Greg Laurie - Don't Forget to Say Thank You
Hello everybody and Happy Thanksgiving. I wanna share a message with you with the title Don't Forget To Say Thank You. Remember with your kids, you probably taught them that: remember to say please and thank you. That's the title of my message, Don't Forget To Say Thank You. And my text is going to be 1 Thessalonians 5:18 so you might turn there, but why don't we start a the word of prayer.
Father, as we talk about giving thanks, we wanna just give thanks to you, our father in heaven who loves us, our father in heaven who watches out for us, our father in heaven who we will see one day face to face, speak to us from your word, and help us to not take for granted the many blessings you've given to us, as a country, as a church and as individuals, So we commit this message to you now in Jesus's name we pray, Amen.
Well, it's here, game on. Thanksgiving is upon us and of course that means Christmas is right on its heels and we gotta pull those decorations out of the garage, and we have to get all those Christmas lights unwound. How do they get so tied up together? They're in a giant knot, and get the old tree out. Now I have to admit, I have a fake tree. Now I've had one for quite a few years. So we're gonna get the fake tree out, and plug it in to the wall and all the rest that goes with it, and it's all a great time of the year. And I think sometimes as we're focusing on Christmas, we forget about what a blessing Thanksgiving really is. The fact of the matter is every day should be Thanksgiving for the Christian, minus the Turkey, hopefully. Otherwise you're gonna be pretty big. But Thanksgiving is great because there's not pressure to buy anything for anyone. It's just getting together with family and friends. And sometimes it's hard to get your family together if they live in different parts of the country.
I heard about a guy named Bill who lived in Dallas, and his kids lived in other states so he called up his son, Josh, who lives in New York City, and he says, "Josh, I have some really bad news for you, son. I'm divorcing your mother. Now I can't take her nagging anymore. We're getting a divorce and I'm telling you first because you're the eldest and I need you to give this message to your sister". So he hung up and Josh calls his sister, and tells her the horrible news, and the sister calls Dad and she says "Dad, there's no way that you can divorce mom. Josh and I will be there Thanksgiving. Promise that you will not do anything until we get there on Thanksgiving". The dad said "OK, I won't do anything". And then he hung up the phone and walked in the kitchen, where his wife was making dinner and he said "Honey, good news, the kids are coming home for Thanksgiving, and they're paying their own way".
You might try that. Really, this is a time where we give thanks to the Lord. We live in a country where we have such great freedoms, that we never want to take for granted. But you might be listening to this message right now and thinking "You know what, you don't know what I'm going through. I'm so stressed out, I'm facing a problem, or a difficulty. I don't wanna give thanks". Quick poll, how many of you are stressed out right now? Raise your hand. Yeah, that's right. Well listen, we don't give thanks to the Lord because we feel good. The bible says we should give thanks to the Lord because he is good. In Hebrews 13:15 says this: Offer the sacrifice of praise continually to the Lord that is the fruit of your lips giving thanks to his name. Sometimes praising the Lord is a sacrifice. We should always do - when something good happens to you, remember to say thank you.
Coming back to an earlier point, we teach our children to have respect, to have manners, and to say thank you when someone gives something to them. And sometimes we forget to thank one another. I think especially if you're married. You know I'll get up in the morning and I'll say "Cathy can you make me breakfast"? And I love this omelet that she makes me, and she says "Okay". And then she'll serve me this beautiful omelet, and sometimes I won't say anything. I'll just grunt, and just eat. And she'll say "Are you gonna thank me"? "Yeah, sorry, thank you". You know we take people for granted, and we do that with the Lord. Listen when something good happens in your life, give God the glory. You just got a raise, something great just happened to you. You heard good news, say thank you, Jesus.
Yeah you say that's okay when things are going well, what about when things are going bad? Listen, you still need to say thank you, Jesus. Here's what I believe. I think the things that we call bad in this life may not actually be as bad as we think they are, and we're gonna need a little time to pass until we can look back with some 20/20 hindsight and get the big picture. But I know this, when I get to heaven and I look back on my life. I think some of the things I thought were bad things may actually turn out to have been very good things because those so called bad things produced something in me that was necessary. I don't think Joseph thought it was a good thing when he was sitting in a prison because he was charged falsely, but the bible tells us that iron entered his soul, and God was getting him ready for something that was to come. And in his case, he was going to be the second most powerful man on the face of the earth only under the Pharaoh himself, so maybe you're going through what seems like a bad thing, but it may be a good thing.
