Be Ye Thankful

Title: Be Ye Thankful

Bible Book: Colossians 3 : 15

Author: Paul E. Brown

Subject: Thankful; Gratitude



There are numerous things that people aspire to be..Some want to be rich..Others want to be popular, or powerful and influential..It’s interesting to hear children express themselves..An elementary teacher asked her pupils, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”.One little boy said, “I want to be possible..My parents are always saying, ‘You’re impossible!’ so I just want to be possible.”.Another little fellow said, “I want to be a vitamin.”.The teacher said, “You want to be a vitamin?”.He said, “Yes, m’am; I got the idea when I was in the drugstore..There was a sign that said, ‘Vitamin B-1.”

Well, some people want to be some strange things..But the Bible tells us of some things that we.ought to be..For instance, Jesus said, in Matthew 10:16, “ ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”.1 Corinthians 15:58 says, “ ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord....”.Ephesians 4:32 says, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”.Ephesians 5:1 says, “Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children.”.James 1:22 says, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”.1 Peter 1:15 says, “ ye holy in all manner of conversation.”.In Revelation 2:10 Jesus said, “ thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.”

But this morning I want to zero in on one specific thing--one profoundly important thing--that God tells us we ought to be, and it is set forth in the last part of Colossians 3:15: “ ye thankful.”.Not to be thankful causes us to miss life’s best; whereas to be properly thankful honors God, helps us to reach our highest potential, and enables us to be a blessing to others..

Notice that this is a command from God, not a mere suggestion..A command is primarily an appeal to the will--which means that being thankful is a matter of decision, not a matter of circumstances..Some of the most thankful people you’ll ever see have a pretty rough go of it, while some of the most ungrateful people have it rather well..It’s a matter of obeying God by making up your mind to be thankful--it’s a matter of deciding to major on counting your blessings rather than your liabilities.

We ought to be thankful to other people, and we most certainly ought to be thankful to God..Our thankfulness ought to take at least three directions.

I..For one thing, we ought to be thankful for PAST BLESSINGS.

Of course, some aspects of the past should be put behind us and forgotten, so far as our dwelling on them..We ought not, for instance, dwell on past failures..Once we’ve confessed those failures through Christ, we need to move on..Neither should we dwell on wrongs done to us in the past..Those should be forgiven..

But we definitely should remember the blessings of the past, and thank God for them..Psalm 103:2 says, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.”

There’s a great story in 1 Samuel 7..Here are some highlights, in verses 3, 10-12:

“And Samuel spake unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only: and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines....And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the Lord thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel.

And the men of Israel went out of Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them, until they came under Beth-car..Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.”

Robert Robinson, in the 1700s, undoubtedly had that story in mind when he wrote the second verse of his great hymn, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”.It goes like this: “Here I raise mine Ebenezer; Hither by Thy help I’ve come; And I hope, by Thy good pleasure, Safely to arrive at home.”

You and I ought to set up our “Ebenezers.”.We ought to remember past blessings, and thank God for them..1 Samuel 12:24 says, “...consider how great things he hath done for you.”

By all means, those of us who have repented of our sins and by faith have received Christ as our Lord and Savior, ought to thank God for saving us..When I was in college, we used to sing this chorus:.“Thank you, Lord, for saving my soul..Thank you, Lord, for making me whole..Thank you, Lord, for giving to me, thy great salvation, so rich and free.“

We ought to thank God for all the joyful experiences of the past..Some might be remembering a special trip you took, or an especially memorable get-together with family, or some unusually touching thing that a friend did for you when you were down and hurting..Each of us has our own list of joyful times in the past.

We should thank him also for mercifully bringing us through some of the difficult, trying times..I thank God for having spared my life in three automobile accidents--two of them especially bad ones..I thank him for mercifully keeping other accidents, and other tragedies, from happening..I thank him for his grace that has seen our family through some very major heartaches.

We should thank God for people who have meant much to us in the past--including those no longer with us..Job, upon learning of the tragic death of his sons and daughters, said, in Job 1:21, “...the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”.Job was saying, in effect: “In spite of the loss I feel, I’m thankful that God gave me those loved ones for the years that I did have them.”

Like so many of you, Connie and I have dealt with the death of our parents..We were so blessed to have them with us as long as we did..Connie’s dad died in 1981,.We still miss him, of course..He was one of the best men I’ve ever known, and I loved and respected him..We often talk about the things he said and did..

We have the same kind of memories regarding my dad, who died in 1986, and my mother, who died in 1992, and Connie’s mother, who died in 1993..We were so blessed to have them, and we frequently speak of them and thank God for them and what they have meant to us.

It will enhance us--spiritually, emotionally, and in every worthy way--if we will pause from time to time to thank God for the blessings of the past.

II..We should also thank God for PRESENT BLESSINGS.

Psalm 46:1 speaks of God as “a very present help in trouble“--and of course he is our present help at other times, as well as in times of trouble.

Each of us could make a long list of present blessings for which we should thank the Lord..For instance, I’m thankful to be a citizen of the United States..In spite of its many faults and problems, it’s still the greatest country on earth, as far as I’m concerned..Think of all the people who were born in, and must live in, underdeveloped nations, where they don’t even have sufficient food or shelter, and where they have very little chance of getting an education or ever experiencing the freedoms that you and I take for granted.

