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Why Give Thanks?

Notes & Transcripts

King David wrote in the 35th Psalm: “I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among throngs of people I will praise you.” (Psalm 35:18, NIV84). You can be sure that the Bible encourages and commands the people of God to give thanks to our blessed and glorious Lord. There is something about a grateful heart that brings pleasure and satisfaction to the heart of a holy and righteous God. I know that is so because it is clearly the will of God that His chosen people habitually give Him thanks for the blessings of life. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians at Thessalonica: “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV84). Too many folks want to grumble, and groan and gripe instead of thanking God for what He has already given to them. ILLUS. I’ve always wondered how God’s popularity index would stack up if Zogby polled about the Lord’s ‘likeability’ every month like they do for political candidates.

Rendering thanks to God is not to be an occasional act of God’s people, but it is to be a way of life. How do I know? The word "give" used in regard to give thanks in 1 Thess.5:18 is in the present tense in the original language. That suggests that thanksgiving is to be an ongoing and continual behavior in the lives of God’s people.

Why are we to give thanks unto the Lord?

I. IT PLEASES THE LORD

    • Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (Psalm 107:1, NIV84)
    • “give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV84)
            1. the practice of giving thanks to the Lord is clearly His divine will
                1. rest assured that God is pleased when we do what He desires us to do in regard to any matter
            2. Christians need to learn how to count their blessings rather than listing their misfortunes
                1. later this week, many of us will begin to peruse the Christmas catalogues looking at all the neat stuff we want
                    1. let me suggest that perhaps we ought spend more time looking at the neat stuff we already have and thanking God for it
                2. in Psalm 103 we find Gods Catalogue of Blessings
                    1. it’s not a Christmas catalogue but a Thanksgiving Catalogue
                      • “Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits— who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” (Psalm 103:1–5, NIV84)
                3. there are 5 blessings we can Praise God for:
                    1. He forgives our sins
                    2. He heals us from our diseases
                    3. He redeems our life
                    4. He crowns us with love and compassion
                    5. He satisfies our desires with good things

A. MOST BLESSINGS ARE TAKEN FOR GRANTED

            1. if you woke up this morning with more health than illness ...
                1. you are more blessed than the six million who will not survive this week
            2. if you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation ...
                1. you are ahead of 500 million people in the world
            3. if you can attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture or death ...
                1. you are more blessed than three billion people in the world
            4. if you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead, and a place to sleep ...
                1. you are richer than 75% of this world
            5. if you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace...
                1. you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy

B. BLESSINGS YOU NEED TO COUNT

            1. according to the Psalm 103
                1. God forgives our sin and then forgets about them—“I will forgive their iniquity and remember their sin no more.”
                2. God heals our diseases
                    1. it may be a physical healing but that may not be God’s first priority
                    2. God is more concerned about our spiritual healing and our emotional healing
                3. God redeems our lives
                    1. redeem means to obtain by paying a price, to buy back
                    2. God has paid the price to redeem us
                4. God crowns us with love and compassion
                    1. He has given us true honor by adopting us into His family
                    2. what greater blessing than to be brought into the love and favor of God?
                      • “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” (John 1:12, KJV 1900)
                5. God satisfies our desires with good things
                    1. have you listed the good things you have?
                    2. God gave you those things for your pleasure
            2. When We Thank God, it Is Pleasing to Him
  • Why are we to give thanks unto the Lord? ...

II. IT PROCLAIMS OUR GRATITUDE

            1. one of the most beautiful Psalms of thanksgiving is the 100th Psalm
              • “A psalm. For giving thanks. Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” (Psalm 100, NIV84)
                1. the Psalm expresses the gratitude of the worshiper for the goodness, love and faithfulness of the Lord
                  • ILLUS. Psychologists today tell us that sincere gratitude, and thanksgiving, is the healthiest of all human emotions. Hans Selye, who is considered the father of stress studies, has said that gratitude produces more positive emotional energy than any other attitude in life.
                2. do you think that the God who created man, understands this?
                    1. do you think that maybe, just maybe, the Holy Spirit inspires the Apostle Paul to write 1 Thessalonians 5:18 with that in mind?
            2. with all my heart I believe we are a people and a nation that has truly been blessed by God
              • ILLUS. Our Pilgrim forefathers understood this. In 1623 Governor William Bradford issued the very first Thanksgiving proclamation in American history. It expressed the colonist’s gratitude toward God for His blessings. “Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as he has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience. Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.” William Bradford, Ye Governor of Ye Colony
            3. the 100th Psalm was written for the people of Israel
                1. God said to them, "When you come into the promised land, and settle down in your warm homes, and you have plenty to eat, don’t forget Me. I led you out of the wilderness and I brought you into a land flowing with milk and honey."
            4. but it doesn’t take very long to realize that the people of Israel needed a reminder, and I am afraid that we need it, too
              • ILLUS. Over the last two months we’ve all watched the “Occupy Wall Street” crowd protest against others, who in their opinion, have too much. I can’t help but wonder what these people are thankful for? If, for nothing else, are they thankful for their First Amendment rights that actually gives them the freedom to speak and associate? I wonder what the truly poor of this nation think of the “Occupy Wall Street” crowd as they blog their resentment of the rich using their iPads, iPhones, and Laptops, while sipping a Starbuck’s Peppermint Mocha?
                1. I’m sure it’s not true of all of the protesters, but many appear to be very ungrateful for what they do have, and very jealous of what others have
            5. gratitude is an attitude that says, “God, I will thank you for your goodness and your love and your faithfulness because they are more important to me than all the material things you have blessed me with.”
            6. When We Thank God, it Proclaims Our Gratitude
  • Why are we to give thanks unto the Lord? ...

