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Leviticus 7:11-15

Be Changed by Thanksgiving

  • Jean Marais
  • Weekend Messages
  • November 26, 2023

We will look at what God says about thanksgiving. It is written in the Bible, in Leviticus, and it becomes a framework we can build on and learn much from in living a life of thanksgiving. We will see that we are changed by the act of thanksgiving as we give thanks to God.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

Be Changed by Thanksgiving
Leviticus 7:11-15
November 25-26, 2023

Seeing that we are not from America, we never celebrated Thanksgiving. So as the time for Thanksgiving came closer last year, we wanted to know what the celebration is all about. There are many different answers out there from different walks of life.

Some say it is a great holiday to eat as much as you can and not go to work the next day. Gluttony. Check. Others say it is the day before Black Friday when you can buy everything your heart desires for very cheap. Greed. Check. So, it seems like, for many people, the reason for celebrating Thanksgiving is a bit vague.

So, wanting to find out the root of Thanksgiving, I went to the highest authority of any subject on the planet to find the truth: Google.

What I found was the following. Originally the New England and Virginia colonists celebrated days of fasting as well as days of thanksgiving where they thanked God for blessings, such as harvests, ship landings, or the end of a drought. This was normally observed through church services with a feast of communal gathering and eating.

The most well-known event that Americans commonly called the first Thanksgiving came from a celebration by the Pilgrims after the first harvest in the New World in October 1621, which was attended by 90 Native Americans and 53 survivors of the Mayflower.

Then, in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens”.

In other words, Thanksgiving is rooted in the principle of giving thanks to God. Now this is something we are more familiar with, as the Bible says a lot about Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a major principle in the life of a Christian and should play a big role in our lives.

Today I want to look at what God says about thanksgiving. It is written in the Bible, in Leviticus, and it becomes a framework we can build on and learn much from in living a life of thanksgiving. We will see that we are changed by the act of thanksgiving as we give thanks to God.

I. Peace with God stirs Thanksgiving

Thankfulness comes after going through a time of anxiety, worry, or hardship. We will hear phrases like, “Thank goodness! In the exam the teacher asked exactly the only section that I studied!”, or “I was so worried when the doctor said I should get the blood tests, but thank goodness! Everything turned out negative.” Or “I didn’t know how we were going to make it through the month, but thank goodness! My federal tax check came just in time!” After you were sick as a dog, don’t you just really appreciate health again after you are better?

Now we know as Christians that God is good, and…

James 1:17, Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow. 

So, we don’t thank goodness, we thank God, because He is the source of all goodness!

All that being said, the primary reason for thankfulness is much deeper than this. The sacrifice of thanksgiving that we just read about in Leviticus, is connected to another sacrifice through which we have peace with God.

A. Peace comes through the Sacrifice of Jesus

  • Thanksgiving is quite empty if the root problem is not dealt with.

Illus – it is like an 18-year-old that needs a car. So for Christmas, his grandpa gives him a car cleaning kit, and his grandma gives him a set of tools. His sister gives him a car freshener, and his brother gives him a small car fire extinguisher. These are all fine gifts, but it is useless without a car!

  • In the same way, all the blessings or good things that we can experience on this earth are essentially short-lived and even useless when we look at it from the perspective of eternity, where the primary problem of eternal damnation has not been dealt with.
  • In the end, all the earthly blessings become meaningless in comparison.

Matthew 16:26, For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? 

  • If we look at the previous chapters of Leviticus, God first gives regulations for the guilt and sin offering, and then for the peace and thanksgiving offering.
  • Ultimately, the primary reason for giving thanks is because our sins have been forgiven by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 9: 22, 28, And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness … so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without sin, to those who eagerly await Him.

  • Jesus gave himself as the ultimate sacrifice to ratify the new covenant between us and God, taking our sins upon Himself and forever dealing with it on the cross so that we could be forgiven and be restored in our relationship with God.
  • This is the gospel, the good news.

B. We respond to the sacrifice

  • When we then look at the peace offering, brought as a Thanksgiving offering, we see that this was a voluntary sacrifice that someone brought as a response to what God has done for them. It represented one’s fellowship upward with God.
  • When the biggest problem facing you in all eternity has been dealt with, the only sensible response would be: “Thank You!!!”
  • If God never does anything else for us again, this one ultimate sacrifice should be enough to keep our hearts in a state of thankfulness forever! We need to continually remind ourselves of this.

II. Our Response is Thanksgiving

 We do not bring blood sacrifices anymore, because Jesus has brought the ultimate sacrifice. So what can we give? Our lives figuratively become a worship to Him, but Paul also gave the church practical instructions.

A. Thankfulness leads to praise and worship

  • This is why I love praise and worship. The reason for doing it is because we have a heart of thanksgiving towards God.

Psalm 100:4-5, Enter His gates with thanksgiving, And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the Lord is good;

  • Paul not only speaks of a general thankful attitude, but he also makes it very practical.

Ephesians 5:19-20, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father;

  • This is why we give thanks, praise, and worship in church. We remind one another of who God is, what He has done, His promises, and what He is going to do.
  • Not only do you hear it sung by others, but as you sing and praise and worship God, your own mouth proclaims the truth, which becomes words, or seeds of life that are sown into your heart which produces fruit. You are not only hearing it but you are agreeing with it.
  • This body that so easily surrenders to or wants to surrender to sin, also becomes a sacrifice of praise.

Hosea 14:2, That we may present the fruit of our lips.

 Psalm 47:1, Clap your hands, all peoples; shout to God with the voice of joy.

