The Value of Thanksgiving
November 25, 2019

Building Lasting Values

The Value of Thanksgiving

Audio File: https://mega.nz/#!udtjDI5R!mwRwWhmNOkADaeXTypyyz5qCmJITgLB9LCa2Y6Xvewk

This week we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving. The irony is that there will be little, if any, thanks given to God. We’re so busy preparing, cooking, entertaining, watching football, and eating that the only thanks He’ll get will be before the meal, that is, if we remember. 

It seems like we’re missing the whole point of the holiday, which is to give thanks to God for what He has done in our lives. And such thanks starts with recognizing that everything we have comes from God, and without God we’d have nothing. This was something God’s people realized long ago. 

“O Lord our God, even these materials that we have gathered to build a Temple to honor Your holy name come from You! It all belongs to You.” (1 Chronicles 19:16 NLT)

It all starts with God, therefore, we need to thank God in everything. 

But as we approach this time of Thanksgiving, what we also need to realize that everyone goes through difficulties, and everyone has to endure tough times. But it’s not enough to just endure tough times, we must learn how to be thankful through them if we are ever going to receive God’s goodness. 

On the Holmes Stress Scale that lists the 100 most stressful events, like the death of a loved one, divorce, or being fired; what they discovered is that the single most stressful time in a person’s life is between Thanksgiving and New Years. 

It’s during this time that we start worrying about our finances. We also worry about getting together with the relatives that we would never under any other circumstances see, even if we were paid to do so. This is no longer a season to be jolly, rather a season of getting uptight. 

It’s also tough time as some of our loved ones are no longer with us, and our emotions overwhelm us. 

Just a couple of verses prior to the two we’re going to be looking at, Paul tells us about our need to have joy no matter what the situation may be, no matter how bad or good it may be. 

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice.” (Philippians 4:4 NKJV)

How can we rejoice in every trial and circumstance we face? How can we be joyful when our are finances in the toilet? How can we be joyful when our loved ones are no longer with us? How can we be joyful when everything in our lives is out of order? 

Basically, how can we be joyful in tough times? 

Paul gives to us a winning strategy in Philippians 4:6-7 

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV)

There are three steps to this winning strategy. 

1. Don’t Worry

“Be anxious for nothing” (Philippians 4:6a NKJV)

This is easier said than done. We can say, “Don’t worry,” and then begin to worry about it. According to the Smithsonian Institute, we’re in what is known as the “Golden Age of Anxiety.” Not only do we have our own things to worry about, but because of the social media we also have the worries of the world. 

Is it any wonder why we get so uptight? We can’t even get out of bed without anxiety. Think about it, we wake up to an alarm clock! We then look at the news, and none of it is good. So is it any wonder why we are so stressed out. 

Dr. Walter Calvert did a study on worry, and found the following. 

  • 40% of our worries never happen. So 40% of what we worry about isn’t necessary. What this means is that we can toss four out of ten things we worry about. 
  • 30% of our worries are about things that have already happened. Worrying about the past cannot change what happened, nor can it change the future. All it can do is mess up our present. 

This reveals that 70% of those things we worry about are unnecessary. But that still leaves 30%. The survey goes on the say that 12% are worries over needless health concerns, and 10% of our worries are about insignificant and petty issues. That leaves us with only 8% of our worries as beings legitimate. 

But even worrying about legitimate worries isn’t going change anything. 

Jesus said,  “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:34 NKJV)

Did you know that today is tomorrow that you worried about yesterday? 

Further, what’s interesting is that Paul was in prison when wrote this letter to the Philippian church. So, in a really tough situation Paul said, “Don’t worry about a thing.”

Paul then follows this negative admonition with a positive, and tells us not to worry, but rather…

2. Pray About Everything

“But in everything by prayer and supplication … let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6b NKJV)

People say they don’t have time to pray. But since we’ve reduced our worry time by 92%, we now have a lot more time to pray. Further, when we pray, we have a lot less to worry about. 

We are also to pray about everything. Not some things, but all things. Sometimes we think God only hears our prayers when its about religious stuff, or about illness and disease, but God is just as interested in the small stuff. He’s just as interested in chapped lips and postnasal drip.

And even though God already knows, He still wants us to talk with Him about it, even the small stuff. This is seen in the wording Paul uses. The word “prayer” means the general stuff, and the word “supplication,” means talking about the specific details.

There is nothing we cannot pray about, and if it’s worth worrying about, then it is worth praying about. 

The Apostle Peter said, “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you,” (1 Peter 5:7 NKJV)

Unload it all onto the Lord. The word “Casting” means to throw something upon something else. So, we are to throw our cares, anxieties, and worries upon the Lord, and then let the Lord take care of them, because He cares for us. 

