The Benefits of Thanksgiving

Psalm 100

by Cooper Abrams


      Psalm 100 "Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing. Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations."

    INTRODUCTION:     In the spring of 1621, after landing at Plymouth the previous year, the Pilgrims were not in good condition. They were living in dirt-covered shelters, there was a severe shortage of food and nearly half of them had died during the winter. They obviously needed help. Two Indians, Squanto -- also known as Ti-squan- tum (Tis-SKWAN-tum) -- and Samoset, who had been observing the colony for several days, decided to enter the camp and welcome the strangers. The Pilgrims were very surprised to meet two Indians who spoke English.

              Squanto, who probably knew more English than any other Indian in North America at the time, decided to stay with the Pilgrims for the next few months and teach them how to survive in this place. He brought them deer meat and beaver skins. He taught them how to cultivate corn and other new vegetables and how to build Indian-style shelters. He pointed out poisonous plants and showed how plants could be used as medicines. He explained how to dig and cook clams, how to get sap from the maple trees, use fish for fertilizer, and dozens of other skills needed for survival. By the time fall arrived, things were going much better for the Pilgrims, thanks to the providential help they had received. The corn they planted had grown well. There was enough food to last the winter. They were living comfortably in their Indian-style wigwams and had also managed to build one European-style building out of squared logs. This building served as their first church. They were now in better health and they knew more about surviving the new land. They decided to have a Thanksgiving feast to celebrate their good fortune. They had observed Thanksgiving feasts as religious obligations in England for many years before coming to the New World.

              Captain Miles Standish, the leader of the Pilgrims, invited Squanto, Samoset, Massasoit (the leader of the Wampanoags), and their immediate families to join them for a celebration, but they had no idea how large Indian families could be. As the first American Thanksgiving feast was about to begin, the Pilgrims were overwhelmed by the large turnout of ninety relatives that Squanto and Samoset brought with them. The Pilgrims were not prepared to feed this gathering of people especially when you consider that the celebration was to last three days. Seeing the shortage of food, Massasoit gave orders to his men within the first hour of his arrival to go home and get more food. Five deer, many wild turkeys, fish, beans, squash, corn soup, corn bread and berries were brought to the feast. Captain Standish sat at one end of a long table and Clan Chief Massasoit sat at the other end.

              For three days the Wampanoags feasted with the Pilgrims. It was a special time of friendship and thanksgiving between two very different groups of people. A peace and friendship agreement was made between Massasoit and Miles Standish giving the Pilgrims the clearing in the forest where an Indian village once stood to build their new town of Plymouth.

              On June 20, 1676, the governing council of Charlestown, Mass. held a meeting to determine best how to express thanksgiving to God for the good fortune that had seen their community securely established.

              The Continental Congress issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation for November 1782.

              Eighty years later, President Lincoln declared the last Thursday in November as the official Thanksgiving Day. Even later, the U.S. Congress set the fourth Thursday in November as the special day of observance. The fourth Thursday is not always the last Thursday.

              America has been a Christian nation from the very beginning. But things have changed dramatically in the past 35 years.

      (1) In one generation, America has turned from his heritage and many have abandoned the faith of our fathers, repudiated the Judeo-Christian Ethic and adopted a politically-correct philosophy that is anti-Christ to the core.

      The history revisionist are trying hard to pervert what really happened. One web site for teachers has the Indians praying a pagan prayer to their gods. Not mention of the Pilgrims praying to Almighty God and giving him thanks. The revisionist would have you believe that the pilgrims were thanking the Indians for their bountiful harvest. They were very grateful for the Indians who helped them...but their prayer of thanksgiving were to the Lord.

      (2) This nation was founded as a nation under God. There are forces in the land that are hell-bent on changing that... such as the ACLU, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, People for the American Way, NOW, PP, the national news media, the entertainment industry, the NEA, etc.

      (3) The problem is spiritual... not political.

      (4) Let us this morning look at what the Bible tells us is true thanksgiving Let consider who benefits for being thankful to the Lord?

