Summary: The men of Jabesh-gilead provide an excellent example of gratitude. To develop an attitude of gratitude we need to practice two things: mindfulness and humility.
A. I hope everyone had a very happy Thanksgiving Day.
1. Of all the American made holidays, Thanksgiving is perhaps the most spiritually oriented.
2. But did you know that having an attitude of gratitude is something that God commands?
3. 1 Thessalonians 5:15-18 says: “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
B. To get us thinking about thankfulness and gratitude, let’s look at a couple of Peanuts cartoons.
1. Here we see Snoopy looking at his dinner bowl on Thanksgiving Day.
2. “How about that?” he asks himself.
3. He says to himself, “Everyone is eating turkey today, but just because I’m a dog, I get dog food.”
4. But then he realizes, “Of course, it might have been worse…I could have been born a turkey!”
C. Brothers and sisters, whenever we begin to think that life is unfair we need to think again.
1. Whatever our situation is, we must remember that things could always be worse and that there are always things for which we can give thanks if we just stop and think about it.
2. We can thank God that we’re alive!
3. We can thank God that He is good and that His loves endures forever.
4. We can thank God that He is faithful to us even during the times when we aren’t noticing.
D. Here’s a second Peanuts cartoon.
1. Charlie Brown brings Snoopy his dinner bowl and says, “Here you are Snoopy…Happy Thanksgiving!”
2. Snoopy says, “Thank you.”
3. But then Snoopy looks at the contents of the dinner bowl and say, “No cranberries?”
E. How often do we experience ingratitude?
1. The Thanksgiving meal is laid out in front of us and has all kinds of delicious choices, but then we notice that something is missing.
2. What, no cranberries? No green bean casserole? No pumpkin pie?
3. Rather than being thankful for what we have before us, we focus on what is missing.
4. I’m sure that none of us have ever acted like Snoopy!!
I. An Example of Gratitude
A. Let’s turn to 1 Samuel 31 and learn from a story where gratitude is on display.
1. You might remember that for a long time there was no king in Israel, rather they were led by judges.
2. Finally they got their long-sought after king, and the prophet Samuel anointed Saul, a young man from the tribe of Benjamin.
a. Saul's story began with such promise, but unfortunately Saul’s story ended with tragedy.
b. Somewhere along the way, King Saul lost his dependence on God.
c. Saul engaged in disobedience to God’s will, and eventually lost his mental stability because of an insane jealousy of the young warrior David.
d. Then, in Saul’s final battle with the Philistines, he lost his life in a horrible defeat.
3. The Philistines were both wicked AND cruel.
a. It was not enough for them to defeat their enemies, they invariably wanted to humiliate them, even in death.
b. And so the day after they defeated King Saul and his army we read about these actions: The next day when the Philistines came to strip the slain, they found Saul and his three sons dead on Mount Gilboa. They cut off Saul’s head, stripped off his armor, and sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines to spread the good news in the temples of their idols and among the people. Then they put his armor in the temple of the Ashtoreths and hung his body on the wall of Beth-shan. (1 Sam. 31:8-10)
c. The body of the man who had once been God's anointed, who had once ruled all the tribes of Israel, was now subjected to the ultimate indignity of a public humiliation.
d. Thus ended the reign of the first king of Israel, and the end of his reign can be described by these words: deranged, defeated, dead, decapitated, displayed, and disgraced.
4. But there is one note of grace in this sad spectacle that we often overlook: it is the response of the men of Jabesh-Gilead!
a. The Bible says: When the residents of Jabesh-gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, all their brave men set out, journeyed all night, and retrieved the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan. When they arrived at Jabesh, they burned the bodies there. Afterward, they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh and fasted seven days. (1 Sam. 31:11-13).
b. To truly understand the significance of what they had done and the gratitude they showed, you need to know, as Paul Harvey used to say, “the rest of the story.”
c. You have to go back to the very beginning of King Saul’s reign.