The theme of today’s program is on Being Thankful
Here in the United States it seems as if instead of being thankful for our freedoms and the blessings we have received we take everything for granted. In fact, there are large segments of our society who are so unthankful that they spend their time complaining about almost everything. So today, I want to talk about being thankful and how, most of all, we need to show God how thankful we are. After all, it is His world and we are just temporary visitors.
Let us get started with a prayer – ‘Dear Heavenly Father, I know that you are in charge of the Universe. I know that you have a grand plan for us. Father, today I give thanks for everything you have given me, especially your Son, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who lived and walked among us and died for us so that we might have eternal life. Thank you – Amen.’
The book of Psalms contains some of the greatest poems and songs ever written. The ideas they present have just as much validity today as they did when they were first composed over 2,000 years ago. Our scripture today is Psalm 100 – and is known as All Men Exhorted to Praise God. A Psalm for Thanksgiving.
“Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations.”
Today I want to look at the idea of being thankful. In particular, I want to look at three specific questions; why should we be thankful for God, how should we show God we are thankful, and when should we give thanks to God?
A question I have often asked myself is why should we be thankful for God and what God has done for us? I think about how many of us are facing difficult times. Many of us have suffered a loss in the family, many are facing illness, some are losing their homes, some of us have lost jobs; and quite frankly, there does seem to be so many negatives that it can seem like there is no reason to be thankful to God for anything.
As I ponder that question, it comes to mind that part of it, is I am just thankful that I am alive and no matter what I am going through, I can overcome it. The reality is I think it is important for us to realize that God is good and kind and loving. As I said, I think we are blessed to even be alive and have every opportunity to make things better and we are told in 1 Chronicles chapter 16 verse 34 “O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; For His lovingkindness is everlasting.” I believe that when we start out our days with a prayer of thanksgiving, when we are thankful that we have another chance; then the path we walk that day will be easier. When we start our days grumpy and grumbling then we place artificial barriers in our path that make it more and more difficult to achieve our goals.
The more time we spend being thankful, the stronger our faith will become. In the Gospel of Luke in chapter 17 starting in verse 11, we find the story of the lepers. It seems that as Jesus was between Samaria and Galilee He came upon ten lepers. They maintained their distance and cried out to Jesus asking Him to have mercy on them. They did not specifically ask for healing, but instead asked for compassion. Jesus looked at them and then told them to go to see the priests. As the men turned to go, they were healed.
One of them noticed, and instead of going off to see the priests, he turned and began to glorify God and as we find in verse 16 “and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan.” The significance of the last phrase ‘and he was a Samaritan’ is essential because Jews and Samaritans did not consider each other equals. In fact, Samaritans were looked down on by the Jews, especially those in high places in the religion, so when this man showed how thankful he was for being cleansed, it displayed how that thankfulness played a major role in the maturing of his faith. The stronger and more mature our faith becomes the easier it is for us to withstand the forces of the world as they try to beat us down.
When we have withstood a challenge of the world, when we have overcome some obstacle, it we should be thankful to God for giving us that power and for answering our prayers. He might not have given us exactly what we wanted but He answers all prayers. We find In Colossians 4:2 “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving;” We call it joyful prayer, no matter the request, no matter the need, we offer up our prayers with a spirit of thankfulness. The more we express our joy, the easier it is for us to find joy.
How we show God we are thankful is clear. We show Him by praising and honoring him Psalm 100:4 “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.” Too many of us today seem ashamed to admit that we are believers. We feel if we tell some of our friends how we believe, that maybe our friends won’t be as accepting of us. In other words, we would rather the world think highly of us, rather than have to answer questions about how we can believe in God.
It is relatively easy, to simply show we believe by how we behave and when someone asks, then tell them ‘yes, I believe in God’ and ‘yes, I believe that He plays a role in my life and I am thankful for that role.’ As the kids say, ‘easy peasy’, just do it and get over feelings of self-doubt. After all, the one we are saying thanks to is God not our neighbors.
Another way to express how thankful we are is to actually attend a church and have fellowship with others. By following through with the act of worship and giving, we are following the example of Christ. In Psalm 116, verse 17 – “To You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and call upon the name of the Lord.” It is easy to live a life being very self-absorbed. I know I have done it. I have also discovered that once I started being active in my worship and giving of myself, my inner needs began to be filled.
We know why we should be thankful for God, we know how we should express our thankfulness, but exactly when should we give thanks to God? As I said earlier, giving thanks first thing every morning is a great way to start a day, giving thanks at the end of the day is a great way to wrap things up. We should also give thanks when we are about to eat. I grew up in a family where we would say grace before every meal, as I got older I fell out of the habit of offering up my thanks for what I was about to receive. As I got older still, I found that simply by bowing my head and saying a silent thank you, somehow seemed to make the food taste better. As I have matured I truly understand the words in 1 Timothy chapter 4 verse 4 “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude;”
In response to that I have heard folks ask, ‘why if everything created by God is good, is there evil in the world?’ The fact is, God did not create evil. Evil is not a ‘thing’, you cannot go to the store and buy a bottle of evil. Evil acts exist where there is an absence of good. God has created each of us and has given each of us the ability to choose how we are to behave. We can choose to be good or evil, but everything, every real thing that God has created is good. That even applies to volcanoes, even though they are violent and can be destructive, once they have finished erupting the world has new landscape, new life can appear. The same applies for hurricanes; once they stop; new life has the opportunity to appear. The same especially goes for food, without it, we would be unable to live, so we should always be thankful for our meals.
We must understand that it is more than just being grateful and thankful every now and then or before we eat, we should maintain a spirit of constant gratitude. In 1Thessalonians chapter 5 verse 18 we read, “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” That is perhaps the most difficult concept to grasp. As I mentioned earlier, when things are going bad, or things are difficult for us, it is easy to get discouraged and not to offer up our thanks to God. Those are the times when it most important that we stay in touch with God. Our continual offering up of thanks is the one way we can stay in touch with reality and better ourselves.
So the next time you wonder or begin to feel down about things, remember to offer thanks to God for everything and turn to Him in prayer.
– ‘Dear Heavenly Father, I know that you are in charge of the Universe. I know that you have a grand plan for us. Father, today I give thanks for everything you have given me, especially your Son, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who lived and walked among us and died for us so that we might have eternal life. Thank you – Amen.’
That’s it for today folks, I’m the Reverend Hank Wilson, thank you for joining me here on the Christian Life Gospel Ministry’s – Dealing with life – A biblical guide to staying upright when life tries to knock you down.
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