When I was a kid, I lived for a number of years with my grandparents, Charles and Stella McDaniel. Well they were from Arkansas, from a whole 'nother generation. And trust me, if I spoke back, disrespectfully to my grandfather, he applied the board of education to my seat of understanding, but I have to say that my grandmother was the greatest cook of all time, and it was all southern food. You know when I see my friends in the south in places like Texas and North Carolina, they're surprised to know that I, a southern California boy, know a little bit about southern cooking.
Well I was raised on it. My grandmother would make everything from scratch. She wouldn't even consider serving a TV dinner or something like that, so every night we would have something along the lines of fresh cut green beans, fried okra, black-eyed peas, oh by the way, it sounds like a good name for a band. Fried okra, no nevermind. Then fresh mashed potatoes, but here's the big one, her fried chicken was incredible. But her crowning achievement, oh you know what I'm gonna say her crowning achievement, what was the great thing my grandmother used to make, Go! That's right, biscuits. I don't know if there can be a blessing of God, an anointing on food, it was on this biscuit.
In fact, I've spent the rest of my life searching for a biscuit as good as my grandmother's. We called her mama Stella. When she was getting on in years, I would say to my wife, Cathy "Watch Mama Stella make the biscuits so you can discover the secret". In a way I'm almost glad she didn't learn because I might be about 500 pounds if she did. The only place I've been to that even comes close to the biscuit of my grandmother, and the fried chicken, and all the other goodies was a restaurant I ate it in Texas called Babe's.
In fact, I became a frequent visitor to Babe's, and what's great is the owner's a Christian, and he supported our crusade, and had all of his servers where Harvest America T-shirts, and handed out flyers to folks, but when I went in to his restaurant, it was as close as I've ever been to the kind of food I was raised on as a kid. In fact, I probably gained around nine pounds eating at Babe's when we did Harvest America at the AT&T stadium. You may remember we did a little video where I went and visited Babe's with my wife, and if you missed it, I want to show it to you again. This will get you in the mood for some Thanksgiving food for sure.
Wow, oh man, that makes me so hungry for chicken and mashed potatoes and biscuits. So we're all gonna be having a meal very similar to that very soon, but you know I'm coming back now to the biscuit that my grandmother would make and really, when you analyze it, it was made up of ingredients that really had no appeal by themselves. She used vegetable oil, self-rising flour, and buttermilk. You're not gonna sit down and have a cup of self-rising flour for lunch, and you're not gonna drink a little bit of vegetable oil. Now you make drink buttermilk, though I don't know why anyone does. I like buttermilk pancakes and buttermilk biscuits, but I don't like to drink it, but you put them all together. My grandmother would very carefully bring all these elements together, and then she would put them in a very hot oven, and out came this excellent biscuit.
You say, "Greg, why are you talking about biscuits"? Because God takes the events of our lives, both good and bad and he mixes them together in expert hands and puts them in the oven of adversity and when it's all done, we say "It is good". The bible reminds us over in 2 Corinthians 4:17 that Our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes, not on what is seen, but we fix them on what is unseen, for what is seen in temporary, but what is seen is eternal. So let's come back to that verse I had you turn to a few moments ago 1 Thessalonians 5:18, here it is. Paul the apostle writes "In everything give thanks for this is the will of God and Jesus Christ concerning you". We have it up on the screen right now, let's read it together. Everybody read it out loud. "In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you".
Notice it says " in everything give thanks". There are no exceptions, no excuses, nothing is outside these parameters. In fact the phrase, "in everything" in the Greek means in connection with everything that occurs. Now this of course would not be our personal sin. I wouldn't give thanks for a sin I committed, or for the repercussions I faced as a result, but I would be thankful for the other things. Here's a classic example. Think of poor Job. In a relatively short period of time, he lost everything that was precious to him. He lost his family. He lost his health, he lost his possessions. And then his own wife said, "Why don't you just curse God, and die"? Job said "You weren't saying that when you were driving the Mercedes". The thing is is that he lost it all, but yet Job gave thanks to God. Job 1:21 we read he said to the Lord, "Naked came I from my mother's womb, naked shall I return there. The Lord is given and the Lord is taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord".
Now you might say "Well, Greg my heart's not in it". It doesn't matter if your heart's not in it. This isn't about giving thanks because he's good. It's giving thanks because he's in control of your life, giving thanks because he's in control of all the circumstances surrounding your life, and listen giving thanks because he promises in Romans 8:28 that he will work all things together for good to those that love him, and are called according to his purposes. Notice that that verse tells us that we are to give thanks to him, and the other verse I alluded to says "with the fruit of your lips". You need to verbalize it.
