Faithlife Sermons

The Distinction of Thanksgiving

Rev. Claude L. White Jr.
The Distinctions of Discipleship  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV
18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
DT: Living in the will of God is thanking God in every circumstance
Aim: We will show our gratitude and appreciation towards God daily and in every situation.


Rudyard Kipling was a best selling English author at the turn of the century. He wrote one of the best books for children of all time, entitled, The Jungle Book as well as one of my all time favorites, The Man Who Would Be King. He made a tremendous amount of money with his writings.
A newspaper reporter came up to him one time and said, "Mr. Kipling, I just read that somebody calculated that the money you make from your writings amounts to over $100 a word."
Kipling raised his eyebrows and said, "Really, I certainly was not aware of that." The reporter cynically reached into his pocket, pulled out a $100 bill, gave it to Kipling and said, "Here is a $100 bill Mr. Kipling. Now give me one of your $100 words."
Rudyard Kipling looked at that $100 bill for a moment, took it, folded it up, put it in his pocket and simply said, "Thanks."
Well, I would say to you that the word "thanks" is certainly a $100 word. In fact, I would say it is more like a million dollar word. That is one word that is too seldom heard, too rarely spoken, and too often forgotten.
If any nation in the world ought to be thankful to God and grateful for His goodness, it ought to be America. If any people in America ought to be thankful to God and grateful for His goodness, it ought to be Christians. If any group of Christians ought to be thankful to God and grateful for His goodness, it ought to be Christians in this church. We ought to have the distinction of Thanksgiving.
In this simple sentence which forms one verse of scripture, the Apostle Paul gives us three reasons why we could, everyday, in every way, be thankful.

God Requires Our Thanksgiving

We are commanded to "give thanks." The verb for "give thanks" is in the imperative tense. In other words, thanksgiving is as much a commandment as one of the Ten Commandments.
Now you need to learn that anything that is commanded by God, is also commended by God. That is, if God commands you to do it, it is good for you. You see, a grateful person will be a happier person, grateful person will be a healthier person, a grateful person will be holier person.
Our gratitude is not an option, it is an obligation. You are as obligated to give God your thanks as you are to give God your tithe.
Ingratitude is not only the mark of worldliness, it is the mark of an unbeliever. When Paul described a world without Christ, he said of them in Rom. 1:21
Romans 1:21 ESV
21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.

Our Thanksgiving Is The Joy of God

We are told to give thanks "in everything." Now those two words are the words that make this verse so very difficult. If we were told to thank God in "most things" we could live with it. If we were told to thank God in "good things" we could accept it. But Paul says "in everything give thanks."
Now that tells me that thanksgiving is more than a feeling. Nowhere in word of God are we commanded to "feel thankful." Thanksgiving has nothing to do with feelings. Whether things are good or things are bad, whether it's dry or rainy, whether you've got money in the bank or flat broke, you are to be thankful. There are always at least three reasons why every Christian should be thankful.
a. Be Thankful For The Blessings Of Life
Prov. 10:22 says,
Proverbs 10:22 ESV
22 The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and he adds no sorrow with it.
Now according to this verse, as a Christian you have been blessed by God, and if you have been blessed by God, you are rich. Someone defined Christian in this way , "A Christian is someone that does not consult his bankbook to see how wealthy he really is."
Do you thank God for the blessings of life? I mean just the simple everyday blessings. For example—Food. Do you just thank God for the food that you have to eat? Did you know that two-thirds of the world goes to bed hungry every night? One-third of the world is underfed and one-third of the world is starving.
As a matter of fact, thirty people starve to death in this world every single minute. Then we complain about dirty dishes. Nobody dislikes dirty dishes more than I do, but maybe we ought to be thankful for them.
Thank God for dirty dishes , for they remind us that we have eaten.
Do you ever thank God for water? You say, "Water?" Did you know that only three percent of the water in this world is fit to drink? Did you know that only one-third of one percent of the world's water is available to drink, and most of that clean water is right here in the United States of America? Did you know that over one-half of the world has no access to pure drinking water? Oh, how grateful we ought to be for the blessings of God.
Some of the best blessings are not the biggest ones, but the smallest ones.
ILLUSTRATION: I remember the story of a pastor in a small country church who decided one Sunday night to just have a testimony time. He asked people just to stand up and tell something they were thankful for. The oldest member of the church, a little old lady who was about eight-five, stood up and said, "Well, pastor, I only have two teeth, but thank God they are both together."
b. Be Thankful For The Burdens Of Life
Notice again we are told "in everything give thanks." Now it says "in everything" not "for everything." I don't know that we are to be thankful for trouble, but we are to be thankful in the middle of trouble. One of the purposes of trials, troubles, and tribulations, is to be move us to thanksgiving.
2 Cor. 4:15 says,
2 Corinthians 4:15 ESV
15 For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.
You need to remember that everything that happens to you, also happens for you. In the middle of every situation you face, regardless of how terrible it may be, remember God will cause it to redound to your good, His glory, and for that you can be thankful.
ILLUSTRATION: Matthew Henry, the famous Bible teacher, was once robbed of all of his money by some thieves. That night he sat down in a hotel room and wrote these words in his diary: I am so very thankful. First of all, because I was never robbed before. Second, because although they took my money, they did not take my life. Third, because although they took all the money I had, it wasn't very much. Fourth, it was I who was robbed, not I who robbed." That is the attitude we ought to keep continuously all of our life.
c. Be Thankful For The Benefits Of Life
Ps. 103:2 says,
Psalm 103:2 ESV
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
Do you ever thank God just for the benefits of being one of His children? Just for the benefit of living on God's green earth? Just for the benefit of seeing a sunrise or hearing a bird sing? Aren't you glad, for example, that you don't have to pay taxes on sunlight.
If you go to England you will discover that many of the English houses of the Eighteenth Century are very small in size, and they have many small windows in the house. The reason for this is because of the "Window Tax," which is one of the most senseless taxes ever levied by any government.
The government was charging houses for the use of the sun when they had more than six windows in the house. Now when I think about the cost of electricity, I shudder to think what would happen if God were to start charging for sunlight.
Aren't you grateful that the air that you breathe is free? Aren't you grateful that you don't have to pay an admission to see a sunset, or to hear a bird sing, or to smell a rose? Oh how grateful we ought to be just for the benefits of life.
When is the last time you thanked God just for the benefit of waking up?
In 1789 George Washington declared that the fourth Thursday of every November was to be Thanksgiving Day in America. May I say to you, if you are a child of God, with your sins paid for, with a home in heaven reserved for you, everyday ought to be Thanksgiving Day.

