We have many reasons to be thankful to our God for all the blessings He gives us. Does thanksgiving need to be renewed daily?
[Richard Kennebeck] Various countries and people around the world celebrate some form of Thanksgiving either day or festival in the fall time to give thanks for the festival harvest that they had. Other countries like United States have an actual day of Thanksgiving that they’ve set aside. In Canada, they’ve got a day of Thanksgiving which comes before ours, it’s the second Monday of October. In 1957, Canada proclaimed a day of general Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed.
The earliest recorded Thanksgiving in the Americas actually occurred in Texas in 1541. On that day, Coronado, Francisco de Coronado made a Thanksgiving… or service with his men that he was traveling in Texas with. Because in the Panhandle they found grasslands to feed their cattle, water, and food. And American history is actually filled with many days of Thanksgiving, it was proclaimed time after time by Presidents and others throughout time. But it finally became an official annual observance in 1863 just around Civil War time.
And as I mentioned we in America have this day set aside as this Canada and a few other places but we’ve got so much to be thankful for, so much to be thankful for. We’ve got plenty to eat, we’ve got clean water to drink, we’ve got good roofs typically over our heads. And we live in peace and prosperity and we’re able to serve and worship our God as we want. But you know, there are many in our land and many around this world that are not thankful, they’re unthankful and see little need to be thankful to God.
And really what can you expect? God has been really put out of our lives. Throughout this country, they’re continually trying to remove God from our court houses, our schools, our science, removing Him from that, so what can we expect? Rather than trying to bring God into things, mankind has been taking God out of things. And it’s been celebrating their achievements, man’s achievements rather than God’s achievements, separating themselves from God. Why should man be thankful to a God that he refuses to serve, he refuses to worship, and even he refuses to really acknowledge that He exists.
Paul talks about this in 2 Timothy 3. In 2 Timothy 3, Paul gives us an insight into the time at the end and what people would be like. And what the characteristics of the people would be at that time. 2 Timothy 3, Paul says beginning in verse 1, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: for man will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God, having a form godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away.”
And that pretty well describes in many ways our modern society, and if we’re not careful that can begin to describe us, that can begin to describe us. And Satan doesn’t want us to be a thankful people. He doesn’t want us to appreciate what other people have done for us, what God has done for us.
The title of my sermon today is “The Thanksgiving Sacrifice,” The thanksgiving sacrifice. I’m not going to be talking about that turkey that you might have sacrificed this past Thursday, I’m talking about a different kind of sacrifice. A sacrifice of thanksgiving that we’re supposed to give to God and to Jesus Christ on a daily basis. There’s a movie I’ve watched several times, though it’s been quite a while since I’ve watched it, I’m sure a lot of you here have seen it also. It’s the movie called Shenandoah .
Which came out around 1965 and one of its themes is gratitude and unthankfulness. The time period is the Civil War, the American Civil War. And Jimmy Stewart plays the widowed father of a large farm family of six boys and one girl. Even with the Civil War raging around them, they don’t want to get involved in it. He doesn’t want to get involved in it and he doesn’t want to have his sons fighting in this war. He is a self-made man, self-reliant, self-sufficient. He farms 500 acres in the Shenandoah Valley of Western Virginia. But as much as he wants to distance his family from the Civil War which is occurring, it begins to have an impact on his family.
At the very beginning of the movie, we hear that his wife, the children’s mother had died recently and she tells the father that she wants the family to grow up in a Christian household. And a good Christian was not something that this father, Jimmy Stewart was good at, that just didn’t come easy for him, but he did the best in a way that he could.
In the opening scenes of the movie, the whole family is gathering around the dinner table and they’re all sitting there. And Jimmy Stewart gives his blessing on the meal, he says, “Lord, we cleared this land. We plowed it, we sowed it, and harvested it. We cook the harvest. It wouldn’t be here and we wouldn’t be eating it if we hadn’t done it all ourselves. We worked dog-bone hard for every crumb and morsel, but we thank you, Lord just the same for the food we’re about to eat, amen.” Jimmy Stewart’s character was bitter and unthankful. He couldn’t see why he should be giving thanks to a God, who seemingly did nothing for him. He’s the one who did all the work.