And here’s a good tip to incorporate in our life and prayers, once we’ve given it over to the Lord, we need to leave it there, rather than picking it back up and worrying about it again. 

This was kind of brought out in our men’s study the other week. We were talking about the time when the elders in heaven fall down before God and worship Him, casting their crowns at His feet. 

And the question was that since they cast their crowns the first time, how did they do the same thing the second time? Did they go and collect them, only to cast them again? Did they go before God’s throne and picked them back up?

Can you imagine that! {{ Illustrate }}

But what we read is that the second time they just fell down and worshipped, which means they didn’t pick them back up. Therefore, once we give God our worries, we’re not to go and pick them back up again.

And so we’re told to stop worrying and start praying. 

But there is one more step, which is at the heart of our biblical value, and that is …

3. Thank God in Everything

“But in everything … with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6b NKJV)

To the church in Thessalonica Paul said, “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:18 NKJV)

Paul is saying to give thanks “in” everything, not “for” everything. To be thankful “for” everything just doesn’t make sense. 

We cannot be thankful for evil. We don’t give thanks for cancer, but we can give thanks knowing God will work everything out to the good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

We can also thank God because He will not permit anything to happen to us without providing a way out of it, or providing a way by which we will be able to endure it (1 Corinthians 10:13). 

We can give thanks to the Lord because He has a purpose for our lives is always bigger than the problems we face. Further, God will and give us the power to overcome our problems. Therefore, we can give thanks because we serve a God who is bigger than our problems.

But, how we can be thankful in what’s been lost? It’s by not looking at what we’ve lost; but rather it’s looking at what we have left. I’ve seen families devastated by focusing on what has been lost rather than what is left, and in the end they’ve ended up losing even more. 

What I’d like to share before we end our time together are two things we can to be thankful for every single day, and that is God’s grace and love.

God’s Grace

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8 NKJV)

Grace is God’s unmerited favor. Grace is everything God does for us even though we don’t deserve it. Grace is God giving us what we need, that is, forgiveness, and not what we deserve, which is judgment. 

Therefore, once our hearts understand God’s great grace, they will overflow with thanksgiving, because we met Jesus Christ as our personal Savior and Lord. 

Without Christ we were headed for hell and not heaven, and there isn’t anything we can do to stop it. We can never be good enough. The Bible says that there is no one righteous enough (Romans 3:10). But God, in His grace, came and gave to us His Son, Jesus Christ, and through belief in His sacrifice upon the cross for our sins, we are saved and delivered. 

Therefore, we can be thankful for God’s Great Grace. 

The second thing we should be thankful for is …

God’s Love

We need to be thankful for God’s unconditional love that pursues us no matter what. 

There is nothing we can do, no place where we can go, where God’s love doesn’t pursue and meet us there. God’s love knows no bounds.

For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). 

The Lord cares about what we do, and while He is deeply hurt when we sin, He still loves us and will always love us. And He demonstrates just how far He will go to pursue us with His love. 

“But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8 NKJV)

Even when we were His enemy, living apart and separate from God, God loved us. 

And He loves us even through the highest highs and the lowest lows, and that’s because nothing can separate us from His love. 

And so we are to be thankful for God’s great grace and love, but we haven’t even scratched the surface of what we need to be thankful for, like God’s purpose and plans for our lives, or His provision, protection, and promises. 

Conclusion

If we take God’s advise and worry about nothing, pray about everything and thank God in all things, what can we expect? The payoff, and that is God’s peace.

“The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7 NKJV)

By saying that it surpasses all understanding, the Lord is promising that our lives will be marked by the supernatural. It’s not something man can explain, or explain away. It is beyond the range of human comprehension, and something that cannot be explained except by saying that it is nothing less than Jesus Christ.

This peace is only for those who have a relationship with Jesus Christ, who put their faith and trust in Him. And when we place our faith and trust in Him, God will set a guard over our hearts and minds. The term used by Paul gives an idea of a whole garrison of soldiers standing sentry over a city to keep it safe. 

When we come to Jesus Christ, making Him Savior and Lord of our lives, He puts a sentry over our minds and hearts, in other words, over our thoughts and emotions, and will keep us at peace when everything else is falling apart around us. This is why I said that when we follow God’s advice, our lives will be marked by the supernatural, because God’s peace is nothing less than supernatural. 

Therefore, worry about nothing, pray about everything, in all things give thanks, then God will give us His peace through faith in Jesus Christ. 

Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27 NKJV)

Therefore, if we want God’s peace to guard and rule over our lives, then we need to give our lives over to Jesus Christ. Because it is through Jesus that all those who believe in Him can have direct access to God’s Throne Room where we can boldly come with our prayers, and casting our cares, because He cares for us.









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