Be Ye Thankful

by Paul Huffmaster

Introduction

1. The last 3 words in Col. 3:15 are a big challenge to me.  Does anyone know what these last 3 words are?  Be ye thankful.
2. The word thanks or synonyms for thanks are mentioned 150 times.
3. This may not seem like much until you compare it to other words, such as: adultery (64 times), stealing (21 times), covetousness (41 times), idolatry (111 times), kill (144 times).
4. In these 150 passages we are either:
-exhorted to give thanks
-people are giving thanks
-people are exhorted because they are not thankful
5. The fact that the word thanks is mentioned 150 times shows that we are to give thanks, and it is a good thing to give thanks.

Col. 3:15.Be Ye Thankful

How many times have you read about the Israelites in the wilderness and become somewhat annoyed at their unthankfulness and murmuring toward Moses and God?
Ex. 14:10-murmured out of fear
Ex. 15:24-no water
Ex. 16:2-no food
Ex. 17:3-no water

When they had the food and drink they didn’t like it.  I empathize with them.
Num. 11: 1-complaining, murmuring, being unthankful displeases the Lord

Because God doesn’t like it we need to stop it and be thankful.

-We need an attitude of gratitude.
-Our expectations often cause us to be unthankful.
-The Israelites expected life to be easier in the desert.
-Life is not easier as Christians.  You gave up your sinful ways, which you love, and now you are to love that which you used to hate.  Ex:  I like sports.
Who are we to be thankful to?
1. God through Jesus Christ.  Eph. 5:20
2. To other people that help us.  Mt. 26:13, Ro. 16:1-16
Thankfulness to others should lead us back to God.  Phil. 1:3
This is all we are to give thanks to not anything else (not our “lucky stars”, mother nature, guardian angels, etc.)

Why be thankful?
1. Commanded-Col. 3:15, Psa. 100:4.  Isn’t it sad and an indication of our sinful nature that God, who rescued His people from their sins and hell, has to tell us to give Him thanks?

I don’t believe that it is our nature to say thank you.  Saying thank you shows our dependence on someone else.  I have to constantly tell my children to say “thank you.”
You don’t always have to feel it to do it.  But if you do it you will feel it.  It will make you feel better.

2. It is a good thing to do.  Psa. 92:1.  We all know that we should give thanks always and in every situation.  Eph. 5:20.  Easy to give thanks for “good,” but not so easy with the “bad.”  To help you give thanks in every situation:  -Try to remember the past and how God has delivered you.  I Cor. 10:13
-Remember that trials are for our good.  Ja. 1:2,3.  Ex: Pain is for our good, even though we don’t think so at the time.
-Is this serious or just an inconvenience?
-God’s keeping you from further problems.
-Leading you in another direction to something that is better for you.  Ex: Being a police officer.

3. A simple way to please God.  Anybody can do it.  Lu. 17:16-18.  Leper with Jesus.  -10% returned to give thanks.
-The difference between an obedient heart and a thankful heart.   Obedience can be cold.  Thankfulness is never cold.
-Mt. 26:13.  Gave from thankfulness.  She wasn’t a theologian; she was an uneducated prostitute.  Obedience is usually reasonable.  Thankfulness is giving from the heart.

4. A simple way to encourage others.
-When we encourage others by being thankful for what they did it encourages them.  I believe that pleases and glorifies God.  Why do I say that?  Because God tells us to be like Him.
-If someone helps you thank them.
-If someone needs encouraging, encourage them because this will cause them to give thanks to God.
-God is kind to us, He encourages us, and He takes notice of us.
-When we are thankful to others we are being as God would have us to be: 1)Kind, 2)Encourage, 3) Notice.  Lu. 6:31.
-Did Jesus do this?  Jn. 9:35.  He found this man; this was very kind and encouraging to the man.

5. They give thanks to God in heaven.  Rev. 4:9, 7:12.  Being thankful here helps you prepare for heaven.  When you are thankful you are in good company.

6.   Being thankful will help us from sin.
-What sin?  Not serving, not praying, murmuring, lack of contentment.
-How does the thankful heart act?  By serving, by praying (start your prayer by telling God thanks), not murmuring, complaining, or whining, being content

7.   A thankful heart = a willing heart.
A willing heart = a cheerful heart.
A cheerful heart makes a cheerful giver.  God loves a cheerful giver; so do we.
We have a lot to be thankful for.
-If you know you are saved, have sound mind, and if you are still here.
-Be thankful for the things that you did not get that you did want.
-You know what you call things that you got that you didn’t need or never use: white elephant.
-Be thankful for the things that you didn’t get that you didn’t want: sickness.

