Sunday, November 27, 2016


Psalm 100:3-5  Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.  Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise.  Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.  For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.

Many of us just celebrated Thanksgiving and spent the day sharing meals with friends and family and reflecting on the blessings we’ve had this past year.

Of course we understand that this is not truly a Christian holiday, but rather a national holiday instituted by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863. However it is interesting to read the introduction of his original proclamation which states:  “The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God.”

It's difficult to imagine an American President making such a statement in today's political climate of religious pluralism!

The dictionary defines Thanksgiving as "the expression of gratitude, esp. to God."

To the Christian, this attitude of thanksgiving should not merely limited to one day a year.  We should always be thankful to God!

Why Should We be Thankful?

In studying thankfulness, I suppose this is a fair question.

I would answer this question with another:  Where would we be without God?

David sums this up nicely.

Psalm 8:4 What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?

In the grand scheme of things, considering the vast size of the planet and, beyond that, the infinity-spanning proportions of the Universe, what is man?  Isn't it amazing that God considers us at all?  And yet we read throughout the Bible that God not only acknowledges our existence, but He loves us and cares for us!

Psalm 100:3-5  Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.  Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise.  Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.  For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.

Ultimately, we owe our very existence to God.  Above all others He is most certainly worthy of our praises of gratitude!

The Spiritual Danger of Being Unthankful 

Recall the account of Jesus and the ten lepers...

Luke 17:11-19Jesus healed ten lepers, only one returned to give thanks…  Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”  So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.  And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God,  and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.  So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?  Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?”  And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”

Here were these men who had a terrible, incurable disease and Jesus healed each one of them!  And yet we read that only one returned to express his gratitude!

How many times have we ourselves neglected to express our thankfulness to God?  

Is it surprising to hear that being unthankful could actually be hazardous to our spiritual health?  The Bible actually tells us just that!

Romans 1:18-21  For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,  because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

It’s strange to think that one could make go from believing in God to suppressing the truth in unrighteousness, and yet that it exactly what we see described here in the first chapter of Romans!
What was the mistake that led these people astray?  The text states that “although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were they thankful.”  We see that they failed to give God the glory and thanks and, as a result, they “became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.”

Let’s read a bit further…

Romans 1:24-25  Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves,  who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

In becoming ungrateful and unthankful, we fail to glorify God.  This attitude of ingratitude can easily turn into pride.  How easily the prideful attitude manifests itself!

How often do we hear something akin to the following:  “I worked to get where I am.  I earned everything I have.  I am a self-made man!”

Basically,  when we fail to be thankful and give the glory to God, we begin to confuse ourselves with God!  We take credit for His blessings as if they came from ourselves.  We worship the creature instead of our Creator!  It isn't long before this arrogance could manifest itself in the substituting our will in the place of God’s…  And then we wonder why society is in the state that it is in!

If we are not careful, our attitude can be the same as Lucifer’s and we can share in his eventual fate.

Isaiah 14:12-15 “How you are fallen from heaven,  O Lucifer, son of the morning!  How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations!  For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation On the farthest sides of the north;  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’  Yet you shall be brought down to Sheol, To the lowest depths of the Pit.

It may seem like a big leap for a believer to go from simply being unthankful to being lumped into the same category as Satan, but we know that “a little leaven leavens the whole lump” and that sin is progressive in nature.  We must always strive to maintain a thankful rapport with God and express our gratitude toward Him!

Thankfulness is Commanded

It's easy to think of thankfulness as little more than a societal convention, to think that showing gratitude is something we do to merely avoid a breach in etiquette or come off as rude.

However, throughout the Bible we can see that a thankful attitude is actually commanded by God.

Psalm 50:14 Offer to God thanksgiving, And pay your vows to the Most High.

In fact, just as we are commanded to pray without ceasing, we are to also give thanks in everything!

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Furthermore, we read that giving thanks is as much a part of worship as singing and edification.

Ephesians 5:19-20  ...Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,  giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ

Therefore we see that our gratitude is actually an essential part of being a Christian!

Just a Few Blessings to be Thankful for…

Nearly anytime my preacher talked about prayer he would recall a story from when his son was just a young boy.  His son once asked to lead the prayer before they began their supper which pleased his father greatly!  The child began his prayer by thanking God for the blessing of the food they were about to eat.  Then he went on to thank God for his mother and father.  He continued by thanking God for his grandparents, cousins, and other members of the extended family.  Finally, just before his parents were about to ask him to cut short his wonderful, but long-winded prayer, sometime before the food got cold, the boy concluded by thanking God for the air he breathed.

If only we were as mindful of God's blessings as this child!  

We take so much for granted and have so very much to be thankful for!

For now, however, let's focus on just three of God's blessings...

God’s Creation

Everything we see around us was created by God.

Psalm 19:1-6 The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork. Day unto day utters speech, And night unto night reveals knowledge. There is no speech nor language Where their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, And their words to the end of the world.  In them He has set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, And rejoices like a strong man to run its race. Its rising is from one end of heaven, And its circuit to the other end; And there is nothing hidden from its heat.

Indeed, it amazes me that anyone could look up into the night sky and doubt that there is a God.

It's interesting that this passage points out the Sun, which we know is essential to life on Earth.  From the Sun that provides the Earth with light and heat to the air we breathe, God is the maker of all things!

God’s Providence

God continually provides us with what we need to survive in this life.  He gladly bestows upon us the physical blessings he knows that we need.

Matthew 6:25-34  Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?  So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?  Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

I think that a major part of being thankful is being content with what God has given us.

Unfortunately, in recent years, it seems that the Thanksgiving holiday has been overshadowed by “Black Friday”.  It is ironic and very sad that a holiday established to encourage thankfulness is being overshadowed by a consumer motivated event punctuated by greed.

1 Timothy 6:6-8  Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain  we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.  

God’s Love

In addition to all of the physical blessings God has so freely given to us, He also has granted us an amazing abundance of spiritual blessings.

Consider this:  According to God’s standards of righteousness, none of us should be saved.

Romans 3:23 ...For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… 

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death...

We see that through our own actions, we are guilty of sin and our just reward should be punishment and condemnation.  And yet, reading a bit further we find that God loves us so much that He gives us mercy and forgiveness through the sacrifice of His Son.

Romans 6:23 (continued)  ...But the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 5:6-8  For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.  But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

If that doesn’t warrant thanksgiving to God, I don’t know what does!

Conclusion:  Count Your Blessings!  Be Thankful to God!

Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Along with faith, righteousness, and so many other virtues described in the Bible, an attitude of thankfulness and a eagerness to express gratitude should be the trademark of a true Christian!

Think about the following quote:  “What if you woke up tomorrow with only the things you thanked God for today?”

If this were to be the case, how many of us would be left with anything at all?

Let us never forget from where our blessings come, always be thankful, and thank God for all that He does for us!