Summary: How do we respond to God’s invitation?

Iliff and Saltillo UM church

November 24, 2002

Thanksgiving Message

"God’s Open Invitation"

Isaiah 25: 6-9

Luke 14:15-24

INTRODUCTION: This week is Thanksgiving. You probably have certain traditions and special ways you celebrate with family and friends. More than likely you will have turkey and dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry salad, and pumpkin pies with many many other things on the table as well. You may gather together to reconnect with people you haven’t seen all year or you may travel to other places to visit. It’s not only a time to stuff ourselves with all kinds of delicious food and watch football games, but it is also a time to take inventory of what we have to be thankful for.

STORY: A college professor tells about his very first job in a general store. When he was 13 he was hired to do odd jobs around the store--sweep the store, stock the shelves, and bag groceries for customers. One day the owner said, "It’s that time of the year again--time to take inventory." He was not familiar with that term so he wrote it down and when an opportune time came, he asked, "What is an inventory?"

The boss explained that it was time to make a list of everything that you had from groceries on the shelves to wrapping paper and string. The boy said, "Why?"

The owner patiently answered, "Well, it’s easy to forget how much you have each year. Every now and then you have to take inventory just to see what all you have."

That little story sums up what Thanksgiving is all about. It is a time when each of us needs to ask the question: "Have I taken inventory of my life lately? Have I made an effort to count all the things that I DO have instead of complaining about the things I DON’T have?

You might say, "I can’t think of much to be thankful for. This hasn’t been the greatest year for me." I realize that some years are not as good as others jobwise, healthwise, or in lots of other ways. Well, if you can’t think of anything, here are 7 things to be thankful for as you begin your own inventory.

7 Things to be Thankful For

1. for automatic dishwashers. They make it possible to get out of the kitchen before the family comes in for their after-dinner snacks.

2. for husbands who attack small repair jobs around the house. They usually make them big enough to call in professionals.

3. for the bathtub--the one place the family allows Mom some time to herself.

4. for children who put away their things and clean up after themselves. They’re such a joy you hate to see them go home to their own parents.

5. for gardening. It’s a relief to deal with dirt outside the house for a change.

6. for teenagers. They give parents an opportunity to learn a second language.

7. for smoke alarms. They let you know when the turkey’s done.

When we think of being thankful, sometimes we tend to get bogged down by being too SOMBER and SERIOUS when it comes to our religion. Jesus said, "I have come that [you] may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:10). Another translation says, "I have come that you may have life more abundantly."

Today’s scriptures from the Old Testament Prophet Isaiah and from Luke, speak of this abundant life. How do these scriptures apply to Thanksgiving? Just how do they connect and apply to us today?

1. The Lord’s Feast: The Old Testament prophets searched diligently for salvation and God’s grace. In scripture salvation is often referred to as a feast or a banquet. A feast is made up of good things to nourish and refresh. The gospel makes glad the heart and raises the spirits. The Old Testament prophets looked forward to the time that Jesus would come into the world and lift the darkness of sin. In Isaiah’s time the people needed the hope of a better day. In this prophecy he said, "On this mountain the Lord will prepare a feast of rich foods for all people--a banquet of aged wine--the best of meats and the finest of wines." At that point the people only had a future Hope of what God was going to do. Isaiah is looking down to New Testament times when the gospel message would be open to both the Jews AND the Gentiles alike. Isaiah had seen the sorrow and tears of the people of God--much of it brought on by their own disobedience. He said and one day "death will be swallowed up forever. The Lord will wipe away all tears." Paul speaks of this final victory over death in I Corinthians 15:55-56 when he says, "Where, O death, is your victory, where O death is your sting?" The sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." John writes in Rev. 21:4, "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain for the old order of things has passed away."

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