An Overflowing and Thankful HeartJanuary 24, 2019
We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;
— 1 Thessalonians 1:2
So often in this age, people face disappointments in life — and one of the most difficult things to face is disappointment in relationships. Think of how often people get their feelings hurt for real or imagined reasons or feel like their trust has been violated. Think of how many marriages end in divorce. Such hurts occur so frequently and can be so painful that people often end up entirely focusing on their hurts and disappointments and forget about all the wonderful people who have been and remain a blessing to them. Satan uses hurt, pain, and personal letdowns to get people so side-tracked by what one person or a small group of people did that they forget about all the good and kind things that others have done for them.
There are no words to express the emotion and love my wife and I feel for the people who support our ministry with their finances and prayers. As far as we’re concerned, they are the real heroes responsible for the mighty things God has done through our ministry over the years. Yes, God has used Denise and me; we know that very well. But the fact remains that He has equally used our partners who have given and given time and again to assist Denise and me as we obey the call God placed on our lives to reach the people of the former Soviet Union.
It’s never a burden to continually pray and thank God for our partners. I think of how faithfully they have given over the years. I ponder the fact that they often could have used those funds elsewhere to meet needs and desires in their own lives, yet they opted to sacrifice and to give to the work of the Gospel instead of meeting their own needs. As I consider all of this, my heart literally overflows with thanksgiving for our partners and for what they do for the work of the Gospel.
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Every morning when I wake up, one of the first things I do is pray for our partners because of this deep gratitude I feel for them. It is no struggle to pray for them! As I begin to call out their names to God, thankfulness flows up from the deepest parts of my being. And as I begin to pray for our partners, I can hardly stop! I pray for them to be blessed in their families, jobs, finances, children, health, and relationships. I cry out in faith for them to grow in their relationship with God. Before I close my time of prayer, I always confidently make my request to God for Him to richly multiply the financial seed they have sown into our work. My heart’s cry is for our partners to be blessed in every way, including financially and materially. We are so spiritually connected to our partners that it is a great joy to pray for them!
When the apostle Paul thought about the believers in Thessalonica, he must have felt the same way about them. They had endured such difficult times of persecution and had faced nearly unbearable pressure, yet they had never given way to fear or relinquished their stance of faith. The experience Paul and his apostolic team had enjoyed with them had been such a pleasure, and they had seized such a big part of his heart that he told them, “We give thanks to God always for you, making mention of you in my prayers” (1 Thessalonians 1:2).
The word “we” in Greek is plural and refers to the heartfelt thanks shared by Paul, Silas, and Timothy. The Thessalonians were a great source of blessing, and it wasn’t just Paul who abounded with a sense of thanksgiving for them. Paul’s entire team was impacted and encouraged by the faith and example of the Thessalonian believers. They were all filled with thankfulness for this church!
The word “thanks” comes from the Greek word eucharistos, a compound of the words eu and charis. The word eu means good or depicts something extremely pleasant or gratifying. The word charis is the Greek word for grace. When these two words are compounded, the new word portrays a person who is so satisfied and full of deep pleasure and gratitude that it pours forth from his heart. Just as God freely and liberally bestows His grace upon us, this deep thanksgiving liberally abounds and pours forth to God from our heart with no effort. This depicts a sense of thankfulness so strongly felt that it would be difficult to hold it back or restrain it.
And Paul wasn’t just occasionally thankful for them either! He said, “We give thanks to God always for you.…” The word “always” is the Greek word pantote, which carries the idea of every moment, every opportunity, or every time we get the opportunity. It tells us that every time the believers in Thessalonica came to Paul’s mind, his heart was instantly filled with warm memories and gratitude for them. It was truly effortless for Paul to thank God for the Thessalonians.
The verse continues, “We give thanks to God always for you.…” The word “for” in this verse is derived from the word peri. In this case, the word peri means about. Every time Paul thought about the Thessalonian believers, he was thankful. When considering everything about them, he couldn’t help but stop what he was doing to express to God the deep gratitude he felt for them.
Then Paul continued, “We give thanks to God always for you all.…” The word “all” is the Greek word panton. It is an all-encompassing term that means this heartfelt gratitude was not directed toward just a few of the Thessalonians, but toward all of them. In contrast to all the problems and opposition Paul had encountered in his ministry and all the people who had disappointed him through the years, the believers in Thessalonica were a bright, shining source of joy, and he literally thanked God for every single one of them and for all that pertained to them.
When you put all these words together, First Thessalonians 1:2 could be translated:
“We thank God for you! We are simply so full of gratitude for everything connected to you that we just can’t hold it back! In fact, thanking God for you is one of the easiest and most effortless things we do — it just flows out of our hearts. We find ourselves thanking Him for you all the time. What a joy it is that our attitude of thankfulness is not just for a few of you, but it really is something we feel about every last one of you!”
Whom do you have in your life today that makes your heart overflow with thanksgiving? Can you think of someone, or perhaps a group of people, who are such a blessing to you that when you think about them, your heart immediately begins to fill up with tender thoughts of gratitude?
In this day we live in, we all experience many disappointments with people, and relationships often don’t seem to last very long. People move from place to place; some break commitments; and often people make wrong choices that can wrench your heart. But when you have a friend or a group of people who faithfully follow the Lord and who remain steadfast year after year, it truly is a delight. Such relationships are a special treasure from God that should be cherished and deeply appreciated.
Paul set a good example for you and me that we must follow in our own lives. He wrote and told the Thessalonians how deeply he felt about them. He cherished his relationship with this body of believers, and he wanted them to know how he felt about them.
Likewise, if we have such treasured relationships in our lives, we must take the time to express how deeply grateful we are for what these people mean to us. Don’t assume that they already know how you feel. Take the time to write them a note, call them, or take them to dinner so you can make sure they know how much you appreciate them.
Wouldn’t it bless you if someone did this for you today? Why don’t you take a few minutes right now to make a list of those people who are special, shining sources of joy in your life and begin to thank God for them as Paul did for the Thessalonians? Then do something special for them to demonstrate how much you appreciate them. It takes only a few minutes of your day to do it, yet it will communicate so much to the hearts of those who have been such a blessing to you!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, I thank You for the people You have placed in my life who are a special blessing to me. In this world today, where disappointments and letdowns are so common, it is rare to find good friends and coworkers in Your Kingdom who are faithful, consistent, and truly genuine in their commitment to me. I am so sorry that I haven’t previously made enough of an effort to let them know how grateful I am for them. Starting right now, I ask You to help me learn how to better communicate to these special people how thankful I am to God for them!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I am careful to let people know how grateful I am for them and for all they do. I am not negligent to say thank you, I don’t take people and their kindness for granted. I express my heartfelt thanks to people who mean a lot to my life. I am blessed to have such friends, and the Holy Spirit is teaching me to convey my gratitude for all they do and for the valuable place they hold in my life. Every day I will spend a few minutes thanking God for them, and every day I will go out of my way to let someone know how thankful I am for the blessing he or she is in my life!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Who can you think of today in your life for whom you are especially thankful? Why are you so grateful to have these individuals in your life? What have they done that has affected you so positively and made your heart overflow with thankfulness to God for them?
- Have you taken time to let that person or persons know how much they have meant to you? If not, what has stopped you from articulating how you feel about them? Wouldn’t it mean a lot to you if someone expressed such heartfelt thanks for the blessing you are in his or her life?
- Before you get too busy today, write down the names of some of the main people who have been a special blessing to your life. Once you have written down the names of those special people, take a few minutes to pray for them. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you creative ideas about how to express your appreciation for who they are and what they have meant to you in your life.