Summary: A sermon for Thanksgiving (outline and several thoughts from an article by Nancy Tester in Pray Magazine)
Sermon for 11/23/2008
Ephesians 5:20- always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Thessalonians 5:18- give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
A. Yes, but is God ever going to help us with our problems?
D. Philippians 4:6 Living Bible- Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers.
E. Thank Him? I have so many problems; I don’t have the time or energy to thank Him. Underneath this, I am an anxious person. Fear dominates my life. God wants me to focus on Him. Thankfulness takes our eyes off of our problems and focuses them on Jesus Christ.
F. Being a thankful person is more difficult than we might think. We naturally take things for granted and fail to express gratitude. Example of the “challenged” teenagers at South Iredell High. I am not challenged in these ways and I need to be thankful. A poor reason to be thankful, yes, but it woke me up to how much I have.
Thesis: Let’s talk about several misconceptions about thankfulness that we need to work through.
1. Thankfulness is not important.
A. Many of our approaches to problems or difficulties are the following:
1. Focus on the problem and pray about it constantly.
2. Get angry if God does not fix it immediately.
3. When God does fix it, see it as something that would have happened anyway.
4. Immediately focus on the next problem and pray constantly about that.
B. Nancy Tester- I remember a recent episode from church. The preacher was praying, thanking God for health, rain, salvation, and love. I remember thinking to myself, “I wish he’d quit wasting time and get to the good stuff.”
C. This is some of our problem. We don’t think being thankful is the good stuff. Many times we see prayer as a Christmas wish list, and thankfulness as the thank you card for a gift we have already opened.
D. Many of us are driven by our needs, and all we do is rip open one gift after another, forgetting to be thankful for what we have already received.
E. As I look back over things in my life, I become more aware of God’s intervention on my behalf. While we are not able to see answers to prayer from day to day, when we look back, we can see many of the ways God has intervened in our lives.
F. Many of us make the mistake of thinking that thankfulness is all for God’s benefit (like sending a thank you card). However, it benefits us as well.
G. Psalm 54:6- I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you; I will praise your name, O Lord, for it is good.
H. If we want a sure fire trip to the dark side, just be ungrateful. Romans 1:21- For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
I. There was a boy who was adopted by a Christian couple. When that boy became a teenager he started to hang around the wrong crowd. He got involved with drugs and the wrong kind of girls. He broke his curfew and was just rebellious. That couple went and talked to the preacher. They asked the preacher if he would go and talk to their teenage son. The preacher went and talked to this young man. The preacher began their conversation about talking about how his parents had adopted him and showered him with love and affection. Then the preacher talked about things that this young man was doing today. The preacher told this young man that he was causing a lot of grief for his parents. Then the preacher asked, “Aren’t you thankful for what your parents did for you?” The young man thought for a moment and then said, “Yes, I am thankful for what my parents did for me. But what I am supposed to be, thankful for the rest of my life?”
J. Yes, we are supposed to be thankful for the rest of our lives. Through Jesus Christ, we have been adopted into the family of God. God is our Father. Jesus Christ is our big brother. We have been showered with love, mercy and grace. One day we are going to live in heaven in the palace of the King. How should we live now? Yes, we should be thankful for the rest of our lives and show it!
2. Thankfulness means pretending that problems don’t exist.
A. Some will say, “Your right, thankfulness is my problem. I am just going to be thankful from now on. In my words and in my prayers, I am just going to focus on being thankful. If problems come, I am not going to focus on the problems, I am not even going to talk about them, and I am just going to be thankful.” Now wait a minute!