A Gratitude Platitude

So, let’s set the stage: Joseph has revealed himself to his brothers and the family reunion is underway. His brothers then go back to bring their father Jacob and all he has, to be reunited with the son he loved above all others.

Then Jacob arose from Beersheba; and the sons of Israel carried their father Jacob, their little ones, and their wives, in the carts which Pharaoh had sent to carry him. So they took their livestock and their goods, which they had acquired in the land of Canaan, and went to Egypt, Jacob and all his descendants with him. His sons and his sons’ sons, his daughters and his sons’ daughters, and all his descendants he brought with him to Egypt. (Gen.46:5-7)

Jacob was a very blessed and wealthy man. He was the father of many sons and daughters…he had a beautiful wife (indeed, he had two!). And now, his son Joseph whom he thought dead was alive and second in charge over all of Egypt. What an amazing life! But that’s just the “end of the story.”

Let me review a little of Jacob’s life.

He was the son of a wealthy and Godly father (Isaac)

He was the favored son of a doting mother (Rebekah – Gen.25:28)

He received his brother’s birthright for the price of stew (Gen.25:31-32)

He tricked his father into blessing him instead of his brother Esau (Gen.27:27-29)

God gave him dreams and visions. He saw angels and a glimpse of heaven (Gen28:12)

He spoke with God and heard His voice (Gen.28:13)

He marries a beautiful, loving wife named Rachel (Gen.29:29)

He is blessed with wealth and prosperity (Gen.30:41-43)

His brother, Esau, who threatened to kill him forgave him and loved him (Gen.33:4)

He has twelve healthy sons who would become twelve powerful nations (Gen.35:23)

Whew! What a life! Now, I took the time to set this up for a very unforgettable purpose. Let’s get back to Joseph and the family reunion. Upon arriving in Egypt from the land of Canaan, Joseph introduces his father to Pharaoh. Here is the most powerful ruler in the land receiving a Hebrew into his court and presence. What a moment this must have been.

Pharaoh asks Jacob how old he is…what a curious question. But here is the response and the basis of this sermon:

Then Joseph brought his father Jacob and presented him to Pharaoh; and Jacob blessed Pharaoh. Pharaoh said to Jacob, “How many years have you lived?” So Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The years of my sojourning are one hundred and thirty; few and unpleasant have been the years of my life, nor have they attained the years that my fathers lived during the days of their sojourning.” (Gen.47:7-10)

What?!?!? Jacob answers and whines about his terrible, unpleasant, and short life? Really? Talk about ingratitude!!

In our nation, Thanksgiving is a one day feast that we celebrate in November. But giving thanks in the kingdom of God should be a ceaseless time of intimacy with the Most High God.

Thanking someone is a very intimate and personal act. It requires us to seek them out, look at them, and bow our hearts before them in gratitude. It causes us to pause and acknowledge a gift, or a word, a moment, or a kind thought. (See WORD WISDOM for a deeper study of seek)

When Jacob first entered the presence of Pharaoh, his heart was simply full of ingratitude. He couldn’t even muster a “thank you for saving our lives!” What does God value as we enter His presence? Gratefulness.

Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. For the Lord is the great God, and the great King above all gods. (Ps.95:2-3)

Did you know the phrase “give thanks” is mentioned 52 times in the NKJV Bible? Surely giving thanks must be important to repeat 52 times! Having constant gratitude proves your faith in God because not only do you thank Him for what He has done in the past, you thank Him for what He will do in the future. We magnify God instead of magnifying our problems. It gives us proper perspective.

Grow strong in what you believe, just as you were taught. Be more thankful than ever before. (Col.2:7)

Have you ever thanked Him for leaving Heaven for you (2 Cor.8:9)?

For coming to Bethlehem’s manger for you (Lk.2:7)?

For living those silent years at Nazareth for you (Lk.2:51)?

For standing in Jordan’s waters for you (Matt.3:13-17)?

For triumphing in the wilderness for you (Matt.4:11)?

For His three years of public ministry for you (Acts 10:38)?

And for all that He endured in Gethsemane and accomplished on Calvary (Lk.22:44)?

Listen to how Paul urges believers about being thankful:

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, overflowing with thanksgiving. (Col.2:6-7)

We should seek to empty pitchers of thanksgiving before our generous and giving God. Pouring our gratitude is not the reason for this season…it’s the reason for all seasons. This Thanksgiving, let’s remember that we are all the recipients of God’s goodness. So many times we wait for good things to happen to us before we take the opportunity to thank God. But this day, I am stopping long enough to thank God, right now, for the things He’s yet to do too!

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