Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry


By Jeannette Haley

Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God,

 neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations,

 and their foolish heart was darkened. – Romans 1:21

      Perhaps when you were a little kid your mother (or another adult) would tell you to say, “Thank you” whenever someone gave you something. As you got a little older, you would be asked, “What do you say?” Of course, the correct answer was, “Thank you.” Eventually, after years of training, saying “Thank you” became an automatic response. After all, it was the polite, mannerly and socially acceptable thing to always do, and a good habit to have. But saying “thank you” and being truly thankful are two different things. Automatically saying, “Thank you” can amount to mere lip service, while a genuine expression of gratitude and thanks comes from a grateful heart.

      When I was growing up as an only child, and even into adulthood, I sometimes overheard comments such as, “Well, she’s an only child you know,” indicating that I was “spoiled” and lacking in some normally acceptable attitude or attribute. No doubt this was a real possibility, but as a Christian, my priority was to make sure that my life consisted of those things that were acceptable to God first. And being genuinely thankful was one of those things. Now, I just have to say it’s amazing how the LORD intimately knows just what we need to learn (of course He does, in spite of there being over 7 billion of us on this relatively tiny planet) and He knows just how to impress our hearts with what we need to ask Him for. Therefore, the time came that, after some honest soul searching, I asked the LORD to make me truly thankful. And, He did, but not in a way I expected Him to.

      What happened is, I lost almost everything! How all that transpired is a long story, but the day I found an old beat up wood kitchen chair for 75 cents at a yard sale, and brought it into the drafty rented farmhouse out on the Camas Prairie in Central Idaho and sat down on it, I felt a surge of genuine, heartfelt thanksgiving. I had a chair to sit on! Praise the LORD! It was not a stylish piece of furniture, nor was it comfy cozy, but it was better than nothing. In the lean times early on in this ministry we learned to trust the LORD for our basic needs, and I asked myself every morning, before any worry set in, if I had enough food, water and clothing for that day (remembering the words of Jesus in Matthew 6). There are certain days that particularly stand out like the time we had no food and no money, and our landlord showed up on the porch asking if we could use some frozen beef because they had too much in their freezer and were going to butcher a cow! A few years later, when we lived in a remote area and had to drive in a borrowed pickup 75 miles to the nearest city in order to get supplies, I vividly remember fighting back tears when standing in a big, beautiful grocery store because we couldn’t afford any of the fresh seafood or beef, or other meat on display. But, the words of the Apostle Paul brought instruction and peace, “I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” Philippians 4:12, 13.

      Concerning material possessions, Jesus said, “Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” Luke 12:15. When you stop and think that through, you realize how very true it is! Hebrews 13:5 says, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” What are we the most thankful for, our stuff or our LORD? Ephesians 5:5 says, “For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” William Law said, “All the wants which disturb human life, which make us uneasy to ourselves, quarrelsome with others, and unthankful to God, which weary us in vain labors and foolish anxieties, which carry us from project to project, from place to place in a poor pursuit of we don’t know what, are the wants which neither God, nor nature, nor reason hath subjected us to, but are solely infused into us by pride, envy, ambition, and covetousness.

      Thus, I learned that every blessing from God, whether physical, or spiritual, made me truly thankful, for the truth is, none of us deserves anything but hell. We all need to remember until Jesus found us, and until we responded to His invitation to follow Him, to believe in Him as God Incarnate, LORD, and Savior, to love Him above everyone and everything, and to offer our bodies to God as living sacrifices, we were hopelessly lost, poor, blind, and dead.

      Thankfulness becomes a part of our lives as long as we remember Scriptures such as Romans 12:2, “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” Thinking highly of self is the reason why so many people are complaining, unhappy, greedy and covetous. When people think highly of themselves, they believe they deserve whatever may be given to them, or they may think that nothing is good enough for them; therefore, thankfulness is a foreign concept to their corrupt minds. Evildoers believe it’s okay to cheat, lie or steal from others to get what they think they deserve with nary a thought as to the future judgment where they will indeed get “what they deserve.”

      We have examples before us every day on the news of such people. 2 Timothy 3:1-4 says, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” As we read these verses, Antifa, corrupt politicians, globalists, socialists (communists) and others quickly come to mind, but when we get to the last verse (4), it’s as if we just hit a mental “spike strip” that makes our minds spin. After all, Antifa and their ilk are Marxists and they don’t believe in the Bible or the God of the Bible—or do they? The question is, how can they hate something that doesn’t exist? In other words, they are waging war against the one true God and His Word because He does exist, and they know it, but their corrupt hearts and minds despise Him. Psalm 2:1-3, tells us, “Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.” In other words, “Let’s get rid of the constraints of the Godhead’s moral laws and throw out the constraints of conscience and societal laws. Thus, we are all subject to the insane rhetoric of their spokespersons who put forth a fake piety by calling evil good, and good evil, with the intent of causing confusion so they can turn law and order on its head, and then “solve” the problem by “fundamentally transforming America” as well as the rest of the world. This quote from Karl Marx, who actively rebelled against the divine, sums it up. He wrote, “I long to take vengeance on the One Who rules from above. The idea of God is the keynote of a perverted civilization. It must be destroyed.”

