Summary: Thanksgiving; the day we set aside to give thanks for all we have. Although I'm glad we have a national holiday dedicated to being thankful, God's intention is that we would be in a continual mindset of giving thanks. We need to be living thankfully.
INTRODUCTION: Thanksgiving; the day we set aside to give thanks for all we have...that is before we head off to the Black Friday sales! Although I'm glad we have a national holiday dedicated to being thankful, spending only one day recognizing all the reasons we have to be thankful is not enough. God's intention is that we would be in a continual mindset of giving thanks. Therefore, we need to be people who are thanksliving.
1) Instead of thanksgiving it's thanks...give me!
Greed, discontent, having an entitlement attitude, having a spirit of demandingness; all this is not a spirit of thanksgiving. When we have this negative spirit the word, "thanks" doesn't cross our mind.
"A man was visiting some friends and he had taken along his young daughter. The man's friend brought out a couple of little fun-size candy bars for the young lass. When she didn't say anything the embarrassed father said, "Honey, what do you say?" With sincerity, she looked at the man and said, "You got any more?"
That might sound like some of us. We accept something from someone without a 'thank you'. We receive something and we think, 'is that it?' For some, their relationship with people is predominately in what they can get from them. And their relationship with God is no different.
Rom. 1:21, "For although they knew God they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened."
When I know who God is but fail to praise him and thank him then there's something wrong with the way I think. My way of thinking is that somehow God is there to be my spiritual Santa Claus who's duty is to fulfill my wish list. When I don't see God in the proper light or respect him for who he is; when I'm not thankful toward God (and others for that matter) darkness has invaded my foolish heart. This is all part of the unholy trinity-me, myself and I. Entitlement mentality: "I'm owed", "I deserve", "You need to give me", phrases like this.
I can be fooled; I think I'm thankful but the question is-how have I shown that I am thankful? How often do I literally say, "thank you" to God and others? How often do I do things to show that I'm appreciative? People who help you out in any way do you say and show you are thankful? Those who get rides to church do you say thank you? Do you offer gas money or offer your services in some way as a declaration of your gratitude? What about when God answers prayer? Do we remember to say, 'thank you'?
During WWII, many churches were kept open 24 hours a day so people could come and pray for loved ones on the battlefront. A caretaker in one of those churches notices a boy who came in every day for about 10 minutes. After several weeks, the youngster came in and stayed much longer. The concerned caretaker spoke to him, asking him why he was there so long today. He replied, "Each day I came in here for a few minutes to ask God to bring my father home safely. This morning he did, so I hurried over here to thank the Lord for answering my prayer." We can be focused on asking the Lord for things but are we as diligent in thanking him? For some people, God will get all the blame when things go wrong but none of the credit when things go right. Thankful people say and show they are thankful.
2) What is involved in living thankfully?
In this I see my utter dependence on God. And in that I will be ever so thankful when he blesses me. When I see that he is the giver of all good gifts and he is the great provider I will acknowledge him more. In humility I see that I am undeserving of all the blessings God gives me.
Deut. 8:10-14, "When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God for the good land he has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery."
Such is the danger in not being thankful-forgetfulness. To not remember that God is the reason and the source of all good gifts and blessings will lead to me stop thanking him. I might thank him initially but I will not thank him continually. My heart will grow prideful and comfortable. When I forget where I came from and how things used to be I will cease to be thankful. When God rescues me from the pit of despair I am thankful. But after a while, when I am doing better, I might think I've arrived and I'm all that. And I believe if I get all high and mighty God will remind me of where I came from and how I was not able to get it together until God came along and lifted me up. And then, in my humility I am thankful all over again. If I am going to live thankfully I need to be humble.