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Topical - Thankfulness - Gratitude

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Introduction

Ingratitude is one of the ugliest attitudes any human being could possess. Ingratitude is a sin that characterizes the unregenerate, and it appears right at the top of God’s list of damning sins in Romans 1.

      Paul’s Accusation Of Unbelieving Humanity Is Very Specific.

q  Verse 21 begins with the phrase, “for even though they knew God,” which means everyone coming into the world knows about God, even though they don’t have a personal, saving faith in Him.

q  But then Paul says, “They did not honor Him as God, or give thanks”. The thankless person despises the very notion of grace, the undeserved goodness granted by God.

q  Ingratitude will characterize people in the end-times (2Tim.3:1-2).

 

A.   Three Possible Attitudes of Thanksgiving.

1.    Thinking you deserve every good thing you have – and more (Luke 12:15-21). 

This man felt no need to thank God, which is much worse than ingratitude; it is rank unbelief. This attitude is a form of practical atheism that fails to acknowledge God. 

q  This mans crops were watered and had growth because of God (Matt.5:45; Psalm 65:9-13)

2.    The attitude of a Hypocrite (Luke 18:9-14)    

q  Although the man used God’s name, his thankfulness was to himself and for himself

3.    The attitude of a truly thankful person (Luke 17:11-19)

What Is Leprosy?  a slowly progressing and incurable skin disease.  It is constant, infectious & characterized by sores, scabs, and white shining spots beneath the skin. The Bible never implies that leprosy can be cured by nonmiraculous means.  The Old Testament contains no references to treatment or remedy.

1.   The law required that a leper be isolated from the rest of society (Lev. 13:45–46).

2.   Lepers were quarantined in colonies, some distance away from cities and towns because their disease was so contagious.

3.   Any contact with lepers defiled the persons who touched them.  But Jesus was willing to touch (Mark 1:40-42; Luke 5:12).  Also, if you are one who has been saved by God’s grace then you will reach out to others as Jesus did.  

4.   The story of the ten lepers is a powerful illustration of just how ugly ingratitude really is.

§   But before we judge them too harshly, what is our own “Gratitude Level?

§   How often do we take our blessings for granted and fail to thank the Lord? “Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” (Ps. 107:8, 15, 21, 31).

§        Too often we are content to enjoy the gift but we forget the Giver. We are quick to pray but slow to praise.

            5.   But the one who came back to Jesus offered up a sacrifice of praise (Ps.107:22; Heb.13:15).

B.   The Command To Be Thankful

      Someone who does not know Christ as Lord and Savior as we seen is not going to be thankful for what He has done for us.  However, it is virtually impossible for to understand or accept an ungrateful believer. An attitude of unthankfulness for a believer is impossible to ignore because:

1.    God’s Word Commands It.

a)     1 Thessalonians 5:18The pattern for that command was established in the Old Testament, which were called “thank offerings or peace offerings” (Leviticus 3:1-17; 7:11-36).

They would bring to God a sheaf of grain and some oil and wine as thank offerings. These were symbols of all the Lord’s provision and tangible reminders that believers need to thank Him regularly for His grace and mercy in supplying all they have.

1)     The Church today has an ordinance which serves the same purpose: Communion

2)     No matter what the situation or trial is in our life, there is always reason to thank the Lord.

q  Because God is soverieign and is working all things our for His glory (Rom.8:28)

q  Don’t be surprised when or ungrateful when trials come our way (1Peter 4:12-13).

A medieval legend tells of two angels sent to earth by the Lord to gather the prayers of the saints. One was to gather the petitions and the other the thanksgivings.

The angel responsible for petitions was not able to carry them back to heaven in one load, while the angel responsible for thanksgivings carried his back in one hand.  That legend developed from the sad fact that God’s children are more prone to ask than to thank.

q  The Psalms are instructive in this regard, in that they contain more praise than petition.

q  Believers come into their Father’s presence through thanksgiving. We “enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise” (Ps. 100:4).

q  Someone has said, “when a person prays without thanksgiving he has clipped the wings of prayer so that it cannot rise.”

b)     Ephesians 5:18-20 Three Levels of Thankfulness.

1)     Being thankful when we are blessed—Thankfulness for blessings is easy and requires no maturity.

2)     Being thankful before a blessing—this is a little bit more difficult and requires faith and spiritual maturity (Philippians 4:6).  This level is where faith and hope come in because it involves the unseen, because we know that God’s grace is sufficient (2Cor.12:9).

(Judah thanked God for victory before the Battle even begun [2Chron.20:1-12, 20-22])

3)     Being thankful in the midst of trouble or testing – Daniel thanked God because God deserved his thanks, regardless of his threatening circumstances (Daniel 6:10).

q  If we can only thank God when things are going well, that’s immature.

q  If we can thank Him in anticipation of what He will do in the future, we show more spiritual maturity.

q  But to thank God while we are in the midst of pain, trials, or persecution shows a level of maturity that few Christians seem to know but that our heavenly Father wants all His children to have (Phil.4:6; Col.2:6-7; 3:15-17; 4:1-2).

