Recently, a friend of mine, Ken Turner of Ken Turner Ministries, a frontline outreach to high-risk and fatherless teens in Dayton, TN, sent out the following testimony via email:
The other day I led a Bible study at the Mountain View Juvenile Development Center in Dandridge, TN with a group of high school age boys. Since we are in the Thanksgiving holiday season, I decided to address the topic of… you guessed it… Thanksgiving. To be honest, I had to really pray about this and think it through carefully. How do you teach on the topic of gratitude to a group of high school guys who are locked in a detention facility and will spend Thanksgiving away from family and loved ones? How do you communicate the Biblical truth “in everything give thanks” when there could be so many things to steal your joy? After praying and asking God for help, I was led to share Ephesians 4 and Colossians 3. We studied Ephesians 4:17-32 and Colossians 3:12-17. After absorbing the truth of these passages and seeing a clear and specific list of things God wants us to “put off” and “put on” the guys came to the conclusion that you cannot be truly thankful if your heart is not right with God. Colossians 3 tells us to “let the peace of God rule in our hearts… and let the word of Christ dwell richly in us… and to do all in the name of the Lord Jesus giving thanks to Him.” Once they “got it” I closed the Bible and asked, “Okay, so what do you have to be thankful for?” And that’s when the gratitude began to flow freely. They didn’t struggle to think of things worth thanking God for. The list included, a warm bed top sleep in, three meals each day, a secure environment, family, people like us who care enough to come share the Word with them and even more interesting were things like “eyes to see, ears to hear and a nose to smell.” They got it! As much as I was worried about how awkward it might be to study Thanksgiving from a Biblical perspective I left knowing that on this Thursday morning, a group of boys locked in the detention facility in the mountains of Tennessee are going to wake up and thank God for some very specific blessings He has bestowed upon them. If they can be thankful… so can we.
When you consider the greatness and goodness of our God, overflowing gratitude should pour from our heart and lips every day, and especially today! As you gather with your family, friends, co-workers, or . . . maybe you are alone, consider the awesome majesty of God! Begin to praise Him for Who He is and thank Him for all He has done! I promise you that the praises will begin to overflow! Indeed, if young men in prison can be grateful, so can we.
I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart;
I will tell of all Your marvelous works.
I will be glad and rejoice in You;
I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.
HAPPY, BLESSED THANKSGIVING!!
I Rest My Case At the Cross – I’m resting in my justification in Christ and praising, shouting, weeping, overflowing with gratitude when I hear this song!