Summary: Thanksgiving is more than just a day. It is a lifestyle. It is more about our attitude than it is about platitudes; about the virtue of giving thanks for all that we have received from God. It is an attitude of gratitude for everything God has provided.
A country preacher decided to skip services one Sunday to spend the day hiking in the wilderness. Rounding a sharp bend in the trail, he collided with a bear and was sent tumbling down a steep grade. He landed on a rock and broke both legs.
With the angry bear charging at him from a distance, the preacher prayed, “O Lord, I’m so sorry for skipping services today. Please forgive me and grant me just one wish---make a Christian out of that bear that’s coming at me!”
At that very instant, the bear skidded to a halt, fell to his knees, clasped his paws together, and began to pray out loud at the preacher’s feet, “Dear God, please bless this food I am about to receive.”
I read a news story about an elderly lady in West Palm Beach, Florida who died recently. The coroner’s report read “Cause of death…malnutrition.” At the time of her death, she weighed 50 pounds.
When the state authorities began their investigation into the lady’s death, they found that her house was a pigpen. She begged food from her neighbours and got what little clothing she had from the Salvation Army. She appeared to be a hermit, but that was not the case. In the mess officials found two keys to safe-deposit boxes at two local banks. In one box were over 700 AT&T stock certificates and hundreds of other valuable stocks, bonds and financial securities along with a stack of cash amounting to over $200,000. The other box contained over $600,000 in cash. Altogether the lady had a net worth of over one million dollars. The estate went to a distant niece and nephew, neither of whom dreamed that their aunt had a cent to her name.
The lady wasn’t saving her money. She was worshipping it, just like many people worship material goods such as food, clothing and shelter. She would have been wise to heed the words of the apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 6:7: “Don’t put your hope in wealth, which is so uncertain. But put your hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” God doesn’t tell us not to stop worrying about food and shelter and clothing because we don’t really need them. He knows we need them. He wants us to stop worrying because he has promised to take care of every need we have.
The blessings God offers us fill every need that we have. Today, as we celebrate the Canadian Thanksgiving, we pause to give thanks to God for everything he has given us. We pause to remember the words of the old hymn, “All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above. Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord, for all His love.”
With God on our side, we do not need to worry about our needs. He will supply our needs, and not necessarily out wants. For example, if we need a car and approach God in prayer with our request, he might give us a ’57 Chevy even thought we sing the old song, “O Lord, won’t you buy me a Mercedes-Benz.” God knows our needs and so he will take care of us. We have to balance our desires with God’s wisdom and blessing. If we believe in him, he will take care of our needs and we can concentrate on living one day at a time.
This sermon is being preached at a very difficult economic time, especially for this area. The local paper mill has closed and many people have lost their jobs. Some, like my own brother and his girlfriend, have had to move out west, particularly to Fort McMurray, Alberta, to find work. Personally, my work hours have been cut by 40% at one of my jobs. For some of us, the hard times have hit us very hard. For others, tough times have hit home. Some of us doubt Jesus when he tells us not to worry, but we must remember that he follows those words with the promise that God will take care of us.
God provides our lives and our bodies. He is powerful enough to create life, so he is powerful enough to provide for that life. Worrying about our needs does not guarantee that they will be met. If we worry about our needs, it shows that we have little faith in God’s promise to care for us and his power to fulfill that promise. To be successful in our hearts, we have to accept Christ, follow Christ and serve Christ. We can make God our number one priority by serving him instead of man and by using what he has given us to help others. For example, I see that the church is nicely decorated with all sorts of fruits and vegetables which have been donated by many of you. After the service, these gifts will be taken to the local food bank to be shared with the less fortunate in our community. This simple act fulfills Jesus’ instructions to share what we have with the poor.