Let’s go ahead and turn to Luke 17, beginning in verse 15, Luke 17:15 Luke 17:15And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,
American King James Version×. And we’ll see an experience that Jesus Christ had in His ministry of people that were unthankful. This section of Luke 17 covers the story of 10 lepers, the 10 men who had leprosy. They meet up with Jesus Christ as He’s traveling to Jerusalem and those lepers get as close as they can to Him. And they cried, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”
You see, leprosy was a horrible disease. It was disfiguring, it destroyed your skin, and it destroyed your body. And God had set up a method of quarantine in His laws that if you had leprosy, you had to live outside the camp. You were ostracized from the community, you couldn’t even go to the temple to worship. Yet, Jesus hears this request and He tells them to go show themselves to the priest. And the reason for this is because that’s what lepers had to do at that time, they would show themselves to the priest because that would determine when the priest looked at them, whether they still had leprosy and they still would have to live outside the camp or whether they were cleaned and they could again worship at the temple and worship with their community. So it was on their way to visit the priest that they were all healed and that’s where we’ll continue the story.
Verse 15 of Luke 17, this is just after they’ve been healed on their way to the priest. “And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at His, Jesus’s feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.” He wasn’t even a Jew, he wasn’t even an Israelite. “So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?” Verse 18, “’Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?’ And He said to him, ‘Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.’” Only one of the 10 came back the rest didn’t only one came back. I sometimes wonder what eventually happened to those other nine. Was there cleansing of the leprosy maybe only just temporary, afterward they actually received the leprosy back because Christ tells the one, “Your faith made you whole.”
How many blessings and opportunities for blessings, have we given up because we missed them because we weren’t thankful? We weren’t thankful for them and thankful for God that we had received them. Thankful is something that we as humans don’t do very well and never have. There’s a story by Warren Wiersbe, he tells the similar situation that occurred, this is found in his commentary and Colossians that’s called “Be Complete.”
In the 1860’s he was a ministerial student in Evanston, Illinois, who was part of a lifesaving squad. A ship went to ground on the shores of Lake Michigan near Evanston, and Edward Spencer waded again and again into the cold frigid waters of Lake Michigan to rescue 17 of the passengers that were on that ship. In the process, his health was hurt, permanently damaged. And years later when his funeral occurred it was recounted that not one of those 17 came to give him thanks and yet he given up his health for them.
Both of these stories, the 10 lepers and Jesus and this story about Edward Spencer helps us to understand, it hasn’t changed over time really. We humans are not thankful people by nature. So, I’d like to take a look this morning at a couple of aspects of godly thanksgiving.
We’ve been through an American holiday of Thanksgiving, we’ve had our turkey and mashed potatoes and our corn bread, stuffing, and pumpkin pie and it’s almost 12:00 dinner time, lunch time. Cranberry sauce with family and friends and a football game maybe and possibly in a small percentage of households, there is real heartfelt thanks given to the God who made all this possible.
In the Old Testament give thanks or thanksgiving comes from many different words, even as mentioned in the early in the sermonette is that praise and thanksgiving are very often found together, often found together. But in the Old Testament, its primary meaning seems to be to hold out the hands or to worship with hands extended or to praise. In the New Testament, thanksgiving or give thanks has very much the same similar meaning as what it does today, of gratitude, of gratefulness, we also can include praise also.
How often do you hear people talk about sacrifice at the thanksgiving table? I mean as I mentioned earlier other than the sacrifice of the turkey and whatever their sacrifice of their football team on that day, how poorly they played, you really don’t hear about sacrifice at that time. But that’s what we really need to have a sacrifice of thanksgiving so that will be acceptable to God and God will be glorified in it. We need to offer that because that’s what the Bible teaches for us. You may be asking, “What in the world is a sacrifice of thanksgiving”” by now, “It just doesn’t seem to go together.” Have you ever thought of thankfulness in thanksgiving as a sacrifice?
