Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Give Me a Grateful Spirit

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Watch Nancy teach this message.

Check out Nancy's book Choosing Gratitude.

Dannah Gresh: Am I beautiful? I think we all ask that question, and today, Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth reminds us where true beauty comes from.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: There's nothing more beautiful in a woman than a humble, grateful spirit. And could I suggest on the other hand, that there's nothing more unattractive (no matter how drop-dead gorgeous other people may think that woman is on the outside) when it comes down to it and for the people who have to live that woman, there is nothing more unattractive than a grumbling, whining, ungrateful woman.

Leslie: It's Monday, October 28, 2019, and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, along with Dannah Gresh.

Dannah: Hey Nancy, what’s one thing you’re thankful for today?

Nancy: Well it’s hard to pick just one thing. But here’s one. The Lord has brought several new team members to Revive Our Hearts over the past months. They’ve brought a lot of fresh passion and creative thinking to our team. And they are such a blessing!

Dannah: Am I one of those team members?

Nancy: Yeah. We go back a long way, but actually, you are!

Dannah: I’m thankful for that too. Watching the team grow has been such a blessing. Now, what we just did there—finding one thing to be thankful for—that can transform your whole attitude.

Nancy: That is so true, Dannah. Sometimes you just have to tell yourself, choose the pathway of gratitude. And it does . . . it changes everything.

Dannah: And we are going to do that today. We're going to focus on gratitude. It's part of our two-week series called "My Personal Petitions." Nancy, I want to know, what gave you the idea for this series?

Nancy: It's kind of evoluted. These are requests I’ve prayed these repeatedly over the years. I rarely have prayed all ten at one time, but these are just short sentence petitions that I have sent up to the Lord at different times, expressing my heart, my desires. They're things I find need to keep coming back to again and again.

So God put it on my heart to put these requests together and share them in a series hoping that our listeners would be encouraged to pray these same things.

Dannah: It’s been really helpful so far. I think maybe it would be good to do a quick review. Let's look at those first five petitions. The first one was: guard my heart. 

Nancy: That's kind of core to all the other ones.

Dannah: It is, exactly. Then the next one: Lord, fill me with Your love. Then we learned: Lord, fill me with Your Spirit. Then: May I be clothed in humility. Then in the last session we looked at a request that flows out of the prayer for a humble heart—make me a servant.

Nancy: And then today, another request that also flows out of having a humble heart, and that's the request: Lord, give me a grateful spirit.

Dannah: And we are about to hear that teaching in a moment. But I want to remind you that you can keep reviewing these prayers this entire coming year. When you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size, we’d love to send the 2020 wall calendar. This is a calendar we create every year just for our Revive Our Hearts listeners. And I've got to say, I personally look forward to the new calendar every year because it is so beautiful.

This year it's going to feature a petition every month. These petitions we are learning about from Nancy, each month you can pray that petition all month long.

Call us. Make a gift to support the ministry right now, and we would love to send you that 2020 wall calendar. You can call us at 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com and make your gift there. We’ll send one calendar per household when you make your gift of any amount to support the ministry here at Revive Our Hearts.

But I think you might want to give some of these out as Christmas gifts. They are that beautiful. So when you go to ReviveOurHearts.com, you can look for the spot to order additional calendars. Let’s hear the next teaching segment in series, “My Personal Petitions.”

Nancy: The Heidelberg Catechism of 1563 summarizes the message of the Bible in three words. (I love this three-word overview of the Bible.) The three words are: guilt, grace, and gratitude. That's really the gospel. We were undeniably guilty, we were deserving of God's wrath, and then God sent His Son, Jesus, to redeem us by His amazing grace. What does His grace produce in us? An attitude of eternal, overflowing, abounding gratitude. 

Guilt, grace, and gratitude. We were all guilty. If you've experienced God's grace and you're not grateful, there's something wrong with that picture! And if you have experienced God's grace, and you're remembering what He has done for you in His grace, you will be a grateful woman. 

