My manuscript from this sermon is below.
My first part-time job when I was 15 years old was working at Chick-fil-A. I worked there for about 2.5 years, and loved it. I still eat the food. One thing I’m really glad about the time that I worked there, outside of the fact that I earned a $1,000 college scholarship, was that I worked there before the era of what I like to refer to as the “my pleasure” era.
If you haven’t eaten at Chick-fil-A lately, you may not be familiar with this. What I’m referring to is simply the fact that at every Chick-fil-A, every employee is required to respond to a customer who says “Thank you” by saying “My Pleasure.” And I mean every time.
And let me apologize in advance to those of you who are fellow Chick-fil-A addicts that you will be craving it today, even though they’re closed on Sundays.
Gratitude and thankfulness can be hard to internalize.
I had a difficult time learning to say Thank You. I had a misunderstanding of what it meant to be grateful. What I somehow learned was that Christians were supposed to deflect any sort of praise or compliment that we received back to God or someone else. So, what would happen would be I would end up having a sort of “Gee shucks” response when I got a compliment.
For example, if someone told me I had a good game in baseball, I would say something like “Well, the other hitters just didn’t have it today.” Or I would try to say something spiritual, like “God really blessed me today.” Usually it just ended up feeling awkward for me, and probably a lot of others, too.
My wife, Brea, was very instrumental in helping me with this. I distinctly remember going on a walk with her one day in college and she complimented me about something. I don’t remember specifically what it was or what my response was, but she said “Just say thank you.” That was a freeing moment for me. I realized that I wasn’t being arrogant by accepting the praise, nor was I forcing the conversation into some awkward semi-spiritual moment. I was simply expressing gratitude to the other person for the compliment.
What I’ve discovered is that I’m not alone in this quest for learning to say thanks.
Researchers have proven what most parents probably knew instinctively: gratitude doesn’t come naturally. In her book entitled The Gift of Thanks, Margaret Visser cites a study which observed how parents teach their children to say “hi,” “thanks,” and good-bye.” The children in the study spontaneously said “hi” 27 percent of the time, “good-bye” 25 percent of the time, and “thanks” 7 percent of the time. Parents had to prompt their children to say “hi” 28 percent of the time, “good-bye” 33 percent of the time, and “thanks” 51 percent of the time.
In conclusion, children had a much more difficult time learning to say “thanks.” Most children have to learn to say “thank you” even before they know what it means. Visser states, “Eventually, when [children] have matured and been further educated, they will come to be able to feel the emotion that the words express. The words come first, the feelings later.” Perhaps this applies to adults too!
Based on this research Visser concludes that learning to be thankful involves a steep learning curve. She writes, “In our culture thanksgiving is believed to be, for most children, the very last of basic social graces they acquire.”
We celebrated Thanksgiving this week, but I think sometimes we have difficulty finding reasons to be grateful. This morning, we’re going to take a look at Scripture and discover that, as Christians, we have lots of reasons to be Thankful. Let’s focus this morning on 7 Reasons to be Thankful.
1. God, His Eternal Goodness
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.
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.
1 Chron 16:34 – Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
Ps 30:4 – Give thanks to his holy name.
Ps 107:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
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.
In God we have more than enough reason to be thankful, but let’s look at more reasons.
2. Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior.
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.
Right alongside of being thankful for God’s goodness is being thankful for Jesus Christ. We should be thankful for who he is and what he’s done for us. Paul here wrote that we should do everything in the name of Christ, which should flow out of a grateful heart.
There are two hundred and fifty-six names given in the Bible for the Lord Jesus Christ, and I suppose this was because He was infinitely beyond all that any one name could express.
(IMAGE OF CROSS)
Alpha and Omega (Rev. 1:8)
Author of Life (Acts 3:15)
Bright and Morning Star (Rev. 22:16)
Christ (Matt. 1:16)
Good Shepherd (John 10:14)
Holy and Righteous One (Acts 3:14)
I Am (John 8:58)
King of Kings (Rev. 19:16)
Lion of Judah (Rev. 5:5)
Lord of Lords (Rev. 19:16)
Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6)
Rabbi (John 1:38)
True Vine (John 15:1)
Wonderful Counselor (Isa. 9:6)
Word of God (Rev. 19:13)
If you’re lacking reasons in life to be grateful, maybe you’ve taken your focus off of Jesus and placed it on yourself.
3. God’s Deliverance From Adversity
Psalm 31:7–8 (ESV) — 7 I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul, 8 and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place.
Have you faced adversity in life? Has God delivered you from it? You should give thanks to God. Are you currently facing adversitry? Do you have a co-worker who opposes your beliefs in Christ? God will deliver you from this adversity. Just stay faithful to him.
John Paton was a missionary in the New Hebrides Islands. One night hostile natives surrounded the mission station, intent on burning out the Patons and killing them. Paton and his wife prayed during that terror-filled night that God would deliver them. When daylight came they were amazed to see their attackers leave.
A year later, the chief of the tribe was converted to Christ. Remembering what had happened, Paton asked the chief what had kept him from burning down the house and killing them. The chief replied in surprise, “Who were all those men with you there?” Paton knew no men were present—but the chief said he was afraid to attack because he had seen hundreds of big men in shining garments with drawn swords circling the mission station.
