Celebrating the "Giving" in Thanksgiving

Mike explains why giving is the essential ingredient in thanksgiving.
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I guess the first to be last the last will be first strike first rose last last rose first for the first time that the everybody was sitting up front when we turned around and started singing to the back wall. That's that's always good. See this is what I'm saying. You know what I was saying before we need the racks. That's what we want to avoid here. It's the only way we can get these things to everybody if we had those racks. There you can pick up your sermon notes on the way in.

You haven't. And those who don't use them wouldn't need to pick them up and just so many good things. The people who cleaned the building wouldn't have to pick up the ones that are left behind on the floor and so on and so forth. So I'll put in another plug here while the brethren are handing these out. She got a little if you got a store in your shop and you're want and you love the smell of sawdust you're looking for something to get out of the living room and get into the garage.

Here's the project made in heaven for you. Well on Thursday we we're gonna be celebrating one of the most edifying holidays in this country. That's Thanksgiving of course.

Now I say edifying because unlike other holidays Thanksgiving is not associated in any way with the pagan mystic practices in the ancient past nor this Thanksgiving by its nature promote excessive alcohol consumption you like New Year's Eve seems to be a lot of drinking going on.

Hopefully not by our members but there seems to be a lot of it going on in the world. Thanksgiving also is a holiday where everybody is included. Ever notice that.

I mean regardless of your religious background or your your previous customs it's an activity that you can get it get into even if you've never had it in the past as a child. I mean in Canada we celebrate Thanksgiving back in October because it's snowing in November and there's no harvest in November. But since we've been here we've switched over you know we we've adopted the American date and the American holiday. It's such an easy feast to adopt. I mean you can adopt Thanksgiving as your own personal holiday. It fits everybody this holiday.

It's also one that promotes simple and inexpensive things like being with family and friends sharing a meal together and remembering all of the things that are good in your life. You know I think about Thanksgiving most people can afford this holiday and there's usually no credit card hangover after Thanksgiving. Unlike other holidays that we shall remain nameless at the moment. Now another reason why I think this is a great holiday is because it forces a person to decide if they believe in God or not. I mean it's Thanksgiving. You know there comes a moment where you're either gonna give it or not.

And you have to decide you know the atheists. All they do is eat the turkey because for them Thanksgiving in their sense is a meaningless concept. So they just do the turkey and go home for doubters doubters.

You know they feel thankful okay. But they they're not sure who they should be offering thanks to you know they they feel it but they're not quite sure who who'd offer the Thanksgiving believers on the other hand who have been unfaithful are very thankful that they're still alive the way that they're acting because Thanksgiving usually serves up a lot of guilt for the backs lighter. And of course the faithful are truly thankful and they find in this time an opportunity to actually express their Thanksgiving in front of other people without apology. If there's one time in the year you can you know say great you you have your family over your friends or if there's one time in the year where you can say thanks before you eat without having to apologize to anybody.

It's that Thanksgiving that's a good thing because people are kind of expecting you especially if you're the religious one in the family to offer that prayer of thanksgiving. Of course the purpose of the holiday originally seen in its historical development in the early years of this country was to take note of one's blessings and to give thanks to God for these things. And so giving is the essential ingredient in thanksgiving for several very important reasons. First of all the giving of thanks helps maintain an orderly world view. I repeat that's a long one.

The giving of thanks helps to maintain an orderly world view it keeps everything in proper perspective is what I'm trying to say when we give thanks. A good example of this is enrollments. Chapter 1 beginning in verse 20 I want you to read along this passage or read this passage along with me and look at the relationship of ideas in these versus the cause and effect pattern that take place here and what happens when you don't give thanks. How everything gets mixed up in verse twenty Paul says of Romans chapter 1 Romans chapter 1 verse 20 Paul says force since the creation of the world.

His invisible attributes his internal power and divine nature have been clearly seen being understood through what has been made so that they are without excuse excuse. Paul is talking about unbelievers here people who reject God. He says God has revealed himself to man in such a way that he just cannot be missed. So clear is God's presence so Abel has man been designed to see him and know him that the Bible says God gives to man no excuse. There is no excuse for not believing in him. And then in verse 21 Romans chapter 1 verse 21 he says for even though they knew God they did not honor Him as God or give thanks.

