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Summary: We can make a difference when we, like the widow, give out of our thankfulness above and beyond.

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“ABOVE AND BEYOND”

Because God Is Generous Series

Mark 12:41-44 (quotes taken from the NKJV unless noted)

Wakelee Church ~ November 21, 2004

Theme: We can make a difference when we, like the widow, give out of our thankfulness above and beyond.

Introduction - Tough circumstances in which to be thankful

Back during the days of 1929, a group of ministers in the Northeast gathered to discuss how they should conduct their Thanksgiving Sunday services. Things were about as bad as they could get, with no sign of relief. The bread lines were depressingly long, the stock market had plummeted, and the term Great Depression seemed an apt description for the mood of the country. The ministers throught they should only lightly touch upon the subject of Thanksgiving in deference to the human misery all about them. After all, what was there to be thankful for.

But in the group, one pastor rallied the group. This was not the time, he suggested, to give mere passing mention to Thanksgiving, just the opposite. This was the time for the nation to get matters into perspective and thank God for the blessings always present, but perhaps hidden due to hardship.

Now, thank God this isn’t 1929. Some of us have lost their jobs, said good-bye to loved ones, and struggled with finances…while others have not. Some of us have friends and loved ones serving overseas, leaving a void. But this morning, just like those ministers, I believe, whether we find ourselves in the time of plenty or in the time when difficulties seem all around us, that there is always something to be thankful for.

Think of the Pilgrims, that first Thanksgiving. Half their number dead, men without a country, but they still gave thanks. Its’ that same gratitude that lead Abraham Lincoln to formally establish the first Thanksgiving Day in the midst of national civil war, when the casualty list seemed to have no end and the very nation struggled for survival.

Perhaps in your own life, right now, there’s intense hardship, emotionally, spiritually, or physically. Maybe you are experiencing your personal Great Depression. Or maybe you know of someone who is…

In any case, I want to introduce a very special lady to you. Her husband died some time ago. But in the midst of extremely difficult times, her life story made a difference. Her name we do not know, but for centuries her story has been told in Bible studies and pulpits. Unfortunately, her story has been often regulated to just giving sermons, but this morning I hope that you will join me in looking at her motive for her giving.

I personally don’t think a rabbi guilted her into her last two coins. I also don’t think she was responding to some great stewardship program. She was giving out of something deep down inside of her. And that gift, prompted Jesus to say that she had given more than any other.

I believe the widow with her gift of two mites was motivated by Thanksgiving…Thanksgiving for the opportunity to give…Thanksgiving, even in the midst of her poorness…Thanksgiving, above and beyond as she acknowledged the generosity of her God by returning the favor.

In just a few days, families around this nation will sit together, eat way too much food together, watch a bunch of TV together, and then go home without having this upcoming holiday change them a bit. In Jesus’ parable, these are rich who give out of their abundance, but it makes little change in their lives. Thankfulness is just celebrated once a year.

But what would happen if it were different this year. What would happen if, like the widow with her two coins, we come to this holiday with a level of thanksgiving that goes above and beyond the norm. Like ministers during the depression, pilgrims in the midst of loss, a president in the midst of civil war, and families today in the midst of difficulty, we have a choice.

Will we make a difference this holiday season? Will we show our thankfulness above and beyond? If so, I believe we have a great example to follow in this widow. Let’s look at four specific lessons we can learn from her about being thankful above and beyond…

(If you haven’t yet, I invite you to take out the half-sheet and follow along…)

I – Thanking above and beyond doesn’t depend on the amount we give…

“And many who were rich threw in much. Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites…” (vs. 41-42)

I think the first thing we can learn is that thanking above and beyond doesn’t depend on the amount we give. While the rich gave a whole bunch, the widow gave very little monetarily.

This week we received a letter from the Conference Youth Committee communicating that

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