Heroes of Gratitude

Scripture: Luke 17:11-19
Date: 11/25/2000 
A seasonal sermon on Thanksgiving and gratitude that focuses on the story of the ten lepers. When we truly love God, we will give thanks to Him for the blessings given. Being thankful changes your attitude
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Good morning. Happy Thanksgiving. I want to thank Esmee and our, Seth and Bahua for that beautiful song. That was a real blessing. I’ll let you in on a secret. Of the holidays, this is my favorite holiday. I like it more than Christmas or Easter. There may be others in my family who would disagree with me, but this is where I stand. I think that, huh? Oh, I know. I was thinking of the younger ones might like another holiday more. But it really is a blessed time.

I think that we should be thankful all year long. But I am grateful that we have a certain time of year where we count our blessings and we specifically focus in on all that we do have to be thankful for. Now our sermon title this morning is dealing with Heroes of Gratitude. Heroes of Gratitude. First of all, of course, you know the reason we have a day called Thanksgiving is because of some of the struggles of our founding fathers many years ago who had to take a leap of faith. And because of the persecution in Europe and because they were looking for a place to practice their religion with freedom, a number of people that we commonly call the Pilgrims got on some boats, most of them knew nothing about sea travel. They did not know what was ahead.

They had no photographs or video of where they were going. And something like Abraham going to a place they’d not seen, they made this perilous trip across the ocean. Many of them were chronically seasick the whole time. One baby was born en route. Terribly congested conditions. The food was, it wasn’t like cruise cuisine, ocean liner cuisine. Then they settled in the new shores. And some of you may know that by the second year half of them had died from starvation and disease, cold.

They were not used to this frontier that did not have all the amenities that were there in Europe. But in spite of that, after that second year they had a harvest and the Indians had taught them something about how to use the native corn and they had a sort of corporate feasting day together and that’s where we get our first time of thanksgiving. In spite of all their suffering, in spite of all that they lost, instead of griping and murmuring and complaining they decided to set aside a day for giving thanks to God.

You know it’s amazing sometimes; those who have the least are often still the most grateful. Gratitude is not only one of the most important virtues it can be the fountain of all other virtues, being grateful. Would you like to hear a little amazing fact about where Thanksgiving comes from? You know I have to prepare amazing facts for our radio program. Any of you were you listening last Sunday night to the radio program Bible Answers Live? Three of us. OK, well then you’ve already heard this. You can, that’s OK. I thought it might be that way. Do you know why we have Thanksgiving in North America?

Incidentally, Sunday night, that would be tomorrow, 7:00, 7:10 am we’d invite you to tune in if you want to call in any Bible questions. The reason we have Thanksgiving is largely due to a woman by the name of Sarah Josepha Hale. She lived about 90-years of age between 1788 and 1879. Now of course you know Thanksgiving Day was originally celebrated by the Pilgrims father and in 1621 I think it was Bradford, he set aside a day to give thanks for the bountiful harvest that they had received in the new world. Then in 1789 President George Washington issued a Thanksgiving Day Proclamation to commemorate the first Pilgrim celebration.

Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States discontinued it. After this Thanksgiving was observed by some individual states on whatever day they chose. Then in 1828 Mrs. Hale, a patient, persistent 34-year old widow and mother of four. Her husband died leaving her with three children and pregnant. A couple of years later she went through great hardship, financial distress and problems and yet she was very thankful to God for all that He had done for her.

She began to campaign for a national day that would be recognized as Thanksgiving. She did it through the term of five different presidents and they often turned her away and said, “Leave us alone. This is none of your business.” But she was persistent and relentless. For many years she wrote letters, she sought appointments with national leaders from five presidents on down. Time after time she was politely rebuffed. Sometimes being told it was impractical or impossible and being chased off. But Sarah would not give up.

Finally in 1863 President Lincoln listened seriously to her plea that the North and South lay aside their enmity and strife on Thanksgiving Day and he proclaimed the fourth Thursday of November to be the official national Thanksgiving Day. This was finally ratified by the US Congress, but not until 1941. What many people don’t know is that Mrs. Sarah Hale is the first woman magazine editor in the United States and the first person to use the word lingerie to describe undergarments. Sarah also happened to be the first woman to help start the first college for girls in the US and was the first to suggest public playgrounds. But she’s probably best remembered as the author of the poem Mary Had a Little Lamb. That’s the one who started Thanksgiving Day. But I thought that was for free. You might enjoy knowing something about the history.

