Thoughts on Thanksgiving


November 23, 2014

This morning I want to preach on the subject of Thanksgiving. Of course, this Thursday is when we celebrate Thanksgiving. When you study the subject of thanksgiving in the Bible, the word 'thanksgiving' is used about 30 times, and then just other variations of thankful or being thankful or giving thanks are used about 140-some times. This is a pretty big subject in the Bible, but the first thing that I want to emphasize this morning is the fact that our thanksgiving needs to be directed toward God. A lot of people will celebrate Thanksgiving and they'll even just talk about being thankful, but it's just in a vague kind of way, just being thank ... "I'm just thankful for what I have." But who are you thankful to?

Our thanks needs to be to God because the Bible says, "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and cometh down from the Father of lights with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." We need to be thankful unto God. This holiday is one that has been perverted in recent years into being a commercial activity of getting excited about going out and buying things instead of just being thankful for what we have. In fact, it's the opposite of what Thanksgiving is supposed to be. Thanksgiving is supposed to be about us being thankful for what God has already given us, but most people are spending this week lusting after that which they do not have.

Because every store that I went to over the past couple of days was just putting stuff into my hand. "Black Friday, Black Friday, here's for the Black Friday, Black Friday. Did I give you this Black Friday flyer?" I don't want your Black Friday flyer, because I'm already thankful for what I have. I don't need to sit there and be told all the things that I can camp out and line up for. It is a stupid holiday, this stupid Black Friday. By the way, it didn't even exist when I was a kid. It did not exist. Who remembers the first time? How far back can you remember somebody talking about Black Friday? Tell me the oldest. When do you remember it?

Audience: Ten years ago?

Pastor Anderson: About ten years ago. That's about when I remember it. I remember I used to do fire alarm systems in department stores, and someone mentioned to me, "Oh, you know, that's our biggest day of the year, and in the industry we know it as Black Friday." I heard that about 10, 12 years, but you'd never heard it in public yet. But now it's the public thing of just ... Now they're starting to do it on Thanksgiving itself where the stores are already opening on Thanksgiving, and all the deals, and the Black Friday, and the Cyber Monday, and Fat Tuesday, and Ash Wednesday, and whatever else stupid things. But I'm telling you something. I refuse to even leave my house on Black Friday. You want to know where to find me on Black Friday, I'll be at home, because I'm not going to go out and participate in this because it doesn't have anything to do with the Lord.

It doesn't have anything to do with thanking God anymore. It's just now turkey day. People will actually ... It's not turkey day. It's Thanksgiving. They say, "Oh, turkey day and then Black Friday and, oh, we'll get the Xbox, and the Play Station, and the Nintendo entertainment system" and whatever. I might be outdated on these, but you know. Let's just say there's nothing new under the sun. Maybe the graphics are a little more crisp, but it's pretty much the same thing. Who are we to be thankful to? God. Our emphasis this week should be on the Lord and thanking God for all the things that He's done for us. Let me just give you a few scriptures.

I don't have time to give you all the scriptures, but just in glancing through Romans and I and II Corinthians alone, let alone the whole rest of the Bible, listen to these scriptures on who we should be thanking. I'm just going to blow through these phrases. Romans 1:8, "First I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all." Romans 6:17, "But God be thanked." Romans 7:25, "I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 14:6, "He giveth God thanks." Later in the same verse it says, "He giveth God thanks." I Corinthians 1:4, "I thank my God always." I Corinthians 1:14, "I thank God."

I Corinthians 14:18, "I thank my God," 15:57, "Thanks be to God." II Corinthians 2:14, "Thanks be unto God." II Corinthians 4:15, "For all things are for your sakes that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God," 8:16, "But thanks be to God." II Corinthians 9:11, "Thanksgiving to God." II Corinthians 9:12, "Thanksgivings unto God," over and over again. II Corinthians 9:15, "Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift." Look, over and over in the Bible the vast majority of the time that thanks or thanksgiving is mentioned, it's always directed toward God. That's who we ought to be thanking this Thursday, and He needs to get all of the glory. That's where our thanksgiving should be directed.

That's why I had you read in Revelation 7, because it says in first 12, saying, "Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen." Let's talk about some things to be thankful for. Go to I Timothy, chapter 4. I Timothy, chapter 4, the first thing that we should be thankful for is that we have an abundance of good food. Now that's actually what the original idea behind Thanksgiving was in the first place. They were being thankful for their food, that they had sustenance, and that they were able to survive and have good food to eat.

Now as you look through the life and the ministry of Jesus Christ, one thing that you'll see Jesus doing over and over again is thanking the Father for His food, over and over again. I'll just read you a few while you're turning to I Timothy 4. Matthew 15:36, "He took the seven loaves and the fishes and gave thanks, and brake them, and gave to His disciples, and the disciples to the multitude," 26:27, "He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, drink ye all of it." Mark 8:6, "He commanded the people to sit down on the ground. He took the seven loaves and gave thanks and brake, and gave to His disciples," et cetera.

