Summary: This sermon challenges us to have a thankful heart in 3 areas and to learn to live with gratitude.
3 THINGS TO BE THANKFUL FOR
INTRODUCTION – Recently, my brother Nimal, who was formerly a ship's captain and is now a lay Pastor in our church, shared the Word of God in one of our services. In that sermon he expressed his appreciation and thanks to me for being the first in our family circle to accept the Lord Jesus & for holding on to that commitment in the midst of much opposition. The end result, he mentioned, was that he and eventually our entire family, came to salvation. I was so glad that after all these years he still remembered and was thankful.
We live in a world where gratitude is often not expressed and help given is easily forgotten. Undercutting and backstabbing seem to be the order of the day! That brings me to the main thought in my sermon.
PROPOPSITION – Develop a heart of thankfulness
In this sermon, I would like to challenge you to be thankful for 3 things.
1) BE THANKFUL FOR GOD’S GOODNESS TO YOU
In Deuteronomy 8, God reminds His people of how He had looked after them in the wilderness. He reminds them of the manna that He fed them with (vs 3) and how their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell up (vs 4). From verse 6-9, God then paints a beautiful picture of all the blessings and wealth that awaited them in the Promised Land. From verse 11-18 however, He warns them not to forget His goodness, once they begin to enjoy those same blessings. He says, “Be careful that you don’t forget the Lord your God” (8:11) and warns them in verse 17, ‘you may say to yourself,” My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me”. In fact, the word ‘forget’ is mentioned 3 times and the word ‘remember’ once, in that portion of scripture.
It amazes me how easily people forget God’s blessings. So often He blesses them when they cry out to Him but they don’t have time for Him thereafter. I have prayed with people for suitable employment but once they get the blessing, their office work, and not God, gets all their time and commitment. I have prayed with others for healing but once their health is restored, they go after worldly pursuits with no time for God! Sad, but often true!
Another way we forget God’s goodness is that in spite of all His blessings, we look at others blessings and begin to grumble at what we think we lack, in comparison. For many years God was Israel’s King and provided for the Nation. However, in I Samuel 8, Israel unashamedly asks for a human King of their own, to keep pace with the Nations around them. They were asking for trouble and boy, didn’t they get it! They forgot God’s goodness.
Compare also how Solomon responded with much humility to God‘s promise for success offered to him in 2 Chronicles 1:7-12, asking only for wisdom and knowledge to lead the people of Israel (vs 10). In 1 Kings 11: 3-6 however, we sadly see that in later years, Solomon’s heart turned to other gods (vs 4) and that he did evil in the eyes of the Lord (vs 6). He forgot God’s goodness.
ILLUSTRATION - At our small group meetings, an elderly brother I knew who passed on to glory, would often testify about the day God saved him and the blessings that followed, and then request us to sing the old hymn ‘Heaven came down and glory filled my soul’. He was always thankful for God’s goodness in his life.
ILLUSTRATION – I am reminded of another Gospel song that I learned a long time ago titled ‘Remind me O Lord’. It fits well with what this sermon is all about. The chorus went as follows.
Draw back the curtain of memory, now and then,
Show me where you brought me from, and where I might have been,
Remember I’m human and humans forget,
So, remind me, remind me, O Lord.
Let’s be thankful for God’s goodness to us.
2) BE THANKFUL FOR OTHERS’ GOODNESS TO YOU
A senior Manager brings a younger person under him and imparts all his wisdom and skill to the younger employee. After gaining all the experience needed, the younger person undercuts the Senior Manager and grabs his position. A young lady invites a friend going through trouble into their home for a season, to help her through her trauma. She begins an affair with the friend’s husband and the family is devastated. How often we hear stories like this. It reminds us that we need to cultivate thankfulness in our lives and not forget what others do for us.
As much as people may like to brag about it, nobody makes it on their own. Along the way, there have been people who have invested their time, wisdom, advice and skills in us. People have given us a helping hand when we needed it badly and that served as the catalyst needed for us to succeed. But, how often we forget them! I can think of so many people who have helped me along life’s journey and in the progress of my ministry. I remember my aunt Rita who was the first to take me to a church, which led to my salvation, a lady named Beryl who was the first to disciple me and our Founder Pastor Dr Colton Wickramaratne and his dear wife Susanne (now gone to glory), who gave me amazing advice and trusted me with ministry responsibilities. My Senior Pastor, Dishan Wickramaratne and his wife Jayani have been a tower of strength to our family and ministry; so too the Pastoral staff I serve with. I can go on naming others but it will be a long list! Maybe you too are thinking right now of someone who has impacted your life. Well, it just might be a good time to thank them by giving them a call or sending them a ‘thank you’ card. A special gift may well be in order! For some of us, this may be a great season to honor our spiritual leaders. It is truly sad that the only words Pastors hear from some believers are words of criticism. Thankfully, most people are appreciative of the Pastor’s efforts. The poem ‘Bring me all your flowers now’ tells us to thank and appreciate people while they are alive and not when they are dead and no longer able to hear or receive our words or acts of appreciation!