John Hagee - The Spirit of Thanksgiving
In the life of a believer, every day should be thanksgiving day. One man said to me on one occasion, he said, "Preacher, how can I be thankful: I can't pay my bills". My answer was, "If you can't pay your bills, thank God you're not one of your creditors". Thanksgiving is caught: it's not taught. Thanksgiving is not an emotion: it's a decision. Listen to this: joy is what happens to us when we allow ourselves the opportunity to recognize how good God really is. Every day comes bearing its own gifts, but you have to untie the ribbon on that package of that gift.
The spirit of thanksgiving rejoices even in the lion's den. The spirit of thanksgiving will stop the mouths of lions. The spirit of thanksgiving will climb mountains of impossibilities, saying, "If God be for us, who can be against us"? The spirit of thanksgiving will walk through the valley of the shadow to have death in absolute victory. The spirit of thanksgiving will lift your hands toward the throne of praise and grace, knowing is that God is on his throne and everything is going to be all right! Can I get a witness? Read with me Psalm 100:4 and 5. "Enter into his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise. Be thankful unto him and bless his name: for the Lord is good. His mercy is everlasting, and his truth endures to all generations.
Father God, thank you for these words from the pen of king David from the heart of God. Let us leave here today believing and practicing the wisdom of heaven in our lives. In Jesus' name, we pray. And all of God's children said, praise the Lord.
You may be seated. Thanksgiving is a direct command from God to every believer. The spirit of thanksgiving is a decision. Ever notice that negative, mean-spirited people, the whiners, the complainers, the masters of the pity pot, are never thankful? A man walked into a restaurant and yelled at the waitress, "Do you serve crabs in here"? She said, "Yes, we serve everyone. Sit down". If you go home today and the dog bites you, it's you.
During the Vietnam war, I saw a mother waiting in the train depot for her son to come home from battle. Her son was a devoted Christian. She knew that he had been injured but she didn't know how badly. She watched the soldiers getting off the train. Her eyes were searching for her only son. After everyone was off, she saw the wheelchair. And sitting in that wheelchair was her son with both arms and both legs blown off. She ran weeping and fell on his neck. She said, "My God billy, my God billy, that war has taken everything from you"! And he answered instantly. He said, "No, momma, it did not take the peace of God from my heart".
The spirit of thanksgiving is the attitude of gratitude. Thank God for the gift of your life by living it triumphantly. There comes a time in every life when quitting looks good. There comes a time in every ministry when quitting looks good. In every marriage, in every job, in every school pursuit, when the God-given task seems more grievous than you're able to bear, when the cross seems unthinkable and unbearable, when the giants seem to be invincible and innumerable, never give into fear! Never give into self-pity! Never give into the idea of quitting the project! "They that endure to the end, the same shall be saved". We are more than conquerors through Christ who saved us and who has redeemed us! We are made into the image of God! Fight the good fight! Endure! Pick up the stones and knock the giant out! The victory is ours through Christ the Lord! Give him praise in the house!
Be thankful and the walls of Jericho will fall down. Be thankful and the sun will stand still at high noon. Be thankful and the dead marriage will come back to life. Be thankful and your struggling business will have a supernatural breakthrough. Be thankful and your sick body can be well again. Be thankful and your shattered dreams will live again. Be thankful and lift your hands, and walk out of your valley. Lift your voice and praise the Lord, shouting, "Faith is the victory that overcomes the world". That's the spirit of thanksgiving. Give the Lord praise in this house. Hallelujah to the Lamb of God.
Thank God for your life by giving him your very best. Is life so wretched? Isn't it really rather your vision that's muddled and your mind is like concrete, thoroughly mixed up and firmly set? You haven't thought a new thought in a decade. Here it is. In the Bible, Jesus made it known that the people who live with the spirit of thanksgiving: that he would pour out miracles in their lives above and beyond anything that they could ask or imagine. But to the people who were filled full of bitterness, murmuring and rancor, they were severed from the supernatural power of God. You can sing "Amazing grace" and you can sing it with a snarl on your face. But until you can sing it with the joy of the Lord bubbling in your soul, it's not going to avail in the counsel of God.
In the Bible, Jesus went to the house of Mary, and she gave him her very best. She broke the alabaster box it was precious spikenard that she spilled all over his body, and into his tunic, and into his clothes. It cost her one year's wage for that split second of divine joy that she shared with Jesus. The precious ointment flowed over his body. The aroma filled the room, and there was Judas, who said, "You should have given it to the poor". Let me tell you, Judas could care less about the poor. He had been mismanaging the financial affairs of the Lord. He needed that money to make up for his accounting errors. The Judas spirit always detests generosity. The Judas spirit always detests generosity. It's sinister. It's suspicious. It's self-righteous. It's the cyanide of the soul.