Mark 14:23, "He took the cup, and when He had given thanks, He gave it to them, and they all drank of it." Do you notice this pattern of just constantly when Jesus is partaking of food with the disciples, with the multitudes, He always gives thanks when He's eating His food or when He's drinking a beverage. This is where the custom comes from to pray before you eat and give thanks unto the Lord for your food. Now a lot of people will attack traditions that are actually good traditions, and here's the thing. Traditions are bad if they contradict God's word. The Bible talks about making the word of God void through your tradition. But some people today are going too far and they just want to attack all tradition, throw out all tradition.

The Bible says to, "Mark those that walk disorderly and not after the tradition which you received of us." There are good traditions that should be kept. A tradition is just something that's passed down, a custom that's passed down, and we need to stop just throwing out every tradition in America today, as though, "Just get rid of all ... All tradition's bad." No, that's false. Tradition is good. People will say these blanket, "Oh, religion's bad." No, religion's not bad. "Pure 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."

No, religion is not bad. No, tradition is not bad. Are there bad religions? Yes, but there are good traditions and we need to not throw out good traditions. Some people will even say, "Oh, praying and thanking God for your food, that's just a vain repetition." No, it isn't. It's something that Jesus did over and over again. Now obviously we should not mindlessly or robotically say, "(makes sounds), amen." But we should from the heart give thanks unto God before we partake of a meal, because it's what Jesus did over and over again, and thank God for our food, and actually mean it from our heart. More and more, Luke 22:17, "He took the cup and gave thanks and said, take this and divide it among yourselves." Verse 19, He took bread and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them saying, this is my body which is given for you. This do in remembrance of me."

John 6:11, "Jesus took the loaves, and when He had given thanks He distributed to the disciples." Why is the Bible so careful to keep mentioning the fact that Jesus gave thanks over and over again when He's partaking of food or serving food? Verse 23 He said, "Howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks." I mean that's interesting because not only does it record Jesus giving thanks before they eat the food, then a verses later it refers back to that. Oh yeah, remember, that's when they ate, right after Jesus had given thanks. It's bringing up the same thanksgiving again to emphasize it, to make a point.

I Corinthians 11:24, "When he had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat. This is my body, which is broken for you. This do in remembrance of me." In Acts 27 when the apostle Paul is breaking bread with the men on the ship where he is a prisoner, it says in verse 35, "When he had thus spoken, he took bread and gave thanks to God in the presence of them all." Here he is publicly giving thanks for the food that they're about to partake of, and when he had broken it, he began to eat. Giving thanks before we eat is something that is biblical. It's a tradition that has been passed down to us in America by people who had read these verses in the Bible and made a decision, "Hey, we're going to give thanks before we eat our food."

They want to throw out traditions. A lot of people will tell us this week, "Oh, don't celebrate Thanksgiving. It's pagan." Everything is pagan under these people. If it's round, oh, circles are pagan. Spirals are pagan. Triangles are pagan. Squares are pagan. Rectangles are pagan. Octa ... Everything's pagan. Unto the pure, all things are pure, but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure, but even their hearts and conscience are defiled. Let me tell you something. A lot of this stuff is coming from the Jews and the Judaizers. That's where it comes from. If you look at the people who today want to attack Thanksgiving and attack Christmas, it's because they want to replace those holidays with a bunch of Jewish holidays that God told us not to celebrate.

They want us to blow a trumpet at the new moon. They want us to celebrate these Old Testament feast days that we've been commanded in the New Testament that we should not observe those things, according to the books of Galatians and Colossians. We are being duped by a bunch of Jews and Judaizers that want us to start talking about the Shabbat and Shalom, and put on a rug over our head, and pray, and blow a shofar, and all this garbage. No, we are Christians, not Jews, and we're not Judeo-Christian. The Bible says, "Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ. He's antichrist." It doesn't say he's half Christian.

He's 80% Christian because 80% of the Bible's the Old Testament, and he believes the Old Testament. People think, "Oh, there are, [no sinners 00:11:23]." There's just one thing they got wrong, not believing in Jesus. Let me tell you something. If you get that wrong, everything's wrong. I mean if you get the Messiah wrong, if you get Jesus wrong, if you get salvation wrong, what does a man profit if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul? I mean if you don't believe in Jesus, and look, let's not mince words, let's not play games this morning, it says, "Who is a liar but he that believeth not that Jesus is the Christ. He's antichrist."

Why would I join together with all the antichrists and celebrate their holidays? Oh, Mr. Antichrist Rabbi, will you show me holidays that I can celebrate instead of Thanksgiving and Christmas? Why would I go to some antichrist Jew to teach me holidays? Not interested. I'm a Christian, not a Jew. What we need to understand is that Thanksgiving is a wholesome holiday. Now if you don't want to celebrate Thanksgiving, don't celebrate Thanksgiving. I'm not going to force you to celebrate Thanksgiving, and I'm not going to impose that tradition upon you. Let's say you're from another country or you just don't like turkey or whatever, that's fine.

