Summary: Why we need to cultivate an attitude of gratitude in our daily lives

Attitude of Gratitude

TCF Sermon

November 20, 2011

I’d like to start this morning with a little quiz. To avoid embarrassment for anyone but me, I’m going to ask you to keep your answers to this quiz to yourself. But think of how you might answer these questions as we begin this morning.

Here’s the first question: You are in the express lane at the grocery. The sign clearly says 10 items, cash only. You have your 2 cartons of ice cream and 1 candy bar, and you have plenty of cash in your hand, to make the express lane even more express.

But, the person in front of you has at least 20 items, a massive purse in which it will be no doubt difficult to find what will probably be a checkbook they’ll use to pay.

How do you respond?

A. Gratitude for the ice cream and the candy bar you’ll soon enjoy

B. Grit your teeth and wonder if the lady ahead of you failed math or reading.

C. Yell at the cashier, “Checkout Line Violation – count her items! Too many items!”

OK, remember your answer and we’ll move to the next question.

Question 2: You receive a letter from the IRS, telling you that you’ll soon be receiving a $1,000 refund on your tax return, how do you respond?

A. Gratitude to live in America, the land of the free and the home of the brave.

B. Grit your teeth about the other $10,000 you paid in taxes last year.

C. Rip the letter to shreds while demanding more, and complaining that the government shouldn’t have had that money all year anyway.

Question 3: You are driving to work, in the outside lane, doing a few miles per hour over the speed limit. Someone comes up on your tail behind you at about 90 miles per hour and flashes their headlights at you, bullying you to get out of the way. How do you respond?

A. you move over as soon as you possibly can, and pray that their foolish driving doesn’t get them in an accident.

B. Grab the steering wheel tighter as steam comes out of your ears

C. Tap your brakes to get them off your tail, and when they don’t, slow down to make them more angry at you – when they finally zip by you, you glare at them.

Question 4: You are watching your favorite football team play on Saturday, let’s say you’re Steve Staub, and they win by a field goal in a close game. How do you respond?

A. Stand up and start singing and dancing “Woo Pig Sooie – Razorbacks Rule”!

B. start worrying about the next big game next week

C. Call a sports radio station and complain how your beloved Hogs should have won by 3 touchdowns, and should be having a better season

Now, think about your answers for a second. If you answered all A’s, your name’s probably Joel Vesanen or Jody McEndarfer, and maybe one of you should be up here preaching this morning’s message. If you had all C’s, you might need therapy. But most of you were probably like me – you had more B’s or C’s than you’re willing to admit, but you do wish you could be more like Joel.

I could have titled this morning’s message WWJD. Remember that fad several years back. Bruce even preached a great message about the origin of WWJD. But when I think of this morning’s theme of Thanksgiving, I like to think, What Would Joel do?

There’s the story about Scottish minister Alexander Whyte, who was known for his uplifting prayers in the pulpit. He always found something for which to be grateful. One Sunday morning the weather was so gloomy that one church member thought to himself, "Certainly the preacher won't think of anything for which to thank the Lord on a wretched day like this." Much to his surprise, however, Whyte began by praying, "We thank Thee, O God, that it is not always like this."

Who does that sound like? I don’t know about you, but I really want to be able to respond to life with an attitude of gratitude – I want to be grateful, not grouchy. And as we begin Thanksgiving week this week, and then Advent season next Sunday, when we remember the indescribable gift God gave us in the Word made flesh who dwelt among us, it’s a wonderful time to explore what the Word teaches us about gratitude.

Colossians 3:12-17 (ESV) 12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

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