Summary: For Christians, Thanksgiving is a day to acknowledge that everything we have is a gift from God, & to lift our hearts in thanksgiving to Him. But we're not very good at saying "Thank you," are we? . (PowerPoints available - #113)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(PowerPoints used with this message are available for free. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #113.)
A. Many holidays have two different celebrations or connotations - one worldly, & the other, Christian.
The world celebrates Easter with Easter bunnies & Easter eggs & new clothes & spring breaks - heralding the coming of spring.
But Easter is a holy day for Christians, a time when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, His victory over sin & death, & our hope for eternal life. It is a very special day for us.
Christmas is another such holiday. For the world it is Xmas, & Santa Claus coming down the chimney, & toys.
But for Christians, Christmas celebrates the miracle of the virgin birth. And we realize that God loves us so much that He came into our world to live & die among us, & teach us how to live both now & for all eternity.
Likewise, for many, Thanksgiving has become just a "Turkey Day," a day to throw our diets into the wastebasket, engage in a ritual of overeating, & watch football until we're fast asleep.
But for Christians, Thanksgiving is a day to acknowledge that everything we have is a gift from God, & to lift our hearts in thanksgiving to Him.
B. But we're not very good at saying "Thank you," are we?
ILL. We're like a little boy I heard about. On his return from a party, his mother asked him, "Bobby, did you thank the lady for the party?" He answered, "Well, I was going to. But the girl ahead of me said, ‘Thank you,’ & the lady told her not to mention it. So I didn't."
It almost seems that we have to be trained to express gratitude, doesn't it?
ILL. Ethel and I have 9 grandchildren & 4 great-grandchildren. And of the great-grandchildren, one of them is going through that traumatic phase of life called "The Terrible Twos" & another one is approaching it.
One thing I've noticed about kids going through that phase is that no one had to teach them how to say "No!" No one had to teach them to grab something & yell "Mine!" And no one had to teach them to cry when they were unhappy. They did all that without any coaching at all.
But they had to be taught to say "Thank you," & "please," & to be unselfish with their toys. You see, by nature, we're not normally thoughtful & thankful for what we receive. In fact, we often completely overlook many of the blessings that come our way.
ILL. Gene Perrett suggests that we have more things to be thankful about than we realize. For example, he lists these things:
"Be grateful for automatic dishwashers. They make it possible for mother to get out of the kitchen before the kids come back for between meal snacks.
"Be grateful for husbands who attack small repair jobs around the house. They usually make them big enough to call in professionals who'll do it right.
"Be grateful for children who put away their things & clean up after themselves. They're such a joy to have around that you hate to see them go home to their own parents.
"Be grateful for teenagers. They give parents an opportunity to learn a second language.
"And at Thanksgiving, be grateful for smoke alarms. They let you know when the turkey's done."
ILL. Now in a bit more serious tone - I am thankful for:
The sound of the alarm clock early in the morning because it means I’m alive.
The clothes that fit a little too snug because it means I have plenty to eat.
A lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning, & gutters that need fixing because it means I have a home.
All the complaining about our government because it means we have freedom of speech.
My weary & aching muscles at the end of the day because it means I have been productive.
C. We have so much for which to be thankful, don't we?
Listen to Luke 12:22-24, "Jesus said to His disciples, ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.
‘Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!’"
One thing that particularly touches me in this passage is that Jesus says that we are valuable in God’s sight. He cares about us, & He showers His blessings upon us even though there are many who have turned away from Him.