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Bible's Best Example of Thanksgiving

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How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is
To have a thankless child. —Shakespeare, King Lear, 1.4
EST - Our text will note four aspects of giving thanks.
ESS - Our message will break down these four things into memorable pieces.
OSS - To conclude our time we will note a few of the possible applications of todays identified principles of God.
INTRO - Our passage takes place on a ship.
Paul and the rest onboard just went through a really bad storm.
They are trying to make an emergency landing.
Paul, keep in mind he is a prisoner onboard, is allowed to tell the people to eat before the dangerous landing.
Just prior to eating, Paul does something very important; he gives thanks.
He thanks God for the food that the people are going to eat.
TRANS - Now we have the backdrop to our passage. The next two things we need to do are to PRAY and read our text.

What does it say?

Acts 27:35 ESV
And when he had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat.

What does it mean?

The Order in Giving Thanks “giving thanks to God”

A little boy was asked by his father to say grace at the table. While the rest of the family waited, the little guy eyed every dish of food his mother had prepared. After the examination, he bowed his head and honestly prayed, “Lord, I don’t like the looks of it, but I thank you for it, and I’ll eat it anyway. Amen.”1384

This practice, act, thing we do is so simple.
75% of people in the U.S.A. claim to be Christians, but I rarely see people giving thanks before meals when eating out.
When I do see people saying a blessing before a meal, often I make a point of telling them “thank you.”
See, the Bible tells us to encourage one another and just maybe, the table next-door will take note and remember to pray.
If they have a problem with it and something negative to say just recall the story of the farmer visiting town and praying over his meal.
My Favorite Illustrations You’re Not a Hog, Are You?

A farmer visited a large city. In a restaurant before eating, the man bowed his head in a prayer of thanksgiving. Seeing this, a young man sneeringly asked, “Say, old man, back where you come from does everyone pray before he eats?” The farmer quietly replied, “The hogs don’t.”

I’m no hog, though I might eat too much sometimes.
I’m pretty grateful for my food.
Being grateful is a heart matter.
A grateful heart gives thanks.
We learn to give thanks.
If we know how, and don’t, it tells me that people have a character problem.
People know how to do other things such as be successful in business or lead a community event.
However, failing in those areas is not as bad as failing to give thanks to God.
TRANS - Now that we’ve discussed the order of praying before meals, lets shift to consider the frequency of being thankful.

The Ongoing of Giving Thanks “when he had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks”

Consider what is going on in Paul’s life as he is praying.

Paul has problems

The violent storm for one.
They are in a bad way, on a ship, in the sea, during a storm.
Today we have technology that make ships “feel’ more comfortable during storms.
Giant gyroscopes keep the ship from being tossed about so violently.
But, even they have limits.
This storm was enough to panic a seasoned crew.
The best ways to battle bad days is to give thanks.
Think about it, if you don’t give thanks it surly will get worse.
Neck deep in not-so-nice times?
Need a ladder to get out of that pit.
That’s a great time to be thankful.

Paul has nothing

He didn’t have a bunch of stuff.
The food itself was not all that great.
In those days, crew didn’t usually eat all that well; especially when after a great storm.
Still, Paul thanks God for what he does have.

Sophia’s husband John, an ardent soul-winner, spent his short life preaching on the streets, in the parks, in halls and theaters, wherever he could. But at age twenty-seven, he contracted typhoid and quickly died, leaving Sophia Ironside with two small boys and no income.

One of the boys, Harry (later the world-famous pastor of Moody Memorial Church), watched his mother closely. On one occasion, he recalled company coming for supper. Sophia’s cupboard was nearly bare, but she scraped together a meal with the little that remained. After the visitors left, she found under one of their plates a ten-dollar bill—a vast sum in those days. With eyes full of tears, she offered thanks to God.

