Summary: Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday reminding us to be thankful; however, thanksgiving should be an attitude incorporated in our daily life.
Thanksgiving at Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving Sermon by Don Emmitte, Grace Restoration Ministries
Take Your Bibles, Please…
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. (Philippians 1:1-7 ESV).
Thanksgiving at Thanksgiving is a strange title for a sermon. However, I find it very easy to be thankful for many things while not being thankful. In fact, since November 1st I have been listing a different thing I am thankful about each day I send out the Morning Devotionals. It has been a wonderful exercise in remembering the incredible fashion God has blessed my life. One of the strange things I noticed when I reviewed the list was there was nothing on it that was even remotely negative! Isn’t it interesting how easy it is to be thankful for good things while we at best ignore the bad things? That’s what I want us to look at today. Some have called it an “attitude of gratitude.” I just want us to focus on the character of thanksgiving.
It is a wonderful testimony to that kind of Christian faith that says, “We have a national holiday where, once a year, we focus all of our attention on God, his goodness and his graciousness to us and we say, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you.’”
We know the origin of Thanksgiving, the story of how our Pilgrim Fathers living in England under an oppressive king sought religious liberty, freedom of conscience, freedom to worship God according to the dictates of their own hearts. They could not get it under that oppressive government so they moved to Holland for a while. There they were just strangers in the land under a government that only gave them concessions to worship, but it was really not a government of freedom and equality and liberty. They had a dream of finding a new land where they could establish a government and a society where all people would be equal; where all could stand equal before God and worship him according to the dictates of their hearts.
So they set sail across the harsh Atlantic. They made that journey in a little ship. Let me graphically portray it. The ship was just 28 feet wide. And it was just 113 feet long! About the same size as our sanctuary! There were 120 people, 12 of them children, and about 30 crew members on that small ship. And they set sail across the Atlantic Ocean. For thirteen weeks they battled the storms, the waves, the dangers, sickness, hardship, and finally, they landed on that Plymouth coast. On that rocky shore they fell to their knees and thanked God for bringing them to this wonderful land of promise.
Yet, it was a land that repulsed them with enemies, with unfriendly Indians who killed them. It was a land of hostile environment, of snow and storm and hunger. They built their little fortress and, during that winter, they literally starved to death. Before the winter was over, there were more crosses on the hillside than there were living people inside the barricade. But when spring came, these wonderful forefathers of ours plowed the soil and planted the seed and cultivated the crops and built a new life. When fall came, they brought in the harvest for their first year. They said, “Let us have a feast of thanksgiving to God, bringing our first fruits to him to honor him for his goodness.”
And it is well, that we, as American people, with this history and tradition and foundation of faith in God, have this as a national holiday of thanksgiving. But, there are 364 days of the rest of the year. Thanksgiving is one day, what about the other days? What about perpetual thanksgiving? That is what it ought to be. Every day should be a beautiful day! Every day is a good day when we understand it is a gift from God to us.
Thanksgiving should be every day. This attitude can change our lives. We choose the kind of attitude we are going to have. Not everyone has this attitude. I’ve met some really pessimistic people in my life of ministry. One man stood out though. He came in to see me one blustery winter day, much like we have had this past week, and when asked how he was doing, he said, “Well, some days are better and some days are worse. Today is better than tomorrow is going to be; but today is worse than yesterday.”