You could say that Sarah Josepha Hale was a hero of gratitude. And I’m very glad that she persisted and prevailed so that we have a national day to show our thankfulness to God. Now you don’t hear that a lot anymore when they talk about Thanksgiving, but in the proclamation it’s thankfulness to God. Are you aware of that? Now we just talk about being thankful. But it must be very hard for an atheist to feel thankful and have no one to give thanks to. A Christian knows that we are thankful to God. Now there’s a story in the Bible I’d like to direct your attention to. It’s Luke 17; we’ll be considering several stories that help itemize some of these heroes of faith. And we’ll go from verses 12, Luke 17:12 on through verse 19. You know the story about the 10 lepers.

We can start with verse 11, “And as it happened, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. Now as he entered a certain village, there met him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off,” they could not come close because they had leprosy, “and they lifted up their voices, and said Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. So when he saw them, he said to them, Go show yourselves to the priests. And so it was, as they went, they were cleansed.” Now I could stop right here and tell you a whole sermon on this one principle. This is the key to victory in the Christian life in anything. When God tells you what to do you make the first step to do what He tells you to do and then He performs a miracle. Often we stand still and wait for the miracle. It says, “as they went,” in going, “they were cleansed.”

The Bible says as Peter made an effort to get up the chains fell off. When you know what God’s will is, as you take the first steps to do what God is telling you to do, use your gift of will to obey His command, then He activates His miraculous power. But we must take the initiative of responding. Amen? In going, they were cleansed. So I did manage to fit that in anyway. “And as they went, they were cleansed.” So they began to rejoice and probably bounced down the road on their way to the priests. But one of them came to his senses evidently. He saw that he was healed. He turned around and with a loud voice he glorified God.

He comes right back to Jesus because now he’s clean he can approach Jesus and he throws himself down at Christ’s feet and he gave thanks. What did he do? He gave thanks, “and he was a Samaritan.” I guess it’s saying that because the others were church members. This was a stranger. “So Jesus answered,” verse 17, “and he said, Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not found any to return and give glory to God, except this foreigner? And he said, Arise, go your way: your faith has made you whole.” Ninety percent walked away, took the blessing and did not thank the giver of the gift. One, a stranger, wasn’t even a member of the church, he turned around, he came back and he thanked Jesus. Now what makes a hero a hero? Typically they do what others do not do. They dare, they venture, they take risks. They’re unique. They stand out. And this one man, one out of 10, he came back. You could say a tithe of humanity remembers to thank God for the blessings that we receive every day. “Every good and perfect gift comes from God.”

Every day, every moment, God is pouring and showering blessings down upon us. You know one of the things that excluded the children of Israel from the Promise Land was the characteristic of murmuring and complaining. Unthankfulness is one of the traits that identifies people in the last days. We need to guard against unthankfulness. There’s a number of scriptures that illustrate this. Romans 1:21, do you have your Bibles? Not all the scriptures [are] on the screen. Someone reminded me when I put all the scriptures on the screen people stop using their Bibles. So you’re just going to have to use your Bibles for some of these. Romans 1:21 Paul said, “Because, although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God, nor were thankful.” How do we glorify God? Through gratitude. You know you and I should live to give glory to God.

How did the Samaritan glorify God? He came back and he gave thanks. It tells us, “He glorified God, giving thanks.” How many of you would like to give glory to God? You know one of the characteristics of the three angels’ message, first angel says, “Fear God, and give glory to him.” How do we give glory to Him? Give Him credit for what He does. So often when there’s something bad that happens the insurance company tells us it’s an act of God. We give God credit for everything bad that happens. We forgot to give Him thanks for all the good that happens. Amen?

It says, “They did not glorify him, nor were thankful; but became futile in their thoughts and their foolish hearts were darkened.” You can be thankful and have an illuminated heart or unthankful and have a darkened heart, murmuring and complaining. II Timothy, another scripture. II Timothy 3:1-2, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come.” This is some of the characteristics of people in the last days. “For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy.” I’d like to suggest that being unthankful makes you unholy. One of the characteristics of the people in the last days is they forget to give glory to God. They are unthankful. Matthew 18:28. You know that man; he’s forgiven 10,000 talents?

He’s known as the unmerciful debtor. The king freely forgives him 10,000 talents. You know what he does then? Instead of being grateful he goes and he takes a fellow servant by the throat who owes him the equivalent of $42 and puts him in jail. Was he grateful for what he had been forgiven? One of the characteristics of genuine Christians is we have been forgiven so much that we are so thankful that we give forgiveness to others. You know it’s not often remembered that the word thanksgiving is the composite of two words, thanks and giving. And genuine thanks means giving. I’ll say more about that afterward, but I want to remind you, following our service today; this is going to be an interactive service. It’s going to get more involved as we proceed. That always wakes everybody up. Following our service today there will be ushers at the door.

