The Sweet Grace of Thankfulness
November 30, 2008 | Andy Davis
Pastor Andy Davis preaches a sermon on Luke 17:11-19. The sermon focuses on thankfulness to God and the sin of thanklessness.
- Sermon Transcript -
I stand before you today a thankful man. I love that hymn we sang earlier. It characterizes my heart. This morning, my heart is filled with thankfulness. Isn't that a great hymn? And being able to say those things to God through faith in Jesus Christ. And if your heart isn't filled with thankfulness right now, it's my goal that at the end of our time today, it will be, that your heart will be overflowing with thankfulness to Almighty God. Even if you walked in here this morning unregenerate, you don't know Jesus as your Lord and Savior. Still, my prayer for you is that your heart would be filled with thankfulness, having found the Savior today, and that you would trust in Jesus Christ and you would find forgiveness of sins, and then a fountain would be opened in your heart of thankfulness that will last for all eternity. So I'm taking a break from our series in Matthew. I felt led by God today to just preach a single sermon on thankfulness.
We just passed a kind of an ambivalent holiday in our secular society—Thanksgiving. It was a number of years ago, I was watching a football game on Turkey Day, they call it, you know. And the commentator, the color commentator, and the play by play guy were wrestling just with the whole Thanksgiving thing, didn't seem to know who to thank. They were aware of the fact that you needed to thank someone, and they came up with the idea that we should be thanking each other for all the ways that we bless each other in our lives. And I'm thinking, "Oh my goodness."
Even worse was one of those revisionist histories of Plymouth Plantation in which some revisionist historian was saying that the pilgrims got together to thank the Wampanoag Indians for all the help they had given them over the previous year. Now, I don't deny that they probably expressed gratitude to them as they did probably to each other, and that's appropriate to do, but that's not why they gathered. Now, these are the people that sank down on their knees in the wet sand in December 1620, after they survived the rough passage across the North Atlantic and gave thanks to Almighty God that they were even alive. And then a year later, the same thing that they had survived and now there was a good harvest to sustain them. So they knew who to thank and so do you, don't you? I hope you do.
We thank God for everything. All thanks be to God who saved us and loved us. Do we thank God, though, as much as we should? What should we thank God for? Well, what does the scripture say? In Ephesians 5:20, it says, "Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." So we should thank God for everything. Well, when should I thank God? Well, Ephesians just told us always, but there's another verse as well. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, "Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." So we should be thanking God for everything and always.
"We thank God for everything. All thanks be to God who saved us and loved us. Do we thank God, though, as much as we should?"
But you may struggle with that, you may think, "Should I really thank God for everything?" I came across a story a number of years ago about Corrie Ten Boom, who with her sister Betsie and her father were arrested by the Nazis. They were Dutch, and they were harboring Jewish fugitives, and they were arrested for that, and they were put into the Ravensbrück Concentration Camp, one of the worst concentration camps in all of Germany, and it was a devastating trial in their lives and they struggled with it. There were all kinds of physical issues. Corrie and Betsie were in the woman's compound. That area was so infested with lice and fleas that as soon as you walked into the structure, they would swarm on you and begin to bite you. It was absolutely disgusting. It was a rough place, a place of physical torture, place of death, as they well knew.
They would labor long hours for nothing. Occasionally care packages would come and the women would fight like wild beasts to get whatever was inside that. It was a brutal life and very, very difficult, and Betsie was constantly urging Corrie to give thanks to God, to be thankful. Just continually thank God for everything. And Corrie was having a hard time. She was depressed. She was struggling with her attitude, as well you can imagine, and she said, "One thing I will never thank God for are the fleas." And Betsie said, "Corrie, you should even thank God for the fleas. Even for the fleas." Well, they had smuggled somehow a Bible in there, and these women were courageously having Bible studies within their dorm area, and they were risking their lives because they would be executed if they were found with a Bible and having these Bible studies. So they're very timid and very quiet about it, but the longer it went on, they noticed that they were never bothered by the guards at all. As a matter of fact, the guards never came into the women's area.
