Summary: A Thanksgiving message to help us focus on thankful living by doing acts of kindness and giving encouraging words.

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The Power of Thankful Living

John 6:1-14

I Thessalonians 5:18

You can experience the Power of Thankful Living when you live your life according to what Paul said in I Thessalonians 5:18, “…in everything give thanks.” Thankful living brings out the best in people. Thankful living leads to a life of purpose and significance.

In 2003, Robert Emmons and Michael McCullough, two Psychology professors conducted a simple experiment. They recruited three groups of people at random to focus on one of three things for a week. Group A focused on everything that went wrong or was irritating, such as “The battery went dead in my car,” or “That person cut in line in front of me at Target.” Group B focused on things that blessed and things that enhanced their lives. “People are friendly in my neighborhood.” “People who work with me are the greatest.” “Group C just remembered events. “I went shopping today.” “I washed the car today.” “I cleaned the house today.”

After the week was up the participants were asked how they felt about their week. By far the group that responded with the greatest enthusiasm and was most positive about the week was the one that focused on gratitude. The group that focused on the blessings of life was more optimistic about life in general and was more likely to help others than those in the other two groups.

Sometimes a positive word has its reward. Years ago when we lived in Florida I was flying and had a stop in Atlanta. I had to change planes and since my seat assignment was near the back of the plane I went to the desk and inquired about getting a seat closer to the front of the plane. I address the young man as “Sir, do you have any seats closer to the front of the plane.” He looked at me and said, “Why did you call me “Sir,” that makes me feel old. I said, “No I called you “Sir” out of respect and besides I also like you tie.”

He said, “Let me check and see if I can find you a seat closer to the front of the plane.” He checked his computer and then said, “I found one. Here is your seat closer to the front. I put you in first class. Anyone who pays me respect and likes my tie deserves to ride first class.”

The Apostle John tells about a young boy that played a significant role in the life and ministry of Jesus. This young boy probably grew up in a Jewish home where his parents taught him the Torah until he was seven and then he began his formal education in the synagogue schools.

For three years he studied the rudiments of the Book of the Law as it was recorded in the Hebrew tongue. For the following three years he studied in the advanced school and committed to memory, by the method of repeating aloud, the deeper teachings of the sacred law. He graduated from this school of the synagogue during his thirteenth year and was turned over to his parents by the synagogue rulers as an educated "son of the commandment.”

At the synagogue school pupils sat on the floor in a semicircle, while their teacher, the chazzan, an officer of the synagogue, sat facing them. Beginning with the Book of Leviticus, they passed on to the study of the other books of the law, followed by the study of the Prophets and the Psalms. The synagogue possessed a complete copy of the Scriptures in Hebrew. Nothing but the Scriptures was studied prior to the twelfth year. In the summer months the hours for school were greatly shortened.

These synagogue schools, had no textbooks. In teaching, the chazzan would utter a statement while the pupils would in unison repeat it after him. When having access to the written books of the law, the student learned his lesson by reading aloud and by constant repetition.

At the age of 12 the boy probably participated in his Bar mitzvah. To celebrate his Mar mitzvah the boy’s parents allowed him to travel to the gathering where Jesus was teaching near the Sea of Galilee.

The boy was from a poor family so he took five loaves made of barley. Barley loaves were coarse bread eaten by the poor. The boy was planning on using one loaf for himself and selling the other loaves to make extra spending money. The two fish he had were probably sardine size fish either pickled or dried. He had has loaves and fishes spread out to sell, but no one was buying.

The boy was captivated by the teachings of Jesus and was amazed to see sick people healed. Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, saw the young boy with his loaves of barley loaves and two small fish.

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