A Heart of Thanksgiving

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Grace Bible Church

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Pastor Scott L. Harris

Grace Bible Church, NY

November 21, 2010

A Heart of Thanksgiving

Selected Scriptures

Introduction

This Thursday is Thanksgiving Day, and in light of that I thought it would be good if I spoke about that subject so that all of us are prepared to celebrate it properly. Tragically, Thanksgiving Day, much like Christmas and Easter, has become another of our national holidays whose true significance has diminished for the years. Its historic origin and meaning have been lost to secular symbols and entertainments. For many, the focus of Christmas is now Santa Claus and increasing consumer debt instead of celebrating the wonder of the incarnation of Christ. The meaning of Easter has shifted away from the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and the hope that gives us. Instead the center of attention is the Easter Bunny and the arrival of Spring. Likewise, Thanksgiving Day has shifted from its historic roots to what is now often referred to as “Turkey Day,” a day set aside for football and gluttony.

This morning I want to review the historical setting for Thanksgiving Day not only as a reminder to those already familiar with it, but even more so to give understanding of the holiday to those who do not know what the holiday is really about. We live in an age in which the elite of our society are hostile to God, so it is not surprising that God and references to His hand upon this nation are increasingly excluded not only from the classrooms of America, but also from our national memory. We live in a day in which history is being revised to match current “politically correct thinking” of secular universities. As a quick example, Catherine Millard in her book, The Rewriting of America’s History, tells of two stained glass windows in the historic Christ Church in Philadelphia being removed in September, 1986 for “cleaning” and replaced with clear 20th century glass. They are now in permanent storage. “The Patriots’ Window” (also known as Christ Church Patriots 1790) (http://www.okfamilypc.org/liberty_charters.htm) showed the founding fathers in their family pews worshiping God with open Bibles with the upper panel depicting the 1607 Jamestown settlers celebrating the Lord’s supper upon arrival in America. The second was the “The Liberty Window” which was patterned after a painting by Harrison Tompkins Matteson (c.1848) portraying all 56 congressmen at prayer at the first convening of Congress in September 7, 1774. (http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/religion/rel04.html) The congressmen had unanimously invited Jacob Duche, first rector of Christ Church, to preside in prayer, beseeching God’s blessing upon the new government. The postcards of the windows are no longer sold, and the interpretive tour no longer mentions them or the events they commemorated.

In regards to Thanksgiving itself, there is an increasing avoidance in mentioning God. I first noticed this is the November 1991 issue of Sesame Street Magazine. In a very short article entitled “The Thanksgiving Story,” the magazine forgot to mention the reason for the celebration. It said, “The Native Americans joined the Pilgrims for a special meal. The pilgrims were thankful for all the food that the American Indians had helped them grow that year.” While I am sure the Pilgrims were thankful to the Indians for their help, the reason for the celebration, which lasted three days, was to give thanks to God for the bountiful harvest.

Thanksgiving in Early America

We should never forget that the motivation for the journey to America and the establishment of Plymouth colony was religious. Some revisionists have tried to make this aspect of the Plymouth settlers into a “myth” or a “romantic legend,” but the facts are plain. It was a group of Separatists called Pilgrims that came up with the idea and they were the driving force behind the establishment of the Plymouth Plantation Company. In 1608 a group of these separatists emigrated to Leyden, Holland, but after 12 years they found their children were losing their identities as Englishmen. Of the 102 souls that set sail on the Mayflower in September 1620, 35 were Pilgrims from Leyden. They arrived in the new world in the vicinity of Cape Cod on November 11, 1620. After exploring the coast, they decided to establish the settlement at a place they named Plymouth. In late December, just prior to their departure from the Mayflower for the shore, they drew up The Mayflower Compact which said among other things, “In the name of God, Amen. We, whose names are underwritten . . . having undertaken, for the glory of God, and advancement of the Christian faith . . . a voyage to plant the first colony in the Northern parts of Virginia . . . do by these Presents, solemnly and mutually in the presence of God and one another covenant and combine ourselves under into a civil Body Politic . . . and by Virtue hereof do enact . . . such just and equal Laws . . . as shall be thought most meet and convenient for the general Good of the Colony.”

