Summary: A Thanksgiving sermon with a stewardship message.
(The pastor holds a bag of rice throughout the service, and when he goes to the pulpit, very obviously carries the rice, and a pot, with measuring cup, to the pulpit with him (make the measuring cup 1/8th cup)
I bet you think I’m going to explain this pot of rice on the pulpit. Well, maybe later.
You ever do that?
Put something off until “Later?”
I bet you have. God is calling you to do something and your response is to say, “I’ll be glad to do that, Lord. Later.”
We must learn to do that as children.
Mom or Dad told us to clean our room, “Later.”
Mom told us to brush our teeth. “Later.”
Dad told us to cut the grass. “Later.”
The teacher told us to do our term paper. “Later.”
God tells us to love others. “Later.”
How many things has God told us to do that we keep putting off?
Well, here it is – Thanksgiving! And many of us probably put off thanking God for all of His wonderful gifts, thinking we’ll do that “later.”
What are the things we like to do at Thanksgiving?
It seems to me that almost every year there is at least one football game on television sometime around Thanksgiving.
I’m not sure if any of you watch football or not.
How many of you plan to watch a football game this Thanksgiving holiday? Let me see a show of hands.
It may come as a surprise, but that’s not all there is to Thanksgiving. It’s a nice bonus activity, but that’s not how we show thankfulness.
Football is not all there is to Thanksgiving.
There is something more.
What else do we do?
We have big dinners and huge meals. Turkey and ham and home made bread and pies and sweet potatoes and rice!
How many of you plan to have a big family meal or a big meal with friends? Raise your hands.
The big meal is an important part of thanksgiving.
It has always been that way.
There is nothing wrong with feasting as a part of thanksgiving.
In the Old Testament book of Nehemiah, the people are ordered to celebrate, and to give thanks. Nehemiah tells the people, “Go and enjoy the choice food and sweet drinks. This is a sacred day to the Lord.” (Nehemiah 8:9-11).
Sounds like our Thanksgiving, doesn’t it?
But – that’s not all there is to Thanksgiving.
What else do we do at Thanksgiving?
How many of you – let me see your hands – how many of you plan to go to church on Thanksgiving Week?
Amazing – three people did not raise their hands!
They apparently were drugged and brought here without their knowledge by their spouses or parents.
I’m just very disappointed that one of the three who didn’t raise a hand was one of the ministers for the evening.
But kidding aside, worship is an act of thanksgiving.
In Psalm 100, it says in verse 4, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him.”
So naturally, ALL of us here tonight include worship as part of our thanksgiving.
But that is not all there is to thanksgiving.
There is something more.
(Minister quietly opens the bag of rice. The pastor takes a bag of rice, and carefully counts out ten measures of the rice placing each measure into a pot. Then taking back a single measure from the pot of rice, places that single measure on the Lord’s Table.
OK, are you wondering what this pot of rice is all about?
I brought it to illustrate a story about one of my experiences in India.
I traveled there about a year or two ago.
One of the churches I went to was in a slum. India is a beautiful country and there are a lot of people there who are well off, but a lot of the ones I met were the poorest people I have ever encountered.
The neighborhood was built of tents. The tents were made of moldy, rotting cloth. Everything was jammed together. There was hardly any room to walk between the tents. There was no water system, no well. People drank water that was running along the gutters of the streets.
And in the midst of this slum was a little church.
It was nothing more than a concrete block building. Four walls with a doorway. The roof was nothing more than some metal sheeting laid on the top of the building.
It measured about 10 feet wide and 20 feet long. Inside there were 30 people. They were all crammed together, sitting on the floor and they gave me a chair to sit in at the front of the church. If I had crossed my legs I would have knocked out three people on the front row.