Let’s turn to Psalms 50, and we’ll see one of the places where it’s mentioned in the Bible. Psalms 50, we’ll read a little bit more about this sacrifice of thanksgiving. Psalm 50 is a Psalm of Asaph, the magician. And I’m actually going to read this in the English standard version because it makes it a little bit clearer, little bit more understandable to me than the King James version on New King James. Psalms 50:1 Psalms 50:1The mighty God, even the LORD, has spoken, and called the earth from the rising of the sun to the going down thereof.
American King James Version×, “The Mighty One, God the Lord speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting. Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth. Our God comes; He does not keep silence; before Him is a devouring fire, around Him a mighty tempest.”
Verse 4, “He calls to the heavens above and to the earth, that He may judge His people: ‘Gather to me My faithful ones, who made a covenant with Me by sacrifice!’” Verse 6, “’The heavens declare His righteousness, for God Himself is judge!’ Selah. ‘Hear O My people, and I will speak, O Israel, I will testify against you, I am God, your God.’” The Psalms here is giving us a preface to what he’s going to say later on in the Psalm. He’s saying, “You’ve got a powerful God, a devouring fire, a mighty tempest, righteous, a judge. Israel be ready, God is about to speak to you.”
Then on verse 8 it says, “Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you; your burnt offerings are continually before me.” In other words, Israel was offering continually sacrifices to God but it had become more of a physical ritual. There really wasn’t a lot of meaning in it necessarily, but Israel was continuing to sacrifice the burnt offerings. And in verse 9 He says, “I will not accept the bull from your house or goats from your folds. For every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle” of a thousand… “on a thousand hills.”
Verse 11, “I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field it’s Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are Mine. Do I eat the flesh of bulls and drink the blood of goats?” In other words, what does God need that we can give Him? What does he need that we can give Him? God didn’t need Israelite’s sacrifices and offerings, everything in the world already belongs to Him, it’s all His. What did God want instead of these sacrifices? What would you give somebody who has everything? What would you give somebody who has everything? If He has everything, what could you give Him that would be special, that would be meaningful?
We’ve all probably had that dilemma, what do you give somebody who’s got everything? At least everything that you could afford to give them. The only thing you can give them is something that comes from your heart, something that comes from your heart. When a child brings a gift to you of a creation that they made that’s special, that’s from their heart. It hangs on your refrigerator, it’s important to you.
These are important to me. Those are little pictures, two of my grandkids gave to me at Thanksgiving. Those are more important than any trinket that they could ever buy for me. Those are special, they’re from their heart, they were willingly given to me and that’s what God’s looking for from us, something that’s from our heart, something that’s special, something that we can only give to Him. When our kids were younger, there were many of these that used to hang on our refrigerator. We had a Philco refrigerator back then, we called it the Philco Wall of Fame. Our kid’s pictures, report cards, cards, letters, they all hung there. They were very young but you know, we desired these from them more than anything they could ever give us. Because it had love and it had feeling, it had care in it. Nothing, no money could ever buy that’s what God is looking for us. He created the whole universe, He’s got everything. He can make more of everything, this is what He desires.
In verse 14, it goes on to tell us, what it is that God really wants. Verse 14, “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and perform your vows to the Most High,” verse 15, “and call upon Me in a day of trouble, I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me.” God wants something from the heart, He really wants us to offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving. It isn’t the meat offerings, it isn’t the sin offerings, or the other offerings, those are all important. But that isn’t what God’s looking for, He’s got all the prime beef that we could ever have or ever want to give Him. He has that but these are the important things, he wants thanksgiving and praise from us.
Now hold your place in Psalms 50, hold your place in Psalms 50 and turn with me to Matthew 9. In Matthew 9:10-13 Matthew 9:10-13 10 And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.
