New Years Resolutions
More then 95% of people never follow through with their new years resolution.
So why do we make them?
Often because we want to change something in our life, or accomplish some goal.
Often the goal surrounds finding happiness.
2017 Harris Poll on Happiness
1-3 people in North America say they are more happy then unhappy.
That means that 2 out of 3 people consider themselves unhappy.
This is bad, people can’t seem to find happiness.
Best selling books
some of the best selling books are from the self-help section, especially this time of year.
The Bible Discusses the Theme of Happiness a lot.
It actually gives us the answer to what brings happiness.
The answer is gratitude/thankfulness
Gratitude in the OT (from Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible)
In the OT, gratitude to God was the only condition in which life could be enjoyed.
For Jews, every aspect of creation provided evidence of God’s lordship over all life.
The Hebrew people thanked him for the magnificence of the universe (Pss 19:1–4; 33:6–9; 104:1–24).
When they received good news they thanked God for his goodness and great deeds (1 Chr 16:8–12).
When they received bad news, they also gave thanks, trusting that he was a just God (Jb 1:21).
These same sentiments are found in later Jewish writings such as the Talmud (6 Ber, 35a, 54a).
The people of Israel thanked God for his faithfulness to covenant promises: (1) for deliverance from enemies (Pss 18:17; 30:1; 44:1–8) and from death (Ps 30:8–12; Is 38:18–20; (2) for forgiveness of sin (Pss 32:5; 99:8; 103:3; Is 12:1); (3) for answers to prayer (Pss 28:6; 66:19); (4) for compassion toward the afflicted and oppressed (34:2; 72:12); (5) for executing justice (Dt 32:4; Ps 99:4); (6) and for continuing guidance (Ps 32:8; Is 30:20, 21).
Gratitude was such a vital part of Israel’s religion that it pervaded most ceremonies and customs.
Thank offerings acknowledged blessings from God (Lv 7:12, 13; 22:29; Ps 50:14).
Shouts of joy (Ps 42:4), songs of praise (145:7; 149:1), and music and dance (150:3–5) all added to the spirit of thanksgiving in worship.
Feasts and festivals were celebrated in remembrance of God’s steadfast love throughout their history (Dt 16:9–15; 2 Chr 30:21, 22).
King David appointed levitical priests to offer God thanks (1 Chr 16:4).
This custom was carried on by the kings Solomon (2 Chr 5:12, 13)
In the NT, the object of thanksgiving is the love of God expressed in the redemptive work of Christ.
Paul’s Expression of Gratitude
Paul is always giving thanks for how God has blessed people.
He thanks God constantly for how He provides, and all that He has done.
Even in his suffering.
Gratitude permeates Paul’s letters and the entire New Testament.
Paul gives thanks no matter what the circumstances.
Paul found in every circumstance a reason to give thanks.
Then he would instruct others to do the same.
3. Paul connects peace and thankfulness together.
He is telling us to be thankful kind of people.
b. people who don’t take anything for granted.
c. encouraging us to always express our gratitude.
Notice this is not a suggestion of Paul’s it’s a command.
Give thanks in ALL circumstances, not FOR all circumstances.
Many things in life such as cancer are not from God, they are not a gift God has given you.
what Paul is saying is in all circumstances rejoice, pray and give thanks, because there is always something to be grateful for.
Paul Understands tis More Then Most.
he has almost been killed by mobs, he has been arrested, beaten, and thrown into prison facing execution.
He was shipwrecked and stranded on an island.
Paul understands hardship, yet in all circumstances he rejoices, and gives thanks.
This is how Paul finds peace, and joy, he is grateful for everything, he doesn’t take anything for granted.
(see Philippians 4)
God created us, so he knows how we are wired.
He knows what behaviours help us and what behaviours hurt us.
Scripture tells us that we are at our best when we walk in gratitude!
Science Proves What Scripture Already Knows.
There is an entire field of study called the science of gratitude.
There was a scientific study done on people where one group wrote daily 3 things they were grateful for.
3 specific things, such as being grateful for a loved one, they would write down more specific details of exactly what they were grateful for.
The second group wrote in a journal also but they wrote reflections on their day, whatever they wanted.
The study found that those who keep the gratitude journal live much happier lives.
As a matter of fact, the study concluded that gratitude was the key to happiness.
Here are some of the results:
Emotionally people experienced more good feelings, more relaxed, more resilient, less envious, and had happier memories.
Their personality changes as well, they were less materialistic, less self-centred, more optimistic, increased self-esteem, and were more spiritual.
Socially they had a better social life, more friends, healthier marriages, they were kinder, and experienced deeper relationships.
Their health improved, their sleeping improved, sick less, increased energy, and had more motivation to exercise.
Their careers flourished, they made better decisions, their productivity improved.
All of these things simply because they became grateful.
Being Thankful is God’s Will for Us.
1. Christians don’t chase happiness, we chase God’s will, the side effect of living in God’s will is happiness.
Paul tells us that if we rejoice, pray without ceasing and give thanks in all circumstances, we are living Gods will for us in Christ Jesus.
Practicing Gratitude is Hard Because We Lack Contentment
Our entire system is setup for people to want more.
a better iPhone, more money, a bigger house.
We always want more then what we have.
The advertising industry thrives on our wanting more and never being satisfied.
This wanting more is the same as how the devil tempted Adam and Eve.
You don’t need to hold back from eating from this tree, look at what this tree will give you.
More knowledge, knowledge like God.
Don’t be content with life right now, God’s holding back on you.
Again I reflect on the apostle Paul:
Big Idea: If we are not content, we won’t be thankful, if we aren’t thankful we won’t be happy.
We are not happy because we are not following the will of God.
So take nothing for granted, always rejoice, pray without ceasing, and be thankful in all circumstances.
This is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.