All This Is From God

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This week we had a national holiday: Thanksgiving.
I did not do a thanksgiving sermon last week. I’ve never done a thanksgiving sermon. But as I was reflecting on a few things this week I make an decision to preach a thanksgiving sermon after all.
This is not a sermon rant in response to something I saw or heard. Sometimes last minute sermon changes flow from that sort of this. That isn’t the case here. This is just Pastor Kenn, thinking about his Bible and the concept of gratitude.
The concept of gratitude is a distinctly Christian idea. Thankfulness only makes sense in the Christian worldview.
Think about that for a moment. We have a national holiday called Thanksgiving. The early colonist were thankful to God for their first corn harvest and celebrated with a feast. During the Revolutionary War the continental congress designated one or more days each year for the purpose of offering thanksgiving to the Lord. After the war was finished, George Washington offered the first Thanksgiving Proclamation. Here is a portion of that speech:
“Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me "to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness. Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be.”
Though many states adopted official thanksgiving dates, it wasn’t declared a national holiday until 1863 during the height of the civil war and Abraham Lincoln offered these words:
The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God...No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.
And we’ve been celebrating Thanksgiving as a national holiday ever since.
But do you notice that each of those addresses make it clear that there is a debt of gratitude owed to someone specific?
Is it any wonder that gratitude is being increasing lost in a culture that is increasing straying from the Lord? The day itself is increasingly called “Turkey Day” rather than thanksgiving. Is that an attempt to divorce the concept of thanks from the feast and celebration? I don’t know. But it certainly is an interesting phenomenon to observe.
This sermon is not really about the holiday “Thanksgiving”
It is about the concept of being thankful, which is something we are losing in our culture.
We’re losing it so much that secular psychologists have done significant work to promote the concept of gratitude…though what is often missing the the object to whom we direct those thanks.
This is from the Harvard Health Medical School Blog:
In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.
The article would go on to document the research and demonstrate that people who had regular habits of expressing gratitude were healthier, happier, exercised more, and had better social interactions, and the results of focusing on gratitude were greater and longer lasting than other forms of positive psychology methods.
And so the psychologists and therapists start asking their patients to make lists of things they are grateful for, and to let their loves know that they are thankful for them etc....
All the while leaving out what is the most important aspect of gratitude: the object to whom thanks is directed.
Every year we see lists of things people are thankful for but who are they thankful to?
That is our point of emphasis today. That it isn’t enough to be thankful for. We must be thankful to. And that object must be almighty God.

Ingratitude is a Sign of Human Depravity

Romans 1:21 ESV
21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
2 Timothy 3:1–5 ESV
1 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2 For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
Ingratitude Reveals Pride
Ingratitude Reveals Independence
Ingratitude Reveals Entitlement
Gratitude reveals Humility
Gratitude recognizes Dependence
Gratitude recognizes out undeserving nature

Gratitude is Practical

It’s the Will of God
1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV
18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
It’s part of the antidote to anxiety
Philippians 4:6 ESV
6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Gratitude is a Response to God’s Blessings

Ephesians 1:3–15 ESV
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. 15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints,
Everything we have is from God.
2 Corinthians 5:18 ESV
18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;
Gratitude that we can be used of God for ministry
2 Corinthians 9:15 ESV
15 Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
2 Corinthians 2:14 ESV
14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere.
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