Jesus looked at Judas, and said, "Leave her alone". Translation: shut up. Wherever the Gospel is preached in the world, this woman's name is going to be remembered. Jesus left Mary's house to live his last 48 hours of life on the earth. Most of the time in preaching and teaching, we teach that Jesus was alone and by himself in these very trying hours. Not so. When he was dragged into Pilate's courtyard, and the mob screamed "Crucify him," and the disciples were scattering in terror, there was that rich aroma coming out of his beard and in from his tunic that said, "Somebody loved you, Jesus, enough to do their very, very best".
And when Herod's men of war slapped him, and they spit upon him, and they thrust a crown of thorns upon his head, that rich aroma came swelling into his nostrils, and said, "Someone loved you, Jesus, enough to do their very best". And when he went to Pilate's whipping post and he received 39 stripes because that was the maximum Roman law would allow you to receive. Any more was considered a death sentence. When that Roman whip hit your back with chunks of metal in it, it ripped the flesh from the bone. Jesus looked like a slaughtered animal when he got through with that whipping. That rich aroma was in his tunic that said, "Someone loved you enough to do their very best".
At Calvary when the Roman soldiers gambled over his robe, they said this is no ordinary criminal. Look at this robe. Smell the aroma. Someone loved this man to do their very best for him. The question is: do you? Do you? Are you giving your very best to Jesus? Or are you giving him the scraps of your life, and the scraps of your finances, and the scraps of your love? Jesus demands to be first or he's not at all. "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all of these things shall be added unto you". Jesus does not stand in line for your affection. He must receive it all and receive it first, or he's not the Lord of your life. Can I hear a confirmation?
The spirit of thanksgiving reflects the presence of the Holy Spirit in you. Ephesians 5:18 and 20, listen to these words. "And be not drunk with wine wherein is excess but be filled with the Spirit". Paul then lists what Spirit-filled people do. Ephesians 5:19: "Speaking to yourselves in Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always". There is, again, say it with me. "Giving thanks always unto God the Father in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ".
What do you do when your spouse walks out the door to live with someone else? When your world is turned upside down? What do you do when the theatre of your mind is cluttered with the poison of a father that was harsh, and brutal, and loveless, and was never there for you? What do you do when you're passed over for a job you were qualified to get, because there's a Bible on your desk, but your supervisor is a Godless wretch? What do you do when the loan that you needed for your business to expand doesn't come through, and now you're facing bankruptcy because you couldn't get what you needed to make that next step? Listen. In the Bible, the one who's going through the trial is the next one in line to receive the big promotion.
If you're going through the fight of your life, if you're going through the darkest valley you've ever been through, if you're fighting the wildest lion you've ever faced, and the meanest giant you've ever seen is so close you can smell his breath, lift up your heads and rejoice! God is getting ready to give you an answer, a supernatural breakthrough, a door-smashing opportunity. Heaven is getting ready to open and bless you with blessings you can't contain! Be thankful unto him and bless his name: for the Lord is good and his mercy endureth forever! Give him praise in the house of God!
The spirit of thanksgiving is necessary to make other forms of prayer effective. Listen to this closely. Philippians 4:6, Paul writes, "Be anxious about nothing". There's that word again, "Nothing". "But in everything, by prayer and thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God". And then the text of the morning, "Enter into his gates with thanksgiving," because without thanksgiving, God's not listening to your prayer. Start your prayer time with the spirit of thanksgiving, not a series of what have you done for me lately. You are the servant: he's the master. It's not about you: it's about him. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead with a supernatural power created by thanksgiving. John 11:41 says: and Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me". He hadn't prayed yet. But God knows your thoughts even before you think them. The Bible says that. So he says, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me".
And when he had thus spoken, he cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth"! I'm sure the membership of the first church of the frozen chosen were saying, "This just can't be happening. I mean this is too extreme. It's radical. Look at what this poor man is trying to do". And then came Lazarus walking out of the tomb. And brother, the fireworks started. How did all that happen? Because the Rabbi, Jesus of Nazareth, did so with the spirit of thanksgiving.
If you need a miracle, start offering the Lord a prayer of thanksgiving. He will open the windows of heaven. Miracles still happen. Say, Lord, I thank you for the trial I'm going through. I don't understand it. I don't know why. I know you're too wise to make a mistake and too loving to be unkind. When you weep in a personal Gethsemane, and the tears are running down your face and onto your pillow, say, "Lord, I really don't know why this is happening. I'm in the darkest valley I've ever been, but I will not become bitter. I am not going to become angry. I am not going to become resentful: yet, will I praise you, the glory and the lifter of my head. Knowing that you're leading me to the greatest opportunity of my life, knowing you're getting ready to kick the door down that has restrained me from making progress: yet, will I praise you, the glory and the lifter of my head". Give him praise in the house of God.
