Thanksgiving 2014

Points Covered: A sermon to be preached for thanksgiving service. This sermon focuses on seven reasons for thanksgiving. Seven reasons for giving thanks to God.

Psalm 136:1-3 1Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. 2Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever. 3Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever.

Today is City Harvest Thanksgiving Sunday. What a great time it is to thank God: God has brought us to the last week of 2014 and we have 2015 ahead of us.

God loves a thankful heart and many times we need reminders to thank our Lord. In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses is reminding the Israelites not to forget the blessings of God in their lives. Deuteronomy 6:12 Be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

It has been 40 years since God delivered the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, across the Red Sea, and set them on course for Promised Land. If you truly see the distance from Egypt to Canaan is not a long way off. In 44 days they reached Mount Sinai from Goshen (Egypt).

Now, the distance from Mount Sinai to Kadesh Barnea, the place from where they sent the 12 spies to the Promised Land. Deuteronomy 1:1-2 1These are the words Moses spoke to all Israel in the wilderness east of the Jordan—that is, in the Arabah—opposite Suph, between Paran and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth and Dizahab. 2(It takes eleven days to go from Horeb to Kadesh Barnea by the Mount Seir road.) Mount Sinai and Mount Horeb are both but the same.

So Egypt to Canaan could have been a quick trip, 44 plus 11 days; 55-60 days of journey.

Why did it take them so long? I would say the Israelites forgot to thank God. The Israelites quickly forgot the power of God and His wonderful works in rescuing them from the iron hand of Pharaoh. Soon they focused on the negative, started murmuring and complaining. They were not thankful people and God allowed them to turn a 60-day scenic tour into a 40-year grudge march of toil and mayhem.

Moving forward, 40 years have passed by in the wilderness. A whole generation of adults died, and now their kids were given another chance to enter the Promised Land. Remember they are travelling through the desert. They did not have chicken, beef or ham for Christmas but they had eaten free quail meat for decades now! There wasn’t any rise dosas, idlis, or appams (Indian Food) but God did provide them. I think in my imagination they had prepared manna everyday: Manna idli, manna dosa, manna appam. Then they had fried manna, boiled manna, pickled manna, baked manna, low-fat manna, and manna and banana dessert, and some manna and pineapple forest.

You see, inspite of the wilderness around, God had sustained them. God had blessed them and provided for them these 40 years in spite of their disobedience. So Moses takes some time to recount all that God had done for them and how they shouldn’t forget, but stop and give thanks to God.

Deuteronomy 2:7 The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything.

Deuteronomy 6:12 Be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

Today, we are going to see the blessings of the Israelites and in the process we are going to thank God together.

7 Reasons for Thanksgiving

1. Providence.

Thank God for His providence.

Deuteronomy 2:7 The Lord your God has blessed you…..

Illustration: An old man used to visit an old broken bridge or pier on the eastern seacoast of Florida. Every Friday night he would go there with a large bucket of shrimp. The seagulls would flock to this old man, and he would feed them from his bucket.

Many years before, in October, 1942, Captain Eddie Rickenbacker was on a mission in a B-17 to deliver an important message to General Douglas MacArthur in New Guinea. But there was an unexpected detour which would hurl Captain Eddie into the most harrowing adventure of his life.

Somewhere over the South Pacific the Flying Fortress became lost beyond the reach of radio. Fuel ran dangerously low, so the men abandoned their plane for the ocean. For nearly a month Captain Eddie and his companions would fight the water, the weather, and the scorching sun. They spent many sleepless nights as giant sharks rammed their rafts.

But of all their enemies at sea, one proved most formidable—starvation. Eight days out, their rations were long gone or destroyed by the salt water. It would take a miracle to sustain them and a miracle occurred. As Captain Rickenbacker said, “Something landed on my head. It was a seagull.”

Captain Eddie caught the gull. They consumed most of it, and the rest was used for bait to catch fish. The survivors were sustained and their hopes renewed because a lone seagull became a sacrifice.

This man was thankful for what that seagull had done for him. Once he came back after retirement he decided to do something back for the seagull. He served those seagulls by bringing them food every Friday evening.

If that man was willing to commit the rest of his life to feeding the seagulls, how much more should we thank God for his providence upon our life? God in His providence has always taken care of you. He provided you with the best this year.

Psalm 103:2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:

2. Productivity.

Thank God for making the work of your hands productive. Deuteronomy 2:7 The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands.

God has blessed us with good work in 2014. I can say we went through stress, difficult targets, work long hours etc but thank God he has enabled us to be productive and blessed our work. Most of us have got new jobs, some of us have got promotions. Many of us started new business. Thank God for our job or business we have got. God has indeed blessed the work of your hands.

