Thanksgiving 2020

                                                       (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

I spoke to you a couple of weeks ago about gratefulness. One of the most profound statements to me in that sermon was this. 

Someone once said that gratitude is the source for all other Christian virtues. If that be the case, then perhaps we need to reason that ingratitude may well be the source of all, or at least much of our vileness, our depravity as well.

In the letter to the Thessalonians, Paul gives out instructions to this congregation on how to not only survive but thrive. He speaks of rejoicing, praying, even being careful not to quench the Holy Spirit. He also lays out for all to see what God’s will, His desire, His plan for those who trust Him is.

In everything give thanks:

for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

It really is the will of God to live a grateful life.

What do we know about gratitude and being grateful?

Often we hear things like; well I’m grateful in my heart, but I’m just not very good at showing it. But you know my heart. 

No I don’t know your heart, what am I, a cardiologist? I don’t know your heart, unless you say it and show it.

I want to give you three things to help us grasp a biblical understanding of gratitude.

  • True gratefulness, gratitude is never invisible or silent.
    • My Lord said:

(Lu 6:45) A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

  • When your heart is grateful, it’ll overflow to your mouth. 
    • When you’re grateful, you’ll say it and you’ll show it. 
    • When you’re grateful to God, you’ll tell Him, and you’ll show Him, you won’t just assume that He knows, 
    • When you’re grateful to God for others, you’ll tell them, and you’ll show them.
    • If you’re grateful in your heart… out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. 
      • So if you’re not speaking it, your heart isn’t really grateful.
    • Some like to say,” well I’m just not that type…
      • Can I say this one more time?… for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
    • From the overflow of your heart, the mouth has to speak, and if you’re really grateful it will show up in your life, through your words and your actions.
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  • Have you ever received something special or seen someone who has received? 
    • Often they break down with emotion. They can’t speak, they are overwhelmed and the face, body, their being shows it.
    • I’ve seen proud, ungrateful people get mad. Get bitter. Feeling now they have to do something
      • But I’ve seen grateful people humbly, lovingly, gratefully, accept and not feel they have to do something of equal value.
    • Now, if we can be that thankful for a special touch from someone, then I know the church of Jesus Christ ought to be able to give God the same kind of praise, for sending His son Jesus Christ to die on the cross. 
      • To set us free forever from our sin and guilt.
      •  Giving us eternal life,
    •  Are there any grateful people here today? 
      • Is there anybody who isn’t just grateful in your heart, but you’re willing to show it with your life, you’re willing to shout it with your mouth?
    • Now I know that you have to be real, I know that you can’t walk around all the time saying, praise the Lord, about everything, or you’ll sound phony,
      • I’m telling you, most of us are in no danger of being too grateful to God. That’s not what we’re struggling with.
      • Gratitude is never invisible or silent
  • Gratitude Sustains Joy and Blessing.
    • A piano has three foot pedals below its keys. The one on the far right is the damper pedal also known as the sustain pedal.
      • When this pedal is depressed it lifts the dampers off the keys allowing the sound to be prolonged.
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  • Does anybody here remember a time in your life when you relieved an offense over and over again, 
    • Somebody hurt you and you replayed that in your mind a 100 times, through bitterness.
    • There is a perverted power or pedal in our mind that enables you to re-live an offense over and over again because of bitterness and un-forgiveness.
    • If you’re a follower of Christ and the Holy Spirit is in you, then by the perfect power of the Holy Spirit, ,( the regenerated pedal)  you can relive the blessing of God over and over and over again, and you can sustain the blessing of God.
      • Even when your situation starts to go bad, or even when someone hurt you today, you can flash back to the times in your life when God was faithful, and He worked it out, and He blessed you.
      • It depends on what note you’re wanting to prolong?
      • Gratitude sustains joy and blessing in your life.
  • Lastly, and very powerful! Gratitude Begins Where My Sense of Entitlement Ends.
    • You cannot be grateful for something that you feel entitled to.
      • That’s why people don’t write thank you notes to the IRS when they get a tax refund.
    • If you start to feel entitled to something, then your gratefulness just immediately ends.
      • It’s gone, disappeared, the moment you feel entitled.
    • When you first became a Christian and you felt that forgiveness and grace of God.
      • You realized what Christ had done for you on the cross, and the huge price He paid so you could be part of His family, you feel so grateful, so blessed. But what happens?
      • Over time you start to take it for granted, and you start to feel entitled. 
    • It is an honor to be allowed to serve Him, even the privilege of knowing Him is a huge blessing.
      • How in the world can we ever start to think we’re entitled to any of that?
      • We’re not entitled to any of it, but we are hugely blessed by God, and we ought to be extremely grateful.
    • Now, the unfortunate truth is, some people in the church do feel entitled. 
      • We get the privilege to teach a class, sing a song, lead in silent prayer all of a sudden it’s ours for life.
  • Let me close with this:
    • Gratitude is never invisible or silent. Gratitude Sustains Joy and Blessing. Gratitude Begins Where My Sense of Entitlement Ends.