And one day Betsie came with great excitement to Corrie and said, "I want you to know I've finally discovered the reason why the guards never come in here, the reason is, and I overheard the guard saying, it's the fleas, Corrie. They don't want to get bitten with the fleas, so thank God for the fleas." And from then on, she did, she thank God for the fleas. It gave them an opportunity to have a ministry in the name of Jesus Christ in one of the darkest places on the face of the Earth, maybe in all history, a Nazi concentration camp, and it was the fleas that God used to carve out a place of peace where they could do that ministry. So we should be thanking God for everything. And if we should thank God for the fleas, how much more for those things that are counted by everyone to be blessings? Everyone knows that they're blessings. We should be, above all people, the most thankful, but as I look in my heart, I don't find that attitude dominating all the time, not like it should. I don't find my heart as thankful as it should be, and so they say that you preach the best sermons that you preach to yourself. So I'm just going to preach to myself, and if you all want to listen, that's fine, but I went to Luke 17 because I found there the issue of both thankfulness and thanklessness, and I thought it would be a good sermon to preach to myself, okay? So I'm going to preach this to myself, and as they say, "If the shoe fits, then wear it," alright?
I. Compelled to Thankfulness
I want to begin by this issue of thankfulness, speaking positively, that we are compelled to thankfulness Now we have this account before us of these 10 lepers, and I believe the foundation of thankfulness is a true appraisal of our desperate condition apart from Christ. That we are desperately needy and we need Jesus now. Leprosy is a good picture of that. It's a tragic illness. And I would say of the ancient illnesses that we know, the most feared above all. They feared this one. This leprosy, it attacks the nerves, it reduces sensitivity, it produces degeneration of cells. Leprosy can be progressive, causing permanent damage to the skin and nerves, and limbs and eyes. Skin lesions, grotesque, are the primary external symptoms, and for Jews in particular, it was devastating. Not only do they have the physical damage caused by this, but because of the great fear of contagion, of infectious disease, and because of the law of Moses, they were cut off spiritually from their people. They were permanently unclean, and so they could not worship in the temple. They could not take part with their families. They were cut off from society. It was a totally desperate situation, and friends, that's where we find the tap root of true thankfulness. Just know how desperate you are apart from Jesus, and combine that with how lavishly you've been provided for in Jesus, and then you have all the ground for thankfulness you'll ever need. You'll be compelled to thankfulness.
"Just know how desperate you are apart from Jesus, and combine that with how lavishly you've been provided for in Jesus, and then you have all the ground for thankfulness you'll ever need. You'll be compelled to thankfulness."
I believe that lepers are a picture of ourselves in our sin. I think that all of Jesus's miracles to some degree are really spiritual analogies. They are like living parables. Yes. They display His power and his deity. But he could have done that to anyone any number of ways. He could have done celestial portents, all kinds of things. Instead, he goes to the healings, and I think it's because it just shows us in our sin apart from God, we are like spiritual lepers. We're outcast, excluded, unclean, grotesque. The problem is we don't really believe that. We look with the eyes of flesh and we think that we're pretty good, generally fine, need a little touch up here and there, but generally okay, and I think that's why we're not as thankful as we should be.
But this chapter, Luke 17, gives a plain demonstration of the healing power of Jesus Christ. Jesus is traveling along the border between Samaria and Galilee, and he comes upon this interesting group of 10 lepers. Again, they are outcast, they're unable to mingle in society, and for that reason, societal barriers have been broken down. You've got at least one Samaritan together with these Jews.
They don't care, they're all outcasts, and they find themselves desperately needy, and they stand at a distance as they were required to do—a physical reason to protect the uninfected community and also spiritual reason, as I said from the Law of Moses. They were unable to be close but had to cry out unclean, but it's also again a picture of ourselves spiritually. Says this in Ephesians 2: 12-13, "Remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus, you who are once far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ." Oh, that's the ground of our thankfulness. So here are these lepers and they're standing off at a distance, and they're crying aloud to Jesus begging for mercy. Look at verse 13, in Luke 17, "Jesus Master, have pity on us." Now, pity or compassion is the most common emotional state ascribed to Jesus Christ. He was a very emotional man. He had a full emotional life, but the most common emotion was compassion. I think that's why He was called the Man of Sorrows and familiar with suffering.
