Summary: This message explores the reasons we have to give God thanks. Our choice to give God thanks should not rest on Him doing something for us - but for what He has already done through His Son and what He continues to do.
The title of my message this morning is “Thanksgiving.” This has been a difficult year and some people may be struggling with the idea of being thankful. The Covid-19 pandemic has reaped havoc on the lives of many and has affected everyone. Everyone has been touched by it in some way and yet I stand before you to remind you that we all have a reason to be thankful. It not just because you may not have gotten it or recovered from it; not because you maintained your job or found a new one if you lost it due to the pandemic; not because we are still able to maintain our lives in some fashion despite everything that has happen. No, our being thankful goes deeper than just being thankful for overcoming difficult circumstances in our lives. What I am talking about this morning is the thankfulness that is reserved for God and Him alone. Giving thanks to God is a major part of our worshipping Him because through it we yield and recognize what He is doing in our lives. We stop, we remember, and we are grateful which then comes out in our praise of thanksgiving. Giving thanks to God comes from a place within us where we remember where we could be without Him – not just in the world we live in physically, but where we will spend eternity because of the single choice He made in sending His Son to die for us. Last week I talked about what it means to repent and why it is important. Repenting is easy when we remember why we are thankful. Think about it. If we are walking in a place where we are grateful for what God has done for us, our being grateful is a state of thankfulness and it is our being thankful that causes us to want to spend more and more time in the presence of God.
I know that we understand what it means to give thanks, but I want to share a story with you to get your minds focused. I read a story about a minister who entered a crowded restaurant and sat down across from a man who was already eating. The minister paused to ask the blessing and give thanks before he started to eat as he was accustomed to doing which perplexed his fellow diner. His fellow diner asked him if he had a headache or if something was wrong with his food. The minister explained that he had given thanks to God for his food. The man responded “One of those, huh? Well, I work hard for my food and earn it by the sweat of my brow, so I never thank anyone else for it. I don’t have to thank anyone for it; I just dig in!” The minister replied, “You’re a lot like my dog. He does it that way too!”
I don’t know how many of you have owned a dog in your life, but when I read this story I thought about our family dog Eli, who died in 2018. Eli loved to eat and I mean he went at it with a passion. If you were fixing his meal and you were putting some meat in it, he would stand and watch you and just begin to slobber all over the floor. If you didn’t move fast enough he would start making these sounds to indicate that you should hurry up. There were many time when I would get frustrated with how impatient he became when he was ready to eat. When I would place the bowl down, he would literally try to push me out of the way to get to the bowl. Not once did he ever say “Thank you!” While I do believe he was grateful for each and every meal he received, he was not able to verbally tell me thank you or express, beyond eating his food as fast as he could, how grateful he was. I believe his aggressiveness in eating his food was the proof source of his being thankful for it.
I am sharing this story with you first because I want you to think about the man in the restaurant who believed that he was responsible for the food that went into his mouth so therefore there was no one to thank but himself. Do you know there are many people in the world that believe the way this man does? People who believe that God has nothing to do with what they have achieved in this life. People who believe that they are a “self-made” man or woman. People who believe that they pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps so they should get the credit for who they are and what they have accomplished. If that is you, I am definitely talking to you this morning. But if that is not you, I am still talking to you because while we could be very thankful in some areas of our lives, we may not be so thankful in some other areas.