The Power of ThanksLiving
I Thessalonians 5:18 NIV “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
•God says “I want you to be thankful in all circumstances.”It does not say “for all circumstances”. You cannot always be thankful for the circumstances, but you can be thankful in the situation. I know that God is working all things for good. He has a pattern and He fits even the bad things in our lives into that pattern for good. God’s purpose for my life is greater than my problems, so in everything I can give thanks. Not “for”, but “in”.
• Sometimes the circumstances of our lives are not always the best. In fact, they may be downright bad, but still, we are to look for something to be thankful for! And there is ALWAYS something positive for which we can be thankful!
I hope you all had a nice Thanksgiving… It has always been so strange to me how Thanksgiving has changed since its original conception—even from when I was a kid. For instance, how ironic is it that the very day after Thanksgiving just happens to be the biggest shopping day of the year! Think about it; one day, we are sitting around a table surrounded with family and friends, our hearts overflowing with thanksgiving for all the ways that God has blessed us.. and then, before the sun fully rises the next morning, we are driving like maniacs to the best sales so we can fight our brothers and sisters tooth and nail for a greatly discounted television or sweater! It is amazing how quickly the attitude of thanksgiving can give way to unadulterated greed! I, for one, don’t think that it is merely a coincidence that Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving. You see, our greatest enemy knows how powerful an attitude of thanksgiving is in the Christian life. The devil doesn’t want us to dwell on how blessed we are—and he certainly doesn’t want us to remember Who blessed us! I can almost hear Satan saying, “go on and have your day of thanksgiving—but that’s it, only one day and then its back to business as usual where pride and selfishness rule the hearts of men. You see, he knows that one day of thankfulness won’
Charles Dickens once said that we are somewhat mixed up here in America. He told an audience that “instead of having one Thanksgiving Day each year we should have 364 “days of thanksgiving.” Use that one day just for complaining and griping,” he said. “Use the other 364 days to thank God for the many blessings He has showered upon you.”
As Dickens suggested, we should not wait for a special holiday to express our gratitude to God. Instead, thanksgiving should be a part of our daily lives. In fact the bible is very clear that thanksgiving is perhaps one of the most vital characteristics of any child of God. And there’s good reason for that.
•Thanksgiving is the healthiest of all human emotions. It is known to be a gateway to a wonderful freedom and produces more positive energy than any other attitude in life
•If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than a million people who will not survive this week.
•If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture or pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 500 million people in the world today.
•If you can attend an ideological meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture or even death, you are more blessed than 3 billion people in the world.
•If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of the world’s population.
•If you have money in the bank, money in your wallet, and spare change in a dish some place, you are among the top eight percent of the world’s wealthy.
•If you can read you are more fortunate than over 2 billion people in the world who cannot read at all.
•••If any nation ought to be thankful to God and grateful for His goodness, it ought to be America. If any people in America ought to be thankful to God and grateful for His goodness, it ought to be Christians. If any group of Christians ought to be thankful to God and grateful for His goodness, it ought to be the Christians in this fellowship. We ought to have an attitude of gratitude.
I. You MUST Conquer Complaining
Complain – to express dissatisfaction, pain, uneasiness, censure, resentment, or grief; find fault:
Complaining is a kill-joy. It makes you unhappy, everybody else around you unhappy. The problem is that it is a hard habit to break. We are naturally negative. We tend to look at the bad things in life. We are conditioned by society. Bad news makes the headlines. We are bombarded continuously with what’s wrong with everything. By our own nature and by our conditioning we tend to develop the habit of complaining. The Bible says God wants Christians to be different.
PHILIPPIANS 2:14-15 NIV “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe.”
•Life is not fair. God never said it is going to be fair. It will be fair in Heaven. He will settle the score in Heaven and hell. As long as you complain about the fact that life is not fair it only makes you more miserable. But it will never change the fact that life is not always fair. Complaining does not work.
•They are pros at having pity parties. When they are sick or under pressure they want everybody to know about it. How do you react when you don’t get your way? Do you mount a complaining campaign?
•Spending today complaining about yesterday won’t make tomorrow better
ILL.– Dr. Dale Robbins writes, “I used to think people complained because they had a lot of problems. But I have come to realize that they have problems because they complain. Complaining doesn’t change anything or make situations better. It amplifies frustration, spreads discontent and discord, and can invoke an invitation for the devil to cause havoc with our lives.” Complaining makes us miserable.
Complaining is like vomiting. You might feel better after you get it out, but you make everybody else around you sick.