He took on our sorrows, he took on our sufferings in and of himself, the happiest of beings, rich beyond imagination, powerful beyond imagination, sitting at the right hand of God, but he came to earth to take on our miseries, and he was compassionate. And so they're asking for mercy; they're asking for compassion. And so Jesus, moved by compassion, gives them a command, “Go show yourself to the priest and offer the gift that Moses commanded as a testimony to them.” You know, it's an interesting thing as he commands this, that they go and offer a sacrifice for cleansing that hadn't happened when he gave the command, and it's a bit of a faith test as they're supposed to turn and just start to walk, but all 10 of them do. And so they begin walking, and the power of Christ comes silently in the text, so you don't even see it. It just suddenly happens in between this verse and that, but suddenly one of them notices as he's walking that he's been cured, his flesh has been renewed, he's healed, he's cleansed, and he's immediately overwhelmed with emotion, cries out.
Look at verses 15-16, "One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice; he threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him – and he was a Samaritan." Now he knows that he's healed, but he also knows something else that healing came through a person, it was relational, there was an individual responsible for it. Like the leper, our healing has been mediated to us through the person of Jesus Christ. We owe Him our thanks. We ought to thank him. And the leper knew that. And so he comes back relationally. Didn't your mom teach you this when somebody gives you something, come back and say, "Thank you"? Well, this Samaritan apparently had a good mom that taught him these things. I don't know about the other nine, we'll get to those in a moment, but this one knows that this healing has come to him through a person, and you thank people for things that they do. Our healing has not come to us impersonally, it's not come from a medicine bottle, it's not come from a vending machine. Now, our cleansing, our spiritual healing came when a person named Jesus Christ stood in our place and took our lashing and took our condemnation, our sentence of judgments, and took our ridicule and our spittings, and our crown of thorns, and took our nails and took our death on himself. Jesus died in our place. He suffered under the wrath of God. He shed his blood, and he died for us, that we might have forgiveness of sins.
Are you trusting in him today? Do you know him as your Lord and Savior today? I could be speaking in a crowd this large to many who have never trusted in Christ, who are here in an unregenerate state, and you're in great danger. You may not know that you're in great danger, but the Scripture testifies that you're in great danger. Jesus' sufferings are a picture of that, so we have a sense of what we deserve for our sin. We deserve hell, and Jesus came that we might not have to suffer, that there would be no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Oh, I ask you, trust in him. I already said openly what my hope was for you, that you would walk out of this place today with a heart filled with thankfulness to Jesus Christ. Trust in him. You don't even need to do any good works. You don't need to go anywhere. You can just sit there in your pew and listen to the Gospel. Jesus died for you. Call on the name of the Lord, and you will be saved. Trust in him, and your sins will be forgiven.
Well, that's the ground of my thankfulness, and my ground, my reason for thankfulness is far greater than the Samaritan's. I'm not saying he's not going to be saved or his faith didn't also bring him spiritual salvation. I'm just talking about his physical healing. His body was cleansed of a certain disease. He was, as a result of that, allowed to come back into human society and to go on with his normal life as a Samaritan. What did we receive, brothers and sisters? We received full forgiveness of all of our sins, past, present, and future. We are welcomed by Almighty God. We have a place waiting for us in the new heaven, the new earth. We will sit at table with Jesus Christ. Our souls have been cleansed of sin. We're not slaves of sin anymore. We can tell sin to take a hike authoritatively the rest of our lives, and it'll do so. You watch and see. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. You've been given that authority. Oh, and a thousand other spiritual blessings. Our reason for thankfulness is infinitely greater than the Samaritan's, but he did what he was supposed to do. He went back and said thank you to Jesus. Have you done that? Do you do it every day?
II.Convicted of Thanklessness (Luke 17:17-18)
So I come to the second part of this sermon convicted, and that is convicted of thanklessness. There is a problem of thanklessness right in the text. The parable or the story, sorry, ends on a distressing note—the problem of thanklessness. Look at verses 17-18, “Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" Now, why didn't it occur to the other nine to turn back and give Jesus thanks for what he'd done? Why the thanklessness? Could it be the same root is always the same root, is all of our problem – self-centeredness? "Look at me, I'm cleansed, I'm healed. I can go back and be with my family. I am happy. I'm going to go show them myself to the priest. I am I am, I am." Focused on his own individual situation. Forgets about the one who gave it to him. And so off they go, forgetful.
