instead, their thoughts were pointless, and their misguided minds were plunged into darkness.” 

We have to praise and thank God for being who He is. It keeps our focus on the good and not the bad. This verse expresses that they didn’t praise and thank God but that their thoughts were pointless, misguided and plunged into darkness.

There is much good in your life if you would just choose to see it!

2.  We have to learn to praise God in the middle of the storm!

It is easy to be thankful when all is well in your world. Praise comes easily when you are on a spiritual high. It is when we walk in the middle of a storm, or a valley that our true character comes out.

Being thankful to God even when things are not so good shows a sign of maturity. We as adults know life has its ups and downs. We also know seasons change. Learn to be thankful in the winter as well as the summer season of your life.

Ecc. 3:1 (NKJV)

“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.”

Being thankful is not denying the circumstance, it is trusting God in the middle of the battle knowing He is with you and is always victorious!

~ Pastor Kris Belfils

3.  We have to look for ways to help or bless others.

Getting our focus off of ourselves and onto others is one of the best ways I have found to help me to be thankful. We can get so self-absorbed we can’t even see our neighbor is hurting. Helping others forces us to look away from ourselves. It immediately shows us we don’t have it so bad, as others may have a harder struggle then we do.

Being self-absorbed shows immaturity. We are not being like Jesus, who gave His very life for us. What if Jesus was self-absorbed, where would we be right now? Lost!

1 Peter 3:8  (GW)

“Finally, everyone must live in harmony, be sympathetic, love each other, have compassion, and be humble.”

John 13:34  (GNB)

“And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” 

4.  We have to open our hearts to receive from God.

When was the last time you allowed yourself to receive something from God? Why do we toil and struggle to figure things out on our own? Maybe it is because we feel we are not worthy? Maybe its human reasoning? Maybe it is pride?

John 3:16 (Amplified)

“For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life.”

It takes faith to receive this verse as truth! If you receive this verse, you have to receive the entire Bible and all that it says about you. God loves you with an everlasting love. You are deeply cherished.

Jer 31:3  

The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.” 

Knowing we are deeply loved brings thankfulness. 24/7, 365 days a year is how much you are cherished and loved. God chose to create you! He chose to breath life into you! You are His favorite. Makes me giggle inside to think about that! It brings a sense of belonging and purpose. It brings a heart of thankfulness.

5.  We have to cultivate a thankful heart! 

There is always something in your life to be thankful for. Choose to focus on the good. Choose to praise and thank God even when the storms come.

Helping people and being compassionate is being like Jesus, and opening our hearts to receive from God daily will help us to grow in Christ and spread His love to others.

Being thankful is the only way to live. God has done so much for each of us. Let’s quickly give Him the thanks and praise He deserves.

Pastor Kris Belfils

www.krisbelfils.com

www.hopefellowshipspokane.com

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2 thoughts on “Cultivating A Thankful Heart

  1. Pingback: Praise and Thanksgiving « Pastor Kris Belfils

  2. Mary Ng Shwu Ling says : August 12, 2013 at 12:31 am
    Truly cultivating a thankful heart can change your life. I started counting my blessings several years ago and created a gratitude journal- Life is Great.it fills my heart with joy every time I count my blessings.

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