That first winter was harsh on them. They had scarce food and were had much sickness and death, yet they still managed to build a small settlement in Plymouth. By March and the first signs of Spring, William Bradford wrote, “the Spring now approaching, it pleased God the mortalitie begane to cease amongst them, and the sick and lame recovered apace, which put as it were new life into them; though they had borne their sadd affliction with much patience & contentednes.” Forty seven out of the 102 that had left England that previous September were now dead. Almost half of the Mayflower’s crew of 50 had also died. In the next few months, several more would die including John Carver, the governor.

William Bradford, whose wife had also died that winter, was chosen to take Carver’s place as governor. The Spring and Summer had their own challenges as they developed relations with the surrounding Indian tribes with the Wampanoag and the sole surviving Patuxet, Tisquantum (Squanto), aiding them in planting their first crops. They had a good harvest which Bradford described as of “all things in good plenty” and so he called for a Thanksgiving celebration of their harvest that lasted three days and was shared with their Wampanoag friends. Chief Massasoit came with 90 others from his tribe. (Outnumbering the settlers 2 to 1). Their feast might be considered meager by today’s standards, but there were plenty of various water fowl, wild turkey, venison, fish, corn, wheat & barley meal, squash, nuts and beans. The event began with a prayer service lead by William Brewster.

We often concentrate on those three days of celebration and feasting held at the end of their harvest as the proof of their thanksgiving to God for His provision for them. However, the real proof is that Sunday after Sunday throughout even the worst of times during that previous Winter they gathered to publicly thank God for what He had done and petition Him for His grace and mercy. Would any of us respond to such harsh conditions and loss of life in the same manner as they did? Only if we have the same heart of thanksgiving.

Special times of thanksgiving continued to be part of their normal lives even though that next winter was also meager since they had miscalculated how much food they had stored for the winter, and then the Fortune arrived in November with 35 more people, but no provisions. By May 1622 they were out of food and without the knowledge or equipment to fish properly. They survived on shellfish they caught by hand. Their harvest that year was a dismal failure. Only the arrival of the Discovery and its trading supplies enabled them to barter with the Indians for some food, but there was little to go around. This period was known as the starving time with a ration of only 5 kernels of corn each. The completion of a shallop outfitted for fishing helped, but a drought that Summer almost destroyed the crops they had planted. They gathered to pray in early July for God’s mercy which was followed by a gentle rain for two weeks and then the arrival of the relief ships Anne and Little James with 60 new settlers loaded with provisions. Governor Bradford proclaimed July 30 as a Thanksgiving Day for the purpose of prayer and celebration, and then another day of Thanksgiving was held in November for the ingathering of the crops that had recovered from the earlier drought. In 1668, November 25 was appointed as Thanksgiving Day with these words written into the Plymouth Colony Records, “It has pleased God in some comfortable measure to bless us in the fruits of the earth.”

Special days of Thanksgiving were sporadic through the years in national history. During the Revolutionary War eight special days of thanksgiving were observed for victories and for being saved from dangers and one in 1784 for the end of the war. In 1789 President George Washington issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation saying, “Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th of November next to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being . . . That we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protections of the People of this country previous to the their becoming a Nation, for the single and manifold mercies . . . which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have enjoyed . . . and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath pleased to confer upon us.”

This national day of Thanksgiving was celebrated by all religious denominations and helped to promote a spirit of common heritage. Washington set aside another day of Thanksgiving in 1795, and then in 1815 President James Madison did the same at the conclusion of the War of 1812. The various States continued to celebrate days of Thanksgiving on different dates. A national day of Thanksgiving was unknown again until 1863. At the prompting of Mrs Sara Hale, editor of Godey’s Lady’s Book, President Lincoln made a proclamation setting aside the last Thursday in November as an annual Thanksgiving Day. From 1863 to 1941 the custom was for the President to issue a proclamation setting the day of the National Day of Thanksgiving. In 1941 a joint resolution in Congress established the fourth Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day and made it a legal public holiday.

What is more interesting than all this though is the fact that the Thanksgiving celebrated by the Pilgrims in Plymouth was not the first observance of a Thanksgiving celebrated in the New World. On December 4, 1619, thirty-nine English settlers arrived at Berkley Plantation, on the James River, Virginia. The group’s charter required that the day of arrival be observed yearly as a day of thanksgiving to God. And perhaps this is the real point. Official days of Thanksgiving were nothing new for the Pilgrims in 1621. Community harvest celebrations as well as additional days set aside to commemorate some special blessing or deliverance are part of English history. For example, a day was proclaimed in 1605 “in grateful deliverance” for the thwarting of the Gunpowder Plot in which Guy Fawkes had conspired to blow up the House of Commons. The Pilgrims had also spent 12 years in Holland and had seen the Dutch celebrate an annual day of Thanksgiving in October commemorating their victory over Spain in 1575.