Why Should We Be Thankful?

by Pastor Mike Stine

There is a story that tells of an attempted assassination of Queen Elizabeth I. The woman who sought to do so dressed as a male page and hid herself in the queen’s boudoir awaiting the convenient moment to stab the queen to death. She did not realize that the queen’s attendants would be very careful to search the rooms before Her Majesty was permitted to retire. They found the woman hidden among the gowns and brought her into the presence of the queen, taking from her the knife she had hope to plant in the heart of Queen Elizabeth. She realized that, humanly speaking, her case was hopeless. She threw herself down on her knees and pleaded and begged the queen as a woman to have compassion on her, a woman, and to show her grace. Queen Elizabeth looked at her coldly and quietly said, “If I show you grace, what promise will you make for the future?” The woman looked up and said, “Grace that has conditions, or grace that is fettered by precautions, is not grace at all.” Queen Elizabeth caught it in a moment and said, “You are right. I pardon you of my grace.” And they led her away, a free woman. History tells us that from that moment Queen Elizabeth had no more faithful and devoted servant than that woman who had intended to take her life. That is exactly the way the grace of God should work in the life of an individual–he or she becomes a faithful servant of God.

God’s grace is something that we certainly ought to be thankful for. We have done nothing to merit it and there is nothing we can do to ever pay back what we truly owe for grace. Grace goes beyond human comprehension. There was no reason why Queen Elizabeth should have left her would be assassin go. Logic said that she should have feared for her life if she let the woman go. The only way she would truly be safe would be to have the woman put to death.

Just as this woman was an enemy of Queen Elizabeth, we were once enemies of God. As Romans 5:10 says, “…we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son…” We should be thankful though because as Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrated his love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God had no reason to do as he did and yet he did it anyway.

Imagine for a moment that you are that woman pardoned by Queen Elizabeth; guilty of attempted murder of the queen and absolutely worthy of death. Yet for some reason, nothing you deserve at all, you are pardoned and told you could leave. How would that affect your life? Would you live your life differently knowing that each day you had now was because of the grace of the queen?
Now imagine that you’re a sinner, filthy and deserving of death. Yet for some reason, nothing you deserve at all, you are pardoned by God and granted eternal life in heaven. How would that affect your life? Would you live differently knowing that each day you had was a gift of the King of Kings?

This is why we thank God. Rather this is one of many reasons that we thank God. As I began researching thanksgiving and thankfulness, there was no passage that jumped right out at me as being the pinnacle of thankfulness. I did find, however, that the Bible is completely full of areas of thanksgiving. I was nearly overwhelmed by instances all throughout the Bible where God is given thanks. I had titled this “Why should we give thanks?” but I believe that the question to really answer is why shouldn’t we give thanks because I could spend all night giving reasons to give thanks. There are a number of places where thanksgiving should be though, but isn’t.

It is interesting to note that there is no Hebrew word that can only be translated as thanksgiving. There are two words in the Hebrew language that can be translated as thanksgiving but typically are translated as praise which does at least convey the concept of thanksgiving as well.

There are numerous places in the Old Testament where thankfulness is absent from a person’s life. In many of the places, the consequences of their apathy toward God is shown clearly though. In the story of Cain and Abel, we know that Abel’s animal sacrifice was acceptable to God, but Cain’s sacrifice of fruit was not. While there are theological implications behind a blood sacrifice, much of the reason Cain’s sacrifice was not acceptable was because of unthankfulness. Abel presented his best before God while Cain presented “some of the fruit of the soil,” as it is stated in Genesis chapter 4. Cain had an unthankful heart when he presented his offering and God rejected it. He did not present his best to the Lord. And of course we know how the story ends. Cain’s unthankful heart leads to jealousy which in turn leads Cain to eventually murder his brother.

This is not the worst case of unthankfulness though. The height of it is found in Exodus. After God’s miraculous deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt, the people were not thankful. They grumbled and complained, first about not having enough food and water. God provided both. Then instead of being thankful for the manna that God had provided for them, they complained again, saying that it wasn’t good enough. And God provided quail. The moral of the story is if you bug God enough, he’ll give you what you want… No of course the Israelites paid dearly for their lack of thankfulness. In one such instance, recorded in Numbers 21:5-6, the people are struck dead by serpents. “5 The people spoke against God and Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we loathe this miserable food.” 6 The LORD sent fiery serpents among the people and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.” When we are not thankful, it is possible that consequences, even dire lack in Israel’s case, could follow.

