Thanks To God For Each Day Of My Life
Thanks Be to God
My dear brothers and sisters. I am very grateful for the privilege accorded me to address you on the eve of the important Thanksgiving recognition we give to this Thursday’s holiday.
I am confident that I am the most blessed of you all, as I have been privileged to be a member of the administrative staff of BYU for the past thirty years. It has brought important and special responsibilities to me and my family. In carrying them through, we have been blessed in many ways.
To be closely associated with President Ernest L. Wilkinson, President Dallin Oaks, and now President Jeffrey R. Holland has enriched our lives.
I have watched these great men work to build this university to a pinnacle of size, quality, and strength that makes possible your presence on this campus this very day. I salute them and express a deep gratitude for their excellent achievements.
Gratitude a Way of Life
I wish to share with you an awareness that thanksgiving should be in our hearts and expressed in our actions every day of the year, not just on 25 November 1982.
Stanley Dixon penned these most thoughtful words that were set to beautiful music that we are hearing this hour:
Thanks be to God for roses rare,
For skies of blue and sunshine fair.
For every gift I raise a prayer,
Thanks be to God.
Thanks be to God for lovely night,
For mystic fields with stars bedight,
For hours of dream and deep delight,
Thanks be to God.
Thanks be to God for love divine,
The hopes that ’round my heart entwine,
For all the joy that now is mine,
Thanks be to God.
[Stanley Dixon (New York: Associated Music Publishers)]
President N. Eldon Tanner has said, “Thanksgiving Day gives each and every one of us an invitation and a wonderful opportunity to pause and count our many blessings and to give thanks to God and praise him from whom all blessings flow” (“Thanksgiving 1968,” Church News, 23 November 1968, p. 9).President Marion G. Romney, in his address in the past general conference, made us deeply aware of the principle of gratitude and thanksgiving, and I quote:
The virtues of gratitude have been widely extolled and the sinfulness of ingratitude has been just as widely condemned.
It has been said that “an ungrateful man is a hog under a tree eating acorns, but never looking up to see where they come from” (Timothy Dexter, The New Dictionary of Thoughts [Garden City, NY: Standard Book, 1961], p. 308).
Jesus revealed his feeling about ingratitude when only one of ten lepers whom he had healed turned back and gave thanks. [“Gratitude and Thanksgiving,” Ensign, November 1982, p. 49]
We can read this account in Luke 17:11–18.
Elder Bruce R. McConkie has said: “True worship includes thanksgiving to God—the acknowledging and confessing with joy and gladness of the benefits and mercies which he bestows upon his children” (MD, p. 788).
I submit that the thanksgiving we should acknowledge should be an everyday occurrence directed to him who created us all.
It seems appropriate to share with you the statement the First Presidency gave to the Church this past Saturday in the Church News:
As the season of Thanksgiving approaches, it brings with it the reminder that this cherished holiday had its birth in religious faith and still finds its best expression in prayers of gratitude and repentance.
For this Thanksgiving and the joyful Christmas season to follow, our counsel to all men and women everywhere is, remember the scripture injunction, “Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things.” (D&C 59:7.
Ingratitude is one of the woeful failings of our society. The failure to acknowledge the sovereignty and the beneficence of God, the refusal to bend our will to His, are at the very root of the major problems in our society.
Prayer, family prayer in the homes of people in all lands, is one of the simple medicines that would check the dread disease that robs men and women of honesty, character and integrity.
In generations past, individual and family prayers, in the homes of people throughout the world were as much a part of the day’s activity as was eating.
As the practice of prayer has diminished, moral decay has increased.
The inclination to be holy, to be thankful, is increased as family members kneel together and thank the Lord for life and peace and all that they may become under His guidance.
In remembering together before the Lord the poor, the needy, the oppressed, there is developed, unconsciously but realistically, a love for others above self, a respect for others, a desire to serve the needs of others.
One cannot ask God to help a neighbor in distress without being motivated to do something toward helping that neighbor.