11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to his disciples, Why eats your Master with publicans and sinners?
12 But when Jesus heard that, he said to them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.
13 But go you and learn what that means, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
American King James Version×, we see Jesus explaining to the Pharisees, what kind of sacrifices really are important. In Matthew 9:10 Matthew 9:10And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples.
American King James Version×, we read, “Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. And when the Pharisee saw it, they said to the disciples, ‘Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?’ When Jesus heard that, He said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: “I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repent.’” Jesus is echoing what the Psalms said in Psalms 50. That there is more important things that God desires than physical ritual sacrifices. He desires a spiritual and heartfelt personal sacrifice.
Let’s go ahead and turn back to Psalms 50 again and continue where we’re reading about the sacrifice of thanksgiving. Psalms 50, we’ll drop down to verse 22 and it says, “Mark this, then, you who forget God, lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver! The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies Me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” I think it’s interesting that the salvation of God here is actually connected to sacrifices of thanksgiving. But we see again that God wants us to offer thanksgiving sacrifices and the outcome of that is it glorifies Him.
Now we’ll turn to another place where it talks about the thanksgiving a sacrifice because it actually does several times in the Bible. We can go to Psalms 107, Psalms 107:21 Psalms 107:21Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
American King James Version×because it’s spoken about in this Psalm too. Psalms 107:21 Psalms 107:21Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
American King James Version×it’s a Psalm of thanksgiving to the Lord for His great works of deliverance. Psalms 107:21 Psalms 107:21Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
American King James Version×, “Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! Let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing.” When you look at Strong’s , when it talks about the sacrifices of thanksgiving here, it’s actually referring back to the sacrifices from Leviticus — where it talks about them in Leviticus, it’s talking about that.
And the rest of Psalms 107, if you look at it, it’s actually kind of a list of things we can offer sacrifices of thanksgiving for. Some of them are safely crossing the wilderness of the sea… or the sea, being released from captivity, recovering from a serious illness and others. So, let’s go ahead and turn to Leviticus 7 and take a look at where these are actually discussed, the sacrifice of thanksgiving is discussed.
In Leviticus 7, we find this sacrifice of thanksgiving talked about more detailed. Leviticus 1-7 are… they discuss and instruct Israel on how to give sacrifices, how to give sacrificial offerings that are supposed to be given and how they should carry them out and discusses the various sacrifices that there were.
We often think of the Old Testament sacrifices as being connected only with sin and trespasses, and the sin offerings that people had to bring to God when they sinned and trespassed. But there’s actually far more to the sacrificial system than just that. The sacrifices in the Old Testament and Leviticus 1-7 are actually divided into two classes of sacrifices. Two distinct classes they were: the sweet savor offerings, that was one class. And the second were the sin and trespass offerings and they were actually handled differently.
The sweet savor offerings included: the burnt offering, the grain offering, and the peace offerings. These were a sweet savor and smell to God because there was no sin represented in them. There wasn’t sin that caused these to occur and God enjoyed it. Because a person came willfully and thankfully to Him out of their own heart, not to pay for something they had done but because they were thankful to God and appreciated God. And the second class as I mentioned were the sin and trespass offerings. And these offerings were given because of sin or a trespass had been committed.
The sacrifice or offering of thanksgiving was a specific subset actually of the peace offering. If we turn to Leviticus 7:11 Leviticus 7:11And this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings, which he shall offer to the LORD.
American King James Version×, we’ll begin where it talks about this specific peace offering, the offering of thanksgiving. Verse 11, “This is law of the sacrifice of peace offerings which he shall offer to the Lord; if he offers it for a thanksgiving,” this is a sacrifice of thanksgiving, “then he shall offer, with the sacrifice of thanksgiving, unleavened cakes mixed with oil, unleavened wafers anointed with oil, or cakes with blended flour mixed with oil.”
