Summary: No matter how terrible some of the circumstances of life may be, with God's help there will always be that for which we can be thankful. (PowerPoints Available - #359
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
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A. By Presidential Proclamation, this Thursday is traditionally a day of national Thanksgiving. So I want to call your attention to 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. It says, "Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
Now you need to realize that it doesn't say, "Give thanks FOR all circumstances," but rather, "IN all circumstances." No matter how terrible some of the circumstances of life may be, with God's help there will always be that for which we can be thankful.
ILL. Two women who hadn't seen each other in several years met at a convention, & they began filling each other in on what had happened in their lives since the last time they met.
One woman said, "I got married two years ago." "Oh, that's good," her friend replied.
"Well, no, not really," the first one said. "My husband is twice as old as I am." "Oh, that's bad," her friend replied.
"Well, not really," she said, "he is a multi-millionaire." "Oh, that's good," her friend replied.
"Well, not really," she said, "he's mean to me & stingy." "Oh, that's bad," her friend replied.
"Well, no, not really," she said. "He did build us a million-dollar house." "Oh, that's good," her friend replied.
"Well, not really," she said. "It burned down last month." "Oh, that's bad," her friend replied.
"Well, not really, he was in it when it burned down."
B. Yes, this is Thanksgiving week, when children bring home from school turkeys they have cut out of construction paper, & pilgrims with funny hats & shoes.
For Thanksgiving our President usually issues a Thanksgiving proclamation. And our very secular government, that almost chokes every time it has to say the word "God," suddenly projects an air of religiosity & encourages us all to be thankful for at least this one day of the year.
C. You see, Thanksgiving is an unusual holiday because it combines God & government & society. And it is generally considered acceptable for everyone, regardless of religion, to be thankful on Thanksgiving Day.
Now I don't know about you, but that concerns me, because when something becomes universally acceptable it has usually been drastically watered down or changed from its original purpose. For instance, look at what has happened to the very special days of Christmas & Easter.
PROP. So I encourage you this morning to take two safeguards to protect your Thanksgiving - two things that you need to remember.
I. MAKE SURE THAT YOU ARE THANKFUL TO THE RIGHT SOMEBODY
A. No. 1 is this, "Make sure that you are thankful to the right somebody." If we're going to say "thank you" to somebody, make sure that it is the right somebody.
ILL. Harriet Martineau was an atheist. One morning she & a friend stepped out into the glories of a beautiful fall morning.
As she saw the brilliant sun peeking through the haze, & the frost on the meadow, & the brightly colored leaves making their way lazily to the ground, she was filled with its beauty & burst forth with "I am just so grateful for it all." And her believing friend asked, "Grateful to whom, my dear?"
B. That's a good question at Thanksgiving. If you're grateful, if you're really thankful, then the obvious question would have to be, "Grateful to whom?"
King David knew the answer to the question about gratefulness. If anyone ever had cause to lift his voice in thanksgiving to God, David was the man. A shepherd boy who became the hero of a nation - a hunted fugitive who became its king - a condemned sinner who became a "man after God's own heart."
Is it any wonder that he begins the 103rd Psalm with these words of thanksgiving? "Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, & forget not all His benefits."
SUM. So I say it again, when you decide to be thankful, be sure that you, like King David, are thankful to the right somebody.
II. MAKE SURE YOU THANK GOD FOR THE RIGHT REASONS
Now the second safeguard that I think we need for Thanksgiving is this, "Make sure you thank God for the right reasons."
A. If you were to draw up a Thanksgiving list of things for which you are thankful, what would you put on the list? I know some of the things I would list.
1. One thing I'm thankful for is the blessing of living in the United States of America. I've lived in other lands, & I've visited several other countries, & I'm so thankful for this country in which I live.