THANKFULNESS IS AN ATTITUDE
A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS
19 NOVEMBER 1995
By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Thankfulness is not something we do; itís the way we feel deep down inside.
Saying "thank you" is not the same as actually being thankful.
It may be polite, but it doesn't mean that we are really thankful.
Thankfulness is an attitude, and the biggest part of that thankful attitude is the way in which we accept God into our lives.
As an example, Sarah was 89 years old and had never had a child, but she never lost sight of Godís presence in her life.
She wasn't happy about Abraham and her not having a child of their own, but that didn't mean she wasn't thankful about all that God had given her.
Thus, when God graced her with the ability to have a child in her old age, she automatically acknowledged God's hand in the event.
Her attitude was one of thankfulness, even though she didn't actually say ďthank you.Ē
Let's look at Genesis 21:1-7.
1. Then the Lord took note of Sarah as He had said, and the Lord did for Sarah as He had promised.
2. So Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the appointed time of which God had spoken to him.
3. And Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him, whom Sarah bore to him, Isaac.
4. Then Abraham circumcised his son Isaac when he was eight days old, as God had commanded him.
5. Now Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.
6. And Sarah said, "God has made laughter for me; everyone who hears will laugh with me."
7. And she said, ďWho would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age."
The name Isaac means laughter, and here Sarah makes a play on words by saying that both her son, Laughter, and her inner joy were placed within her by God.
By acknowledging God's hand in what has taken place, she is showing her thankfulness, for she is a witness to others.
A similar thing happened with Joseph, one of Isaac's grandsons.
Note Genesis 41:50-52. As we look at these verses, remember that Joseph had been sold into slavery by his own brothers, falsely accused by his masterís wife, and was thrown into prison. Only after these events did he become Prime Minister of Egypt.
But even in his troubles, he always had faith and trust in God.
50. Now before the year of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph, whom Asenath, the daughter of Potiphera priest of On, bore to him.
51. And Joseph named the first-born Manasseh, "For," he said, "God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father's household."
52. And he named the second Ephraim, "For," he said, "God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction."
Do you see Joseph's thankful attitude, even though he doesn't actually say he is thankful?
Words can be cheap, but our life's attitude speaks much more loudly about how we actually feel inside.
Now, let's take a look at the words of the psalmist in Psalm 59:16-17.
16. But as for me, I shall sing of Thy strength;
Yes, I shall joyfully sing of Thy lovingkindness in the morning,
For Thou hast been my stronghold,
And a refuge in the day of my distress.
17. O my strength, I will sing praises to Thee;
For God is my stronghold, the God who shows me lovingkindness.
Again, as with Sarah and Joseph, we don't hear the psalmist actually saying "thank you," but we nevertheless hear it in the way he expresses his attitude towards God.
He sings his praises of God as an offering of thanksgiving to Him.
Now let's look at Psalm 105:37-45, and this time note the psalmist's thankfulness in the way he acknowledges Godís work with His people Israel throughout history, even though the people in those times didn't always do the same.
37. Then He brought them out with silver and gold;
And among His tribes there was not one who stumbled.
38. Egypt was glad when they departed;
For the dread of them had fallen upon them.
39. He spread a cloud for a covering,
And fire to illumine by night.
40. They asked, and He brought quail,
And satisfied them with the bread of heaven.
41. He opened the rock, and water flowed out;
It ran in the dry places like a river.
42. For He remembered His holy word
With Abraham His servant;
43. And He brought forth His people with joy,
His chosen ones with a joyful shout.
44. He gave them also the lands of the nations,
That they might take possession of the fruit of the peoples' labor,
45. So that they might keep His statutes,
And observe His laws, Praise the Lord!
And again, we don't hear any actual "thank you," but we nevertheless hear it in the psalmist's attitude.
All of what we have looked at occurred in the past; now let's look to the future in Revelation 7:9-12.
9. After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands;
10. and they cry out with a loud voice, saying,
"Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb."
11. And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures [animals]; and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,
"Amen, blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen."
It's not that we aren't to say "thank you"; it's that our thankfulness to God, is best understood, and believable, when it is part of our over-all praise and worship and is expressed without words in our everyday lives.
How thankful are we, really?
Are we thankful enough to live our thankfulness until next year at this time, and hopefully beyond, by being the loving and compassionate person God made each of us to be?
We might say that we will, but we won't be able to do it unless it's part of our very being.
True thankfulness is never selfish or self serving.
Reach out to God, open your heart to Him, and receive all that He has for you.
And as we do this, remember that the animals were also praising and giving thanks to God.
When we are truly thankful, we will make our fellow human beings, the animals, and even the physical environment thankful, simply because of the respectful and loving way we treat them.
Then, like Sarah, Joseph, the psalmists, and the host of heaven, we, too, will sing our thanksgivings with a joyful and thankful heart.
Your Comments are welcome
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