Giving Thanks | Thanksgiving Sermon

Today we are celebrating thanksgiving for this year that God has blessed us with.

Shakespeare said, “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child.” “Ingratitude, thou marble-hearted fiend.” Even Shakespeare recognized what it is to have ingratitude.

GIVING THANKS

Ephesians 5:18-20

18Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Here, Apostle Paul is telling the quality of a Spirit-filled person, A Spirit-filled person’s heart is filled with song and it bursts out of him and then a spirit-filled person turns toward God and he says thanks. Even more one of the aspects of worship to God is to be thankful, is giving thanks and Thanks always is able to say in the midst of anything, good or even difficult, “God be praised, God be praised.” Even more, Do you know that all of the feasts and festivals of Israel were set for thanksgiving?

When are we to be thankful? when should we be giving thanks?

Always!

Ephesians 5:20

always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

When are we to be thankful then? Always!

Probably, you may say, “Pastor, you don’t know my problem.” well, Giving thanks in the midst of our problems recognizes that God is in control of our life and that God is certainly, trying to conform you to the image of Christ with all the things that occur.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

If you don’t know what God’s will is, then give thanks. This is the will of God.

Ephesians 5:17

Therefore do not be foolish but understand what the Lord’s will is.

So what is the will of God? Ephesians 5:20 …always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

When God brings difficulties into our lives when God brings trials into our lives and we gripe and complain and we don’t understand the meaning of James 1 which says: James 1:2-4 2Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. Therefore, thank God even when you are facing a trial because the trials have come to perfect us.

Three Categories Of Thankful People

1. Giving Thanks After The Blessing

They are the people who are thankful after the blessings and that is very easy because after God has just blessed you, you are thankful.

Example

I was ill and the Lord touched my body, now I’m well, I’m so thankful or say, I did not have a job and God gave me a job. Therefore I am thankful for the job he has given me. yes, It is always good to thank God after a blessing. However, this is easy thanksgiving because God has just blessed you and you say, “Oh, thank You, Lord.”

By the way, such thanksgiving is biblical. Look at Exodus chapter 14 we find the likewise, The children of Israel have come to the Red Sea where Pharaoh is chasing them from behind and Moses lifts up his staff and then the Red Sea part and they walk across. He says, “Well if they can do it, we can do it.” Only they couldn’t do it. Because as Pharaoh marched the entire Egyptian army into the dried Red Sea road, the walls closed down and drowned them all.

Exodus 14:28-30

28The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen—the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived. 29But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. 30That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore.

Therefore, they started singing to the Lord as their salvation.

Exodus 15:1-4

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord:

1“I will sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea.

2“The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.

He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

3 The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name.

4Pharaoh’s chariots and his army he has hurled into the sea. The best of Pharaoh’s officers are drowned in the Red Sea.

Exodus 15:11

11Who among God’s is like you, Lord? Who is like you— majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?

Exodus 15:18

“The Lord reigns forever and ever.”

Then Miriam took the tambourine and sang: Exodus 15:21 “Sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea.”

This is thanks after the blessing.

In Revelation 15 when Jesus comes and defeats his enemies the redeemed of the world sang:

Revelation 15:3-4

and sang the song of God’s servant Moses and of the Lamb: “Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the nations.  4Who will not fear you, Lord, and bring glory to your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.”

They sing after the victory is won.

Now listen, people, this is a time for giving thanks and there are always some victories won by God in our lives, there are always some wars that have already been passed in 2019. and there is always something that God has done. therefore we ought to say thanks after the blessings.

2. Giving Thanks Before The Battle

This is the ability to give thanks before the battle begins for the victory that is going to come. Now, this is where the people of faith come in and these are the people who believe God before anything happens. These are the people who are celebrating before the war, and these are the people saying, “Lord I see a problem coming but I’m going to believe You for victory in the midst of this.”

