Summary: this message examines how to remain thankful despite living in a culture that feels its entitled to what it has.
How many of you would agree that we live in a thankless society? The majority of our culture lives with an attitude of entitlement. We feel we are entitled to better pay, better benefits and more stuff. We feel if we cannot afford it, the government should pick up the check. We have basically evolved into a society made up of a bunch of spoiled brats. The majority never stops to give thanks for what they have, but loudly voices their desire to have more. The bottom line is that we have enjoyed so many blessings we have come to expect it. We even have begun to display these same attitudes when it comes to God. People don’t acknowledge God anymore or give Him the credit He deserves as Creator of the universe. Scientists would rather believe that we evolved from monkeys than to be thankful to God for creating us. People are no longer thankful that Christ died on the cross for their sins. They feel that they can save themselves or make it to heaven on their own terms. People don’t give God honor and glory for their success in business. They will tell you it’s because of their own hard work that they have accomplished these things. Henry Ward Beecher wrote, "The unthankful heart... discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!" In our text the apostle Paul seems to tell us that a thankful heart shows that we are a healthy Christian. In fact in verse 18 Paul writes, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. So God expects us to be a thankful people. So once again as a Christian we are called to live counter to our culture. So with the approach of Thanksgiving, let’s discover how to have a thankful heart in an unthankful world.
I. Realize that we are not entitled to what we have, but understand they are a blessing from God.
A. Despite the economic instability we have so much wealth in the United States we take for granted the simple blessings.
1. What we consider to be poverty today far exceeds the standard of living that most people enjoyed a century ago.
2. Americans are fascinated by technology and gadgets. We have gained more possessions for ourselves today than at any other time in history.
3. We have reached the point in history where things such as food, clothing and shelter are no longer seen as blessings but as our right.
4. While a great portion of the world looks at the United States and sees great wealth, we tend to view it as what we are entitled to for being an American.
5. If we encounter a situation that causes us to have to tighten things and our standard of living has to change, we are upset because we feel we are being denied what is rightfully ours.
6. Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” (Luke 12:15—NIV)
7. The person who thinks the world owes him a living is never thankful for anything. He thinks he is doing others a favor by permitting them to serve him. The thankful heart is usually humble; a heart that gladly acknowledges God.
B. When we understand that God is the source of all blessings our natural response should be gratitude.
1. On Thursday it will not only be our families who stop to give thanks. Millions of Americans will focus on the occasion. Most businesses and shops will not be open in honor of the important day.
2. Thanksgiving allows us the opportunity to put everything in proper perspective and thank God for that He has blessed us with.
3. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. (James 1:17—NIV)
4. For every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. (Psalm 50:10—NIV)
5. God is the owner of everything, He is the source of all that we have and everything we have He has chosen to bless us with.
6. A truly thankful heart will truly change your life. It will keep you from becoming over critical or constantly complaining. It will draw you closer to your Heavenly Father and it will make you more conscious of His presence.
II. Realize that a thankful heart is not an option but a requirement.
A. Being joyful, praying continually and always giving thanks many times goes against our natural inclinations.