Verse 13, “Besides the cakes, as his offering he shall offer leavened bread with the sacrifice of thanksgiving of his peace offering. And from it he shall offer one cake from each offering as a heave offering to the Lord. It shall belong to the priest who sprinkles the blood of the peace offering.” Verse 15, “The flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offering for thanksgiving shall be eaten the same day it is offered. He shall not leave any of it, until morning.” And then the rest of the verses here goes on to describe the other two peace offerings that there were and these were: a sacrifice of a vow and a voluntary peace sacrifice.
What can we glean from, what it talked about the sacrifice that God gave to Israel, the thanksgiving offering, the thanksgiving sacrifice, what can we glean from it, what we learn from it? Well, one is that God wants us to be at peace and have peace. God provided a sacrifice for peace, actually He provided three sacrifices for peace and He wants us to be thankful. A subset of those was a thanksgiving one. This is the reason he set up these peace offerings so we could be at peace. The Nelson’s Study Bible notes, the Hebrew word for peace here means: “wholeness, completeness, soundness, health.” When a person is complete, sound, healthy is usually at peace. And these were usually times of family get togethers actually when they offered these of singing and joy and happiness and feasting and enjoying the gift from God.
The second thing we can learn is that God wants us to show our thanks and gratitude in different ways. The offering of the thanksgiving had multiple parts to it, if you remember it, it had animal flesh that was offered, it had leavened bread that was offered, and it had unleavened cakes that was offered. And in the same way, we need to show our thanks in different ways. And all those were required, you couldn’t just do one of those or two of those, all of them were required just as we’re required really to give thanks in many different ways and to express our thanks in many different ways.
The third is that we need to be willing to offer thanks and gratitude. Like all peace offerings the offering or the sacrifice of thanksgiving was voluntary, it was not required. The person was motivated by gratitude and thanks, thanksgiving to God. It came from a heart of joy and a heart of thanks. In the same way, we need to be willing to do the same, willingly offer, thanks, willingly offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving. And fourth is we need to be willing to share our blessings and thanks with others. The peace offering is the only offering that you share with others. It’s the only offering that God, the priest and the offerer, enjoy the offering or the peace offerings. Each one receives the part of it.
In the same way, we need to be willing to share our thanksgiving with others. We need to be willing to share the blessings that we receive to glorify God with others, to praise God with others. It’s interesting that all three groups in the peace offerings got to partake of the offering itself. To me, that shows even a unity within the church that we should have. Where we share the blessings with each other and we show each other, the love that God’s given us and the blessings that God’s given us. And we glorify Him together because this is one of the offerings that brought Israel together, the people of Israel together. In the same way, it can bring us together. It should involve the sharing of our time and our energies, our love, our care, our moneys at time, our food with others.
And the fifth thing we can learn from this is our thanksgiving must be renewed day-by-day. Any of the meat that was offered in this thanksgiving sacrifice and only this thanksgiving sacrifice had to be eaten on that same day. None of it could be left over and eaten any other day. Where the other peace offerings you could actually eat it a second day. But the offering of thanksgiving, the sacrifice of thanksgiving, all the meat had to be eaten on the day of the sacrifice. What wasn’t eaten on that day had to be destroyed, had to be burnt. In like manner, we must learn to give thanks, day-by-day, we must learn to give thanks day-by-day. What we did yesterday doesn’t go for today. Yesterday’s thanksgiving or thankful heart doesn’t suffice for today, we need to renew it day-by-day.
How does the sacrifice of thanksgiving impact us today? We’ve gone through some things that we learned from Leviticus, but the New Testament gives us some guidelines too on this thanksgiving of sacrifice. What instructions were given to the early Church? We can turn to Hebrews 11 and read about this. The scholar’s debate who actually wrote Hebrews, many think it’s Paul, in my readings I think it’s Paul, but many of them debate is to who it is. But in this 13th and final chapter of Hebrews, it contains the author’s final words to the Hebrews in this book. His concluding remarks and in it he mentions a sacrifice of praise or a sacrifice of thanksgiving.