I’m thankful for my family, and for our friends..I’m thankful that God gave me Connie, and gave us our four children, and our nine grandchildren and five great grandchildren..All of our children have their battles to fight, and their burdens to bear, and we often hurt with them and for them--but we are so blessed to have them, and we thank God for them.

Every one of us has so much to be thankful for, even in the midst of life’s storms..When we’re hurting, we can thank God for such promises as Psalm 147:3:.“He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.“.When life’s pressures seem unbearable, we can thank God for such promises as 1 Corinthians 10:13:.“There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”.We can thank him for his promise in 2 Corinthians 12:9:.“ grace is sufficient for thee....“

There’s a beautiful Thanksgiving hymn that seems to be sung only rarely, but it has a wonderful story behind it..It’s the hymn entitled, “Now Thank We All Our God.”.It was penned by a German pastor named Martin Rinkhart, and he wrote it during the Thirty Years’ War (1618 - 1638), said to have been one of the bloodiest conflicts in history..It began as a religious struggle, but after a while it became more than that; it became a territorial and political war, and eventually spread throughout Europe..

Those were extremely difficult times for all concerned, including Martin Rinkhart..Not only did many of his church members and other friends die in the war, but his part of Germany was plagued with a terrible disease, and many died as a result of it..There were some days when Martin Rinkhart conducted funerals for as many as 40 people--and it was during those terrible years that his own wife died, and he also conducted her funeral..But somehow, even in the midst of his heartache and loss, Martin Rinkhart managed to keep his perspective..He maintained a close daily walk with the Lord, and was able to count his blessings even in the midst of his sorrow..It was during that period of his life that he wrote that hymn, the first verse of which goes like this:

“Now thank we all our God With heart and hands and voices,

Who wondrous things hath done, In whom His world rejoices;

Who, from our mother’s arms, Hath blessed us on our way

With countless gifts of love, And still is ours today.”

III. We also should thank God for FUTURE BLESSINGS.

A. We should thank him for his promises having to do with our future in this life..The author of Psalm 27:1 said, “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”.

He said, then, in verse 5:.“For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.”.In verse 10 he said, “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.”.But then look at what he said in verses 13-14:.“I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living..Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”

In a Wednesday night prayer meeting service in a certain church, people were asked to quote their favorite Scripture passages..One man said, “My favorite is that verse which says, ‘and it came to pass.’.It doesn’t say, ’and it came to stay--it says, ’it came to pass.’”.That man was right on target..Whatever tough times may come, just hang in there, with the assurance that eventually God will bring you through it..It will pass!

B..But we also should thank God for the blessings he has promised for the life beyond..For the unbeliever, of course, the life beyond means eternal separation from God in the lake of fire--but for the Christian, God has promised blessings that will vastly overshadow any tough times we might have had while journeying through life down here..Here’s the way the inspired writer expressed it in 1 Peter 1:3-5:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

Here was James Whitcomb Riley’s way of putting it, in his poem entitled, “A Life Lesson”:

“There! little girl, don’t cry!

They have broken your doll, I know,

And your tea-set blue, and your playhouse, too,

Are things of the long ago;

But childish troubles will soon pass by--

There! little girl; don’t cry!

There! little girl; don’t cry;

They have broken your slate, I know;

And the wild, glad ways of your schoolgirl days,

Are things of the long ago;

But life and love will soon come by,

There! little girl, don’t cry!

There! little girl, don’t cry!

They have broken your heart, I know;

And the rainbow gleams of your youthful dreams,

Are things of the long ago;

But heaven holds all for which you sigh,--

There! little girl; don’t cry!”

The late Vance Havner told the story of a little boy sitting in the door of the bleak, run-down mountain cabin where he lived with his family..A hiker who was passing by asked, “Do you live here?”.“Yes,” the little boy answered, “but we have a new house up on the hill and we’re moving tomorrow..You can see farther, the water’s better, and everything’s brand new.”

In Revelation 21:4-5 we read:.“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away..And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new....”

The greatest thing about heaven is that to which the song-writer referred to when he said:

“It will be worth it all, when we see Jesus;

Life’s trials will seem so small, when we see Christ;

One glimpse of his dear face, all sorrow will erase;

So bravely run the race, ‘til we see Christ.”

So, the Bible says, “ ye thankful”--and, as emphasized at the outset, that’s a command..A person must make up his mind that, by the help of God, he’s going to look on life’s positive side--and instead of being overly absorbed with his burdens, he’s going to concentrate on his blessings..As the song-writer expressed it:

“When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,

When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,

Count your many blessings, name them one by one,

And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?

Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?

Count your many blessings, ev’ry doubt will fly,

And you will be singing as the days go by.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,

Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;

Count your many blessings, money cannot buy

Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

So, amid the conflict, whether great or small,

Do not be discouraged, God is over all;

Count your many blessings, angels will attend,

Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

Count your many blessings, name them one by one,

And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.”

The greatest of all blessings is God’s great gift to mankind, and we read about it in what is probably the best known and best loved verse in all the Bible, John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”.If you’ve never done so, repent of your sins and commit yourself in faith to the Son of God--and you can then exclaim, as Paul did in.2 Corinthians 9:15: “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.”

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