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The Therapy of Thanksgiving (Psalm 92:1-5, 1 Thessalonians 5:18)

Dr Daryl Miler, October 9, 2016
Part of the The Positive Message of Christianity series, preached at a Sunday Morning service

Title: The Therapy of Thanksgiving
Text: “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thess. 5:18).
Scripture Reading: Psalm 92:1 - 5; 1 Thessalonians 5:18
Practicing thanksgiving is therapeutic. When we learn to say, from the bottom of our hearts, “Thanks for everything,” we are on the way to being healthy, happy people.
A man who had always been rather negative was constantly bothered by things. His health was poor; the world was in a terrible state; his business was failing. He always complained about himself and his circumstances. But one day people noticed that he had changed considerably. He was vital, vibrant, enthusiastic, and seemingly the picture of health. When asked to explain the marked change, he said, “It’s the therapy of giving thanks.”
Every night in bed this man thought of all the good things that had happened to him that day. Then he would pull the bedcovers up around his neck, say to the Lord, “Thanks for everything,” turn out the light, and peacefully go to sleep.
The therapy of thanksgiving is amazingly therapeutic and health producing.
I. Thanksgiving encourages a grateful spirit (I Thess. 5:18).
Paul quickly asserted that the will of God is for you to have a grateful spirit?—?that “in every thing [you] give thanks.” A grateful spirit makes a person happier and makes life better.
Just think of a few things for which you can be grateful.
A. Daily bread (Acts 27:35).
B. Christian friends (Rom. 1:8).
C. God’s using you to spread the knowledge of him (2 Cor. 2:14).
D. Victory over temptation (Rom. 7:24?–?25).

E. The unspeakable gift of Christ (2 Cor. 9:15).
A pastor tells of a man who was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. He was an empty shell. Someone suggested that he could avoid further breakdown by practicing the therapy of thanksgiving. He was told to make a list of everyone who had helped him throughout the years. Then he was told to fill his mind with thanksgiving for all the things these people had done for him.
The third step included sitting down and writing a letter of thanks to a person who had especially blessed his life. He thought of a schoolteacher?—?a very old lady. He wrote her and expressed how much he loved and appreciated her.
Several days passed, and he received a reply. Calling him by his boyhood name, it read: “Dear Willy, As I recall all the children I have taught over the years, you are the only one who ever took time to write and thank me for what I did as a teacher. You have made me so very happy! I have read your letter through tears. I keep it by my bedside and read it every night. I shall cherish it until the day I die.”
Thrilled by this reply, the man wrote letter after letter until he had written at least five hundred letters of thanks. He discovered that during these months he had become a changed man. The therapy of thanksgiving had lifted him above himself and opened to him the secret of real living.
II. Thanksgiving develops a positive attitude.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:18 Paul said in effect, “In spite of all that may happen, you are to continue being grateful?—?you are to maintain a positive attitude.” Paul did not thank God for the possession of material abundance. He did not have an affluent standard of living. He had learned to be content in whatever state he found himself. He did not thank God for an easy time, for he had a “thorn” (2 Cor. 12:7). He knew the bitterness of persecution?—?he was stoned at Lystra, driven from Thessalonica, rejected at Athens, jailed at Philippi, apprehended at Caesarea, taken to Rome as a prisoner, and shipwrecked en route. He suffered imprisonment, was released then jailed again, put in a dungeon at Rome, and finally martyred.
Paul did not thank God for any superior standing among others. He was not like the Pharisee who prayed, “God, I thank you that I am not as other men.”
The therapy of thanksgiving had developed a positive attitude that enabled Paul to forget the bad and to be grateful for the good.
When a Sunday school teacher asked her class what they were thankful for, one little fellow replied, “My glasses.” “But why?” she asked. “Because they keep the boys from jumping on me and the girls from kissing me!” A positive attitude can always find something for which to be grateful!
Thanksgiving enables us to see the positive side of things. With so much bad news circulating today, we need to practice the therapy of thanksgiving so that we may see the positive side of things. For example, consider the millions of people last year who were not involved in crime, did not file for divorce, did not riot, but performed their jobs well and attended church.

III. Thanksgiving produces an attractive witness.
People want to be attractive. Americans spend millions of dollars each year on cosmetics. Christ wants his witnesses to be attractive too. Thanksgiving can make you the kind of witness that will attract others to Christ.
Paul may not have been eloquent, his physical appearance may not have been striking, but his witness always attracted people. He drew men and women wherever he went, from Jerusalem to Rome. The therapy of thanksgiving (practiced even in prison) had made Paul an attractive witness, and it can do the same for you!
C. H. Spurgeon said that “more flies are attracted by honey than by vinegar!” And another has said, “Unfailing gratitude makes a human magnet out of a common personality.”
Are you in the “dumps”? Has life lost its glow? Do you no longer feel that you have a purpose for living? Has your whole world gone sour? Practice the therapy of thanksgiving every day for one full month, and you will make a wonderful discovery. You will develop a grateful spirit. Your attitude will become radiantly positive. And you will become an attractive witness for Christ!


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Psalm 92:1-5

1It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High: 2To shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night, 3Upon an instrument of ten strings, and upon the psaltery; upon the harp with a solemn sound. 4For thou, LORD, hast made me glad through thy work: I will triumph in the works of thy hands. 5O LORD, how great are thy works! and thy thoughts are very deep. (KJV)

1 Thessalonians 5:18

18In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (KJV)

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