Three Reasons to Be Thankful – Thanksgiving sermonBy
Introduction: A visiting preacher to a small country church delivered a sermon on "Gratitude." At the conclusion of the sermon, when an offering was to be taken up for him, he said, "And remember, however small the gift, always be grateful and thankful to the Lord."
Well, the offering was taken up, using the preacher's hat as a 'collection plate.' When the hat came back to him, the preacher looked inside: It was empty!
Seeing this, the congregation watched carefully to see if he would practice the words about "gratitude" which he'd just preached.
He thought for a moment, then prayed, "Dear Lord, I thank thee that I got my hat back!" (from esteeple website)
Transition: Being a thankful person is not always easy. As a matter of fact, it is contrary to our fallen nature and requires that we live out of the resources that Christ gives us.
TEXT: Colossians 3:14 But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
Transition: In the passage we just read, I desire to call your attention to verse 15. Notice that it begins with the word "And" which connects it to what is already been said about putting on love. But it also indicates that what follows is seen as having it's own characteristic. Verse 15 has three components. It talks about the peace of God, it talks about being part of the body, and it talks about being thankful. I believe that all these truths are connected. So, as we go into this holiday week called "Thanksgiving", let me share with you three reasons from this text that we need to be thankful.
1. YOU CAN'T BE PEACEFUL IF YOU'RE NOT BEING THANKFUL
Peace and ingratitude cannot sleep in the same bed together, nor do they fellowship in the same soul. There is something about the nature of ingratitude that keeps a person from being filled with the peace of God.
We are told that peace is to rule in our hearts. The word "rule" in this verse means to serve as an umpire. The Holy Spirit cannot release peace to us when we are living out of bounds. And the land of ingratitude is definitely outside the boundaries of God's will for us. There are no benefits that come with ingratitude.
Do you enjoy hanging out with someone who is always demonstrating how ungrateful they are? They are always negative? Always pointing out what is wrong with everyone else but never see it in their own lives? I would venture to say that none of us here would deliberately choose such a person for our friend. Neither does the Holy Spirit.
If you think about it, when we are being ungrateful, it is a sure sign that we are not at peace with our place in the world. We are not at peace with how God is caring for us. We are not at peace with our "lot" in life.
2. YOU CAN'T BE IN UNITY IF YOU'RE NOT BEING THANKFUL
Paul writes that collectively we are called to a life of peace and to live in unity as a body. As I just mentioned, we find it difficult walking in unity with people who are ungrateful.
Think about it. If God can't please someone, then how can we? How can thankful people and unthankful people really walk in unity and agreement and serve the purposes of God together.
We will live with one of two orientations in our lives: We will be focusing on God's goodness, blessings, and all that He has done for us. OR, we will be constantly complaining about what has not yet happened, what He has not done yet, or what others are not doing, or what the government is not doing, and on and on it goes. And most people who live this way, seldom see their own irresponsibility or need to change.
In Romans 1:21, Paul writes about how the lost world has turned away from God and have gone into foolishness and darkness. One of the things he mentions that is part of their make up in denying God he states in three simple words, "nor were thankful."
Being unthankful leads us into foolishness and darkness.
Can we take some hard facts here? If we are not a thankful people, we are a foolish people. If we are not a thankful people, we are not choosing light but darkenss. Ingratitude indicates that some darkness has taken root in our hearts and leading us into foolish thinking and living.
How many church issues and problems may very well be solved if we just became more thankful for what we do have, for what God is doing?
ILLUS-This reminds me of one of Aesop's Fables about a Father and his sons.
A Father had a family of sons who were perpetually quarreling among themselves. When he failed to heal their disputes by his exhortations, he determined to give them a practical illustration of the evils of disunion; and for this purpose he one day told them to bring him a bundle of sticks. When they had done so, he placed the bundle into the hands of each of them in succession, and ordered them to break it in pieces. They tried with all their strength, and were not able to do it.
He next opened the bundle, took the sticks separately, one by one, and again put them into his sons’ hands, upon which they broke them easily. He then addressed them in these words: “My sons, if you are of one mind, and unite to assist each other, you will be as this bundle, uninjured by all the attempts of your enemies; but if you are divided among yourselves, you will be broken as easily as these sticks.”
Being thankful helps us to "stick" together and therefore accomplish more together than we could apart. God has called us together and one of the ways we stay together is to be thankful always!
3. YOU CAN'T BE WHO YOUR SUPPOSE TO BE IF YOU'RE NOT BEING THANKFUL.
Paul tags two little but powerful words to the end of verse 15. BE THANKFUL! It is not a suggestion he is making. It is a charge to live a thankful life.
Being thankful means that we are full of thanksgiving. There is always something to thank God for in every situation. Notice I said you can thank God regardless of the situation. I did not say you had to be thankful for the situation, but you can still thank God in the situation. May I remind you of what some unknown soul once said,
"Do not grumble because you do not get what you want; be thankful you do not get what you deserve!"
Ah, this is so true isn't it? What God has already done should suffice us to be grateful for eternity.
HERE IS A THANKSGIVING TEST?
If a recording angel has been following you around for the last month recording every word you have spoken, every thought you have thought, and interpreted every bodily response to every situation you have encountered, would such a record convince a jury that you truly a person who lives a life filled with thanksgiving? Or would you be convicted of being an ungrateful person?
An even harder question is: What is my first response when faced with difficulty? Am I thankful or unthankful? May God help us to get to the place where we quickly go vertical and thank God for what we do have instead of what we don't. How that would help us to see that God is still in charge and will take care of us.
ILLUS– A lawyer had successfully handled a difficult law case for a wealthy friend. Following the happy outcome of the case, the friend and client called on the lawyer, expressed his appreciation of his work and handed him a handsome Moroccan leather wallet.
The lawyer looked at the wallet in astonishment and handed it back with a sharp reminder that a wallet could not possibly compensate him for his services. "My fee for that work," acidly snapped the attorney, "is five hundred dollars."
The client opened the wallet, removed a one-thousand dollar bill, replaced it with a five-hundred dollar bill and handed it back to the lawyer with a smile.
Conclusion: How many blessings we forfeit because our hearts are not right…we are not thankful to God. Paul also wrote to the Thessalonians, "In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." It is God's will for us to be thankful. It is one of the ways, that we can glorify God in our lives.
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