A thanksgiving day sermon. Three attitudes of people when it comes to thanksgiving.
1 Corinthians 4:7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?
An elderly lady was well-known for her faith, & for her boldness in talking about it. Each morning she would go out on her front porch & greet the new day by shouting, “PRAISE THE LORD! Thank you, Lord, for another beautiful Day!” Next door lived a man who didn’t believe in God, & who got so angry at her daily praises & prayers that he began shouting back, “There ain’t no Lord! There ain’t no God!” But his angry shouts didn’t intimidate her, & she kept on greeting each day with her praises & prayers. And each morning he continued responding to her.
Then hard times came upon the elderly lady, & she prayed for God to send her some help. She stood on her porch & prayed, “PRAISE THE LORD. You have been so good to me. But right now, God, I’m having a hard time. Please Lord, send me some food!” The next morning the lady went out on her porch & saw a large bag of groceries sitting there. She shouted, “PRAISE THE LORD.” Her neighbor jumped out from behind a bush & shouted, “I told you there was no God. I bought those groceries, God didn’t.”
The lady started clapping her hands & said, “PRAISE THE LORD! God not only sent me groceries, but He made the devil pay for them. Thank you, Lord!”
Truly, God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform! Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 4:7 For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?
The young man was feeling very proud of himself. As a brand-new college graduate he had taken the CA Exams & passed with flying colors. Now he was a full-fledged Certified Chartered Accountant.
His father came as nothing to Bangalore and by now owned his own little business. Filled with his newly acquired knowledge & with his self-importance, the young man began to criticize his father’s way of keeping books. He said, “Dad, you don’t even know how much profit you’ve made. Over here in this drawer are your accounts receivable. Over there are your receipts, & you keep all your money locked up in your safe. You don’t have any idea how much you’ve made.”
The father answered, “Son, when I came to Bangalore the only thing I owned was a pair of pants. Now your brother is a doctor, your sister is a teacher, & you are a CA. Your mother & I own our home. We have a car, & we own this little business. Now add that up, subtract the pants, & all the rest is profit.”
Add it up, folks. That’s exactly what we need to do, too. Add it all up. We came into this world with nothing, every-thing else is profit.
The story is told of a poor man who was given a loaf of bread. He thanked the baker, but the baker said, “Don’t thank me. Thank the miller who made the flour.” So he thanked the miller, but the miller said, “Don’t thank me. Thank the farmer who planted the wheat.” So he thanked the farmer. But the farmer said, “Don’t thank me. Thank the Lord. He gave the sunshine & rain & fertility to the soil, & that’s why you have bread to eat.”
You see, regardless of how sophisticated, how advanced we may be, we still can’t create a kernel of corn or wheat. That has to come from God. God gives us the things we need in order to live on this planet.
That is why a message like this is so important. We need this reminder. We need it because it forces us to add it all up & recognize where all these things we enjoy actually come from.
1. A “CARE-LESS” ATTITUDE.
The sad thing is that some people have a confused attitude about their blessings because their priorities are all mixed up. They have a care-less attitude to thanksgiving.
One day a man discovered that a friend had betrayed him. Greatly hurt by that, he went to the man & said, “Don’t you remember who picked you up when you were in the gutter? Don’t you remember who bailed you out of jail & loaned you money when you needed it? Don’t you remember who gave you your first job?” The man replied, “Yes, you did. But what have you done for me lately?”
Sometimes we are that way with God. We receive so much, but if things happen to be a bit hard at the moment we tend to say to God, “What have You done for me lately? True, you have given me life & health & all the things I enjoy. But what have you done for me lately?”
Winston Churchill used to tell about the sailor who rescued a drowning boy. He pulled the boy out of the water, revived him & sent him on his way. That afternoon the boy & his mother were walking down the street & they met the sailor. The boy told his mother, “That’s the man who saved me!” The mother immediately turned to the sailor & asked, “Is it true? Did you pull my boy out of the water this morning?” The sailor replied, “Yes, ma’am, I did.” But to his surprise, instead of thanking him, she shook her finger in his face & demanded, “Well, where is his cap?”
Application: God provides us with so much, & yet we demand, “Where is the rest? God, we want more.”
Leslie Weatherhead told about eating with a couple in northern England right after WW2. Food was still scarce, but the wife managed to prepare a fine meal of trout from a nearby stream & some fresh vegetables cooked in a delicious way.
He enjoyed the meal greatly, & when it was over, thanked his hostess for it. She blushed rather shyly & said, “Oh sir, my husband never thanks me when I prepare a fine meal for him.” Weatherhead said that he felt a little embarrassed for the husband. But he discovered that the husband was not embarrassed at all. Weatherhead said that he could still see the man sitting there, saying, “Hey, Love. I would of told you if I didn’t like it.”