We receive a Good Samaritan offering at times like this and we have a special fund for people who have special needs. You’ll have an opportunity to show your thanks in a special way for those who are in need represented in the church family. But it says here that that servant goes and he finds his fellow servant, takes him by the throat, throws him in jail. He wasn’t thankful for all that he’d been forgiven. If we really have received and embraced the mercy that God has showered on us we will then want to pass it on. It’ll ricochet off of us to others, that gratitude. Some people have the wrong kind of thanks. You remember the parable that Jesus tells, Luke 18. After our story about the Good Samaritan. Two people go to the temple to pray. One is a Pharisee and the other one is a tax collector, a publican. And it tells us, “The Pharisee stood and he prayed thus with himself, God, I thank you, that I’m not like other men.” What is he thankful for? He is thanking God, but he thinks he’s better than others. Is that the kind of thanks the Lord wants?

Is that the kind of thanks that will glorify God? Or is that the kind of thanks that the devil offers. It’s a proud thanks of comparison. “I thank you I am not like other men…I pay tithe of all that I have. I fast twice a week.” And he thought he had some virtue with God because of that. God doesn’t accept that kind of thanks. The Bible says that it was the tax collector that went down to his house justified. He simply, “smote on his breast and said, Lord have mercy on me a sinner.” Now I am going to ask; we have a couple of microphones down here. I want to give you an opportunity to make some short sentences of gratitude; things that you are thankful for. Now whenever you do this, and we’re taping right now. I don’t want to make you self-conscious, but of course there’s always a risk that someone will confuse a statement with a story. And we want to give as many as possible an opportunity to share in a sentence, maybe two, what they are thankful for. Be thinking about that right now.

When you have something you’d like to say you’re thankful for. I’m thankful for my family. I’m thankful for my health. There, that’s priming the pump. I’m giving you an idea of what I’m thinking about. Raise your hand and we have some people with microphones and they’ll be happy to bring a microphone to you. In between my stories about the heroes of gratitude I’m going to call on you to express what you’re grateful for. Does that sound good? I see a hand already. Edna? Dennis, let’s hear what Edna’s going to thank the Lord for.

* I’m thankful for the changing power of the word of God.

* That is transforms us. Amen. Did I see another hand here? Bill? Tell us, one second here. We’ve got a microphone coming for you.

* I’m thankful that since the Lord created us and maintains our existence, I am thankful for that because without Him we wouldn’t even exist.

* Amen. He’s the Creator and the Sustainer. All right, next hero of faith, and you can keep your hands up, is David. David is a hero of faith. Let me read you just a few scriptures that help to accentuate this. First of all, David had people who were engaged full time in giving thanks. How’d you like to be on the payroll and someone says, “What’s your job description?” “I’m a thanks giver. That’s what I do for a living.” Hand out business cards; thanks giving is what you do. There were people employed by King David in the temple who thanked the Lord. I Chronicles 16:7, “On that day David first delivered this psalm unto the hand of Asaph and his brethren to thank the Lord.”

He wrote specific psalms, we read one of them in our scripture reading: Psalm 100, just for thanking God. I Chronicles 23:30, they were, “to stand every morning to thank and to praise the Lord, and likewise at evening.” Constantly thanking God. Psalm 30:12, David says, “O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you,” how often? “for ever.” We should always be thankful. There’s always something to thank the Lord for. Psalm 95:2, “O come before his presence with thanksgiving.” “Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving.” Here’s another one. Oh, wait. Let me take some from you. I saw some people had microphones. All right, who’s next? Right here, Rita, quickly you have something?

* I …praise and glory for the privilege to come here and worship. And I thank God for our house.

* Amen. Thank the Lord. Do we have anybody here on this side? Do we have a microphone over here? No, we have one microphone? Oh, it’s in the back. Who’s next? Go ahead. I couldn’t see back there.

* I’m thankful for the Sabbath truth coming to the tent last year and me finding out.

* Amen. We’re glad you learned the truth. Someone else over here? Who’s next? Hold your hand up. Go ahead, Dennis, take them a microphone.

* I’m thankful for God’s grace, which is sufficient for all of my needs.

* God’s grace sufficient. I have one back here. Go ahead, Willetta.