So in order to become more grateful, I think we need to wind the clock back and just remember what it was like to be guilty, and what it is like to be redeemed by God's grace.

My dad, Art DeMoss, has been in heaven for a lot of years, since 1979. He never got over the wonder of the fact that God would have saved him. He was saved in his mid-twenties. He had been a prodigal, lived a profligate lifestyle, was a hellion, so far from the Lord (as we all are before He finds us and saves us). It never ceased to amaze him—from the day he got saved to the day he went to heaven twenty-eight years later—it never ceased to amaze him that God would have saved him. 

He had this lifelong sense of gratitude, even in the midst of some very deep valleys and dark places. So, invariably, when people would ask him, "How are you doing?" Frequently his answer was, "Better than I deserve!" 

That's how you have a grateful spirit. If you remember what you deserve and you see what God has given you in His grace and in His mercy, then you can always answer, no matter what's going on, "I'm doing better than I deserve."

My dad's brother is my Uncle Bob, and my Uncle Bob is in his late eighties. Not too long, his wife of sixty-four years, my Aunt Dora, went home to be with the Lord. As I sat in the memorial service for my Aunt Dora, my Uncle Bob was sitting on the front row, I was sitting several rows back. We're singing a worship song, and here's my Uncle Bob with his hands lifted up in praise, as he's worshipping the Lord and thanking Him for the gift that he had of this precious amazing woman for those sixty-four years. He was giving thanks to the Lord in the midst of losing his amazing life partner. Well, he didn't lose her. He knows where she is, but in the human loss of her.

And then a few weeks later, his son was visiting with him and took this photo. Here's my Uncle Bob, in his late eighties, taking a walk, and here he has his hands uplifted to heaven on a beautiful Florida day. He's out taking a walk and just worshiping the Lord.

I was with him about this time, shortly after the funeral. I said, "Uncle Bob, how are you doing?"

He said, "I am so blessed! I had this amazing woman for sixty-four years. She was in so much pain these last years. She's with the Lord and has no more pain."

He could not stop thanking the Lord. It wasn't that he was thanking the Lord that He took her. It was, "Thank you, Lord, that you gave her to me. Now she is with You." Here is a man who has learned the attitude of gratitude.

I pulled up a letter the other day that Uncle Bob had sent to his family on Thanksgiving 2008, when he was eighty years old. Let me read it to you, because it just illustrated this heart. 

I've been thinking lately that the only real alternative to gratitude is a bit ugly to think about a complaining self-seeking person with an entitlement mentality. Ugh!

This came home to me recently as I was walking past the tennis courts on my morning walk. As I heard the sound of tennis balls colliding with rackets and people chasing after tennis balls, my mind and heart had such a strong desire to get back into playing! [He's saying this at age eighty, and he played all these years.]

Since my knee surgery earlier this year, I've been hoping to become strong enough to return to tennis. As the days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months, a terrible awakening came over me: maybe I just wasn't going to play tennis anymore. I hated to think that this might ever!

For weeks on end I felt a disgruntled attitude rising in me: "I still have some new tennis balls, a new racket, tennis magazines, private beautiful courts available. I've got to get out there and play!" Then the Lord had mercy on me and saved me from the direction I was going by showing me that, far from having something to complain about, I actually had much to be thankful for. I awoke to the marvelous truth that He had given me a strong body and legs to play tennis since I was fourteen years old, when I played on my high school tennis team. And yes, I've been playing ever since.

[And then he put in parentheses,] (Bob, did you forget about this? You ungrateful wretch! )[He's speaking to his own soul, right?] Now, when I go past the tennis courts I whisper a prayer of thanksgiving: "Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to play tennis all these years!"

I think we can use this everyday life example as a metaphor for the spiritual realm. Do we ever stop in our tracks, so overwhelmed by a glimpse into what God has done for us that we take a deep breath and say to someone (or to the Lord), "I can't believe that God would love me and rescue me. I just can't believe it! Thank You, Lord!"