God gives us life filled with so many blessings that we can’t name them all. But too many people, instead of thanking God, are complaining, “What have You done for me lately, God?” “Hey, where is the cap?” “Hey, Love, I would have told you if I didn’t like it.” All too seldom do we tell God when we like it, & thank Him for His blessings.
2. AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE
Fortunately, others have a realistic attitude because their priorities are straight.
Some years ago a preacher told about visiting with a couple who immigrated from Rumania before the Iron Curtain collapsed. They came because they wanted religious freedom.
They said that in Rumania the government allowed them to have worship assemblies on the Lord’s Day, but there would always be soldiers present, listening & reporting on everything being said. The authorities allowed public services where everything could be monitored, but it was strictly against the law to gather in homes & discuss the Bible, or even what had been said in the public services.
The soldiers would often follow people as they left the church services. If you took someone home with you & the authorities discovered you had read the Bible together, oftentimes the host would be arrested & could spend months in jail as a result.
Well, this couple decided to try to escape in order to seek religious freedom. They managed to secure permission for a holiday trip to West Germany. But they knew that if they tried to sell their house, their furniture, or their car, or tried to withdraw their money from the bank, the government would be tipped off that they might be planning an escape.
So, risking their lives, they simply left Rumania, leaving behind their house, their automobile, their furniture, & all their savings. Finally, they made it to the United States, arriving without any money, & unable to speak English. But he was able to secure a job as a custodian at Oklahoma University.
Five years later, he was still working as a custodian at O.U., but he had also started his own house-cleaning service, plus working part-time at a dry cleaners. He often worked 20 hours a day. They owned their own car, & had just bought a nice house & fully furnished it in 5 years’ time.
And if they had been asked if this is a land of opportunity, I’m sure what their answer would have been. It makes us think, doesn’t it? Too many people sit around doing nothing & complaining that the opportunities are all gone.
Too many have a hard time being thankful because we take so many things for granted. At a time like this it seems wise to take inventory, & realize just how much we have received from God.
Max Lucado says, “I wake up in a world of miracles every morning. Every time I breathe & use the oxygen & incorporate it into my body it is a miracle. Each time I open my eyes & see the beauty that surrounds me, that’s a miracle.
“Every time I touch the hand of a baby, that’s a miracle. Each time I take a morsel of food & put it into my mouth, & my body digests it & uses the energy from it, that’s a miracle.
“Just as surely as it was a miracle when God opened the waters of the Red Sea, just as surely as it was a miracle when Jesus fed the multitudes, just as surely as it was a miracle when Jesus healed the blind man, we wake up in a world of miracles every day. And some of us have the audacity to want more.”
3. GOD HAS GIVEN US TREMENDOUS BLESSINGS.
Indeed, God has given us some tremendous blessings. Listen again to the words of this wonderful promise in Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.
No, not everything that happens in life is good. But God has promised that if we love Him, & if we’ll let Him work His will in our lives, “in all things” God will work for our good.
Then again, Paul makes this tremendous statement in Philippians 4:12-13 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.
Annie Flint wrote:
God has not promised skies always blue, flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God has not promised sun without rain, joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
But God has promised strength for the day, rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above, unfailing sympathy, undying love.
What a tremendous blessing it is to be content, to be able to rejoice, to be able to pray, & to be thankful regardless of the circumstances in which we find ourselves.
A man decided to fly his lighter-than-air balloon all the way around the world. So, on Day 1, he planned to fly from City A to City B. But a wind came along that he hadn’t counted on & he found himself being forced to land in City C.
He didn’t know much about City C. But that is where he was, so he stayed for a while & discovered that it was a pretty nice place to be. He saw all the sights, enjoyed the people, & made new friends in City C. Then he decided to fly from City C to City D. But another contrary wind forced him to land in City E. He didn’t even know that City E existed, but there he was. So he met the people, absorbed their culture, looked at all the sights, & made new friends there, too.
He finally made his way around the world, not exactly landing everywhere he had planned, landing in different places from time to time. But finding blessings everywhere he went.
Life is a lot like that, isn’t it? You may be at A, thinking that you’re going to B. But something happens, & suddenly you find yourself at C. That wasn’t what you had planned, but you find blessings at C you didn’t even know existed. So wherever you are, thank God & learn to be content with the blessings that He showers upon you day by day.
And remember, the greatest blessing that you & I & this world has ever received is the immeasurable gift of Jesus Christ as our Savior & our Lord.
It is His sacrifice that covers our sins & gives us the assurance that after we depart this life, after all the things we have accumulated have been taken out of our hands, that through Him we will receive the greatest gift of all – eternal life in the presence of our Savior & our God. It is enough to make one thankful. I hope it makes you thankful. We offer His invitation, & we pray that you will respond to it as we stand & as we sing.