The spirit of thanksgiving puts a seal on the blessings already received. Listen closely to this story that is most generally missed and misquoted, is the story of the ten lepers. All were healed, but only one returned to give thanks. Now most know that. This is what Jesus says, "Were there not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? They are not to be found. Only this one has returned". Now get this: the actual Greek reading of the text: and Jesus said to the one who returned, "Arise and go your way: your faith has saved you". That word "Saved" means "Saved". You have been supernaturally redeemed because you came back to thank me. Nine were healed. But one was healed and saved by the spirit of thanksgiving. Salvation is the greatest miracle, and he received it because of his thanksgiving. Do you want a double portion from God? Do you want blessings that you cannot contain? Do you want the joy of heaven just to explode into your life? Be thankful unto him and bless his name, because the Lord is good. Hallelujah to the Lamb of God. Hallelujah to the Lamb of God.
I say this in closing. The opposite of thanksgiving is murmuring. The Bible is a perfect book of balance and logic. It's like a gyroscope. It is perfectly balanced. For every point, there is a counter point. And you must understand both before you can appreciate either. The opposite of thanksgiving is murmuring. Murmuring is actually complaining. That's our word for it. Complaining always brings the wrath and judgment of God in the Bible. In ancient Israel, whenever they complained, God sent snakes to bite the complainers. Just imagine the floor of this sanctuary covered by diamondback rattlesnakes. And the only ones who are going to be bit were those who have complained this week. What is your chance of getting out of here? Murmuring is the devil's theme song. Murmuring is a denunciation that you have the confidence that God is going to be your provider.
Philippians 2:14, Paul writes, "Do all things without murmuring", that's complaining, "Do all things without complaining and disputing". Say that with me. "Do all things without complaining and disputing". Jude 14 and 16, "Behold the Lord comes with ten thousand of his saints to execute judgment upon the earth, and to convince all who are ungodly of their ungodly deeds. These are murmurers and complainers walking after their own lust". He doesn't mention murderers, and rapists, and bank robbers, and the IRS. He mentions murmurers, complainers. They're on God's judgment list. And that describes a lot of people in the body of Christ.
You say, "Well, I only did it for 15 minutes". But out of 20, that's most of the time. You spend your leisure remembering the bitter past. In the theatre of your minds, there are scenes of rejection you just won't let go. They've been there for 40 years. Get over it! Don't see yourself as abused. 99.9% of the world would be glad to change places with you right now! Don't reject the spirit of thanksgiving. Don't allow murmuring and complaining to become a way of life. Listen to saint Paul, who was beaten with 39 stripes, who was stoned and left for dead, who was falsely imprisoned, who was bitten by a deadly viper that was supposed to kill him in a matter of seconds. He was shipwrecked. He was left for dead by the church, and he lifts his pen to parchment, and said, "These light afflictions are not worthy to be compared to the glory that God has for the servants of the Lord".
Wow. Brother, if that's light afflictions, I'd hate to hear a heavy one. We murmur about our homes, the carpets that don't match the drapes. Tonight millions of people are going to sleep in a cardboard box in the freezing cold around the world. We complain about we don't have enough. While I'm preaching, thousands of children around the world right now are starving to death because they don't have enough to eat. Think about that.
The Chicago tribune carried the story of a child in the ghetto. The child was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with double pneumonia. Her home had no heat and there were no blankets. The nurse brought her a glass of milk. And the ten-year-old girl asked, "How deeply can I drink"? And the nurse said, "What do you mean"? She said, "Well in my home, no one can have a whole glass of milk. And my dad marks a line on the glass where we can drink. And we have to stop drinking there. How deeply can I drink"?
I often wonder: have we become so blessed: we don't know how to be thankful? Are we so pampered and privileged, we can't grasp the simple things that God has given us? Have we rejected the spirit of thanksgiving? Then walk into the halls of any hospital. There are people who are your age, who will never see another day without pain. Their eyes will never see another sunset. Their twisted limbs are beyond medical repair. Their minds have snapped beneath the pressure of life. And look up and say, "Thank you, God, I have all of the health and all of the blessings of God".
So I want us to put all of this theology now to practice. And I want to spend the next few moments just to lift your hands and thank God for the good things that God has given you. Open your mouth and talk to him like your father, and thank him for your health, for your healing, for your financial provision, for all the blessings of life.
Father God, we thank you today for your goodness. Open your mouth and talk to the Lord. Let him hear the sound of your voice. I thank you father. I worship you Lord. Thank you for your goodness. Thank you for your mercy. Thank you for forgiving me of my sin. Thank you for healing my body. Thank you for restoring my marriage. Thank you for opening the door of business opportunity that's going to give me a destiny that I did not believe I would ever have. Thank you, because even though it's the darkest day I've ever lived: I believe I'm coming out on the other side with more than I've ever had, because God has never forsaken me, not ever. Thank you Lord. Thank you Lord. Thank you Lord.