1. There was a television show broadcast many years ago in which the emcee gave boxes of candy to the contestants. They didn't know it, but for everyone who said "thank you" there would be an extra $500. The emcee gave out seven boxes of candy before a girl said "thank you." This reminds us of the ten lepers (Lk. 17:11-19).
2. The most important consideration is that we are called on by God to be thankful (Eph. 5:20, 1 Thes. 5:18).
3. Charles Dickens said that we are mixed up in America. He suggested that instead of having one Thanksgiving Day each year we should have 364. Use that one day for complaining and griping. Use the other 364 to thank God each day for the many blessings He has showered upon you. He may be on to something.
4. Someone wrote the following: "It is not life's circumstances that determine the quality of our lives but how we respond to them. This is why the Thanksgiving season is so indispensable for us all . . . it is a reminder of the gratitude we need, the sense of wonder and appreciation we must have, if life is to be full and alive. Thanksgiving is the season of perspective."
5. I am not nearly so concerned with the season of Thanksgiving as I am with the practice of thanksgiving in our lives as Christians year round. There is a certain perspective that comes from thanksgiving--not the holiday but the practice, that I want to address.
I. THANKSGIVING IMPROVES OUR PERSPECTIVE ABOUT OURSELVES
A. When we say thank you, we are saying, in effect, that we are not self-sufficient. Giving thanks curbs our ego and brings us down to size. It is a reminder that while capable and responsible, we are needy and dependent.
B. We are reminded that we need God and the people of God.
1. Abraham Lincoln's Thanksgiving Proclamation of 1863: "We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us. We have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue in our own lives. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us."
2. There is something extremely healthy that results from us making the words of Psalm 100 our own.
3. In addition, we are reminded of how we need each other as the people of God (Eph. 3:6). See Phil.1:3-5 and 1 Thes. 1:2-3.
C. Our arrogance is addressed when we discipline ourselves to be thankful in all things. Genuine thanksgiving will improve our perspective about ourselves--by helping us keep ourselves in perspective. Someone said, "If we learn how to give ourselves, to forgive others, and to live with thanksgiving, we need not seek happiness--it will seek us."
II. THANKSGIVING IMPROVES OUR PERSPECTIVE ABOUT OUR THINGS
A. When we say thank you we are remembering that we did not get all we have by ourselves. We are not self-made people. No one is. We are stewards (cf. 1 Cor. 4:2).
B. Thanksgiving helps our perspective about our things in at least two ways.
1. First, it causes us to count our blessings and realize how much we have and enjoy and what responsibilities we have toward it (Eph. 1:3, 1 Pet. 4:9-10). Even though I clutch my blanket and growl when the alarm rings each morning, Thank you Lord, that I can hear and have the strength to rise. There are those who are deaf and bedfast. Even though the first hour of my day is hectic, when socks are lost, toast is burned, tempers and short, Thank you Lord, for my family. There are those who are lonely. Even though our breakfast table never looks like the pictures in the ladies magazines, and the menu is at times unbalanced, Thank you Lord, for the food we have. There are many who are hungry. Even though the routine of my job is monotonous, Thank you Lord, for the opportunity to work. There are many who have no work. Even though I grumble and bemoan my fate from day to day, and wish my modest circumstances were not quite so modest, Thank you Lord, for the gift of life.
2. Second, having counted our blessings, expressing thanks for them helps to keep us from developing an insatiable desire for more and more, in which we are covetous instead of content. To thank the Lord for all we have is to remember the rich and rare blessings that we enjoy-- the things money cannot buy (see Lk. 12:15).
C. Our avarice/greed is addressed when we discipline ourselves to be thankful for all things. The story is told about Alexander Whyte, a Scottish preacher, that he always began his prayers with an expression of gratitude. One cold, miserable day, the people wondered what he would say, what he could find to be thankful for. Whyte began his prayer, "We thank Thee, Lord, that it is not always like this." This makes the point that we should look for things to be thankful for because of what it reminds us about our "things" in general.
III. THANKSGIVING IMPROVES OUR PERSPECTIVE ABOUT OUR GOD
A. When we give thanks for what we have, we are forced to think about God the great giver of the greatest gifts (Jas. 1:17).
B. Scripture lays out for us what God has done and reminds us to be thankful for it (Col. 1:12, Rom. 6:17-18, 1 Cor. 15:57, 2 Cor. 9:15).
C. Our anxiety is addressed by giving thanks. When we thank God for all He has done and given to us, we focus our attention on His grace and power (see Phil. 4:6).
The word 'thank' and the word 'think' are from the same root word, and this is no accident. The two words have much in common. Thankfulness grows out of thoughtfulness. Our focus on giving thanks should cause each of us of think carefully about all God has done for us, and doesn't that move you to come to Him?
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