What miracles would be evident if, beginning now, beginning this Thanksgiving season, we all would lay aside our own selfishness and lose ourselves in the service of others.Our prayers of Thanksgiving, this season and daily all through the year, will bring comfort to our hearts, knit us together in love, and open to us the treasures of wisdom, knowledge, gratitude and forgiveness.
[“Express thanks in prayers and service, say Church leaders,” Church News, 20 November 1982, p. 3]
Expression of Gratitude Important
In positive reflection I turn to doctrinal references which place special responsibilities on us all to express our gratitude to our Creator. “Thou shalt thank the Lord thy God in all things.
” This important commandment, found in section 59, verse 7, of the Doctrine and Covenants, is as binding upon us as any other law of God.
We are commanded to do “all things with prayer and thanksgiving,” and “Ye must give thanks unto God in the Spirit for whatsoever blessing ye are blessed with” (D&C 46:7, 32).
Now, Thanksgiving Day 1982 is soon upon us. What will we do with it? This year will it merely be a day of feasting, watching TV, or seeking pleasure?
When the day was first instituted, it was regarded as a religious observance completely in line with the commandments I just stated. The Pilgrims, it will be remembered, were grateful for their very lives; and whom did they thank? Almighty God.
They knew the source of their blessings. They knew they had been preserved by a divine hand.
Most of you in this assembly have been blessed with pioneer ancestors who would testify that they were preserved to arrive in these valleys because of divine intervention in their behalf.
So now, what about ourselves? Are we willing to recognize that our daily blessings are provided by other efforts than our own? The arrogance of much of mankind today merely states, “I’ve done it myself.”I submit that our blessings flow from many, many others and through divine approbation. As an example, one of the most important things on earth, essential to our welfare, is plain, ordinary water.
Did we make it? Did we pipe it into our homes? Did we make the pipe? Did we sterilize it so that it would be bacteria free? And, who provided the streams from which water comes? Who caused the rains to fall, the earth to be fertile? Who first gave us seeds to plant? Who placed cows and sheep and birds and trees on the earth?
Are we not dependent upon him and his creations? No one can measure the gratitude we owe to the Almighty as the Great Provider. No one can measure the appreciation we owe to our fellowmen, those who plant and harvest, and those who provide services on every hand.
In this complex world there is a network of interdependency among us all. So many others are involved in providing for us the things which we ourselves could not provide, it is folly to ignore them.
We ride in cars and planes, but did we make them? We use oil and gasoline, but from where did they come? We eat bread and drink milk for our health, but did we produce them?
When Paul wrote to Timothy about the latter days, he gave as one of the signs of the times the fact that people would become “unthankful, unholy” (2 Timothy 3:2).
This is an interesting combination of words—that one with ungrateful attitudes can be unholy, their roots being in the same evil source. Ingratitude, of course, is unholy from every standpoint. It is evil in itself.
Let’s turn to appreciation, gratitude, and thanks.
So, on this special Thanksgiving 1982, what will be your list of “gratitudes”?
Three Reasons for Gratitude
I desire to share just three of my own. Hundreds of blessings are found in each of these three for which I daily thank my Father in Heaven:
1. My citizenship in this great United States of America.
2. My membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
3. My wife and family.
Now, just a brief reference to each:
1. I love my country. It has been good to me. I have been pleased to serve in the U.S. Navy Reserve for thirty-four years. While I was a guest in the home of Admiral Emmet L. Tidd, in Washington, D.C., not too long ago, he shared this experience. He had just returned to Washington, D.C.
, following an extended trip to several major powers in the world to assess their strengths for the Chief of Naval Operations.
He observed on his return that our country, with all its political, social, and economic problems, is still so far ahead of whichever country might be second, he would have no second thoughts about his love for America and his faith in this great country and where he would want to reside. I feel the same way.Some outsider has said, “Your country may not be a rose garden, but it also is not a patch of weeds.” I am blessed every day because of being a citizen in this land. Having just returned from the Mideast on university business, I can’t figure out why I was so blessed as to be assigned to be raised up and to live in this special land rather than where I have just visited, or in some other part of the world.
