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Giving Thanks To God!
The observance of Thanksgiving Day is a distinctly American tradition.
Its practice began 350 years ago. In 1621, on American shores, grateful 17th century pilgrims gave thanks
for a modest harvest, and for a 20 acre plot that promised to carry them through another hard winter.
For over a century our nation has observed this festive day by a presidential decree.
Thanksgiving Day is a distinctly religious observance.
It was set aside as a day of prayer and praise.
In 1863 President Lincoln set aside the last Thursday in November "as a day of Thanksgiving and praise
for our beneficient Father who dwelleth in the heavens."
Thanksgiving day is not set aside in order that we might concentrate all our gratitude within that day,
and take God's gifts for granted the rest of the year.
Someone has suggested that we should change Thanksgiving Day into a day of grumbling and complaining,
and spend the other 364 days of the year in thanksliving.
Benjamin Franklin recalled a childhood experience that brought a sharp rebuke from his father.
An old pork barrel was situated near the table from which the father always prayed for the day's needs.
Then, his father would always pray the prayer, "We thank Thee, Father, for the meat Thou hast set before us."
One day young Ben worked up enough courage to suggest, "Father, why not say one prayer over the whole barrel
and get it over with; then, we won't have to thank the Lord for every meal and for every piece of meat we eat."
Isn't this often what we do?
Never has a generation been so blessed with material comforts and possessions as in our day.
We flip a switch on our wall and expect light, and we forget that there are people who work to keep the electricity flowing.
And we are unmoved when we hear that one has lost his life while on his job keeping our power working.
In the book, Wind, Sand, and Stars written by a pilot of the French Sahara Airline during World War II,
- We turn the faucet on in our kitchen and the water flows.
- We waste water in our country.
- We don't appreciate how precious water is until we don't have it.
In most countries of the world water is precious and appreciated.
we read of three Moors from the desert, who had never seen a tree, a rose, or a flowing river in their native land.
After the war, they were guests in Europe.
They were shown a waterfall in the French Alps.
Now, to them, water was worth its weight in gold.
This extravagance was overwhelming.
The guide was ready to move on, but they insisted on waiting.
"Why do you want to wait?" the guide asked.
Their amazing reply was, "We are waiting for the falls to come to an end."
It was simply beyond their comprehension that God should so graciously supply water that kept on flowing.
This water had been running without fail for over 1,000 years.
When they returned to their homeland, they said very little about the waterfalls.
No one would believe them anyway.
The Psalmist, in a time when his heart sang in praise in an awareness of God's gracious gifts,
asked himself the question, "What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?"
He answers with three responses:
I will take the cup of salvation -- Psalm 116: 13
This is the first step.
The greatest gift of God to mankind is the gift of His Son.
The Bible tells us that "The wages of sin is death, but..." (Romans 6: 23)
No one can sincerely say, "God, we thank You for sending your Son to die for our sins,"
and not receive that Son as his own Saviour.
To reject God's Son and His claims upon our life is to say, "So far as I am concerned,
He might as well not have come to the earth."
The first response of gratitude is to "Take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the Lord."
What a blessed promise: "But as many as do receive Him, to them it is the gift of life."
"I will pay my vows..." -- Psalm 116:14
"I will pay them," the Psalm suggests, "in the presence of all His people."
These are public vows.
They began with a public profession of faith.
We declare our allegiance to Christ and His church.
Like the public vows of marriage made by two excited people deeply in love, our public vows as Christians place us
on record and under obligation to be consistent and faithful to our vows and to Christ and His church.
Think back on all the vows you have made since that first one.
- Remember the high, emotional experience when that baby was born, and you held in your arms a life of your own flesh.
- Remember that revival meeting.
- Remember that Vacation Bible School experience.
- Remember that time of the great sorrow or great joy.
- Remember that time of great depression or of great victory when God was so close and blessed you so much.
Thanksgiving Day is a wonderful time to pay our vows to the Lord in the presence of all His people.
- Remember that time when you promised to receive Jesus as your Saviour, if He would just get you out of
the mess that you created.
- Remember that time when you experienced God's forgiveness.
- Remember that time when you promised God that you would love Him more each day.
- Remember that time when you surrendered everything to God.
"I will assume the role of the servant." (Psalm 116:16)
"O, Lord, truly I am Thy servant," the Psalmist writes.
When we assume the role of the servant, we are most like our Lord.
The word "minister" means "servant."
The word "deacon" means "servant."
The New Testament declares that all Christians are called to be "ministers" -- "servants" -- in the sense
that we are to be concerned with ministering to the needs of others rather than being concerned with being served by others.
Jesus said of His coming, "The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister."
Let us follow His example.
Let us translate our Thanksgiving into thanksliving.
When Jesus addressed Simon Peter with the question, "Do you love Me?"
He followed Peter's declaration with the words, "Feed My sheep."
In other words, if you love Me , do something about it!
Thanksgiving must not be mere words.
The Pharisee started his prayer with the words,
"God, I thank Thee," but followed those words with a bigoted, self-centered eulogy about his own self-righteousness.
How does God know we love Him?
The answer is that He knows when we do something about it.
This begins with receiving His blessed Son as our Saviour.
"If you love Me, keep My commandments" -- "Feed my sheep."
This is truly Thanksgiving!
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
Email Dr. White at firstname.lastname@example.org