Thankfulness depends on what is in your heart, not what is in your hand.
Most people have no trouble finding things to complain about: traffic is slow, gas is too expensive, the weather is bad, prices are too high. Yet in every single situation, that same person also has a lot to be thankful for: he can drive, has a car, has a shelter to be protected from the weather, and has the money to purchase necessary items.
Your circumstances may not be all that great, but wherever you are it is God’s will that you give thanks in everything (1 Thessalonians 5:18). As a Christian, that is possible because no matter what your circumstances are, you can always thank God for deliverance through Christ (see 2 Corinthians 2:14; Romans 7:24-25).
Indeed, the Israelites knew that thanksgiving was so important that part of the official duty of the tribe of Levi was to thank God: They were also to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord (1 Chronicles 23:30). They had heart of thankfulness and were instructed to be thankful regardless of what happened that day.
The psalmist wrote: Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name (Psalm 100:4). Notice that we can’t even enter God’s gates unless we’re thankful.
It certainly is possible to live giving thanks to God the Father for everything (Ephesians 5:20), because thankfulness depends on what is in your heart, not what is in your hand.
The church shouldn’t just be a meeting place for Christians; it ought to be a sending place for Christians.
Many Christians are so enveloped in “church world” (i.e. a continuous Christian environment) that they have very few opportunities to reach out to nonbelievers. In such cases, the church turns into a social networking place to meet other Christians. Instead, the church needs to be a place where believers can be built up and strengthened in faith, and then encouraged and empowered to be sent out into culture for the ultimate cause of sharing Christ with all people.
That’s exactly what Jesus was getting at in Matthew 28:18-20, when he told his disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
The Greek word for “nations” (ethnos) means a multitude of people. So, Jesus is simply saying that as you’re living and as you’re going about your business, make disciples of the people you’re around.
Even back in the Old Testament, God was trying to get his people to spread his name, his glory, and his fame among the people of the Earth. In Psalm 96:1-3, the psalmist writes, Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
God calls us to share his story with people. That call requires that we be in the world in order that we have opportunities to witness. That’s why the church needs to be a sending place for Christians.