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Giving thanks is the natural expression of gratitude and good manners, that is, a person who is not rude, gives thanks.  However, what many do not see and understand is the power of thanksgiving when it is a sacrifice.

Thanksgiving for that which you have received, which you need, want, desire and hope for, is the very least anyone who has anything worthwhile about them should do.  For the giving of thanks does nothing to the giver, but shows everything about the receiver.  In fact, quite often, the thanks a humble person receives only makes him uncomfortable, and the thanks that a proud person receives only puffs him up even more.  One is uncomfortable and the other is dangerous.  Thus, to receive thanksgiving is not as blessed as giving thanks.

For the person who gives thanks shows that he is appreciative, grateful and at least well mannered, and being well mannered and not rude, he has a bit of love, for love is not rude.  The proof that a person already has a measure of love within him, for thanksgiving as an expression of not being rude is by far the easiest manifestation of love, for it is far harder to be patient, kind, not to envy, not to boast, not to be proud, not self seeking, not easily angered, keep no records of wrongs, not delight with evil, to always protect, trust, hope and persevere.

Of all the things love is, not being rude by giving thanks is the easiest.  Two little words, “Thank you,” for anything that anyone does for you, including what God does for you, is simple to say if you were not rude.

The nine lepers who did not come back to give thanks to the Lord did nothing against the Lord as much as they harmed themselves, for they showed themselves to be rude and ungrateful, that is, without enough love not to be rude.  The one who came back to give thanks received this blessing from the Lord:  “Rise and go; your faith has made you well,” and what a blessing!  “…your faith has made you well,” means that as long as he had faith, and Jesus did not and does not say, “Your faith in Me has made you well,” but rather, “…your faith has made you well,” he would remain well.  Whatever and whenever he has faith, he makes himself well, which means as long as he had faith his healing would be permanent.  The other nine would enjoy a temporary reprieve from their leprosy, but they would never be made well.  They may not even lose their healing as we commonly suppose, for the gifts of God are without repentance, but regardless, whether they relapsed in their leprosy or whether they remained healed, they would not be well, for they had shown that they had no gratitude, no manners and no love.  Therefore, according to the Lord’s own words, “Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.”  That means any love, any gratitude or good manners that they would have or would receive will be taken away.  A person who has to live with no love, no gratitude or manners does not live a well life.  And the more that they do not have, then even more that they have will be taken away.  From a simple act of not giving thanks, a person has set his life on a course of unwellness, where the increase of his poverty is measured not only in loss and lack of physical goods, but spiritual goods.

Since the act of thanksgiving is first by word and attitude, then what is lost from the life of a person who does not give thanks is a life that loses first the spiritual blessings and then the material.  That is why if you watch the way of a man who enriches himself ungratefully and selfishly is that his life becomes progressively devoid of spiritual blessings, before he finally also loses all his material blessings, even his life.  But the man who enriches himself with gratitude and selflessness becomes so spiritually rich that even his material blessings and his life are increased.

This is what the Lord demonstrated for us all at the feeding of the 5000 and 4000, especially at the feeding of the 5000 when He took the five loaves and two fish from the little boy and gave thanks to God.  He did not pray or ask!  He just gave thanks for what was given to Him and by that one act of gratefulness, 5000 men and their families were fed.

After the feeding of the 5000 and 4000, Jesus warned His disciples, “…be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees …and that of Herod.  The yeast of the Pharisees, Sadducees and Herod are their teachings.  What do they teach?

The Pharisees teach hypocrisy as Jesus said, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy.”  A hypocrite is one who says things that he does not do.  So the thanksgiving of a Pharisee is not real, not true.

Sadducees teach unbelief of all things spiritual.  And since gratitude and thanksgiving are an attitude or a spirit, then their thanksgiving is not what they believe and neither are they to be believed.

One Herod was a selfish, cruel ruler who did not hesitate to kill babies to ensure that he did not lose his throne.  And the Herod of Jesus’ day was just as murderous, adulterous and one who was a lackey to the Romans.  A man whose well being was dependent on his cooperation with a people who opposed his own countrymen.  Herod’s yeast teaches a man to be selfish and even murderous to ensure that he himself is rich and in comfort.

