Today is the Sunday before Thanksgiving, so as is standard on these sorts of Sundays we're going to talk about Thanksgiving. Does anyone know what is Thanksgiving actually about?

[Let them answer]

Thanksgiving is by definition a secular holiday, in that it is not a holiday directly described by the Bible. (Fun fact the Bible doesn't actually dictate any Christian holidays! We choose to celebrate Christmas and Easter but it is not commanded or required of us in the same way it was required of the Jews in Jesus' time to celebrate Passover or other holidays.) However, being thankful is a very Biblical concept.

There are dozens of accounts in the Old Testament of someone doing something and then immediately giving praise to God. These examples are everywhere, whether it's the Israelites getting out of the desert or kings thanking God for defeating an enemy. Because of this it's not surprising that it's actually a pretty big theme of psalms where our memory verse comes from for this month. Let's actually turn to our memory verse.

Can someone read the first verse there? Psalm 107:1

O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever.

Okay now can someone flip back a Psalm to 106:1 and read that.

Praise the Lord!
    O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
    for his steadfast love endures forever.

Now can someone flip back to Psalm 105:1

O give thanks to the Lord, call on his name,
    make known his deeds among the peoples.

Now can someone read all of Psalm 100. I promise it's not very long, five verses.

1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
2     Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come into his presence with singing.

3 Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he that made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    and his courts with praise.
    Give thanks to him, bless his name.

5 For the Lord is good;
    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations.

So can anyone see a common theme here? [Let them answer.]

So what are the Psalms? [Let them answer.]

They're basically poems or songs. You'll actually see lyrics from songs you may know--hymns and other popular Christian songs--in a lot of these. In many ways these psalms are basically prayers written by different people--some King David, some King Solomon and some unknown. A lot of them like the ones we've just seen are expressing thankfulness.

Let's look back at Psalm 100:4. "Enter His gates with thanksgiving, And his courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His Name." What do you think this means?

[Let them answer]

I think it means we're supposed to come before God with a thankful heart. And why should we be thankful to God?

Well let's look back at some of those other Psalms, specifically the one our memory verse comes from. Can someone read verses 107: 4 - 9.

4 Some wandered in desert wastes,
    finding no way to an inhabited town;
5 hungry and thirsty,
    their soul fainted within them.
6 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he delivered them from their distress;
7 he led them by a straight way,
    until they reached an inhabited town.
8 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
    for his wonderful works to humankind.
9 For he satisfies the thirsty,
    and the hungry he fills with good things.

So why are they giving thanks to God?

Because he heard their cry and satisfied their thirsty souls. God delivered them and gave them what they needed. We should be thankful for all the good things God gives us in life.

Now you may be like "But Mandy that's the Old Testament." So okay let's see what Paul has to say about thankfulness. Let's turn to Ephesians 5:17-20.

17 So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, 19 as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, 20 giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

In his letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul is trying to describe to this church what it means to be and look like a Christian. In this section he's specifically talking about what it means to walk in a Christ like manner, to essentially be imitators of God. He's telling them a bunch of things they should and should not do. So what does he say in this verse? Don't be foolish, don't get drunk, be filled with songs and always always give thanks to Jesus.

And why do we give thanks to Jesus? [Let them answer.]

Well because he saved us. What was our memory verse last month? Can someone recite it? (John 3:16.)

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

So let's look back at what Jesus, our savior, said about thankfulness. There's actually a story that describes this. So please turn to Luke 17:11-19. Can someone read it?

11 On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 13 they called out, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” 14 When he saw them, he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were made clean. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16 He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus asked, “Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18 Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well.”

Okay so let's start at the beginning here. What is leprosy? It's a pretty terrible disease that basically infects your nerves, skin, and eyes and can causes pretty serious damage. A person with leprosy is very prone to secondary infections that can result in like skin loss. So basically a person with leprosy looked like they had awful sores and lesions everywhere. And it was considered to be highly contagious. Now we have antibiotics that can treat leprosy, but back then the only solution they had was to basically quarantine lepers from the rest of society so no one else could get it.

No one wanted to be near a leper, which is why the Bible says these lepers stood at a distance from Jesus and had to raise their voice.

So Jesus speaks to heal them all, tells them to go to the priests because the only way to be considered clean and let back into society was if a priest declared you so, otherwise you would still be stuck hanging out in the quarantine area, often referred to as a leper colony. So all these ten men go and get healed, but only one comes back.

What does this tell us about thankfulness?

All ten men were healed but only one felt the need to come back and thank Jesus. I think that's the case for a lot of our lives. We get what we want and we don't feel the need to thank people or God about it. We just have it and we're happy. But here Jesus clearly admonishes those guys who do that and praises the one who comes back.

We should strive to be like that guy, to be thankful for what we have.

And that's why even though Thanksgiving isn't a Christian holiday per say, it's a good one for Christians to observe and can even remind us of something important about our own faith and lives. As Paul said, we should be giving thanks all the time, but as this story with Jesus shows we often fail to do that. But let's strive to be like the tenth man who actually came back and not like the others.