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Summary: This is a sermon on Thanksgiving, originally preached on Thanksgiving Sunday 2003.

HONOR HIM WITH THANKSGIVING

PSALM 50:7-15, 23; PSALM 36:5-10

PSALM 50:23, “HE WHO OFFERS A SACRIFICE OF THANKSGIVING HONORS ME;

AND TO HIM WHO ORDERS HIS WAY ARIGHT

I SHALL SHOW THE SALVATION OF GOD.”

--by R. David Reynolds

We all know the story of the first American Thanksgiving, or do we? We’ve heard the story of the Pilgrim’s 1621 Thanksgiving since kindergarten or first grade. The date, however, of that feast remains unknown, although we can place it sometime between September 21 and November 9 with an early October date being most reasonable. This was not the first Thanksgiving Service in the Western Hemisphere by people of European heritage. In May of 1541 the Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado observed a thanksgiving at the Palo Duro Canyon with 1,500 men in the Texas Panhandle.

On June 30, 1564, French Huguenots celebrated thanksgiving in a settlement near what is now the site of Jacksonville, Florida. , and in the spring of 1610 the residents of Jamestown, Virginia observed a thanksgiving prayer service upon the safe arrival of food supplies from England. Their winter of 1609-1610 was extremely harsh, reducing the size of their settlement from 490 to only 60. The famine was so harsh that to survive people were forced to eat their own horses [http://www.memory.loc.gov/ammem/ndlpedu/features/thanksgiving/

timeline].

The first English Thanksgiving occurred in 1578. The English explorer Martin Frobisher held a formal thanksgiving, in present day Newfoundland. Along with his powerful preacher Robert Wolfall, he worshiped with at least 100 men to thank God for delivering them from death in a stormy Atlantic voyage. Afterwards they enjoyed their Thanksgiving Dinner of salt beef, biscuits, and peas [http://www.senioryears.com/historial.html].

Harvest festivals of thanksgiving have been observed by people throughout history. In the United Kingdom harvest festivals are observed mostly in churches. These come after the wheat has been harvested and the apples picked. The sanctuaries are decorated with flowers, greenery, fruit, and vegetable displays with a loaf of bread placed in the middle. In some places it is the custom to bring a plough to the church to bless for the next year’s harvest [http://www.harvestfestivals.net/

britishfestivals.htm].

But the basis of all these thanksgiving, harvest celebrations is the Word of God. The Jewish Harvest festival is Sukkot, also know as the Feast of Tabernacles. It is celebrated for one week, and this year took place from October 10th through the 16th. It is the celebration of the wondering through the Wilderness. Huts in which people eat their meals are constructed in the synagogues and in family gardens. It is a time when Jewish hearts go out to all humankind and look forward to the time God brings “peace on earth, good will toward humanity.” [http://www.kehilasmy.org/holidays/rosh/sukot.cfm].”

God’s people are called upon 150 times in the Old and New Testaments to give Him Thanksgiving. Psalm 50:23 is our basic test for today:

“HE WHO OFFERS A SACRIFICE OF THANKSGIVING HONORS ME;

AND TO HIM WHO ORDERS HIS WAY ARIGHT

I SHALL SHOW THE SALVATION OF GOD.”

We honor God, we honor Jesus, when offer Him a sacrifice of thanksgiving. How can we offer God anything? The word offer in our text describes a sacrifice one makes in order to create communion or to seal a covenant. This is a picture of worship in which the worshiper comes seeking personal communion and fellowship with God. The word thanksgiving paints a picture of worship in song, worship in songs of praise and thanksgiving that glorify God for all His mighty deeds.

Throughout the book of Psalms the psalmist glorifies God over and again for His might deeds, and we should too. In the Psalms we have shared this morning, we can thank God for His unfailing kindness, and His faithfulness. Jeremiah does so in Lamentations 3:22-23,

“The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,

For His compassions never fail.

They are new every morning;

Great is your faithfulness.”

We can thank God that His lovingkindnesses never cease, His compassions never fail. He is a faithful God who never leaves us or forsakes us.

We can thank Him because He is a God of justice. As Abraham testifies in Genesis 18:25 the judge of all the death deals justly.

In Psalm 36 the Psalmist thanked God that “He is the well of life, and in His light we see light.” The greatest gift of all for which we can never cease to be thankful is for God’s gift of salvation in Jesus Christ. The promise to the Psalmist in our text is:

“AND TO HIM WHO ORDERS HIS WAY ARIGHT

I SHALL SHOW THE SALVATION OF GOD.”

In Jesus Christ we have received God’s light of salvation. Next week we begin to celebrate His Advent once more, remembering that Jesus came as the true Light and that “as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become the children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God (John 1:12-13).”The greatest gift of all for which we can be thankful is the gift of God’s salvation through Jesus Christ.

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