BEING TRULY THANKFUL

Pastor James J. Barker

Text: II CORINTHIANS 9:5-9




INTRODUCTION:


1.     This being Thanksgiving weekend, I would like to speak this morning on the subject of thankfulness.

2.     The word “thanks” is found 73 times in our King James Bible.

3.     The first time we see the word “thanks” it is from the lips of King David. “Therefore I will give thanks unto thee, O LORD, among the heathen, and I will sing praises unto thy name” (II Samuel 22:50).

4.     David said in I Chronicles 16:7 and 8, “Then on that day David delivered first this psalm to thank the LORD into the hand of Asaph and his brethren.  Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people.”

5.     In fact, the word “thanks” is found four times in this chapter (I Chron. 16:8, 34, 35, 41).

6.     The word “thankful” is found three times.  Psalm 100:4 says, “be thankful unto him, and bless his name.”

7.     Colossians 3:15 says, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.”

8.     The word “thanksgiving” is found 28 times in the Bible (cf. II Cor. 9:11, 12, 15).

9.     I would like to speak this morning on what it really means to be thankful.  If a Christian is truly thankful, he or she will be faithful in giving to the Lord’s work (cf. II Cor. 8:8, 9).

 

I. FIRST, WE MUST GIVE OURSELVES TO THE LORD (II COR. 8:1-5).

1.     Perhaps there is someone here this morning that is not saved.  Though you cannot thank God for your salvation, you still have much to be thankful for (life, health, food, job, home, family, etc.)

2.     Furthermore, you can be thankful that you are here this morning and you have the opportunity to be saved.

3.     So before I go any further, allow me to emphasize that first you must give yourself to the Lord.  Salvation must come first.

4.     Second Corinthians, chapters 8 and 9 deal with the important subject of Christian giving.    I want to emphasize – “Christian giving.”  If you are not saved, you need to get saved first. 

5.     Second Corinthians 8 & 9 summarize the basic NT principles regarding the doctrine of stewardship.

6.     Perhaps there are some here today that are unfamiliar with the doctrine of stewardship.  Allow me to explain.

7.     A steward is a servant in charge of property belonging to his master.   This building belongs to God.  It is His house.  We are stewards.  It is our responsibility to take care of it (and try to fill it up!)

8.     Let me illustrate: Eliezer was the steward in charge of Abraham’s house (Gen. 15:2).

9.     Another example: In the parable of the unjust steward, the “certain rich man” represents God (Luke 16:1).

10. The steward represents you and me (Luke 16:1, 2).  “Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful” (I Cor. 4:2).

11. Our Lord says in Luke 16:10, “He that is faithful in that which is least (money) is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least (money) is unjust also in much” (cf. Luke 16:11, 13).

12. Stewardship covers more than just money though the parable in Luke 16 deals with money.  We will have to give an account to God with what we do with our time as well as our treasure. 

13. This brings us back to II Corinthians 8.  The Bible says they, “first gave their own selves to the Lord” (8:5).  

14. Here in II Corinthians 8, the apostle Paul is commending the churches in Macedonia for their generous giving.   They were “liberal” in their giving (8:2), even giving beyond their ability (“power”) (8:3).   They were very poor (II Cor. 8:2).

15. This reminds us of what our Lord said about the poor widow and her two mites (cf. Mark 12:41-44).  Our Lord does not measure our giving by how much we give, but by how much we keep for ourselves.

16. For example, you may put $500 in the offering basket for “Sacrificial Sunday,” and that truly would be a big sacrifice.  But some big-shot like Donald Trump could contribute $500 and he wouldn’t even miss it. 

17. The lesson of the widow and her two mites is this: it is not what you give; it is how much you keep for yourself.

18. The secret to generous giving is found in II Cor. 8:5.  They first gave themselves to the Lord (8:5).

19. Interestingly, the only churches of Macedonia that we know anything about are the churches in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea.   These churches are mentioned in the NT as churches that were strong, soulwinning churches. 

