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Scripture: Romans 1:18-21; Luke 17:11-19; Daniel 6:...
Track 5 of in the series
Running time: 58 minutes, 36 seconds.
Thankfulness to God is a recognition that God in his goodness and faithfulness has provided for us and cared for us, both physically and spiritually. It is recognition that we are totally dependent upon him; that all that we are and have comes from God.

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Mike Nobis Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.

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The Practice of Godliness

Some virtues of Christian character, such as holiness, love, and faithfulness, are godly traits because they reflect the character of God. They are Godlike qualities. Other virtues are godly traits because they acknowledge and exalt the character of God. They are God-centered qualities that enhance our devotion to God. Such are the virtues of humility, contentment and thankfulness. In humility we acknowledge God’s majesty, in contentment his grace, and in thankfulness his goodness.

Thankfulness to God is a recognition that God in his goodness and faithfulness has provided for us and cared for us, both physically and spiritually. It is recognition that we are totally dependent upon him; that all that we are and have comes from God.

Honoring God

How do you feel about a person who is not thankful toward the things you have done for them? Does it motivate you to do more things for them?

To fail to be thankful to God is a most grievous sin. When Paul recounts the tragic moral downfall of mankind in Romans 1, he begins with their attitude about God and his provisions for them.

Romans 1:18-21 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.

What does this statement have to say about our generation? Are we different than the period Paul talked about? What did God do in this passage when men refused to thank God?

To glorify God is to acknowledge the majesty and dignity of his person. To thank God is to acknowledge the bountifulness of his hand in providing and caring for us. And when mankind in their pride failed to give God the glory and thanks he deserved, God gave them up to ever-increasing immorality and wickedness. God’s judgment came because man failed to honor him and to thank him. If this is a true reality, then it is very wise as a Christian and the church to develop an attitude of thankfulness quickly.

Look at our generation today, how many of our immoral problems are due to a lack of thankfulness to God? What steps can we take to help fix the immoral problem in our country?

One of the most instructive passages on the subject of thankfulness is Luke 17:11-19, the account of the healing of the ten lepers.

Luke 17:11-19 (NIV) Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!" When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him--and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" Then he said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well."

Here were 10 men who had the most pitiful of all human misery. Not only were they afflicted with this disease but they were also social outcasts. They had no one to relieve their miseries. And then Jesus healed them. 10 men were healed; only one came back and gave thanks.

True or False: I am anxious to receive but can be careless to give thanks.

We pray for intervention in our lives, then congratulate ourselves rather than thank God for the results. A good example of this is when Apollo 13 command module exploded and we almost lost our three astronauts. Remember we had a national day of prayer for their return and safety. When they were safely back on earth, credit was given to the American space industry. No thanks or credit was publicly given to God. This is not unusual. It is the natural tendency of mankind.

What is the ultimate moral to the story with the 10 lepers? It tells us something about God, what is it? Jesus was very aware about who thanked him. He asked, “Where are the other?” Today, God is very aware if we thanked him.

We are to give thanks to God in all circumstances. This sounds weird but it is very true and real. The great men of God were thankful men no matter what circumstances or where they found themselves.

Example: Daniel and the Lions Den

Many remember Daniel and how he was saved from the Lions den, but many don’t remember how Daniel got there. King Darius was persuaded by certain officials who were jealous of Daniel’s position to issue a decree that for thirty days, anyone who prayed to any god or man other than King Darius would be thrown into the lion’s den. When Daniel knew that the decree had been published, he went to his room and three times got on his knees and prayed to God.

Daniel 6:10-12 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. Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: “Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or man except to you, O king, would be thrown into the lions’ den?”

Now if you and I were in that situation, we’d be pleading with God for his deliverance. No doubt Daniel did pray for deliverance but he also gave thanks to God. You and I will never be in a situation where it is not fitting to give thanks to God. Paul teaches us this principle in Philippians 4:6-7.

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

What role does thanksgiving play when letting God know our needs? So what do you think is the purpose of Thanksgiving? Is to acknowledge God’s goodness and honor him.

Thanksgiving promotes not only the glory of God, but also the humility in us. It is the tendency of the sinful human heart – even the regenerated heart – to usurp the credit that rightfully belongs only to God. On several occasions God warned the children if Israel against this tendency.

Deuteronomy 8:11-14; 19-20 Be careful that you do not forget the LORD your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. If you ever forget the LORD your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. Like the nations the LORD destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the LORD your God.

What about our country? Do we fall into this category? What about our church?

Thanksgiving also stimulates our faith. Through our thanksgiving, it helps us to remember other times when God cane to our rescue and helped us. It reminds us that he is there and able to help us at any time and anywhere.

Psalm 50:14-15 Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”

Thanksgiving promotes contentment. Few things will stir up discontent within us as will our inner spiritual struggle between the sinful nature and the Holy Spirit. This truth caused Paul to cry out, “What a wretched man I am”. But Paul finds relief in a place most don’t look.

Romans 7:24-25 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Thanksgiving will also promote contentment about possessions, position and providence by focusing our thoughts on the blessings God has already given us forcing us to stop spending our time yearning for things we do not have. Contentment and Thanksgiving strengthen each other.

Cultivating a Thankful Heart

How does a person get a thankful heart?

Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV) So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

It is important to note that an attitude of thankfulness comes from the Holy Spirit, but it still requires effort on our part. We must cultivate a habit of always giving thanks for everything.

How did you teach your children to be thankful? How do you teach young Christians to be thankful?