    I. THANKFUL PEOPLE ARE JOYFUL.

      A. Philippians 4:6-7 says, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."

        1. The peace of God comes from having a thankful heart. Note what this peace will do for you. God says "it will keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." People who are not thankful to the Lord are not satisfied. They are discontent always complaining about what they do not have....rather than be grateful for what is God's provision for them.

        2. Isaiah 26:3 states it this way, "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee."

        3. The peace "which passeth all understanding" means it is a peace that surpasses all that men can conceived or imagine. The words "shall keep" is a military term, and means that the mind would be guarded as a camp or castle is. It would be preserved from the intrusion of anxious fears and alarms.

        4. The Bible commentator Barnes, has this to say on this verse: "It is only in him that the mind can be preserved in peace. It is not by mere confidence in God, or by mere prayer, but it is by confidence in God as he is revealed through the Redeemer, and by faith in him. Paul never lost sight of the truth, that all the security and happiness of a believer were to be traced to the Savior."

      B. Psalm 100:2 says, "Serve the Lord with gladness..." and verse 4 tells us to "enter His gates with thanksgiving."

        1. Let me ask the question: Who benefits from being thankful? "For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations." Verse 5 says ...those that are thankful are the ones who have gladness in their hearts and reap the blessings of God.

        2. A believer has much to be thankful for;

          (1) salvation.
          (2) privilege of service.
          (3) daily provision of every need. (Thank him for water,etc) This is why it is importance for you to have prayer before each meal and to teach your children to pray and thank the Lord.
          (4) perpetual protection.
          (5) family and friends who love you.
          (6) answered prayers.

    II. THANKFUL PEOPLE ARE PRACTICAL.

      A. They have common sense, merged with the will of God. God has a wonderful plan for your life and mine. Sadly, too few children of God find that plan. There is nothing sadder that to see people living without practical faith in their lives.

      B. A believer who is thankful to God understands that life is very short. The Pennsylvania Dutch have a saying "Too soon old and too late smart." Many believers spend years spinning their wheels and are very late determining God's ultimate purpose for them. Some never do.

        Illustration: Years ago I have a couple visit occasionally the church I pastored. He was a friend and had friends in the church so he and his wife would come once and a while. I visited him many times and he would each time show me his home which he had restored. It was a beautiful house and it was his whole life. Yet, he was proud of "his" labors and did not believe in God. He would politely listen when I witnessed to him, but each time would proclaim there was nothing beyond this life. He had a heartache and died suddenly and by his own testimony died without Christ. He was not thankful to no one for anything. He was self sufficient and there was not thankfulness in his heart....only pride for what he had done. He had virtually wasted his life.

          (1) Thankful people realize God's will always includes others. A life lived only for yourself is not only boring, but mainly wasted. Thankful people live for family, neighbors, co-workers, spiritual brothers and sisters, and the unsaved.

          Today there are growing numbers of people who considered themselves to be CONSUMERS.....RATHER THAN GIVERS. They come to church to be served, not to serve others. Some when called on complain about having to serve and point the finger at people who are not doing their share. Do you understand that with that attitude...no matter what the church member does there is no reward for them and it does not please the Lord. We are to serve with gladness...thanking the Lord for the opportunity.

          (2) Grateful Christians know that God's will is always expandable. Don't drive your stakes too deep. As we grow, we see the picture more clearly. As our ministry is blessed and our vision enlarges, God's will becomes more encompassing. I was saved in January of 1972.... called to the ministry in 1977... and His leading has been "tweaked and clarified" continuously.

          (3) Thankful people also know God's will is clear and measurable. While it is not always necessary or good to seek a sign (or put out a fleece) to know God's leading-- He always gives inner and outward witness to that which pleases or displeases Him. 1 John 2:27 declares "But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him."

          (4) Thankful people know God's will is always energized by conviction. Conviction is the unshaken confidence that I am His and He is mine-- that His Word is true--that He knows, cares and watches over me--that where He guides, He provides--that His grace is always sufficient--that he will never put more on me than He will put in me to bear it up--that He may humble me but never humiliate me--that He will never leave me alone.

