Summary: God repeatedly tells me I should be thankful for all things. But there are times I don’t want to thankful. There are times I don’t FEEL thankful. So how can I obey God when that happens?
OPEN: I read the true story of GIs stationed on Leyte in the Philippines during WW II. Although the region was secure, sometimes the enemy tried to infiltrate their food storage area. One such adversary, dressed in GI clothing, had worked himself into the noontime chow line. But the camp cook spotted him, pulled a pistol from under the serving table and yelled for the MPs to come and arrest the man.
After it was all over, the soldiers asked the cook how he knew the man wasn’t one of them.
"I figured it wasn’t one of you guys, ’cause he was coming back for seconds." (Reader’s Digest 5/93, p.46)
APPLY: That enemy soldier “looked” like the other GI’s
He was dressed like them.
He walked like them.
He behaved like them.
BUT something gave him away
Something made him stand out.
What gave him away?
He was grateful for all the food he could get.
He was thankful for the food no one else wanted.
Being thankful was what set him apart.
Those American soldiers had all the food they could want; they just didn’t want it all that bad. They weren’t thankful for what they had… but the enemy soldier was.
Here in Ephesians 5, God tells us He wants us to stand out. He wants us to be known for something. He wants us to be known for being thankful.
Why should I be thankful?
Because God said so.
Ephesians 5:20 says we should be “always GIVING THANKS to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Colossians 3:17 tells us “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.”
And 1 Thessalonians 5:18 evens says we should “GIVE THANKS in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Giving thanks is one of the big things that God desires from us. In fact that passage in I Thessalonians 5:18 even says it is GOD’S WILL that we should give thanks.
This part of our worship is so important that back in the Old Testament, King David appointed priests whose primary job was “giving thanks.” 1 Chronicles 16:4 tells us David “appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the LORD, to make petition, TO GIVE THANKS, and to praise the LORD, the God of Israel”
Now, unless you and I are giving thanks to God, we’re not really loving God as we should. Unless we’re thanking God, we’re not really worshipping Him as we should. Unless we’re thanking God, we’re not really praising Him like we ought to.
“Giving Thanks” is what God expects of us
It is God’s will for us.
It is part of our spiritual worship before God - to give thanks and praise His name.
So, this is extremely important!
But WHY does God want us to be thankful people?
Well, because when we’re thankful, we’re telling others what we think about God.
1 Chronicles 16:8 says we should “Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name; MAKE KNOWN AMONG THE NATIONS what he has done.
Thanking God is a declaration that we believe in Him.
It’s a witness to the world around us that we look to God for our help.
ILLUS: A medical missionary in India had found a way to heal people who were going blind. He said that once he’d done this operation on the local people they never said, "Thank you," because that phrase was not in their dialect. Instead, they spoke a word that meant, "I will tell your name."
Wherever they went, they would tell the name of the missionary who had cured their blindness. They had received something so wonderful that they eagerly proclaimed it.
When you and I give thanks we are “telling God’s Name”.
We are declaring that we believe in a God who actively works in our lives.
So, what are we supposed to be thankful for? Look at Ephesians 5:20 and tell me - what are we to be thankful for?
Ephesians 5:20 says "be thankful for everything."
I Thessalonians 5:18 says “give thanks in ALL circumstances”
Philippians 4:6 "Do not be anxious about anything, but IN EVERYTHING, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
ILLUS: There’s the true story of the mother who asked her 4 yr. old son to say grace at the dinner table. The family all bowed their heads and folded their hands… and they waited. And they waited. After a few moments of silence, the mom looked over at the boy.
The boy looked first at her and then at his father, then back to her again. And finally, he said,