The Power of Thanksgiving – Thanksgiving is a day to be thankful for our country and life, but does anyone really stop and be thankful on Thanksgiving? God’s children are to be thankful people, but often we are not even when things are going our way. The Lord God miraculously delivered the children of Israel. They lived supernatural lives, but were they thankful? No. They grumbled. They complained. And, what did it get them? It got them a life of wilderness wandering.

The Power of Thanksgiving

by Delbert Young

The Power of Thanksgiving 

Scriptures: 1 Thessalonians 5:18, Psalms 77:3, Philippians 2:14, Philippians 2:15, Romans 1:8, 1 Corinthians 1:4, Ephesians 1:16, Philippians 1:3, Daniel 6:10, Daniel 6:28

Thursday will be Thanksgiving Day in the USA. I am certain that we will all connect with our family and friends and sit around talking about and remembering the Pilgrims and the first Thanksgiving. Right? We all take time to be thankful for and remember how the Pilgrims suffered so we can have what we have today. Right? Thursday will be a day that we all take time and reflect on how thankful we are for life and all that we have. Right? Isn’t that what everyone does on Thanksgiving Day? I wished.

Does anyone really do that? Don’t we really just get together, watch football games, be with family and friends, eat, and maybe go to the mall? The day after Thanksgiving is the largest shopping day of the year. That should tell us how much America thinks about the Pilgrims and giving thanks. Some of us love the day and some of us complain about and hate the intrusion and have to be forced to attend the Thanksgiving feast.

The day before Thanksgiving an elderly man in Phoenix called his son in New York and said to him, “I hate to ruin your day, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing; 45 years of misery is enough. We’re sick of each other, and so you call your sister in Chicago and tell her.” Frantic, the son called his sister, who exploded on the phone. “Like heck they are getting divorced,” she shouted, “I’ll take care of this.” She called Phoenix immediately and said to her father. “You are NOT getting divorced. Don’t do a single thing until I get there. I’m calling my brother back and we’ll both be there tomorrow. Until then, don’t do a thing, DO YOU HEAR ME?” The man hung up his phone and turned to his wife. “Okay, honey. The kids are coming for Thanksgiving and paying for their own flights.”

Does anyone really stop and be thankful on Thanksgiving? It’s a great opportunity, but the rush and business of the day usually robs the opportunity to be thankful. God’s children are supposed to be thankful people, but often we are not thankful even when things are going our way. The Lord God had miraculously delivered the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage, miraculously opened the Red Sea, miraculously given them manna every day (except the Sabbath), and miraculously given them drink from a rock. They lived miraculous supernatural lives, but were they thankful? No. They grumbled. They complained. And, what did that get them? It got them a life of wilderness wandering. Had they been thankful and grateful they would have only had a short journey and would have entered their Promised Land and abundant life. See, the difference of the abundant life and a wilderness life is thankfulness. THERE IS A POWER IN THANKSGIVING.

Allow me to ask you a question. On a scale of 1 to 10, how thankful and grateful are you? Are you a grateful, thankful, and joyful person, or are you a depressed, grumpy, sad, mean, sour, and ungrateful Christian? Most of us would probably tend to grade ourselves high, but I hear more complaining than thanking. Which do you hear the most?

We are programmed to equate our level of thankfulness and gratitude to how well things are going for us. Of course, that is not what the Bible teaches.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 IN every thing give thanks: for this is THE WILL OF GOD in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Notice that Paul said to give thanks “IN every thing,” not for every thing. Why is God’s will that we “give thanks in every thing”? It’s because complaining feeds our problems and allow them to overwhelm us and make us miserable.

Psalms 77:3 I remembered God, and was troubled: I complained, and my spirit was overwhelmed. Selah.

Have you ever seen a happy complainer?

Dr. Dale Robbins said, “I used to think people complained because they had a lot of problems. But I have come to realize that they have problems because they complain. Complaining doesn’t change anything or make situations better. It amplifies frustration, spreads discontent and discord, and can invoke an invitation for the devil to cause havoc with our lives.” [1]  The more we complain about anything the bigger and worse it becomes.

Giving thanks and being grateful is the high ground and wins every time over complaining. You cannot be unhappy and complain when you are thankful and grateful. It is impossible. I challenge you to go one month without complaining. Ok, let’s start with one day. When you find yourself complaining about something, stop and give thanks instead. You will find your life being blessed and your life will begin to shine like a star in the heavens.

