Summary: This sermon focuses on how to say thank you as it focuses on Thanksgiving.
Text: First Thessalonians 5:13-18
To be thankful is an attitude of gratitude. To be thankful means more than just saying "thank you". When we were growing up our parents taught us to be grateful. When someone did something nice, they taught us to say "thank you" so that eventually we would began to associate the occasions in which we should say thanks. It seems that our parents wanted us to know to say "thank you" in such a way that it would become second nature and natural. They wanted us to learn to say "thank you" without having to think about it.
There is another way that we say "thank you" that defies what true thankfulness is about. When something goes wrong, we might hear someone say, "I have or we have so and so to thank for this predicament". This is not what being thankful is about. When we say that we have someone to thank for the fact that something went wrong, then we are being sarcastic and placing blame on another or others. When we say "thank you" in a sarcastic way, what we are really saying is something that is the opposite of truthfully being thankful.
How do we say thanks? Do we say thank you with sarcasm? Or do we say thank you in such a way that it is genuine thankfulness? It is an important thing for us to ponder how we say thank you. More importantly, we need to ponder how we say thank you to God.
There are special days throughout the year that we say thank you.
· Christmas: we give thanks for both the gift of the Savior and salvation.
· New Year’s Day: we give thanks for the beginning of a new year and new opportunities.
· Baptism: hopefully, we give thanks for our spiritual birthday.
· Ash Wednesday: we remember our sins and thank God for the forgiveness of sins.
· Easter: we remember that Jesus died for our sins so that we could be reconciled to God.
· Pentecost Sunday: we remember the birth of the Church and the impact that the Holy Spirit plays in our lives.
· Mother’s Day: we remember with a spirit of thanksgiving our mothers and all that they do.
· Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day and Independence Day: we remember our freedom and those who fought for it as well as those who are fighting for it since September 11, 2001.
· Father’s Day: we remember with a spirit of thanksgiving our father’s and what they do or have done for us.
· Grandparents Day which is today (November 21, 2001): we remember with a spirit of thanksgiving all that they do, or have done.
· Boss’s Day, Secretary’s Day: we remember those who work with us, for us or who have employed us.
· Valentine’s Day: we remember those special people in our lives and the love that we have for them.
· Birthdays and Anniversaries: we celebrate the day we or someone else was born or the day we or someone else got married.
· All Saints Day: we remember the gift of eternal life and our loved ones who have joined the great cloud of witnesses in heaven.
· Thanksgiving: we remember and set aside a special time to be thankful for all of our many blessings.
A THANKFUL HEART
Compared to special days or holidays, how often do we say thanks? How often do we count our blessings one by one to see what God has done? How often do we complain? And when we say thanks is it sincere or sarcastic? The difference---that is the difference between complaints or expressions of thanks tell of the focus of hearts. It tells whether or not we have a thankful heart or an ungrateful heart.
If we are not counting our blessings then maybe we are taking our blessings for granted. Exodus 16 is a chapter of significance. The children of Israel complained before God to Moses. They actually said to Moses that they wished God had killed them in Egypt where they at least had food. They said to Moses, "You brought us out in the desert to starve to death" (Exodus 16:2-3). But, Moses was following God’s instructions. After talking with God, Moses was instructed to go to the people and tell them that God was going to give them bread in the morning and meat in the evening (Exodus 16:4-9). They had quail for meat and manna for bread (vv. 12,15). In the morning, when the dew evaporated something thin and flaky was left on the surface (v. 14). Not knowing what it was, they asked each other "What is it?" God has a sense of humor. Here is the proof. That flaky stuff that they did not know what to call is manna. This word sounds like the Hebrew word for "What is it?" (Good News Bible. "footnote" (for Exodus 16:15 on page 75) Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986).