I am grateful for a student body expression twice each day that permits students to stand in reverence and thought each morning as the Star Spangled Banner is played, and the flag is raised, and then again lowered the same way in the late afternoon. Visitors to our campus stand in awe as this is done. Some say it is old-fashioned. If so, I will take the old-fashioned way.
Where do you stand on the appreciation of this land of liberty? President David O. McKay once stated: “We are grateful for this land of America, ‘choice above all other lands.
’ The freedom vouchsafed by the Constitution of the United States, which guarantees to every man the right to worship . . .
in accordance with the dictates of his own conscience, made possible the establishment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” (“Thanksgiving 1968,” Church News, 23 November 1968, p. 9). I am thankful for this event.
2. I value and treasure my membership in the Church: I was privileged to be born in New Zealand while my parents were serving together on their first mission. How blessed I’ve been to have parents so wonderful that they have given me a royal heritage of membership in the Church.
They themselves have been living examples for us to follow. They are here today. I wish them to know how much I love and appreciate them. How fortunate for me to fill a mission and thereby fortify my testimony of the Church and all it means in our lives.
I will be eternally grateful for the training and leadership opportunities I have experienced through my Church assignments. What a blessing to you and to me to recognize our church’s commitment to education. We are the recipients of the privilege of this great campus.
Let’s not fall short of measuring up to expectations of our respected Church and university leaders.Yes, we are blessed through our membership in the Church. If we are faithful, these blessings have eternal application. Let’s not forget that. Is your Church membership worthy of a special thanksgiving expression?
3. I love my wife, Nonie, and my family very much. I’ve been blessed with a beautiful eternal companion, together completing forty-two years last week.
Busy with Church and school life these forty-two years, she jokes about having to marry me to get rid of me; but we have a relationship I would wish for all of you young marriage prospects. It isn’t easy living with a fellow me, but we are planning on many, many more years together.
Nonie is as beautiful inside as you see her on the outside. So, with three wonderful children, eleven grandchildren, and a few adopted ones, life is very sweet and worthwhile.
How does one best express thanks for all of this? I must thank a very compassionate Father in Heaven. Do you have a special reason this holiday season to feel as I do about my family?
Now, I recognize that my Thanksgiving expressions for country, church, and family blessings must be directed to my Father in Heaven. You have heard three of my gratitudes. What will be the gratitudes you may express to your Father in Heaven this Thanksgiving season?
Some years ago I read a simple Thanksgiving prayer:
O, heavenly Father:
We thank Thee for food and remember the hungry.
We thank Thee for health and remember the sick.
We thank Thee for friends and remember the friendless.
We thank Thee for freedom and remember the enslaved.
May these remembrances stir us to service
That Thy gifts may be used for others.
[Abigail Van Buren, “Dear Abby,” Deseret News, 25 November 1976, p. 4C]
Said in another way by Wilfred A. Peterson:
The art of thanksgiving is thanks living. It is gratitude in action. It is applying Albert Schweitzer’s philosophy: “In gratitude for your own good fortune you must render in return some sacrifice of your life or other life.”
It is thanking God for each new day by living it to the fullest.[“The Art of Thanksgiving,” The Art of Living (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1961), pp. 44–45]
My prayer for each of us is that during this Thanksgiving season we can all count our blessings in a way that truthfully says, “Thanks be to God,” in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Fred A. Schwendiman was the Support Services vice-president of BYU when this devotional address was given on 23 November 1982.
© Brigham Young University. All rights reserved.
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5 Ways To Follow God’s Plan For Your Life
Matthew 4:19b-20 says, “’Follow Me (Jesus) and I will make you fishers of men.’ Immediately they (Simon and Andrew) left their nets and followed Him.” God has a plan for your life and mine.