These teachings, these yeasts, prevent a person from giving thanks honestly, gratefully and selflessly.  That is what Jesus did, He gave thanks honestly, gratefully and selflessly because He saw and honoured the sacrifice of the little boy who gave up his five little loaves and two fish.  These five little loaves and two fish did not impress the disciples, for they said, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.”  And only Andrew acknowledged it was from the little boy, saying, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”  But Jesus saw and appreciated the faith, and above all else, the sacrifice that the little boy was making because they were his loaves and fish.  And when he gave thanks, the multiplication happened because as He had said many times, and the words of Jesus are truth, “Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance.”  The little boy had five loaves and two fish and he was given an abundance.  So much so that the little boy, with a little help from Jesus, was the one who fed the 5000 and still had 12 baskets left over.

Jesus had the good manners to give thanks for what He received from the little boy, and as the little boy received more, so Jesus has received more.

The leper who came to give thanks for the healing he received, received more, for from then on, his faith would make him well.  The leper did not bring anything to Jesus, just his problem.  But his gratitude for the healing allowed him to receive the more, until he had more than enough to keep his problem solved.  He would be made well by his faith if he needed healing again.  This is the illustration of the first level of thanksgiving.  Giving thanks for what you have received to solve your problem permits you to receive more so that you will have more than enough to solve your problems.  It is enough, more than enough to look after you, if you can be grateful for what you have.

But the little boy produced thanksgiving not from himself, but from God.  The greater level of thanksgiving is when you sacrifice what you have to solve God’s problem, just like the little boy who sacrificed his five loaves and two fish to solve Jesus’ problem, or rather, the disciples’ problem for Jesus gave them a problem, saying to them, “They do not need to go away.  You give them something to eat.”  It is written:  Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to Heaven, He gave thanks and broke the loaves.

What did He give thanks for?  He gave thanks for the five loaves and two fish when He could have turned stones to bread?  No, He gave thanks for the little boy and his five loaves and two fish.  He gave thanks to His Father who told Him it is by the faith of a child and the humility of a child that one enters the Kingdoms of Heaven and of God.  And that day, the vaults of the Kingdoms of Heaven and of God opened and the miracle happened.

The boy sacrificed and Jesus gave thanks and the miracle happened and the disciples’ problem was solved and the need was met.  When you sacrifice something that is precious enough to you and to God that moves God to give thanks to Heaven, then other people’s problems are solved, and like the little boy, you will receive much more than you sacrificed, 12 baskets of leftovers.

The disciples learned this lesson at the feeding of the 4000, and from their seven loaves and few fish they solved their problem, the hunger of the 4000, and got seven baskets of leftovers.  That is why in Leviticus 22.29, the Lord commanded the Israelites to sacrifice such a thanksgiving:  “When you sacrifice a thank offering to the LORD, sacrifice it in such a way that it will be accepted on your behalf.”

A thank you for your problem solved is not a sacrifice.  It is an obligation.  The leper’s thanks was not a sacrificial thanks offering, but the little boy’s offering was, for he had no problem, the disciples did.  And he made a sacrifice that moved God to thank God.  He sacrificed a thanks offering and the miracle happened.  As it has been taught in applications of sacrifice, a sacrifice is that which is precious to God first, not that which is precious to you, as exemplified by Noah’s sacrifice.  The little boy sacrificed what was precious to him, yes, the five loaves and two fish, but he brought as a sacrifice what was precious to Jesus, the faith of a child, the faith to believe that the impossible would happen, could happen, five loaves and two fish can feed 5000 men!  That and the loaves made Jesus give thanks!  And when God gives thanks, miracles multiply.  The fish did not multiply just once, but many, many times.

