“But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” (Acts 16:25)
Thanksgiving is one of the seasons that I look forward to every year.
“You got that right Pastor Keith. Turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, pecan pie… Boy, I look forward to Thanksgiving too!”
Well, I certainly won’t argue with you about the wonderful food at Thanksgiving — but I had something a little different in mind this morning.
“Oh, I hear ya Pastor Keith! I love the parades and FOOTBALL!!! I eat all I can then I sit around and watch FOOTBALL! Sometimes I actually watch football with my eyes closed…if you know what I mean.”
Yes…I love the parades and football and family and all those special things about Thanksgiving as well. BUT I still had something a little different in mind for today. You see, I believe that an attitude of gratitude makes a tremendous difference in a person’s life — not only at Thanksgiving but every day.
It seems we all know how to complain — but the best side of our nature is the one that says: “God, thank You for Your blessings. Thank You for this good land. Thank You for the food on our tables. Thank You for our dear family and friends”
An ancient proverb says, “A gift unacknowledged is a gift unreceived.” And that is true. If you send a gift to someone — whether it is for their birthday or some other special occasion — sometimes you never know for sure whether they even got it or cared about it if they never mention it.
In a similar way, we receive many blessings from God, and we need to thank Him, to acknowledge those gifts. There can be no doubt that being aware of those blessings and thanking God for them makes us happier people. A life that does not have the dimension of gratitude is a life that is not being lived to the fullest.
We live life with its problems, and if we aren’t careful, we can reach a point where our problems are all we see. But the Christian faith — and particularly giving thanks to God, helps us see life in a much fuller dimension.
Paul and Silas understood that. In our verse today, they were in jail because they had been preaching about Jesus and it interfered with the income of some folks in town. They were abusing a slave girl and Paul and Silas had gone to her rescue. Her owners were furious. They demanded that Paul and Silas be arrested. They were not just put in prison — they were put in the INNER prison and their feet were put in stocks.
But notice what they did. Instead of being resentful — Paul and Silas SANG and gave thanks to God. They broke out of life in the narrow dimension of their problems and saw it in a larger dimension. They saw that God was still there and that there were things to be thankful for.
In your life — the worst may have happened. Maybe you’ve lost a dear loved one; maybe you’ve lost your job. Maybe there have been marital problems or problems with children. God doesn’t expect us to be thankful FOR those things — but even IN those things, we can be thankful for the strength of Christ. As we live for Christ — He will cause good things to come out of bad.
Too often we wait until Thanksgiving Day to give thanks to God for the blessings of life. I challenge you to make EVERY DAY a day of Thanksgiving. Thank Him for your salvation — for Jesus Christ — and for the privilege of service.
While things are not always the way I would like for them to be — as a Christian — I still have so much to be thankful for.
Have a great day.