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
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
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,
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:
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.