THANKFUL CHRISTIANS: A SHORT LIST
(A special Thanksgiving message
from Woodrow Kroll)
Ralph Waldo Emerson was a 19th C. American essayist and poet. He was a pandeist (God in everything). He and his buddy Henry David Thoreau were the leaders of the transcendentalist movement. About 5 years ago my wife Linda and I took a trip back to New England and visited the famous Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, MA. There are buried: Louisa May Alcott (Little Women); Nathaniel Hawthorn (The Scarlet Letter); Henry David Thoreau (Walden) and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Not a Christian, Emerson still captured many Christian themes including thanksgiving: “For each new morning with its light, For rest and shelter of the night, For health and food, For love and friends, For everything Thy goodness sends.” Thank you.
It doesn’t take much to express our thanks to God, but it shows a lot about our character. Famed former pastor of Moody Church in Chicago, H.A. Ironside was in a crowded restaurant. Just as he was about to begin his meal, a man approached and asked if he could join him. Ironside invited his to have a seat. Ironside bowed his head in thankful prayer for his food. When he opened his eyes, the man asked, “Do you have a headache?” Ironside replied, “No, I don’t.” Then the man asked, “Is there something wrong with your food?” Ironside explained, “No, I was simply thanking God as I always do before I eat.” The man said, “Oh, you’re one of those. Well, I want you to know I never give thanks. I earned my money by the sweat of my brow and I don’t have to give thanks to anybody when I eat. I just start right in!” Ironside said, “Yes, you’re just like my dog. That’s what he does too!”
Did you go around your thanksgiving table and ask everyone to say what they were thankful for? So how did that go? What turns your thanksgiving crank? Can you list things? Let me help you with a thanksgiving short list for the Christian.
#1. THANK GOD THAT HE’S THE KIND OF GOD HE IS. Psalm 95:1-3, 6-7, Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture.”
Give Thanks for Who God IS.
HOLY – “He is a holy God” (Joshua 24:19);
JUST – “The heavens proclaim his righteousness, for he is a God of justice.” (Psalm 50:6);
FORGIVING – “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chron. 7:14).
PATIENT and MERCIFUL – “For many years you were patient with them. Yet they paid no attention, so you gave them into the hands of the neighboring peoples. But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.” (Nehemiah 9:30-31). We don’t have space or time to explore all the character qualities of God so let’s choose one everybody can appreciate.
OUR GOD IS A GOD OF LOVE
The average American knows 600 people, but only trusts 18. But when God says He love you, trust Him. What the world needs now is love, sweet love. I heard that once in a song
- Deuteronomy 7:9, “Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments
Psalm 36:5-7, “Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens. Your righteousness is like the highest mountains, your justice like the great deep. How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!”
Psalm 86:15, “You, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” Those same expressions are in: Exodus 34:6; Numbers 14:18; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 103:8; 145:8; Joel 2:13; Nahum 1:3; and Jonah 4:12. That’s the kind of God He IS.
(Why don’t you stop reading right here and take a
moment to thank God for being the kind of God He is).
We’re thankful for who God IS; but we should also be thankful for what He DOES. Jer. 32:18-19, “Great and mighty God, great are your purposes and mighty are your deeds.” LOVE is a part of God’s character, but ACTIVE Love is part of His conduct.
#1. God Acts On His LOVE — John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
Romans 6:6-8, “At just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will one die for a righteous person, though for a good person some-one might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his love for us in: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
#2. God Secures You in His LOVE – Romans 8:37-39, “In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
#3. God Never Stops LOVING You — 1 Chronicles 16:34, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” Which of these 12 verses say, “But from everlasting to everlasting the Lord’s love is with those who fear him.” Ps. 103:1; 106:1; 107:1, 8, 15, 21, 31; 118:1, 29; 136:1, 2, 3, 36. Jeremiah 31:3 — “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness.”
What am I thankful for? I’m thankful that my God is a God of love. The Koran, Sura 24 begins, “A Sura which We have sent down and sanctioned! Clear signs have We sent down therein, that you may take warning.” The Bible is not a book of warning but a book tracing the love of God thru-out history.