But you know where I have a problem with it, is when you're going to come to me and start rebuking Thanksgiving to me, when there's nothing wrong with it. The Bible talks about teaching for doctrines the commandments of men, and there's nothing in the Bible that forbids us to eat turkey with stuffing, cranberry sauce, and to be thankful to God. Look, what could be more biblical than Thanking God? What could be more biblical than being thankful unto the Lord, when we have 30 verses that actually use the word 'thanksgiving' itself, all the other verses that just talk about being thankful and giving thanks? You say, "Yeah, but you know, where did the Bible tell you to set aside the third Thursday in November?"

Here's what the Bible said, "One man esteemeth one day above another, and another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind." God has given us the liberty and the freedom that if we want to set aside a day, and observe that day, and esteem that day, it doesn't have to come from the book of Leviticus, my friend. We can choose a day, and esteem that day, and exalt that day, and say, "Hey, this is the day that we celebrate Thanksgiving unto the Lord," or "This is the day that we celebrate the birth of Christ," or "This is the day that we celebrate" whatever. The Bible says not to judge people for observing that day and not to judge people for not observing that day.

Now if we did something sinful or pagan on that day, then you'd have something right to say. If we offered a burnt offering of a black cat and then stuffed it with stuffing, then you'd have a point maybe. Or if we sat there and dressed up like demons and goblins, OK, then you'd have a point that we're doing something wrong. Or if we started praising other gods and naming the name of other gods, then you'd have a point. But you know what? When we get together with our family and carve a turkey, and eat a bunch of bountiful goodness, and give thanks unto the Lord and say, "You know what? Today we're just going to be thankful for what God has done for us and God has given us," anyone who condemns that has a problem in their own heart and their own conscience, to just condemn the guiltless.

The Bible says, "If you would know what that meaneth," from the Old Testament, he said, "You would not have condemned the guiltless." People today want to condemn good traditions and good holidays like thanking God before you eat your food or like celebrating the holiday of Thanksgiving as an American tradition. Go to I Timothy 4 [while I turn 00:15:01] and look at verse 3. It says, "Forbidding to marry and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth, for every creature of God is good," talking about the animals, "and nothing to be refused if it be received with thanksgiving, for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer."

Thanksgiving is very biblical in a context of our food. Receive your food with thanksgiving. By the way, all meats, he says, all creatures of God may be received. That includes pork. That includes all the other ... Somebody talked to me the other day about, "Oh, you know, you guys shouldn't eat a coyote." I said, "A coyote is a dog." No, I don't want to eat dog meat, all right? That's where I draw the line. I'm not going to eat cats and dogs. I'll eat exotic ostriches, and elks, and whatever, but don't talk to me about coyote meat. I told my wife, I said, "Well, I would eat javelina." Then she told me that javelina is a giant rodent, but I thought that it was a pig. Apparently, it's not a pig, so now I'm starting to rethink my stance on javelina.

Either way, you know what? It's not unbiblical to eat a coyote. It's not unbiblical. The Bible says you can eat all kinds of meats. Look, I'm standing up to the Judaizers, my friend. I'm not going to go hide from them. Take me on, Judaizers. Take me on, Hebrew roots movement. OK, I'm sick of it. We need to be Christians and focus on what the Bible teaches us in the New Testament and not be dragged back underneath the carnal ordinances of the Old Testament, which are not imposed in the New Testament. Number one, we should be thankful for our food, but number two, we should be thankful our friends, our Christian friends, and our church, because it's a great blessing to have Christian friends and a great local church to go to where we can fellowship with one another.

Go to Ephesians, chapter 1, and I'll give you a few scriptures on this. The apostle Paul is constantly giving thanks for the people that he writes his letters to. He says in Philippians 1:3, "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you." In II Thessalonians 1:3 he says, "We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet because that your faith groweth exceedingly and the charity of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth," and many other verses. The apostle Paul is constantly thanking the Lord for godly people that he can have a relationship with, that he can have fellowship with. He's constantly listing people at the end of his letters, especially at the end of Romans. He lists person, after person, after person.

He talks about how he's praying for those people, he's thankful for those people, and he says, "Man, I'm just so thankful to God just for your charity, for your holiness, for your godliness." I'm thankful to God to be able to come to a church where we have a lot of righteous, godly, holy ... We're all sinners, but you know what? It's a church of people that love the Lord though, and that's a blessing. Wouldn't you hate to come to church and everybody's carnal, everybody's unspiritual, nobody has any interest in the Bible or the things of God or winning souls to Christ? It's a blessing to have people that we can come, and talk to, and spend time with where iron can sharpen iron, and where if we want to get together on Thanksgiving, we can have people to get together with that are like-minded.