To the chief Musician upon Muthlabben, A Psalm of David.

I will praise thee, O LORD, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvelous works.

Psalms 9:1

  • Are you grateful for what God has done in your life? 
    • What He has allowed you to be a part of?
    • For those He is letting in to be to carry on?

Do you really know Him? 

Does it show? 

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Luke 17:11-19

Most of us are familiar with the traditional story of Thanksgiving where William Bradford, of Plymouth Rock, proclaimed a day of Thanksgiving to celebrate the survival of the Pilgrims in their second year in the New World, as well as an abundant harvest that they had reaped with the aid of the Indians.

 Most people don’t realize the first recorded thanksgiving actually took place in Virginia more than 11 years earlier, and it wasn’t a feast. The winter of 1610 at Jamestown had reduced a group of 409 settlers to 60. The survivors prayed for help, without knowing when or how it might come. Talking about the valley of the shadow of death. When help arrived, in the form of a ship filled with food and supplies from England, a prayer meeting was held to give thanks to God. 

You would think that after seeing so many of their loved ones die due to the hardships of the New World, they would not feel that thankful. However, the opposite was true. They realized they had much to be thankful for.
We ourselves often don’t realize how blessed we are, or how thankful we ought to be, until what we have is threatened to be taken away. It is good and fitting that as Christians, we ought to celebrate Thanksgiving for God has certainly been good to every single one of us. 

Someone once said that gratitude is the source for all other Christian virtues. If that be the case, then perhaps we need to reason that ingratitude may well be the source of all, or at least many of our faults as well. When we begin to take for granted what God has done for us, then we become calloused and filled with pride and then God will no longer use us. For a Christian, every day ought to be a day of thanksgiving.

I have always been intrigued with this account of these men.

  • We see there were ten lepers who met Jesus and had a life changing encounter with the Lord.
    • They all had a life changing experience. 
      • Not salvation, but life changing.
      • Jesus met, like those He fed, a physical need in their life. It changed their life.
      • You cannot help but to notice a difference in one.
    • When you break this story down to its simplest elements, it describes mankind.
      • We are outcasts from the Kingdom of God, on our way to certain death, but God through His Holy Spirit testifies to us through different ways of His love and mercy.
      • Sometimes through healing. Other times through deliverance from bad circumstances. Sometimes simply a loved one or a servant of His introduces us to Him.
      • Then we have a life changing encounter with Jesus. But like this account. You seem to notice a difference in some. 
  • In this account what is so significant about these lepers who were healed, is that out of the ten, only one returned to say thanks. 
    • If you were to infer the truth of this story on general humanity, we could say that nine out of ten people never really pause to give thanks for where they came from and what they have. 
  • While we should never look back on the pleasures of sin, we should never forget where the Lord has brought us from.
    • The Old Testament prophet Isaiah said, Isaiah 51:1, “Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock whence ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit whence ye are digged.”
      •  In other words, look at where God has brought you from, remember what God has done for you.

What I would like to focus on this morning is what made the difference in the one?