* My equilibrium went caput Wednesday morning and my feet didn’t know whether to be up or down. I’m grateful for my inner ear that is right today.

* Amen. You’ve got your balance today. Praise the Lord for His healing. You want to hear another probably unexpected hero of faith? Who would pick Jonah? Do you know that Jonah was thankful? The Bible tells us that Jonah prayed to the Lord, prayed to the Lord his God from the fish’s belly. Do you know what he said? Notice this, from the fish’s belly Jonah prays, “But I will sacrifice to you with a voice of thanksgiving.” Jonah’s in the fish’s belly.

The last part of his prayer, chapter 2, says, “I will sacrifice to you with a voice of thanksgiving.” Do you know you can offer a sacrifice to the Lord with your gratitude? What happened next? “I will pay what I vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.” After Jonah prays that prayer it says, “So the Lord spoke to the fish and it vomited Jonah out onto dry land.” Thanksgiving can liberate you. After Jonah gave thanks he was free. Some people are in bondage because of murmuring and complaining and negativism and when they start counting their blessings they’re liberated. Yes. We have one over here. Go ahead.

* I’m thankful for the special persons that God has place in my life at crucial times to love me to Him.

* Amen. OK. Over on my right hand, who’s next? Do we have a hand? Go ahead, Don, or I’m sorry, Peggy.

* I’m thankful that God healed our little girl, Fiona.

* Amen. I remember that. That was a miracle we’re very grateful for. Nahaman. Have you ever thought about Nahaman when you think about thanksgiving? He’s the one who stormed off angry when he was told to wash in the Jordan River to be cleansed from his leprosy. But he reluctantly complied, dipped himself seven times in the Jordan River. And after he came up, instead of running home to tell his wife and his family and the king and everybody that he was cleansed, he turned around; he went in the opposite direction like the Samaritan. He went back to thank the Lord. He went back to Elisha the prophet. The Bible says in II Kings 5:15, “He returned to the man of God, he and all of his aides, and he came, and stood before him: and he said, Indeed, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel: now therefore, please, take a gift from your servant.”

He never even received an invoice from Elisha. He was so grateful he wanted to give something. He went out of his way, miles in the other direction, to express his gratitude. And again, like the Samaritan, he was a non-member, you might say. You know one of the most thankful people I know doesn’t go to church. Now I’m not saying, don’t get the wrong idea. I am not saying that in order to be grateful you’ve got to stop going to church. I’m just saying that if anybody should be grateful we should be the most grateful. Amen? One of the most grateful people I know, constantly thanking the Lord and constantly positive. Doesn’t attend church regularly, but if you were to ask me who is the most grateful person I know I’d put my hand on this person. Went to visit him after a heart attack and he’s thanking the Lord. Thanking the Lord for everything. Just had a good attitude. Somebody over here.

* I’m thankful for the Lord.

* Amen.

* And for our wonderful family.

* Thankful for our family and the Lord. OK. We’ve got somebody else? Who’s next? Don.

* I’m thankful for my family, both my immediate family that I have right now, but also for my parents who are Christians and who were musical from the time I was born and for the music that they gave me and for Jesus Christ the reason why I sing.

* Amen. All right. Next, Daniel. You can be thankful in almost any situation and in all circumstances. In Daniel 6:10 Daniel finds out about this decree that whoever prays to anybody but the king is going to be executed, thrown to the lions’ den, same thing. And so he begins to wring his hands and whine and complain. Is that what he does? No, he goes to his upper room as he had always done and Daniel opens his windows. It says, “he knelt upon his knees three times a day, he prayed, and he gave,” what did he do? “he gave thanks before his God, as he had always done.” Thanking God was a constant part of his prayer. Even though he was facing death he still was grateful. Did God deliver him? Are you beginning to get the picture how being thankful can also be the medium of deliverance? He thanked God even through his trials. Which is something we’ll get to in a moment. Thanking God in all things. I have another hand. Who’s next here? Hold your hands up. And maybe someone over on this side. Go ahead. We’ve got this one over here now. Try it again.

* I thank Him for my family.

* You want to thank the Lord for your family. OK. You’ve got one for us, Ray?

* Yes, James 1:17, “Every good and perfect gift comes from the Father above.” I thank God for the gift of friendship, my two friends that are here today.