Perhaps at a deeper level, we do not thank God because we think we deserve the blessings that he's lavished on us. By this way of thinking, any adverse problem, anything that causes us difficulty is an aberration, something noteworthy. We talk about it much. It's called complaining. And we don't expect them, like there's some strange thing that's come in our life. We expect the good; we're shocked by the bad. The good things we get, we feel that we've earned them or deserve them in some way, and we forget how totally dependent we are on God for life and breath and health and everything else. I know it happens to me. I forget that we depend on God to send the rain to the farms, so that the vegetables and the animals that we eat for food can grow and survive. A farmer knows. I'm not saying every farmer is a believer in Christ. I'm just saying they know that they're dependent on forces they can't control. But we think, we surmise that there's a constant stream of food supply to Kroger and Food Lion and all that. We don't need to worry; it's always going to be there. And so we run under the problem in Deuteronomy 8, when God said to Moses, “Beware, when you enter the Promised Land and you begin to eat food, a harvest that you didn't plant and drink from vineyards you didn't plant and live in homes you didn't grow, that you will forget God and think that you deserved it all.” I think that's a danger for American Christians. I think that may be one of the reasons we don't give thanks.
"We expect the good; we're shocked by the bad. The good things we get, we feel that we've earned them or deserve them in some way, and we forget how totally dependent we are on God for life and breath and health and everything else."
Now, thanklessness, I think is a great sin. It's a greater sin than we think it is, and a measure of that is the prominence that it plays in Romans 1-3. Now, in those chapters, the Apostle Paul is laying the groundwork for the universality of sin. Everybody has sinned. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Culmination statement in Romans 3:23, there is no one righteous, no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away. Universality of sin, Romans 1-3, so that we need a savior. But right at the beginning of that whole section, it says in Romans 1:21, "For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile, and their foolish hearts were darkened." They should have thanked God for his physical creation. They should have thanked God for his eternal quality, for his invisible nature. They should have been thanking God, but they didn't. It's a great sin, thanklessness. We do not love God. We do not think about God. We do not cherish God as we ought to, and apart from Christ, people live lives ignorant of all of his many blessings and hardly ever think of him at all, and we as Christians, sadly, have the same habits of thanklessness. We just forget.
Jesus stands over this thankful Samaritan, wondering about the rest of them. "Were not 10 healed? Now where are the other nine?" Does He really notice that kind of thing? Is he that meticulous in his observation of what is given and what is not given? Oh yes, he is. You remember when he's watching that elderly widow putting in the two copper coins, he's watching what's put in. He's watching still, friends. He's still noting what gets put in and what doesn't, and He's paying attention to who runs back and throws themselves down at his feet and says, "Thank you, Jesus, thank you, thank you for what you've given me." It matters, he notices it. And so the thanklessness is exposed.
Now, what do we mean by thanklessness? How does it reveal itself in everyday life? Well, let's start with grumbling and complaining. I've already mentioned it. Do you ever do it? I'll confess that I do it from time to time. It's called anti-worship. You know what I'm saying? It's the opposite of worship. Instead of praising God, you're complaining about some earthly circumstance. And whenever you complain, you're exposing a root thanklessness in your heart. Whenever you speak words of murmuring against God, you're displaying a lack of thankfulness. So also, whenever you covet the blessings given to another person, when you see their happiness, their successes, their honors, their possessions, and you're jealous of them, you are betraying a root thanklessness in your heart for the things God has given you. We also display ingratitude in our pride, whenever we boast about our achievements or our possessions or anything that God's given us. We forget a basic rule in Scripture. Corinthians put it very plainly, "What do you have that you didn't receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?" I'm going to ask a different question. If you did receive it, why don't you thank him for it? Is there anything in your life you have you didn't receive, and if you did receive it, then why don't you go and thank him for it?
There's two different ways to hear that, by the way. You could hear it in a condemning, convicting sort of way. "Why don't you do it?" Or more of a suggestion for the future, "Why don't you go give thanks to God?" Let's hear it that way, alright? Because God is forward-looking, and so therefore, I'm brought to the need for repentance. I want to repent from this sin. I want to give thanks. I don't want to be forgetful. You know how it is, you wake up in the morning, you do forget to have your quiet time, you forget to thank God that you're just alive that day. You get in the car and you forget to thank God that you have a car. You arrive at your destination, forget to thank God that you got there safely. You go to the bank and deposit your paycheck and forget to thank God that you have a job and you have that money so that your basic needs, some of your wants are met, and you have some money to give to others to the needy. Forget to thank God for these things. Pass another birthday, forget to thank God that he gave you another year.