In doing so, he gives us additional information on how we need to have this heart in us. We’ll begin reading in Hebrews 13:15 Hebrews 13:15By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
American King James Version×. Verse 15 of Hebrews 13, “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise.” Again, this was mentioned in the sermonette often praise and thanksgiving come together. In this word “praise” here and some of the other versions is actually translated “thanksgiving.” “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise” or thanksgiving “to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifice God is well pleased.”
Verses 15 and 16 give us additional instructions concerning the sacrifice of praise or the sacrifice of thanksgiving. I’d like to take a look at these two verses a little bit more closely and let’s take a closer look at it. And see what meaning it has to us, Verse 15 we read, “Therefore by Him” by Jesus Christ, “our sacrifices of thanksgiving are to be offered by Jesus Christ.” Or better translation might be through Jesus. The Contemporary English Version actually has here in Jesus’ name. The Living Bible says “With Jesus’ help.” That’s because it is only through Jesus that we can truly have the right heart to give a true offering of thanksgiving. It is only through Him that we can give the true sacrifice.
The verse goes on to say “Let us continually offer.” Let us continually offer up, continually, unceasingly. Being thankful isn’t an isolated event, it’s something we need to do continually on an ongoing basis, on a daily basis. It needs to be part of who we are and what we are. It needs to be part of our inner normal self and part of our normal life. We won’t turn there but David talks about this in Psalms 34:1 Psalms 34:1I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
American King James Version×. He says “I will bless the Lord at all times,” not just during the good times, not just during the easy times, not just during the times when I want something, but at all times. “His praise shall continually be on my mouth.” It sounds like David did this continually, an ongoing thing.
And in verse 15 in Hebrews 13 continues, “offer the sacrifice of praise.” The Strong’s Concordance here defines the phrase sacrifice of praise “has to be a praising act that is specifically a thank offering.” Going back to the thank offering in Leviticus that refers back to the offering and sacrifice of thanksgiving but it’s describing a new version, a New Testament version, not with animals and loaves of bread but with spiritual things, spiritual parts, spiritual components.
Now as Strong’s shows and again as the sermonette said, praise and thanksgiving often are linked together in the Bible. In fact, oftentimes the same word, the Greek word is either translated as praise or translated as thanksgiving. It can be translated as both, they’re very closely linked together. And how do we offer these thanksgiving praises to God? Continuing in verse 15 it says, “that is, the fruit of our lips.” One way is through the fruit of our lips, what we say and what we talk about. The fruit of our lips, we speak the praises of God and thanks to Jesus Christ and to God our father.
We’ve heard of the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering — well there’s also the fruit of your lips. What are your lips saying? There’s fruit that comes out from us. They should be praise and thanksgiving. Fruits are natural product of the tree that it grows on. It’s the natural product of what is inside of us. It’s the outcome of who and what we really are. The output of our lips should be the output of our lives. God doesn’t want lip service though, He wants it to be heartfelt. He wants it to come from the abundance of our heart, the abundance of who we are.
Continuing on in verse 15 it says, “giving thanks to His name.” Giving thanks to His name with our lips. We’re supposed to give thanks to God’s name, but not only to God’s name, but to who He is. The Greek word for “name” here actually has to do also with authority and character and we heard about that in the sermonette. I’m so glad that God has the character He does, I give thanks to God for His character, I give thanks that I know that He’s not like me. He’s not like me, we know that He loves us, we know that He cares for us. We know that He has promises for us and that He’ll keep those promises.
