Effects of Thankfulness
November 23, 2008
Me: I think I’m like most people in that during this week in November, thoughts turn to how thankful I should be for all of God’s blessings in my life. And I’ve had more than I can count.
But as I was working on this message, the thought kept pounding in my brain, “There’s got to be more to thanksgiving than just having a grateful feeling in my heart.”
Granted, we need to have a grateful heart. And I don’t want to minimize that.
But is it enough to acknowledge our blessings and give thanks for them – whether in November or all the time?
So I struggled with the question, “What should I do with my gratitude?”
In other words, how should it affect my daily living and my daily interactions?
We: Have you ever wondered, “What should I do with my gratitude?”
Maybe you’ve thought along with me that our thankfulness to God should have implications in other parts of our lives.
If that’s you, then I have something that might help you in that regard.
If that’s not you, then my prayer is that by the time Thursday comes, you will sense God’s nudging you and that you’ll submit to that.
God: Turn in your Bibles to Colossians 3:15-17 (p. 834, and also on the screens) –
15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
This is one of those passages that, if you had to choose just one passage to live your life around, this would be a good one. It’s just a great encouragement to live for Christ.
Today I want to use it to show us three areas where true thankfulness will see its effects.
I think that if we’ll take this whole “thanksgiving” thing seriously in terms of these three verses, we’ll go a long way to being a truly thankful people who are thankful not only with our lips and in November, but all the time, and with all our lives.
Here’s the first way that true thankfulness will have its effect:
> True thankfulness will promote peace in the family of God.
Look back at verse 15 –
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Circle that phrase, “called to peace.”
If you are part of the family of God, you are supposed to live a life of peace within that family.
It’s an unfortunate characteristic in parts of the family of God that peace doesn’t rule – either in the hearts of the people or in the hearts of an entire church.
Chaos and selfishness rule. That’s the cause of so many church splits, isn’t it?
But Scripture says that peace should rule in our hearts. The peace of Christ.
A peace that reflects that we have peace with God through our faith in Christ who paid the penalty for our sins.
Just being part of a fellowship of people who have been forgiven of their sins and have a home in heaven should be enough of a basis for peace in the family of God, don’t you think?
Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” That wasn’t just a nice thing to say. He was actually serious about that. Go figure!
We promote peace in the family of God by putting the needs of others ahead of our own, considering them better than ourselves, as Scripture says.
We promote peace by forgiving those who have sinned against us and by seeking forgiveness from those we’ve sinned against.
I came across the prayer of a married woman.
“I pray for - Wisdom - to understand my man; Love - to forgive him; Patience - for his moods; Because, Lord if I pray for Strength, I’ll beat him to death. Amen.” (Sermoncentral.com. Submitted by Russel Brownworth)
We promote peace by praying for people and with them.
We promote peace by speaking well of them, especially behind their back.
We promote peace by refusing to gossip, backbite, and grumble, which the Scripture calls sin, but that some folks in churches are really good at, for some reason…
We promote peace by seeking the good in people and praising them for it.
When we are truly thankful to God, we become people who promote peace in the family of God.
A second way true thankfulness will have its effect is that…
> True thankfulness will open your heart to Scripture.
Back in verse 16 we see Paul saying:
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
Folks, I say this once in a while, but it bears repeating from time to time:
The fact that you even have a copy of the Scriptures is a gift from God Himself and an indication of the blessing He’s brought on this country that allows you to read it, study it, and live it without fear of punishment.
What does it mean to let it dwell richly in us?
It means to take it in and let the Holy Spirit make it live in our lives as we apply the words to our lives.
We allow God’s Word to transform us to be more like Jesus.
When we become intentional about taking in God’s Word through reading it, hearing it at church and other ways, studying it, memorizing it, thinking on how it should apply to our lives, and then actually applying it, things happen!
We become people God can work in and use for His purposes in our area around the world.
The key to beginning that process is thankfulness that we even have the Word of God in the first place.
Are you thankful for your copy of the Scriptures? Or is it just something that gathers dust on your bookshelf or coffee table?
Are you thankful enough to read it?
I heard the story once about a pastor who gave his congregation the assignment to read Mark chapter 17 before next Sunday.
The next Sunday he asked for a show of hands of those who had read that chapter.
A number of hands went up before the pastor calmly explained that the message that day would be about lying. You know why? Because there is no 17th chapter of Mark.