* Amen. We’d like to welcome. How many visitors do we have here today? Let me see all our visitors. Oh, praise the Lord. Can you say amen? We’re glad for all those who are visiting with us today. Paul was a hero of gratitude. Now I tell you, he really had his black belt in giving thanks. Because when you look at the life of Paul, have you read about some of what he endured? The Bible talks about his being shipwrecked, his being stoned, his being hungry. All that he suffered and all the privations and yet Paul was consistently thankful. Here’s a few examples of how he expressed his gratitude. Romans 1:8, “First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ.” You’d be surprised how often when Paul thanks the Lord he thanks the Lord through Jesus. Why is that? Jesus is the bridge that all blessings pass over to you and me. So you’re thankful for the bridge that brings all the blessings. The Bible says, “All things that were made were made by him.” And every gift we receive comes by virtue of Christ making it possible. We don’t deserve anything good from God, but Jesus bought us the right where God sends the blessings on the just and the unjust, doesn’t He? So Paul constantly thanks the Lord through Christ. Now did I see another hand over here? Who’s next? Go ahead.

* I thank the Lord daily for Spirit in my life this summer while I was in the Ukraine.

* Thank the lord for His Spirit that guides you and blesses you. You can go ahead, Dennis, hand it to someone else. Who’s over here? We have somebody, Ray?

* I’m thankful for my Mom and Dad.

* Amen. Thankful for his parents. Did I have another one here?

* I haven’t lived around my Mom in 20 years and now I’m very thankful that I can live 10 minutes from her house.

* Amen. Praise the Lord. OK, you’ve got someone else here?

* I’m so glad, I’m so thankful that Jesus loved the church family.

* Amen. OK. Steven, you’ve got one real quick? OK.

* I’m thankful for two homes, one on earth one in heaven.

* Amen. That’s right. All right, let me tell you more about Paul then we’ll take some others. I Corinthians 1:4,” I thank my God always concerning you.” Notice that Paul was constantly thanking God. I Corinthians 15:57, “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Remember what I said? It’s Jesus that the blessings come through. Who does the victory come through? It all comes through Christ. And we thank Him for that. II Corinthians 2:14, I hope you’re writing some of these down. II Corinthians 2:14, Paul said, “Now thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph.” If you follow the Lord, the Lord will not leave you to defeat. If you follow the Lord He’ll lead you in triumph. I Thessalonians, I’m sorry, Ephesians 5:20, “Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” There you have it again. Paul says we should thank God, how often? Always. For what? All things. Through who? Through Jesus. Always, for all things, through Christ. Now I want to pause there for just a minute.

I’ll take some of your other expressions of gratitude through the sermon. I knew this would guarantee people stayed awake. But can you thank God for everything? Some of you have read that book by Corrie Ten Boom called The Hiding Place. And her sister was in this concentration camp with Corrie. Corrie was a lady and she and her sister were in this concentration camp during World War II and her sister was such a positive Christian. Her name was Betsy. And she said, “We are to thank God always for all things.” And she was thanking the Lord even for their trials in the concentration camp. And Corrie just could not understand why Betsy was so thankful. She thought that maybe the starvation was going to her head. And Corrie said, “You mean we can thank God for the fleas?” She said, “Even for the fleas.” And she said, “I can’t thank God for the fleas.”

It was the bane of their time there in the dorms. It was miserable, just constantly scratching and itching and biting, swarms of fleas. And she said, “We are to thank God for everything, even for the fleas.” And she said, “I can’t thank God for the fleas.” Well they learned a little while later why the guards who would trouble and molest and persecute them all the time never came in the dorms to persecute them. You know what it was? It was the fleas. And so when Corrie learned that she said, “I guess I can even thank God for the fleas.” In all things thank the Lord. I remember the first time I read this I was still living up in the mountains in the cave. And at one point I stood up too fast and my ceiling was hanging kind of low and I bonked my head. And I got ready to let out a string of superfluous language and the Holy Spirit said, “Thank the Lord.” And I thought, “You’ve got to be kidding me. Thank the Lord I just bonked my head on a rock.” But I said, “Oh, thank you, Lord.” And I didn’t know why I was thanking the Lord and to this day I’m not sure exactly why, but I said, “Thank you Lord,” and you know what? It stopped hurting and I didn’t feel angry any more. It changed me.

So being thankful all the time is not just because of the circumstances you’re grateful for. Being thankful changes you. It changes your attitude from being somebody who is a murmurer and a complainer that cannot inherit the Promise Land to somebody who has the right attitude that can inherit the Promise Land. Those around the throne of God are glorifying Him and thanking Him. Have you read Revelation? The people in heaven are grateful. Even the angels praise God and thank God and glorify God. He is the one who gives them life. And so it’s appropriate to always be thankful. Did I see some other hands over here? Yes, who’s next?