Philippians 2:14 Do everything without complaining or arguing,

Philippians 2:15 SO THAT you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe

THERE IS POWER IN THANKSGIVING. That is why it is God’s will that you give thanks in everything. It is so you will live the real high life – the abundant life – in the supernatural dimension. Have you looked at this world lately? People are depressed. They are hopeless and sad. They need to see a shining face and a bright star to give them guidance. Our region doesn’t need any more depression. It needs shining stars. You can be the star over Bethlehem. Thankfulness makes us a shining star.

I want to challenge you today to be thankful. Turn your complaining into thankfulness. If you own one Bible, you are blessed, because a third of the people in the world do not have access to a Bible. If you awoke this morning with more health than illness you are more blessed than 1 million people who will not survive the week. If you have never experienced the pangs of starvation you are more fortunate than 500 million people on earth. If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head, twenty dollars in your pocket and a place to sleep you are richer than 75 percent of the world.

Nearly everyone here knows Richard Wible. He meets you in the foyer every Sunday morning with a smile on his face along with the greeting team. I asked Richard if I could use him for an illustration and he let me. Well, Richard has been diagnosed with lung cancer and the doctor’s plan is to remove the upper half of his right lung. We are not certain yet that it’s God’s plan. We are believing for a miracle. Richard has gone through this with a thankful spirit. He refuses to get negative. He thanks God that it was found early. He continues to meet you at the front door every week. Richard is a great example of IN EVERYTHING GIVE THANKS. He is thankful for his wife, family, life, and church. He has taken the high ground. He refuses to allow circumstances to dictate his thankfulness.

We need to be thankful for the gift of life and all the wonders and things that it contains. Husbands we need to be thankful for our spouses and we need to tell them. We certainly don’t mind telling them when we are not thankful. She is the best thing that ever happened to you. Husbands imagine how your marriage would improve if you came home with some flowers and a card and told your wife how thankful you are for all she does. Instead of focusing on the things that aggravate you, take the high ground and focus on the things for which you are thankful. It will change your marriage and your perspective of your wife.

Wives, your marriage would improve if you told your husbands how much you appreciate him. You certainly don’t mind telling him when he does things you don’t appreciate. Instead of focusing on the dirty socks and dirty underwear and dirty other things, focus on what he does for you and the things for which you are thankful. I will never forget coming home one day from work and Judy telling me how much she appreciated my taking care of her. She told me, “You have taken care of me well.” It will change your perspective of your husband.

Parents, we need to tell our children how thankful we are for them. Do you know that I was the first person in my family for several generations to graduate high school and college? One day my mother told me how proud and thankful she was of me. That was nearly 40 years ago, but I remember it like yesterday. The impact of thankfulness is powerful. My dad lived with us for awhile after my mom died. Once he and I were sitting and talking and he told me how thankful he was for Judy and me. Then he told me how thankful he had always been for me because I had always been a good boy and never caused them much grief. Parents, don’t just yell and punish your children. Tell them how thankful you are for them. It’s powerful. They will remember your doing that forever.

Children, can you image how your lives would change if you were truly thankful for your parents? Listen, as a parent and grandparent, your expressing gratitude and thankfulness for what your parents sacrifice for you will multiply what you are given. What we usually hear is, “Give me… Give me… Give me…” Or, “I need…, I need…, I need…” Or, “I want…, I want…, I want…” Seldom do you thank us or express gratitude. If you would, you would get much more. There is power in thankfulness. Let me tell you this story. Jack and Max are my two oldest grandsons. Jack is 6 and Max is 5. I often hear, “Ahdaddy, will you buy us something?” But, the other week I came home from California and both of them had sent me a gift. They made me a picture and put a dollar in it for me. How cool was that? You can imagine what I will do next time I buy them something. We respond to thankfulness because thankfulness if powerful.

We need to be thankful for our jobs and for our employers. How would it be if instead of grumbling and complaining about your job and boss, you took your employer a gift and a note thanking them for the opportunity they gave you to work for them? Thank them for the salary they pay you that gives you the ability to pay your bills. Thank them for the benefits you are given. Tell them you appreciate them and are thankful for them. What kind of effect do you think that would have on them when it came time for your next raise, or the next time you asked off? There is power in thankfulness.

We need to be thankful for our church and for the people in our church. Do you know how the apostle Paul began his letters in the Bible? Let me show you.

Romans 1:8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you…

1 Corinthians 1:4 I always thank God for you…

Ephesians 1:16 I have not stopped giving thanks for you…

(NLT) Philippians 1:3 Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.

