• peterfoxwell

A Life of Gratitude

I preached the following sermon at the Cornerstone Church on Sunday, November 26, 2017.


Part 3 of The Wonderful Spirit-Filled Life

Peter Foxwell. The Cornerstone Church. November 26, 2017


In September, 1860, the Lord Elgin, a passenger ship, sank in Lake Michigan just off the shore of Chicago. 30 people were rescued from the stormy waters, 17 of them by the courageous efforts of one young man - Edward Spencer, a university student. They tied a rope around him and he plunged into the waves over and over to drag people ashore. The rescues took such a toll on his body that he spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair. In an interview he said these shocking words, "Of the seventeen people I rescued that day, not one of the them thanked me."

One time, the Lord Jesus healed ten men who had a skin disease. Luke 17 tells us that only one of them told Jesus thank you (see verses 15-19).

There are many reasons people don't thank God - and none of them are good. They reveal that our hearts are wandering away from God. We aren't grateful because:

We believe a lie about God: Adam and Eve believed the lie that he was keeping the best from them - the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. They craved the one thing he hadn't given them so they were ungrateful for all he had given them. We all know how that worked out (see Genesis 3).

We want God to give us what we want when want it: After God rescued Israel from slavery, the people started complaining because life in the desert was hard. They stopped thanking God for their liberty. The Lord was not impressed: Numbers 14:27 “How long will this wicked community grumble against me? ... 30 Not one of you will enter the land."

We forget God. When Israel went off the rails, it was because they forgot God and all he had done for them and they started grumbling: Deuteronomy 32:18 You deserted the Rock, who fathered you; you forgot the God who gave you birth.

We are living godless lives: 2 Timothy 3:1-2 "But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy ..."

We try to reject and replace God: This is the root cause of all the problems in the world. We can't thank God when we're trying to live as though he doesn't exist: Romans 1:21: "they neither glorified God nor gave thanks to him."


God wants us to have an attitude of gratitude because gratitude reveals a heart that knows God and knows what he has done for us and knows its all an unearned and undeserved gift. Psalm 107 captures the idea:

Psalms 107:21-22 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind. 22 Let them sacrifice thank offerings and tell of his works with songs of joy.

In my little church back in Scotland, we used to sing a chorus, "Thank you Lord for saving my soul. Thank you Lord for making me whole. Thank you Lord for giving to me your great salvation so rich and free."

We have so much to thank God for. That's why the Bible has so many verses about thanking God. It's easy to google these and get lists and lists. It's worth doing that and then copy and paste some of those into your Notes app so you can review them often.

Thanksgiving and praise were glued together in Israel's worship gatherings. Every time they praised, they gave thanks. Every time they gave thanks, they praised. Psalm 100 describes God's people walking in procession to the Temple in Jerusalem. They are bursting to praise God and to thank him for all he had done:

Psalms 100:4-5 "Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations."

If you run out of things to thank God for (which is hard to do, but sometimes we need to prime the pump), just use Psalm 100: his goodness, love, and faithfulness.

Let's talk about how have we can develop an attitude of gratitude. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 gives us some clues:


1 Thessalonians 5:18: "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus. 19 Do not quench the Spirit."

Very briefly, here's how to develop an attitude of gratitude:

Get in the habit of saying thank you. The Bible says "give thanks." That's talking about CHOOSING gratitude as your daily attitude. You have to train your mind and your mouth to say thanks. For example, thank God at every meal - out loud with feeling. Teach your kids to say thank you and to sound like they mean it. Use "Thank you Lord" as a replacement for negative talk. For example, instead of "are you kidding me?" say "thank you Jesus" and mean it!

Say thank you no matter what's going on. Notice the Bible does not say "FOR all circumstances." it says "IN (or among) all circumstances." Life can get really hard and messed up, but I don't have to focus on my circumstances. I don't need to have a negative, complaining spirit. There's always a million reasons to thank God no matter what's going on around us. God is always God and he is always working all things for our good - that never changes (see Romans 8:28-30). I've found it helpful to memorize 1 Chronicles 16:34 so it just pops into my mind when life is hard: "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever."

Say thank you even when you're not feeling it. The Bible says, "for this is God's will for you." This is kinda' cool: When I don't know what else to do, if I start thanking God for all the things he is and has done for me, I am right in the center of his will. Gratitude is God's will for us "in Christ Jesus." One reason God saved us in Christ is to make us a grateful people - to declare his praises (1 Peter 2:9-10). We'll never run out of reasons to thank God for who Jesus is and all he has done for us.


I've heard people talk about the benefits of a daily gratitude list (or journal, jar, or box). It's something we can turn to, read through, think about, every day to help us stay in the habit of saying thanks to God.

I thought it would be interesting and fun to work on one together.

The things we're thankful to God for can be big, small, really spiritual or not so much. Remember James 1:17: EVERY good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights ...

Today, I am grateful for ...


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