Simon and Andrew’s life plan with Christ started right in that very verse. How can you know what is God’s plan for your life? The Bible is chalk full of truth and wisdom on how we all can follow God’s plan for us.
As always, let us look into the inspired Word of God, the Holy Bible, for concrete answers.
Trust in God’s Judgment
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11) This needs to be the first stepping stone in a believer’s journey. God had a plan for you before you were even born.
(Galatians 1:15) As believers, we can follow God’s plan for us by believing that He has everything in control and His sovereignty will guide us exactly where He wants us to go. Even right now, you did not arrive to read this article by accident.
God led you here, just as He will lead you on to other places whether it be a local/non-local mission, church function, soup kitchen, or homeless shelter. There are so many places to shine God’s love which is why He has a plan set out for each one of us.
If God impresses compassion on you for someone else, then let the Holy Spirit guide you to help that person, whether it is praying for them, feeding them, clothing them or spreading the good news of salvation to them.
You Have a Skill Set
How can you know what is God’s plan for your life?
One great way to see what God has planned for your life is to look at the skills that you have been blessed with. Exodus 35:30-35 has Moses speaking to Israel about specific men with specific skills that they were given by God to use for His glory.
God has blessed me musically, so I serve Him in the church worship team. Do you public speaking? Maybe consider being a preacher. Do you hands-on activities? Maybe consider missions or becoming a caretaker of the church.
If you aren’t already involved in your church, please consider the skills you have been given by God and see how you can benefit His kingdom.
Be in Prayer
Prayer is the way to stay connected with God through open communication. If you don’t know what God’s plan is for you, ask Him in prayer. “And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to His will he hears us. And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him.
” (1 John 5:14-15) When you pray that “God’s will be done” in your life, God “will” always show you your next step in His plan. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says to, “pray without ceasing.” While trusting in God to lead us, it is important that we stay in contact with Him. God still yearns for a relationship with us.
As we honor Him in prayer, He will guide us according to His will.
Be Intentional – Stay Committed – IN LOVE
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned but have not love I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:1-3) You can be sure of one thing: God’s plan for you involves love.
You may be doing what the Holy Spirit has placed on your heart and mind, but if you are only active in your mind and leave your heart behind, then you are missing the point my friends. Be active in God’s plan while loving those that you are in contact with.
Keep your heart engaged in every opportunity you have to do the Lord’s work. “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends” (1 Corinthians 13:7-8a)
Answer When God Calls
Any time that you see a need and you have the resources to provide, then answer the call. If God has placed a burden on your heart to love children, please consider adoption or a children’s ministry.
If God has placed a burden on you to love the elderly, please consider helping out in retirement homes (they love carolers!) or helping the elderly at the grocery store with their bags. If God has placed a burden on you to help feed the hungry, please consider serving in a soup kitchen or giving food items to a food drive.
There are so many places that all of us can serve. When God calls, He is serious. Matthew 25:35-40 says, “’For I (Jesus) was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.
’ Then the righteous will answer Him saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you? And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” You see, my friends, that whenever you serve another person, you are also serving Christ and answering the call. Matthew 25:41-46 says the exact opposite of the previous passage. It tells of how those who reject the hungry, thirsty, naked, sick and in prison will also be rejected from entering heaven because rejecting another human being is also rejecting Christ, himself. Please answer when God calls!! Whenever you ignore His call, you are ignoring Him! Whenever you listen and respond to His call, you are serving Him too!
These are only 5 of many ways that we can follow the plan that God has for us. I hope and pray that if you don’t know what God is doing in your life right now that you will spend time faithfully in prayer, asking our Father what His will is for your life. As always, I encourage you all to live a life worthy of the calling. God bless you!
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”
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10 of the Best Ways to Thank God – Counting My Blessings
You and I know God wants us to thank and praise Him but I sometimes wonder if I’m thanking Him the ways He wants.
I start my prayers with thank you and praise Him for who He is and what He does but are words enough.