It's a huge blessing. I know that in my spiritual life, it helps me to come to church. Sometimes I'll start to feel a little bit discouraged and things, and you start to get a bad attitude, and you come to church and you walk out with a totally different attitude. I'm sure you could probably think of the same time, same thing in your life, times that have been like that where church encourages you and church builds you up and edifies you. In Ephesians 1, verse 16, Paul said that he ceases not. He said, "I cease not to give thanks for you." Let's start in verse 15.

It says, "Wherefore I also after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and love unto all the saints cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers." Now go over to chapter 4, verse 8. The Bible says in chapter 4, verse 8 about the Lord, it says, "He gave some apostles, he gave some prophets, and some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ." Look, it's just good to have a church where people are here to teach us, and preach to us, and basically we can just have fellowship with another, and the mailman's trying to deliver mail to our church on Sunday during a service. I don't know what that's about, but we need to understand that the church is not something that we should take for granted.

We shouldn't take it for granted. I mean we should just realize that, you know what, other people live in places where they don't have a church like this. For example, people in foreign countries especially. A lot of countries in this world are in spiritual darkness today, and there are very few that have not bowed the knee to Bael in these countries. We need to understand that it's a blessing to live in America where at least we have an abundance of churches to choose from, where there are a lot more Christians than in certain other parts of the world where it's difficult to even find a Baptist church let alone the Baptist church you want to go to.

I mean at least here today when people say, "Oh, I can't find a good church in my area, there's still 50 Baptist churches, just they don't fit the exact mold of what they're looking for. Obviously, some churches are better than others but, honestly, we should be thankful that not only do we have an abundance of Baptist churches, an abundance of Bible believing Christian churches to choose from, but not only that, Faithful Word Baptist Church is filled with a lot of people that are really zealous for serving God. That's just great because it helps motivate us and helps us to be better Christians, because if we were around a bunch of lame, lukewarm Christians, we would begin to be lame and lukewarm.

If we get around people that are fired up and zealous, it gets us fired up and zealous. We ought to thank God for the individual people in the church, by name. Paul didn't just vaguely, "I just thank God for all of you." He said, "Making mention of you in my prayers," and he also talked about making mention of people by name and greeting the friends by name. We ought to just say, "You know what? Thank you, God, for so-and-so. He's a zealous Christian. He's a good influence on me, and thank you for this godly lady that's a good example unto me and a great soul," and different things. We should just give thanks, not only for our food, but also give thanks for our friends and notably give thanks for our church.

By the way, you say, "Do you have a lot of friends?" These are my friends. I mean the people that you're going to have the most in common with are going to be the people at your church because of the fact that you believe the same on the most important things. You look at a high school today, and people group into different groups and factions. Usually it's based on the way they dress or the music that they listen to, but that's a pretty shallow way to group each other. You'll have the rockers, the skaters, the Goth, the emo is the new thing. They didn't have emo when I was a kid. I think they just called it being a fag.

No, I'm just kidding, but I don't remember ... I never heard about emo when I was a kid. They have the skater, the rocker. Then there's like the country-western. Then there's like the ... What else is there? The rapper, the jock, the ...I don't know, how do you characterize the girls? The Gothic ones who cut themselves. Then there's the ... Nobody wants to say anything about the girls, huh? All right, back to the guys. Yeah, the guys, the jocks and the skaters. That's a shallow way though to group yourself. That's why a lot of those friendships haven't really lasted into adulthood. Facebook is like the last vestige of that relationship, if they haven't already blocked you or whatever.

The friendships that we form in the local church are based on something much deeper than that, because it's based on our most important ... I mean what's more important to us, our style or the Lord Jesus Christ that we believe in? We are actually forming bonds and friendships based on the thing that is nearest and dearest to our heart, the word of God. That's a friendship that can last for a long time, and it's built on a rock, not on the shifting sands of, "Oh, wait a minute, you're country-western now? You used to be a skater. You used to be into rock. Now it's rap? What's going on? You've betrayed our friendship?"

Obviously, Christianity and the word of God is something that is a much deeper basis to have a connection with another person. We ought to thank God for our friends and our church. Not only that, we should be thankful for our job. Go to Deuteronomy chapter number 8. We should be thankful for our job. You say, "Our job, what does that have to do with God? I mean we go and we work and earn it ourselves. That's not really God giving us anything." I know God gave us pastors and teachers. He gave us friends in the local church. I know that God makes sure that we have food to eat, but actually when we think about our job and we think about the money that we earn, it's really God that gives us the power to earn the money that we earn.

