Summary: Thanksgiving is more than just a holiday celebration; it's a heart condition! Overflowing with illustrations, this topical message explores the importance of Thanksgiving and acts as a prelude to an expository sermon (part 2) on living a life of thankfuln
Thanksgiving Every Day
Scott Bayles, pastor
Blooming Grove Christian Church: 11/20/2011
So with Thanksgiving only four days away, have you thought much about what you’re thankful for this year?
I don’t know about you, but for some reason I always associate Thanksgiving with Charlie Brown. In fact, the kids and I just sat down and watched It’s Thanksgiving Charlie Brown earlier in the week. I remember this one Charlie Brown comic strip where it’s Thanksgiving Day and the aroma of roast turkey fills Charlie Brown’s house. Snoopy, outside, lying on top of his doghouse, smells that aroma, and he is thinking, “It’s Thanksgiving Day. Everybody eats turkey on Thanksgiving Day.” So he lies there, watching the back door, eagerly awaiting his Thanksgiving dinner. Finally, the door opens and here comes Charlie Brown with a bowl of dog food. He sets it on the ground in front of Snoopy who hops off his house and stares at the dog food with a forlorn look on his face. And he thinks, “Just because I’m a dog, I have to eat dog food on Thanksgiving Day.” Then the next panel shows him looking at the dog food more intently, and he’s thinking, “I guess it could be worse. I could be the turkey.”
So if you haven’t thought of anything else yet, you can at least be thankful that you’re not a turkey. The Bible says, “Pray continually, and give thanks whatever happens. That is what God wants for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18 NCV). Another translation says, “be thankful in all circumstances” (NCV). God wants us to be thankful, to give thanks no matter what happens in life, no matter what our circumstances. He wants every day to be Thanksgiving Day for those of us who belong to Jesus. Unfortunately, we don’t always live thankful lives, do we?
At the opposite end of the cartoon spectrum from Charlie Brown, I remember watching an episode of The Simpsons when I was kid where Bart, whose been in fourth grade for about twenty-five years now, is asked to give thanks for the meal. He bows his head, and begins, “Dear God, my mom cooked all this food, and my dad worked to earn the money, and we paid for all this stuff ourselves, so thanks for nothing. Amen.” Of course Bart got sent to his room, but could it be that Bart was just saying the prayer that a lot of people have been living?
Martian Luther once observed, “The greater God's gifts and works, the less they are regarded.” Looking at the culture we live in today, I’d have to agree. It seems to me that we tend to exhibit a degree of thankfulness in life in reverse proportion to the amount of blessings we’ve received. This really isn’t anything new, however.
Just think about the Israelites wondering in the desert after they were emancipated from Egypt. When they needed food, the Lord said, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you” (Exodus 16:4 NIV). God supplied them with manna, this wafer like substance that tasted as sweet as honey. Each morning when the Israelites woke up, they would peak out from their tents and see the ground just be covered with the stuff, the sun glistening off the manna like snow covered fields. Each day they would gather as much as they needed, then when the sun grew hot, it just melted away. Every day they experienced a mighty miracle of God; yet they still grew ungrateful and after a while started complaining that their morning meals had become a mundane and bland.
Jesus experienced something similar. In Luke 17, we read that Jesus healed ten men who were all suffering from leprosy—a disease that kills your nerve endings and deadens your sense of pain. Without any sense of pain, lepers would often injure and disfigure themselves because they couldn’t sense that they were being hurt. Jesus healed them, sent them to temple to be assessed by the priest, then the Bible says, “One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done” (Luke 17:15-16 NLT).
Then Jesus looked around and said, “Weren't ten men healed? Where are the other nine?” (Luke 17:17 NCV). Only one out of ten actually came back to say thank you. I wonder which one I would have been. Which one would you have been?
But because that one returned, Jesus said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well” (Luke 17:19 NIV).
Have you ever wondered why Jesus said that? I mean, obviously he was made well. All ten of them were made well. But I think Jesus had something other than leprosy in mind here. I think he was talking about a spiritual healing. That phrase—your faith has made you well—can also be translated, “your faith has saved you.” His faithfulness and his thankfulness restored his relationship with God. It drew him closer to God.