Thanksgiving Is Desired By God

We are to give thanks in all things for "this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." Now I cannot always tell you what the will of God is for your life, but in this instance I can. It is always the will of God for you to be thankful. Do you know why thanksgiving pleases the Lord so much, and why He desires it so strongly?
a. Because Being Thankful Is The Mark of A Growing Christian
Did you know that gratitude is a real test of the kind of character that you have? For example: A baby is ungrateful. You can take a little baby when he has the colic, walk the floor with him for seven hours, rock him, sing to him; but when you put that little baby down he won't look up at you and say, "Much obliged." He'll just yell a little louder. We don't blame him because he's a baby.
You take a little child. You don't have to teach a child to be ungrateful, you've got to teach a child to be grateful. Gratitude is not something that naturally comes, it's something that they have to learn.
A little lady gave her grandson a piece of cake, and the little boy said, "Thank you." She said, "I love to hear little boys say ‘thank you.'" He said, "Well, if you'll put ice cream on the cake I'll say it again."
I can tell you how spiritually mature you really are, by whether or not right now there is a fountain of thanksgiving and gratitude welling up in your heart. You may have the body of a giant and the mind of a genius, but you have the soul of a pigmy if you're not grateful.
b. Being Thankful Is The Mark Of A Giving Christian
If for no other reason, even if God did not command it in His word, we ought to give generously to God's work just out of gratitude for what God has done for us. May I just be bold enough to say it is the height of ingratitude to a loving, giving God, to refuse to give back to Him at least a tenth of the income He has given to you, not only out of obedience to His explicit command, but out of gratitude for His loving grace.
I am convinced that if you are a grateful Christian, you will be a giving Christian. Someone has well said, "Thanksgiving, to be truly thanksgiving is first thanks, then giving."
You can give without being thankful, but you cannot be thankful without giving.
c. Being Thankful Is The Mark Of A Glowing Christian
The Bible says in Ps. 92:1,
Psalm 92:1 ESV
1 It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
It is good, because an attitude of gratitude will change your life. It will shield you from cynicism. It will keep you from criticism. It will protect you from pessimism. It will draw you close to God, and it will draw God close to you.
I read a story recently that I believe sums it all up. There was a certain organization that was having a fund-raising dinner, and a couple stood up in that banquet and testified that they were giving a thousand dollars for this organization in the name of their son who was killed in Vietnam.
A middle aged mother sitting in the audience, leaned over toward her husband and said, "Honey, let's give a thousand dollars in memory of our son."
The husband said, "Why should we do that? Our son wasn't killed in Vietnam!"
His wife smiled and said, "That's just it. Let's give out of gratitude that he is alive and healthy. We have so much to be thankful for."
Well, brothers and sisters, if you know the Lord Jesus Christ you do have much to be thankful for; you've got everything to be thankful for. That is why it is the will of God that every way, everyday, we should have within our hearts Thanksgiving.
Thank him for His love out on Calvary . . . .
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