Summary: This message looks at the idea of developing thanksgiving as a lifestyle and attitude.
Thanksgiving Is an Attitude
(Not a Day)
Abraham Lincoln in his Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863 said this:
We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.
Hundred¡¦s of years earlier a Psalmist gave a similar warning ¡V Psalm 95v8-11
Lincoln and the psalmist speak to the basic flaw of mankind ¡V the tendency to develop and attitude of I did it, I deserve it- not I¡¦m thankful for it.
The psalmist gives us and understanding that Thanksgiving is an attitude ¡V an attitude we are to cultivate in our hearts if we are not to repeat the mistakes of the past.
The call of the Psalmist is threefold:
1) Thanksgiving as an attitude Acknowledges God as the Source ¡V v 1-5 ¡V Here as always the scriptures make it clear that God is the owner of all the stuff. He is the creator and owner of all that is. We are simply stewards over God¡¦s world. Most of us can accept this with nature but have a difficult time accepting it with our homes and our stuff. Here¡¦s the rub though ¡V it¡¦s not really yours ¡V It¡¦s God¡¦s ¡V he made it and He gave it to you as a steward. The truth is that as long as you see yourself as the source and provider of life you are going to be:
„Y In conflict with God ¡V Deuteronomy 8:18 says But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today. James 1 tells us Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow. God¡¦s word is full of instructions on what to do with our stuff. How we should live life, how we should spend money, how we should treat people, how we should sacrifice, serve, and share. God says that life is not about what we have ¡V it¡¦s about what we give away. Well if we fail to see God as the source we will always be in conflict with Him over what we do with stuff.
„Y In Fear for Life ¡V You see if God is my provider I can rest in His promise to take care of me. I can rest when He says not to be anxious because I know that it is His promise and responsibility to take care of my needs. But if I am provider that means that I am completely responsible for all that I need. It all depends on me. I will always be in fear because I fail well and often. But God never fails.
„Y Ungrateful ¡V If I am the provider then what need do I have for thanksgiving? The Great Preacher H.A. Ironside was in a crowded restaurant. Just as Ironside was about to begin his meal, a man approached and asked if he could join him. Ironside invited him to have a seat. Then, as was his custom, Ironside bowed his head in prayer. When he opened his eyes, the other man asked, "Do you have a headache?" Ironside replied, "No, I don’t." The other man asked, "Well, is there something wrong with your food?" Ironside replied, "No, I was simply thanking God as I always do before I eat." The man said, "Oh, you’re one of those, are you? Well, I want you to know I never give thanks. I earn my money by the sweat of my brow and I don’t have to give thanks to anybody when I eat. I just start right in!" Ironside said, "Yes, you’re just like my dog. That’s what he does too!" Think about your lives - family, friends, health, homes, everything - Thanksgiving is not for us a duty or a responsibility- For one who recognizes the blessings of God - thanksgiving is the natural outpouring of a heart that is full of the goodness of God.
2) Acknowledges God as Our Source ¡V The most amazing thing in all the world to me is that the God of all the Universe- Creator of all that we know- The God who spoke and the heavens were created- Cares for me. There are 6 Billion people in the world today - 6 Billion people and He cares for me. As egocentric as we are less than 5% of those are Americans-Chinese, Indian, African, French, German, the list goes on and on. The world doesnt revolve around Hughesville- but my world does. here in this remote corner of the world- God cares for me. Jesus said to His disciples "Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.¡¨ To understand the Psalmist here you have to understand sheep. Shepherding was a common profession then- Shepherds spent their entire lives taking care of their sheep - protecting them, feeding them, watering them, leading them to the freshest water and the greenest pastures- day and night they spent with the sheep. That is the picture we have of the great shepherd as He cares for us - the sheep of his pasture. Imagine - The God of all the universe - caring for us as a shepherd cares for his sheep. Words are not enough to give thanks for the gifts of God-