Certainly, Jesus was like this. Jesus in John chapter 11 as He stands by the tomb of Lazarus. Also, everybody around Him is crying, they’re all weeping and He says, “Remove that stone,” and Martha gets all upset about doing that.

John 11:41-46

41So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.” 43When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen and a cloth around his face. Thank You, Lord, for what You are going to do. Now, that’s faith, isn’t it?

That’s the ability to say thanks before the thing really even unfolds. Are you one of those people who says thanks in advance? You see something coming and you can believe God for the victory before it even arrives? Can you say thanks like Jesus did in anticipation of death? and then can you be thankful in the face of death?

In 2 Chronicles 20, God’s people, the Judah are about to have a war with a couple of really strong enemies and they are the Ammonites and the Moabites. However, See how Jehoshaphat overcomes the battle that was ahead of him.

Jehoshaphat’s Secret

a. Prayer

Jehoshaphat is a faithful man of prayer. So he goes to the Lord and tells the Lord all about it.

2 Chronicles 20:6-9

6 “Lord, the God of our ancestors, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. 7Our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? 8They have lived in it and have built-in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, 9‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’

After prayer, Jehoshaphat decided it is time to worship God.

b. Worship

2 Chronicles 20:18-19 18Jehoshaphat bowed down with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the Lord. 19Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the Lord, the God of Israel, with a very loud voice.

When Jehoshaphat finished with his prayer and worship, he decided it’s time to thank the Lord.

c. Thanksgiving

2 Chronicles 20:21

After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise Him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.”

Somebody might have said, “Well, you’re pretty presumptuous Jehoshaphat, because we haven’t had the battle yet. You’re going to praise the Lord first?”

See what Jehoshaphat said: 2 Chronicles 20:20 Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld……. He said, “We’re going to believe God for a victory we haven’t even seen.”

Listen, in Israel, the Air Force didn’t land first; the choir did.

1 Chronicles 20:22-23

22As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 23The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

1 Chronicles 20:24-25

24When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. 25So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing and also articles of value—more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it.

God had promised them the soil of the land, so it was theirs by right and they didn’t even have to fight the war. They believed God and they gave God thanks before the battle even started and the victory was theirs.

God wants your thanksgiving before the battle even begins because this is the test of your spiritual maturity.

Remember after the blessing giving thanks is easy but before the battle, giving thanks is harder. yet, the hardest of all is:

3. Giving Thanks In The Midst Of The Battle

That’s tough! You can give thanks after the fact and you give thanks in anticipation of the victory, but can you give thanks it right in the middle of your battle? Well, God’s people have done so.

The king set out a decree on the day of Daniel that nobody else should be worshiped or prayed to but him. however, that did not bother Daniel.

Daniel 6:10

Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.

Daniel 6:11

Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help.

Daniel 6:16

So the king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den.

They took him and threw him in the lion’s den, but that was all right. because it did not stop him from giving thanks as he was going to give thanks to God anyways in the midst of the trouble.

Do you remember Jonah? He was asked to go to Nineveh but he took the ship for Tarshish and God sent a big storm and the people in the ship threw Jonah into the sea. Then a great fish came and swallowed Jonah up. and then we know, Jonah is awake floating around in there. And then in the belly of the fish Jonah starts to pray.

Jonah 2:7

“When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple.

Jonah 2:9

But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”

I, with shouts of grateful praise, Jonah is giving thanks to the Lord here and God liked that thanksgiving and prayer so much that he commanded the fish to vomit Jonah to dry ground.

In Acts 5 the early church is being terribly persecuted. Acts 5:40-41 40His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.

They were thankful right in the middle of the beatings.

Come to Acts 16. Here Paul and Silas are in prison and their feet are stretched as far as they could be and locked in stocks they are certainly in unbelievable pain and what are they doing?

Acts 16:25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Singing thanks and praise to God.

When you come to Philippians 1 and people are persecuting Paul. where he is a prisoner and is about to be executed and yet his heart is just filled with thanksgiving.