We know that and we need to give thanks for that with our lips. We need to give thanks for who and what God is, a wonderful God. Now we’ve just seen one of the ways we can give thanks to God. We can fulfill this sacrifice of thanksgiving. One of the ways is a fruit of our lips, but if we look at verse 16, it reveals two additional aspects of the sacrifice of thanksgiving. It includes: doing good and tells us to share in fellowship with others. Verse 16, “But” or that could be moreover, “do not forget to” one, “do good.” A second part of the sacrifice of thanksgiving is to do good. Other translations translated that as “Well doing.” We need to do good. And do good is kind of a general term for doing good, doing kindness to others, being helpful to others, helping them through life.
In Galatians 6:9 Galatians 6:9And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
American King James Version×and you don’t have to turn there, it says, “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” We’ll reap the benefits of doing well. We’ll reap the benefits of this part of the thanksgiving sacrifice. Verse 16 continues with the third area of thanksgiving. “Moreover do not forget to do good and to share,” and to share. And the word “share” seems like a real simple word, five letters simple meaning, we share something, right? We give something. But it actually has two different kind of meanings in the Greek that go along with them.
The first is to share as we would think of share. But it kind of has a connotation of sharing somebody that needs help… sharing with somebody that needs help. Might be sharing a meal with somebody who’s sick, somebody who needs help because maybe they’ve gotten older and they can’t do certain things, they’re younger and can’t do certain things. If you remember in the early Church, they made collections so they could share with other areas.
In James, says in James 2:14-17 James 2:14-17 14 What does it profit, my brothers, though a man say he has faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
16 And one of you say to them, Depart in peace, be you warmed and filled; notwithstanding you give them not those things which are needful to the body; what does it profit?
17 Even so faith, if it has not works, is dead, being alone.
American King James Version×, and you don’t need to turn there because we’ll be coming back to Hebrews. But it says, “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, and be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also by faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” Being thankful involves sharing our blessings with others. We just can’t keep them to ourselves and hold them in, but we need to share them with others.
And the second meaning of this word “share” in the Greek is to fellowship or to communicate, to fellowship or communicate. Acts 2:42 Acts 2:42And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
American King James Version×also uses this word translated as fellowship. And it’s at the time of the first Pentecost just right after that. In Acts 2:42 Acts 2:42And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
American King James Version×it says, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostle’s doctrine and fellowship.” And that’s the same word used here as “share,” “in breaking of bread, and in prayers.” So not only we’re supposed to communicate with God and give Him our thanks but we’re supposed to be fellowshipping and encouraging each other and showing the blessings of God and the thanks of God with others. All that is so important, you know, and it’s an important part of this communication to share encouragement not only the thanks and the praise.
James 1:27 James 1:27Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.
American King James Version×says, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to visit the fatherless and the widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” Visiting and fellowshipping with others especially those in need or sick can have a great benefit not only on them and those that are in need, but also in ourselves — that power of encouragement is so important, so important.
You know, years ago the Library of Congress received a gift from the descendants of Abraham Lincoln. That gift contained the items that Abraham Lincoln had at the time of his death. When Abraham Lincoln was shot at the Ford’s Theater in Washington D.C., April 14, 1865 he was carrying two pairs of spectacles, a lens polisher, a pocketknife, a watch fob, a linen handkerchief, a brown leather wallet which of all things had a $5 confederate bill in it. But in his wallet, he also carried with him nine newspaper clippings, nine newspaper clippings that he had cut out and folded neatly and placed in his wallet. Many of those clippings praised Lincoln and his policies. Abraham Lincoln needed encouragement just as we do and everybody else does.
Part of the sacrifice of thanksgiving is encouraging, is fellowshipping with others. Now, here we’ve seen three different ways to praise and to be thankful to God, three ways to offer to sacrifice the thanksgiving: Offering verbal thanks, doing good to others, and sharing in fellowshipping. In short, the sacrifice of thanksgiving involves: telling, doing and sharing. Telling, doing and sharing. Be in thankful isn’t just words, it involves actively doing things and doing good for others. Thankfulness needs to fulfill the two great commandments: love towards God, love towards your neighbor. That’s how we have a complete sacrifice of thanksgiving.