            2 Tim. 1:12 "For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day."

            2 Corinthians 1:27-29 "But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence."

              (7) Thankful people know God's will is always simple. 2 Corinthians 11:3 "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ."

                God uses people to accomplish His purposes.
                Evangelism is always the heartbeat of His enterprises.
                The local church is His sole agency for world evangelization.
                The Gospel (Christ's death, burial and resurrection) is His only message.

                The exaltation of Jesus Christ is the maximum result of all His servants are called to do.

      III. THANKFUL PEOPLE WILL BLESS OTHERS.

        A. The real question is how do I show thanksgiving to God? Do we just say the words....thank you. Is that enough? It is always good to be thanked by others, but it is much better and has real meaning when it is shown.

          ILLUS: In 1977 I resigned from the security systems company that I started and ran for many years. My last day there the men who worked for me can to me and said they really appreciated the things I had done for them over the years. They each shook my hand. They then gave me a little plague....which said "In appreciate for the many years of working together in the Burglary Alarm Company. They misspelled "Burglary" but that was such a blessing to me. They asked me if I every started another company to let them know...because they wanted to come and work there. Boy, that made my day and I have never forgiven it.

        It is a blessing and uplifting for others when we show in a practical way our thanksgiving. You see. . . we cannot give God anything. He has given us all we have. But when we give our offerings to Him, the first fruits of His gifts to us we are able to show gratitude. In this God lets us be a blessing through our church to others also. The money we give goes pays the expenses we have, it is vital in reaching out into our community with the Gospel. It also lets us support missions around the world. By giving to the Lord from a grateful heart, God blesses us.

          2 Corinthians 9:7 says, "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver."

        Note that God says He loves the "cheerful giver." It is pretty clear why isn't it? The cheerful giver gives in thanksgiving to the Lord and that pleases God and shows we have the proper attitude towards giving.

      B. Thankfulness encourages and motivates people. Thankfulness is contagious. It is a fact that what we do sets an example for others. If we do not show a thankful heart by our actions....we are in fact a stumbling block to others. However, when we practice practical thanksgiving it blesses others and sets the example for those around us. For example is there are several people in a church that really work at inviting and bringing people to church it encourages others to do so also.

        It sets a proper atmosphere of serving the Lord and loving the souls of the lost. If we never bring anyone to church with us or invite others...we set that example.

      C. Thankfulness brightens dark corners. How do you feel when someone shows you thankfulness? It brightens your day and uplifts your spirits doesn't it. It shows respect and honor to the one who is thanked.

        I think arrogance is one of the ugliest expressions a person can have. It is arrogant not to thank people for what they do for us. It also degrades the person who is serving us doesn't it?

        Do you not thank the same thing is true with God? It is serious business to be arrogant toward God.

        Lets be really serious for a moment. Listen to what 1 Corinthians 11:27-30 referring to the Lord's supper, when we are to remember the sacrifice and sufferings of the Lord Jesus Christ for our sins.

          "Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body. For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep."

        This passage is addressing people who are not grateful to the Lord. They live their lives without any regard for what it cost the Lord Jesus to pay their sin debt. They blatantly continue in sin, being unfaithful all the while....knowing that their sins cost the Lord great pain and suffering. Their ungrateful hearts show them to be arrogant and selfish people. The gross sin brought on them sickness and also for some an untimely death.

      D. Thankfulness strengthens faith...yours and others.

        It proclaims your faith and that encourages others. It strengthens your dependence on the Lord for you every provision and upholds the biblical truth of the faithfulness of God.

    IV. THANKFUL PEOPLE HONOR THE LORD.

      Psalm. 100:1 "Make a joyful noise unto the Lord...".

      Psalm. 103: 1-2 "Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:"

      Psalm 22:3 "But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel."

        (1) Praise, thanksgiving and worship minister to the Lord.
        (2) Praise, thanksgiving and worship exalt the Lord.
        (3) Praise, thanksgiving and worship drive Satan far away.
        (4) Praise, thanksgiving and worship drive helps us to forgive others and take pride and bitterness from our spirits.


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