BE THANKFUL

 

I love this time of year for several reasons. I love the temperature change, the beautiful fall foliage, and the holidays we have that cause many people to have a better attitude about life in general. For example, Thanksgiving will be celebrated by my millions in the US on Thursday. While some will treat it as another good excuse for a family gathering where we get to pig out on good food, others will be reminded to be thankful for what they have in their lives.

 

I did not do any research on the origin of this new tradition, or at least new to me, that I seen several people doing on FB. They dedicated the whole month of November to be a reminder of being thankful. The way they do that is by listing something they are thankful each day of the month. I am thankful for little traditions like these because we all need to remember that being thankful is an important part of Christianity. Notice what Paul says in:

 

1 Thessalonians 5:16 Rejoice always,17 pray without ceasing,18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

 

These 3 little short verses pack a powerful message for all Christians.

 

We are to rejoice always because we serve a living God who loves us and has promised us eternal life in heaven if we remain faithful to Him.One thing that will help us to remember how happy we should be in the Lord is by praying to God without ceasing. When we pray to Him in good times and in bad, it will remind us how fortunate we are to have a God that actually wants to listen to us and be a part of our lives. David nailed it on the head when he said:

 

Psalm 8:4 What is man that You are mindful of him, And the son of man that You visit him?

 

Then third thing Paul says is that we are to give thanks for everything. Not just some things, but everything. Jesus being our master example understood this concept well. While He was on this earth, He expressed His thankfulness for many things. Let take a look at some of these things and see how we can apply them to us today.

 

Matthew 11:20 Then He began to rebuke the cities in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they did not repent:21 "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.22 "But I say to you, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you.23 "And you, Capernaum, who are exalted to heaven, will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.24 "But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment than for you."

While Jesus had great success in some cities, there were others that would not listen to Him and some in which they tried to kill Him. Though this would cost them their soul if they remained rebellious to the truth, Jesus could still find something to be thankful for because Jesus says

 

25 Ö "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes.26 "Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight.

 

Though many rejected the wonderful message from Jesus, He was thankful for those who were humble enough to accept it. We can be thankful for the same thing. In a perfect world, we could tell our neighbor about Jesus and how important it is that we respect the authority of the N.T. and our neighbor would test what we said and then accept it. However, we know that this is far from a perfect world and many of our neighbors will think to highly of themselves to search and see if you are telling them is true. Since we know that only a small group of people will listen, it should not surprise us when the truth we share with others is rejected. Jesus prepared His disciples for rejection in:

 

Matthew 10:11 "Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out.12 "And when you go into a household, greet it.13 "If the household is worthy, let your peace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you.14 "And whoever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from your feet.15 "Assuredly, I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!16 " Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

 

The principle here is keep fishing and do not allow yourself to give up when nothing seems to be biting. Sometimes we have trouble following this advice and we will get stuck on trying to hook that one evasive fish that we think would be great prize, when we should learn to move on to a new spot so we can find more fish that interested in what God offers.

 

Yes, I know that it hurts and is disappointing when certain people we really care for are not listening to the truth, but we can be thankful that we were able to present them with the truth so they could have opportunity to obey it. We can also be thankful that we planted the seed, and we can know that someone else may come along and water it and make that seed grown in their heart, but we have to learn to move forward and seek out new people that are willing to hear the saving message. We can certainly be thankful that there are many more lives that we can share Godís truth with. As Jesus said:

 

Matthew 9:37 "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few.

 

Let us never cease to be thankful for the opportunities we have to share the life saving message of the gospel.

 

Matthew 15:32 Now Jesus called His disciples to Himself and said, "I have compassion on the multitude, because they have now continued with Me three days and have nothing to eat. And I do not want to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way."33 Then His disciples said to Him, "Where could we get enough bread in the wilderness to fill such a great multitude?"34 Jesus said to them, "How many loaves do you have?" And they said, "Seven, and a few little fish."35 So He commanded the multitude to sit down on the ground.36 And He took the seven loaves and the fish and gave thanks, broke them and gave them to His disciples; and the disciples gave to the multitude.37 So they all ate and were filled, and they took up seven large baskets full of the fragments that were left.38 Now those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children.