When Jesus gave thanks again for bread, it was the night of the Passover supper, as it is written:  And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”  He showed us the highest level of thanksgiving, giving thanks to God that you may be and that you are the sacrifice.  For when He gave thanks for the bread and made it His body when He said, “This is My body given for you; do this in remembrance of Me,” He was not just speaking to the disciples, but He was speaking to His Father as well, thanking Him for His body, which God had prepared for Him and which He broke so that God would remember what He had done.  The highest level of a sacrifice that is a thanks offering is when you sacrifice what is precious to you to solve God’s problem, and you thank Him for the privilege of being the sacrifice, not for making the sacrifice, but for being the sacrifice.

And what was God to call to remembrance at the breaking of the bread?  When Jesus said, “…do this in remembrance of Me,” it was to call to remembrance that “I am Your beloved Son, with whom You are well pleased.  Listen to Me,” just as the Father had told the disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration.  And from that moment on, even the Father listens to Jesus.

As the Lord thanked God for the body He had that would be broken up for Him to save this world, so the Lord received back a body, glorified and multiplied, a personal body that can walk and eat and be touched, but can never die, and a glorified multiplied body through the church that the Holy Spirit raised up for Him.

As the Lord gave thanks, the Lord moved to raise Him from the dead, declaring Him to be the Son of God by His holiness and enlarged His body so that all who believe in Him are included in it.

When you are prepared to sacrifice what God gave you in order to solve God’s problem, then you are doing what Jesus has been doing.  And as you go through it and fulfill that sacrifice of thanks offering, you will find that the Holy Spirit is ready to declare you a son of God by His power and holiness.  And that happens when what you have sacrificed is returned to you resurrected and multiplied, just as Jesus’ body is resurrected and multiplied.

Do not be like those who were fed by the multiplied loaves and fish of the little boy and went in search of Jesus, and Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for Me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill.  Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.  On Him God the Father has placed His seal of approval.”  This is the same crowd to whom Jesus first taught that unless they eat His flesh and drink His blood, they would have no life.  This is the same crowd who grumbled about Him because of what He said, including His disciples who said, “This is a hard teaching.  Who can accept it?” and they left Him.

Do not be like them because they enjoyed the effects of the miracle, the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish.  The benefit was that they were fed.  They were the beneficiaries of the miracle, not just the miracle, but the faith and sacrifice of the little boy.  It cost them nothing, and when they were told something they did not understand from the One who did the miracle that benefited them, they left, including some disciples.

They may have benefited from the miracle, but because they were ungrateful, they did not become the miracle.  The disciples left because to eat the flesh of a man and to drink his blood is to sacrifice, to give up that which God had given them, a relationship with Him through the Law of Moses as His people.  If they followed Jesus, then under Leviticus 17.15 they would be cut off.  They could not make the sacrifice of that which God had given them, and thus they left.

The truth is that they were not sacrificing something that could solve God’s problem because no one is justified by the law anyway.  Whereas had they sacrificed their relationship with God through the law and took up a relationship with God through faith by eating and drinking the flesh and blood of Jesus, they would have solved God’s problem, for now they were justified by faith.

Jesus sacrificed the body prepared for Him by God, yes, and what a sacrifice.  But He also knew that as long as He was trapped in that body, the work of God could not be finished.  As precious as His body and life were up to that point, as miraculously powerful as they were, they could not solve the problem.  However, sacrificing His body and life with thanksgiving would produce the resurrection and the multiplication needed, and that was what He did.  In the same way, even the little boy received back his five loaves and two fish, resurrected and multiplied in the 12 baskets of leftovers.

This season of thanksgiving is to sort out those who have gratitude and those who do not.  And as you give thanks for the problems that God has solved for you, your faith will keep you well.  You have solved your own problems.

As you give thanks to Jesus for what you have to solve the disciples’ problem, that is the church’s problem, with the same faith of that little child, the Lord will give thanks for you, and what you have will multiply to solve the multitude of problems the disciples of Jesus Christ have and the hunger of the believers of Jesus.

And finally, when the time comes for you to lay down the miraculous life that God has given you so that Jesus can come back, which is the biggest problem God has right now, you will find that the Spirit of Holiness is ready to declare you His son with power.

Give thanks to God, for He is good.  Amen.

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