* I’m thankful that the Lord loves us and forgives us when we commit sin when we ask.

* Amen. How many are thankful for the mercy of God? And that He forgives us. Let me read another one here. It says, Philippians 4:6, “Be anxious for nothing;” I hope you’ve written this one down, “but in every thing,” don’t worry about anything, “but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving.” How many of you have salt sprinkled in almost every meal except your Corn Flakes? Your evening meals. You know how you’re supposed to season just about every kind of main course with a little bit of salt? Not too much. I don’t want to get into a health debate with you. In the same way, what I’m talking about is that we ought to mingle thanks with every prayer. It ought to be permeated. It ought to be punctuated and sprinkled. It ought to penetrate the fibers of all of our prayers.

Paul says, “In every thing, in all your supplications, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Is it appropriate to be asking for more and more from God without thanking Him for what we have received? “With thanksgiving let your supplications be made.” You know when you thank the Lord, when you thank anybody, you are paving the way for future benefits. When you say thank you to somebody you are paving the way for future benefits. How many of you are reluctant to continue giving to someone who is ungrateful and unappreciative? Let me see. Be honest, fess up. Do you get someone, they’re taking advantage of you and they keep taking and they never thank you, are you ever reluctant to continue showering blessings on that person? Well is God any different? He continues to give, but He is more inclined, I believe, to give to those who are grateful. Gratitude paves the way for future benefits. “So with thanksgiving let your requests be made known.” We always have requests, but do you always thank the Lord for what He has given you? Every prayer should be permeated with gratitude. Someone else? Who’s next? Over here.

* I thank the Lord for the Sabbath day because we will have it throughout eternity from the beginning until the end.

* Amen. Thank you very much, Willie. Appreciate that. Who’s over here? Go ahead, Naomi.

* I’m very thankful to the Lord because of the wisdom he gives and is available to us to raise children the right way.

* Wisdom for raising children. Amen. Who wants to try it without God? Who’s over here? Go ahead.

* I’ve been so comforted through this odyssey our politicians have taken us through that no one will rule over us the Lord won’t allow and that He’s the ultimate ruler over us.

* Who can say amen to that? I’ve had to say, “Lord;” I read in Daniel this week. I’m reading from by Bible and I was thankful the way God timed it. I read that passage where Nebuchadnezzar said, “He’s the one who sets the leaders up and He puts the leaders down.” All right. I want to go here to the screen. I want to continue telling a story. How many of you remember when Paul was on this boat in the end of the book of Acts? And at the end of that journey the Bible tells us that the people had not eaten in 14 days, that they were windswept and struggling and Paul (the people were starving). They thought they were going to die. They had given up hope. Now don’t miss that passage. They had given up hope during this storm at sea. They didn’t know where they were and the Bible says, Paul says, “I prayed and God has told me that He’s heard my prayer.

Not a hair of the head of anybody on the boat is going to perish. And then it says you need to eat something because we’re going to have to swim ashore and you need strength.” “And when he had said these things he took bread and he gave thanks to God in the presence of them all.” Now, friends, he’s thanking God for the food on the deck of a boat in a storm. How many of you have sometimes, I’m not going to ask for a show of hands, you’ve maybe neglected to thank the Lord for your food because you said, “I’m in a hurry,” or “There’s nobody watching,” or “It’s not convenient,” or “People are maybe distracted by my praying”?

You know I think we should always thank the Lord for the blessings, especially the food that He gives us. And it’s a good habit for us not to take it for granted. Even in a country where we have such abundance we’re at risk that we can start taking God’s blessings for granted. Paul was on the bouncing boat of a ship. People are threatened, they’re tired, they’re starving and he says, “Let’s eat, but first we need to have thanks for our food.” And so they thanked God. Now what happens after that? It says they began to eat and then it goes on to say, “So when they had eaten enough they lightened the ship and they threw out the wheat into the sea.” They thanked the Lord for what they had even though it looked like their last meal. That’s gratitude. Can you say amen? Paul is one of the heroes of thanks. Who’s over here?

* Yes, I would like to thank God for the Millennium of Prophecy seminar and for Doug Batchelor to help finish the work.

* I want to know who’s thanking me. I’ve missed it. Oh, thank you.

* And for the Amazing Facts College. I’m very grateful that now I know how to spread the message of the gospel.

* Amen. Do you have something quick you’d like to say?

* I want to thank for being baptized and for being ….I want to try to be more quiet…and for …Pastor Mike Thompson who visited me when I had a nervous breakdown. I’m OK.