 

This is another one of Jesusí miracles, but you will notice that He gave thanks for the loves and fishes before they were passed out to these thousands of people that were following after Him. Of course, this a great lesson here about how God provides, but what I focus on is Jesus giving thanks for this food. It wasnít much, but every crumb and every drop of liquid we drink should cause us to also give thanks to God.

 

Since we live in such a rich country, sometimes we take the food and drink we have for granted. Sometimes I wish that all of us could live a week in a 3rd world country to see how extravagant our lifestyles really are. There have been many missionaries that have gone to 3rd world countries and been humbled by it when they see how they live compared to how we live. Depending on where they go, they will see that many of the people live in little small shacks and they are lucky if they get more than one meal a day. That one meal they have is usually very small. Many of them do not have electricity or running water in their hut. They certainly do not have some comfortable mattress to lay on for the night.

 

Yet what do we do, we complain a lot about the luxuries we have. When we go to one of those all you can eat buffets, we get upset if they run out of one the 100 different food items they have to offer.

 

One thing I know for sure is that God is not pleased with complainers and those who show ingratitude. I think about the children of Israel when they were wandering the wilderness and they began to grow tired of the manna that God provided for them because all they could think about was some of the other foods they got to enjoy while they were slaves in Egypt. Notice Godís response to their ingratitude ;

 

Numbers 11:18 "Then you shall say to the people, 'Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, and you shall eat meat; for you have wept in the hearing of the LORD, saying, "Who will give us meat to eat? For it was well with us in Egypt." Therefore the LORD will give you meat, and you shall eat.19 'You shall eat, not one day, nor two days, nor five days, nor ten days, nor twenty days,20 'but for a whole month, until it comes out of your nostrils and becomes loathsome to you, because you have despised the LORD who is among you, and have wept before Him, saying, "Why did we ever come up out of Egypt?" ' "††

God was not pleased with their un-thankfulness so He taught them a lesson by making the grow sick of eating meat for a solid month.

 

Another great lesson that comes from this is that we must not be the kind of Christian that longs for our past when were slaves of sin. The same thing that happened to the children of Israel will happen to us. When we focus on the pleasures of our past, they will blind to the great blessing we have received from the Lord. Doing this will also cause us to become complainers and people who have trouble being thankful for what we have now because our minds are set on the past instead of the present.

 

If we find ourselves glorifying our past when we lived like the world, we need to wake up and realize what we have right now and be thankful for it. Even if we are not as rich as once used to be or even if our health has gone done hill, we can know that all these things on this earth and the lives we live are temporary. As faithful Christians, we can know that we have something wonderful to look forward to, which is eternity in heaven, which is why we should be thankful for who are today and what we have no matter how small or great that might be.

 

Another thing we can certainly be thankful for is found from what Jesus said shortly before Lazarus was raised from the dead:

 

John 11:41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, "Father, I thank You that You have heard Me.42 "And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me."

 

Jesus spent much time in prayer. Sometimes He prayed all night long because He loved spending time with the Father in prayer. As Jesus said, He was thankful that the Father hears and always hears Him. Well, the same thing is true for every Christian. Jesus has made it possibly for us to speak to our Father in heaven and know with all confidence that He is listening to us.

 

We do not have to beg or achieve some great feat in order for Him to listen because Jesusí sacrifice on the cross has opened the door for us to boldly speak to our Father in heaven. We have the opportunity to speak to Him whenever and wherever we want to. If we want to speak to Him just a few minutes or all night long, He will not fall asleep or ignore us. In fact, He enjoys hearing from us and He enjoys answering our prayer. For that we should be very thankful.

 

Honestly, I would be thankful just knowing the God listen to my prayers, but the fact that He answers them and does something in my life through His providence that would not have happened otherwise just blows my mind and it should make all of us be thankful that our Father knows what is best for us and is involved in our daily lives.

 

I also like what we learn from Jesus in:

 

Matthew 26:26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is My body."27 Then He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you.28 "For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.29 "But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father's kingdom."