The greatest gift we can give to God is a thankful heart.  We give Him thanks for all things because He has given us all things and because giving thanks in everything “is God’s will … in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:18). Understanding “what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:17) includes understanding that He wants His children to be thankful.

C.   Hindrances to Gratitude.

      When we have an attitude of ungratefulness we need to consider what might be hindering us from having a thankful heart.

Six Hindrances—An absence of gratitude may well mean that we are:

1.   Not Actually Saved.  If we can find no cause in our heart for consistent thanksgiving to God, perhaps we need to be born from above (2 Cor. 13:5).

2.   Doubting & Forgetting God’s Sovereign PowerIf we are unaware or do not accept the truth that God is in control of all things, that He loves us, & has our best interest at heart, wanting to conform us into His Son Jesus Christ, then we are likely to be unthankful.   

If we forget or do not Understand God’s Sovereign Power this to will hinder us.  David’s prayer of thanksgiving (1 Chronicles 29:10-14).  The disciples forgot about the power of Jesus after feeding the 5,000, they did not know what to do when they came across the 4,000 (Mark 8:1-10. 14-21).

3.   Selfishness & Worldliness. Selfishness is never satisfied with what God has provided.  That attitude places our will before God’s and demands that God fulfill our every desire.  This leads to always wanting more, and what we do have will never be just right.  We must believe that God will give us what we need when we need it.  

4.   Impatience. The concern is not with what we want or don’t want, but impatience with God’s timing. We need to allow God to unfold His purposes according to His schedule and to be thankful for His plan (Ps 37:7; 40:1; Eccl 7:8; Luke 8:15; 1Thess. 5:14; Titus 2:2; Heb. 12:1; 2 Pet. 1:6; Rev. 2:2–3).

5.   Spiritually Lukewarm. If we lack zeal for God, diligence in His Word, passion in prayer, interest in worship, and a disciplined stewardship over the use of our time, we will quickly lose reason and motivation to give God thanks. And if that sin is not repented of, the consequences of a lukewarm attitude can be far more serious than a loss of gratitude (Rev.3:15-16). 

6.   Rebellion.  When something doesn’t go your way, do not become bitter and angry toward God.  Instead you must come to God and prayerfully ask: “God what are you saying to me?  What are you trying to show me?  But if you allow “rebellion” to persist you will become useless and you will stop thanking God (Eph.4:31; Heb.12:15).   

 

D.   Maintaining A Grateful Heart.

1.    Attitude of Contentment.

Contentment Basically Means: to be “self-sufficient,” “to be satisfied,” “to have enough.”  We are to be satisfied with who we are in Christ, what God has given us, and what circumstances He has placed us in.

First of all, contentment means obeying Scripture’s command regarding it: “Let your character be free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you’” (Heb. 13:5 NASB).

Important Guidelines to Develop The Attitude of Contentment:

q  Confidence in God’s Providence (divine provision).  Providence is how God orchestrates everything to accomplish His purposes.

q  Being Satisfied With Very Little, the necessities of life (Phil.4:11-12; 1Tim.6:6-8).

                 (T.V. advertising tell makes us want things we don’t even need)

q  Live Above Life’s Circumstances (2Cor.12:10; 4:17-18; Col.3:2; ).

q  Be Sustained By Divine Power (Phil.4:13; Isaiah 40:31)

Pacemaker Illustration: Do you know how a pacemaker works? It kicks in when the heart it’s attached to doesn’t work right. It’s a sustaining power.

We as believers have a reservoir of spiritual power that moves into action when we have come to the end of our resources. Therefore we can “do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us”  (Eph. 3:20).

q  To Be Completely Preoccupied With The Well-Being Of Others (Phil. 2:3–4; 4:17)

•     Proverbs 11:24–25: “There is one who scatters, yet increases all the more, and there is one who withholds what is justly due, but it results only in want. The generous man will be prosperous, and he who waters will himself be watered.” 

•     Proverbs 19:17: “He who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his good deed.”

•     Luke 6:38: “Give, and it will be given to you.” 

•     2 Corinthians 9:6: “He who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully.”

q  The Psalmist said it right (Psalm 73:26)

Even though I clutch my blankets and groan when the alarm rings each morning. Thank you, Lord, that I can hear. There are those who are deaf.

Even though I keep my eyes tightly closed against the morning light as long as long as possible. Thank you, Lord, that I can see. There are many who are blind.

Even though I huddle in my bed and put off the physical effort of rising, thank you, Lord, that I have the strength to rise. There are many who are bedfast.

Even though the first hour of my day is hectic, when socks are lost, toast is burned, tempers are short, thank you, Lord, for my family. There are many who are lonely.

Even though our table never looks like the pictures in the 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 often monotonous. Thank you, Lord, for the opportunity to work. There are many who have no work. Thank you, Lord, for the gift of life.—The Evangel

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