True Thanksgiving: Derek Donley

So often we reserve thankfulness for a specific season of the year, or even just a single day. Thankfulness, though, is something God wants us to live out every day. It’s all about where we direct our thanks and what we do to live it out.
In this message, Derek Donley shows us how we can live out true thankfulness. Because when we do, we will discover how to experience all God has for us every day.

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Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. This year we had Thanksgiving at our friend Dave and Jenn’s house, and we did the Clark tradition of going around the table saying what we are thankful for.

And I have to admit for the most part I was pretty impressed with the level of maturity that was exhibited by our kids when they said what they were thankful for. I heard, friends, family, Dave’s son said Jesus dying on the cross for us, don’t worry, my son a few moments later was even more spiritual when he said ‘my iphone 6’ (which he doesn’t even have).  But regardless we were proud because they were truly thinking about the things that they are thankful for.

And what we were trying to do was show them that being thankful is not a feeling or a season – it’s not determined by how much you have or don’t have, Being Thankful is a decision you make, you choose to be thankful!

Which is kind of ironic that the very next day at our house our boys were making their Christmas list…NEW shoes, toys, Crew put that he wanted a new baby sister….(Santa is not bringing that), new video games, a list full of new!

Nothing wrong with NEW, let’s be honest we all love NEW things. One of my goals in life is to get to the place where I can wear a NEW pair of socks every single day. There is something awesome about the feeling of wearing something new!

Ladies, if you are having a bad day, many times if you do some retail therapy (shopping) and buy something NEW you feel better or even just LOOKING AT SOMETHING NEW!

There is something refreshing about having something NEW. It’s exciting! It’s the same with any relationship, there is a newness about it that you just can’t explain. That is why when a relationship is new you can spend 5 hours talking on the phone about nothing……because its new!

The newer something is, the more thankful for it you are for it. New Car, New phone, New relationship….but over time, as the newness wears off many times our thankfulness and appreciate for it wears off as well…

Don’t treat the car as good as you did when it was new, socks don’t feel quite as good after 1 wash, 5 hour talks turn to 5 minutes….and I would argue that this is true even when it comes to our relationship with God.

We go through seasons of great thankfulness! When we first give our life to him, when a breakthrough happens, when something you have been praying for finally comes through, when a family member gives their life to Jesus..…..

But then you go through other seasons where thanking God is difficult….it’s not as easy to follow him, life becomes difficult, you feel beat down,…..and maybe you even begin to question the realness of your relationship…

This isn’t something that makes you an anomaly, this is something I think every Christ follower deals with in their life. But I believe there is power choosing to be thankful. I would argue that thankfulness is the key that combats bitterness, selfishness, and complacency in our lives.

There’s a story in the bible where Jesus addresses this very topic, its found in Luke 17.

Jesus is traveling to Jerusalem – near Samaria & Galilee. He begins to enter this village and from a distance 10 people with leprosy shouted to him. (Leprosy was the outcasts disease – declared unclean and couldn’t be around everyone else) –   They yelled at him ‘Jesus, Master have pity on us!’

Jesus told them to go show themselves to the priests and as they were going they were healed.

Luke 17:15-19 “One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice.  He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?’ Then He said to him, ‘Rise and go; your faith has made you well.’”

10 people healed only 1 gave thanks. 10 people who are no longer outcasts, only 1 praised God.

The Samaritan shows us in this story how to show thanks.

  1. Words. In this story the Samaritan came back praising God in a loud voice, verbally thanked Jesus!

**Silent Thankfulness is Ungratefulness – I don’t think you can truly be thankful for something if you’re silent about it.

You show your thankfulness with words but also:

  1. Actions: Not only was the Samaritan praising Jesus with his voice but he took action and threw himself at Jesus’ feet, acknowledging that Jesus was the source of his healing and thanking God for it!

For us it’s the same way, we show thanks to God through our words in prayer, in worship, to other people. But also with our actions, in serving, in sharing, in tithing, acknowledging that Jesus is the source of everything we have!

I think all of us have room to grow in our gratefulness, no one does thankfulness perfectly. So how do we grow in our gratefulness? How do we THRIVE IN THANKFULNESS?

  1. Remember What Was:

I love hearing people’s stories of how they began a relationship with Jesus. Every story is unique but the rescue is the same.  Remember your Rescue

Grow your gratefulness by remembering what God rescued you from — What your life was like before Christ – REMEMBER how amazing it was when you began this relationship with him! Think about how he has been there with you through the difficult seasons in your life. Remember how he has been faithful, and trustworthy.

You don’t want to suffer from “Faith Amnesia or Grace Amnesia” and forget what God has done in your life!

Ephesians 2:12-13  “…remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”

You can’t be thankful for something you feel entitled to – The mark of thankful person is one who understands that everything he has is because God has given it to them…

Don’t deserve Grace, Love, etc

Great need brings great faith, Great faith brings great thanks!

  1. Appreciate What Is:

If you are struggling in your thankfulness, and questioning the goodness of God, when you REMEMBER WHAT WAS you will APPRECIATE WHAT IS:

*1979 Mercedes 240D — glow plugs… —-à 2007 Jeep!!  Remember the PAST to be thankful for the PRESENT!

You can give thanks that even though you’re not where you want to be or where you think you should be, you can give him praise and be thankful that you’re not where you USED TO BE!

Everyday Events

Don’t be so focused on where you think you should be that you miss out on where God has you right now. You can be thankful for the opportunities that are right in front of you. The job you have right now or the job interview you have right now. The roof over your head right now.

Could it be that what you view as a missed opportunity God views as Protection for your life?

Thank Him for where you are, This Church!  No Longer New

Here’s what I’ve realized, praising God for what he has done in your PAST and Thanking him for where you are in your present, raises your expectations for he will do in your FUTURE!

  1. Expect What Will Be:

In order for thankfulness to move from brief moments of Thanks Giving to a life of Thanks Living – you have to remember that God is alive and moving, so because of that we should have a high level of expectancy for what he will do in our lives and we can thank him in advance for those things we are trusting him for, that’s called FAITH!

If God is who he says he is, if God’s word is true, if Ephesians 3:20 is REAL  – Now to him who is able to do abundantly more than all we ask or imagine according to his power that is at work within us! – Than living a life with anything but high expectations for what God will do is going against the will of God and the FAITH he has given you!

High expectations don’t have an age limit, they should last our lifetime!

A relationship with Jesus is a life-long JOURNEY, not a short-lived Destination!

Expectation is not just a mindset, expectation leads to ACTION.

If you truly want to experience all that God has for you… if you really want to cross over that line and step into all that God has planned and prepared for you… Your thankfulness will lead to obedience.

*CREW 3 years old – Jumping in the pool vs. eating vegetables – Why is it that its easier to thank God when our obedience leads to something we enjoy. The broccoli wasn’t enjoyable so he didn’t thank me, even though I knew it was beneficial.

How many times in our life do we fail to thank God for things that aren’t enjoyable in the moment but they are beneficial for our future.

Instant Gratification.  James 1:2, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”


Thankfulness is a part of Obedience, and Obedience is a part of thankfulness!


The truth is, is that God wants all of us to Thrive in Thankfulness, to show it with our words and actions, to grow our gratitude by remembering what was, appreciating what is and expecting what will be…..


You see giving thanks helps us focus on God, it strengthens our faith, and it glorifies Jesus.


Psalm 107:1 “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.”


That love and that goodness is freely available to you right now, and when you accept that you will know what it means to be full of thanks!


When you THRIVE in Thankfulness, God will do so many amazing things in your life, Greater than you can even imagine!