Psalm 77:3 says, “I complained and my spirit was overwhelmed.”
“A complaining tongue reveals an ungrateful heart.”- William Arthur Ward
Complaining is the archenemy of thanksgiving. The two cannot co-exist in the same heart. And so I challenge you to try to quit complaining for a whole month. Just try it.
“It’s not happy people who are Thankful, It is thankful people who are happy”
“He who forgets the language of gratitude can never be on speaking terms with happiness”
Charles Dickens said, “Reflect upon your present blessings…not your past misfortunes”
II. 2 Extraordinary Reasons to Be Thankful
“If you are not content with what you have, you would not be satisfied if it were doubled” – Charles Spurgeon
I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; & that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder. ~G.K. Chesterton
- God Is Good To You
Psalm 100:4–5 (ESV) — 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! 5 For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.
Remember some of the powerful statements in the Scriptures about God and His goodness:
- There is none good but God (Matthew 19:17)
- His goodness leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4)
- His Spirit is good (Psalm 143:10, Nehemiah 9:20)
- Taste and see that the Lord is Good (Psalm 34:8)
- Jesus went about doing good (Acts 10:38)
- All things work together for good (Romans 8:28)
- He only does wonderful things (Psalm 72:18)
“I have found God to be cordial and generous and in every way easy to live with.”- A.W. Tozer
Psalm 118:1 NIV says, “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love endures forever.”
The Bible connects the name of the Lord or God or Jesus or the Spirit with “good” or “goodness” 370 Times.
Probably one of the most important reasons for us to be thankful as Christians is simply because of who God is. He is a good God, worthy of our praise and thanksgiving. David recognized this and setup some Levites to minister. Their task was simply to stand before the the Lord to thank and praise him.
When you look at the whole of the Bible, you’ll discover that it’s not people-centric. It’s God-centric. Everything points back to who God is. And our reasons for being thankful begin, and could end, with God.
Colossians 3:15–17 (ESV) — 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 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.
•If you’re lacking reasons in life to be grateful, maybe you’ve taken your focus off of Jesus and placed it on yourself.
2. For the People in Your Life
It is so easy to take people for granted, or even to complain and become angry because they do not meet our every wish. But we need to give thanks for those around us—our spouses, our children, our relatives, our friends and others who help us in some way.
Do you let others know that you appreciate them and are thankful for them? The Christians in Corinth were far from perfect, but Paul began his first letter to them by saying,
I Corinthians 1:4 NIV – I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus
How many relationships grow cold and eventually are shattered because of the sin of ingratitude?
When a group of believers (whom Paul had never met) came out to greet him as he approached Rome
Acts 28:15 NIV – The brothers and sisters there had heard that we were coming, and they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these people Paul thanked God and was encouraged.
You can’t force people to stay in your life. Staying is a choice, so be thankful for people who choose you. Thank God for those who touch your life.
•••Even be thankful for the difficult people in your life. Why? They show you exactly who you don’t want to be.
When Gratitude becomes your default setting, life changes.
By giving thanks to God in both good times and bad, Christians can show the world an attitude that is foreign to them. It’s normal to be thankful in good times, but it’s unheard of to be Thankful to God during troubles.
“We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good; if bad, because it works in us patience, humility, contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.” ~ C. S. Lewis
So, where are you this morning on the gratitude scale? Do you have a deep sense of gratitude to God for all he’s done and will do in and through you, or do you tend to find the reasons to be skeptical or negative in life?
“Happiness comes when we stop wailing about the troubles we have and offer thanks for all the troubles we don’t have”
“The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live…He has penetrated the whole mystery of life: giving thanks for everything.” – Albert Schweitzer
•In 1982, the actor Kirk Douglas flew to Pakistan after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. He was there to do a documentary about the three million Afghan refugees who had fled to that country. He went out one day to meet with some refugees, up near the Kyber Pass. Gunfire could be heard in the background, just across the Afghan border. Douglas sat on the ground with the elders of a displaced Afghan tribe. They were eating with their fingers out of a common bowl. Through an interpreter Douglas told them, “In my country, today is Thanksgiving Day, one day every year that we set aside to give thanks for all that we have in life.” The leader of the elders, a man with a long white beard, nodded his head. Through the interpreter he said, “In my country, we give thanks every day.” Will we join them?
Psalm 106:1-2 ESV – Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Who can utter the mighty deeds of the Lord, or declare all his praise?
Colossians 2:6-7 “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”