Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Gratitude and Peace

Leslie Basham: Do you want to be close to God? Then express gratitude by worshiping Him. Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: If you want to get to where God lives, if you want to get into His presence, you have to go to His address. And God’s address is praise.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss, author of Choosing Gratitude. Ingratitude doesn’t seem so bad when compared to the big sins like murder and adultery, right? Nancy Leigh DeMoss is about to help answer that question, continuing in a series called The Attitude of Gratitude.

Nancy: I was reading an article recently on the subject of grumbling. The article was by a man named Paul Tripp who tells in that article about a conversation he had with a church leader from India who had come to the United States to study.

Mr. Tripp asked this church leader, "John, I want to ask you what you think of Americans. You’ve been here for a while. Indians are very polite people."

John said to me, "Do you want me to be honest?”

I said, “I sure do.”

And then the man responded, “You Americans have no idea how much you have, and yet you always complain.”

We have so much, and yet we complain. Powerful words.

We’ve been talking about the matter of gratitude—the attitude of gratitude—and how our gratitude is to overflow as we’ve received abundant grace from God in response to our abounding guilt. That’s the Gospel: guilt, grace, and gratitude.

Now I want to focus today on the opposite of gratitude, on the lack of gratitude, on this whole matter of unthankfulness. I want us to see that an unthankful heart is no small thing, that ingratitude is no small sin.

In 2 Timothy chapter 3, the apostle Paul talks about the last days. I believe we’re living in those days. Paul believed he was living in those days. He said,

In the last days [prior to the return of Christ] perilous times will come. Men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God . . . from such people turn away!” (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

Now I read the whole list of what seem to us to be awful sins, but I skipped one in that list. As Paul describes the characteristics of people in these latter days, there is one other characteristic he gives. He says people will be unthankful. Can you believe that unthankfulness, ingratitude, comes in that list of sins we just read? And Paul says from such people turn away. Don’t have anything to do with people like that. Don’t let them influence you. Certainly don’t become one of them.

Now, we tend to compare sins and to weight them in different ways. We might tend to think that unthankfulness is not so bad compared to things like being a slanderer, being brutal, being a traitor, headstrong, haughty, a lover of yourself, a blasphemer. And yet, God puts all these sins in the same list. He sees unthankfulness, ingratitude, as being like unto these other sins. In the same category.

As we come to Romans chapter 1, the apostle Paul talks again about this matter of ingratitude, failing to be thankful. He shows us that an unthankful heart is the soil in which many other kinds of sins grow. Paul says,

Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened (Romans 1:21).

Now that’s verse 21 of Romans chapter 1. If you were to read through the rest of Romans 1, you would find a progression. A progression that leads into the worst sorts, the most unimaginable sorts of moral sins. Paul talks about a rampant degradation and the wickedness and the corruption of men in moral matters, how they will have lust toward those of the same sex and things that are unspeakable sins.

But where does that progression start? It starts in this verse we just read. “Though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful.” You see, unthankfulness, ingratitude, is the sin that is the first step in a progression of moral decline. An ungrateful spirit leads to all sorts of other sins.

Now how do we become unthankful people? Why are we sometimes unthankful? I think one of the reasons is that we have expectations. We compare with what others have that we think we’d like to have. We’re greedy.

Andrew Carnegie was a multi-millionaire who left a million dollars for one of his relatives who in return became angry and bitter toward Andrew Carnegie because Mr. Carnegie had left $365 million to charitable causes. So this poor relative was angry because he only got $1 million of those dollars. Rather than being thankful for what he did have, he had expectations of having more, and he was ungrateful.

We’re ungrateful because we forget that we’re debtors. We’re the ones who owe. We think we’re owed something. We think we deserve to have more, and we forget that we are debtors. We forget God’s blessings. We’re so used to having so many of God’s blessings that we take them for granted. We tend to focus on what we want rather than on what we have. And we focus on what we don’t have rather than on what we do have. We tend to define wants as needs.

The Scripture says if we have food and clothing, shelter, covering, let us be content. Let us be satisfied. But we think we need food and clothing and a house and a certain kind of house and a certain kind of car and another car and a certain kind of vacation and a certain kind of job and a certain kind of marriage and certain kinds of children and certain kinds of friends and live in a certain kind of neighborhood. We think we need so much more and we’ve started to define these things as needs.

Advertising will tell you you need these things. Well, they may be wants, but they're not needs. When we start to define wants as needs, then we become ungrateful. We become ungrateful when we become blind to the grace of God around us; when we don’t have eyes to see how everything around us is an expression of God’s grace.

As we’ve seen in Romans chapter 1, that sin of ungratefulness leads us into a downward spiral that leads to all sorts of other sins. The sins of bitterness, anger, violence, immorality.

Dr. D. James Kennedy in a message on gratitude said this. He said,

An ungrateful person is only one step away from getting their needs met in illegitimate ways. You’d never be tempted or commit adultery if you were really thankful for your spouse. You would not be tempted to steal if you were really grateful for what you had. You would not be envious of others’ talents and abilities if you were grateful for those God has given you. You would not be proud if you were thankful. You see, pride short circuits thankfulness. 1

And unthankfulness leads us into so many other sins.