Note the first mistake the first mistake that leads to spiritual blindness is not grave immorality or violence or greed but simply the neglect or the refusal to be thankful to honor God not with sacrifice not with service but rather with a simple acknowledgement that he is and a simple show of gratitude.

In other words people become spiritually blind cause they simply forget to say thank you. You know when your mom and dad were raising you and you were little and grandma or the man at the candy store gave you a little extra candy or something your mother always simply say thank you say thank you. Know is part of life that keeps your things in order. Paul says the very first mistake that took man from the high plane of believing in God and having all of his things in order was just the simple thing of not saying thank you.

And then he continues in verse 21 and he says but they became futile in their speculations and their foolish heart was darkened and professing to be wise. They became fools. You see the cause and effect here. They neglected to say thank you. They lose their perspective on where their blessings actually come from and also begin to lose an accurate understanding of how the world works and how their words demonstrate that they understand how the world works. Forgetting to say thank you gets all of this stuff all of the things out of sync pulses and then in verse twenty three he finishes this passage and he says and exchange the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and a four footed animals and crawling creatures.

The final effect is that they reverse the order of creation by worshiping the created thing instead of the Creator.

You see the constant giving of thanks and remember what my point is. If you've lost what the point is of the sermon you know I said the giving of thanks is important. And I said no one the giving of thanks is important because it keeps everything in proper perspective.

And so the constant giving of thanks especially through prayers and praise keeps our focus accurately on God who is the giver and who is the source of blessings that we enjoy. Paul teaches us here that once we lose that initial focus it begins to affect our thinking and our perceptions on everything else. Pretty soon we begin to believe that whatever is here created itself like the evolutionists believe or we begin to adore the blessings that we have instead of the one who actually provides the blessings. You see the giving of thanks continually keeps the alignment between God and myself and the things around me in proper perspective.

It doesn't get God second and me first or the things second in God. You know it keeps everything in proper order. When I continually give thanks to God. Secondly the giving of thanks enables a person to receive and to enjoy the blessings of God. In other words when you give thanks it's the giving of thanks that enables you to really enjoy what you have in First Timothy. Chapter 4 Verse 4 and 5 Paul again says for everything created by God is good and nothing is to be rejected.

If there is the big if if it is sanctity if it is received with gratitude for it is sanctified by means of the Word of God and prayer the word says it's OK and you give thanks for it it's yours. It's OK. Go ahead and enjoy it.

I want you to think about something for a moment. What right do we have to sit around a table filled with food while there is yet one single person in this world that is starving to death. What gives us the right to sit around and gorge ourselves while there are people out there children out there literally starving to death. And we see them every week on TV though. We can't get away from what gives us that right.

What right do we have to eat food that we have had no part in producing all we've done is gone through the store and pick it up off the shelf. What right do we have. You see the only thing that enables us to eat with a clear conscience despite the condition that exists in the world despite the ease in which we access the food is the recognition that God has provided it. And through Thanksgiving we have a right to eat it. And we acknowledge his kindness so many people so many people feel guilty because of their prosperity.

You know they're constantly in turmoil. Some people if they lack goods and wealth they worry and feel that they're missing their rightful share. They're all nervous. And if they prosper the opposite happens they feel guilty and unworthy of what they have ever noticed so many suddenly rich people people who are rich all of a sudden are famous all of a sudden for one reason or other they commit suicide they become depressed. Well maybe they become depressed first and then they commit suicide.

We add that in the wrong order. But they do this they fall into this downward spiral of depression because of their overwhelming guilt and self-hatred at their good fortune. How many people you know you look you would notice that you read the paper and some movie star some guy some sports or whatever you know there they kill themselves some music stuff they kill themselves.

You say man a guy had everything that the money had fame had talent everything. Well why do they do that.

Because they didn't like themselves that you read about this and you will find that the common theme that runs through all of it is that they did not feel worthy. They didn't like themselves. They were unworthy for all that they had received. The thing that they were missing in their lives.

You know what it was Thanksgiving. You see the giving of thanks is the antidote to the effects of both extremes.

The effects of being poor and the effects of being rich the giving of thanks helps us deal with both things in Philippians chapter 4 in verse 11 Paul says Not that I speak from want for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means and I also know how to live in prosperity in any and every circumstance.