3. Perception.

Thank God for His perception/understanding about you.

Psalms 103:14 For he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.

Psalms 139:1-3 1You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. 2You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.

Matthew 6:8 Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

God made us, and knows us inside and out in His perception. But our perception is different than God’s. We forget all His benefits so easily, and we must come across to Him like, “What have you done for me lately?”

Illustration: The story is told of two old friends bumped into one another on the street one day. One of them looked forlorn, almost on the verge of tears. His friend asked, “What has the world done to you, my old friend?” The sad fellow said, “Let me tell you. Three weeks ago, an uncle died and left me a brand new Hundai Verna. “That’s a lot of money.” “But, two weeks ago, a cousin I never even knew died, and left me 10 Lakh Rupees free.” “Sounds like you’ve been blessed….”

“You don’t understand!” he interrupted. “Last week my great-aunt passed away. I inherited almost 20 Lakhs of property.” Now he was really confused. “Then, why do you look so glum?” The other friend said, “This week there is nothing!”

That’s the trouble with receiving something on a regular basis. Even if it is a gift, we eventually come to expect it. We have become so blessed and sometimes we become very complacent.

God’s Perception? He knoweth! Do you know what He has done for you? He knows you, he knows you weakness, your strengths, your desires, and he has blessed you.

4. Plan & Purpose.

Thank God for his plan and purpose about you.

Deuteronomy 8:2-3 2Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.3He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.

God has a plan for every trouble. Remember every setback you went through in 2014 is a setup for a greater comeback in 2015.

Illustration: When devastating floods came to Mozambique in the year 2000, death toll rose to some thousands. One Mozambique minister named Samuel Naftal gave thanks to God and mosquitoes for saving his life.

Pastor Samuel Naftal, along with sixteen other people, clung tightly to the limbs of trees for two days. This pastor preached in the tree and all of them hoped his preaching would keep them awake and not fall into the flood. They listened and watched as furniture and dead cows floated by. Then the mosquitoes began swarming around them, repeatedly biting them. Pr. Samuel testified, ‘I thank God for those mosquitoes because they kept me from falling asleep. If we had fallen asleep we would have been carried away by the water.’ He and the others hung on and were finally able to wade to safety as the waters began to recede.

It’s not often that we are thankful for something like mosquitoes. They’ve ruined a lot of fun times for us. Mosquitoes have given some of us dungue and hospitalization this year. We sometimes wonder if it was really necessary that they had a place on Noah’s ark. But God has a plan at all times, whether we recognize it or not. Will we trust Him and trust His plan?

Thank God for the wilderness days of 2014. There were days of uncertainty, sickness, pain, and problems that we have gone through but thank God he had a greater purpose for all our troubles.

The Lord knows what He’s doing, and His plan is the vehicle which brings His purpose in our lives. He is teaching us all the time and we seem to learn the most ‘in the desert of our days.’ Can we lift up our hands and thank God for all the trials and pain we went through in 2014?

5. Patience.

Thank God for his patience towards us.

How long had the Lord been patient to the Israelites in spite of their mistakes?

Deuteronomy 8:2 Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years.

Acts 13:18 For about forty years he endured their conduct in the wilderness.

Forty years and then he still was patient to them in the Promised Land.

When it comes to patience, our God is the ultimate! Why does He put up with me? How can He still be willing to work on me with all my mistakes and sins and foolishness? And He still has a plan and a purpose for me? Yes! How patient is He!

Just think the different times you blew it up in 2014. Many of us got angry, did the unthinkable, many times meddled with sin but God has been patient and forgiving. Yes, God is patient. He’s been there all the time waiting patiently for me. Thank God for his patience.

6. Presence.

Thank God for His presence in our lives. 

Exodus 13:21 By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night.

Exodus 23:20 See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.

Deuteronomy 31:8 The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.

Deuteronomy 2:7 He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness.

Matthew 28:20 And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Hebrews 13:5 God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

People have left us, probably your friends have left you this year, maybe you lost a loved one but thank God for his presence. Amen!

7. Provision.

Thank God for His provision.

Deuteronomy 8:4 Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years.

Psalms 34:10 The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.

Conclusion:

I have pointed out seven areas where we can be thankful to God and there can be many more added to the list. Maybe some of you went through tough times this year. Maybe your prayers are still not answered, you faced a setback and failure in life but there is still reason to thank God and rejoice in Him. He has sustained you. God has kept you in good health. So everyone here has reasons to thank God for his blessing.

Saints, it’s time to give thanks to God now. First let’s start with Jesus Christ for his sacrifice on the cross, as all our blessings originate from Christ. Then we can go through all the blessings of 2014 and thank God for them one by one.