In 1863 Abraham Lincoln issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation. He called the people of the United States "to observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father Who dwelleth in the heavens."2 And listen to what he said in that Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863. He spoke to the people of our nation, and I think these words are so appropriate and timely today.

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown.

But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.2

Now President Lincoln was speaking to the nation. But I wonder if those words don’t speak to us as individuals. We were guilty, hopelessly guilty, estranged from God. And yet He came to us in our guilt and said, "I will pour out my grace upon you." Where our sin abounded God’s grace did much more abound.

The Scripture says every day He lavishes benefits upon us, and yet we’re blind to the grace of God, to the goodness of God.

  • We whine.
  • We murmur.
  • We complain.
  • We fret about the things that we don’t have.
  • We worry about what we don’t have.
  • We complain about the things we wish we did have.
  • We’re ungrateful.

The Scripture says that ingratitude is no small sin. That when I give into the sin of ingratitude, it is setting me on a road that will lead me invariably to other sins. The grateful person glorifies God. The person who refuses to glorify God for His goodness and His grace, who is not thankful, will end up overwhelmed with more guilt.

So I wonder as we’re thinking about the sin of ingratitude today, is that a sin that you need to confess? Do you need to say, “Lord, I have failed to thank You. I am one of those unthankful people that’s listed in 2 Timothy chapter 3. One of those people in Romans 1 who just forgot to be thankful.” Do you need to confess to God the sin of ingratitude?

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back with the second half of today’s Revive Our Hearts program. If you struggle with the sin of ingratitude, let me tell you about a book that will help you grow and improve. Nancy just released the book, Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy. It will show you how gratitude leads to peace and joy. The words of this book will stay with you. You will remember them when you’re tempted to grumble and complain.

We’ll send you a copy. It’s the brand new hard cover. Just make a donation of any amount at ReviveOurHearts.com, or donate by phone. Ask for choosing gratitude when you call 1-800-569-5959.

Let’s get back to Nancy.

Nancy: Matthew Henry was a well-known Bible commentator in the 19th century. On one occasion he was accosted by robbers. This is what he wrote in his diary in reflecting on the experience.

Let me be thankful, first, because I was never robbed before; second, because although they took my purse, they did not take my life; third, because although they took my all, it was not much; and fourth, because it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed.

Now you see there the heart of a thankful person. We’re talking this week about the attitude of gratitude, and we’ve seen that though we have abounding guilt, yet God has poured out upon us His abounding grace. He calls upon us to respond to Him in overflowing, abounding thankfulness.

Colossians chapter 2, verse 7, always abounding, overflowing with thankfulness. Psalm 92, verse 1, tells us, “It is a good thing to give thanks to the LORD, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High.” Scripture says it’s a good thing to give thanks.

Today I want us to look at why it’s a good thing to give thanks. Why should we give thanks to the Lord? I want to give you several reasons. We’ll look at some today and then some in the next session together. Reasons that it’s a good thing to give thanks to the Lord.

Number one, God commands us to be thankful, and He’s God. If He commands, we are to obey. God commands us to be thankful. Psalm 50, verse 14, “Offer to God thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High.” Psalm 105, verse 1, “Oh, give thanks to the LORD! Call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples!”

Colossians chapter 3, and by the way, the whole book of Colossians is a book of thanksgiving. If you want a great study in thankfulness, find the words gratitude and thankfulness in the book of Colossians. Seven times in four chapters you’ll find a call to be thankful. In Colossians chapter 3, verse 15, Paul says, “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.” Be thankful.

He goes on in verse 17 to say, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Giving thanks in whatever you do. If you’re eating. If you’re drinking. If you’re going to work. If you’re going to school. If you’re sitting in church. If you’re taking care of your children. If you’re cleaning your house.

Whatever you do, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus and do it in a way that gives thanks to God the Father through Christ. Be thankful. It’s a command. And as children of God who want to be obedient, we need to be thankful because God has said, be thankful.

Number two, thanksgiving ushers us into the presence of God. Psalm 95:2 tells us, “Come before His presence with thanksgiving.” Praise is where God lives. Scripture says that God inhabits the praises of His people. If you want to get to where God lives, if you want to get into His presence, you have to go to His address.

And God’s address is praise. God lives in the place of praise. And so He says, “Come before His presence with thanksgiving.” Bring your thanksgiving when you come into His presence because He lives in the place of praise.

Psalm 100, verse 4, tells us, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.” You see, when we come into the presence of God, we need to bring our thankfulness with us. The sacrifice, the gift, the offering of thanksgiving.

You remember in the Old Testament the tabernacle and how the presence of God dwelt in the Holy of Holies. But what was right before the entrance of the Holy of Holies? There was an altar of incense, a place where morning and night the priests would offer up incense symbolizing the prayers and the thanksgiving of God’s people.