We're self-centered, thankless throughout the day. Even excessive grief during trials can show thanklessness. We should be thanking God for the fleas. We should be thanking God for the trials, because by doing that, we are praising God who gave them to us. The trials, we need them. "Count it pure joy," said James. We should be thanking God for these trials. And instead, we lament bitterly, and I'm not saying it's wrong for us to grieve over the loss of a loved one, I think we should. I'm just mindful of, for example, the funeral sermon that George Muller preached for his wife, his beloved wife, his partner in ministry. He cherished that woman, and he got to preach her funeral sermon. That's hard to do, to minister the Gospel, and he got up and preached her funeral sermon in his text with Psalm 119:68, "You are good and do good." And the text came down in three parts, three-part sermon. "The Lord was good and did good first in giving her to me to begin with, and secondly, in leaving her so long to be with me all those many years, and third, the Lord was good and did good in taking her from me to be with him in heaven." Now, that's a thankful sermon, isn't it? In the midst of a profound grief, he's thanking God for all of those things. That is convicting to me. It trains me to learn how to bear up under suffering and trial with a thankful heart.
And so, therefore, I think the text is calling all of us to repent. Don't judge those nine that ran off happily to the priests. Find yourself there, that's all. Let Jesus' question search your heart. "Were not 10, where were the other nine?" I wonder if there's almost a heavenly arithmetic here, that I give thanks to God for nine-tenths of the blessing or one-tenth of the blessing and I don't for nine-tenths, I wonder if that's what it is. I don't even know if I make it to 10%, that I thank God for 10% of the blessings. So I'm convicted of thanklessness. We're also commanded to thankfulness. This text isn't just giving us an interesting story saying, "Oh, isn't it nice that the one came back?" There's a hidden command here that we ought to thank Jesus for what he's done.
III. Commanded to Thankfulness
But we don't need hidden commands, we are commanded to be thankful in many places in Scripture, many, many places, we are commanded to give thanks. Now it starts with a heart of thankfulness. And out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks. You say, "Thank you God for," such and such. But it starts in the heart. You recognize that you're a sinner saved by grace. You recognize you don't deserve any good thing, and then you start to see what God has given you, and it just starts to move. And after a while, you just can't help yourself. You're going to say, "Thank you God for these blessings."
So what are these commands? Well, 1 Thessalonians 5:18 I already quoted. It's right there in your outline, "Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." I don't think it could be any plainer, friends. Give thanks in all circumstances. Or this one, Hebrews 12:28-29 says, "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire."
You're receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Every physical blessing you have in your life can be shaken, can be taken. But we are receiving a kingdom that can never be shaken or taken. It's a gift of God. It's an eternal place, the new heavens and new Earth. We're receiving it as a gift by grace, so we ought to be thankful, says the text, and if we are thankful in that way, that's what the word "so" means, so worship God acceptably. That's acceptable worship if we're thankful to God for the kingdom were receiving. Oh, give thanks to Him. Or this one, Psalm 107:1, "Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his love endures forever." Colossians 3:17, "Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." It covers every moment of your life, your prayer life, [Philippians 4:6] "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your request to God." This is how we should pray. This is how we should work, and this is how we should live.
"Every physical blessing you have in your life can be shaken, can be taken. But we are receiving a kingdom that can never be shaken or taken. It's a gift of God. "
IV. The Consummation of Thankfulness
Now, what is the consummation of thankfulness? When and where will we finally be consumed in thankfulness? Well, you know the answer. That's in the heavenly realms, right now, that's what they're doing up there. The spirits of righteous men made perfect. What are they doing? They're on their faces giving thanks to Christ. What are the 24 elders doing? What are the living creatures doing? What are the angels doing? It's just an effusion of thankfulness. Constantly thanking God for who he is and for what he has done, the greatness of their God. They see it so clearly. Revelation 4:8-10 says, "Day and night they never stop saying, 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come.' Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne and who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and they worship Him, who lives forever and ever."
