Revive Our Hearts Weekend Podcast

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The Difference of Gratitude

Episode notes:

These series make up today's Revive Our Hearts Weekend program:

"Always Thankful (Ps. 66)"

"The Attitude of Gratitude"

"Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving (Ps. 100)"

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Dannah Gresh: Here in the United States, we’re heading into the winter season of icy roads. Here’s Janelle.

Janelle: I got into a car accident. I was by myself and ran into a semi-truck and shattered my scapula and totaled our car. It was late at night on one of those winter nights. A girl, the next day, was in a very similar accident with a semi on the same road, and her car her got pulled under the semi. 

Dannah: Through difficulty, God brought forth thankfulness. We’ll be talking about the difference that gratitude makes.

Welcome to Revive Our Hearts Weekend, I’m Dannah Gresh. 

Oh, hi . . . sorry, I’m a little preoccupied looking for the town of The Rising Sun on the map here.

Did you know about halfway between Baltimore and Philadelphia on the Maryland border, there is a little town. In this town is a street called Thankless Lane. I wonder what’s behind that name!? Was it named for someone who lived there? Was he cheerless and discontent, or she despondent and upset, were they downcast and unhappy? Did they have a hard life, or did they just not know how to be grateful?

What does it take to become this person that lives on Thankless Lane? I mean, who named that street!?

On this weekend before Thanksgiving, I want us to imagine what it would be like for an entire town to stop showing their gratitude. Here's Leslie Basham telling us a story of the Town of Thanks.

Leslie Basham: "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

Listen to the entire episode, "The Town of Thanks." This come from the series, "Always Thankful (Ps. 66)."

Dannah: God has given us so much, hasn't He? What a beautiful story. Of course, you know 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 sit here today and remember all He has done for us, I wonder, do you need, as did the characters in this story—the Wood Carver and the Weaver and the Baker—they needed a great exchange.

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

Now today, we want to look at several other reasons why it’s a good thing to give thanks to the Lord. And it’s a good thing because as Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth says thanksgiving is an indicator of our true heart condition, of our true spiritual condition. Here’s Nancy sharing with us some characteristics of a grateful heart.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: I can still remember my dad who’s been in heaven now for twenty-some years. When people would ask him how he was doing he’d say, “Better than I deserve.” He was a grateful man.

I’ll tell you one of the reasons he was grateful was because he was humble. He never got over the wonder of the fact that God would have saved him. Because he was humble, he was grateful. He always felt like he had so much more than he deserved.

An ungrateful person has a proud heart. A grateful person has a humble heart; an ungrateful person has a proud heart and ingratitude reveals a proud heart.

You see an ungrateful person feels, “I deserve so much more than I have.” He forgets that he’s a debtor, that he owes everything he has to God.

John MacArthur in his commentary on the New Testament says,

The person who elevates self above all others will feel that he deserves everything good he receives, and therefore feels no need of gratitude for it. Although he may not put it into words, the ungrateful person despises the very idea of grace, which denotes goodness received that is undeserved. This is a particularly noxious sin to God, whose wrath is revealed against sinners for being ungrateful.

The person who elevates self, the proud person, will feel he deserves everything good he receives.

  • We are a society of people who feel that we are owed a lot, that we always are owed more than what we have, that we deserve what we have and that we’re owed more.
  • So we feel like we deserve a paycheck. We’re owed a paycheck. We put in those hours; we deserve to be paid.
  • We feel like we’re owed good health, healthy bodies.
  • We feel like we’re owed happiness.
  • We feel we have a right to have a happy marriage.
  • We feel we have a right to have children who are healthy.
  • We feel we have a right to have circumstances turn out the way we want them to turn out.
  • We feel we have a right for the sun to shine on our outdoor wedding or our party. We feel that we’re owed these things.

That sense of deserving good gifts is an expression of pride; whereas, the grateful person has a humble heart.

Henry Ward Beecher said,

Pride slays thanksgiving, but an humble mind is the soil out of which thanks naturally grows. A proud man is seldom a grateful man, for he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves.

So in looking at a grateful heart compared to an ungrateful heart, a grateful person is a humble person while ingratitude reveals a proud heart.

I want us to see another characteristic of grateful hearts compared to ungrateful hearts. A grateful heart is God-centered and others-centered; whereas, an ungrateful heart is self-centered. A grateful person is God-conscious and other-conscious, but an ungrateful person is self-conscious.

Grateful people tend to thank and talk to other people. I can remember when we were growing up my dad telling us, “When you’re talking to people, make sure and ask them questions about themselves and don’t talk about yourself, because people don’t want to hear you talk about you.”

Well, a grateful person is thinking about others, interested in others. But ungrateful people tend to focus on my needs, my feelings, my desires, my hurts, my rights, how I’ve been treated, how I’ve been neglected, how I’ve been failed, how I’ve been wounded, how my parents wronged me.

Grateful people who are God-centered and others-centered are loving people who want to bless others. But ungrateful people, because they’re self-centered, they’re bent on, "What will please me? How can I be satisfied?"

Let me tell you this: Nobody has few blessings from God. We all have many, many, many blessings from God. But unthankful people always feel empty because their blessings are leaking out through those holes of ingratitude.

This comes from the episode "Characteristics of a Grateful Heart." This is from the series, "The Attitude of Gratitude."

Dannah: Are you a grateful person? Or an ungrateful person living on Thankless Lane? Sorry, just had to throw that out there. But seriously, which are you? Can you name your blessings? 