Listen, your thanksgiving can tell about your Christian character and If the only time you can worship God and thank God is after the blessing, then you’re down on the first level. If, however, you can move a little bit higher and you can thank God before the battle even begins in anticipation of the victory He’s going to give, that’s better. However, if you can thank God in the midst of the pain, in the midst of the trial, that is excellent.

Illustration

Joni Eareckson who was paralyzed after an accident said in her book, “Giving thanks is not a matter of feeling thankful; it’s a matter of obedience.” You don’t always have to feel thankful, but it’s a matter of thanksgiving.

So when do you give thanks? Always.

For what do you give thanks? For all things.

Ephesians 5:20

always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Now, let me tell you something: There’s only one kind of person who can be thankful for everything and that’s a humble person.

How do we give thanks? In Christ’s name.

Ephesians 5:20

always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Our greatest example for thanksgiving: Jesus Christ

Jesus was thankful to God.

John 6:11

Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

John 11:41

So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. He was thankful all through His life.

He who had everything in glory came to this earth and humbled Himself and became a servant. who was spit on and scorned, was despised and rejected and then crucified, and He didn’t deserve any of it and yet He was thankful. yes! Thankful.

Illustration

According to a medieval legend, two angels were sent to earth. One had the task from the Lord of gathering together all the petitions while the other had the task of gathering the thanksgiving. The angel who went to gather the petitions couldn’t carry the load back and on the other hand, the angel that went to get the thanksgivings came back with a few in his hands. Well, this is a legend but I think sometimes that is a reality.

When do we give thanks? Always.

For what do we give thanks? All things.

How do we give thanks? In Christ’s name.

To whom do we give thanks? God the Father.

Ephesians 5:20

always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God is the father from whom every good and perfect gift descends. Everything comes from Him.

Listen, if you’re filled with the Spirit, toward yourself, you’ll sing; toward God, you’ll say thanks.

Attitudes Of People Towards thanksgiving

In closing, you have three possible ways to respond. There are three kinds of people when it comes to thanksgiving. Let us look to the gospel of Luke to see them.

a. People Who Never Give Thanks

See the I mentioned in this passage. Luke 12:16-21 16And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. 17He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ 18“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. 19And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

20“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ 21“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”

Six times he says “I.”

He didn’t think he owed God anything because he didn’t think God was the source of anything. Rather he thought he did it all himself. Therefore, he says, Look what I’ve done! I’ll spend the rest of my life consuming my own accomplishment.

These are certainly the people who aren’t thankful for anything, they just think they did it, they earned their own fortune, they made their own way in life.

b. People Who Give Thanks But Are Hypocritical

Luke 18:10-14

10“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

13“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ 14“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

c. A Few Who Genuinely Give Thanks

Luke 17:11-19

11Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” 14When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.

15One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan. 17Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”

That’s true thanks and the rest got what they wanted, and what they wanted was their selfishness fulfilled. therefore, some of us are satisfied to get what we want and we don’t even think about Christ. Because only a few truly gives thanks.

Illustration

Once a city missionary in London was called to an old tenement (multioccupancy) building where a lady was dying and in the last stages of the disease. The room was tiny and cold and the woman was lying on the floor and this missionary tried to help this lady so asked her if there was anything she wanted, and this is what she said, “I have all I really need, I have Jesus Christ.”

Well, the man never forgot about it, so he went out of there and he wrote these words, “In the heart of London City mid the dwellings of the poor, these bright golden words were uttered, ‘I have Christ, what want I more?’ Spoken by a lonely woman dying on a garret floor, having not one earthly comfort, ‘I have Christ, what want I more?’ He who heard them ran to fetch her something from the world’s great store, it was needless, died she, saying, ‘I have Christ, what want I more?’

Oh, my dear, my brother or sister, high or low or rich or poor, can you say with deep thanksgiving, ‘I have Christ, what want I more?’” Let’s bow in prayer.