1 Timothy 2:8, Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension.

  • Sometimes, I have heard people say, “I don’t feel like worshipping.” This phrase reveals the fact that their focus has shifted. They are so consumed by things of this world, worries, fears, and anxieties, that God is the furthest thing from their minds.
  • Feelings become the barometer, influenced by circumstances and experiences.
  • This is exactly when you must start to thank God, praise, and worship Him.

Psalm 103:1-2, Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits;

  • It takes you out of the center of the universe in your mind and puts God back in that space, exactly where He actually is.

Psalm 107:22, Let them also offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of His works with joyful singing.

  •  A sacrifice is something that costs you something, especially when it is not necessarily easy.

B. Bring a broken sacrifice

  • Yet, many still feel unworthy of bringing God praise. Especially when going through struggles, feeling anxious, and still fighting with the flesh. In short many feel like they do not live a life of victory and that extinguishes the heart of thankfulness.
  • Verse 12 – we see something very interesting in this verse. When someone was to bring a sacrifice of thanksgiving, they were to bring unleavened cakes and unleavened wafers spread with oil.
  • Leaven in the Bible represents sin. So, these above-mentioned items represent a pure sacrifice anointed with oil. It is a type of you being made righteous, cleansed, and anointed by the Holy Spirit.
  • But that is not all. For a Thanksgiving sacrifice, the person had to bring a leavened cake as well as an offering to God. This speaks of a sacrifice tainted with sin.
  • In Romans 7, we see Paul wrestling with this problem of humanity, which we call the conflict of the two natures.

Romans 7: 19, For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. 

  • This struggle makes people feel unworthy. But Paul goes on to answer his own question: Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
  • Those who have placed their faith in Jesus, have all been made holy and righteous before God. Yet, we are all in the process of sanctification, in other words, growing into that which we are already seen as in the spiritual realm.
  • This means that we still stumble, and we still fall. But this is not something that should keep us from praising God. On the contrary, every time a person messes up it should drive them to a place of thankfulness, thanking Jesus for His amazing grace and His incredible sacrifice which makes them holy despite their failings. It shifts the focus from our inadequacy to His adequacy.

Illus – An example of this is found in the very famous passage of Luke 7. A woman known throughout the city as a sinful woman came and fell before the feet of Jesus, anointing His feet with the precious oil from her alabaster box, washing His feet with her tears, and drying them with her hair. Simon, the Pharisee, in whose house this all took place, was offended by this, that Jesus allowed the sinful woman to touch his feet. Jesus replied.

Luke 7:44, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. For this reason, I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.

  • The irony is that nobody has been forgiven little. Some people, being prideful, only think that they need forgiveness less and as such are less thankful.
  • If people can truly grasp and have the revelation of how deeply lost they are or were without Jesus and what He has done for them, we would never have to ask such a person to praise God. It would just overflow in abundance!

C. Give Thanks even in trouble

  • As said before, giving thanks for something is normally the result of being helped or having been saved from a calamity or a difficult time.
  • We see that this thank offering in Leviticus 7 was a response to something God did.
  • In the New Testament though, we are told to thank God, not only after the fact but in the middle of the trouble.

Philippians 4:6, Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 

  •  The difference now is that, because we have the ultimate testimony of the faithfulness of God through the sacrifice of Jesus, we have hope even in troubled times. We can praise God even before the answer comes.
  • When we praise God, whatever we are facing is diminished in the light of His greatness.
  • When we praise God and live with an attitude of thankfulness, it is a sign of trusting God above our own abilities and plans, and relinquishing control to his plan.
  • It reminds us of God’s character and the fact that His thoughts towards us are good and that everything works together for our good, for those who are called according to His purpose.

III. Jesus Stays the Center

  • It doesn’t stop with the cake offerings. After this, we see in verse 15, that there is to be a flesh offering as well. And this offering is to be eaten on the day of the offering.
  • As we know, the flesh offering always refers to the sacrifice of Jesus. Thanksgiving should always focus on Jesus. He is our sustenance, our source, our provider, that which we ‘eat’ of to live.
  • When we look at this time that is celebrated all over America, the focus of Thanksgiving can so easily become all the other things.
  • And if circumstances were hard in the past year, people might find it difficult to find something to be thankful for when circumstances become the barometer.
  • When Jesus becomes the center of our Thanksgiving, it changes everything. And we are changed in Thanksgiving.

Illus. – In Mark 14 we read of another time when Mary came to Jesus and broke her vial of very precious oil, lavishing it on Jesus.  This was driven by a deep thankfulness because of what Jesus had done for her, and the sacrifice He was going to make. She gave her best; she didn’t hold back. This ointment, or perfume was worth 300 days’ wages. One can say this was her savings plan. But her love for Jesus drove her to give it all. 

  •  What about you? Has the revelation of Jesus changed your whole life to a life of Thanksgiving?

Leviticus 7:11-15    NASB

11 ‘Now this is the law of the sacrifice of peace offerings which shall be presented to the Lord. 12 If he offers it by way of thanksgiving, then along with the sacrifice of thanksgiving he shall offer unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers spread with oil, and cakes of well stirred fine flour mixed with oil. 13 With the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving, he shall present his offering with cakes of leavened bread. 14 Of this he shall present one of every offering as a contribution to the Lord; it shall belong to the priest who sprinkles the blood of the peace offerings.

15 ‘Now as for the flesh of the sacrifice of his thanksgiving peace offerings, it shall be eaten on the day of his offering; he shall not leave any of it over until morning.


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