Paul made sure that he let the people in the churches know that he was thankful for them and appreciated them. I try to take every opportunity I can to thank our volunteers at Life Gate, but that still isn’t enough. We give them a volunteer appreciation banquet every year just to make certain that we let them know how thankful we are for them. Let me tell you right now that I am thankful for every person here. I get around some preachers and they grumble and complain about their congregations. You will never hear me do that. I am so very thankful for you. You don’t have to come here, but you do and I thank God for each of you. And allow me to say this as I am on the subject. Were you to leave Life Gate tomorrow, I would still be thankful for you and all you have done for the kingdom of God while you were here. That is the way we have always been. People think we talk bad about people that leave us. We never have and we never will. I thank God for every person who has ever come here. There is power in thankfulness.

We need to be thankful to God and for God. Inside of every person is a desire to be thankful. It’s often suppressed, but it will come out even in atheistic people.

Harriet Martineau was an atheist. One morning about this time of year, she and a Christian friend observed a beautiful sunrise. As Harriet saw the sun peaking over the horizon, the frost on the meadow, and the brightly colored leaves painting the hillsides, she was filled inside and said, “I am so thankful. I’m just so grateful for it all.” Her believing friend asked, “Grateful to whom, my dear?”

God has created us to give thanks because THERE IS POWER IN THANKFULNESS. In the Old Testament, it was mandatory to give God a “thanksgiving offering,” but in the New Testament, thanksgiving to God should flow like a river from a thankful heart. How is your heart today? Is it grateful and thankful? WHEN IS THE LAST TIME YOU THANKED GOD FOR YOUR LIFE AND YOUR BREATH?

How do we change from being an ungrateful thankless person into a grateful thankful person? It’s simple. We develop a daily discipline of thankfulness.

Daniel 6:10 Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, GIVING THANKS TO HIS GOD, just as he had done before.

Let me tell you this story about Daniel. He had a daily discipline of giving thanks to his God and because of that he had become extremely successful. Daniel had experienced some horrible things, yet he learned to GIVE THANKS IN ALL THINGS. His county had been conquered, city destroyed, family killed, he had been made a eunuch, yet he continued to give thanks. Because of thankfulness, he had become very wealthy and powerful. Thankfulness brings success. THERE IS POWER IN THANKFULNESS. Some men were jealous of Daniel’s life and position in the kingdom. They came up with a plan to remove Daniel. They had the king make a decree that anyone who prayed to any god other than the king would be thrown into a lion’s den. Daniel was well aware of the decree, but because of his discipline to be thankful, he prayed anyway. You know the story. He was seen praying and was thrown into a lion’s den. However, the Lord shut the mouth of the lions and Daniel was delivered. Afterwards, the king decreed that Daniel’s God was the real God and then the king blessed Daniel.

Daniel 6:28 So DANIEL PROSPERED during the reign of Darius and the reign of Cyrus the Persian.

What lion’s den are you facing today? Is there something about to devour you? Shut the mouth of the lion with thankfulness. How is your marriage? Be thankful for it. How are your children? Be thankful for them. How are your parents? Be thankful for them. How is your job, finances, health, etc.? Be thankful for them. THERE IS POWER IN THANKFULNESS.

Rudyard Kipling was a great writer and poet who had opportunity to enjoy his financial success while he lived. Once a newspaper reporter came up to him and said, “Mr. Kipling, I just read that somebody calculated that the money you make from your writings amounts to over a hundred dollars a word; Mr. Kipling raised his eyebrows and said, “Really, I certainly wasn’t aware of that.” The reporter cynically reached down into his pocket and pulled out a one hundred dollar bill and gave it to Kipling and said, “Here’s a hundred dollar bill, Mr. Kipling. Now, you give me one of your hundred dollar words.” Mr. Kipling looked at that hundred-dollar bill for a moment, took it and folded it up and put it in his pocket and said, “Thanks.”

He’s right! The word thanks is certainly a hundred dollar word. In fact, I would say it is more like a million dollar word. It’s one word that is too seldom heard and too rarely spoken and too often forgotten. If we would all adopt an attitude of thanksgiving into our lives – our lives would be changed. It’s Thanksgiving and there is power in thanksgiving.

Other Related Sermons:

Be Thankful for Thanksgiving If I Could Do It Again – sermon video audio notes

Thanksgiving Three Times A Day, give thanks – sermon video audio notes

Thanksgiving Preparing the Way for Blessing – sermon video audio

[1]  Aaron Burgess , Thanksgiving Can Change Your Life, Sermon Central