And what are some of these ways that we can do and share? Let’s just go actually back up to the beginning of chapter 13 and we’ll see just a few of those ways. Hebrews 13:1-5 Hebrews 13:1-5 1 Let brotherly love continue.
2 Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.
3 Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.
4 Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but fornicators and adulterers God will judge.
5 Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for he has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you.
American King James Version×, “Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have unwittingly entertained angels. Remember the prisoners as if chained with them — those who are mistreated — since you yourselves are in the body also. Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge. Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’”
Have brotherly love. Remember strangers, be hospitable to them. Remember those that are in prison or those that are being mistreated or gone through difficulties. Remember your spouse and treat him or her kindly. Don’t be greedy, it’s hard to be greedy when you’re thankful, it’s hard to be selfish when you’re thankful. Be content and thankful for what you have. Be thankful to God Himself that He will never leave you or forsake you.
What does God say about this type of thanksgiving sacrifice? Verse 16 concludes with these words, “…for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” God is well pleased with such sacrifice. A sacrifice of telling, of doing and of sharing. When you count your blessings, don’t forget expressions of gratitude to others: a note, a call, a kind word, a meal. These are all included in the sacrifice of thanksgiving. Telling, doing and sharing how’s that going to affect your neighbor, your friends, your family? You know, we don’t always know how that’s going to affect them? We don’t always know what impact we may have on somebody.
Dwight Geiger in the Canadian Sooke News Mirror tells of “A school teacher who asked her first graders to draw a picture of something they were thankful for. She thought of how little these children from poor neighborhoods actually had to be thankful for. She reasoned that most of them would no doubt draw pictures of turkeys on tables with lots of other food. She was surprised, however, with the picture that Douglas handed in. It was a picture of a human hand, poorly drawn. But whose hand was it? The other children tried to guess. One said it was the hand of God because He brings us all the food. Another said it had to be the hand of a farmer because he grows the food. Finally, when the others were back at their work, the teacher bent over Douglas’ desk and asked, ‘Whose hand is it?’ And he said, ‘Why, it’s your hand, teacher.’
Then she calls that frequently at recess she had taken Douglas’ hand, the scrubby, forlorn child had taken him by the hand. She did that with many other children too, never thought much of it, but Douglas did. You see she refreshed his spirit and he never forgot it.” This teacher never realized the impact she was having by reaching out her hand to someone else and that was just part of her life. We don’t know the impact we may have in reaching out with our hands to others, what kind of impact that may have.
In the movie, Shenandoah that I began my sermon with, Jimmy Stewart had forgotten that life is a gift. He was unable to be thankful to God for all the many blessings that he had been given. War broke out and he lost pretty much everything he had. His family was ripped apart, his only daughter died in childbirth. Brother ended up fighting against brother. And he tried to keep his family out of the war, but one of his sons died in battle and his youngest son was carried off as prisoner of war. Deep in the war, what is left of his family, gathered around the table for a meal. Jimmy Stewart starts to pray the old prayer, “Lord, we have cleared this land, we plowed it, we planted it, we harvested the crops.” But then he chokes and he can’t continue on.
Suffering and loss had shattered this farmer, the self-sufficiency that he had, the self-reliance that he had. But this doesn’t yet quite bring him to be thankful for everything. That finally happens at the end of the movie. Jimmy Stewart is sitting in a church, in many ways a changed man than what he was at the beginning of the story. Suddenly, his youngest son who’d been in prison, this youngest son who reminded him the most of his wife, comes limping down the church aisle in crutches. Overwhelmed with emotion, Jimmy Stewart once a thankless self-reliant father, stands up and joins the rest of the church in singing, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow, praise God from whom all blessings flow.”
We need to be thankful on a daily basis. We need to be fulfilling that sacrifice of thanksgiving in our daily life: telling by verbally given thanks to God and to others, doing by doing good and helping others, sharing with those in need and fellowshipping with others. And we must always remember that the biggest thanks and sacrifices, the biggest gifts come from the heart.