I love Thanksgiving. One of the earliest memories I have of Thanksgiving is playing football in a field near my grandparents’ house with my cousins. I remember the turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, pies and lots of laughter. As I grow older, I still enjoy all those memories of Thanksgiving, and I am growing more appreciative of God and desirous to offer Him thanks for all things. In our sermon today, we shall begin a 3-week series on Thanksgiving. Let us begin by learning that we should:
- Give Thanks to God (Psalm 136:1). We may thank a variety of people for various reasons, but God alone is the One to whom we should truly give thanks. God is our Creator and it is fitting that we should praise Him. We are instructed in Psalm 136:1, “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” Focusing our thanksgiving first and foremost to God is not only right, it has practical benefits. H.A. Ironside once said, “We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.” Proper thanksgiving is directed to God.
- Give Thanks from a Faithful Heart (Eph 5:4). A faithful heart is a thankful heart. The Apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:4, “Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.” Thanksgiving, according to Bill Mounce, is “the gentle cheerfulness of a grateful heart.” Jesus said that “out of the mouth the heart speaks” (Luke 6:45). Christians should have praise and thanksgiving flowing out of them. This is because Christians have a relationship with Jesus and know His great love. Proper thanksgiving can only arise out of a heart that has been sanctified by the blood of Jesus.
- Give Thanks for God’s Blessings (1 Tim 4:4). As an old hymn instructs us: “Count your many blessings; name them one by one. Count your many blessings; see what God has done.” Every good and perfect gift comes from God (James 1:17) and “nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving” (1 Tim 4:4). If you can’t see God’s blessings, you must not be looking! God blesses in many ways and He desires for us to ask Him for more. Thomas Goodwin has said, “Those blessings are sweetest that are won with prayer and worn with thanks”. Proper thanksgiving recognizes that all the good that you have is a gift from God because of His lovingkindness.
- Give Thanks in All Circumstances (1 Thess 5:18). While it is easy to give thanks to God for our blessings, Christians are supposed to go even further. We not only give thanks for the good, we give thanks in the midst of trials. This is because God is worthy of our praise and thanksgiving even when we struggle and are enduring difficult times. You see, thanksgiving is not tied to our blessings, but tied to our faithful God. Job illustrates this perfectly when he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD” (Job 1:21). Trust that God is allowing these circumstances because proper thanksgiving is appropriate at all times and in all situations because God is always worthy of our praise.
Hannah Whitall Smith once succinctly said, “The soul that gives thanks can find comfort in everything; the soul that complains can find comfort in nothing.” This Thanksgiving season make the conscience decision to be thankful in all circumstances. It will not be easy, but remember: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil 4:13).
Grow Group Guide
Give Thanks (Various Verses)
Take time this week to list what you are thankful for. Spend time this week reviewing the following questions:
- Give Thanks to God. Spend time learning about Him and remembering His characteristics.
- Give Thanks from a Faithful Heart. Ask God to cleanse your heart and help you have pure, wholehearted devotion to Him.
- Give Thanks for God’s Blessings. Name them.
- Give Thanks in All Circumstances. What are you struggling with? What is God teaching you in these situations?