Without Thanksgiving

by: Ronald L. Dart

Email: ron@borntowin.net

How many of you know the year of the first Thanksgiving? And who it was that made the first Thanksgiving proclamation? It was in the year 1621. It was William Bradford, the governor of the Plymouth colony, who called for a day of thanksgiving and prayer after the Pilgrims' first harvest in that colony.

Abraham Lincoln first made it a national holiday in 1863. I have a feeling that Abraham Lincoln had something in mind a little more than the harvest because his proclamation came shortly after the battle of Gettysburg and right about in the middle of the Civil War. His thanksgiving to God, that year, and his day of prayer and thanksgiving toward God must've been very poignant indeed for the number of young men who were dying on the fields of the Civil War every day of that terrible war.

When I think about it, it seems remarkable to me in the moral climate of our country today that we still have Thanksgiving day. I suppose for many people, it is much of a vestigial organ of politics rather than some thing that people take seriously, but with the Supreme Court decisions being made about prayer in schools and everybody tries to decide with a moment of silence in schools and then along comes a court decision saying that you can't even have a moment of silence in school for prayer because they're so determined to stamp out any reference to God or religion. Of course the idea is whose religion is it? If we are going to allow prayer in schools, is it going to be a Christian prayer, or a Muslim prayer or a Buddhist prayer? If it is going to be a Christian prayer, which particular kind of Christian prayer? Will be a Unitarian, will be Catholic, will it be Protestant? If it is going to be Protestant, would it be Baptist, Church of Christ. or Methodist?

So in the interest of us being fair about it, let's just get God out of the picture entirely in which we have as a people have been systematically doing for a long long time now.

Thank God for Your Blessings

Now, given that, it's kind of remarkable that we still have Thanksgiving. The very expression Thanksgiving implies that you're giving thanks to somebody for something. The whole idea is, we are thanking God for our country, thanking God for peace, thanking God for our wealth, thanking God for what we have. We actually acknowledge that we have what we have and that we are what we are because of God.

That's what Thanksgiving is all about. It is a statement that we don't have this because we have earned it. We don't have all these things and these blessings by right, we have them by blessing of God, and therefore thanks is due for it.

Without Thanksgiving

Without Thanksgiving, what are we? What kind of people are we without Thanksgiving, without the acknowledgment of God, of who He is and of who we are.

I don't remember who it was that said it, but someone once said, "The sin of ingratitude is probably the most debilitating and the most wretched sin of all."

I would like to go back to the first chapter of Romans, because there's a fascinating byplay here, or the extension of the statement or argument here that is worth thinking about with Thanksgiving day approaching.

In Romans chapter 1 and verse 18, Paul wrote to the Romans, "For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness."

It is interesting that the authorized version of the Bible says "they hold the truth." The Greek word means "suppress." We're talking about people who had the truth, knew the truth and had every reason in the world to understand the truth and yet who sit on it. They suppress it, even in their own mind, or trying to keep people from knowing it.

Men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness {19} because that which may be known of God is manifest to them, for God has shown it to them {20} for the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse." He's saying that mankind, be he Greek, or Roman, or Hebrew has every reason in the world to know that God is, and not only to know that God is, but to know the kind of God that is. That God is a great God and He is a law giving God, that there are standards of right and wrong, and men in all civilizations have a pretty good idea, an amazing amount of agreement about the difference between right and wrong in human behavior.

They Were Not Thankful

In verse 21, it says, "Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened."

Fundamental to the whole question is that they did not glorify God as God, and that they were not thankful. Now what does that mean to you? What does this say? To me the connection is as clear as anything could be. That in the process of acknowledging that God is, acknowledging that He is the creator of everything that you see here, acknowledging that He is allowing you to live here in His creation, that He not only created everything you see but that He also created you and He created man. We owe our very existence to His sufferance, his permission for us to be here, that even if you do not understand that God made man with a purpose or goal in mind. At least you understanding that God is and that He did make the world and man in it. This leads naturally to thankfulness.