Some time later, the cupboard was again empty. Sophia gathered her two sons to the table for breakfast, but their plates were empty, and there was only water to drink. “We will give thanks, boys,” she said. Closing her eyes, she prayed, quoting Isaiah 33:16, “Father, Thou hast promised in Thy Word, ‘Your bread shall be given you, and your water shall be sure.” We have the water, and we thank Thee for it. And now, we trust Thee for the bread, or for that which will take its place.”

Just as she finished praying, the doorbell rang, and the boys ran to the door to find a man there. “Mrs. Ironside,” he said, “I feel very bad. We have been owing you for months for that dress you made for my wife. We’ve had no money to pay you. But just now we’re harvesting our potatoes, and we wondered if you would take a bushel or two on account of the old bill.”

“Indeed, I’ll be glad to,” replied Sophia.

In a few minutes, the potatoes were sizzling in the frying pan, and the boys had answered prayer for breakfast.

Sometimes I don’t know how we make ends meet.
Too often, I think we go to God with a request list forgetting to be thankful for what He already provides.
I wonder how we might rate ourselves?
Do we complain about what we don’t have more than we are we thankful for what we do have?
Let’s work hard to remember God wants our ongoing thanks.
TRANS - So we’ve noted the order and the ongoing type of thanks God wants from us.
That brings us to consider God, the One, to whom we give thanks.

The One to whom we Give Thanks “he took bread, and giving thanks to God”

Everything comes from God.
God is the source of our blessings.
God provides for our needs.
Grateful hearts, people of good character, give thanks to God.
Ungrateful people are less likely to show gratitude to God or other people.
300 Illustrations for Preachers The Benefits of “Thanksliving”

Sometimes it is not only right, but it is beneficial to express gratitude to another. Beth Rittler decided to contact people in her past that had been meaningful to her. She wrote letters or made telephone calls to many old friends and acquaintances. One letter went to a popular boy in her class who had paid attention to her—a shy, awkward girl with low self-esteem—even though they were not really friends. She located him and sent a letter. He responded with a phone call and now, 25 years after they were schoolmates, they are husband and wife.

Thanksgiving is a discipline that carries far beyond one holiday. We can make it a lifestyle. “Thanksliving” will bring grace to others and benefit to ourselves.

God blesses us in so many ways and wants to shower us with so many more blessings.
God wants all the praise, the recognition for what He does.
When we remember the One who provides, He is pleased.
Now, who wants to hear God tell us “Well done?”
TRANS - We have talked about the order of praying before meals and the ongoing thankfulness we should display.
We just considered the One who most needs to hear our thankful hearts and how a person thankful toward God knows to express a thankful heart toward others.
Now lets talk about the public display of prayer.

The Openness of Giving Thanks

Paul was not so shy that he didn’t stand up to what what it right before God.
To do the right thing before God, Paul had to commit to do what God wanted and be ashamed before people.
Paul is not ashamed of being a Christian and commited to do what God wants.
Paul’s thanksgiving is a testimony of what he believes.
As noted earlier, some people do not give thanks for their meals when eating in public.
Look around the next time you eat out.
Observe how few people pray over their meals.
I wonder what God thinks when people will not do what He wants in front of other people?
Should God bless people in public when they don’t thank Him in public?
TRANS - We noted that thanksgiving is a regular order for Christians; we pray at mealtime.
We discussed that thanksgiving is an ongoing thing believers do regardless of life situation.
We identified that a person of good character gives thanks to God first and the test of their heart is proven in how they thank others.
Lastly, we saw that prayer is a public thing and that it gives a testimony of our obedience to God; the Christians never declines to lead the mealtime prayer in public.
TRANS - Let’s consider the application of this a bit more.

How can we respond?

Most of us probably already pray at meals.
Now that we know it is a blessing to be the one who prays, I hope you will never miss an opportunity.
Paul prayed even when it was difficult and when he had so little.
If you feel needy, remember to be thankful.
Public pray tests our character.
Next time you are scared to pray publicly, and do it anyhow, be blessed because you put God before yourself.
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