You know I talked about saying thank you to my wife. You need to let your wife know you love her. Tell your husband you love him. Tell your children you love them. Tell your parents you love them. Listen, tell your father in heaven, you love him. When we're worshiping the Lord, don't just stand there with your mouth closed and just looking around. Give verbal praise to God. I think that's a very important thing for all of us to remember at all times, not just at Thanksgiving, but on every single day. So Job gave thanks to the Lord and we should do the same. One of my favorite stories is one of those lepers who were healed by Jesus. Now remember leprosy was an incurable disease, and if you had leprosy you were going to die. It was only a matter of time, and plus you were ostracized from the community.
In fact if you were a leper, and you were approaching someone, you had to yell out "Unclean, unclean". No one would want to be with you, so there were 10 lepers, and they came to Jesus, and they asked him to heal them, and he did, and only one returned and gave thanks. In fact, Luke 17 says "One when he saw he was healed, returned and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face, giving him thanks". Of course, Jesus said "Well where are the other nine"? Right? See, we're quick to receive the blessing from God. We're not so quick to return thanks to God. And that phrase, by the way, "loud voice," is where we get out English word, megaphone, from. So this was loud, he gave praise to God. Now we're gonna remember the Lord at the communion table, a place where we can give thanks for all that God has done for us. Let me read to you a passage, 1 Corinthians 11, the apostle Paul writes "For I pass on to you what I received from the Lord himself. On that night he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took some bread," listen "and gave thanks to God for it, then he broke it in pieces and said 'This is my body, which is given for you'".
Now think about that for a moment. On the night he was betrayed, he took some bread and gave thanks. Remember Jesus was God, which means he was omniscient, which means all knowing. Jesus knew what was coming. He already identified Judas Iscariot as his betrayer. He had already spoken on repeated occasions about the fact that he would be betrayed and he would be beaten and he would be crucified so Jesus knew what was coming, yet we read he gave thanks. You see that's what we need to do no matter what you're facing right now. We can give thanks to the Lord. How could Jesus possibly give thanks at a moment like that? Because he knew, though he was gonna face the worst pain imaginable, especially when God's wrath was poured on him as he died in our place, but he also knew what it was going to accomplish because it was gonna bring about your salvation, and it was gonna bring about my salvation. It was gonna bring about our salvation.
Hebrews 12 says "For the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross despising the shame and now is set down on the right hand of God". You might say "Greg, I don't really feel thankful". Yeah you have a lot to be thankful for. If you're a Christian, you have salvation which means your sin is forgiven. If you're Christian, you have the hope of heaven. And if you're a Christian, you have the assurance that whatever you're going through right now God is in control. So here's a way we can honor the Lord and give thanks. We need to do this in remembrance of him. Do what? We need to take that bread that is a symbol of his broken body, and we need to take that cup that is a symbol of his shed blood and we partake of those elements remembering what he did. Jesus said "Do this in remembrance of me, and as often as you drink it and eat this bread, you're announcing the Lord's death until he comes again". So we do this to remember him.
One other thing, the apostle Paul says "whoever partakes of these elements in an unworthy manner, I will eat and drink judgment to themselves". What does that mean? It means when I hold in my hand that bread, and I hold in my hand that cup, these are not sacred objects, but they represent our holy God who sent his son to make this incredible sacrifice for us. We want to do it with great reverence and respect for the Lord. As I've told you many times, communion is for believers only. And so if you're not sure if Christ is living in your heart and life, I strongly urge you to ask for his forgiveness right now, then you can receive communion with us as the family of God. In fact why don't we close in prayer and before we receive the elements together, let's pray together.
For any of you that have joined us, or are watching this, wherever you might be, if you don't know Jesus Christ in a personal way, if you're not sure that your sin is forgiven, if you don't have the confidence that you will go to heaven when you die, why don't you just pray this prayer with me right where you are? This is a prayer of asking Jesus Christ to come into your life. Pray this prayer with me, let's all pray. Just pray this out loud even. Lord Jesus, I know I'm a sinner, but I know that you're the savior who made the ultimate sacrifice for me when you died on the cross. Jesus, come into my life and be my savior and my Lord. I turn from my sin, and I choose to follow you from this moment forward in Jesus's name I pray, Amen. God bless you.