Summary: Thanksgiving sermon or anytime. Jacob gave a prayer of Thanksgiving unto God at a difficult time in his life. He remembered God’s promises, Recognized his unworthiness and Realized God’s Many Blessings
"GIVING THANKS AT THE CROSSROADS OF LIFE"
This week our nation celebrates the holiday of Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, I’m afraid that a lot of people in America today associate Thanksgiving more with the Macy’s parade, a special meal and a football game...than the actual giving of thanks.
The act of showing appreciation for something received isn’t as popular as it should be in American society. Actually we could probably learn a lesson in
Thanks from other cultures....At least one..
A missionary from the African country of Zimbabwe has told of an interesting custom the people have there:
In Zimbabwe, whenever you receive a
gift from an acquaintance or friend, the recipient has to extend two hands to receive it.
Even if it’s just a match to light a fire, two hands are socially necessary to grasp it. If you don’t hold out two hands, it means... you’re not thankful for the gift.
Let us read the Scripture
9 Then Jacob prayed, "O God of my father Abraham,... God of my father Isaac,.... O LORD, who said to me, ’Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper,’
10 I am unworthy of all the kindness and faithfulness you have shown your servant. I had only my staff when I crossed this Jordan, but now I have become two groups.
As we think of that custom of the people of Zimbabwe holding out two hands as a way of properly saying thanks.......Jacob stands today as an example of one who held out two hands, in prayer, to thank God for all the blessings God had given him.
We see Jacob.... the Old Testament patriarch here in the Scripture and he was standing at a crossroads point in his life,....
He was facing a crisis,...and a bit uncertain of what his future would be.... But
even at this critical point, he found a moment to lift up his hands in a prayer of thanksgiving to God.
I hope that we Christians can do the same on this approaching day of Thanksgiving and even many days if not every day..
I want you think with me today about
"GIVING THANKS AT THE CROSSROADS OF LIFE"
As we think of giving thanks at the crossroads of life... it is a great place for us to recognize at least 3 things.
I. Reminding ourselves of God’s promises.
II. Remembering our unworthiness. AND
III. Realizing God’s blessings.
What do I mean when I talk about "crossroads?"
We all have them in our lives.
They can be milestones, like marriages, births, anniversaries, or graduations.
Or they can be crises, like the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, a terrible financial predicament.
Each is a crossroad.
Jacob found himself at a crossroad that day as he stood facing the Jordan River, about to return to the land of Canaan, the land of his birth.
He was returning from 20 years of exile. During those 20 years he had worked hard on the estate of his great-uncle Laban, and had gone from poverty to riches.
He had gained huge herds of livestock.
He had gained servants.
He had married and now had many children.
But he comes to a path of returning to his homeland.
One might ask "Why did he leave his homeland in the first place?"
Because, years ago, he had cheated his brother Esau out of his birthright.
Esau had sought to kill him, and he fled. Now, twenty years later, Jacob knew that he would be meeting Esau and his army of servants the next day.
Would Esau still seek revenge? Would he kill Jacob and his family and take his wealth for his own?
Jacob was at a crossroads,....
He was facing a terrible crisis.
He understood that the path he now found himself on was a very threatening one.
And at that moment as he stood at a crossroad in his life....he did what a lot of us would never think of doing -
He offered up a prayer of thanksgiving!
It’s interesting to see the words he uses in the outpouring of his heart....his prayer,
"O God of my father Abraham,
God of my father Isaac,
O LORD, who said to me, ’Go back to your country and your relatives, and I will make you prosper...’"
It’s almost as though Jacob is reminding God of His promises!
"Remember, God -.... you promised!
You said that you’d prosper me!
But Jacob knew God’s faithfulness.
He knew the Lord never forgets a promise.
I think what Jacob was really doing was reminding himself of God’s promises!
Standing there, facing what looked like certain death at the hands of his brother, he was trying to put aside his fear and remember that God could not possibly abandon him..