I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry both of having abundance and suffering need his secret as he reveals. As we read through the chapter was that Jesus would provide for him the things that he needed regardless of his or if he was rich. Jesus would provide the wisdom to deal with that if he was poor. Jesus would provide the strength to bear under his poverty.

Now if you study Paul's life you will quickly note that at both the high points and the low points in his life he always always made the giving of thanks a priority in his life.

For example the letter that I read from the letter to the Philippians he wrote this letter while he was in jail and innocently in jail but the very first thing he does in chapter 1 verse 3 is give thanks to God for his brothers at Philippi. First thing he does He gives thanks. And then if you were to read the letter to the Romans chapter 1 verse 8 here Paul when he wrote this letter he was in high gear his ministry was moving churches were being planted.

You know he was being successful. And what's the first thing he does in Rome is chapter 1 verse 8. He gives thanks that the gospel was being preached throughout the world. You see the giving of thanks is necessary to allow us the freedom to enjoy the things that God gives us without guilt or restraint. If I acknowledged that God is blessing me I have done what God has required me to do in regards to that blessing.

I can go ahead and if somebody gives me something for free that I have not earned you know an uncle I never knew dies of old age and leaves me a million bucks. I'm not gonna go around and say Why me oh I don't know dear I don't. I'm going to say thank you Lord. Now when I'm saying I'm not going to feel guilty about that I'm not going to feel guilty about that because the giving of thanks is what makes that thing available for me. It's what blesses it it's what sanctify is it it's what makes it clean.

Yes there are other people out there that don't have a million bucks and the Lord will provide me the wisdom of how to use that money to glorify him. But I'm not gonna feel guilty about the giving of thanks is also necessary to remain balanced emotionally and to maintain spiritual integrity.

When things go wrong not just when things go well but when things go badly you know if I continue to acknowledge God's blessings even during those tough times what I'm doing is I'm testifying that my faith is not based on what God gives me.

You know when God gives me a lot I believe a lot and when God gives me just a little I believe only a little ever noticed that you're your faith swing that way sometimes you know things are going good man I'm in church I'm ready to roll. You know things are going bad. Oh God. He's abandoned me.

You know when I continue to give thanks and good times and I continue to give thanks and bad times what I'm doing is I am telling God that my faith is based on his presence the fact that he is always there.

The fact that he is always there in good times and in bad times. The giving of thanks is a constant witness that I believe that God is there regardless of my wealth or my poverty. And you know what happens in the end. This faith is the greatest gift of all and most of the Thanksgiving is offered up not because of the stuff that I have but because of the faith that I have. It's the faith that I have that eventually is the source of my greatest and constant Thanksgiving. Well another reason why the giving of thanks is important is because it enhances my prayer life.

It enhances my prior life in Philippians chapter 4 4 6 Paul says being anxious for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God. Note that Paul mentions that our communications to God has two different elements here. First of all he says you need to make prayers and supplication. Those are the things that you asked for the prayers and the supplication. Those are the needs that you lay before him. I need this I need I need health I need wealth I need I need guidance I need you know the things you need it's OK.

God never tires of hearing the things that you need because he's told us to ask so we must ask but Paul also says that your supplication must be accompanied with Thanksgiving because Thanksgiving speaks to attitude.

We should be thankful for the prayers and supplication that have already been answered in the past. The giving of thanks is a regular part of our prayers is necessary because if we're not thankful for what God has already given to us how can we ask him for more. I mean it's pretty basic stuff right. You go to your dad you need to borrow the car or you need to borrow money or whatever it is. And now what we do Dad you know really appreciate. You know you did this for me you did that for me. Now for this weekend. Can I borrow money right. I mean it's basic stuff. Paul is saying right here. Yes. Put your needs before God but make sure that your needs are accompanied with Thanksgiving.

Our prayers are more effective more pleasing to God and more in the faith when we recognize our needs through the asking and we recognize God's past mercies through the giving of thanks and then finally the giving of thanks is a joyful experience unto itself. It's a joyful experience to give thanks and Psalm 92. David says it is good to give thanks to the Lord. Not it. It is good to give thanks to the Lord. He's speaking about the experience.

