Revive Our Hearts Podcast

The Town of Thanks

Leslie Basham: Here's Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth reminding us that one of the reasons we've been put on this earth is to tell others about God's goodness.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Open you mouth. Tell what God has done for you. That's not just the pastor's job. That's not just my job. That's your job. That's our job—to speak to one another and say, “Let me tell you what God has done for my soul.”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of Choosing Gratitude, for Friday, November 24, 2017.

What would happen to a community if everyone stopped being grateful? We'll imagine that scenario in a few minutes. First, we'll return to Psalm 66. Nancy began walking through the passage yesterday, opening our eyes to the value of gratefulness.

Nancy: Psalm 66:13:

I will come into your house with burnt offerings; I will perform my vows to you, that which my lips uttered and my mouth promised when I was in trouble. I will offer to you burnt offerings of fattened animals, with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams; I will make an offering of bulls and goats (vv. 13–14). 

Now we know as New Testament believers that we no longer need to offer animal sacrifices as the Jews did. Those were just a picture, a temporary picture, of the sacrifice that was yet to come, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. When He went to the cross, He was the Lamb of God giving His life. The supreme sacrifice. The sacrifice that was totally acceptable to God. Now we no longer have to offer sacrifices day after day after day. That sacrifice of Christ's life was once and for all, as Hebrews tells us.

The blood of animals that the Jews shed in the Old Testament, it could not take away people's sins. It just covered their sins for a time until they had the next Day of Atonement, and the priest went once again and offered sacrifices. But the blood of Jesus Christ, God's son, cleanses us from all sin.

The sacrifice has been made. We look to His sacrifice. As we come into His presence to offer thanks, we don’t bring animal sacrifices. We come in the name and by the merits of the shed blood of Jesus Christ. We say, “Lord, I come through no merit of my own, but I come bringing to you the sacrifice that's already been made, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.”

Then we offer up to God the sacrifice of a broken and a contrite heart, the sacrifice of praise, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name. With such sacrifices, the Scripture says, God is well pleased.

He has said earlier in the psalm, "Come and see what God has done" (v. 5). Then he tells what God has done for his own soul. Then in verse 16 he says again, “Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul.” If you're not sharing your testimony regularly with those around you of what God has done and is doing for you soul, if you're not doing that on a regular basis, you need to ask yourself why. Is it because I don’t have testimony? Is it because God is not doing anything in my life?

If you are child of God, God is doing something in your life. Are you seeing it? Are you recognizing it? You say, "What's happening in my life isn't that big of a deal." Listen, if God is at work in your life, that's a big deal. You need to be sharing it. There's the power of a life-message. It's one thing for me to tell you to open up a Scripture text, to teach it, and say this is what God says. It's another thing for me to illustrate it out of my life. It's important for you to illustrate it out of your life, with your children, with your mate, with your friends, to say, "This is what God is doing for me."

As we've been talking about praise, we keep saying it has to be expressed. Open your lips. Open your mouth. Tell what God has done for you. That's not just the pastor's job. That's not just my job. That's your job. That's our job—to speak to one another and say, “Let me tell you what God has done for my soul.” As you do, you will become a mentor, a discipler, a nurturer. You will be helping others to experience freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ.

That's the heart of this ministry. Not just so that we can experience freedom, fullness, and fruitfulness in Christ, but so that we can become reproducers, sharing and investing in the lives of others. I hope that everything that you are hearing on Revive Our Hearts, that you're not only committed to live it out in practicing it in your own life, as I am committed to do in mine, but you're also committed to reproducing it in the lives of others, sharing it with others so you become a discipler and reproduce His heart.

Well, Psalm 66:17, let me tell you what He's done for my soul. Here's what happened. The psalmist said,

I cried to him with my mouth, and high praise was on my tongue. If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer (vv. 17–19).