On a more positive note of people who did give thanks to God, the book of Psalms is filled with thanksgiving. At least twenty psalms invite or command people to give their thanksgiving to God. “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,” is a common phrase in the psalms. Also the idea of praise, which as I mentioned earlier is often substituted for thanksgiving and means much the same in many instances.

Perhaps the greatest Thanksgiving Day in the Old Testament is found in the book of Nehemiah though. The situation is this…In 538 BC the Israelites are allowed by Cyrus to return to their native land after seventy years of captivity in Babylon. Approximately 50,000, only a small number of the Israelites now living away from their homeland now, return. The people rebuild the temple of God in Jerusalem. However it is almost 100 years before Nehemiah’s time. 100 years later, Nehemiah is cupbearer to King Artaxerxes, a very influential position at the time. He is sitting comfortably with his job and is probably living a rather nice life. But when he hears that Jerusalem is without a wall he is very upset. Jerusalem is a city that he’s probably never even been to but he realizes that it is the city of his forefathers and knows that it is important to his people. The reason he is so distressed is because at the time, a city without a wall is essentially a sitting duck, open to raiders and thieves, anyone who might come by and decide that they want to plunder the city. Nehemiah gains permission from the king to go to Jerusalem to lead the building of the wall. He sets to work, overcoming some opposition along the way, and at the end of only 52 days, the work is done.

Nehemiah plans an incredible thanksgiving service found in Nehemiah 12:27-47. I’ll read parts of it to give you a feel for what happened. “At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the Levites were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps and lyres. The singers were brought together from the region around Jerusalem…(31) I had the leaders of Judah go up on top of the wall. I assigned two large choirs to give thanks. One was to proceed on top of the wall to the right…(38) The second choir proceeded in the opposite direction. I followed them on top of the wall, together with half the people…(40) The two choirs that gave thanks then took their places in the house of God…(43) …on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and children also rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away.”

This was a thanksgiving celebration to remember for all time.

What should we thank God for? We no longer offer sacrifices to him in the form of animals. Food doesn’t miraculously appear every morning for us to gather. And we haven’t constructed a wall around churches to protect us from possible thieves and raiders (at least not any I know of). So why should we be thankful? Just in case you’re having trouble thinking of some reasons, the scriptures have a lot to say on this as well. I’ll offer just a few…

We are to give thanks before eating. When Jesus fed the 5000, he first gave thanks to God for the food. John 6:11 says, “Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and passed them out to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate until they were full.” If Jesus gave thanks for food he was going to miraculously create, how much more should we thank God for food he gave us?

We are to give thanks for God’s goodness and his love, just one of many such Psalms is 106:1, “Praise the LORD! Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.” God’s goodness and mercy are clear in our lives. As I mentioned before, like the would be assassin of Queen Elizabeth we were pardoned, all because of God’s faithful love.

We are to thank God for the gift of his son, and for victory over death. II Corinthians 9:15 says, “Thank God for his Son – a gift too wonderful for words!” while I Cor. 15:57 says, “How we thank God, who gives us victory over sin and death through Jesus Christ our Lord!” Certainly this is something to be thankful for, because Jesus holds power over death, we have no reason to fear.

And just in case these aren’t enough things to thank God for, we’re thank God for everything, always, and in public! I Thess. 5:18 states, “No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” And Ephesians 5:20 says, “And you will always give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And as David says in Psalms 35:18, “Then I will thank you in front of the entire congregation. I will praise you before all the people”

We have absolutely every reason to thank God for what he has done for us. We should even thank God for our sufferings and trials as James states in chapter 1:2-3, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” We should even praise God for all the things we don’t want to praise him for, because our trials are proof that God is still working within us.

We have so many reasons to praise God, and I’ve just scratched the surface of biblical reasons to be thankful. Obviously there are many more. Perhaps we can’t have a celebration everyday like Nehemiah held after completion of the wall but we need to remember daily what the Lord has done for us. Thanksgiving isn’t just another holiday, but it should be an act; an act that occurs everyday. And for this I’m truly thankful.