(Again, why not stop right here and take a moment
to thank God for His indescribable, indefinable love).
The love of God is greater far Than tongue or pen can ever tell; It goes beyond the highest star And reaches to the lowest hell.
The guilty pair, bowed down with care, God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled And pardoned from his sin.
Could we with ink the ocean fill, And were the skies of parchment made; Were every stalk on earth a quill And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above Would drain the ocean dry; Nor could the scroll contain the whole, Though stretched from sky to sky.
O love of God, how rich and pure! How measureless and strong! It shall forevermore endure, The saints’ and angels’ song.
#2. THANK GOD FOR THE BLOOD OF CHRIST
1 Corinthians 10:14-15, “Therefore, my dear friends, I speak to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. Is not the cup of thanksgiving for which we give thanks a participation in the blood of Christ?”
The word “blood” occurs 392 times in the Bible. The first of the 10 plagues – water turned to blood (Exodus 7).
Jews were to kill a lamb and place the blood on the door posts. “The blood will be a sign for you on your houses, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you” (Exodus 12:13)
Each of the Levitical offerings was accompanied with the shedding of blood. “Then the priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering and pour out the rest of the blood at the base of the altar.” (Leviticus 4)
Zechariah 9 prophesies a better tomorrow because of God’s covenant of blood. The prophet saying, “Rejoice greatly! Shout, Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. Because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit. Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope.”
Why this emphasis on the sanctity of blood? Leviticus 17:11, “For life is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.”
God has always required a blood sacrifice for atonement, for covering our sins and providing salvation for us.
Matthew 26:28, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for the forgiveness of sins.” Romans 3:22-25, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.”
Ephesians 1:7, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.” Colossians 1:19-20, “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him [God the Son], and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
1 Peter 1:18-19, “You know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life, but with the precious blood of Christ.”
18th C. hymnwriter William Cowper: “There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins; And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains. Lose all their guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains; And sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.”
In that great day in the future, when the 24 elders and others fall before the Lamb of God in perfect worship they will say, “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9).
From the Garden of Eden to the Great Throne of God, those who are redeemed constantly thank God for the Blood of the Lamb. Shouldn’t we join them? Let’s do it now.
(Take a minute to pray to God and thank Him that
the Blood of Christ makes atonement for our sins).
#3. THANK GOD FOR CHRISTIANS IN OTHER CORNERS OF THE WORLD
Colossians 1:1-6, “We always thank God when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people—the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world.”
Philippians 1:3, “I thank God every time I remember you.”
- The number of Christians around the world has nearly quadrupled in the last 100 years, from about 600 million in 1910 to more than 2 billion in 2010.
- But this apparent stability masks a momentous shift.
- Although Europe and the Americas still are home to the majority of the world’s Christians (63%), that share is much lower than it was in 1910 (93%).
- The proportion of those who claim to be Christian in any form has dropped from 96% to 86% in the Americas as a whole.
- Almost half (48%) of all Christians live in 10 countries.
- 3 of the top 10 countries are in the Americas (US, Brazil and Mexico).
- 2 are in Europe (Russia and Germany)
- 2 are in the Asia-Pacific region (Philippines & China)
- And 3 are in sub-Saharan Africa (Nigeria, DR Congo and Ethiopia)
While we do well to pray for unreached peoples, let’s not forget to give thanks for our faith family all over the globe.
Let’s live with thanksgiving on our lips. Remember, it’s one thing to be thankful; it’s another to say so. We’re not to be engaged in “thanksbeing.” Christians engage in “thanksgiving.” Express your thanks to God today, and every day.
“Dear Lord, thank you for the breath to say, Thank you for another day. Thank you for the eyes to see, the world of beauty surrounding me. Thank you for the ears to hear, your message of hope loud and clear. Thank you for the hands to serve, and far more blessings than I deserve. Thank you for the legs to run, the race of life until it’s won. Thank you for the voice to sing, Thank you, Lord, for everything. In the strong name of our Savior, Jesus, we pray. Amen”