  • The whole picture. (V.12) Ten Lepers.
    • It is possible to presume that these men were in different stages of this deadly disease, but the end result would be the same.
      • A lonely, painful, death.
      • Hey, aint that just like living in sin? Might be in different stages but the end results are the same.
    • They stood afar off because that is all they could do. According to tradition lepers couldn’t get no closer than a hundred paces.
    • (V14) This is very important. According to what is written here all ten lepers exhibited a life altering faith.
      • Lu 17:14, “And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.”
    •  They heard the Word of Christ and they believed and they were healed. This was by faith. They were not healed first and then told to go to the priests, they had to act on faith.
      • So why did only one turn back?
  • The perception of gratitude: I believe the answer lies in (V15) And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God. 
    • He shouted, WHEN HE SAW that he was healed.
    • Now the others no doubt knew that they were healed, but there was something different here.
      •  The Greek word used is the word eido, and it means to know, see, consider, or perceive.
      •  He took the time to note that he had been blessed. He realized that something wonderful had happened to him.
      •  He was sensitive to the power of Christ working in his life.
    •  Do we really perceive the ways that God has blessed us? The devil will do his best to keep your mind off the blessings of God.
      •  He will constantly tell you how bad you have it, of how everything is wrong in your life. 
    • In the 10 chapter of 2nd Corinthians where we are instructed where to wage our battle.
      • We are given a secret that will bring success to our walk with Christ. He says “…and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ”. 2 Cor.10:5
      • We need to ask and allow the Holy-Spirit of God to reveal to us the abundant blessings God has poured out on us. Then our outlook on the present and the future will be intensely different.
      • This is not just a positive thinking exercise to convince yourself the ship is not sinking even though you’re neck deep in water.
      • It’s when you begin to realize how much you have in the Lord that you will truly begin to be thankful.
    • Do you understand that for God to forgive you it cost the very life of His only begotten Son?
      •  His life was as precious to Him as any of our children, family or friends are.
    • Do you know the pain and the lost feeling we endure at the passing of a loved one? 
      • SO DOES GOD.
      • If you were the only one He would have still done it.
    • An unthankful Christian is a defeated Christian for he/she has lost their joy.
  • We also see the priority of gratitude (V15) “…when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,”
    • Now the Lord had given the command to go to the priest but he delayed, he turned around and went back to the Lord. Why didn’t the Lord rebuke him for this? 
      • The reason is because this man realized the priority of gratitude and worship.
    • It wasn’t that this man wasn’t going to follow through with the Lord’s directive, but he realized that he had a higher calling that must first come first. 
      • If you don’t give God thanks, it won’t be long until your obedience just becomes a job to do, you lose the meaning of what God is wanting you to do. You become unthankful. 
      • If you don’t give God thanks, it won’t be long until your obedience just becomes a job to do, you lose the meaning of what God is wanting you to do. You become unthankful. 
      • Did I repeat that?
    • Couldn’t help but notice: The leper came back praising God despite his unsolved problems. Job, family, friends, home, etc… So can we in all circumstances. Focus on the belief that God is bigger than the problem and is present right now in the middle of it.
  • The placement of gratitude.
    • Where did the others go? Speculation.
      • One could have been thinking get to the priest and then rush off to family because that is what he missed.
      • Another to his job that’s where his happiness was.
      • Another going to the ball game, the hunting woods, wherever all his friends were..
    • This one (15-16) with a loud voice glorified God, And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks:
      •  He fell before Him in perfect submission and gave Him thanks. 
    • Then note what He told this man, “Arise, go thy way, thy faith has made thee whole.”
      • This was something that the others did not receive.
      •  I don’t know exactly what all this means. Maybe as one commentator put it. –not as the others, merely in body, but in that higher spiritual sense.
    • Many accept the physical blessing of our Gracious Lord but few will take the time to grasp the spiritual!

Our story at the beginning, how far did the suffering go?

 The sixty survivors were already loaded on a ship and headed back to England when they met the supply ships coming into the harbor.

They gave thanks!!

Are you grateful? Does it show? Today give your time to express it.