BE THANKFUL

 

Since Thanksgiving is just around the corner I thought I would give a lesson on being thankful. We have a song in our song books on page 742 that teaches us this concept. As I read this song to you, I want you to notice the message that it teaches.

 

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.

 

The basic message of this song is that when we feel defeated by the world or we start becoming discouraged, we need to take time out and count all the blessing that God has given us. When we take the time to reflect on all those blessings that God has provided us with, then we will begin to realize that the bad things we are going through are only temporary and not that bad when we look at the big picture. But unfortunately, some people take for granted the many blessing that they have and they lose sight of this and it causes them to easily be defeated and discouraged.

 

First of all, the majority of people in our nation whether they are Christians or not have many things to be thankful for especially when we begin to compare our lifestyles to that of a third world country. Most Americas have a home and many of the conveniences that go with it. We have our TVís or telephones, heating and air-conditioning. Many of us have more than one vehicle and money to maintain those vehicles. We have lawnmowers and weed eaters and furniture to sit and sleep on. We even have running water that can be cold or hot. We have refrigerators to make us ice and keep our food cold. We have dishwashers and stoves to cook inside. We have washers and dryers to clean are multitude of clothes. Many of us have computers and the internet and anytime we get hungry we just run into the kitchen and choose from our great food supply. This of course if just a partial list of the things we should be thankful for, yet we many times we take them for granted because they are always there.

However, in the third world countries many of things are not available for the majority. Some live in mud houses or makeshift houses made out of straw and other materials, but they donít have any electricity, so they donít have any of those fancy appliances or heat or air and many of them donít even have a concrete floor. They certainly donít have lot of furniture because their houses are primarily used for sleeping. Many of those in third world country canít go grab a bag of Doritos when they get hungry and a lot of times they only have one meal a day because they donít have that much food. I was watching one show about a village in Africa and they had to walk around mile to haul water to their homes. So, when you start comparing our rich nation to that of a poor one, you can see why we have many things to be thankful for here in the USA.

 

It doesnít matter if you are poor or rich you can still be thankful for what you have and you need to realize that you could be worse off. Now that we have looked at what both Christians and non-Christians should be thankful for, lets take a look at what the Bible teaches about being thankful as it relates to Christians.

 

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.

 

Ephesians 5:18 And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord,20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,21 submitting to one another in the fear of God.

 

Paul makes its clear for us that Christians are to be full of rejoicing and should be thankful in everything that we do. A Christian should train themselves not to take their blessing for granted and if you remember from the song we looked at earlier, when we count our blessing and name them one by one it will help us overcome any bad event that may happen in our lives. You see, as Christians not only do we have material things to be thankful for, we also have spiritual things to be thankful for.

 

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved.

 

A non-Christian cannot be thankful for spiritual gifts because they donít have them. But as Christians even if all our material blessing a stripped away from us, we can still be thankful because when we were baptized into Christ, we received every spiritual blessing that is found in Jesus. However, sometimes even Christians take for granted the many blessing they have received. I have great example of this 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."

†††††††††††

Here we have these 10 men who are lepers who could not set foot into the temple area in their condition. There was no cure for leprosy, yet Jesus being full of love and compassion made these men clean. But only 1 out the 10 came back and thanked God for what had been done. But the other 9 just took for granted the wonderful blessing they had received. Today we have to make sure that we are not like those 9 men taking our blessing for granted. Instead, we need to be like that one, who was a Samaritan, and give thanks for the many blessing we have been given by God.

 

Now lets take a look at how we should be thankful in our prayers. First of all notice what the writer of,

 

Psalm 50:14 Offer to God thanksgiving, And pay your vows to the Most High.

 

When we pray, we shouldnít just pray for what we want, we should also spend time in our prayer thanking God for what he has done for us because we certainly didnít deserve it. A good example of the right way and wrong way to approach God in prayer is found in the parable of Lk. 18:10ff (read and elaborate) Jesus being our master example often gave thanks to Father for what he had done. For instance, when Jesus had went to where Lazarus had been dead for 4 days he begin to pray,

 

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."

 

Notice Jesus gives the Father thanks for hearing his prayer and that is certainly something to being thankful for. How many times have you thanked God for the avenue of prayer? This is another one of those blessing that we can easily take for granted if we are not careful. Of course this is just one example because when we pray we should express our thanks for every aspect our lives.