Thank You

Thank you for what you have given me. Thank you for what I am. Thank you for my freedom. Thank you for my health. Thank you for the love that I share with people around me

They did not recognize or acknowledge Him as God, as supreme, as ruler, but rather their foolish heart was darkened, and it never occurred to them, I suppose, that they should ever be thankful for anything.

The Things that I Have are Mine

Were talking about a mind set. It's a mind set that says, "The things that I have are mine because I have earned them. The things that I'm able to do I have a right to do and no one may deny me the right to do these things. This mind set I am entitled to is this, I have a right to that. I deserve this. I have this coming leads to a frame of mind that says, why should I give thanks to anyone. Who is God? Why should I concern myself with God. I earned .this

Remake God in Their Own Image

Let's continue in Romans 1 verse 22, "Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, {23} They changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man."

That's where it all starts. Men generally speaking, remake God in their own image. You know God must be a lot like me. White men generally think of God as being white. I think for a long time, many black men thought of God as being white, until somebody poked him in the ribs one day and said, "Wait a minute. How do you know that God is white?" And indeed, how do you know that God is white? Of course God is neither white nor black nor yellow or anything of the sort. He is spirit and his face shines like the sun in its full strength and color has no meaning when you're talking about God.

The fact of the matter is, we tend not to remake God in our own image. We say to ourselves, "I don't think if God would mind if I steal this. I don't think God would mind if I sleep with my neighbor's wife." We completely rewrite the Law of God and we rewrite God's character to suit ourselves. God is like we are and therefore, since He has not slapped me down for the things that I have done, then He must approve of the things I have done.

Verse 23, "They changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. {24} So God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: {25} They changed the truth of God into a lie, and they worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. {26} For this cause God gave them up to vile affections: even their women did change the natural use for that which is against nature: {27} And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was appropriate."

In other words, all these things started out from the simple beginning of refusing to acknowledge God as God and to be thankful to Him as God. To look at him as the source.

Entitlements and Rights

The assumption that I know and that I am right and that I have rights, that I have entitlements. This assumption of accruing to ourselves and for all of these rights. The right to decide on a life choice and a lifestyle. If we can make up our mind whether to be homosexual is a lifestyle or an affliction or something that happens by birth, but people can't seem to make up their mind about that of whichever it is.

This tells us, that as a result of leaving God, as a result of forsaking the thankful mind set, this is where the wisdom of man leads them.

Verse 27 of Romans 1, "They receive in themselves, the recompense of their error which was appropriate." In other words, sin brings consequences, and it is going to come rolling back in on you as a result of it.

Verse 28, "Even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient." Now you don't think of it this way often, but we are going to see here is a litany of the results of the refusal to acknowledge God as God, and to be thankful.

Verse 29, "Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, {30} Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, {31} Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: {32} Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them."

The Root of Sin is to be Unthankful

Now it is hard to get your mind around this, but think with me for a moment about it, He's telling us essentially that at the root of this incredible litany of sin lies an unthankful spirit. One that refuses to acknowledge God or to be thankful.

Say: "Thank You"

Many parents, and I think probably most parents, are at some pains to teach their children to say 'thank you,' aren't they? Often times I've been with couples when their children were there, and I've given a child something and mother will say, "Say thank you." The kid will sit there and without any expression look a little bit scared and wonder what to say. And mother says again, "Say thank you." And of course I fidget around from one foot to the other, and I shift my weight. I pick at imaginary lint on my coat and all this while I allow myself to be the object of this training session, but it's worth it because children do need to be taught to say 'thank you.'

Graciousness is not the natural state of man, is it? It is not in the natural state of children as they grow up to be gracious. Children are naturally selfish, just like you are, and they are your children aren't they? So naturally they would tend to be like all the rest of us human beings, selfish. So we go to great pains to say 'thank you.' We hand them something and say, "Say thank you." We go through the whole rigmarole and oftentimes with chastisement and a lot of patience to get the child in the habit of saying 'thank you' when something is given to them.