      The second sobering consideration of verse 4 is its implications concerning the post-modern church. To be blunt, every evil listed in verses 1-3 can be found in and among many groups, churches, movements and individuals who claim to be “Christian.” Being unthankful is just one of the symptoms of this whole “disease” of ungodliness that God’s people are facing today because the root of it is pride, lack of the fear of the Lord, lack of faith, lack of humility and lack of true love that expresses itself through giving.  

      Cain, the brother of Abel, gives us an example of how an ungrateful heart and attitude displays itself in blatant rebellion and disregard for who God is. In Cain’s case his lack of love and appreciation for the Lord was demonstrated in the offering he brought to God. Genesis 4:3-5 tells us, “And in process of time, it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.”

       Abel’s offering pleased the Lord because it reflected back to the innocent animal that was sacrificed, and its blood shed by God in order to provide a covering for Adam and Eve after they sinned, and it also pointed forward to the blood that Jesus would shed for the sins of the world. The fat of Abel’s offering also signified that by faith he was giving the best to God. It was a true sacrifice whereas Cain merely brought forth a portion of what the earth produced which was not an act of faith. Hebrews 11:4 explains, “By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.” John attributes Cain’s actions to his evil disposition in 1 John 3:12, “Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.” Jude implies the offering was rejected because Cain’s motivation was greed. (Jude 1:11.)

      Nabal is another example of an unthankful man. No doubt you know the story in 1 Samuel 25 of beautiful, wise Abigail and her rich, evil, churlish husband, Nabal who returned evil for the good done for him by David and his young men, and how Abigail, when she heard of it, not only provided food for all of David’s men, but interceded on behalf of Nabal and her household, saving them from sure destruction at the hand of David. Nabal is an example of a very wealthy, yet unthankful man who was known as a “Son of Belial.” (1 Samuel 25:17, 25.) When he heard of the good deed that his wife did, the Bible tells us “his heart died within him, and he became as a stone. And it came to pass about ten days after, that the LORD smote Nabal, that he died.” Instead of being thankful for the protection and help that David and his young men had given, he became unreasonably angry, disrespectful, selfish and defiant. He couldn’t care less if David and his men were hungry, or even if they starved to death. He had no concern for others whatsoever, and lived in such a self-serving “bubble” that he didn’t consider the fact that David and his men could’ve destroyed him, his family, and his servants.

      A third example is King Ahab. He had an unthankful heart, and a petulant, self-serving disposition. 1 Kings 21:1-4 tells us, And it came to pass after these things, that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard, which was in Jezreel, hard by the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. And Ahab spake unto Naboth, saying, Give me thy vineyard, that I may have it for a garden of herbs, because it is near unto my house: and I will give thee for it a better vineyard than it; or, if it seem good to thee, I will give thee the worth of it in money. And Naboth said to Ahab, The LORD forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee. And Ahab came into his house heavy and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him: for he had said, I will not give thee the inheritance of my fathers. And he laid him down upon his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no bread.” Ah! Such immature, self-love, self-pity, and just plain selfishness. Here he is, a king who had everything except one convenient spot for his herb garden, and he failed to be thankful for what he did have because greed and covetousness is insatiable.

      When you consider that Ahab was so utterly distraught because Naboth refused to sell him his vineyard that he went to bed, hid his face, and wouldn’t eat, you have to conclude that Ahab was one immature, spoiled rotten “little brat.” How many politicians who can’t have their own way in everything end up acting the same way? Or, worse yet, how many stand by and do nothing to protect the destruction of the very cities they are supposed to protect? And, speaking of self-centered, unthankful, ignorant and violent people, all we have to do is turn on the nightly news to watch hordes of lawless, wild, hell-bound “foot soldiers” for the Marxist and Communist globalists burning, looting and murdering innocent Americans.  