[Then he closed with this familiar verse,] "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits."

Last year, I found myself parked in the book of Ruth. Since then, over this past year or so, I've often written in our text messages or emails to each other (from me to Robert) the little reference Ruth 2:10.

Before I tell you what that verse says, let me give you a little background. Remember that Ruth was a Moabitess, and Moabites were excluded from the promises God had given to His people Israel. Due to a variety of offenses, they were under God's curse, and they were not allowed to worship in the temple.

But in His mercy in this little book of Ruth, God draws this Moabitess woman to Himself, and He turns her heart to love Him and to worship Him. And through a series of events, you remember, she ends up in Israel, a poverty-stricken widow at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder. She's an outcast, gleaning for leftovers to feed herself and her grumpy mother-in-law in the field of a wealthy landowner who "happens" (no chance there!) to be a relative—although neither Boaz nor Ruth knows that until later in the story.

But that field, Boaz' field, becomes to her a field of grace as Boaz extends kindness to her and assures her of his protection and his provision. And Ruth is overwhelmed with a sense of humility and gratitude. Those are cousins, they're sisters, they're close relatives—humility and gratitude.

And she is overwhelmed that Boaz would single her out for his attention and his grace. So now, Ruth 2:10. This is a reference I've sent to Robert many times: Scripture says, "She fell on her face, bowing to the ground, and said to him, 'Why have I found favor in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?'"

Then look at verse 13 of chapter 2: "Then she said, "I have found favor in your eyes, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly to your servant, though I am not one of your servants."

As you read those verses and the surrounding verses, you never see in Ruth any iota of a sense of entitlement. You never see any complaining about having to do the hard work of gleaning. It's rough on the hands, hard on the hands. She goes from early morning to late at night—just stopping for brief breaks—so she can feed herself and take home food to Naomi.

You don't ever see her complaining about that. You just see this sweet sheer sense of wonder and gratitude. It's the sweet fruit of humility. That's the sense that I have felt, that this man Robert Wolgemuth—now my husband—would have noticed me, that he would have lavished his love on me.

From the outset I have felt, and still feel, I don't deserve this man. I don't deserve his love. But I want to tell you, I am so, so grateful! And if that's the way I feel about Robert Wolgemuth, if that's the way Ruth felt about her Boaz, how much greater should be our sense of wonder and awe and amazement and gratitude that God would love us, that He would bring us into his field of grace, that He would make enemies into friends, that He would choose those who hated him and rejected Him, to be adopted into His family.

So here's the question: Do we live with a sense that we are the recipients of lavish underserved grace? We do when we stop and think about it. The problem is, we don't stop and think about it often enough, do we? What keeps us from being constantly, profoundly grateful people?

I want to suggest that nothing will kill gratitude in your heart or mind faster than comparison and expectations. There's a passage in the New Testament, Matthew 20, a parable that Jesus told, that gives us a picture of how comparison and expectations kill gratitude and humility.

Nothing will kill gratitude in your heart or mind faster than comparison and expectations.

Do you remember, it's the parable of the laborers in the vineyard? And here's how the story goes, essentially: At 6:00 in the morning, a man goes out to the marketplace and hires a group of day laborers to work in his vineyard. The workday would have been twelve hours—six o'clock in the morning to six o'clock at night.

He tells them he will pay them a denarius if they'll come work in his vineyard for twelve hours. A denarius was a fair wage for a day's work. So they were going, "Yes, that's what we want. We need a job, we need money, we need to feed our families. That's fair. We'll come to work for you."

So they say "yes." They leave the marketplace, and they go and start working in his vineyard. Well, three hours later, the owner hires some more workers who are still hanging around the marketplace and still need work.

Three hours later, he does the same thing. At noon and at three o'clock in the afternoon, he says, "You don't have a job? Come on and work in my vineyard, and I'll pay you something that's fair." Finally, at five o'clock in the afternoon, with just an hour left in the work day—just before quitting time—he hires yet more workers who have been waiting all day for work.