They give him thanks and praise. And in the future, the new heaven, the new Earth, there's going to be the assemblage of people from every tribe and language and people and nation standing around the throne, and they'll be dressed in white robes representing their purity through faith in Christ. And they're going to be there, giving thanks to Christ. Listen to Revelation 7:11-12 says, "All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and glory and power and strength be to our God forever and ever." And that countless multitude dressed in white was joining them in that thanksgiving. That's where we're headed, friends. Oh, we'll be cured of thanklessness then. We will be outside of ourselves, no longer self-focused. We will see what Jesus did, we will see how much he deserves our thanks and praise, and we'll never stop thanking him and giving him praise.
V. Content of Thankfulness
Well, what is the content of our thankfulness? What should you say? What do we say? I want to thank God. What should I thank God for? Well, there's just so much. We already learned in Ephesians 5:20, we should be giving thanks for everything. So that's a start, isn't it? But you might say, "That's a little vague – everything?" Well, I mean, just try it. If you're really blank, just look around the room and start praising God, but I mean get beyond the furniture, you know the chair, the carpet, my shoe, my computer. Alright, but yes, you can thank God for all those material possessions, but you've been trained better than that theologically. Start lifting your eyes, start ascending in your mind to spiritual blessings. As it says in Psalm 103:2, "Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits." So I included in your bulletin this morning, a Thanksgiving sheet that I did some time ago, one page front and back of really small type, which I'm having a harder and harder time reading. Thank God I'm having a harder and harder time reading it. But to thank God for Walmart and $7.95 glasses that you know, they feed my glasses habit. I'm addicted to Walmart glasses, I buy them every time I go. I just keep losing them, and then they keep popping up again, thanks be to God. All kinds of things to say thank you to God, but there it is.
I broke it into categories—thanking God for himself. Start there. Thank God for who he is, his own nature. Thank God for his holiness, that God is perfectly separated from all evil and high above all His creation. Thank God for his immutability, that He never changes. Thank God for his love of righteousness and his hatred of wickedness, that he's that kind of God. Thank God that he has the power to accomplish all his holy will and that there's no power that can stand against Him. Thank God for all of those things. Thank God for his eternal plan, that before the foundation of the world, he crafted a plan that includes your personal salvation, and nothing's going to stop that. Thank God for that. Thank God that nothing surprises him. There's no twist or turns in the road that He didn't foresee or calculate. Thank God for his eternal plan.
Thank God for his mighty acts in history. Let's start with creation. God spoke and they came into being, all the physical things of the world—the sun, the moon, and the stars, this beautiful planet we live on with all of its creation. Thank God for each one of those things. He made each one of them by his mighty power in his wisdom. Thank God also for those special acts of salvation in history, what we call redemptive history, how he rescued Noah in the flood, and how he called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldeans, and he made a promise to him that through his offspring, all peoples on Earth will be blessed. And thank God that he rescued the Israelites out of bondage by Moses and by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, and how he made the water wall up on the right hand and the left. Thank God for those things. He's the same God now. He's not going to do that today, I don't think. He's free to do anything he wants, but he did it then, and he's the same God. Thank him for doing it. Thank God for all of these mighty acts in redemptive history.
Thank God for Jesus Christ, that God sent his only begotten Son, born of a virgin, who lived a sinless life, who did great miracles like the one in our text today, to display his compassion and his power. Who taught great things such that they said, "No one ever spoke like this man." Great teaching, Sermon on the Mount, the parables, all the things he taught. But especially that as I've already told you, he died in our place, our sinless substitute. Taking on the wrath of God, he died, he shed his blood. Thank God for all of that. Don't let a day, don't let an hour go by, where you don't say, "Thank you, Jesus, for Calvary. Thank you for shedding your blood. Thank you that I'm forgiven today because of you." The most courageous act in history in Gethsemane, "Father, if it's possible, let this cup be taken from me, yet not as I will, but as you will." He drank that cup. The most courageous decision ever. Thank him for it. It's right to give him thanks.