Now, what is not written in there but is suggested is the reason God has listened is because I've come to Him on His terms, with a humble heart and a holy heart. I've been willing to confess my sins. It's not that he never sinned. The psalmist wasn’t saying, "I was sinless." He was saying, "Of course I’ve sinned, but I've come and offered the sacrifice. I've come through the merits of the shed blood. So my sins have been cleansed. I'm clean. I'm free. Now God can receive the praise that I bring to Him. God has listened. He has attended to the voice of my prayer."

Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me! (v. 20).

No matter what I have done, no matter how I have failed, no matter how weak I have been, no matter how inadequate I am, God has not changed. He has not failed. No matter how little I have loved Him—and who of us can love Him as we want, as we ought, or as one day we will—but God never removes His unfailing steadfast love from us.

You've heard me talk about the Hebrew word that is translated, in this translation, steadfast love. Some of your Bibles will say lovingkindness. Some of your Bibles will say mercies. It’s a hard word to translate into English. It’s the Hebrew word hesed—h-e-s-e-d—and it means "covenant love, God’s covenant-keeping, unfailing love."

We’re not covenant keepers by nature, but God is. The psalmist says, “I will praise You, O Lord. I will bless You because You haven’t rejected my prayer. You’ve accepted me.” And as New Testament believers, we would say, “You’ve accepted us through Jesus Christ, and you have never, ever, ever removed Your covenant steadfast love and mercy from us, nor will You ever. So bless the Lord. Sing to the Lord; shout to the Lord; give thanks to the Lord.”

Father, how we thank You for Your marvelous, covenant-keeping love, for Your faithfulness, for Your goodness, for Your mercy toward us, for the grace that You have poured out into our lives. Thank You, Lord, for taking us through fire and through water. Thank You for the floods, for the challenges, for the tests.

Forgive us for being so resentful and panicked and anxious in the midst of those times. Forgive us for having such a small perspective that we fail to look up and to see that You are the one who has brought us into this net. And forgive us for failing to recognize how many times You have been the one who has brought us out of the net.

So Lord, we want to just pause at this moment, again, to give You thanks, and to say You have brought us out into a place of abundance, and You will keep doing that. So help us, Lord, to trust You, to praise You, to bless You this day, no matter what, and in every circumstance, every situation, to give You thanks.

We worship You. We magnify Your great and holy name, amen.

Leslie: Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has been showing you why praising God is so valuable even when pain threatens to overrun your emotions.

At Revive Our Hearts, we’re grateful for all the listeners who pray for this ministry and support it financially. You would not be hearing this program today if not for listeners who make it possible through their donations.

When you support Revive Our Hearts, Nancy would like to send you an exclusive gift. She’s here to tell you more about it.

Nancy: For several months, I’ve been hard at work updating and expanding one of the first books I ever wrote: Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free. You’ll be able to get that new edition in February, and we'll be telling more about it then. But in the course of working on this book, I've been thinking of the value and importance and necessity of the truth and the freedom that His truth provides. We want to encourage you to anchor your heart in the truth of God throughout this coming year. That’s why we’d like to send you the brand new 2018 Revive Our Hearts wall calendar. The theme is “The Truth That Sets us Free.”

When you support the ministry with a gift of any amount, we’ll send you this exclusive wall calendar. You can only get it from the minsitry. Ask for the calendar when you call 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Leslie: On this day after Thanksgiving, we’re going to imagine what it would be like for an entire town to stop showing their gratitude . . .

"Across the Sea of Imagination, in a time long ago, there was a delightful little village nestled in the mountains, right in the heart of The Kingdom. A sign on the outskirts of the village notified travelers that they were entering the Town of Thanks.

"The air in the Town of Thanks was fresh and clean. Children played excitedly in the park—that is, when they weren't busy learning the family trade from their parents.

"It was important for the children to learn their trade well. For the Town of Thanks was renowned for its superb craftsmanship and exquisite artistry. Visitors traveled from near and far across The Kingdom to purchase wares from the legendary town. Some even came from outside The Kingdom.

