Sermons

Summary: A message for Thanksgiving to encourage listeners to consider the value of a grateful heart.

“Mark this, then, you who forget God,

lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver!

The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me;

to one who orders his way rightly

I will show the salvation of God!” [1]

“The darkest hour is just before the dawn,” is the claim preserved in an ancient proverb. Applied to our relationship with God, the saying is definitely apropos. Perhaps the greatest treatise that has ever been written concerning salvation is that penned by Paul. Of course, I am referring to the New Testament book of ROMANS. Before he ever speaks of God's great salvation that is now extended to mankind, the Apostle Paul invests what seems to be at first glance an inordinate amount of time exposing the darkness of human depravity.

What is interesting as the darkness of man's fallen spirit is exposed is the Apostle's point of origin for this unveiling. He writes, “The wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them because God has shown it to them.” is the Apostle sets the stage for detailed explorations of God's saving grace in [ROMANS 1:18-19]. One great truth about God becomes clearly evident, though it is equally clearly ignored in too many circles. That which the Apostle reveals are “[God’s] invisible attributes,” identified as “His eternal power and divine nature” [ROMANS 1:20]. There is no excuse for anyone not knowing God.

With rapier swiftness Paul points out that man's ignorance is a willing condition. He writes, “Although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” [ROMANS 1:21]. Every expression of man's wickedness flows from determined refusal to be thankful to God. What is worse, the more God has blessed His people, the greater their lack of gratitude. Before ever He had blessed them with riches, God foretold their determined turning from Him despite His rich blessings. Moses recited a song in the presence of Israel. The people no doubt smiled as he spoke of the rich blessings which would come with the passage of time. He spoke of riding “on the high places of the land” and of eating “the produce of the field,” “honey out of the rock,” “oil out of the flinty rock,” curds and milk, “fat of lambs, rams of Bashan and goats” and “the very finest of the wheat.” The people probably rejoiced at the prospect of drinking “foaming wine made from the blood of the grape.” But what followed must have positively stunned them.

“Jeshurun grew fat, and kicked;

you grew fat, stout, and sleek;

then he forsook God who made him

and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation.”

[DEUTERONOMY 32:15]

That is certainly pointed; God makes it very personal, addressing Israel directly. God’s intent cannot be misunderstood. I am at a loss whether we should marvel more at the immensity of the people's ingratitude or at the magnitude of God's grace. The command delivered to Israel was for the people to “bless the LORD your God for the good land he has given you” [DEUTERONOMY 8:10-16]. The LORD would bless His people, and they were to recognise His goodness, lifting their voices in praise to loudly glorify His Name. Israel would live in a beautiful land filled with good things, and this was a mark of God’s goodness. Nevertheless, the ancient warning applies even to this day.

Throughout history, there would be a continual temptation for people to imagine that they deserved what they enjoyed because they were worth it. We see this attitude in advertising to this day. KitKat assures us, “You Deserve a Break.” Really? “You Deserve a Break Today,” was the McDonald’s lure. Really? “She Deserves the Best,” according to 1-800 flowers.com. All these advertising campaigns assure us that we are a good enough reason to have it all.

In time, people who are richly blessed tend to imagine they deserve the blessing, or they begin to imagine that they are the ones who somehow secured what they have. Make no mistake, we who live in Canada are recipients of divine blessing. We have not known famine, or war, or religious riots; God has shown us great mercy.

What would it be if we had been born into a family in China? Would we enjoy the blessings of bounty that have ensured we could feed our families? What if we had been born into a family living in Sub Saharan Africa? What if we were forced to scrabble for wood to build a fire in order to cook our meagre meal, never knowing if our family would have enough to eat for that day or whether our children would go to bed hungry again? What if our children walked several miles to draw water from a polluted ditch and they suffered incurable diseases as result of the polluted water? What if we had to worry whether government bombers would drop poison gas on our homes, killing our children and threatening our family as happens in so many places. Surely, God has blessed us. We are a privileged people to live where we live and to enjoy the peace that we enjoy. This knowledge alone is sufficient reason to be thankful each day of the year.

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