A lot of people who have successful jobs, they don't give God the glory for it, people who have successful jobs. Some people in our church have more successful jobs than others or maybe some people really like their job. Other people might not like their job so much. But people who are really successful in business sometimes can have a tendency to get puffed up and to think, "Wow, I am really talented. I'm really succeeding well." Let's look what the Bible says in Deuteronomy chapter 8, verse 10. It says, "When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the Lord thy God for the good land which he hath given thee. Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God."

He says that when things are going really well for us, there's a tendency to forget God. When we're doing terrible, when we don't have any food to eat, when we don't have a job, when everything's falling apart, it's pretty easy to remember God and pray and beg Him to help us, but when things go good, he said, "Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God in not keeping His commandments, and His judgments, and His statutes, which I command thee this day, lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein, and when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied, then thine heart be lifted up."

What's that talking about? Pride. When your heart is lifted up, he's saying your prideful, "and thou forget the Lord thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, who led thee through the great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, and where there was no water, who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint, who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, and that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end." Now watch this verse 17, "And thou say in thine heart, 'My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth.'

"You know why I have the money that I have? It's because I worked hard, and because I was smart, and because I made the right decisions, and that's why I'm doing so well." He says in verse 18, "But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God, for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day." What is that saying? That we might go out and work our fingers to the bone, and we might get up early and stay up late, and we might strive, and work, and stay up all night, and skip this and skip that, and work hard, but we can't at the end of the day just take credit and say, "You know what? I did all this myself," because you know what? It's God that gives you the power to get wealth.

First of all, it's God who gives you the cunning, and the wisdom, and the skill to be able to do a skilled job. If you do an unskilled job, you're not going to make a lot of money. In order to make a lot of money, you have to do a skilled job, and guess where that skill comes from? The Lord gave you the brain and the skill to do those things. Also, in order to succeed at work, most jobs, you're going to need to have some physical power, some physical might. Most jobs at least have somewhat of a physical component to them, unless you're just working at a desk the whole day. Then it's a lot of brain power that you need, but most jobs include some kind of a physical component or physical activity.

God gives you that strength. There are people today that don't have the strength and don't have the mental capacity. No matter how hard they try, they're not going to be able to succeed at work because of the fact [inaudible 00:28:03]. They are handicapped or they are mentally ill or they are mentally handicapped or whatever. We should just thank God that He gave us the discipline, that He gave us the upbringing, because a lot of it comes from our upbringing, if we're able to succeed at work. Then at that point, we should thank God for our parents, because if you succeed at work, I guarantee you, you probably had parents that brought you up to work or at least taught you something about work, and obeying authority, and doing a good job, and being thorough.

At that point, you ought to be thankful for your parents, thank God for physical health, thank God for mental ability and talent that He has given us. God gives us talent. God gives us skills and abilities. The question is, do you give God the glory or do you become lifted up in your own heart and just say, "Oh man, I'm so good at this. Wow, I make this look easy." But God hates pride and arrogance. He hates it. It makes Him angry. We've got to be humble and say, "You know what? Whatever success I have, God allowed me to get that success. God gave me the strength, God gave me the wisdom, God gave me the ability, God gave me the opportunities. God put these things in my path. God gave me the upbringing and the discipline."

There are a lot of people who are very talented and very skilled. They didn't get the discipline. They didn't get the upbringing, and they're not going to succeed because even though they have all this great talent and energy, it's not being channeled in the right way because it just goes toward just playing, and having fun, and being irresponsible, because they didn't get the discipline and the upbringing. If you are succeeding at your job, God needs to get the glory, and you need to be thankful for all the blessings that you've received. Not only should we be thankful for our food, thankful for our friends and our church, we should be thankful for our job, our livelihood that puts food on the table.

Lastly of course, we should be thankful for our salvation. The Bible says in II Corinthians 9:15, "Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift." What's that saying? Words cannot even describe how great of a gift eternal life is. When you stop and think about what salvation is and be thankful for it, it becomes unspeakable, because you stop and think, not only are we going to heaven ... That is a thing that comes to mind, hey, we're going to heaven. That's great in and of itself, just to be going to such a wonderful place as heaven. That's great, and the fact that we're going to live forever. Bill Gates would pay any price to live forever.

These wealthy men of the world, the Rothchilds, the Rockefellers, all of the different bankers, and the entrepreneurs, and the millionaires, and the billionaires, they would pay any price in order to live forever in a perfect price. We're going to live forever in a perfect place. I mean that's a huge blessing, just to have immortality, to be able to live forever. But not only that, our sins are forgiven. I mean what a blessing. Not only do we get to go to this wonderful place, heaven, not only do we get to live forever, that's already fantastic, but we also have all of our sins forgiven, because what about this? What if we went to heaven and we lived forever, but God always hung our sins over our head, and we never could live it down, and there was always this dark cloud of all the guilty things that we've done, and we'd always have that there just reminding us of our [guilt 00:31:32]?

