Summary: A Thanksgiving Message
ONE MAN’S THANKSGIVING
INTRO: ILLUS: THANKSGIVING PROCLAMATION Over 300 years ago, William Bradford, the governor of Plymouth Colony, made the following announcement:
TO YE PILGRIMS
Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience; now, I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November ye 29th of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three, and third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor, and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings. (Proclaim, Oct. 1986, page 39).
Thanksgiving is not just a national holiday; it is the heart of Christian worship. In order that the Israelites might understand this, God initiated three annual feasts as reminders: 1. Passover. 2. The Feast of Weeks. 3. The Feast of Tabernacles. Every one of these reminded God’s people of His blessings on them and of their need to express thanksgiving. Grace and gratitude went together. Let’s look at an example out of the Bible. READ TEXT! This passage portrays the typical attitude of people today toward thanksgiving directed to God.
I. THE PICTURE OF GRACE.
Making His way to Jerusalem, Jesus had to pass near the border of Samaria and chanced to meet ten lepers. At that time leprosy was an umbrella term for several ulcerous, contagious diseases and also a "sure sign of sin." The common tragedy of the disease was isolation, reducing most of them to beggars. "No hope” characterized their very existence!
Jesus gave them a strange command: “Go and show yourselves to the priest.” This is somewhat reminiscent of the advice the prophet Elisha gave to Naaman (2 Kings 5:10). In essence, the command was a test of faith.
The amazing fact is, they started without question and, “as they went, they were cleansed” (v. 14). They were cured of the incurable!
II. THE PROBLEM OF THANKLESSNESS.
The scripture reads, “And one of them...turned back” (v. 15). One out of ten and he was a Samaritan! Jesus looked at him and uttered these probing words: “Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?” (v. 17).
Obviously their desire or request for help was more important to them than their gratitude to the one who helped them. How often this takes place in our lives. In addition, these nine accepted God’s gift and forgot the giver. After the cure there was little need for the One who cured. Although God is not vain, He does like to hear thank you. Jeremiah mentions this and so does the Psalmist (Jeremiah 2:32; Psalm 107:2).
III. THE PORTRAYAL OF GRATITUDE.
Attitude is the beginning point. Little children could teach us. Listen to them pray. They thank God for everything — sunshine, grass, trees, food, homes, mothers, and daddies. They haven’t for-gotten that everything is a gift from God.
Attitude ought to produce action. Thanksgiving involves what we say and what we do, our words and our ways. We ought to express thanksgiving by lip and life. One without the other is hollow. Both evidence the spirit of gratitude God rejoices to see.
CONC: A simple story told by James Pleitz illustrates how easily we forget how blessed we are.
Two children dressed in ragged and outgrown clothes, huddled inside the storm door. “Any old papers, lady?” The woman was busy and wanted to say so— until she looked down on their feet and saw their sandals sopped with sleet. “Come in the house, I’ll make you a cup of hot cocoa,” she said. They said nothing but came in with their wet feet and sat on the floor in front of the fire. Hot cocoa and toast with jelly warmed them from the chilling cold outside.
She went back to the kitchen and started again on housework. The silence in the front room struck her and she looked in. The girl held her empty cup in her hands, looking at it. The boy asked in a flat voice, “Lady, are you rich!” “Am I rich” Mercy, no!” was the reply.
She looked at her shabby slipcovers and the worn place in the rug. The girl put her cup in her saucer — carefully. “Your cups match your saucers,” she said. Her voice had a hunger not from the stomach. They left with their papers under their arms and had not even said thank you. They didn’t need to.