4. God’s Ultimate Deliverance in Salvation
1 Corinthians 15:55–57 (ESV) — 55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 1:4 (ESV) — 4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus,
Something that should not exist is a grumpy Christian. But sadly many of us walk around with an ungrateful attitude. Now, I’m not suggesting for a second that any of us should be fake. If your personality isn’t bubbly, don’t act bubbly. But you shouldn’t always look at things and only see the negative. Our salvation transforms our hearts and minds into a grateful container of God’s grace and forgiveness.
5. God’s Provision
Psalm 147:7–9 (ESV) — 7 Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; make melody to our God on the lyre! 8 He covers the heavens with clouds; he prepares rain for the earth; he makes grass grow on the hills. 9 He gives to the beasts their food, and to the young ravens that cry.
From Stephen Sorenson in Mar/Apr 1991 Discipleship Journal
“Most American Christians don’t need God.”
Gertrude, a missionary on an island in Haiti, startled me with this answer to my question about how American Christians differed from Haitian Christians.
“American Christians have everything they need,” Gertrude continued. “If they don’t pray or read the Bible for weeks, it makes little difference in their daily lives. They still have food to eat, a place to sleep, regular income. They don’t need to practice their faith every day.”
For many Christians in the United States, that’s true, I thought. Gertrude lives among impoverished people. That seems to give her a deeper understanding of how God provides. She impressed me with her firm trust in God to supply what she and the islanders need for daily living. Maybe there were some lessons here that those of us in a more comfortable culture needed to learn.
6. Answered Prayers
Psalm 66:16–20 (ESV) — 16 Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for my soul. 17 I cried to him with my mouth, and high praise was on my tongue. 18 If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. 19 But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer. 20 Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!
When I was around 12 years old, a boy from my church was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Our church rallied around the family in prayer. We asked God to heal Matt and to allow him to completely recover. God answered that prayer and Matt just a few months ago celebrated a major milestone in his life by getting married. It’s a tremendous moment in life that our family is still grateful to God for.
The leaders of the Clapham Sect, such as William Wilberforce, who initiated enormous social reforms in England, habitually gave themselves to three hours of prayer each day. They organized Christians throughout the country to unite in special prayer before critical debates in Parliament. They knew, and persistently proved, the power of prayer. William Temple replied to his critics who regarded answered prayer as no more than coincidences, ‘When I pray, coincidences happen; when I don’t, they don’t.” Our Lord’s disciples’ request is probably our most needed prayer: “Lord, teach us to pray.
7. Troubles in Life
Job 1:21 (ESV) — 21 And 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.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (ESV) — 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
This would also include what the great theologian Garth Brooks described as “Unanswered Prayers.” We all face trials in life, some more than others, and how we respond to them will show the true condition of our hearts.
Billy Graham comments: “Nowhere does the Bible teach that Christians are exempt from the tribulations and natural disasters that come upon the world. Scripture does teach that the Christian can face tribulation, crisis, calamity, and personal suffering with a supernatural power that is not available to the person outside of Christ.”
Some of the most pathetic people in the world are those who, in the midst of adversity, indulge themselves by wallowing in self-pity and bitterness, all the while taking a sort of delight in blaming God for their problems.
Job’s attitude is an inspiration: “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him” (Job 13:15).
The sufferer will be blessed if, in the midst of great agony and despair, he can look into the face of his Heavenly Father and, because of His eternal love and presence, be grateful. Our response to suffering should lead us to look beyond it in the attempt to see God’s higher purposes and what He wants to teach us.
Matt Chandler, the pastor of the Village Church just down the road from here, has faced severe troubles in life this past year. Last Thanksgiving he was rushed to the ER when his wife discovered him having a seizure on the living room floor. He was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor that needed to be removed. He’s battled the cancer aggressively and in a recent MRI it appears as if the cancer is gone.
But what people have seen in him, more than a potential healing, is his attitude through it all. He was quoted this week in a Dallas Morning News article: “At the end of the day, I don’t believe God gave me this cancer, but I do believe he could have stopped it and didn’t. … God is not punishing me, but somehow, for my joy and his glory, he’s let me endure this and walked me through.”
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 praise God for cancer.
1. God and His Goodness
2. Jesus Christ,Our Lord and Savior.
3. God’s Deliverance From Adversity.
4. God’s Ultimate Deliverance through Salvation
5. God’s Provision
6. Answered Prayers
7. Troubles in Life
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?
If you’re here this morning and you have never accepted Christ as your savior I want to encourage to not leave before making Jesus the Lord of your life. You can do that today! Just stick around and talk to either myself or another one of our leaders, we’d love to help you start the journey of faith.
The world is needing more people to be thankful. In fact, we need to become more known as being people of thanksgiving than what we’re thought of now. If you type in the words “Why are Christians” into Google, you’ll get some interesting suggested searches. What suggested searches is are popular searches based on the words you’ve typed in so far. Here’s what people are searching for to complete the phrase Why are Christians…judgemental, mean, republican, ignorant, intolerant, and more. We need to change this. We need to be people who are marked by grace and thanksgiving. We need to be a church without walls that goes out to where people are and draws in people whoever they are to allow God’s transforming power to change them into the people he wants them to be.