You know, rude children, and there are rude children. Rude children at the core are ungrateful children. Think about it. I had a little boy one time, he was small, he wasn't in school yet, he came up to me and said "Give me a quarter!" I blinked at him and said, "What?" I couldn't believe what I heard. He said, "Give me a quarter!" I looked at him just about as rude as he was and said, "NO!" He didn't say please. He didn't say could you? Would you mind? He said, it was an order, it was in the imperative tense, "Give me a quarter!"

Now how does a kid get to that place?

Say "Please"

Now oftentimes what parents will do when a child comes up and says, "Give me that!," The parents will say, "Say please." Once again we come to an interesting little word, actually two little phrases that we teach children. It's a good habit for them to get into even when they do not understand altogether the social implications of it.

'Please' is a very important word. Do you know what it means? It's actually is an abbreviated form, a shortened form of 'If you please,' that's all. What it means is, "If it pleases you, may I have a piece of your cake?"

Now, implicit in this, is the fact that you don't have a right to a piece of the cake. You don't own the cake. You don't have an entitlement to the cake. It is your hostesses' cake, but you say, "If it please you." And of course, if it doesn't please you then you won't give a piece of it to me.

But of course you have been taught to be gracious as well, by your parents, and have been taught to be giving and that it is impolite not to share what you have with other people, and you would say, "Certainly, I would be happy to," and you would hand it to me, and I would say, "Thank you." The ‘thank you’ says, "I realize that you didn't have to give me the cake. I wasn't entitled to it. I didn't have a right to it. You gave it to me because it pleased you to give it to me, and I'm grateful to you because you did."

The funny thing about this is, in teaching children this, the importance of coming to a place where you begin to teach them gratitude in depth. The habit of saying 'thank you' is a good habit. The habit of saying 'please' is a good habit. Children also need to be taught to say them in the right tone of voice, in a gracious manner of speaking.

Somewhere, somehow, we must go beyond the habit of saying 'thank you' and 'please'. Now what I mean by this and I have thought about this many times when I was living in England. In stores all the clerks are trained to say 'thank you' when you've given them your money, they return your merchandise, and so forth. The idea is to say 'thank you' for coming in and shopping at my establishment. I know you didn't have to shop here, you could shop somewhere else, and I appreciate the fact that you came into my store,

'Thank you.' I am grateful for that. I wasn't entitled to your business. Of course, they can say 'thank you' and everything else about the store that you have just been in says that they are taking your business for granted and it means something totally different, right?

In England, it come off oftentimes, because of their training and the way children are brought up, you hear 'thank you' everywhere. Sometimes they will say 'ta' or 'ta muchly.' This is a short form for 'Thank you very much.' They say this so much and sometimes they say it very rapidly.

This does make me think a little bit of the importance of the mind set behind the 'thank you,' of the mind set behind the 'please' and the reason why a child says 'please,' when he asks for something from you. The realization that you don't have to give it to him, the realization that he doesn't have it coming, the realization that everybody in the world doesn't have this, so why should he? The realization that there are other human beings in the world who have wants and needs and desires, and if it pleases them might be willing to share with him can help create a graciousness in children, that is desirable. Indeed,

All of us in the process of growing up were sitting at the table one night and hadn't finished all of our dinner and we're told somewhere along the line,. "Well, there are starving children in China who would really love to have what you're not eating there." Nowadays it is probably starving children in Somalia, but it's always the starving children somewhere else that we were told about when we were growing up.

It was thrown out, carelessly, I guess, but you know there's an enormous amount of truth in that. At the table when a child is not finished their meal may not be the very best place to bring it up, but somewhere along the line, somehow, someway, you would be well advised to let your children know that there is a reason why their life is different from those poor children that they will see on television in Somalia. It didn't just happen that way. There is a reason behind it. The reason, I wish, were better understood.

I'm entitled. I am asserting a right which is what people are often doing.

Does He Thank That Servant?

Let's turn back to Luke 17, I want you to think about something from a little different perspective.

Luke chapter 17 and verse seven, Jesus is speaking and says, "Which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say to him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go ahead and sit down and eat."

"You have been working hard all day, why don't you go get something to eat and I'll be all right."