III. IT PROVOKES OTHERS

    • “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:” (Hebrews 10:24, KJV 1900)
            1. the author of Hebrews does not use the word provoke in a bad sense
                1. Heb. 10:24 says we are to consider one another and to provoke one another to love and good works
                2. the word provoke in that verse has the idea of inciting or stirring up or encouraging others to do what is right
            2. when you are thankful it is contagious: it will catch on and others will be blessed and in turn count their own blessings
            3. unfortunately, grumbling can be equally contagious
                1. Exodus 16 is the Murmuring Chapter of the Old Testament
                2. the Hebrews are just a month and a-half into their freedom and already they are beginning to grumble about their circumstances
                  • “And the whole congregation of the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness,” (Exodus 16:2, ESV)
                  • ILLUS. Christian author and evangelist, Dr. Dale Robbins writes, “I used to think people complained because they had a lot of problems. But I have come to realize that they have problems because they complain. Complaining doesn’t change anything or make situations better. It amplifies frustration, spreads discontent and discord, and can invoke an invitation for the devil to cause havoc with our lives.”
                    1. complaining makes us miserable, makes those around us miserable and before you know it we’re all grumbling or murmuring about our lot in life
                3. instead of provoking others to murmur, why don’t we provoke others to give thanks?
            4. When We Thank God, it Provokes Others
  • Why are we to give thanks unto the Lord? ...

IV. IT PRODUCES CONTENTMENT

    • ILLUS. It’s Thanksgiving Day and the aroma of roast turkey fills Charlie Brown’s house. Snoopy, outside, lying on top of his doghouse, smells that aroma, and he is thinking to himself, “It’s Thanksgiving Day. Everybody eats turkey on Thanksgiving Day.” So he lies there, with great anticipation, watching the back door, eagerly awaiting his Thanksgiving dinner. Finally, the door opens and here comes Charlie Brown with a bowl of dog food, and he puts it on the ground. Snoopy gets off his dog house, walks over to the back poach and stares at the dog food with a forlorn look on his face. And he thinks, “Just because I’m a dog, I have to eat dog food on Thanksgiving Day.” Then the next cartoon panel shows him looking at the dog food more intently, and he is thinking to himself, “It could be worse. I could be the turkey.”
            1. like Snoopy, I spent some time this last week trying to be thankful for things and events that help me to be content with what I have
                1. over the last week, I did an inventory of some of the weird things I am Thankful for
                    1. ... the taxes I pay because it means I’m employed
                    2. ... the clothes that fit a little too snug because it means I have enough to eat
                    3. ... my shadow because it means I am out in the sunshine
                    4. ... a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need washing and gutters that need cleaning out because it means I have a home
                    5. ... the parking spot I find at the far end of the Walmart lot because it means I am healthy and capable of walking
                    6. ... my propane bill because it means I am warm
                    7. ... all the complaining I hear about our government and our political leaders because it means we have freedom of speech
                    8. ... the weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day because it means I have been productive
            2. as we are thankful to God for what He has given us, we become more and more contented with what is already ours through and from Him
            3. When We Thank God, it Produces Contentment
  • Why are we to give thanks unto the Lord? ...

V. IT PORTRAYS CHRIST

    • “In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.” (Luke 10:21, ESV)
    • “So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me.” (John 11:41, ESV)
            1. as you read of the life of Christ, He was repeatedly thankful to His Father for His goodness
                1. we properly picture Jesus when we are thankful
            2. When We Thank God, it Portrays Christ in Us
  • Con. Three days before Thanksgiving an elderly man in Phoenix called his son in New York and said to him, "I hate to ruin your day, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing; 45 years of misery is enough. We’re sick of each other, and so you call your sister in Chicago and tell her." Frantic, the son called his sister, who exploded on the phone. "Like heck they’re getting divorced," she shouted, "I’ll take care of this." She called Phoenix immediately, and said to her father. "You are NOT getting divorced. Don’t do a single thing until I get there. I’m calling my brother back, and we’ll both be there tomorrow with our families. Until then, don’t do a thing, DO YOU HEAR ME?" The man hung up his phone and turned to his wife. "Okay, honey. The kids are coming for Thanksgiving and paying for their own flights."

On Thursday we will all be gathering together with our family and hopefully we will remember to do more than eat a meal and watch football or make a mad dash for the mall. The Thanksgiving Holiday gives us the perfect opportunity to transform our lives from those of griping and dissatisfaction to lives of joy and gratitude. Thanksgiving is a good holiday for us to turn the corner and become grateful people. God wants nothing more than for us to be people of thanksgiving and gratitude.

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