So now the closing bell rings, it's six o'clock in the evening and everybody lines up to get their pay. He calls in first those who have been hired last—the ones who have been there for just an hour. And he pays them how much? A full denarius. A full day's wage for how much work? One hour.

Now, pick up the story in verse 10: "Now when those hired first came [what time did they start? Six o'clock in the morning], they thought they would receive more [is that an expectation?], but each of them also received a denarius. And on receiving it they grumbled at the master of the house, saying, 'These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us [comparison?] who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.'"

So unfulfilled expectations, comparison, leads them not to be grateful that they've received a full day's wage for a full day's work as they'd been promised. but to be disgruntled, resentful, and ungrateful and to begrudge the master's generosity—not only to them, but to others.

Verse 13, "But he replied to one of them, 'Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what belongs to you and go. I choose to give to this last worker as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or do you begrudge my generosity?"

Who does the denarius belong to? "It belongs to me," he says. It's the master's. "Do I not have the freedom to take what is mine and give it to whomever I choose?" And are you going to get bent out of shape—that's not the literal translation there. The literal is, "Is your eye evil [do you begrudge, does it upset you] that I am generous?" Have I done you any wrong? I told you if you came and worked for me I'd give you this denarius. Have I failed to come through? Did I not keep My word to you?

Laborers say, "Yes, you kept your word . . . but I thought . . ." Unfulfilled expectations. "But look what you did for them." Comparison. Ladies, that sin of comparison and expectations will always get us in trouble. "But what about this woman, how you treated her?"

This is what the Psalmist says in Psalm 73: "When I looked at the wicked, it looked like they were prospering all the time. But I thought, I've lived right. I've cleaned my hands. And look what happens to me! They get the good things, and I get the trouble" (paraphrase). It's a wrestling that we've all had in our hearts. It happens when we compare with others, with how God treats others, with how He deals with them and how He's dealt with us.

And then we have expectations: "I thought if I did this, then God would do that. I thought if I was a good mother, my kids would all turn out to love Jesus." "I thought . . . !" We get resentful, and we get bitter, and we whine, and we're angry at our good and gracious Master who has only ever been kind to us.

I want to suggest that there's nothing more beautiful in a woman (do you want to be a beautiful woman?) than a humble, grateful spirit. And could I suggest on the other hand, that there's nothing more unattractive (no matter how drop-dead gorgeous other people may think that woman is on the outside) when it comes down to it, and for the people who have to live that woman, there is nothing more unattractive than a grumbling, whining, ungrateful woman!

The sin of ingratitude will make you look old before you're old. It will make you look hard. It will make you look miserable, and it will make the people around you miserable, too. This is a huge thing. I don't why, but I think we as woman show this more in our countenance, in our face. Even the condition of our bodies, physically, is affected by this whole thing of gratitude.

The sin of ingratitude will make you look old before you're old.

If you'd like to know more about that, I just happen to have a book to recommend called Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy. One of the things I loved in that book—and I have gone back recently for a refresher course in that book. I wrote it, but I need to come back to it and read it again.

At the end there's a thirty-day devotional (because habits don't change quickly or easily). You can take that devotional for thirty days. There's just have a short one or two page reading each day, with some practical exercises to develop the gratitude muscle. It's to help you start practicing gratitude, start making it a way of life.

That's available, there's a link to it at ReviveOurHearts.com. You can go there and find out more about that.

This thing about being an ungrateful woman, it will affect the atmosphere of your home, your workplace, your church. Whether you are a grateful or an ungrateful woman will determine whether your presence is toxic to those around you or a gracious fragrance.

Whether you are a grateful or an ungrateful woman will determine whether your presence is toxic to those around you or a gracious fragrance.

You think about the atmosphere in your home (I've said this many times, but I really believe it's true), as women we are the thermostats in our homes, in our churches, in our workplaces. We are not the thermometers. The thermometer reveals the temperature; the thermostat sets the temperature. We set the temperature.