"Rather you say, You make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird yourself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward you shall eat and drink? {9} Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I think not. "

In other words, here's a man who has a servant out working in the field and it is his job. This servant, whether he's a hired servant or whatever, it is his job to do the day's work in the field and then to come home in the evening, and to prepare the meal for his master, serve the meal and only then has he finished his job.

Now when you are paying someone for their job. it is a contractual arrangement. You do the work and then I pay you. We shake hands and part company. Who owes who thanks? Well, nobody really. We both have gotten what we bargained for.

Jesus said, "The servant comes back in from the field. Do you thank him at that point?" No, not until they have finished the job. Finish what we have contracted for and then when you're finished, then you can go ahead and eat and drink.

Jesus continues to explain, verse 10, "So likewise you, when you have done all those things that are commanded you, say, "We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do."

By and large, when we do our job, when we have finished what is required of us, when it has gotten to the end of the sentence and put the period there, and you have crossed all of the T's and dotted all the I's, and we have actually done what we were expected to do, most of us would feel pretty good about what we have done.

Jesus said, "When you have done what was required or expected of you, you have not been a profitable servant." How then do you get to be a profitable servant? The only way I can think of doing that is to go and do what is above and beyond what was required of you.

Now, let me ask you, at what point in our lives, can you describe a way of living as a person, now he gets up in the morning. He goes through the day, works his way through the week and through the month. Can you describe to me a point in time, or a set of circumstances, whereby this person would come to have a right to a blessing from God? Notice that I choose the words carefully I said the 'right' to it.

God graciously gives us promises if we obey Him. That's gracious of Him, but the promises are grace, they are not a right. Do you understand the difference that exists here?

A man who's just lost his job and I have actually seen this in letters that I have received. A man has just lost his job and he complains, "I don't understand it, I have kept the Sabbath day, I've been faithful to God. I quit work before sundown on Friday night, and I don't go back to work till after sundown on Saturday. I have paid my tithes. I have gone to the festivals, I try to be obedient to God. How could God allow me to lose my job? The answer may be is that you may have come to presume that you have a right to God's blessings. The problem is that we often times get these things wrong way around. We have God's blessings, We respond to God's blessings by obedience and by thanksgiving and by gratitude toward him, but we don't gain somehow a right to God's blessings. We're simply doing what's required of us.

For example, in the process of keeping the Sabbath day, of ending work on Friday night and not going back to work until sunset on Saturday night, what do you do for God? What do you give Him? What is it exactly you package up and reach across and hand to God? Don't we understand that God handed us the Sabbath Day. If He didn't hand us the Sabbath day, some of us wouldn't have anymore sense than to work 16 hours a day, seven days a week until we finally dropped. We would be slaves to our job, slaves to our bosses, slaves to circumstance, slaves to our credit cards and our debts, and we wouldn't know any better.

God comes along and gives us the Sabbath Day and says, "Here, stop and rest one day a week, it is for you, not for Me." The Sabbath was made for ma (Mark 2:27-28). So how do you gain credit with God by doing what's for your own good? Isn't it true of God's law, from one and the other, including tithing, that it was all given to us for our good. So how in the process of doing what is good, do we get enough credits to where we have a right or an entitlement to it.

Scriptures Relevant to Thanksgiving

One of my favorite passages in Scriptures that is very relevant to Thanksgiving Day and the Thanksgiving season is found in the eighth chapter of Deuteronomy.

This is a sermon or a speech that Moses gave to Israel, when they were out of Egypt, getting ready to enter the promised land. He was trying to remind them of some things that they might be prone to forget. I want to read some of these passages to you and talk about them because I think they're very relevant to Thanksgiving and to the kind of people we are and our relationship with God

In Deuteronomy 8 and verse 1, Moses says, "All the commandments that I command you this day shall you observe to do." Why are you commanded to do this? So, "that you may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD swore to your fathers. {2} And you shall remember all the way which the LORD your God led you these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you, and to prove you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments, or not."

Now it is sobering thing to realize that God in heaven actually takes in hand to humble us from time to time. Now what does that take? What does He have to do? What does He have to take away from you? What kind of pain does He have to put you in? Perhaps being in the hospital strung up in traction where everything has to be done for you. Even washing everything for you. A very humbling experience, isn't it? What does God have to put us through to humble us?

