We, who live in America, have so much to be thankful for. What a privilege it is to be able to worship God in the way we believe to be right. What a privilege it is to be able to read God's word for ourselves. Not every one of every generation has been able to do this. I also am continually thankful that Christ died for all my sins and that I have the wonderful assurance of my salvation.
The freedom we have in this wonderful country of ours, in spite of recent problems, is something we should never take for granted. America is undoubtedly the most wonderful country in all the world. I have never been on a mission trip to underprivileged countries, but I have talked to some who have, and they always come back and say that we, in America, just don't know how good we have it. Even the poorest in America are rich by the standards of some of these countries. We should continually be thanking the Lord for these privileges.
THANKFULNESS DOES NOT COME NATURALLY
We who are mothers must be teaching our children how to be thankful for the blessings they have. Children, who are born with the sin nature, are naturally selfish and usually do not think in terms of being thankful for their blessings. Most of the time, they will not express thankfulness or gratitude unless taught to do so. Thanksgiving and Christmas time can be an especially appropriate time for children to be taught this.
We as adults do not usually count our blessings either. Unless we have been taught otherwise, we do not appreciate all of the goodness in this life and the privileges we have. Material possessions are not the only blessings we have. We have multitudes of spiritual blessings. We also have a wonderful country to live in. My grandchildren are also some of my greatest blessings. My two children and their spouses are also, as well as my precious husband and wonderful church family.
When we study the subject of thankfulness in the Bible, we find that it is a command. It is something we are told to do. It is much like "agape" love. This highest form of love is not something we "feel", rather it is a command. It involves an action. It is something we are told to do. In Ephesians, husbands are commanded to love their wives as Christ loved the church. What did this love that Christ gave the example of, cause Him to do? This agape love that Christ exemplified, caused him to die for us. He literally gave himself up for us, the church.
In Titus, the older women are told to teach the younger women to "love" their husbands and their children. A feeling cannot be taught, however, "agape" love can be taught.
So it is with thankfulness. We can and should be taught to be thankful. The scriptures teach us to be thankful and are full of commands and exhortations to express this thankfulness. The following verses are just a few of them. (Emphasis, mine.)
15 "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and BE YE THANKFUL.
16 "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
17 "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, GIVING THANKS to God and the Father by him."
2 "Continue in prayer, and WATCH IN THE SAME WITH THANKSGIVING".
6 "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:
7 "Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, ABOUNDING THEREIN WITH THANKSGIVING."
20 "GIVING THANKS ALWAYS for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ".
1 Thess. 5:18:
18 "IN EVERY THING GIVE THANKS: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you."
1 Tim. 2:1-3:
1 "I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and GIVING OF THANKS, be made for all men;
2 "For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.
3 "For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour".
6 "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication WITH THANKSGIVING let your requests be made known unto God."
In the Psalms, we find examples of how to express our thankfulness to the Lord. We also find that expressing thankfulness is to praise the Lord.
Psalms 100:4-5 tells us:
4 "Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
5 "For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations."
12 "To the end that my glory may sing praise to thee, and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks unto thee for ever."
Little children are taught the song, "Praise Him, praise Him, all ye little children". We, as adults, could learn from this also. To praise the Lord is to express our thankfulness and gratefulness to Him.
SIGNS OF THE LAST DAYS
One of the signs of the last days is that people will be "unthankful". We find this sad truth in II Timothy 3:2:
1 "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall
2 "For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, UNTHANKFUL, unholy."
The Bible also shows us, that this has always been man's problem.
Rom. 1:18-21 tells us:
18 "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness...
21 "Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, NEITHER WERE THANKFUL; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened."
People everywhere today are not acknowledging God, nor are thankful to Him, and it seems to be getting worse all the time. It seems as if the prophecy of II Timothy is coming true.
CHILDREN MUST BE TAUGHT TO BE THANKFUL
Parents, in this ungrateful age must be teaching their children to be thankful to God, because they will not learn it out there in the world. Even in the public school textbooks, the authors are attempting to rewrite history, by saying that the pilgrims did not thank God but rather thanked the Indians.
Christian parents must work to see that their children do not become like the world. We must be as lights, shining in the present darkness, and teaching our children to praise the Lord and to be thankful.
Children can be taught to be thankful. It is something that must be learned. Now, during the Christmas season, as with all the time, children should be taught to thank others for the gifts they receive and to thank the Lord for them, also. During one of our women's Bible studies, our young mothers were discussing how they could teach their children to be thankful at Christmas time. I suggested that one way, is to teach them to pray and thank the Lord for everything they receive as gifts. When they receive gifts from Mommy and Daddy, they can pray, "Thank you God, that my Daddy is able to work and to have a job so that we can have these Christmas presents." They may also say, "Thank you, Lord, for my Aunt, and that she was able to give me these presents", or "Thank you, Lord, for my grandma, and that she loves me and gave me these presents".
Another way is for the children to learn by example. Mothers, express your own thankfulness out loud and talk to your children about what you are thankful for. Praise the Lord for his goodness and his blessings on your life. Your children will then learn to do the same.
I believe the following passage in I Timothy tells us to be thankful to the Lord for everything that we enjoy. It is not wrong to enjoy certain things in this world, we should, on the contrary, be thankful for them. But the passage warns that we must not trust in "uncertain riches".
I Timothy 6:17:
"Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy".
Children should be taught to express thankfulness to others. As they receive gifts, a child can be taught to either thank the person personally, or to write thank you notes.
After our discussions about this, I knew that my daughter and daughter-in-law had taken this to heart because after our discussion all of my grandchildren began thanking their "pappaw" and me for everything. They have been thanking us not only for "things", but also for everything we have been doing for them. It has even carried over into their play. One of my granddaughters was just learning to read and write and one day she wanted me to play mailbox with her. She proceeded to send me an invitation to a "pretend" party. I replied in my mail that I could not make it, but was sending her a "pretend" gift. She then promptly wrote me a thank you note in return, thanking me for the gift. I thought then, how easily moldable little children are, and how my daughter is training her child to express thankfulness and gratitude. I thought how pleasing to the Lord this is.
EXPRESSING THANKFULNESS WITH OUR LIPS!
We find in Hebrews that the Lord tells us how to express this thankfulness.
Hebrews 13, verse 15 says, "By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, THE FRUIT OF OUR LIPS GIVING THANKS to his name." It is to be done with our lips!
This thankfulness is not merely something we feel within our heats, nor just an attitude, but it is to be expressed! We should thus seek to please our precious Lord and see to it that we express thankfulness and gratefulness to Him. We are to praise His name continually before others, as well as to Him directly! Every prayer we pray should be laced with thanksgiving. Not only does this please the Lord, but this changes our own hearts. We thus become more grateful, and less "unthankful" as the people of the last days are said to be in II Timothy.
When we see that this is something the Lord desires of us, and is a very serious thing with Him, we then will see the need to become more thankful and to express more gratitude. I pray that we all take this as seriously as the Lord does. I pray that I will become more thankful in the days to come as I pray the same for all of you.
Happy Thanksgiving to all,
Grace Bible Church