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Thanksgiving Is Important!
"In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
(1Thess. 5:18; Eph. 5:20; Phil 4:6; Col. 3:17)
Unless we are thankful, we're not emotionally healthy.
Or, to put it another way, we're out of touch with reality.
All of us owe so much to other people -- people to whom we should occasionally express it.
But, of course, a lack of gratitude is far more serious than depriving a worthy person of some
much-deserved expression of appreciation.
The person who is engrossed in himself is badly disorented to life.
- Unthankfulness represents either self-obsession or resentment of others.
- Neither condition is emotionally healthy.
Likewise, the person who resents others has shut himself off from his only means of meaningful joy.
- He will not find happiness because people will not like him.
- Life will be cruel to him, at least as seen through his own eyes.
And he has reached some false conclusions which will make his life a chain reaction of errors.
All this is true even apart from Christianity and spirituality.
There are many people who are not really religious and yet recognize their debt to others.
Of course, it is true that God made us, but there is much more for which to be grateful than that.
- They are grateful to parents, friends, teachers, and associates.
- They may be lacking in spiritual understanding and commitment, but they are, at least, aware
of their physical interdependence.
Our text exhorts us to "give thanks in all circumstances."
This links gratitude not merely to the past, but also to present and potential conditions.
At first, this sounds like a simple overstatement.
Hasty generalizations under the impulse are understandable.
But that's not what he said, and the evidence is clear that he had no intention of saying any such thing.
- Some may think that if Paul would have stopped to think about it, he might have qualified his remarks.
Perhaps he would have added, "Well, at least give thanks for those things that you believe are God's will for you."
In four different letters to four different churches, he declared essentially the same truth:
"Give thanks in all circumstances!"
What's more, he even added, "For this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thess.5:18)
If to give thanks in all circumstances is God's will, then why would the apostle Paul want to make a point of that?
To Be Thankful In Every Circumstance Forces Us To Believe In A Divine Plan.
- Why would it be God's will for us to express gratitude for all of life's circumstances?
- Why is thankfulness so important?
We are confident "That in all things God works for the good of those who love him,
who have been called according to His purpose." (Romans 8:28)
We do not know why we are beset with evil and suffering.
The Bible teaches that God can take any circumstance and convert it into a blessing.
Let's be specific.
Unless you believe that, there is no way you can be thankful for your present circumstances.
- Do you think God is going to take that bitter disappointment in your life and make it a stepping-stone
to greater joy and fulfillment?
- Do you believe God can fit it into a plan for good into your life?
But there is still a good word for you.
God knows how and is planning right now to convert that overwhelming experience into a stepping-stone of life.
To be thankful in all circumstances does force us to believe in a divine plan.
It Is Also The Only Way We Can Retain Peace And Joy In Our Christian Experience.
When we lose our sense of gratitude, we have also lost our peace and joy.
Life is a variety of experiences.
Unless we see them all as occasions for thankfulness, we will be constantly thrashing around,
trying to escape misfortune and distress.
God wants us to be at peace about what is happening in our lives.
This sounds like a contradiction -- even an impossibility.
But all the evidence points to the truth of this assertion.
Recall what Jesus said to His disciples:
He even told them that they would be killed by religious zealots.
- "I'm going to be crucified." (Matthew 26:2)
- "I'm going away." He told them in John 14:28.
- "All men will hate you to because of Me." (Mark 13:13)
Yet, to this bewildered group, staggering under the rapid blows of such prophecy,
He declared, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you." (John 14:27)
It seems incredible that He would say that to his disciples, and even more so that they would believe it.
But that's just the way it happened.
And it can happen that way to us.
In the midst of our sorrow, we can have the peace of God that passes all understanding.
But we can't have the peace without the faith that makes it possible for us to thank God
for all the circumstances of our lives.
To Be Thankful In All Circumstances Is The Only Attitude Consistent With Witness And Compatible With Worship.
Thankfulness is important because of the faith it demonstrates.
How can we convince the world of God's existence and of His goodness, if we are exhibiting displeasure
with what he has allowed to be our lot in life?
It is a powerful witness whenever a Christian is able to face adversity bravely, and with gratitude
for God's control of all things.
Gratitude is also the only attitude compatible with the worship.
Unless we can find it in our hearts to thank God for the life He has given us, we will not be able
to praise and worship him.
This is a crossroad experience for many people.
It is important for us to always maintain our gratitude to God.
- When they become unhappy with their lot in life, they become dissatisfied with God
and His operation in the world as well as in their lives.
- They lose their ability to worship and to praise God, which means that their whole relationship with God is in trouble.
Regardless of circumstances, God is still in control.
Thanksgiving is an especially good time to remind ourselves of all the blessings we receive from his beneficient hand.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus instructed his followers,
"Do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear.
Life is more than food, and the body more then clothes." (Luke 12:22-23)
We all know material things are important, and to some degree essential.
Jesus never says material things are unimportant.
What He does say is that in comparison to spiritual realities, material things are of considerably less value.
Maybe you have heard someone say that money isn't everything, but it sure beats whatever is in second place
or that it s better than not having it.
Our problem isn't simply our interest in the material things, our problem is in our lack of appreciation for spiritual realities.
That's the way we should look at this Scripture.
If a man's life doesn't consist in an abundance of possessions, then in what does it consist?
When we discover the real essence of life during this Thanksgiving season, let us be grateful
for the things that make up a life.
Man has two basic human needs.
Look at these needs in Christian terms.
- One is the need to both love and to be loved.
- The other is the need to feel worthwhile to ourself and to others.
As Christians we believe that people and possibilities make up our lives.
People are an essential ingredient of life.
Unless we have someone who cares for us and for whom we care, it is doubtful that we can
- None of us can exist without people.
- We must have people who love us and to whom we can express our love.
- Our lives are inter-twined with the lives of others.
or will sustain our lives much longer.
This fact makes questionable the quest for anonymity, that is, the desire to live unknown in our surroundings.
We all appreciate privacy, but most of us have too much of it.
That poet was right was right, because the Bible reminds us, "None of the us liveth to himself..." (Romans 14: )
- Someone has said that the desire for anonymity reveals psychological problems or reveals selfishness.
- A poet declared that "No man is an island."
This Thanksgiving season, let us thank God for people -- for all kinds of people.
If there weren't all kinds, then probably no one would love us.
Don't you ever ask yourself how can my friends put up with me?
Thank God for people!
If we're just trying to get ahead financially, instead of making investments in friendship -- we're fools!
May God help us to realize the real worth of our associations with people.
And may we be truly grateful for their tremendous contributions they make to our lives.
If Life Is To Be Meaningful, We Must Feel A Sense Of Worth To Ourselves And To Others.
Thank God for the possibilities making our lives count.
- Is someone depending on us?
Is what we are spending our time worth the effort?
No, a thousand times!
- Who on earth has more reason to be grateful than those of us who from childhood have been enlightened
by the good news of salvation?
- Does having material possessions compare with the joy of our personal salvation?
Nothing compares to the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus as Saviour and Lord!
So let us, at this Thanksgiving season, be grateful for all the things that go to make a life.
And let us not forget that millions are still waiting for that life-giving news about Jesus Christ.
Let us commit ourselves to the purpose of giving all men the option of receiving Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord.
When we have accomplish that goal, we will have demonstrated our gratitude for all the things that make
our lives truly whole and satisfying.
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
Email Dr. White at email@example.com