Thanks For The Things You Have Done
A father and his son were seated at the dining room table, while the mother was finishing the final preparations on the family’s dinner. While the father and son were seated, the father asked the son if he would say the prayer for the meal. The youngster nodded his head, and said that he would pray. The mother placed the last of the meal on the table, and sat down. The boy looked around the table at the food for a moment, and began to pray. He said, "God, I’m not sure what it is. But thanks anyway. And I’ll still eat it."
I don’t think that was what Paul had in mind in 2 Corinthians 9:15, when he wrote, "Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift."
Consider Psalm 92:1-2, "It is good to give thanks to the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night."
Thanksgiving is an occasion which has some Christians perplexed. They question "for what can I give thanks?" That is a good question.
1. Lives of wealth and luxury
Some of us have been able to fulfill our dreams to surround ourselves with the best things of life. Our banking accounts are doing fine. Our portfolio is showing healthy growth. On average, we are able to replace our cars every 3 to 4 years.
We live in a nation that has developed an economic system that is designed to foster a sense that we need more and newer and better. So we replace the television with one that gives us a larger picture. We replace the shelf system stereo with theatre surround sound. We buy the riding lawn mower when we could use the exercise from the pushing mover.
Even the US poor are rich by the world’s standards. The average income in the third world is $180 annually.
Can I be thankful for my life of wealth and luxury. You bet I can, but in a world of poverty there must be something greater for which to say thanks.
Georgia Finch was an old woman who was on retirement benefits. Her retirement check did not cover her monthly expenses. One month, she came across the scripture: "I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their seed begging for bread." She decided she would take God at His word when the cupboards ran bear. On three consecutive days, Georgia Finch went into the breakfast nook, and sat by the window, and repeated those words. On the first day three boys walked by and wondered what this silly woman was doing. They passed again on the second day. On the third day, they decided they were going to have a little fun. They went to the store and bought a loaf of bread and returned to Miss Finch’s home. When she began her prayer, one of the boys who had climbed up to the roof dropped the bread into the hearth. At the sound, Georgia looked to the hearth, and saw the loaf, and picked it up and began to dance around the room. The boys scurried to the door. When Georgia Finch answered their knock, they said, "Lady, God did not give you that bread. We did!" Georgia Finch looked them sternly and stated, "I prayed that God would sent me this bread, and I believe he did it, even if he used the devil to deliver it."
Food is an obvious item for which to give thanks on thanksgiving. We have the turkey, the dressing, sweet potatoes, and cranberry sauce. And to top it all of pumpkin pie. Some of us may gorge ourselves to a place where we will hardly be able to move.
Yet in the midst of that feast, I will be forced to call to mind all of those who do not have anything to eat. Ten years ago, we all heard about the starvation in Africa, but while much of it continues in Sudan and Ethiopia we don’t hear about it anymore.
There are even those in our community who will have just a small morsel of which they shall eat.
Can I be thankful for the meals which appear as a banquet spread. You bet I can, as well as the smaller blessings of my normal meals. But in a world of hunger and starvation there must be something greater for which to say thanks.
I am thankful for my present home. I have lived in a wide assortment of homes in my adult life. They have included a 12’ x 48’ trailer for a family of four, a house that the additional had a 5 degree lean, to a rental home that sold 3 days after moving in. I have even been homeless for a short period of time with a family of five living in someone else’s basement. So my five bedroom house with two baths, a large deck, swimming pool, and fenced backyard is a real treat.
We have homes: some which are small, some which are huge; some which are lavish, some which are simple; some which are neatly kept in order, some that look lived in.
Jesus said, "The birds of the air have nests, but I have no place on which to lay my head."
It is easy to think that the homeless are on the street because they want to be there. But the homeless are looking less and less like the skid-row bum, and more and more like your neighbor next door. Mental and emotional difficulties, Millie … Medical expenses, Bill.
Estimates have risen from 350,000 in the early 70’s to an estimate of 19 million in 2000. Recent reports have estimated that 1.5 million people are behind on mortgages payments and subject to foreclosure.
We have seen in the last few years several devastating events that have had an ongoing result of homeless ness.
Can I be thankful for my home, a place of warmth and shelter. You bet I can, and I should. But in a world of homelessness there must be something greater for which to say thanks.
Whenever I have asked people to share items for which they are thankful friends are always rather high.
Friends are those that share the most exciting and depressing times of our lives. We especially have our Christian brothers and sisters, which we can be thankful for. Those whom the Scriptures say are their to exhort, to encourage, to confront and to comfort.
But the 2000 census determined that more Americans are living alone than ever before. Many of them are senior citizens who express one of the highest degrees of loneliness.
In a survey in Sassy magazine, it was determined that 45% of high school girls cry at least once a week due to loneliness.
We can dismiss this as the people didn’t try, or we can see it for the true need that exists.
We live in a world where someone can be in a crowded room and feel alone, even in the church. We have walled ourselves off from one another to protect ourselves from others, and found that we have become the victims of those very walls.
Even church relations are strained. The statement has been made and often repeated: "The church is the only place that kills their wounded."
Can I be thankful for friends who care for me and for whom I can show my affection? You bet I can. But in a world of heart wrenching loneliness there must be something greater for which to say thanks.
My family has been a great blessing. I have been married for 17 years, and the love of my wife has never been greater. I have a 13 year old son, a 11 year old daughter, a 6 year old daughter, and an 18 month old son, and each has been a joy to watch as they have passed through each exciting stage.
For those who have a stable family life they indeed have one of the greatest blessings. It is a place of nurture. It is a place of support. It is a place for love. It is a place for instruction.
However, the most recent census determined that 45% of Americans now live in non-traditional families. The divorce rate is still hovering around 50%, but studies are showing some deep wounds in the children of these divorces.
But even two parent families have problems. A recent study showed that dads spend 7.5 minutes with their Jr. High sons per week. Child and wife abuse are becoming more open.
Should I be thankful for my family? You bet I should, but in a world where the family is deteriorating or strained there must be something greater for which to say thanks.
6. God’s Grace
Transition - All of those things are good. We are to demonstrate thanksgiving for them. They are not to be taken for granted. But they must all be seen as an extension of what we all have to be thankful for.
It can best be shared in two songs:
Andre Crouch - "My Tribute"
How can I say thanks for the things you have done for me
Things so undeserved yet you gave to prove your love for me
The voices of a million angels could not express my gratitude
All that I am and ever hope to be I owe it all to Thee
To God be the glory, to God be the glory
To God be the glory for the things He has done
With His blood He has saved me
With His power He has raised me
To God be the glory for the things He has done
Just let me live my life
Let it be pleasing Lord to Thee
And if I gain any praise let it go to Calvary
Paul’s song of praise in Ephesians 1:3-14. Praise is closely akin to thanksgiving.
That is the indescribable gift. We can all be thankful for God’s grace, demonstrated in Christ. No earthly circumstances can take that gift away. Aside from the grace of God other blessings amount to nothing
Should I be thankful for the grace of God, which was the only way sin could be removed. You bet I must. In the midst of all that God has granted, I must not forget his grace.
"To God be the glory for the things He has done." To God be praise forever.