If they were people who read the Scriptures, they would’ve known that!
I’d challenge you to read through just one of the gospels before Christmas if you haven’t in some time.
And as the next year draws near, commit to reading the entire New Testament by taking one chapter a day.
It’s easy, doesn’t take much time, and will change your life if you’ll let it.
This verse also tells us that this interaction with the Word of God will give us wisdom as we teach and admonish each other to live for Christ.
We have plenty of religious “know-it-alls” but not nearly enough people who are wise with the Scriptures.
We need people who are serious about the Scriptures – people who study to show themselves approved to be able to teach and preach and lead others in studying them.
The good news is that God wants that for every one of us. He wants everyone in this room to gain wisdom in the Scriptures so they can impact other people with that wisdom.
Are you up to the challenge?
Verse 16 also tells us that if we allow the Word of God to dwell in us it will even impact our worship of God.
It allows us to sing and lift His name with gratitude.
And when you do that privately during the week, it enhances our times together on Sunday, because you anticipate getting together with other people who have been doing the same thing.
How sweet it is to gather with thankful people!
Have you been to a church where everyone is just grumpy and are only there because if they don’t someone will start gossiping about them or the minister will call them to find out why, or just because it’s a habit, not a desire to worship?
Now THAT’s a dead church, folks.
May it never be the case among us!
Here’s the third effect that true thankfulness will have:
> True thankfulness will impact your everyday living.
Folks, how often have you heard me say that there’s more to living for Christ than just being a Christian on Sundays at church?
Being a Christian is a 24/7/365 deal. We’re supposed to live for Christ at church, at home, at work, on vacation, and even at the in-laws’ house.
You’re also supposed to live for Christ behind the wheel. That means driving like Jesus is in the seat next to you instead of driving like you’re the only one who matters on the road.
It means being friendly to the store clerk who can’t find that sweater or dress in your size or who just informs you that they are out of stock.
It means letting that elderly person having the closest parking spot because the handicapped spaces are taken and they’d have to walk a lot farther.
It means treating customers, co-workers, and bosses with respect.
It means doing your job in a way that blesses instead of being a liability.
All sorts of things we can talk about.
Living for Christ in your everyday living is rooted in thanksgiving.
Understanding that everything you have is a gift from God, including the talents and abilities you use in the workplace and your abilities to help others when needed.
You: Your task for today:
Ask God to give you a heart of thankfulness that affects every area of your life.
That’s all. Just take some time today before you go to bed to ask God to give you a heart of thankfulness that affects every area of your life.
But don’t do it if you’re not serious about letting God do that, because it’ll change your life if you’re serious.
But if you are serious, then you’ll open yourself up to God doing some wonderful, awesome things in your life, and you’ll wonder why you hadn’t done that before.
We: Folks, one of my prayers for the church of Jesus around the world and for this church as well is that we would be people for whom thankfulness isn’t just a nice word we use in November.
I believe that if thankfulness was allowed to have its effects in our lives and in this church, the doors for effective ministry in our area would be thrown open and we would see many people come to Christ.
Why? Because they see the love we have for Christ born out of our gratitude for His love and sacrifice for us.
Will they see it in you? That’s up to you. My prayer is that it will overflow in your life and that they can’t help but see it. And they’ll want that for themselves as well.
Here at Aberdeen Wesleyan Church, we’re all about restoring relationships with God through Christ.
Without a doubt the thing that I am most thankful for is the fact that Jesus died for me, and because of that, I can go to heaven when my time on earth is done.
Can you say the same thing?
Can you say that your sins are forgiven and that you have a home in heaven waiting for you when you die?
If not, I urge you to think about the fact that God’s love for you drove Him to send Jesus to die for your sins and mine.
It’s kind of like Jesus said, “I love them so much – I’d rather die than spend eternity without them.” And so He did just that.
And because He did, you can have heaven.
He’s done the hard part – dying and rising again on your behalf.
Your part is to accept that payment for yourself by putting your faith in Christ and what He did for you.
I’m going to say a prayer here in just a moment. It’s a prayer to ask Christ to come into your life, to forgive you of all your sins and to give you that home in heaven that He wants you to have.
If that’s what you want, then I ask that you would follow along with me in your hearts.
And after we’re done, I’m going to ask that everyone keep their heads down and eyes closed for a bit, okay?