So as part of the daily responsibilities of the priests helping the people to get into the presence of God, they would light the incense on that altar offering up thanks to God. Come before His presence with thanksgiving. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. You want to get close to God, you need to live in the place of praise.

Number three, it’s a good thing to give thanks to God because thanksgiving honors and magnifies God. Psalm 69, verse 30, “I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving.” Now we don’t magnify God in the sense of making Him bigger than He is. He is infinitely big. We couldn’t make Him any bigger than He is.

But when we offer thanksgiving to God, we see God in a bigger light ourselves, and we show others how big God is. We magnify Him. We honor Him when we give thanks to Him.

Then number four, it’s a good thing to give thanks to God because thanksgiving produces the peace of God in our hearts. If you want to have the peace of God ruling and reigning in your heart, you need to cultivate the attitude of gratitude. The attitude of gratitude is what brings about the peace of God.

We’re familiar with that passage in Philippians chapter 4, where the apostle Paul says, “Be anxious for nothing.” Some translations say, “Don’t worry about anything.” Instead, “by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6).

Don’t worry about anything. Instead, tell God your needs. Give Him your requests. Lift your supplications to Him, but make sure as you do, you do it with thanksgiving. Thanksgiving before you even get the answers. Thanksgiving because He is great and He is goodeven if He doesn’t do what you’re asking Him to do.

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; [here's what happens] and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding [it surpasses all human comprehension], will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (verses 6-7). 

The peace of God, Paul is saying, will be like a fortress around your heart, like a garrison, a bulwark around your mind. It will protect your mind from doubt, from fear, from anxiety, from being overwhelmed with your circumstances. Instead, you will have peace. You will be able to sleep well at night.

You will be able to rest in your heart even if battle is raging around you. You will have peace, the peace of God. Not because your circumstances have all worked out to your liking. Not because God has granted everything that you have asked Him to give you, but because God’s presence will come in response to your thanksgiving.

When we thank God regardless of our circumstances, that spirit of thankfulness, that attitude of gratitude produces the peace of God in our hearts.

Now think about some of the circumstances that you’re facing in your world at this season of life. I look over here and I see a recent widow. Three months since Rebecca lost her husband. I see others who have experienced heartache in recent days. Some struggling in a difficult marriage. I see a woman who is caring for a husband who has Alzheimer’s. She needs the peace of God.

I think of women who are struggling with issues with their children. It may be that you’ve got a son or daughter or a grandchild who’s not walking with God and your heart is breaking. I look over here and I see a woman who’s got a couple children who . . . she could really lose her peace over that situation. These are heavy burdens that people bear.

It may be in relation to your job, an issue at work that you can’t resolve. Your tendency is to be anxious about it, to come home and fret over it, to stay awake at night thinking about it. It may be a financial issue. You come to the end of the month and you find there’s not enough paycheck left to go until the end of the month. It’s a burden. You have to deal with this month after month.

It may be an issue in relation to your health. A doctor’s report you’ve received. And you’re fearful. You don’t know how it’s going to turn out. You’re praying but you’re still scared. It may be an issue you’re facing in your church. Maybe your church is going through something as I heard about a church in this community recently that’s going through some tough issues. Issues of church discipline and issues of some difference of opinion and some division within a local church. You’re maybe caught in the midst of that and not sure how you’re supposed to respond.

These are things that can trouble our hearts. The Scripture says don’t worry about anything. Instead, tell God your needs. Give your requests to Him. In everything, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. Tell Him what’s on your heart, and as you do, give Him thanks.

And as you give Him thanks, He promises that His peace, that supernatural, unexplainable peace, will be like a guardrail, a fortress, a bodyguard around your mind and around your heart. The circumstances may not change, but you will have the peace of God.

Lord, there are so many reasons for us to be thankful. I pray that You will help us take these to heart, to be thankful because You’ve commanded us to give thanks, to be thankful because that’s the way that we enter into Your presence and we want to be close to You. To be thankful because when we give thanks, we honor and we magnify You, and You are worthy of being honored and magnified. And to give thanks because when we do, that produces the peace of God in our hearts.

Lord, we live in a troubled world that needs peace. So help us in our troubled moments to be thankful women and thank You for Your promise that Your peace will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. In His name we pray with thanksgiving, amen.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been showing you a path to peace. It comes from being grateful. I hope you’ll follow up on today’s program, develop a grateful spirit and discover the kind of peace Nancy’s been describing.

Her new book, Choosing Gratitude: Your Journey to Joy, will help you grow in these areas. We’ll send you a copy when you donate any amount to Revive Our Hearts. Just call us and ask for Choosing Gratitude. The number is 1-800-569-5959, or donate any amount online at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Thanksgiving shows the condition of your heart. Find out why when Nancy’s back tomorrow. Please join us for Revive Our Hearts .

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the New King James Version.

1 D.James Kennedy. The Christian's Magic Wand, p. 7.

2 Abraham Lincoln. Thanksgiving Proclamation of October 3, 1863.

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

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