The practice of national days of thanksgiving trace back into the Old Testament in both the Feast of First fruits, which occurs at the beginning of harvest, and the Feast of Booths, which occurs at the end of harvest (Leviticus 23). When we remember the centrality of Christianity in the lives of the Pilgrims, we see that it was not an original thought to celebrate a day of Thanksgiving.

Hearts of Thanksgiving

I believe the Pilgrims set aside those days of thanksgiving in 1621 not because of tradition, but because they knew God and walked with Him. Their celebration was just an expression of what was already commonly upon their hearts. I say this because people who have been through the kind of extreme hardships they had experienced do not carry out a sporadic tradition just for the sake of tradition. Their thanksgiving was genuine and from the heart.

The Pilgrims were different from arrogant America of today which thinks it can rely on itself and be the master of its own destiny.

While Christians are sometimes accused of glorifying God in everything and blaming Him for nothing, which is proper theology, the modern secularist does the opposite. They blame God for everything and glorify Him for nothing. The humble know that God is holy and does not tempt anyone to evil much less cause it (James 1:13). They know their own sinfulness and recognize that it is man’s rebellion against God that is the cause of trouble and has resulted in God’s curse on the earth (Genesis 3; James 1:14-15). The humble also recognize that “Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow” (James 1:17). That is why they are quick to recognize God’s gracious and loving hand and give Him thanks.

It is not enough to say “thanks” for all the things you like. Anyone can say “thanks.” We consider that just good manners regardless of what is really going on in the heart. We teach our children to say, “thank you,” just because it is common courtesy of being polite. Of course it is a lot easier to say thanks when what is given to you is something you really want – such as a child getting the toy he has been asking for. It is more difficult to say thank you when you are given something you don’t really want, but well mannered people learn to be courteous even in those situations. I can think of a hideous two foot high ceramic Christmas tree we were given twenty years ago that someone’s mother had made in her art class – I think telling her mother she gave it to the pastor was just a good excuse for her to get it out of her own house. But we still said, “thank you,” and have worked hard to teach our sons to respond with the same courtesy. That is just proper manners.

But the hallmark of a heart of thanksgiving is to have genuine gratitude in the midst of the tough times. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 commands, “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Everything leaves nothing out. There is no circumstance we can experience in which we cannot give thanks to God, but that can only be done when we see things from God’s perspective and desire to live for His purposes.

Can we really be thankful in the middle of trials? James 1:2 commands that we should “consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials.” Paul says in Romans 5:3 that “we exult in our tribulations.” You cannot complain and rejoice at the same time, but you can rejoice and give thanks at the same time. Paul and James both tell us that even our trials can be a cause for rejoicing, and hence thanksgiving when we remember to see even our trials and tribulations from God’s perspective. He even uses the difficulties of life to mold us into mature Christians and bring glory to Himself. Hebrews 12 even directs me to a cause for rejoicing and giving thanks when I find I have walked away from the Lord and He is chastening me. Why? Because Hebrews 12:7-8 tells me that God will chasten His children, but not those who are not His sons. God’s chastisement reminds me I am His son, and for that I am grateful.

It is easy to praise the Lord and give thanks when you get what you want, but can you do that when what you fear comes upon you, as happened to Job (Job 3:25)? I believe you can, if you will view life from God’s perspective as did the Pilgrims. There are several Biblical truths that lay a solid foundation for developing a heart of gratitude. These are understanding what we actually deserve, God’s character and our purpose in life.