Nancy has more to say about our thankful hearts and you can find a link to her teaching at ReviveOurHearts.com/weekend. Just click on today’s episode, "The Difference of Gratitude," and there we’ll have a link to Nancy’s teaching.

Okay, I’m serious, can you name your blessings? Maybe even grab a pen and paper, and jot a few down while we listen to a few women share reasons they’re grateful.

Woman 1: My dad died a couple of years ago, and he’s a big cook. I can remember, last year, picking up the phone to call him and ask him how to make the gravy for the turkey, and then thinking, Hmm—probably not going to get that call. It makes you think about not having regrets.

So often, we’re with our extended family, and they claim to be followers of Christ—but they don’t want to pray, and they don’t want to talk about how they’ve seen God work in their life this year, and how they’re thankful for the Lord and His blessings. It’s difficult to be in that setting when everybody thinks you’re in the same boat, and you’re really not.

So it’s empowering to think about this beforehand, to be able to set a different tradition this year. 

Woman 2: We do what a lot of families do, which is to tell something you’re thankful for. We try to do that. I remember the year our third-born had gone off to college, so our fourth daughter was the only one left at home. (I have four daughters.) It was very different for her to be the only one, and she was really sad.

I remember as we were driving home from Thanksgiving dinner with my family, we were saying something we were thankful for. (She was fifteen at the time.) I remember her saying, “I’m thankful for this year—these months since Laura has been gone at college. I haven’t had her to talk to, so I’ve had to talk to the Lord more than I ever have, and I’ve grown in that!”

As mom, that was a really precious thing to hear her say, and I’ll never forget that. I saw that bear fruit in her life over the years, as she’s grown up (she’s now twenty-five)—just to see the way that she loves the Lord and knows Him.

Janelle: My name is Janelle. Three years ago a friend and I went through Choosing Gratitude. And that winter, I got into a car accident. I was by myself and ran into a semi-truck and shattered my scapula and totaled our car. It was late at night on one of those winter nights.

I was amazed, just thinking about how many things to be thankful for—that changed that experience. I reflect on that experience. I go back to the spot where the accident happened, and almost always tears come to my eyes, and I think about how many things I’m thankful for.

The kids weren’t with me. A girl, the next day, was in a very similar accident with a semi on the same road, and her car her got pulled under the semi, and she didn’t live. Just God’s sovereignty in every detail of it: where we were in life-situation and our family and friends and doctors—every aspect. There were so many things to be thankful for.

I don’t think of it as a difficult time, but more of just a time where God sanctified and showed His kindness in so many ways.

Listen to the entire episode "Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving, Day 4." This comes from the series, "Enter His Gates with Thanksgiving (Ps. 100)."

Dannah: Hearing these stories is so good for our souls, hearing how God is working. And He’s working, my friend! Did you get your blessings listed out yet? He’s working, isn’t He?

The winter Janelle was in that terrible car accident she was reading Nancy’s book Choosing Gratitude. Nancy wrote this book to help you realize that what we’ve been talking about today—gratitude— it’s an essential part of our walk with God, and it leads us to true joy. Janelle can testify to that.

If our conversation today sparked a feeling or longing to be more thankful, go to our store and order your copy of Choosing Gratitude. Go to ReviveOurHearts.com/weekend and click on today's episode, "The Difference of Gratitude," and you’ll see the book there, or you can call 1–800–569–5959. 

Today there’s a “for sale” sign in front of a house on Thankless Lane, in Rising Sun, Maryland. If you bought that house, how would you bring life back to a name like Thankless Lane? Just something to think about as we count down the days to Thanksgiving.

As we finish off the turkey leftovers next week, I’ll be putting up the Christmas tree! It’s a Black Friday tradition at the Gresh house! As we break out the decor to prepare our homes, I want us to turn our thoughts toward preparing our hearts for Christmas. Please join me. Some women will share their creative Christmas traditions and Nancy will give us the backstory to a favorite Christmas hymn, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel."

Thanks for listening today. Thanks to our team. Phil Krause, who’s looking forward to his mom’s special oatmeal rolls, fresh out of the oven. Recipe please, Phil! Blake Bratton says it's all about the stuffing. Stuffing, dressing, whatever you call it . . . something I like too. Rebekah Krause can’t wait to eat some yummy cranberry rolls. (Those Krauses have the corner on the holiday rolls!) Justin Converse loves his stuffing slathered in gravy. Michelle Hill will be going for turkey with cranberry sauce, topped off with pumpkin pie, of course. And for Revive Our Hearts Weekend, I’m Dannah Gresh, a woman who as a girl ate so many noodles at a Thanksgiving feast that my parents had to help me walk out after! Word of advice: take it easy on the carbs!

Revive Our Hearts Weekend is an outreach of Revive Our Hearts, calling you to freedom, fullness and fruitfulness in Christ.

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

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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.

About the Host

Dannah Gresh

Dannah Gresh

When Dannah Gresh was eight years old, she began praying that God would use her as a Bible teacher for “the nations.” When she sees the flags of many countries waving at a Revive Our Hearts event, it feels like an answer to her prayer.

Dannah is the founder of True Girl which provides tools for moms and grandmothers to disciple their 7–12 year-old girls. On Monday nights, you’ll find Dannah hosting them in her online Bible study. She has authored over twenty-eight books, including Ruth: Becoming a Girl of Loyalty, Lies Girls Believe, and a Bible study for adult women based on the book of Habakkuk. She and her husband, Bob, live on a hobby farm in central Pennsylvania.