20. They also gave generously to the work of God (cf. Phil. 4:15-19).

21. Returning to II Corinthians, note the word “grace” (II Cor. 8:1, 6, 7, 9, 19; 9:8, 14).

22. My theme this morning is being thankful to God.  The word “grace” reminds us how much we owe to God.   We owe our salvation to the grace of God.

23. We ought to be thankful.  How do you say “thank you” in Spanish?  Gracias. 

24. The church owes its existence to the grace of God.  God has freely, and graciously given so much to us.  He has literally poured out His blessings upon us. Therefore, freely we should give of ourselves to Him.

25. One preacher put it this way, “Giving should be the overflow of a heart moved to its depths by the unstinted grace of God” (John Phillips, Exploring II Corinthians).

 

II. GIVING OUR TITHES & OFFERINGS (I COR. 16:1; II COR. 9:6, 7).

1.    The Bible has a lot to say about money.  One Baptist preacher studied this doctrine carefully and this is what he discovered:

·        One verse in four in Matthew, Mark, and Luke deal with money.

·        One verse in six in the rest of the NT.

·        Our Lord gave us 38 parables.  Out of these 38 parables, 16 deal with money or the sin of covetousness.

2.    Our Lord had much to say about money, and so did the apostle Paul (cf. I Tim. 6:6-11).

3.    Not long after I was saved I learned about tithing.  Growing up RC I knew nothing about tithing because most RC’s do not tithe. 

4.    Not long after I was saved, I also learned that there is some debate among Christians regarding tithes and offerings.  Some insist that since tithing was part of the law, it is no longer binding for Christians in this dispensation of grace. 

5.    Well, there was no debate for me!  I quickly became convinced that Christians should give at least ten percent of their gross income to God’s work.

6.    My view is this: first of all, tithing certainly is taught throughout the OT (cf. Lev. 27:30-32; Malachi 3:8-10).  There is no debate about that.

7.    Secondly, tithing was instituted before God gave the law to Moses.  For example, the Bible tells us that Abraham tithed, and so did Jacob.

8.    Furthermore, nowhere in the NT are we told that God wants believers to discontinue the practice of tithing in this dispensation.  Certainly, God wants us to give generously (cf. Luke 6:38; Acts 20:35; II Cor. 9:6, 7).

9.    After careful study I am convinced that the Christian should give more in this dispensation of grace than the Jew gave under the law.  If you have doubts about this, let me encourage you to study the doctrine of grace.

 

III. SUPPORTING MISSIONS

1.     Time is flying by, and I would like to say a few words about the Christian’s responsibility and privilege to support missions.

2.     Let us consider the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15, 16).  We are to “go into all the world” (Mark 16:15). 

3.     That would be physically impossible to do.  Even the greatest missionaries and evangelists and preachers and soulwinners cannot possibly preach the Gospel to every creature.

4.     But we can get the Gospel out all over the world through giving to missions.  Beloved, this is God’s plan for world evangelism.

5.     If you have not been contributing to missions, let me encourage you to do so.  If you have been faithfully giving, let me encourage you to give more as the Lord directs you.

 

CONCLUSION:

1.    In my opinion, one of the greatest Christians who ever lived was an Englishman named Charles Gordon.   General Charles Gordon was born near London, England in 1833. 

2.    General Gordon distinguished himself as a great soldier during the Crimean War (1853-56), and then he volunteered to join the British forces in China. He was present during the occupation of Peking in 1860 and defended Shanghai during the Taiping Rebellion. 

3.    He returned to England in 1865, where an enthusiastic public had already dubbed him “Chinese Gordon.” When the British government tried to reward him for his magnificent service in China, General Gordon declined all money and titles, but did accept a gold medal on which his name and a record of his 33 engagements were inscribed.

4.    In 1885, General Gordon was killed and beheaded by Muslim rebels in the Sudan.  After he was killed, the medal could not be found.  Finally it was discovered that he had sent it to Manchester during a famine, with a request that it be melted and used to buy bread for the poor.  In his diary he recorded that the medal was the only earthly thing he valued and that he had given it over to the Lord Jesus Christ.

5.    Oh, if we only had more Christians like General Gordon today!



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