Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, March 3, 2024
Shavuah Tov,

A Heart of Thanksgiving
by Jerry Miller

“…for even though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or give Him thinks.  Instead, their thinking became futile, and their senseless hearts were made dark.” Romans 1:21 (TLV)

I know we are many months away from it, but one of my favorite holidays each year is Thanksgiving.  I love the special connection with family and friends…I love the food…and I love the spirit of gratitude that permeates the day.  While the holiday of Thanksgiving is just a one-day affair, the posture of thanksgiving should be foundational to our daily walk with the Lord.  A heart of thanksgiving is something emphasized over and over again throughout Scripture.  It was to be central to Israel’s relationship with God, and it is to be central to the life of every New Covenant Yeshua-follower.

Considering Paul’s words from Romans 1:21 above, it’s interesting to note that Paul identifies a lack of gratitude as central to humanity’s overall stance of rebellion against God.  He goes on to write that this lack of gratitude leads to a futility of thinking as well as our hearts becoming darkened.  Think about that for a moment.  Unwillingness to honor God through giving thanks leads to a thought process that is empty of substance.  So, if we consider the reverse of that truth, then a heart of thanksgiving will lead to greater clarity and perspective in our thinking.  Also, if lack of gratitude results in our hearts being darkened, we can assume that a posture of gratitude opens our hearts to being increasingly enlightened and sensitive to God.  The simple act of giving thanks brings light and life to our hearts.  What an awesome promise!

As we experience the challenges and adversities of life, we can so easily find ourselves focusing mostly on the difficulties.  As a result, we can end up in a place of defeat as we complain or slip into self-pity.  But the truth is, when we embrace a posture of thanksgiving, we really can be lifted above the circumstances and the discomfort or even the pain they can bring to our hearts.  Thanksgiving is powerful!  This is not to suggest that we live in denial.  Rather, we are choosing to acknowledge that in spite of adversities, God is greater than any difficulty we face.  I feel more and more that a grateful heart is something we must nurture and guard.  The enemy continually seeks to pull us into alternative mindsets in which we set aside that heart of thanksgiving.  He knows that if we abandon our stance of gratitude, we can allow our hearts to become overshadowed by a cloud of heaviness.  Personally, I try to guard against that heaviness by starting each day declaring my gratitude to the Lord, regardless of what I might be feeling or going through.  That stance helps to set a tone for the rest of the day.

Thanksgiving is not merely an action we take when we feel thankful.  Rather, it is a posture we embrace in all circumstances.  It is not a burden to be thankful, even though thanksgiving can often be a sacrifice.  But keep in mind, it will actually bring fresh life and light to our hearts.  So, what is it that we want?  We have a choice between living in the darkness of an unthankful heart, or living in the light and liberty of a grateful heart.  If a thankful heart lifts us into heavenly places where we have God’s enlightened perspective, then the choice is between walking in darkness versus living in the heavenly places.  The decision is ours.  I encourage you to embrace thanksgiving as a lifestyle.  It will change your life from the inside out.

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)
23 Adar I Sunday 3-Mar-24
Exodus 35:1-20 2 Kings 15 Psalm 126-127 John 19 Hebrews 9:1-14