Welcome to the PMF Workshop for the week of November 16, 2020. I’m your host, T. M. Moore. Each week we provide teaching, encouragement, and resources to help you in working your Personal Mission Field. By adopting the perspectives and practicing the disciplines we present in the Workshop, you can become more consistent and effective in realizing the presence, promise, and power of God’s Kingdom in your daily life.
Today’s Workshop is entitled, “Thanksgiving.” Our text is 1 Thessalonians 5.16-19:
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. 1 Thessalonians 5.16-19
It is good to give thanks
Sam Crabtree’s book, Practicing Thankfulness, adds a significant and important contribution to the literature on spiritual disciplines; and it can help us work our Personal Mission Fields more consistently, and with greater joy.
Crabtree argues that “Thankfulness is neither trivial nor inconsequential. On this quality pivots the difference between maturity and immaturity.” We should expect, therefore, that by practicing more consistent thanksgiving, we would be more mature and fruitful in our Personal Mission Field.
Gratitude, Crabtree writes, is “Like a continental divide determining whether adjacent raindrops flow to the Atlantic or the Pacific, gratitude and ingratitude are a dividing line, bringing vastly different outcomes…” He defines gratitude as “the divinely given spiritual ability to see grace, and the corresponding desire to affirm it and its giver as good.” We should give thanks in everything and for everything, he insists, because God doesn’t waste anything, but works all things together for our good. We are constantly confronted with reasons for giving thanks to God. Every breath, all of creation, everything in and around us comes to us as a gift; we are remiss if we fail to recognize and acknowledge this. We are blessed the more we do.
Thankfulness is good, he argues. “It suits God, and it outfits the worshiper for relating rightly to God and to all of life.” Gratitude leads to wisdom and righteousness. Our ability to give thanks comes from the Lord Jesus, and we should be thankful even for this. The more we give thanks, the more spiritually alive we become. If we’re not grateful and don’t give thanks, our loyalty to God may be suspect. We grow in giving thanks by giving thanks in all things and for all things. He offers plenty of examples – including 100 in the last chapter! – to guide us in being more consistently and sincerely thankful to the Lord. We are happier when we’re grateful, and we are more likely to make others happy as well.
Thanksgiving as preparation for witness
But to develop the discipline of thanksgiving, we need to pay more attention to what’s going on around us: “By learning to pay attention—to recognize the vast plenitude that already surrounds us—our alertness and attentiveness will fuel thankfulness, which in turn heightens more wakefulness in a wonderful and satisfying upward spiral.” We need to engage our sense of wonder and marveling at the many gifts of our lavish and generous God. And we need to practice thanksgiving even in the midst of suffering, since we know that suffering is not the end, but that God is using even this for our good.
Imagine what might happen if we learned to give thanks for everything and everyone in our Personal Mission Field. Would we have more wisdom in how to share Christ with people? Would we be more spiritually alive? Would we grow in righteousness and hope, and would others begin to see these in us more consistently (1 Pet. 3.15)?
Since thanksgiving is an integral part of prayer, as well as of our relationship with God, by giving thanks for the people in our Personal Mission Field, and for all the work that goes into cultivating our part of the world/field, we may expect to know His Presence with us more powerfully, giving us words to speak, things to do, and goals to set in seeking the Kingdom of God. Giving thanks can be a powerful way of preparing to fulfill our callings as witnesses for Christ.
So let’s consider a few ways we might bring more thanksgiving into the work of our Personal Mission Fields.
A regimen of thanksgiving
We need the Holy Spirit to empower us as witnesses for our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 1.8). If failing to give thanks can quench the Spirit and His power, then giving thanks must be a key to tapping into that power. Here are some suggestions for doing just that.
Begin each day with thanksgiving. Look around your room. Thank the Lord for all you see, for a night’s rest, for your home, family, and work. Then thank Him for the people in your Personal Mission Field, especially those you will see during the day ahead. For those people – beginning with your family – give thanks for specific things you might want to mention to them at some point during the day. Make a note to remember those things, and to thank God throughout the day as often as He brings them to mind.
Several times during the day, set aside a few minutes for prayer, including thanksgiving. Thank God for what He has done thus far in your day, and for all that remains. Use this time to remember the people in your Personal Mission Field whom you have seen or will see, and for the specific things God gave you to be thankful for in their lives. Give thanks for all the blessings of the Lord, being as specific as you can. As the Lord leads, add prayer requests for any specific needs that come up with the people to whom the Lord sends you.
As you have opportunity, tell the people you’re praying for that you thank God for them. Paul did this in most of his epistles, and I can see three benefits in doing so. First, it reminds you of the importance of praying with thanksgiving for the people in your Personal Mission Field. Second, it will encourage them and, for most of them, brighten their day a bit. Third, telling people you pray for them and are thankful for them might become a door-opener for explaining why you do this, and for sharing the Good News of Jesus.
Finally, at the end of the day, review your day in thanksgiving before the Lord. Then give thanks for all His blessings that day, and for the people you will see the next day.
By doing these things, you’ll begin to experience what Sam Crabtree refers to as the transforming power of thankfulness. The more we give thanks, the more we increase in love for God, and the readier we will be to serve and bear witness to Him as He leads.
For the Fellowship of Ailbe, and for the Personal Mission Field Workshop, this has been T. M. Moore.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.