Foundations for Thankfulness

What is Deserved. When a person thinks they deserve what is given to them there is a sharp reduction in gratitude. You can be thankful for your job, but you earn your paycheck and can rightly demand it. Gifts and charity are not things you earn or deserve and so you should be thankful for them. However, when government changes charity into an entitlement the thankfulness for it diminishes as the expectations rise. This then spills over into other relationships. Many of you have experienced this when you have helped someone in need and did not get back even a cursory thank you. You may have even had people in need make demands of you as if you owe them something. There have been many such people over the years that have stopped here at the church looking for a handout. I still remember the couple that wanted money for gas and a hotel they had booked – they didn’t get it. Then there was the young man we had sheltered for the night that refused to join us for cereal for breakfast and began sulking when he did not get eggs and an English muffin. There was the lady stopped by in need of food for her and her baby. We did not have the church pantry then, so I went to the parsonage and brought out a couple bags of food with milk and formula. Since the food was from me personally and not the church, she then refused it saying she could not take charity – as if food from the church would not be charity.

When a person understands clearly that they are receiving benefits that they have not earned and do not deserve, there is a corresponding gratitude for it. Understand clearly then that you deserve absolutely nothing from God except His judgment and condemnation for your sin. Paul makes it absolutely clear in Romans that the kindness of God should cause you to repent (2:4) for there is none righteous or that does good (3:10-12), and all are sinners deserving their wages of death (3:23; 6:23). Knowing that in God’s mercy you have not received the penalty you deserve you have instead received His kindness, you should be grateful for not only the material things you have and the food you eat, but each day of life knowing that every breath you take is a gift from God. That brings up the next foundation for gratitude.

The first foundation for a heart of thanksgiving is knowing you deserve nothing but punishment but have instead received God’s kindness. The second foundation is God’s character itself.

God’s Character. Anything you receive from God is due solely to His own goodness, kindness, love, mercy and grace. It is only because of God’s character of forbearance, patience and kindness that we have life at all which is why Romans 2:4 states those things should lead us to repentance. 2 Peter 3:15 tells us to “regard the patience of the Lord to be salvation,” for without it we would have long ago suffered His eternal condemnation. It is only because of God’s character that Romans 6:23 has a second phrase saying in full, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This gift has been extended to us only because of God’s love. Romans 5:8 declares that “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus died as the sin sacrifice on our behalf in order to redeem us, grant us forgiveness of our sins and reconcile us to God, transferring us from the domain of darkness and into His own kingdom (Colossians 1:13-23).

We do not deserve it, but God offers His gracious gift of eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord to all who will accept it and receive it by faith. Those who want and receive this gift from God rejoice and give thanks to Him. Those who see their need for God’s gift accept it with gladness. Others do not see that need for various reasons. Some fail to see their sinfulness and need for the savior, so they ignore it, and so there is no thankfulness. Others are proud thinking they already deserve it, and so they are not grateful. Still others think they can earn it by their own means and methods, so they do not rejoice or give thanks. This lack of gratitude only demonstrates their lack of understanding of God’s character and what they actually deserve. Sadly, because they reject God’s mercy and grace, they will eventually experience His holy justice and righteous wrath when His longsuffering and patience with them finally come to an end.

Purpose of Existence. The third foundation for a heart of thanksgiving is knowing the actual purpose of your existence, for this is what gives us the insight to understand life and its experiences from God’s perspective. God created man to be His regent upon the earth (Genesis 1:26-30) and glorify Him. Man’s sin ruptured that relationship and created a chasm between man and God that man cannot cross. God bridged the gap Himself through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus so that those who believe in Him would be regenerated and restored to that purpose of glorifying God. While salvation occurs at the moment of belief so that we are new creatures in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), sanctification is a process by which God transforms us by renewing our minds which in turn changes our attitudes and behavior as well (Romans 12:1-2). God chose us before the foundation of the world that we would be holy and blameless before Him (Ephesians 1:4; Colossians 1:22) and is at work conforming us to the image of His son (Romans 8:29; Philippians 1:6). We are no longer our own, but have been bought with the price of the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Peter 1:18-19). In short, the meaning of life is simple for the Christian. We glorify God in everything as we become more like Jesus in our day to day living. It is that perspective that allows us to have a genuine heart of thanksgiving even in the midst of hardship and severe trials.

Let me give you some practical examples.

You pray for a friend to share your burdens with – and you get someone that needs to lean on you. Because I know that I can cast my burdens on the Lord for He cares for me (1 Peter 5:7), I can minister to someone else even though I wanted someone to minister to me. I thank God He will take care of me including my emotional needs even while He makes me a more effective servant for His own glory.

