Summary: A person whose heart is empty of thanksgiving soon becomes crippled and darkened in their mental health.
(27) At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the Levites were sought out from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps and lyres. (28) The singers also were brought together from the region around Jerusalem…(29) for the singers had built villages for themselves around Jerusalem.
(31) I had the leaders of Judah go up on the top of the wall. I also assigned two large choirs to give thanks. One was to proceed on top of the wall to the right…(38) The second choir proceeded in the opposite direction... (43) And on that day they offered great sacrifices, rejoicing because God had given them great joy. The women and the children rejoiced. The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away. Nehemiah 12
The parents of a young soldier killed in action gave their church a gift of money as a memorial to their son. During the presentation service, the mother of another soldier whose son was overseas whispered to her husband, “Let’s give the same amount for our son.” “What’s the matter with you?” he asked. “Our son hasn’t died in battle.” “That’s just it,” the mother replied, “Let’s give because he has been spared.” (1)
This week our nation approaches on bended knee a holiday that has escaped the hype of Madison Ave. Except for a couple of touch football games and Santa arriving in New York the world of commercialization sleeps quietly for one day. The “butterball hide” of Thanksgiving has escaped once again. You just can’t mess it up no matter how hard you try. There are just some things that can’t be exploited.
You Can’t Exploit
You can’t exploit prayers of thanks, long distance calls, or mothers fussing around in the kitchen.
You can’t exploit a heritage that traces its roots to the pilgrims and a ship called the Mayflower. A heritage that includes that first celebration of thanking God for those still alive, because they buried more than they built houses for that first year.
You can’t exploit the themes that Thanksgiving brings to mind: bravery, sacrifice, dignity, honor, freedom and faithfulness. Those are words that don’t have an exploited bone in their body.
Most of all, how do you exploit a holiday that calls for us to turn our hearts heavenward? During Thanksgiving even those who strangely profess to be unbelievers can’t help but bow their heads in gratitude.
This Thanksgiving the United States and Canada will, once again, be the only nations that celebrate a holiday dedicated to “giving thanks.” What a proud heritage! With the turkey, dressing, and pumpkin pie comes the gratitude, “We are proud to be Americans.”
Over the next several months we will compile all kinds of lists. Shopping lists for special meals, wish lists written out for the grandparents by the kids, and a list of New Year’s resolutions forged out by exhausted, broke, and overweight Americans. On our way to the New Year it will be easy to overlook the most important list - a list of all the things we are thankful for.
One of the greatest acts of thanksgiving is buried deep within the pages of an old historical book called Nehemiah. As I was preparing for this message, the last place I expected to find much on thanksgiving was from the crusty arrangement of building events in and around 445 BC. It never occurred to me to turn to Nehemiah for a message on Thanksgiving. Nehemiah was involved in rebuilding a wall, but when it comes to rebuilding our lives, God uses the mortar of thanksgiving and the trowel of gratitude. Join me as we take a look at a people whose hearts were filled with gratitude.
The event that warranted such thanksgiving was the completion of a well-engineered, broad, stable, and well-constructed wall of protection around the ancient city of Jerusalem. The people had moved into the city and begun building their own homes, now they were ready to dedicate the wall of the city to Almighty God. What were the components of this dedication?
When we dedicate our new church, we can come to Nehemiah chapter 12:27-47 and find the blueprint for a successful dedication. Let me suggest you use these principles in your own life when you dedicate a home, a child, or a new business to God. When Nehemiah wanted to create an atmosphere of thanksgiving he knew exactly where to turn.
“ At the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem, the Levites were sought from where they lived and were brought to Jerusalem to celebrate joyfully the dedication with songs of thanksgiving and with the music of cymbals, harps and lyres.” Neh. 12:27
One translation uses the phrase, “so they might celebrate the dedication with gladness.” The Hebrew word for gladness places this spin on the text, “gaiety, mirth, pleasure and delight.” Nehemiah brought in the specialists that knew how to make the occasion joyful, thankful, and fun. Let’s have a blast in God’s presence! The whole day was to be an unforgettable occasion etched in the minds of all Israelites.