 

Philippians 4:6 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.

 

So clearly we can see that we should be thankful in our prayer life for everything we have received.

 

Another thing we should be thankful for is when the good news of Jesus Christ is spread and souls are won for God.

 

1 Thessalonians 2:13 For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.

 

Paul was ecstatic and very thankful that the gospel was being spread and accepted by people as the truth and he was also very thankful that many who accepting this truth were being set free from the bondage of sin. We can also see this in,

Romans 6:17 But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.

 

It is so wonderful to see someone become a Christian and be set free from their sins and we should be thankful for such things and rejoice in them. One reason we should be so happy for those that are saved is because it is what God desires.

 

2 Peter 3:9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.

1 Timothy 2:3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

 

Since it is God desire, it should be our desire and it should be thankful when He gets what He desires and we can see that there isgreat rejoicing in heaven when a lost sinner comes home.

 

Luke 15:4 "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?5 "And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.6 "And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'7 "I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.

 

This parable teaches us that when a soul is saved that the whole host of heaven rejoices and this certainly tells us that we should be thankful for the spreading of the gospel and for those who hear it and obey it. This would also include those who have fallen away and have been restored through repentance.However, sometimes Christians are not thankful when people are lead to repentance because in their mind they donít think certain people deserve it or because they doubt the sincerity of that person. We have an OT example of this with Jonah. We all know that God ask Jonah to speak to the people of Nineveh. Well he doesnít want to, so he runs away and hides on a ship and God cause storm to toss the boat around like a rag doll and Jonah knows he is the problem. So he is cast into the water, swallowed by a fish, and then after much prayer he is brought to the land and allowed to go speak Godís message to Nineveh.

 

Jonah 3: 4 And Jonah began to enter the city on the first day's walk. Then he cried out and said, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!"5 So the people of Nineveh believed God, proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest to the least of them.6 Then word came to the king of Nineveh; and he arose from his throne and laid aside his robe, covered himself with sackcloth and sat in ashes.7 And he caused it to be proclaimed and published throughout Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything; do not let them eat, or drink water.8 But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily to God; yes, let every one turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands.9 Who can tell if God will turn and relent, and turn away from His fierce anger, so that we may not perish?10 Then God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God relented from the disaster that He had said He would bring upon them, and He did not do it.NKJ Jonah 4:1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he became angry.

 

You see Jonah had the attitude that the people of Nineveh did not deserve to hear Godís Word or to receive his mercy and when they repented and became right with God, it made Jonah angry and he wanted to die because of his unthankful attitude toward Godís word being spread and even people like Nineveh accepting it and repenting. Friends, we must never be like Jonah and try prevent Godís Word from being spread and we certainly should accept those who repent and count them worthy because God does. Sometimes those who have fallen away will come forward and repent and we should take them at their word that they truly repented and not judge them as not being sincere. Until their future actions prove that they really didnít repent, then we must accept them and be thankful that they have come back to God.

 

The last thing I want to talk about this evening that we should be thankful for is the gift of Christ.

 

Paul talking in regards to Jesus says this,

 

2 Corinthians 9:15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

 

Boy, if there is anything we should be thankful for, it should be for the wonderful gift we received through Jesus Christ. Without him our lives would be void of any spiritual blessings. Without him we would be eternal lost. But thanks be to God for bestowing his grace upon us through His only begotten Son. The reason Paul describes this gift as indescribably is because mankind could not save themselves and for God almighty to love us enough to give us such a wonderful gift is indescribable.

 

Romans 5:7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

 

We should give thanks to God for this wonderful gift every single day of our Christian lives. Notice what else Paul says in,

 

Romans 7:24 O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?25 I thank God -- through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin.

 

You see Jesus has delivered us from sin and He will make it possible for us to overcome the grave.

 

1 Corinthians 15:55 "O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?"56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law.57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Because of this wonderful gift of Jesus we can overcome sin and the grave and through Jesus we have the hope of eternal life in heaven. So surely we can see the importance of following the advice of the song I read to at the beginning of this lesson.

 

Count your blessings, name them one by one;

Count your blessings, see what God hath done;

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

†††††††††††