You pray for a baby and you continue to wait – or the baby that is born is not in perfect health. Both of these scenarios are hard, yet you can be thankful when you remember that your value in life is in serving the Lord and not your ability to pro-create. Children are a blessing, but so is adoption and foster parenting, and those are loving options that reflect God’s adoption of us into His family (John 1:12; Ephesians 1:5). The value of a child is not based on that child’s ability to function according to social standards, but on the fact that God has made man in His own image (Genesis 1:26). The joy of a child is not in the child’s ability, but in the Lord using you as a channel of His love to that child. There is much for which to be thankful even as you lovingly care for and teach the child to live a full life that will glorify God to the best of His abilities.

You pray for a job promotion and instead you are laid off and then have to move away from a place you like to some other place you don’t like. When you live by God’s promise to supply our needs if we will seek His kingdom and righteousness first (Matthew 6:33), you can be at peace even when you lose your job. When you remember that Jesus has called His followers to be His witnesses and make disciples even to the remotest part of the earth (Matthew 28:18-19; Acts 1:8), then there is joy and thankfulness for the opportunities to evangelize new people even if you don’t particularly care for the new place you have to live. A slave goes where the master sends him grateful for the opportunity to serve.

You pray for relief from your sickness, and it gets worse becoming chronic and uncurable. No one who is sane enjoys physical suffering, but it is part of living in a sin fallen world (Romans 8:18f). When we remember that Jesus Himself suffered and that He is always with us, we find comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). We find even more comfort when we remember His promise of a future imperishable resurrected body (1 Corinthians 15:50f). That is a major reason to give thanks.

You can give thanks to God even in horrible circumstances when you have a heart of thanksgiving. That heart is developed by remembering what you deserve, God’s character and your purpose of existence. You deserve God’s wrath, yet He has extended to you the riches of His glory in Christ Jesus. God can be trusted because you are sustained in this life and offered eternal salvation due to His character. God has created you and redeemed you to Himself so that you might glorify Him as He transforms you to be like Jesus.

None of this comes easily because it is contrary to our proud sinful nature, yet, God does patiently change us so that we, like Paul in Philippians learn to rejoice always and be content in all circumstances. God will develop in you a true heart of thanksgiving if you will follow and serve Him.

Conclusions

What about you? Do you have a heart of thanksgiving? Do you want to have such a heart developed in you, or do you prefer to walk in ingratitude complaining about life? Do you see that God owes you nothing, but in love has given you the greatest gift of all in Jesus Christ, or do you still think God is somehow obligated to you resulting in bitterness against Him for the things you would like but do not have. Have you learned to trust God, or do you still have some caricature of Him in your mind resulting in a false belief that He has let you down? Are you living with the goal of fulfilling God’s purpose of your existence, or are you still pursuing your own desires?

Thursday is a National Day of Thanksgiving. Most of America will stuff themselves and not even express their appreciation for the food much less God’s marvelous grace shed upon this nation. I pray that you will be like the Pilgrims in 1621 and the years that followed who gave thanks not only when there was a bountiful harvest, but also in the midst of starvation, sickness and death. They were grateful for God’s mercies, His grace, and the fulfillment of their dream to be able to worship Him according to their understanding of the Scriptures and conscience. Praise the Lord and thank Him for all that he has provided for you including your life, your sustenance and salvation from bondage to sin through Jesus Christ.

KIDS CORNER

Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help.

Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Write down all the verses mentioned in the sermon and look them up later. 2) Count how many times the Pilgrims are mentioned. Talk with your parents about how the Pilgrims were able to be thankful in the midst of such bad circumstances.

 

THINK ABOUT IT!

Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. How do you think most Americans do on Thanksgiving Day? What does your family do? How have you seen the role of God diminished in American society? Who were the Pilgrims? Why did they come to America? Why did they end up at Plymouth? What is the importance of The Mayflower Compact? What was the first winter like? How many died? Who was Squanto? How did he know English? How did he help the Pilgrims? What did they eat for their Thanksgiving Celebration? How long did it last? How many would have been present? Why was the arrival of the Fortune in November 1621 a misfortune for the Pilgrims? Why was that Winter and Spring called the “starving time”? What happened in July that prompted Governor Bradford to proclaim July 30, 1622 a day of Thanksgiving? Where did the Pilgrims get the idea to hold a Thanksgiving Day? What is the history of U.S. National days of Thanksgiving up to 1863? What changed in 1863? What is the real proof that the Pilgrims’ gratitude to God was genuine? Why is humility necessary to be truly thankful? Are the Scriptures that command Christians to give thanks in all circumstances including tribulation realistic? (1 Thessalonians 5:18; James 1:2; Romans 5:3 ). Why do so few people demonstrate genuine gratitude? What do we deserve from God? What has He given us instead? Why is knowing God’s character a foundation for being thankful? Why did God create man? Why does God save man from sin? What is the purpose of a Christian’s life? How can you be truly thankful even when terrible things happen to you? Do you have a heart of thanksgiving? If not, what needs to change? What will you do to celebrate Thanksgiving this year?