You know what? The Bible says that not only do we have eternal life, but that our sins are forgiven and God said, "As far as the east is from the west, so far has God separated us from our sins." Not only has God forgiven all of our sins, meaning that we're not going to have to stand before God and get a dressing down for our sins ... Now He'll punish up in this life. He'll take care of us, and chasten us, and chastise us in this life, but when we get to heaven, it will not be mentioned unto us. Praise God. Thank God for the forgiveness of our sins. But not only the forgiveness of sins. The Bible says that the righteousness of Jesus Christ has been imputed unto us.

Not only did God take our sins and remove them from us, separate us from our sins as far as the east is from the west, give us forgiveness, He also took the righteousness of Jesus and imputed it unto His, and we are clothed in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul said, "Be found in Him, not having my own righteousness which is of the law," meaning if he had obeyed all of God's laws perfectly. He said, "Not having my own righteousness which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith." The Bible says that our sins will not be imputed unto us. "Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin."

Then it also says that God imputed the righteousness of Jesus unto us. When we get to heaven, the Bible talks about how God's going to give us a white robe. We're all going to be given a white robe. He says white robes were given unto every one of them. That white robe is that robe of righteousness that goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve sinned against the Lord and they made those fig leaf aprons that were not an adequate covering, God made them coats of skins from the lamb. That basically was a covering unto them. That robe of righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ is something to be thankful for, that not only are we just seen as neutral in God's eyes, God took away all the sins and we're just at a neutral point, but also the righteousness of Jesus Christ has been imputed to us.

We are seen as righteous in God's sight. That's a huge blessing. By the way, the modern bibles corrupt this. In Revelation where it talks about the fine white linen is the righteousness of saints, which what's the righteousness of saints? It's the righteousness of Jesus that's been imputed unto us. Paul said, "It's not my own righteousness. It's through the faith of Christ." But the new versions will change this to the righteous deeds of the saints, the righteous act, so their robe of righteousness is basically putting on all your good works. Basically, you know what they're putting on? A filthy rag.

They're putting on a ... I mean they're being handed a filthy rag. "Oh, it's the righteous deeds of saints." They put on that filthy rag. We are going to put on a spotless, gleaming white linen garment that is the righteousness of saints, that is imputed unto them by the Lord Jesus Christ by faith in Jesus alone, not a filthy rag that they would put on, oh, all the righteous acts and the righteous deeds. That's not going to do it, my friend. The Bible tells that parable about the great wedding feast. One man there doesn't have a wedding garment, and he's cast out into outer darkness. You have to have that robe of righteousness. You have to have that covering for your sin.

You must have the righteousness of Jesus Christ imputed unto you in order to be saved, because if you don't, you'll be cast out. By the way, invited to that wedding feast, the Bible says were people that were good and bad. Good and bad. Who was thrown out? Did they throw out the bad people? Nope. They threw out the guy who didn't have the wedding garment. He didn't have that robe of righteousness. He didn't have that white fine linen that will be given unto all those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. To him that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment, and I will not blot out his name out of the Book of Life, but I will confess his name before my Father and before His angels.

You say, "Well, what does it mean to overcome?" This is that which overcometh the world, even our faith. "This is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith," the Bible says. "Who is he that overcometh the world but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God." Now what does that ... Get the grammar there. "Who is he that overcometh the world but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God." You know what that means? No one else. That's what it means, no one else. That's what that grammar means when he says, "Who is he that overcometh the world but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God." It's saying, that's it. That's who overcomes the world.

It's those who believe on Jesus, and it's no one else. You'll be clothed in white raiment. You name will not be blotted out, but your name will be confessed before the angels. Your name will be confessed before the Lord in heaven. So many other things about salvation. We can go on and on. All of the things that we received at salvation, a home in heaven , a mansion in glory. Also, the ability to earn rewards, to earn rewards. We actually have the ability to get to heaven and not only just be there which ... I just want to be there even if we didn't get anything, no matter what, just to be there would be a blessing.

Not only do we escape hell and inherit heaven, the Bible says we're going to inherit all things. The Bible says we're going to inherit the earth. The Bible says that we will rule and reign with Him. The Bible says that our sins are forgotten, the righteousness of Jesus imputed to us. But we also have the opportunity to actually earn rewards, to actually gain crowns, and rewards, and authority, and honor. The Bible says that Jesus Christ will gird Himself and serve us someday. I mean what a blessing to be ... We don't deserve any of that. It's something to be thankful for.

If we were unthankful for it, it would be a major sin because it's such a great unspeakable gift. I tried to talk about the last five or ten minutes, but I can't even put it all into words, just the whole package deal of what it means to be saved. Being save is huge. No matter what happens in this life, we always have our salvation, and it's huge. It's big. But I want to close with the thought that giving thanks unto God is a commandment of God. This isn't just some optional thing that sometimes a feeling a thanksgiving rushes over us and we just burst out with thanksgiving to our God when the feeling's right, or maybe just because it's the third Thursday in November and we're going to celebrate Thanksgiving, which is I think a great holiday to celebrate.