It's very apparent what God did to them and to us, as it is written. In each of our cases, if He cares about us, and we know He does and if He is going to work with us and we know He will, then we also are going to be humbled deliberately and systematically by God as He works with us.

God humbles you,to prove you, to find out what's going on inside of you whether you would keep his commandments are not.

Verse 3, "And he humbled you, and suffered you to hunger, and fed you with manna, which you didn't know."

I can see someone complaining saying, "Look I keep God's law, I am obedient to God, I do not eat unclean meats. I fast twice in a week. I pay tithes of all my possessions. I keep the Sabbath day, why am I hungry?"

God answers, "And he humbled you, and suffered you to hunger, and fed you with manna, which you didn't know." Why? "So that He might make you know that man does not live by bread only, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the God does man live."

Are you thankful to know that? Is it good to know that? Is it a gift of God that he teaches us that man does not live by bread only. Yes, it's a wonderful blessing from God. If he did not humble us and teach us, we would not know. So it is something to be grateful for

Verse 4, "Your raiment did not grow old upon you, neither did your foot swell, these forty years. {5} You shall also consider in your heart, that, as a man chastens his son, so the LORD your God chastens you."

Really? From time to time things happen to us, we suffer pain, we get hurt. We lose something, we lose somebody, we do without. Maybe God is chastening you? Perhaps God is angry with you? But you should be grateful that He cares enough to chastise you, cares enough to humble you, that He cares enough to turn you around.

He says in verse six, "Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him. {7} For the LORD your God brings you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; {8} A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil, and honey; {9} A land wherein you shall eat bread without scarceness, you shall not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you may dig brass."

Well folks, look around. Are we there? Sure we are! What a land we live in. What a country. What a place. What riches. What wealth are here for us to share and to have. Are we entitled to it? Do we have a right to it? Did we earn it? We were born into it!

Maybe some of our forefathers could have laid claim to having sweated and suffered, did without and sacrificed to get certain things to where they had their name or title on the land or a piece of property, but most of us, we were born into this land. We have it by blessing, not by right

But you see, we come to think of it in terms of rights, in terms of entitlement, and when you start thinking that way, gratitude goes out the window. Thanksgiving has no place.

We Are Squatters on God’s Land

He says in Deuteronomy 8 and verse 12, "When you have eaten and are full, and have built good houses, and live in them; {13} And your herds and your flocks have multiplied, and your silver and your gold is multiplied, and all that you have multiplied; {14} Then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the LORD your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; {15} Who led you through that great and terrible wilderness, where there were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought forth water out of the rock of flint; {16} Who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers didn't know." Why? "That he might humble you, and that he might prove you, to do you good at your latter end."

This is a long sentence and it started with the statement, "Beware' when you've gotten into the land and you have eaten and your full and you built yourself a really nice house to live in and your cattle are beginning to multiply and everything is going good, beware lest that you say in your heart, my power and the might of my hand has gotten me this wealth."

The warning is there. The person who does not return thanks to God, the person who doesn't recognize God's hand, in what has happened in his life, who doesn't recognize God's ownership of the good land, that we're allowed to squat on for some period of time. Many of us have forgotten these things is going be in deep trouble. He said, "You should remember the Lord your God for it is He who gives you power to get wealth. God may establish his covenant with you that He swore to your fathers this day."

"It shall be." Here is where the caution comes in, in verse 19, "If you do at all forget the LORD your God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish."

We Still Have a Thanksgiving Day

I think the very fact that there are some people, relatively few yet more than us in this land, who do give thanks to God, is a saving grace for all of us, but the time could come when we have forgotten God to such extent in this country that some of the same things will begin to come to pass

He said in verse 20 of Deuteronomy 8, "As the nations which the LORD destroyed before your face, so shall you perish; because you would not be obedient to the voice of the LORD your God."

Think about this in chapter 9 and verse one "Hear, O Israel: You are going to pass over Jordan this day, to go in and possess nations greater and mightier than yourself, cities great and fenced up to heaven."