"The merchants of the Town of Thanks had a reputation for unusual attention to detail. The Wood Carver fashioned his pieces with great care and accuracy. The Weaver labored diligently over his loom, and his fabrics were woven using only the finest of threads. And every morning the Baker made fresh loaves of bread, using recipes known only to his family.

"There was no denying the extraordinary quality of the goods produced in the Town of Thanks. But the greatest distinctive, that unique charm that set this town apart from every other, was the signature displayed on every product that was sold—a simple, 'Thank You.' The inscription was etched into each piece of the Wood Carver's work; it was embroidered on the edge of every bolt of the Weaver's cloth; it was even stenciled on each bag of the Baker's bread.

"At every town meeting, without fail, the village elders would remind the townspeople, 'Our workmanship would mean nothing without those who buy our goods and provide our livelihood. We must always remember to express our appreciation to every customer.'

"It was a joy to shop in the Town of Thanks. Nowhere else could the citizens of The Kingdom purchase such fine merchandise, and nowhere did they feel any more warmly welcomed. Those who visited the Town of Thanks were always eager to return.

"Though generally crowded with shoppers, there was something peaceful and inviting about the streets. The craftsmen who tended their stores were always so friendly and were never too busy to answer customers' questions or help them find just what they were looking for.

"The Wood Carver (ever so humble) was quick to inform visitors of other products available in the town, and would nearly blush with gratitude over each purchase of his own work. The Weaver (busy and diligent in his labor) could always find time to visit with his customers and make them feel appreciated. And The Baker (so tender and warm in spirit) would always give hope and encouragement to any who entered his store.

"And so it continued from one generation to another, this rich heritage was passed on. But in time, yes, in time, things changed—not all at once, but slowly, almost imperceptibly.

"According to one wise man, the change began when business was booming, and people became so busy that they forgot to say 'thank you.' By and by, they began to consider the inscription an unnecessary expense.

"Before anyone realized what had happened, the Town of Thanks had ceased to be thankful. And when gratitude left, other things, ugly things, took its place.

"The shopkeepers no longer waited within their stores, content to help those who stopped in. Now they would gaze out their windows or stand on the sidewalk, waiting for the shoppers, looking for the shoppers, expecting the shoppers.

"If a shopper would arrive but purchased less than expected, the owner was annoyed. And if a prospective buyer went to a neighboring shop to make his purchase, the owner's heart would grow hot with jealousy. Those were sad days in the Town of Thanks. This town which once had so much, now wanted more.

"In time, word of the change traveled back to the King of The Kingdom. He knew the town's longtime reputation, and he knew what was needed to restore thankfulness. But would the people be able to see their need? And then, would they want to change?

"One day an elderly man wearing threadbare clothes and carrying an empty bag on his shoulder entered town. The Wood Carver eyed the prospective customer with interest, until he caught sight of the Old Man's shriveled purse. When the Old Man walked into his store, the Wood Carver remained outside, looking for more promising customers. A few moments later the Wood Carver spied the Old Man examining an especially lovely carving in the window.' Be careful with that, Old Man. My products are expensive,' he said with pride.

"Slowly, the Old Man loosened his purse (no longer shriveled, but bulging with coins) and emptied it onto the table before the Wood Carver. Speechless for a moment, the Wood Carver soon found himself humbly shaking the Old Man's hand. 'Thank you, sir, for buying my product. I didn't expect that.' The Old Man smiled, placed the carving in his bag, and walked across the street to see the Weaver.

"The Weaver looked up from his work to see the Old Man slowly approach and enter his store. 'I don't have time for him,' the Weaver muttered to himself. 'I need some real shoppers who can afford my workmanship.' A moment or so later, the Old Man selected a bolt of fine, woven silk from the shelf and headed toward the Weaver. 'That's my best fabric, Old Man, and I don't want to get it dirty,' the Weaver said sharply.