Thank him for his mighty resurrection and his promise, "Because I live, you also will live." Thank God for your future, thank God for your future in Christ. Thank God for the Holy Spirit, the indwelling Spirit. Is what I'm saying to you making any sense to you? Do you feel anything moving inside? Do you want to give him thanks? Well, then, the Spirit is at work in you. Is the scripture making sense to you? The Spirit's at work illuminating his truth. It's because of the Spirit that you're a Christian today, and it's because of the sovereign activity of the Spirit, that new brothers and sisters in Christ are being added to the church all the time. Praise God for it, the mighty power of the Spirit, and thank God that the indwelling spirit is just a deposit guaranteeing our full inheritance in the future. Thank God for the Holy Spirit.
Secondly, you can thank God for his spiritual blessings. I broke these into two categories, those you have now, already, and those you don't have yet. And you can thank God for both. Alright, thank God for the spiritual blessing you already have for the Bible. Thank Him that you have this book that speaks the truth, and that by the power of the Holy Spirit, you can understand what he says. Thank God for our local church. Thank God for spiritual gifts. Thank God for brothers and sisters in Christ who watch over one another in brotherly love in your life. Thank God for all of those things, spiritual blessings you already have, and thank God for those spiritual blessings you don't have yet. That's most of them friends. Most of them are in the future. Your best days are yet to come. Thank him for that. Thank God for the bodily resurrection. You're going to have a resurrection body free from any disease, or pain, any decay. Thank God for that. Thank God for your future. And the new heaven and new earth. I can scarcely imagine what it's going to be like.
And then you've got your temporal blessings. Yes, you should thank God for them. No, they're not as significant as those spiritual and eternal blessings that we have, but they are significant. So thank God for his provision for your bodies, for the health that you have, for your daily food, for the physical beauty of the earth. Thank God for each of these things. Thank God for your families. For marriage, husband and wife relationship, for a sustaining Christian marriages through forgiveness and love and renewal by the Spirit. Thank God for children, which I wrote marvelous, fascinating, challenging, and rewarding gifts of God. Amen. Amen and Amen. A gift of God, thank God for it. I just love what happens to the faces of people when children walk in and they'll just start to smile. Oh it's sweet, isn't it? That's a gift of God. Thank God for it. And thank God for society, that we live in America. It's a blessed country, and the blessings have come from God. We can't take credit for them. We ought to thank God for them, and thank God for the order and the peace of our society. And yes, there are problems, of course, there are problems. But thank God for the blessings, that's all. And thank God for the desire of your heart. God's given you more than you can possibly imagine. Many, many things that you love that are part of your life. Thank God for each one.
VI.Committed to Thankfulness
Finally, I just want to urge you to be committed to thankfulness. Make this a habit. If you don't like this sheet, I don't know how you could not like it, but if you don't like it, make your own. Okay? What kind of person wouldn't like that sheet? Come and talk to me. You need help, all right? But if you don't like the sheet I made, then make your own, okay? Make your own, but use it, just focus every day. It's a commitment. Psalm 7:17, "I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness."
It's the decision you make. Psalm 56:12, "I am under vows to you, O God, I will present my thank offerings to you." You just make a commitment. I made a promise to say thank you to God every day. I'm going to do it. So just, I urge you, practically get up in the morning, begin your day on your knees thanking God that you're alive, that you're a Christian, that you have forgiveness of sin. Start there. Have your quiet time saturated with thankfulness. Then move on through your day looking for ways to thank God. During your quiet time, scour the scriptures for things you can thank God for, just find them. Blessings flowing with a heart of thankfulness, and especially work on your mouth. Restrain your speech life when tempted to complain, then thank God instead. When tempted to boast, thank God instead. When tempted to covet, thank God instead. When tempted to murmur about the trials you're going through, however bitter and deep, thank God for them instead. They are fitting you for heaven. Thank God. Close with me in prayer.
"When tempted to boast, thank God instead. When tempted to covet, thank God instead. When tempted to murmur about the trials you're going through, however bitter and deep, thank God for them instead. They are fitting you for heaven. Thank God."
Father, I thank you for this time that we've had to be together. Thank you for the Word of God. Thank you for the way it tells us the truth. Father, make us mindful of our blessings. Make us thankful Lord, and we can ask this, Lord, because every disposition of our own hearts that's gracious and godly and good has come to us from you, so we thank you for that. Lord work in us the spirit of thankfulness. I pray that when unbelievers or outsiders, non-church members come in, they would just say, "This is a thankful place. It's a happy place. The people just are constantly saying, 'Thank you,' to God for his many blessings." I pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.