Now if you are just a careless reader of the Old Testament, and you haven't thought about it very much, you're going to tend to think of Israel as being a superior nation and a superior people. They were God's people and they were a great people that they moved in and possessed this land and all there were a bunch of naked savages when they went in. You do understand, do you, that archaeology has now basically laid that to rest. The fact is, that the nations, that is the kingdoms and the cities and the civilizations that were in Palestine before Israel came in were operated at a much higher level of culture, civilization, technology than the Israelites did.

By human standards, the Israelites were an inferior tribe of desert nomads. A bunch of barbarians that came in and in the layers that they dig up in the cities they find a higher civilization has been overcome by, and over the top of them is laid an inferior civilization.

"You are not going in to possess these people (Deuteronomy 9:1) because you are a greater people than they are or a mightier people than they are, or stronger or smarter or anything of the kind. It is not that way. {2} These people are great and tall, the children of the Anakims, whom you know, and of whom you have heard say, Who can stand before the children of Anak! {3} Understand therefore this day, that the LORD your God is he which goes over before you; as a consuming fire he shall destroy them, and he shall bring them down before your face."

How are you going to win all this? God is going to go over before you and God is going to bring them down. You can't do it yourself. You're going to drive them out and destroy them quickly. How are you going to do it? Because God has weakened them.

Now in verse four, He says, "Don't say in your heart, after that the LORD your God has cast them out from before you, saying, "Well for my righteousness the LORD has brought me in to possess this land." Don't say it! Don't allow yourself to think it. That because you are righteous and you are good.

What is righteousness?

What is righteousness? (Psalms 119:172). God's commandments are righteousness. Don't think this because you have the Law, and don't think this because you are obeying God. We all know better that that, don't we? Don't think that it is because of these things that this is going to happen. It is not going to happen for that reason.

Verse 5 of Deuteronomy 9, "It's not for the uprightness of your heart, that you are going in to possess their land: but it is for the wickedness of these nations the LORD your God drives them out from before you, that he may perform the word which the LORD swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."

You know, there's some interesting thoughts in that. God didn't give them the land because there were more righteous than the people that were there ahead of them. Therefore, if they go into the land and do the same things that these people did and they become themselves unrighteous and wicked and a stiff-necked people, what can they expect? What can they expect God to do? How can they expect God to deal with them?

Verse 6, "Understand therefore, that the LORD your God gives you not this good land to possess it for your righteousness; for you are a stiff-necked and stubborn rebellious people."

You know, God has granted to us an incredible amount of knowledge. We have insights into His word. I have studied the Bible for years before I came into the Church of God, but through the leadership of the Church and God revealed to me, and it has come from me to many of you, enormous amounts of truth from His word and things that we can understand and grasp and we have been able to grow in our understanding over many, many years with God's word and we are able to draw nearer to Him.

It's odd, but we could make that same kind of claim, that we have been righteous, we obey God. We follow God's laws, and therefore God's blessings are upon us because of what we have done, but the Bible again and again tells us better than that.

Why Did God Bless Them? Because He Loved Them!

Now if God didn't give it to them because of their righteousness then why did He give it to them?

Deuteronomy 7 and verse seven, "The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people; for you were the fewest of all people: {8} But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn to your fathers, has the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and has redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. {9} Know this that the LORD your God, he is God, the faithful God, who keeps covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; {10} And he repays them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hates him, he will repay him to his face. {11} You shall therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command you this day, to do them."

Why did He give it to them? Because He loved them, simply because He loved them. Why did God give us all these great truths? Why did God give us all of this understanding? Why did God give us this insight into His word, insight into prophecy, insight into His Law, insight into living a way of life. Why did He give us these things? Because He loves us. It is simple, isn't it?

But For The Grace of God, Go I

There's an old phrase that I think should be used more than what it is. When you walk along a street and you see a poor guy sleeping over in a corner wrapped up in a bunch of rags and old dirty overcoat and a couple of empty wine bottles beside him, do you think of yourself as being better than he is? Remember the old saying, "There, but for the grace of God, go I."