"Deliberately, as before, the Old Man pulled from his vest a beautifully jeweled timepiece and placed it into the Weaver's hands. At that moment, time and the demands of a busy workday ceased to be important to the Weaver. It was as though the love of the world paled next to what he saw in that precious timepiece. He thanked the Old Man over and over for buying his product. The Old Man simply smiled, placed his purchase in his bag with the carving, and walked next door to see the Baker.

"Concerned and worried over many things, the Baker scarcely noticed his aged customer. Carefully, the Old Man selected a loaf of bread and placed his payment into the hand of the Baker. Their eyes met for a moment. The Baker knew the price being paid was far too great. He wanted to push it away, but then he understood that it had to be, and he received the payment with gratitude. Tears welled up in his eyes and began to overflow—tears of joy, for hope had returned to his heart. 'Thank you, Old Man, for coming to town today, and thank you for buying my goods.'

"The Old Man left town, wearied from his shopping. The items in the bag were now his; he had paid for them—an exquisite carving, a piece of fine silk, and a freshly baked loaf of bread.

"But the Old man saw his purchases differently.

"From the Wood Carver he had bought the sculpture of pride and left the payment of humility.

"From the Weaver, he had purchased impatience which had blossomed full from the love of this world. In exchange, he had given a vision to live for things of timeless value.

"And from the Baker's heart he had taken discouragement and despair, and left in their place unquenchable hope.

"The bag of goods grew heavy on the Old Man's shoulder as he stumbled up the path that led out of the valley. After days of travel, he finally approached his home. The drawbridge was lowered to allow him to enter the castle. As he made his way past the guards and attendants, each bowed low in respect before him.

"The bag he carried—filled with pride, love of this world, and despair—was taken down to the dungeon, where it would never see the light of day again.

"Finally, having returned to the palace, His mission fulfilled, He took His seat on the throne. As he did so, his eyes fell upon an object standing in the corner. Used only once, but always to be remembered, was a blood-stained, rugged cross.

"Thank You, Your majesty. Thank You."1

Nancy: Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift. God has given us so much, hasn't He? And not the least of which; in fact, the greatest of which is the Lord Jesus—the salvation that He has given us through Christ represented by that cross.

Of course you realize as we were listening to this story that the Old Man, the one who was really the King, is a picture of God Himself who came to visit this earth in the form of Jesus Christ.

And as we reflect on what He has done for us, I wonder if you don't need, as did those characters in this story—the Wood Carver and the Weaver and the Baker—they needed a great exchange.

But they had to be willing to give up those negative things that they had developed over the process of time as a result of an unthankful heart.

What is the exchange that perhaps you need in your heart, in your home today? Is there pride? Is there impatience? Is there discouragement? Is there bitterness?

If so, are you willing to give up those things to the Master, to the King? Just to hand them over to Him and say, "Lord, I don't want to live with those things any longer."

In their place He wants to give you His Spirit, His love, His forgiveness, His kindness. Would you be willing to just let the Lord make that great exchange in your heart?

Oh Father, I confess that my own heart is often so unthankful. I forget to express gratitude to You and to others for the many blessings that I have received. Lord, today we just lift up our hearts to You and wherever there is fear or anger or pride, we want to give all those things up to You.

Thank You for sending Jesus to die on the cross for those sins, and in their place we want to receive the righteousness of Christ. So Lord, would You make that exchange in us? Would You make it real? I pray it with thanksgiving in Jesus' name, amen.

Leslie: If you just prayed with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for the first time asking Christ to save you from your sins, would you let us know? We would like to send you some free information about what it means to be in a right relationship with God and how to live in your new-found faith.

Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com, or call us at 1–800–569–5959 for this free information.

Sue Thomas had a job reading lips for the FBI. It was such an intriguing line of work that it inspired a TV program. But the story of the real Sue Thomas is even more intriguing. Hear about her struggles growing up deaf and the way Jesus has transformed her life. That’s Monday on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

1Don Averill, The Town of Thanks, Used by permission.

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

Join the Discussion