      Concerning Naboth’s vineyard, it was part of his inheritance and therefore it was personally meaningful to his heart. Ahab had no respect for Naboth’s family heritage, or his faithfulness and hard work. All Ahab knew is that he was obsessed to the point of despair over getting his way and owning that piece of land so he could grow his herbs where he wanted to plant them. After all, he was the king, and kings should have whatever they want, right? Again, this is reminiscent of our day where the “elites” want to destroy most of humanity so they can own and control every inch of the planet. There’s no drug addiction on earth that is greater than the addiction for power and control over others. Lust, greed and covetousness are driving forces in an unregenerate heart, and no matter how much such people “get,” they are never satisfied or truly thankful for anything.

      Just like the evil deceivers, connivers, and plotters of our day, Jezebel hatched a plan to murder Naboth so her petulant husband could take possession of his vineyard. Ahab’s happiness over gaining possession of it didn’t last long, however, because the Lord sent Elijah the prophet to pay a visit to him in order to pronounce judgment on both him and Jezebel. (See 1 Kings 21 and 2 Kings 9.)            

      The fourth, and last, example in this writing of an ungrateful heart is a person we are all familiar with from the New Testament. His name is Judas Iscariot. There’s a lot of speculation as to why Judas followed Jesus for as long as he did. The Bible is clear that he was a thief, and the fact that his love for money was greater than love for His Master surfaced in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper. We read in John 12, “Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead.There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.”

      In Matthew’s account of this event (Matthew 26:6-16) we read how Judas Iscariot, after he was rebuked by Jesus in front of others, and a “mere” woman was exalted, he became angry and went to the chief priests and asked them, “What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.” It appears to me that Judas had been content to go along with the disciples up to this point because Jesus let him carry the money bag. Jesus knew what Judas was, knew that his outward show of piety was hypocritical, and knew what he was doing, just as He knows how we handle temptations. But when the costly ointment was lavished on Jesus, it was more than Judas could handle. He lost his outward façade when he opened his mouth (as is so often the case with us humans) revealing what his priorities were when he declared that the precious ointment was “wasted” in such a manner. Ah! How could Judas truly serve two masters? He had to choose—either the Lord Jesus Christ, or money. 1 Timothy 6:10 tells us, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” And so, he did.

      Judas walked away from Jesus in anger (Matthew 26); the rich young ruler walked away from Jesus in sorrow (Luke 18): and many that had followed him walked away offended (John 6.) None had thankful hearts. Concerning thankfulness, consider the story of the ten lepers in Luke 17:11-19, “And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine? There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.  And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.”

      Obviously all ten lepers believed that Jesus could heal them of their leprosy, but only one, a Samaritan, was so deeply touched that he returned to glorify God and thank Him. The other nine were Jews who knew that healing was the children’s bread. (Mark 7:27.) Could this perhaps mean that they saw themselves as being worthy to be healed because of pride in who they were, and that it was their “right” to be healed, whereas the stranger had no expectations based on rights, privileges or elitism? The very act of turning back, and with a “loud voice” glorifying God, and then falling down on his face at the feet of Jesus and giving Him thanks demonstrates how a truly repentant sinner responds to the marvelous, wonderful grace of God! This is where we all should be who have been forgiven and made whole from the “disease of sin”—on our faces at the feet of Jesus, glorifying and thanking God! He knew that Jesus could heal him, but he also knew that he didn’t deserve it. The nine may have been healed physically, but the Samaritan was healed both physically and spiritually, because he had an encounter with God that day, and he would never remain the same.

      Sadly, if we were to search for gratitude or thankfulness in the lives of Cain, Nabal, Ahab and Judas we would fine none. What we would find, however, is a great deal of self-serving agendas, rebellion, unbelief, lust, greed, cruelty and maliciousness, which can all be summed up in one word, indifference. Indifference is the opposite of love, which can easily end in murder. Cain was indifferent to the well-being and life of his brother. Nabal was indifferent to the needs of David and his men. Ahab was indifferent to the life and heritage of his neighbor, and Judas was indifferent to the Son of God.   

      May God forgive us for any indifference that causes our hearts to be unthankful! “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” 2 Thessalonians 5:18. Consider Job who, after he had lost everything, “…arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped. And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” Job 1:20, 21.

      My great grandma used to say, “You don’t miss the water ‘til the well runs dry.” There’s a lot to that little saying. Most of us take our blessings and basic needs for granted in America, but God is allowing a great shaking and is beginning to take things away to get our attention, wake us up, and remind us that without Him we can do nothing, we may end up with nothing, and without Him we are nothing. He can do this through people, Satan, or by direct intervention. Sometimes it does take “the well drying up” before we become truly thankful for the water when it’s restored to us. Therefore, this Thanksgiving, may we truly thank God for everything He has given to us, humbly pray that He will forgive us for our lack of thankfulness, and then recommit our lives to Jesus for His glory for as 1 Timothy 6:6 says, “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”