Be Ye Thankful

Bible Book: Psalms  100
Subject: Thanks; Thanksgiving Day; Gratitude

On the first Thanksgiving day, the Pilgrims held a prayer meeting to thank God. They invited their Indian neighbors to share their turkey and pumpkin pie. Sharing always accompanies gratitude.

Thanksgiving Day commemorates a bountiful harvest reaped by the Plymouth Colony. It is an American tradition. It's older than the Constitution. It's older than the Declaration of Independence. Thanksgiving is the most universal and the most democratic of all holidays. Now, it's Thanksgiving in 2001 A.D. and Americans can still give thanks for the same blessings that our Pilgrim ancestors valued so highly in 1621.

We live in a land with more material things than almost any other. That gives Americans a special obligation.

Thanksgiving reminds us of how much we owe to those before us and those around us. Thanksgiving reminds us of how much we have. It reminds us that ingratitude in a sin. Paul lists it along with other deadly vices. "People will be lovers of money, boastful, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, unforgiving, without self-control, treacherous, (and) lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God" (II Tim. 3:2-4).

In fact, Paul says, "Be Thankful" over and over again: "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful" (Col. 3:15).

If you are an average American, you are tremendously blessed!  But are you really thankful? Most of us take our blessings for granted and assume that we will always have them!

1. If you own a Bible, you are abundantly blessed. About one-third of the world's population does not have access to one.
2. If you can go to bed each night, knowing that God loves you, you are blessed beyond measure.
3. If you have anyone on the planet, just one friend who cares about you and listens to you, count this a blessing.
4. If you can freely attend church without fear, then you are more blessed than most.
5. If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head, and a place to sleep; you are rich in this world.
6. If you have an earthly family that even halfway supports you, you are blessed.
7. If you have a church family that offers you a word of encouragement, you are blessed with fellowship.

Yes, we take our blessings for granted. Husbands take wives for granted - their neat houses, their clean beds, their wholesome meals are not appreciated. And wives take their husbands for granted. Their faithfulness; their hard work; their responsible jobs are not appreciated. And the children take their kind and generous parents for granted, until they are left alone with the two graves and memories.

This is wrong. Writers are unanimous in pointing to ingratitude as a sin. Shakespeare branded ingratitude as the worst of all vices. He said, "I hate ingratitude more in man than lying, drunkenness, or taint of vice."

Unless we appreciate the small daily blessings, greater blessings cannot come. A gardener said, "One summer, I decided that since there were two pints of raspberries to pick every day, I could save a lot of time and energy if I just picked the raspberries once a week. That way, I could harvest all fourteen pints at once. So, I let a week go by, then I went and started harvesting my berries. But, when I finished, all I had was two pints. I couldn't understand it. There should have been seven times as many raspberries, but there weren't!

Years later I realized what happened that summer. As long as I was utilizing my supply of raspberries every day, my abundance continued. It was only when I stopped utilizing my supply that the abundance decreased. Because I didn't harvest my berries on a daily basis, I lost them. Some raspberries ripened and fell to the ground. Others were eaten by birds. Many simply didn't develop because there was still a supply that hadn't been harvested.

Because I hadn't been happy harvesting two pints of raspberries a day, the Universe figured I wouldn't be happy with fourteen pints a week either. And that was the first of the universal laws I have grasped. "Until you learn to be happy with what you have, you won't be happy with more."

Until we learn to notice and appreciate and use the abundance that surrounds us right now, we won't be receptive to additional abundance. So, how do we learn to appreciate what we have?  Remember Paul said, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful" Col. 3:15).

So, let's notice and appreciate some of our many blessings by analyzing the word T-H-A-N-K-F-U-L.

I. T stands for Time.

They say that Queen Victoria, on her death bed, whispered, "My Kingdom for an hour." We're not thankful for time until it begins to run out.

To realize the value of one year, ask a student who has failed a grade. To realize the value of one month, ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby. To realize the value of one hour, ask lovers who are waiting to meet. To realize the value of one minute, ask a person who missed a train. To realize the value of one second, ask the person who won a silver medal at the Olympics.

Let's treasure every moment and be thankful for time.

II. H stands for Health.

Again, we're not thankful for health until we begin to lose it. One woman sent out notes saying: "You're invited to a 'Praise the Lord' dinner, February 9, at 7:00 o'clock." She said, "My family and friends all knew why this celebration was bing held.  I had just been released from the hospital and given a clean bill of health after a very bad scare."

Let's not wait for an emergency to occur. Let's enjoy our life and be thankful for our health.

III. A and for Abilities.

All of us have numerous abilities that are taken for granted.  A person who had a deaf friend said, "I can't help her, but at least I can quit complaining about loud music, slammed doors and street racket. I can appreciate my ability to hear laughter, squawking geese and babies crying. If we can hear and see and taste and walk, we are very fortunate and we should be thankful or these simple abilities.

IV. N stands for Nature.

A poet wrote: One midnight, deep in starlight still, I dreamed that I received t his bill, In Account with Life: Five thousand breathless dawns, all new; Five thousand flowers, fresh in dew; Five thousand sunsets, wrapped in gold; One million snowflakes, served ice cold; One hundred music-haunted dreams, Of moon-drenches roads and flowing streams, Of prophesying winds and trees, Of silent stars and drowsing bees; I wondered, when I waked at day, How, in God's name, I could ever pay! -Courtland W. Sayres.

Well, we can't pay for the beauty around us, so lets be thankful for nature.

V. K stands for knowledge.

With books and magazines and newspapers and radios and television and the Internet, the world is at our fingertips.  Abraham Lincoln had to walk miles in the snow just to borrow a book. In an information age, we don't realize our blessings.  Let's be thankful or knowledge.

VI. F stands for Family.

Are you aware that: If we die tomorrow, the company or business we are working for can easily replace us in a matter of days.  But, the family we leave behind will feel the loss for the rest of their lives. And yet, we often give more of ourselves to our work than to our family. This is an unwise investment. Le's be thankful for our family.

VII. U stands for understanding.

There is no gift more needed or desired than the understanding of friends. When someone listens to our words and shares our feelings, our joys are increased and our sorrows are diminished. Friendships include trust and empathy. Let's be thankful for understanding.

L. L stands for Life.

In her best-selling book, Passages, author Gail Sheehy discusses the various crises that people face when they go through life. One reader was a middle-aged man. He said, "I have just come to the realization that I'm not going to live forever, and that I've wasted so many precious years. I feel like I did as a child going to my first circus. I visited one sideshow after another, hoping to see everything-the rubber lady, the cobra charmer, the sword swallower, the five-legged calf, the biggest, the smallest, the longest, the tallest. Time meant nothing, until I reached the big tent too late. The three rings were bare; empty of clowns, acrobats and trick horses.  Foolishly I had spent my entire day with a bunch of cheap sideshows and missed the main attraction. Furthermore, the circus would be gone in the morning." Let's not miss the most important things. Instead, let’s be thankful for life.


An anonymous author wrote: "Few of us will receive life's big prizes: the Pulitzer, the Heisman, the Oscar. But we're all eligible for life's small pleasures: a pat on the back a four-pound bass, a full moon, an empty parking space, a crackling fire, a great meal, a glorious sunset. Enjoy life's little delights. There are plenty for all of us.

Yes, Paul said, "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful" (Col. 3:15).