There is some disagreement as to when Thanksgiving was first celebrated. Some say that it happened in 1621 when the Pilgrims shared a meal with the Indians who had helped them. Others say that it occurred in 1610 when supplies arrived from England for the starving settlers at Jamestown. If you study your Bible you will find many occasions when others stopped what they were doing and gave special praise to God. It doesn’t matter when the first Thanksgiving occurred. What matters is that it is still happening today. We read from scripture-
Psalm 92:1 It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High:
The Apostle Paul said –
1 Thessalonians 5:18 In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
Each and every day we should express our gratitude to God. Paul made some mention of thanksgiving in almost everyone of his New Testament letters. It is a good thing to give thanks unto the LORD, yet many don’t.
I. WHY SOME AREN’T THANKFUL
Why aren’t some men thankful? We read from the book of Romans-
Romans 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
In other words, no man has an excuse for not believing in God. All we have to do is look around us in order to realize that there is a divine being that created all that there is. But then Paul goes on to say –
21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools…,
A. Thanklessness is a sign of sinful rebellion
Paul tells us that thanklessness is a sign of sinful rebellion against the authority and existence of God.
B. Increase of thanklessness during the last days
This spirit of thanklessness will only increase as the hearts of men grow more and more evil. Paul tells us that during the last days –
2 Timothy 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy…
As the end of time grows closer and closer, men will become more and more self-centered and sinful. They will become proud, arrogant, disobedient to authority, unthankful, and unholy.
II. WHY WE SHOULD BE THANKFUL
Why should we be thankful? Let me give you three reasons.
A. To not be thankful is sin
Though we have an annual day we call Thanksgiving Day, the Christian should be thankful every day. To not be thankful to Almighty God is sinful. It is the height of sinful arrogance.
B. Thankfulness brings pleasure to God
Not only does thanklessness show self-centeredness and arrogance, it also demonstrates a lack of love for God. We read from the book of 1 Chronicles-
1 Chronicles 29:10 Wherefore David blessed the LORD before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed be thou, LORD God of Israel our father, forever and ever. 11 Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all. 12 Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great , and to give strength unto all. 13 Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name.
I’m not sure that we can truly worship God without also being thankful. In the passage we just read, David links thankfulness to praise. “We thank tee, and praise thy glorious name.” God receives great pleasure from those who will bow their heads and give Him thanks.
C. Thankfulness opens the door for greater blessings
In the Gospel of Luke, there is the story of ten men whom Jesus healed of the terrible disease of leprosy. Perhaps their story best tells the importance of giving thanks.
Luke 17:11 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off: 13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. 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.
These ten men cried out for mercy. “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” The Bible says that they stood afar off and cried out. I have read that in the days of Jesus, a leper must always remain at least fifty yards from everyone else. That’s half the length of a football field. Imagine someone at the far end of our parking lot crying out to you for mercy. I have to read to you something that David wrote in the book of Psalms-
Psalm 18:1 I will love thee, O LORD, my strength. 2 The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. 3 I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.
6 In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.
49 Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and sing praises unto thy name.
As long as I live, I will praise the Lord. In a time of great need I cried to Him and He heard me and saved me. Therefore I will give Him thanks and sing His praise wherever I go. That is the true spirit of thanksgiving.
The Bible says that Jesus heard the ten men’s cry and showed them mercy. He healed every one of them. That’s what happens next seem so bizarre –
15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, 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.
Jesus was gracious to ten men, yet only one of them thanked Him. The other nine grabbed their blessing and ran, without even a word of thanks.
Charles Spurgeon once wrote –“We often write our blessings in the sand,and we engrave our complaints in the marble!”
Such an attitude is not only wrong; it will also rob us of further blessings. Note what else we read from the gospel of Luke-
Luke 17:17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? 18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger. 19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.
It’s not fully clear what Jesus meant when He said ‘thy faith hath saved you’. He used these same words when He forgave the sins of an adulterous woman. (Luke 7:36-50) Could it be that although ten men were healed of leprosy, only one found salvation, all because he took the time to be thankful?
III. HOW WE CAN BE THANKFUL
The question that we should be asking ourselves at this point is – ‘How can I be more thankful? What do I need to do in order to express to God my sincere gratitude?” Let me make a few suggestions.
A. The sacrifice of thanksgiving
A part of the worship in the Old Testament included what was called a ‘thanksgiving offering.’ This offering was for the purpose of expressing to God sincere gratitude for His goodness and forgiveness. The one who offered it was to do it – ‘at your own will.’ In other words, God didn’t want it because someone was twisting their arm. God wanted a genuine, sincere expression of love and thankfulness.
What about those of us who are living during the time of the New Testament? We read from the book of Hebrews –
Hebrews 13:15 By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
We do not build a fire and burn a sacrifice in order to praise God. We open our mouths and speak our praise. We offer up the ‘sacrifice of praise.’ As the smoke of the Old Testament offering ascended up to God, so should the words of our praise. How often should we do this; once a year? The Bible says that we should do this ‘continually.’ Thanksgiving to the God who made us and who takes care of us should come from our mouth every day.
B. The song of thanksgiving
Consider these words from scripture-
Psalm 30:12 To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee forever.
Psalm 69:30 I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.
David said, “I will not be silent. With a song I will praise God’s name and give Him thanks forever.” “I will sing my thanksgiving.” That’s a good encouragement for us all.
C. The speaking of thanksgiving
The book of Hebrews says that we should offer up to God the ‘fruit of our lips in giving thanks to God’s name.’ (Heb 13:15) That may include our singing, but it also includes all of our words. Regardless of whether we sing or speak, we are to verbally give God thanks.
When and where are we to speak our thanks?
1. We will be thankful someday
Revelation 11:17 Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast , and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.
A lot of us enjoyed a wonderful thanksgiving feast on Thursday. Not to take anything away from those who prepared these luscious meals, but the greatest thanksgiving feast is yet to come. The Bible tells us that in heaven, we will celebrate with thanksgiving. The Bible says that “…many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven” and together we will give thanks to the Lord God Almighty.
2. We can be thankful today
One day we will give thanks in heaven. But we are also to do so today. David wrote in the book of Psalms-
Psalm 35:18 I will give thee thanks in the great congregation…
3. We should be thankful everyday
Thanksgiving is not something for one day a year, or even for when we are in church. We should be thankful everyday and everywhere. Note these words from the book of 1 Chronicles-
1 Chronicles 16:8 Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people.
23 Sing unto the LORD, all the earth; shew forth from day to day his salvation. 24 Declare his glory among the heathen; his marvellous works among all nations.
Though much of the world will be caught up in the hustle and bustle during this holiday season, we can be the ones who can shew forth God’s salvation from day to day. Instead of being like everyone else, we can say something positive and eternal. We can demonstrate to others what it means to be thankful and what is the true meaning of Christmas.