* Well we want to thank the Lord. We’re grateful, too and Pastor Mike’s a good man, isn’t he? All right, did we have, did you have someone else over here? Go ahead, I saw another hand.

* I just want to thank the Lord for the Spirit that He’s given us, the power and love and of sound mind. And also the spirit of adoption whereby ??? I’m a father.

* Amen. Thank the Lord that we become part of His family. Jan?

* I just want to thank the Lord for a loving family and for my mother’s 93 years and for the little joy in my life, Victoria, my granddaughter. She is such a blessing to our family.

* Praise the Lord. Do we have another one back here? Go ahead.

* I’m thankful for my Mom bringing me here.

* Thankful for Mom bringing you here. OK.

* I’m thankful for everyone here who’s helping me learn about God, including my parents.

* Amen. All right, let’s go on to the next hero of faith. Incidentally, I’m glad we’ve had some young people participating. Something about thankfulness and gratitude, if someone’s going to be a hero of gratitude don’t forget this. It’s not something that you get in your DNA. Gratitude can be taught. I want you to all say that with me. It’s on the screen. Gratitude can be taught. If you haven’t caught it yet, I’m making an effort right now to teach gratitude. We teach it by example and we teach it to our children by word, by demonstration. How many of you who are parents have had to tell your children to say thank you before?

Should they be told to say thank you even if they’re not thankful? Yes, they should. Because they; you need to demonstrate what the right behavior is and hopefully it will become their own in time. You need to teach gratitude. We are naturally selfish and grasping creatures. And you leave a baby unto itself, you ever heard a baby say thanks after a diaper change? They just take whatever you give them. Well, actually sometimes I have heard that. They get a little older. But you have to teach them gratitude. The Bible tells us in Colossians 3:15, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be,” what? “be thankful.” You know what “be thankful” means? It’s a commandment to be thankful. Now I saw some other hands. Do we have one over here? Yes, Carolyn.

* I’m grateful for the men in my life. First for Jesus Christ, my Savior. Secondly for my earthly father who loved me unconditionally. Third for a god-sent husband.

* Amen. I was hoping you were going to get to Jim eventually.

* Who keeps the faith always through all things? And then for the true love of my life, this young man sitting to my right, who is aptly named Christian.

* Amen. We’re glad for our grandchildren. Did I have someone else over here? Who’s got the mic next? OK, in the back. Go ahead.

* Hi, I’m thankful to see the love of Jesus grow in the hearts of my children and also in the hearts of all of our children in our Sabbath School Cradle Roll class.

* Amen. Is that Michelle? Boy, I went into Cradle Roll today to watch for a little while and she’s doing a great job in there. Did we have another hand? Yes.

* I’m thankful for Jesus and He gave His soul to us and our hearts to us.

Amen. That brings us to our next hero. Who do you think that is? Hero of gratitude, Jesus. Jesus, that’s right. Have you looked at the different times in the Bible when Christ expressed thanks? Now I’m sure they’re not all listed, but there’s sufficient there for us to know that Jesus; why was Jesus thanking? I mean, He was the one who could do anything. You ever met somebody who’s what they call a self-made millionaire? Sometimes they’re not grateful. It’s like Joseph Stalin. He had the wrong attitude about gratitude. He said, “Gratitude is a sickness that’s experienced by dogs.” That’s what Stalin said about thankfulness. And some people are self-made, they say, “I have no body to thank. I’m a self-made man.” You ever know anybody like that? They feel like they don’t owe anybody anything. Well if anybody had a right to feel like they don’t owe gratitude wouldn’t it have been Jesus? He’s the fountain of every blessing. And yet Christ was thankful. He was thankful to the Father, of course, as an example for you and me, but He was thankful as a human being for all that God supplies.

He could relate to it that way. And He set an example for us. Matthew 15:36 gives us some examples. You remember when Jesus multiplied the bread and the fish? And He did this on more than one occasion. It tells us, “He took the seven loaves and the fish, and he gave thanks.” God tells us that Jesus thanked the Father for the loaves and the fish He was getting ready to multiply. It’s important for us to thank. Wait, I was thinking about, there’s a point here I was going to make and I forgot it and then it came back to me. Can you ever tell when the pastor’s lost his train of thought? Karen can tell. You look at me and I’m sort of treading water for a minute. It’s one of the dangers of not having it all written out. Christ is getting ready to thank the Lord for a miracle that’s not yet transpired. Now there’s two examples of this I’m going to give you. Is it appropriate to thank God in advance for something you’ve not yet received? Here He’s going to thank the Lord and He’s getting ready to feed thousands of people with a couple of fish and five loaves of bread.

