Why is it that in the midst of our abundance we find it easier to see what we lack rather than we should be grateful for?
Maybe that’s an extreme statement but doesn’t it seem that we spend more time thinking I could really be happy if _________ ? Doesn’t it make us feel a little “cheated” when other have what we don’t? Isn’t there a sense in which we sometimes feel we DESERVE better than what we have?
We’ll all celebrate Thanksgiving, but . . . will we really BE thankful.
This morning I give you a brief formula for Thankfulness. If you follow this recipe you are guaranteed a heart brimming with gratitude.
STEP ONE: See God Clearly
Charles Spurgeon said: “Plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in His immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of sorrow and grief; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead.”
Consider the Delightful Attributes of God
In Psalm 145 we are pointed to these characteristics of God
- He is Great beyond our ability to comprehend v. 3
- He is more powerful than anything our world can produce v. 4, 6
- He is majestic and worthy of honor v. 5
- He is awesome – the only one/thing that rightfully provokes awe and reverence v. 6
- He is good and righteous – He does not make mistakes, does not fail, is not inconsistent v. 7
- He is patient and kind v. 8
- He is everlasting – He does not “go away” v. 13
- He is faithful to His promises 13b
- He is the defender and provider of those who trust Him 17f
Consider the Terrifying Attributes of God
In Nahum 1
- He is jealous and avenging
God defends His honor. He is zealous, passionate for His people. God gets angry when His people are cheated by being led astray from Him.
- He will not leave the guilty unpunished
In Our time there is this idea that if you have enough money or the right lawyers, you can get away with anything. God says, we will “get away” with nothing.
Step Two: See Yourself Clearly and Honestly
JI Packer writes,
Modern man, conscious of his tremendous scientific achievements in recent years, naturally inclines to a high opinion of himself. His views material wealth as in any case more important than moral character, and in the moral realm he is resolutely kind to himself, treating small virtues as compensating for great vices and refusing to take seriously the idea that, morally speaking, there is anything much wrong with him. He tends to dismiss a bad conscience, in himself as in others, as an unhealthy psychological freak, a sign of disease and mental aberration rather than an index of moral reality. For modern man is convinced that, despite all his little peccadilloes-drinking, gambling, reckless driving, ‘fiddling’ black and white lies, sharp practice in trading, dirty reading, and what have you – he is at heart a thoroughly good fellow. Then as pagans do, he imagines God as a magnified image of himself, and assumes that God shares his own complacency about himself. The thought of himself as a creature fallen from God’s image, a rebel against God’s rule, guilty and unclean in God’s sight, fit only for God’s condemnation, never enters his head.” (KNOWING GOD (IVP, Downers Grove 1975) p. 118)
The Task for us is difficult to see ourself honestly, no excuses. In order to do this we will need God’s help.
- no one is righteous (living in a God honoring way)
- no one who understands or seeks God
- ALL of us have turned away and become worthless
- no one does good NOT EVEN ONE
- we do not know the way of peace
- there is no fear of God before our eyes
It is certainly a devastating analysis but it is also true.
In talking about Noah and his days God reports that we are addicted to sin
The LORD saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.
Most feel that the problem with man is something a little goodness, education, love and lots and lots of money will cure. They see man as sick. But God sees us as dead. Ours is a terminal condition.
Put these two things together. God is good and we are sinful. God punishes those who spurn Him and we spurn Him. It’s a bleak picture so far, but the recipe isn’t finished.
Stir in an Encounter with God’s Grace
God sent Christ to be a sin offering….to do what we could not do.
In this passage Paul tells us that the death of Christ satisfied the demands of God’s justice . . .because it punished sin. But at the same time Christ’s death (in our place) made it possible for us to be made right with God. Not only was our punishment applied to Christ. His righteousness is applied to everyone who trusts Him.
— J. Vernon McGee told the story:
There was a boy down in my Southland years ago, wanted to join a church. So the deacons were examining him. They asked, “How did you get saved?” His answer was, “God did His part, and I did my part.” They thought there was something wrong with his doctrine, so they questioned further, “What was God’s part, and what was your part?” His explanation was a good one. He said, “God’s part was the saving, and my part was the sinning. I done run from Him as fast as my sinful heart and rebellious legs could take me. He done took out after me till He run me down.” My friend, that is the way I got saved also.
Someone has offered this penetrating comparison of the difference between revenge, justice, and grace. If someone brutally murders your son and you take things into your own hands, that’s revenge. If you’re content to allow the law and the courts to arrest and punish the offender, that’s justice. But if you pardon the murderer, adopt him, and take him home to live with you as your son, that’s grace!
God offers Grace to all who will trust Him.
The results of this formula is as follows:
- Humility – Romans 3:27
God is Righteous, we are sinful….He deserves honor we give rebellion… we deserve wrath . . . He gives grace.
- Peace with God (Romans 5:1-4)
- Hope of the Glory of God in a decaying world
- Joy even in suffering because God is making us fit for Heaven
- Incentive for Godly living
- Most of all GRATITUDE
As you look around you this Thanksgiving season, you may see those who have more than you, you may see those more fortunate than you . . . .but I hope your foremost thought will be that you have not received what you deserve. Every breath, every blessing, every enjoyment is a gift of God’s grace.
And for those who have made that commitment to receive and trust that grace may you be filled with a sense of awe and deep gratitude that comes from knowing that what we have or do not have in this life is as a lump of coal compared to what is to come . . . . what is waiting for us, not because of our goodness but because of His grace. . . . . and if this doesn’t lead you to gratitude of the deepest kind . . . . you are not paying attention.