If you don't like the temperature in your home, if you don't like the atmosphere in your home . . . I'm not saying you're the only one to blame for this, but I will say, look in the mirror and ask, "Lord, is there an ungrateful spirit in me? Is my spirit, my lack of humility, my lack of gratitude, creating a culture or a climate in this home that is not conducive to joy?"

Now, there may be other people in your home who've got issues. There probably are. We're all sinners, right? We live together, and that's why we need God's grace. But in the church, in the workplace, I've found that I can walk into a room, and without saying a word, by my spirit, if I'm not a grateful woman, I can pull down the whole climate of that room . . . and you can, too.

This ungrateful spirit can destroy a marriage; it can destroy a home. Or a grateful spirit can be used by God as an instrument to turn the hearts of your loved ones, the people you do business with, the people you live with, to desire Christ. I want to have a heart that is always tuned to see and to sense and to appreciate the mercies of God . . . who daily loads us down with benefits, as Psalm 68:19 says.

Let me remind you that that gratitude needs to be expressed—not just to God, but to others, to your mate, to your parents, to your children, to your coworkers, to your pastor—people who have impacted your walk with the Lord. Don't wait until the funeral. Say it now. Give the flowers while they can still be enjoyed.

And then just a closing word here. I know there are people in this room today who feel that you have, at this season, more hardships than blessings in your life, maybe more reason for grieving than for giving thanks. And I want to assure you that God cares about those heartaches, and that He wants you to bring those burdens to Him.

But in the midst of your trials, I want to encourage you to "count your blessings, name them one by one, and it will surprise you what the Lord has done." You say, "I'm not sure where to start. I can't think of blessings." Well, open your Bible to Ephesians 1. Start reading in verse 3 and read to the end of the chapter, and you'll have a whole bunch of blessings too numerous to count before you're done.

Oh Father, I confess that so, so often I'm like those ungrateful workers in the vineyard. I'm pulled down by comparison and by expectations. Forgive me. I want to be a grateful woman, and I have every reason to be. So help me—help us—to give thanks in everything.

Help us to acknowledge and to express the benefits and the blessings that we have received from You and others. Protect us from a discontented heart and a murmuring tongue. For all of Your abundant blessings to us in Christ, we give You thanks, in His sweet Name, amen.

Dannah: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been showing us the power of a simple prayer, “Lord, give me a grateful spirit.” It’s one of ten prayers we’re looking at in our current series called "My Personal Petitions." Nancy, thanks for sharing these with us. I've just been imagining what would happen if all of us were to join together and regularly pray the prayers we’ve been exploring in this series; prayer like: “Lord, fill me with your love.” “Fill me with your Spirit,” and all the rest. What could happen?

Nancy: I just know that all of our lives would be changed, because I really do believe God hears and answers those prayers

We’d like to send you a gift to help remind you of these prayers through 2020. That's why we are offering you, this week, our 2020 ROH ministry calendar.  

Dannah: People get excited about these calendars each year for good reason. They always feature such beautiful artwork. This time we are using some lovely, still photography. But what I really love about these calendars is the meaningful content that we get to look at each and every day.

Nancy: The theme of this year’s calendar is My Personal Petitions, so you’ll be reminded of these prayers all year long.

Dannah: This may be a dumb question. As we've been going through the series, I've been counting. We keep saying we have ten petitions in this series, but there are more than ten months in the year.

Nancy: Absolutely! So we’ve added three more petitions to this series. This is a thirteen-month calendar. So you can start using it in December!

Dannah: So we can't do math and we are not abiding by the regular calendar at all. So you'll get the calendar with the bonus petitions and a bookmark to put in your Bible to remind you to pray about them regularly. It's our gift to you when you support Revive Our Hearts with gift of any size. You can make that gift by visiting us at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call us at 1–800–569–5959. 

I hope you’ll listen again tomorrow when we consider the things we say. Your words matter . . . and so does your timing. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth reminds you to be thankful. It's an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.