Well that’s faith. He’s asking the Lord and thanking Him in advance of receiving the benefit. And of course, did God honor that request? That brings me to the next example. You go to Luke 10:21. You remember when Lazarus had died. Christ is getting ready to raise Lazarus and then Jesus prays this prayer. In Luke 10, oh no, I’m sorry. I want to go to John 11:41, “And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and he said, Father, I thank you that you have heard me.” Now Jesus had not yet said, “Lazarus, come forth,” and He’s thanking the Father. Why is He thanking the Father? Is it appropriate to thank the Lord for answering prayers if you know you’re praying according to God’s will? Is that presumptuous to thank the Lord in advance when you’re praying according to His will? If nothing else, thank the Lord because you know He’s heard you. You don’t necessarily need to be thanking Him for what you’re going to receive. Thank Him because you know that He’s heard you. How do you know? The Bible says He knows what you need before you ask. He certainly knows after you ask, amen?

Does God hear every prayer? Does He answer every prayer? Sometimes His answer is no, but He answers every prayer, doesn’t He? Sometimes His answer is wait, but God answers every prayer. And so you can thank Him for hearing you. And then did He raise Lazarus? Think also about the gratitude of Jesus at the Last Supper. The Bible says He was inaugurating the communion service. He was consecrating, you might say, His death. He said, the Bible says, Matthew 26:27, “He took the cup, and he gave thanks.” Like Daniel, knowing that he was about to die, He was thankful. Then it likewise says in Luke 22:19, “He took the bread, and he gave thanks.” Jesus is about to die for your sins and mine and He’s thanking the Father. Did He know what He was about to go through? Had Christ lost His attitude of gratitude even in the darkest hour? No, He continued to be grateful.

We need to learn to be continually grateful no matter what we’re going through. And you’ll find that it will relieve a lot of pressure. Count your blessings. And you know I’m talking to myself as much as anybody else. When you’re a perfectionist, and I admit I have a little bit of this characteristic. When you’re a perfectionist and something, a picture is crooked every other picture in the house might be OK, but all I can think about is this one picture that’s crooked. I’ll come and visit somebody and I’m trying to pay attention to what they’re saying and I’ll I can think about is the crooked picture on the wall. Anyone else out there like me? I’m glad I’m not alone. Anyone who wasn’t going to admit it, but you’re really like that, too? You know people with that tendency can focus on one thing wrong and forget all the blessings. And that is not a good attitude. You’ve got to remember to thank the Lord for all the straight pictures in the house and not to get all twisted up over one that’s crooked, right? You’ve got to keep perspective. And so sometimes we have to ask the Lord to help us remember to be grateful. Someone else over here want to thank the Lord? Yes, Roy.

* My praise goes to God for the light of His book that He gave us. Without it we would be in a world of darkness.

* Amen.

* And also the gift of Ellen White to the remnant …

Side two.

…if we didn’t know before we know now.

* I’m thankful for the Bible and Ellen White, both of which give us insights as to who God is and what He has planned for us in the future.

* Amen. Got a hand up here. Oh, we’ve got someone. OK.

* I am thankful for all the people in this church who prayed for me while I was missing. And I pray that all of us will never cease to pray for our missing members for God does answer prayer.

* Amen. We’re very thankful, too that you’re here. You know what the most important thing to be thankful for is? That’s our next scripture. II Corinthians 9:15, “But thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.” What is that gift? “God so loved the world he gave.” Now there’s something to be thankful for, amen? You know I’m grateful, we’ve run out of time, but I’m very grateful. I’m proud of you. I can tell that we’ve got a grateful church. Anyone feel a little more grateful now than when you first came in? That’s the whole idea. We have so much to thank the Lord for. Even through our physical sufferings. Even through our financial reverses.

Even through the struggles and conflicts with people, which we all experience. We have so much to thank the Lord for that let’s not lose our perspective and focus only on one thing wrong. Let’s not be a people who are murmuring and griping and complaining while we’re drowning in blessings. But let’s remember to thank God for all of His goodness and keep that attitude of gratitude all through our day. I’d like to invite you to turn to our closing hymn. It’s 565 We Want To Thank the Lord for All of His Blessings. And let’s stand together. Now I don’t want you to sing like it’s the closing hymn. I want to really hear you sing it out, OK?


How many out there want to be heroes of gratitude? Where you can stand out and be among those who will remember to thank the Lord even when everyone else forgets.

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