Make thankfulness your sacrifice to God, and keep the vows you made to the Most High. Psalm 50:14
Honestly, words don’t feel much of a sacrifice. I can say “thank you” so easily and then just as easily go back to living in ways that don’t seem very thankful.
What does thankful living look ? Thankfulness that is sacrificial? Thankfulness that is God’s will and pleases Him.
Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:20How are you with the “all circumstances” part? Not so good? Yeah, me too.
I wonder (you know I do that a lot) . . . maybe there are ways to thank God that go beyond simply speaking words. Ways to live with gratitude even when I don’t feel thankful for my circumstances.
If you add together the verses with the word “obey” and those reminding us to “listen” it’s close to a thousand. Faith leads to obedience as we thank God for the amazing gift of life in Jesus.
Everything you do or say should be done to obey Jesus your Lord. And in all you do, give thanks to God the Father through Jesus. Colossians 3:17
Remember worship is…
Taking your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. (Romans 12:1)
We were made to worship – to thank and praise God, the One who loves us and gives us all we need for today and for always.
Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping Him with holy fear and awe. Hebrews 12:28
Thank Him with music
Make music. Sing praise. Music gives our thanks and praise emotion. So, make that “joyful noise” at home, in the car, at church . . . anywhere. Turn up the tunes and give thanks.
And each morning and evening they stood before the Lord to sing songs of thanks and praise to Him. 1 Chronicles 23:30
Pray to Him
You pray and begin your prayers with words of thanks and praise. But let’s go beyond “thank you for all You do for me.” Let’s be specific. Naming God’s past provision and help not only thanks Him it can help prevent worry and fear.
Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks. Philippians 4:6
Love and Care for Others
This is stewardship. Using what God has given us to bless others. God’s love is unfailing. His care is personal. You and I have all we need to love and care for the people around us.
Each of you has received a gift to use to serve others. Be good servants of God’s various gifts of grace. Anyone who speaks should speak words from God. Anyone who serves should serve with the strength God gives so that in everything God will be praised through Jesus Christ. Power and glory belong to him forever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:10–11
Surrender Everything to Him
It’s hard to offer everything, isn’t it? It needs an eternal perspective and I so easily get caught up in what’s right in front of my face. Trusting God and surrendering everything to Him . . . that’s thanksgiving with faith.
And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship Him. Romans 12:1
Tell People about Who He Is and What He Does
Tell your story. You’re a changed life, tell people about it. Tell them about forgiveness and freedom from fear . . . about love, hope, and joy. Thank God by telling others about His awesome blessings.
I will praise you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. Psalm 9:1
Trust His Will
Trust is reliance and confident expectation. Thank God for past blessings by trusting Him with your future. Follow where He leads. He has a plan and that plan includes you. Trust His love and follow where He leads.
The Lord is my strength and shield. I trust Him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. Psalm 28:7
Joy is contentment and satisfaction. Finding joy in God says that He is enough, that you and I are content and satisfied in Him.
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Philippians 4:4,6
Make Everything You Do and Say an Offering of Thankfulness
God loves you. His goodness and mercy cover you. Pay attention. Count your blessings. Live with gratitude. Make your life an offering of thanks in response to all God has done for you.
May you be filled with joy, always thanking the Father. He has enabled you to share in the inheritance that belongs to His people, who live in the light. For He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of His dear Son, who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins. Colossians 1:11–14
Oh, how I wish I didn’t get so caught up in myself. Maybe you wish that too.
I want my life to show that my is heart full of thanks.
I want to join David and say…
I trust God’s love forever and ever. God, I will thank You forever for what You have done. With those who worship you, I will trust You because You are good. Psalm 52:8–9
And with God’s help I will.
Will you pray with me?
Father, Thank you for your countless blessings. Because of Jesus, Your grace and mercy cover me every day. Your love surrounds me. May my life be an offering of thanks for who You are and all You do. I love you, Lord. I trust You. Help me obey and follow wherever You lead. In Jesus name. O pray. Amen.
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