Summary: As I researched this sermon, I discovered a powerful message in Paul’s thanksgiving that was both simple and profound. What it taught me has changed my entire view of how to give thanks.
There’s a supposedly true story about a family was seated around their Thanksgiving table. As was their custom everyone shared what they were thankful for. From the oldest to the youngest, they each took their turn to express their praise.
When they came to the 5 year old in the family, he began by looking at the turkey and expressing his thanks for the turkey, saying although he had not tasted it he knew it would be good.
Then he thanked his mother for cooking the turkey.
And his father for buying the turkey.
Then he said he was thankful for the grocery store for stocking the turkey, and the workers there who put it in the refrigerated section for his dad to find.
Then he said he was thankful for the checker at the grocery store who checked it out
And he was thankful for the farmer who made raised it.
And for the man who made the feed.
And for those who brought the turkey to the store.
Having said all this, he looked up solemnly and said “Did I leave anybody out?”
His older brother rolled his eyes and said: “God.”
Without batting an eye, the 5 yr old turned to his brother and said “I was about to get to Him.”
(Joel Gregory, The Unlikely Thinker)
APPLY: Thanksgiving is a time to be… thankful.
There are many people aren’t really thankful. They believe that they deserve what they have and – what they don’t have – they should.
And there are others who ARE thankful, but they’re very quiet and discreet about it.
Then there are still others who are so thankful they just can’t hardly contain themselves.
ILLUS: For example, the great classical composer Joseph Hayden, was criticized because his church music was too cheerful (and you thought "contemporary music" was a tough sell).
He replied: “I cannot help it. I give forth what is in me. When I think of the Divine Being, my heart is so full of joy that the notes fly off as from a spindle. And as I have a cheerful heart, He will pardon me if I serve Him cheerfully.”
There are people who are so excited about their blessings that they can hardly contain themselves. And I’ve found that the more a person loves Jesus… the more excited they get about being thankful. That was particularly true of Paul.
Here in Romans 7:25 Paul says “THANKS BE TO GOD— through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
You can sense the excitement in how he says it.
But this isn’t the only time he wrote something like this. Earlier in Romans he writes:
“But THANKS BE TO GOD that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted.” Romans 6:17
In another letter, Paul wrote to the Christians in Corinth and again he says:
“But THANKS BE TO GOD, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.” 2 Corinthians 2:14
And (speaking of the change God had brought about in the Corinthian Christians) “THANKS BE TO GOD for his indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15
But Paul’s most powerful statement of praise shows up in I Corinthians 15
“Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."
"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?" The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But THANKS BE TO GOD! He gives us the victory (over death and the grave) through our Lord Jesus Christ. I Corinthians 15:51-57
There’s no mistaking the fact that Paul was excited about giving thanks to God. And this truth was so obvious that a legend grew up around Paul and his love for Jesus.
ILLUS: This legend tells of a wealthy merchant who had traveled to Rome to find this preacher he’d heard so much about. In his search, the merchant found Timothy… and Timothy arranged a visit.
At the time, Paul was a prisoner in Rome. Stepping inside the cell, the merchant was surprised to find a rather old man, physically frail, but whose serenity and magnetism challenged the visitor. They talked for hours.
Finally the merchant left and outside the prison, he asked Timothy "What is the secret of this man’s power? I have never seen anything like it before."