Summary: THANKSGIVING IS A PRIVILEGE OF THE LIVING. This message, taken from the near-death experience of Hezekiah, connects thanksgiving with hope in a mutually perpetuating cycle. It answers four questions of hope
Thanksgiving, November 18, 2001-- AM
No Hope? No thanks!
Isaiah 38:1-20 (*18)
(1) Donn Moomaw is sort of a larger-than-life person, so he has a lot of larger-than-life stories that are really funny. This is true. When he was preaching at Bel Air, a lady came up to him after a sermon and said, "Oh, Reverend Moomaw, I just have to tell you that every sermon you preach is better than your next." He thanked her in the way Donn would thank her for that.
Then he went home and began to think that over. Now that is the compliment that a pessimist can give. If you’re a pessimist and you want to give a pessimist compliment, that is one. "Every sermon you preach is better than your next." It’s a downhill slide. Earl Palmer, "A Durable Hope," Preaching Today, Tape No. 47.
(2) A life without hope is a downhill slide. A life without thanksgiving is a life headed toward the slope because it does not feed hope.
(3) What is Thanksgiving? For American Christians, it is a season highlighted by a day. Because of God¡¦s provision for our earliest forefathers, generations since have also been urged to express their gratitude to our benevolent and Divine creator. The season of Thanksgiving means that we again acknowledge the blessing of God on our lives. It means that God should receive the fruit of gratefulness from the hearts and lips of His people. We then bless Him with appreciation.
The season of Thanksgiving means that our business and ¡§busyness¡¨ decelerate to acknowledge God as God. Our focus must not be on what we do not have. Our worries, then, are not our source of nervous energy by which we power our days. To the contrary, thanksgiving is a means to confidence, or even a cure for worry.
The Thanksgiving observance is like Spring cleaning for our spirits. It provides conditions, then improves conditions and potentially develops patterns by which life is lived the rest of the year. It is a time of renewal, concentrating on gratitude that clears our lives of iniquities in attitude that tend to accumulate gradually over months throughout a year. Thanksgiving is a reminder. It is a revival. It is a resource. It is a righteous activity. Thanksgiving is evidence of spiritual life that has not ceased.
I would be ready, Lord,
My house in order set,
None of the work Thou gavest me
To do unfinished yet.
I would be watching, Lord,
With lamp well-trimmed and clear,
Quick to throw open wide the door,
What time Thou drawest near.
I would be waiting, Lord,
Because I cannot know
If in the night or morning watch
I may be called to go.
I would be waking, Lord,
Each day, each hour for Thee,
Assured that thus I wait thee well,
Whene’er Thy coming be.
I would be living, Lord,
As ever in Thine eye;
For whoso lives the nearest Thee,
The fittest is to die.
ƒÞ Author Unknown -- Glen V. Wheeler, 1010 Illustrations, Poems and Quotes, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing, 1967), p. 132.
(5) As we live, we should praise the Lord, for it is the living who praise Him (verse 19). Give Him thanks for every day that allows us to live without debilitating pain. Working in the rain is an ability denied to many who are bedridden. Don¡¦t save things for special moments and forget that every moment that you have with each other is special.
This California woman wrote, "No matter how bad the pain is, it’s never so bad that suicide is the only answer. Suicide doesn’t end pain. It only lays it on the broken shoulders of the survivors." And she ends her story. "By the way: to all the doctors, nurses and psychiatrists who forced me to live when I didn’t want to -- thank you for keeping breath in my lungs and my heart beating and encouraging hope in me when I didn’t have any hope." -- Newsweek, Feb. 7, 1983, p. 13.
Don’t wait. It could result in something you regret for the rest of your days. I realized this anew when I read an article that appeared in mid-April back in ’85 in the Los Angeles Times. If it doesn’t get you off the dime, nothing will. A lady named Ann wells writes:
My brother-in-law opened the bottom drawer of my sister’s bureau and lifted out a tissue-wrapped package.
"This," he said, "is not a slip. This is lingerie." He discarded the tissue and handed me the slip. It was exquisite; silk, handmade and trimmed with a cobweb of lace. The price tag with an astronomical figure on it was still attached.
"Jan bought this the first time we went to New York, at least eight or nine years ago. She never wore it. She was saving it for a special occasion. Well, I guess this is the occasion."