 

We all know this as the beginning of Lordís Supper, in which we partake of on the first day of week. At first glance, we might see this another example of Jesus thanking God for food and drink, but this prayer runs much deeper than that. First of all the unleavened bread and the fruit of the vine take on a whole new meaning as they represent the body and blood of Lord.

 

But think about this. Jesus was giving thanks for what these items would mean because He knew what He was going to have to do and endure for mankind. He knew that even those closest to Him would deny Him as we read in:

 

Matthew 26:31 Then Jesus said to them, "All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: 'I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'32 "But after I have been raised, I will go before you to Galilee."33 Peter answered and said to Him, "Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble."34 Jesus said to him, "Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times."35 Peter said to Him, "Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!" And so said all the disciples.

 

Just as Jesus said all His disciples including Peter stumbled that night. Jesus also knew that He would have to die for man because on He could be the perfect sacrifice. It hard to even begin to express the pain and misery Jesus would have to go through leading up to being nailed to the cross and though medically we can describe what severe pain he went through as he slowly suffocated on the cross, we cannot fully understand the immensity of it all. The very thought of what Jesus would have to go through caused Him to sweat drops like blood as He prayed in the garden shortly before all this misery would unleashed on Him. Though He could have called more than twelve legions of angels to rescue Him, He endured the cross with thankfulness because He knew what it meant for mankind.

 

These are the kinds of things we need to think about when we partake of the Lordís Supper. We need to remember what our Savior was willing to do for us so that we could have our sins taken care of by great act of love for mankind. Without Christ and His great sacrifice, we would all be hopelessly lost. All we would have is this short existence on this earth with all its toil and strife.

 

But thanks be to God that Jesus was willing to leave His heavenly home to become like us in everyway, yet without sin. Nobody else could do it except Him, and not only should we be thankful for Him everyday, it should cause us to rejoice that we have a risen Savior that did everything He could so we could have salvation and have eternity in heaven.

 

While I love to see an entire month set aside to remember those things we should be thankful for and for Holidays such as Thanksgiving, we need to learn to be thankful everyday for what God has done for us instead of taking those blessing for granted. Let us not be like the majority, instead let us be like the one we read about in:

 

Luke 17:12 Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off.13 And they lifted up their voices and said, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!"14 So when He saw them, He said to them, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God,16 and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.17 So Jesus answered and said, "Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?18 "Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?"19 And He said to him, "Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well."

 

Leprosy was a hideous disease with no known cure and it was highly contagious. While we can find the early rabbis talking about various cures for different problems, they said that curing leprosy was like raising someone from the dead. This nasty disease would spread across the body devouring the skin and eventually killing the nerve endings. Those infected would be quarantined and not allowed into the city, much less the temple area.

 

To be cured of a such a disease at the time was unheard of except for when God cured people of it like Naaman in 2 Kings 5. Imagine yourself having some incurable disease that caused people to stay away from you. Imagine coming before Jesus and asking Him show mercy on you because you had heard about the wonderful miracles He had been doing. Think about yourself walking a long with 9 other people that were just like you and then all of sudden looking down and realizing that your disease was completely gone.

 

You would think most people would be beside themselves knowing that not only were they, but all 10 were cured. There would be no doubt that the reason they were cured was because they spoke to Jesus and asked Him for mercy. You would like to think that all of them would have immediately turned around to go thank Jesus for curing them from this horrible disease, but they did not. Instead, we learn that nine of them just went on their way without offering thanks for what Jesus did for them.

 

How many times do we find ourselves being like this 9? Yes, we may enjoy the blessings that come from God, but sometimes we just go on with life without ever thanking God for what He has done. It is real shame when we do this. If you have noticed yourself being like the majority and taking the good things in life for granted, I hope you will start being like this one Samaritan who did not take his healing for granted and he thanked Jesus for it.

 

I hope this lesson has reminded you of how thankful we should be as Christians. Jesus had given us some great examples of some of the things we should be thankful for, so the next time you start to complain or you find yourself taking things for granted remember who you are and what God has done for you. Also, remember great passages like the one we started out with this morning:

 

1 Thessalonians 5:16 Rejoice always,17 pray without ceasing,18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

 

Have song leader sing Thank you, Lord 474 for closing song.