That time of the year has snuck up on us again. Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and as a pastor, it’s your job to remind your congregation of why it’s important to be thankful. Maybe you’ve got a few go-to sermons that you think have become stale, or maybe this is your first time trying to create a Thanksgiving sermon. Either way, the following ideas are great places to get started. These can serve as the foundation of a great Sunday message.
The Power of Praise and Thanksgiving
Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.
Few books of the Bible tell us to give thanks as often as Psalms. This makes sense when you think about King David’s life. He went from being a shepherd boy in his youth to ruling over the entirety of Jerusalem. In this verse, he tells us to never forget the benefits provided by God. David knew where his strength came from, and he knew he should be thankful. As should we all.
Why It’s Important to Give Thanks Every Single Day
I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.
Your Thanksgiving sermon will only come once a year — with perhaps a few related sermons leading up to it. However, it’s important to remember that we should be thankful every single day of our lives. We should “sing” God’s praises — even if our voices aren’t exactly angelic — and magnify God through our gratitude.
The Different Ways We Can Give Thanks
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
In the last point, we mentioned “singing” His praises. Of course, you don’t have to take that literally. However, you can encourage your congregation to give thanks by singing and in many other ways. Perhaps poetry or merely testimonials can serve as a show of gratitude. Youngsters can be taught these praiseworthy ideas at a young age. During this Thanksgiving sermon, remember that words are paltry things. Sometimes it’s all about the feelings we have when we’re giving thanks.
Thankfulness for Our Family and Loved Ones
1 Corinthians 1:4
I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus…
Everyone in your congregation has no doubt heard that charity starts at home. As it turns out, so does thankfulness and praise. Unfortunately, it’s often the people we love who witness and deal with our worst instances of ingratitude. Let your Thanksgiving sermon be a reminder that being grateful for the ones we love — and showing them that we’re grateful — is one of the godliest things we can do.
Giving Thanks Even When Times Are Hard
1 Thessalonians 5:18
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
If you’ve kept up with our blog, you’ve no doubt learned a few sermons for difficult times. However, this verse reminds us that we should give thanks “in all circumstances.” While this is a pretty broad statement, it’s also fairly straightforward. Paul is telling us here that — no matter how bad things get — there is always something to be thankful for. Even if your congregation or community is suffering through the most trying time, your Thanksgiving sermons should be a reminder to always give thanks for the things we have.
Offering Prayers of Gratitude
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
One of the characteristics of successful pastors is that they pray frequently. Of course, prayer is also essential for your congregation — but in many instances, these prayers are about things we need. Rather than going this route, remind your congregation that our prayers should also focus on what we’re thankful for. In fact, commit yourself to only prayers that give thanks for a certain amount of time. Even if it’s just once a day, calling out in thankfulness is important.
Showing Thankfulness for God’s Love
Give thanks to the LORD of hosts, for the LORD is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.
While we may feel His love at all times, really comprehending God’s love is a difficult task. The one thing that we know for sure, though, is that it is both steady and unwavering. Your congregation may have forgotten that God’s love is always with us. Use your Thanksgiving sermon as an opportunity to remind them.
Appreciating the Forgiveness Offered by God
You will say in that day: I will give thanks to you, O LORD, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, that you might comfort me.
When people think about the Christian faith, one word typically comes to mind: forgiveness. No matter what we do in this life, the Lord will forgive those who truly repent. Everyone has fallen short of the glory of God, and we have all sinned in many ways. Even so, God has chosen to forgive us. We need to remember this at all times. His love endures, and his forgiveness knows no bounds. This is definitely something to be thankful for.
Seeking Out Others to Be Thankful For
1 Timothy 4:4
For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving.
Are you capable of finding it in your heart to love those who might be difficult to love? God loves everyone and accepts anyone who wants to enter the Kingdom. This verse shows that we’re all God’s creations. That means we must treat each other as such, and in doing so, we can give thanks for our ability to care for others even if they don’t care for us.
10. Teaching Youth to Be Thankful for What They Have
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagles.
As you’re reminding your congregation of the importance of being thankful, it’s absolutely essential that you don’t forget the youth in your ministry. If the youngsters have their own service — or if there’s a Thanksgiving celebration devoted to the kids — make sure that they feel valued. Let them know that you love them — but more importantly, that God loves them. Let them know that God is always there to support them. This might be exactly what’s needed to strengthen their conviction, and it will also teach them early on the importance of giving thanks.
Go Forth and Preach
These Thanksgiving sermons are just a jumping-off point. However, we’ve seen many preachers build incredible teachings from these verses alone. Your congregation looks toward you during this season — even more so than the rest of the year. Help them show the gratitude they have in ways they may not have considered. And when you’re doing all this, don’t forget to show thanks for everything you have as well.