Summary: A Thanksgiving sermon
"GIVING THANKS ALWAYS FOR ALL THINGS UNTO GOD AND THE FATHER IN THE NAME OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST."
Shakespeare wrote, "How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child!" True! But how much more unnatural and repugnant is ingratitude in those who have become sons and daughters of the living God.
People may have one of three possible attitudes about thanksgiving.
First, SOME PEOPLE THINK GIVING THANKS TO GOD IS UNNECESSARY. They are like the rich farmer in one of Jesus’ parables (Luke 12:16-20). Notice the repetition of the word "I." Because he gave God no credit for his blessings, he saw no reason to give Him thanks.
Second, SOME PEOPLE PRETEND TO BE THANKFUL TO GOD. They are like the self-righteous Pharisee in another one of Jesus’ parables (Luke 18:11-12). In reality his thankfulness was to himself and for himself. Jesus said that the Pharisee prayed "with [to] himself."
Third, SOME PEOPLE ARE TRULY THANKFUL TO GOD. They are like the leper who returned to thank Jesus for healing (Luke 17:11-18). Jesus asked, "Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?" (v. 17). Only one returned to thank Jesus. Few people are truly thankful to God.
The only person who can genuinely give thanks to God is the humble person, the person who knows he deserves nothing and who therefore gives thanks even for the smallest of blessings. Lack of thankfulness comes from pride, from the conviction that we deserve something better than we have.
A medieval legend tells of two angels sent to earth by the Lord to gather the prayers of the saints. One was to gather the petitions and the other the thanksgivings. The angel responsible for petitions was not able to carry them back to heaven in one load, while the angel for thanksgivings carried them back in one hand.
That legend developed from the sad fact that God’s children are more prone to ask than to thank.
1. WE ARE TO GIVE THANKS "ALWAYS."
"Let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God CONTINUALLY, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name" (Heb. 13:15).
"I will bless the Lord at ALL TIMES: his praise shall CONTINUALLY be in my mouth" (Ps. 34:1).
1.1 We should give thanks IN PUBLIC. "I will give thanks in the great congregation: I will praise thee among much people" (Psalm 35:18).
1.2 We should give thanks IN PRIVATE. ". . . [Daniel] went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime" (Daniel 6:10).
1.3 We should give thanks AT MIDNIGHT. "At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgements" (Psalm 119:62).
1.4 We should give thanks IN THE MORNING. "It is a good think to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High: to shew forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night" (Psalm 92:1-2).
1.5 We should give thanks BEFORE WE EAT. "Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples. . . ." (John 6:11).
1.6 We should give thanks AFTER WE EAT. "When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the Lord thy God for the good land which he hath given thee" (Deuteronomy 8:10).
1.7 We should give thanks WHEN WE PRAY. "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God" (Philippians 4:6).
THREE LEVELS OF THANKFULNESS
The first level is to be THANKFUL WHEN WE ARE BLESSED.
The second level is to be THANKFUL FOR BLESSINGS YET TO COME.
The third level is to be THANKFUL IN THE MIDST OF DIFFICULTY.
". . . and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, REJOICING THAT THEY WERE COUNTED WORTHY TO SUFFER SHAME FOR HIS NAME. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ" (Acts 5:40-42).
"And when then had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and SANG PRAISES UNTO GOD: and the prisoners heard them" (Acts 16:23-24).
If we can only thank God when things are going well, our thankfulness is on the bottom rung of faithfulness.