It is good to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to thy name. Almost time to declare thy loving kindness in the morning and thy faithfulness by night with the ten string looped in with the harp with the resounding music upon the lyre for thou O Lord has made me glad by what thou hast done I will sing for joy at the work of thy has I don't know about you but when I read this I get the idea that this guy feels pretty good you know he is not depressed here and what is the substance what is the reason he feels good because he says Well Lord I just feel good when I give you praise when I offer Thanksgiving it makes me feel good.

David describes the good feeling the joyful experience that comes from giving thanks giving thanks feels good.

It's a healthy painless non fattening inexpensive safe edifying non-toxic user friendly thing to do. Do want me to repeat that. You know we sometimes think that everything our faith requires us to do is difficult and robs us of some kind of pleasure. Right. You know religion boring religion no fun right. And that the equation we make religion sacrifice. That's the equation we make.

But that certainly doesn't sound like what Paul is what David is experiencing here in Psalm 92. You know brothers and sisters the only pleasure that God forbids is sinful pleasure and the only reason he forbids sinful pleasure is that sinful pleasure ultimately destroys us. And he loves us too much to allow us to destroy ourselves. That's the only pleasure that God denies us is sinful pleasure every other pleasure that he has create it is for us and I am of the mind that when I give thanks I'm thinking of the good things that I have enjoyed and I am. And as I review them I'm giving thanks. And that makes me feel good.

The giving of thanks lifts the spirit focuses our minds on the good things in our lives gives us hope for the bad and allows us to base our souls in a positive and acceptable way before God. This is purely a spiritual exercise and a small taste of the heavenly experience to come. And it is oh so good for the soul you feeling down you feel it bad. Give thanks. You feel discouraged feeling the world's got to you know give thanks you feel confused you feel unsure get stop whining give thanks instead.

It feels so much better it feels so much better it gets everything aligned in the proper line you know what I'm saying it focuses your mind and your heart on the good things in your life and there are good things in your life we tend to focus always on the negative in the giving of thanks focuses us automatically on the good things of life and it is pleasing to God.

Well like I said Thanksgiving's a great holiday because for a brief moment just for a brief moment the nation comes together to share the fruit of this wonderful interaction with God you know it's like at Thanksgiving people get a little glimpse of what we you know experience on an ongoing basis people recognize that their blessings come from somebody else other than themselves they find the proper balance between the wealth of this nation and the rest of the world by acknowledging their blessings. The United States at this moment in Thanksgiving comes closer to an acceptable collective prayer than at any other time because of its spirit of thankfulness and finally as a country there's probably more joy and less anxiety at Thanksgiving than at any other time of the year.

Of course Christians can enjoy this experience and interaction with God at any time and we can enjoy it with a greater intensity because we can give thanks not only for material blessings like the world does but we have the greater ability to give thanks for the spiritual blessings we have in Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact for Christians the subject of our Thanksgiving is mainly the blessings that we have through Christ Jesus because you see things like forgiveness and peace of mind and resurrection from the dead.

These things are a source of eternal joy. I mean I can be thankful for my new car and I can be thankful for my nice house and be thankful for good health. I have like me thankful for money in the bank and winning the big game and I can be thankful for all those things.

But you know what those things are gonna disappear and next year I might not be able to say thank you for those things because the car might break down hurricane may you know take away the house and you know my health will fail and you know you know what I'm saying but the spiritual things that I'm thankful for in Christ Jesus forgiveness of sins the fact that there is no condemnation in Christ the fact that when I die I will resurrect and live forever with the Lord. You know all those things those things are the same every single year.

They never grow old. They're always fresh they're always aromatic they're always ready they're always a source of great joy. And as Christians we have the opportunity to give thanks for those things every day. And I would encourage you to be mindful of those things when you do give thanks.

Well I hope that this year we're gonna remember to give thanks at Thanksgiving not just eat too much turkey and O.D. on football I hope that won't be the sum total of your experience and I hope also that everybody will have cause to be thankful for their salvation in Jesus Christ and as we finish up this morning I want to say if you're not able to say thank you God for forgiving me if you're not able to say thank you God for saving my soul then we encourage you to come forward and confess your faith and be baptized this morning.

Join those who have a real reason to give thanks come to Jesus Christ for salvation and you will be eternally thankful come this morning if you need to. As we stand and as we sing.