One good thing about it is it does remind us, maybe we forgot to give thanks unto the Lord in a while, and that day on the calendar jogs our memory. Come to church and hear a sermon, that jogs your memory of being more thankful for what we have. You know what? If you're lusting after Black Friday, you need to get right with God, if you're lusting after all that garbage. Now look, I'm not saying it's wrong to buy things and to buy toys and buy gifts for people, but you know what? If you're sitting there and salivating over that catalog instead of thinking about salvation, and thinking about your family, and thinking about your friends, and your church, and just all the good things God's done, the Bible says that godliness with contentment is great gain and that the love of money is the root of all evil.

What is motivating this whole Black Friday fiasco? The love of money. "Oh, but that's how these businesses stay in business." What, so I guess they just ... Everybody started being in business for the first time ten years ago. Because business has always existed before these things, and we shouldn't get sucked into it. Don't camp out at Best Buy or whatever [inaudible 00:39:31]. Why don't you camp out here next Sunday morning? OK, it's not the best area. I can say that because I live a half mile away. You don't want to sit there and just be that wrapped up in the things of this world where you're willing to compass sea and land and make all these sacrifices.

I mean there are people who are camping out right now for Black Friday, right now, already. There are people who are lined up. Why don't we have a line of people like that a Bible believing church? But we've got lines and lines of people to get this year's made in China junk that's going to break, that's going to be obsolete, that's going to be outdated, that's going to be played with a little bit by some spoiled brat that's just going to get sick of it and move on to something else. Black Friday. I mean what kind of stupidity is this that that's what we've become in America today, where all week long that's all we ... Black Friday, Black Friday, Black Friday, Black Friday, Black Friday.

Then as soon as Black Friday is over, it's going to be like, "Do your Christmas shopping, Christmas shopping, Christmas shopping, Christmas shopping." I'm all for Christmas and buying people gifts, but when you buy people gifts it should be something that you're giving from your heart, not that you feel that you have to give. Let me tell you what I'm expecting for Christmas this year, the same thing I expect every year, nothing. Nothing. You know what I expect? Nothing. Zero gifts. I do not expect my wife to get me anything. I don't expect my kids to get me anything. I don't expect anything from my brothers and sisters. I don't expect anything from my parents. I don't expect anything from any member of this church. I don't expect anything on Christmas.

You know what? I don't have a Christmas list, and I don't have a gift registry going on for Christmas this year, because of the fact that Christmas is not supposed to be about just what you can get. It's supposed to be about you love people, so you give gifts. Giving gifts is biblical. There are a lot of great examples of God's people giving gifts, but a gift that is given should be given willingly. The Bible says, "Not by constraint," listen to me, "Not by constraint but willingly, for God loveth a cheerful giver." He says giving should not be constrained or that you feel forced or that you must give. It should be willingly because God loves a cheerful giver.

We should go, every single person should go into Christmas expecting nothing and being content with such things as they have. Then when someone gives me a gift, it's all a bonus. I never am disappointed in a gift, because even if somebody gives me the worst junk, it's better than nothing. It's more than nothing, or if anything, it's the same as nothing. No, I'm just kidding. I mean it's not like, "What? This is all I got? I was looking forward to X and I got Y." It's carnal. It's worldly, and it's a lack of contentment. What it should be is that you don't expect anything. I remember one year somebody walked up to me with a Christmas present for me at our church. This was many years ago.

Somebody walked up to me with a big giant bag of corn tortilla chips and a jar of salsa. It was the kind of chips I liked and the kind of salsa I liked. I thought that was the greatest thing in the world. I was like, "This is a wonderful gift." I was like, "Wow, thank you so much. This is great." I went home, opened the bag. I was just very happy just because I didn't go to church expecting to receive anything. It was like, "Oh, here we go, chips and salsa. Great! I love chips and salsa. Wonderful." You know what? At least somebody thought and did that. The gifts that we give don't always have to be purchased with money. Sometimes you can make something for someone, a nice homemade gift.

I like it when my wife makes me little treats and things, homemade like food items for [Christmas 00:43:45]. It doesn't have to be something where we're just brainwashed by Madison Avenue what we must buy this season. It's got to be the Tickle Me Elmo. It's got to be that ... What's the thing that ... What's been some of the things that were just the hot item that everybody must have on Christmas past? Somebody help me out. Tickle Me Elmo, is that all we got?

Audience: [inaudible 00:44:09]

Pastor Anderson: What is it? The iPad? Is that the ... Who buys somebody an iPad for Christmas? Isn't that like 600 bucks? How much is an iPad?

