When you say the word “thanksgiving” many would immediately
think about the
However, sometimes we follow the mentality of the world and forget to be thankful and instead, we show ingratitude for what we have been blessed with. Paul talks about this in,
2 Timothy 3:1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
Paul was warning Timothy that there would be people who would follow after these sinful ways during his day and in the future, and we can certainly see these sinful characteristics being practiced today by both worldly people and by some that claim to be a Christian. Paul is describing people who are selfish and who are full of ingratitude. This describes the current condition of many in our society pretty well because instead of being thankful for things we have, most of the time our society takes them for granted, and they think they deserve these blessing.
More and more people are becoming unthankful even when people help them out, again its like they think it is expected. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times this church has helped out people in their time of need, but not very many of them ever expressed a simply thank you. I think that sad because if someone helped me out, I would certainly thank them for they did.
I have even heard of cases where people complained about what they got because it was name brand or because it was the wrong color. How many times do you see kids these day say thank you for gifts or things that are done for them? Not very many do this because they have not seen their parents or those around them expressing thanksgiving for what they have received.
Jesus ran across people like this during his time on the earth as well. For example look at,
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."
Out of these 10 lepers only one came back to express how thankful he was for the blessing he had received while the other 9 simply took their blessing for granted. This is exactly what happens with many Christians today. We take for granted what God has given us and we forget to thank Him for what he has done for us. But, this should not be the case as Paul says in,
1 Thessalonians 5:17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
God didn’t have to create
us, and He certainly doesn’t have to be a part of our lives or send blessing
our way, but He does these things for us because He loves us and that is why we
should always be thankful for all that we have in our life. With this in mind,
I want to remind you of some reasons we should be thankful as Christians in
First of all, as a nation
we make up about 7 – 10% of the world’s population, yet we are one of the
richest nations in the world even in our current economic situation. Now we
hear about poverty in the
Even under extreme conditions, Christians can still be thankful without complaining.
For example, I read one
report where thousands of Christians go about the Lord’s work joyfully in
1 Timothy 6:6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
We need to be reminded that the things we take for granted every day in our rich nation, others in the world see these things as unthinkable luxuries that they will never have. So, this shows us how thankful we should be.
Let me give you another
example. Back in the late 1970s, Christians in
A man by the name of Gene
Dulin who made several tours of
“We saw tears of joy as people grasped the first
New Testament they had ever owned. As we sat at dinner, one brother in
Now compare this with the
attitude that people have in
Oh how I wish every
Christian would have the same desire as the Christians did in
“I who am blind can give one hint to those who see: Use your eyes as if tomorrow you would be stricken blind. And the same method can be applied to the other senses.”
“Hear the music of voices, the song of a bird, the mighty strains of an orchestra, as if you would be suddenly stricken deaf tomorrow. Touch each object you want to touch as if tomorrow you tactile sense would fail. Smell the perfume of flowers, taste with relish each morsel as if tomorrow you could never smell or taste again.”
Oh how thankful we should be with the many blessings that we have in our life. Instead of thinking about the things that we don’t have, we need stop and think about the things that we do have and count our blessing ever single day. I reminded of the song that we sing called
When Upon Life’s Billow
When upon life's billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, ev'ry doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.
So, amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey's end.
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.
As the words of this song teach, it is important that we count our blessing and realize how thankful we should be. We are blessed with so many things that we get to enjoy in our rich nation, we need to be more thankful because we have an easy life compared to many in the world. We need to remind ourselves of this, so that we can stop being complainers and start being thankful for what we have.
Another thing we should be very thankful for is our freedom
of religion and the fact we have the privilege to come together and worship God
and learn about him without having to worry about being persecuted or killed
because this type of persecution does happen in other countries. We should also
be thankful that we have a nice building to meet in, and that most cities have
a place where the church can meet. Again, back in the 1970s I want you see what
one African student said at a church in
This African student could see how good we have it here in
Can you imagine how full our building would be at every
service if more people didn’t take for granted the freedoms we have in
The apostle Paul is a great example of someone who understood what it meant to be thankful. In fact Paul uses the words thanksgiving, 9 times, thanks 24 times, thank God or Christ 11 times, and the word thankful 2 times. Altogether he expresses his gratitude with these words 46 times.
With this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the things he was thankful for as a Christian.
He was thankful for grace and salvation.
In the beginning, Paul was trying to destroy Christianity, and he was responsible for many Christians being locked up and even killed. But, even though he was the chief of sinners God gave him an opportunity to change his ways and become a Christian. Once he was convicted in his heart and was baptized into Christ, he became a driving force which helped grow Christianity more than any other, and everyday of his life, he was thankful that he found grace and salvation in God. For instance, notice how he expresses his thankfulness in,
1 Corinthians 1:3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 4 I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus,
I also want to point out that Paul gave up a great deal of wealth and fame to become a Christian. Jesus speaking about Paul said this,
Acts 9:16 "For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake."
Paul certainly suffered a great deal as a Christian. In fact, notice the following summary of what he went through in his life,
2 Corinthians 11:23 Are they ministers of Christ? -- I speak as a fool -- I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. 24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. 25 Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness -- 28 besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation? 30 If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity.
Paul was put through the ringer and yes he struggled with Christianity sometimes, but overall, he was always thankful for what he had at any given time because he knew he had Christ in his life. You can certainly see him express this thought in his letter to the Philippians. In chapter 3, he thinks about the things he had before Christ and counts them as all rubbish because he knew the true treasure of life is found in Christ. Now I want us to read in chapter 4 starting in verse,
Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy -- meditate on these things. 9 The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do, and the God of peace will be with you. 10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at last your care for me has flourished again; though you surely did care, but you lacked opportunity. 11 Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. 13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
This is the attitude that every Christian should learn to develop because once your faith and trust gets this strong, then no matter what happens to you in this life, you will learn to be content and be thankful for what you have.
Another thing Paul was thankful for was his brethren especially when he heard news that they were being faithful to Lord. Let’s look a few passages where he expresses his thankfulness in this area.
Ephesians 1:15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, 16 I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers,
Philippians 1:3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.
2 Thessalonians 1:3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. 4 Therefore we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith in all your persecutions and in the afflictions that you are enduring.
As we can see, Paul was very thankful for his brethren and we should be also. We should rejoice in the fact that we are like minded and are trying our best to grow closer to God by obeying His commands. So let us never forget to be thankful for our brethren.
Paul was also thankful for everything in general, and he has taught us to be thankful for every thing as well. Notice what he says in,
Colossians 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
From this lesson we have seen how important it that we have thanksgiving in our life. The crucial question becomes, are you thankful for the blessing you have or do you find yourself being dissatisfied with what you have? Have you been taking your blessing for granted?
If you have, I hope that this lesson has reminded of just how rich you are in Christ and how you can draw on this strength and start being thankful and content with what you have. The next time you find yourself complaining about food or material possession remind yourself of those millions of people in the other countries who would love to have what your complaining about. I want end my lesson with words of David from,
Psalm 100:1 A Psalm of Thanksgiving. Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands! 2 Serve the LORD with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. 3 Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. 4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. 5 For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.