Do your children understand why they live in a home, instead of a cardboard box near a grating where there is some heat coming out on a crowded city street somewhere up in Chicago. Do they understand why that is so? Do they understand why it is that they live in a warm house, they go to a good school. They get good lunches at school and they get good food at home. Do they know why it's that way for them? Could they not have just as easily been born in Somalia? Could they have just been as easily as one of those little children that are lying down there with flies crawling over their eyes, and their little limbs wasting away? Couldn't they have just as easily been born that way?

I don't how in the world the idea ever got planted in my mind. Perhaps it came from my parents, who told me about little children in China who were starving to death while I had all of this food that I was leaving on my plate, but I can remember as a child, thinking to myself, I could just as easily have been born somewhere else.

Are You Thankful?

Have you ladies ever read, when you were girl the 'Good Earth' by Pearl Buck? Did you think when you read the 'Good Earth', I could just as easily have been her as me? And were you thankful? Do you understand that there is a reason why God has given you to your parents. There is a reason why you have your children, there is a reason why you are where you are, that God knows you, loves you, cares about you.

Without Thanksgiving

Without Thanksgiving we are all lost. We have no idea of our place in the world or the reason for it. We have no idea of who we are or why we are or where we are going without Thanksgiving. We are a wretched and miserable people.

Teach your children, not merely to say 'thank you' but to be thankful. There is such an enormous difference between them, not merely to say 'thank you' but to be thankful, so that your life becomes an expression of gratitude. So that your way of living is an expression of 'if you please, may I, please, thank you very much. I sincerely appreciate what you have done. Thank you for the gift, so that comes not just as a habit but so it comes from the heart.

Why let your children grow up to be ungrateful wretches and embarrass you by going up to somebody you know and saying, "Give me a quarter!"

There is an interesting Scripture about this. It's in Deuteronomy 28 and I want you to read it because the difference in allowing a child to grow up to be an ungrateful wretch on the one hand, or having your child grow up with a grateful spirit on the other is right here.

Deuteronomy 28 and verse 47, "Because you served not the LORD your God with joyfulness, with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things."

This is a beautiful way of putting it, "to serve God with joy and gladness of heart for the abundance of all things."

Because you didn't do that, {48} "Therefore you shall serve your enemies which the LORD shall send against you, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon your neck, until he has destroyed you."

This is the end of the ungrateful man and the ungrateful woman and the person who says, "Well, who needs God? I got this by my hand, by my power. I have earned these things." And while you're at it, and while you're teaching your children, consider yourself.

I want to remind you of a couple little Scriptures that you all know. They form the first two steps of a syllogism. "For the wages of sin is death." Romans 6:23 and in Romans 3:23 "for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Can you complete the syllogism? The wages of sin is death and all have sinned, therefore all die. Except for the grace of God.

If you still wonder what you might be thankful for, you might just turn back in conclusion, to John 3 and verse 16, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. {17} For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved."

To be thankful for God's salvation, to be thankful that He cares for me, to know that he loved us so much that He gave his only begotten son, who would die in my place. I deserved to die. I deserved the humiliation. I deserved the suffering and the pain. Jesus took it for me. What kind of person cannot be grateful for that.

Without Thanksgiving we are lost!

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

This article was transcribed with minor editing from a Sermon given by

Ronald L. Dart titled: Without Thanksgiving

Audio Tape #9263 11-22-1992

Transcribed by: bb 11/7/11 Revised 11-14-21

You can contact

Christian Educational Ministries

P.O. Box 560 Whitehouse, Texas 75791

Ronald L. Dart is an evangelist and is heard daily and weekly on his Born to Win radio program. 
The program can be heard on over one hundred radio stations across the nation.

In the Portsmouth, Ohio area you can listen to the Born to Win radio program on 
Sundays at 7:30 a.m. and at 12:30 p.m. on WNXT 1260.

You can contact Ronald L. Dart at Christian Educational Ministries
P.O. Box 560 Whitehouse, Texas 75791 
Phone: (903) 509-2999 - 1-888-BIBLE-44


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