Editor’s note: Thanksgiving is coming soon, but there’s still time to order from www.CTAinc.com! Check out the O Give Thanks unto the Lord bookmarks and magnetic calendars. They’re the perfect gifts to hand out after Thanksgiving worship services or outreach events.

Would you believe that horses have a nearly 360-degree field of vision? And, believe it or not, horses’ eyes can function independently, meaning they can see one thing with their left eye and another thing with their right eye.

This is exactly why many jockeys and horse owners utilize blinders. These small pieces of leather or plastic are placed on the sides of the horses’ eyes to block out a large portion of their field of vision. Seeing less means that the horses are able to focus on the task at hand and move forward without getting spooked.

Now, what if I said we have a lot in common with these horses? It’s laughable at first, but think about how we see life. What’s our focus?

Many of us focus on building our career. We put on blinders, work hard, and gladly accept our well-earned promotion. Or maybe we focus on family. From getting our infant to sleep through the night to getting our teenager to obey curfew, the kids are always our main priority. Then, when they go off to college as strong Christians, we couldn’t be prouder.

But what about when our focus turns negative? We’ve all been there, focused on anger, regret, or resentment. We may try to change our attitude, but the harder we try, the worse it gets. It’s as though we’ve landed in an inescapable pit.

Take a moment to reflect on these situations. Do you see a pattern? (Pause to let the audience consider this.) The focus in each case—positive or negative—is on us, not on God. In the good times, we’re quick to think: “I’ve worked hard, so I deserve a promotion” or “All those Sunday mornings I fought to drag the kids out of bed really paid off. Look at their faith!” When do you stop to thank God for his blessings—for giving you the skills you need to succeed at work (Romans 12:6–8), for sending the Holy Spirit to work faith in your children (John 14:26)?

When life gets hard, it’s often the same self-centered response: “I am so angry things didn’t work out the way I wanted” or “If I can just try a little harder, I can make up for the mistakes of my past.” What about thanking God for guiding your life (Psalm 48:14), for promising to work everything for your good (Romans 8:28), and for sending you a loving Savior who has already covered all of your sins, drowning them in his grace (Ephesians 2:4­–7)?

You see, it’s impossible to give thanks to God when our hearts are focused inward. We can’t be thankful until we take the focus off ourselves and put it on the true source of our blessings—our heavenly Father.

O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good (Psalm 106:1 KJV).

Our Lord God deserves our endless thanks and praise! Everything we have in life is a blessing from him. And, although it may not feel like it, God’s blessings overflow in every situation. No matter what ups and downs we see in our lives, we can always give thanks for the promises God has given us through our Savior.

We can’t earn our own forgiveness—Jesus paid for our sins when he hung on the cross. We can’t secure eternal life for ourselves—Jesus defeated death when he rose victorious from the grave. We can’t create true joy or lasting love in our own hearts; Jesus is the one who brings joy, love, and so much more into our hearts. (Read Philippians 4:19.) Give thanks to the Lord for all of these blessings through Jesus!

Remember, we can do our best to turn away from our selfish pride and self-proclaimed wisdom, but praising God may not always come easy. Sin and the works of this world will tempt us at every stage of life. But by directing our praise and thankfulness to God, we go forward with the power of Jesus in our hearts. He has defeated sin and his victory is our victory!

So, go ahead, use blinders—blinders that put your focus directly on God and his ultimate blessing in your life, Jesus. Then, rejoice with a clear focus and a thankful heart!

Let’s pray together: Dear God, we know that every good and perfect gift comes from you. We ask that you forgive us for the times when we take the credit for our blessings and try to place the blame on you for our problems. Focus our eyes on you and on the blessings you send us through our Savior, Jesus. Fill our hearts with the joy of your blessings and lead us to give thanks in every situation. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

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