Audience: [inaudible 00:44:20]

Pastor Anderson: Good night! You know what? If somebody's expecting a $600 gift from me, think again. A $600 present? When I was a kid, I sure never got any $600 presents. That's crazy. But the iPad, the Xbox 500, or the Sega Genesis 3000, or a PS25 or whatever they're up to now, everybody's just so excited about this gift and that gift, but you know what? Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift. That's all I need.

Audience: Amen.

Pastor Anderson: I don't need anything else. I don't want anything else, and anything that anybody gets me is just a bonus. Cool. Great. I didn't even expect this. It's wonderful. Thank you. You know what? I enjoy buying gifts for people, but I like to do it because I feel like I'm doing it because I want to. I don't like to go out and feel like, "Oh, I've got to buy so-and-so a gift" because I know they're going to buy me one, and I'd better make sure that I match the dollar, because I don't want to over-give. I want to make sure that I at least get the same as what I'm giving. I don't want to give too much and then I don't get it back."

The Bible said we should give and expect nothing in return. That would be ... You know what? If everybody did that, you wouldn't have all these fusses around this time of year of people, "You got me the wrong one" or whatever. Let me just close the sermon by saying this. God tells us to give Him things, over and over again. I just want to read for you some scriptures as we close from the book of Psalms. This is just one book of the Bible, my friend, one book. Lots of places in the Bible, lots of places in the New Testament that tell us to give thanks unto God. This is just from Psalms alone. Just sit back and listen to these verses from Psalms.

I'm not going to give you the references for the sake of time. I'll just read for you the verses. "Therefore will I give thanks unto thee, oh Lord, among the heathen and sing praises unto thy name, that I may publish with the voice of thanksgiving and tell of all they wondrous works. Sing unto the Lord oh ye saints of His and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness, to the end that my glory may sing praise to thee and not be silent oh Lord, my God. I will give thanks unto thee forever. I will give thanks in the great congregation. I will praise thee among much people. Offer unto God thanksgiving and pay thy vows under the most High. I will praise the name of God with a song and will magnify Him with thanksgiving. Unto thee oh God do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks for that thy name is near, thy wondrous works declare."

"So we thy people and sheep of they pasture will give thanks forever. We will show forth thy praise to all generations. It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord and to sing praises unto thy name, oh most High. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving and make a joyful noise unto Him with psalms. Rejoice in the Lord ye righteous and give thanks at the remembrance of His holiness. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. Be thankful unto Him and bless His name. Oh give thanks unto the Lord. Call upon His name. Make known His deeds among the people. Praise ye the Lord. Oh give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endureth forever."

"Save us Oh Lord, our God, and gather us from among the heathen to give thanks unto thy holy name and to triumph in the praise. Oh give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endureth forever, and let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving and declare His works with rejoicing. I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving and will call upon the name of the Lord. Oh give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good because His mercy endureth forever. Oh give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endureth forever." At midnight I will rise to go to Best Buy and camp out. Is that what it says?

No. It says, "At midnight I will rise to give thanks unto thee because of thy righteous judgments." Maybe we should camp out to give thanks to God. Maybe we should set up a tent on Thursday night. Maybe we should sleep in a tent. That way, we can get up at midnight and start singing praises to God, instead of being at midnight outside of some store that's going to open so we can trample each other like a herd of cattle. "Whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord under the testimony of Israel to give thanks unto the name of the Lord. Give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good, for His mercy endureth forever. Oh give thanks unto the God of gods, for His mercy endureth forever. Oh give thanks to the Lord of lords, for His mercy endureth forever."

"Oh give thanks unto the God of heaven, for His mercy endureth forever. Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name. The upright shall dwell in thy presence. Sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving. Sing praise upon the harp unto our God." That's just from the book of Psalms alone, just telling us give thanks, be thankful, give thanks. It's important, my friend. Don't say, "Oh, Pastor Anderson just preached this because he has to because it's Thanksgiving and everybody expects a Thanksgiving sermon on this Sunday morning." You know what? It's good that people expect that sermon because it's good that we at least for sure one time a year stop and obey these hundreds of commands and give thanks unto the Lord, because He is good and because His mercy does endure forever.

Let's bow our heads and have a word of prayer. Father, we thank you so much, Lord, for your unspeakable gift. Thank you for the things that you give us every day, Lord, the wonderful meals that we eat, Lord, the abundance of healthy food that we have, just the beautiful weather that we have in Arizona this time of year, Lord, just wonderful friends, and family, and a church to go to. Thank you that we have a piano and an organ and that we can sing praises to you and lift up our voices, Lord. Thank you for the Bible in our language, Lord. We have an English Bible, the whole thing. We can read it, and study it, and get to you know, Lord.

We could go on and on, but thank you for everything you do for us, Lord. I pray that every single person here would put an emphasis on you this whole week, and help us all to really focus on you this Thursday, not just on the logistics of the meal, and the gatherings, and the social aspect, Lord, but help us to make sure that we give you all the honor and glory that you deserve. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.