Sermon Notes – 11/21/2010

A Heart of Thanksgiving – Selected Scriptures

Introduction

    The Rewriting of America’s History, by Catherine Millard

The “Patriots’ Window – removed from Christ Church, Philadelphia in September 1986

The “Liberty Window” was patterned off of a painting by Harrison Tompkins Matteson

Secular sources say the Pilgrims were thankful for the food and to the Indians, without mentioning _____

Thanksgiving in Early America

The Pilgrims were English _______________ – they moved to Leyden, Holland in 1608

____of the 102 that sailed on the Mayflower for America in September 1620 were Pilgrims from Leyden

They arrived in the vicinity of ______________ on November 11 and searched for a place to settle.

    The Mayflower Compact was established in late ______________ before settling in Plymouth

The Winter was harsh with little food, much sickness and ___________ dying by March, 1621

____________ helped, and they had a bountiful harvest

The Thanksgiving celebration lasted 3 days and included Chief Massasoit and ________ of his men

The real proof of their thanksgiving was the day to day and week to week worship during the _________

The Fortune arrived in November with 35 more people and ___________resulting in the “starving time”

A Thanksgiving celebration was held __________________ and various times in the years to come

There were eight special days of thanksgiving during the _______________________

Washington called for Thanksgiving Days in ____________ and ____________

Madison called for a national day of Thanksgiving in ___________ at the conclusion of the War of 1812

_____________ celebrated Thanksgiving Days, and an annual National Thanksgiving Day began in 1863

The first observance of a Thanksgiving in America was December 4, _______ at Berkley Plantation, VA

Community harvest celebrations and days of Thanksgiving were part of ________________________

Thanksgiving celebrations trace back to the Feast of First Fruits and Feast of Booths (______________)

Hearts of Thanksgiving

The ______________ gave thanks because they knew God and walked Him.

The _____________ know God is holy, does not tempt, but provides every good things (James 1:13-17)

A heart of thanksgiving is much more than just ________________ of saying “thank you”

The hallmark of a heart of thanksgiving is to have ___________ gratitude in the midst of the tough times

1 Thessalonians 5:18         James 1:2         Romans 5:3

Foundations for Thankfulness

    What is Deserved – People give little or no thanks for what they earn or think they ____________

People who know they are getting benefits they do not deserve are _______________

We deserve nothing from God except His _________ (Romans 3:10-12; 23; 6:23)

Yet, God in His mercy has withheld the penalty and in His kindness _______for our needs (Romans 2:4)

    God’s Character. Anything you receive from God is due solely to ________ own character

Romans 2:4     2 Peter 3:15     Romans 6:23     Romans 5:8     Colossians 1:13-23

Those who receive God’s __________ of salvation rejoice and give Him thanks

Those who ___________God’s mercy and grace are not grateful and will experience His justice & wrath

    Purpose of Existence – knowing this allows you to understand life from ___________ perspective

In Salvation, God regenerates, reconciles and restores man to his ___________ in glorifying Him

We are _______creatures (2 Cor. 5:17) being sanctified & changed into the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29)

Romans 12:1-2     Ephesians 1:4;         Colossians 1:22     1 Corinthians 6:20;         1 Peter 1:18-19

The Christian is to glorify God in _____________as we become more like Jesus in our day to day living

You can be thankful when you pray for a friend – but get a ____________ instead

You can be thankful when you pray for a baby – but have to adopt or have a _______________ child

You can be thankful when you pray for a promotion – but get ____________ and have to move

You can be thankful when you pray for healing – but become chronically ___________ and uncurable

If you have a heart of thanksgiving, you can be thankful even in ____________ circumstances

God patiently changes us as we, like Paul, learn to rejoice ___________ and be content – Philippians 4

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