Make A List
1Ti 4:3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; 5 for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
The context of this text is prophecy. Paul warns Timothy and the church, that there will come a time when those who would align themselves with the church of Jesus Christ, would actually forbid people to marry and command them to abstain from certain foods.
And one of the things that he wants us to see here is that both marriage and food are wonderful gifts from God. Both are to be received with thanksgiving and are sanctified (set apart as special) by the Word of God and prayer.
I donít know what will grace your Thanksgiving table today, but whatever it is, it is a gift from God. There is nothing unclean or evil about it. Thank Him for it. Bless His name because of it. It comes from His open hand of blessing. He doesnít have to provide such things for us, but He does.
But letís not just stop at being thankful for the gift of food. Let us learn to be thankful for all things. One of the dangers we face living in such an affluent society is we begin to take Godís blessings for granted, and we cease giving thanks.
That is a recipe for disaster! A careful reading of Romans 1 will show us what happens when people cease giving thanks to God.
Ro 1:21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man--and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, 25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.
27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;
Thatís what happens when we stop thanking God. And we can see it happening all around us today.
Itís interesting to me that new Christians have a tendency to be more thankful than those who have been around for a while, but this should not be so! And it would not be so, if we would daily consider what the Lord has done for us and how by His grace, He has called us to the cross and granted us salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
Thanklessness would not be a problem if we would stop and consider daily what we have been forgiven in thought word and deed!
Lu 7:36 Then one of the Pharisees asked Him to eat with him. And He went to the Pharisee's house, and sat down to eat. 37 And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil,
38 and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil. 39 Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he spoke to himself, saying, "This man, if He were a prophet, would know who and what manner of woman this is who is touching Him, for she is a sinner." 40 And Jesus answered and said to him, "Simon, I have something to say to you." So he said, "Teacher, say it." 41 "There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 "And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?"
43 Simon answered and said, "I suppose the one whom he forgave more." And He said to him, "You have rightly judged."
44 Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, "Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. 45 "You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. 46 "You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. 47 "Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little."
We could say, ďto whom that realizes little is forgiven, the same expresses little thanks. And to whom realizes that much has been forgiven the same expresses much thanks, and thanksgiving is best expressed in loving acts toward others.
This slow decline of thanksgiving in my own life became apparent to me last week as I was preparing last Sundayís message. As I opened a commentary that I havenít used for years...a slip of paper fell out. It was dated spring of 1986. Spring, far removed from our celebration of Thanksgiving, and it was a list of things I was thankful for.
I share it with you this morning, only to demonstrate to you and I anew, how a person who realizes how much they have been forgiven, breaks forth in heartfelt thanksgiving for ALL things.
I thanked God for allowing me to serve in a church.
I thanked him for someoneís burns not being more serious.
I thanked Him for the recent conversion of my mother, my step-father, and my brother.
I thanked Him for the ministries of Jimmy Swaggart, Pat Robertson and Dr. Dobson. People who were instrumental in my own conversion and Christian growth.
I thanked Him for providing the expertise to install a bathroom in the basement of our house.
I thanked Him for the opportunity to fish with Jay and for the northern he caught, (even though I blundered in landing it and it got away)
I thanked Him for some delicious crappies we caught and ate.
I thanked God for His faithfulness to me, even when I tried to walk away from my rediscovered faith.
I thanked Him for the dedication of all the people who came to clean the church.
I thanked Him for guiding me through the process of fixing my lawnmower.
I thanked Him for coffee.
I thanked Him for dealing with my pride.
I thanked Him for the blessings of the Full Gospel Businessmen.
I thanked Him for a good dental check-up.
I thanked Him for a good Christian friend.
I thanked Him for money raised for Mother and Unborn Baby Care.
I thanked Him for a softball game with Jay and Robin.
I thanked Him that the garden had been prepared and planted.
I thanked Him for protecting my bike and I from damage in a fall.
I thanked Him for a bag of potatoes someone had given to us.
I thanked Him for the blessing of hearing a musical duet in church.
I thanked Him for the healing and the new life in Christ for a person that we had anointed with oil and prayed for.
I thanked Him for a successful operation for a family member.
I thanked Him for healing my ankle which I rolled playing basketball.
I thanked Him for a financial gift to the Lifeline Radio ministry that I was writing and producing on a local radio station.
I thanked Him for a safe trip to Milwaukee....and back.
I thanked Him for a field trip that my son had been on.
I thanked Him for blueberry bushes in our yard.
I thanked Him for the opportunity to play tennis with a friend.
I thanked Him that my mother and stepfather were able to quit smoking.
And I thanked Him for rain.
Now that list may be boring to you. It should be, but it wasnít boring to Joanie or I when I shared it with her this last week. It brought back so many fine memories! And I guarantee you, it was not boring to God.
1Th 5:18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
I encourage you today, on this Thanksgiving Day, to make your own list. At least go around the table and give everyone opportunity to express thanksgiving to the Lord. And though it might be cumbersome to make a list today. I encourage you to set a time aside during your quiet time on a regular basis to make such a list.
Then keep that list. Who knows, someday it might just fall out of a book, youíve had on your shelf for awhile. You may pick it up and read it again. It will flood your mind with memories and bless you beyond measure as you recount the blessings and mercy and faithfulness of your heavenly Father!
Better yet, think of the impact such a list may have on future generations, should the Lord tarry.
You know, the Lord says we should all become like children in order to inherit the kingdom of God. And on this Thanksgiving Day, one childhood prayer of thanksgiving keeps coming to my mind. So simple, so child-like, but so fitting.
Thank you for the world so sweet,
Thank you for the food we eat,
Thank you for the birds that sing,
Thank You God for everything.
May this prayer never be far from our heart and lips as we learn to become thankful people.