Summary: The Invitation, Motivation and Celebration of Thanksgiving
Have you ever met someone who just seemed impossible to please. A large dog walks into a butcher shop carrying a purse in its mouth. He puts the purse down and sits in front of the meat case. "What is it, boy?" the butcher jokingly asks. "Want to buy some meat?" "Woof!" barks the dog. "Hmm," says the butcher. "What kind? Liver, bacon, steak . . ." "Woof!" interrupts the dog. "And how much steak? Half a pound, one pound . . ." "Woof!" The amazed butcher wraps up the meat and finds the money in the dog’s purse. As the dog leaves a man waiting in line is watching everything that happened. He decides to follow the dog. It goes down the street and enters an apartment house, climbs to the third floor and begins scratching at a door. With that, the door swings open and an angry man starts shouting at the dog. "Stop!" yells the man. "He’s the most intelligent animal I’ve ever seen!" "Intelligent?" says the man. "This is the third time this week he’s forgotten his key."
You ever feel like that man? You see something amazing and it is met with a less than enthusiastic and unthankful response? This weekend is Thanksgiving, and I want to talk about giving thanks today.
Psalms 100:1 A psalm. For giving thanks. Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. 2 Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. 3 Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. 5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
In this Psalm we see three things about thankfulness.
1. The Invitation of Thanksgiving (4)
Thanksgiving is a time that is set aside to remember to give thanks to God for all we have. Thanksgiving became an official Canadian holiday back on Thursday, January 31, 1957 when the Canadian Parliament proclaimed that Thanksgiving was to be “A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed.” From the beginning the focus was giving thanks to God. It was an invitation to the nation to give thanks. We see this invitation in the psalm we read today;
Psalm 100:4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.
In this verse the invitation to thankfulness is given. God invites us into His presence. I talked about this a few weeks ago when I talked about the fact that Jesus stands at the door and knocks. He is inviting us to come. To respond to his love and grace. God wants to spend time with us.
When I was in seminary (1990) I got a tape from a band called Crumbacher-Duke called World’s Away. On the tape there was a song that always made me think called The Last Time. It goes like this; “And was the last time you heard from me the last I heard from you? Does my lack of inspiration mean your blue, from silence. Can it really be, the last time that you heard from me, was the last time I heard from you, oh how long since the last time…”
This song is God asking the question, “is the last time you gave thanks the last time you had something to be thankful for.” The answer of course is no. We see God’s blessings all the time but fail to take the time to say thank you for them.
Max Lucado tells about living as an American in Brazil. One day, as he was walking along the street on his way to the University to teach a class, he felt a tug on his pants leg. Turning around, he saw a little boy about 5 or 6 years old with dark beady eyes and a dirty little face. The little boy looked up at the big American and said, "Bread, Sir." He was a little beggar boy and Lucado said, "There are always little beggar boys in the streets of Brazil. Usually I turn away from them because there are so many and you can’t feed them all. But there was something so compelling about this little boy that I couldn’t turn away. So, taking his hand, I said, `Come with me’ and I took him into a coffee shop." Max told the owner, "I’ll have a cup of coffee and give the boy a piece of pastry…whatever he wants." Since the coffee counter was at the other end of the store, Max walked on and got a cup of coffee, forgetting about the little boy because beggar boys usually get the bread and then run back out into the street and disappear. But this one didn’t. After he got his pastry, he went over to the big American and just stood there until Lucado felt his staring eyes. Lucado said, "I turned and looked at him. Standing up, his eyes just about hit my belt buckle. Then slowly his eyes came up until they met mine. The little boy, holding his pastry in one hand, looked up and said, ‘Thank you, sir. Thank you very much.’” Lucado said, "I was so touched by the boy’s thanks that I would have bought him the store. I sat there for another 30 minutes, late for my class, just thinking about a little beggar boy who came back and said, `Thank you.’"