11.30.2010

True Thanksgiving

I am bound and determined to post this before November is over... so before this day ends.  I've never experience writers block before but I'm pretty sure I've been dealing with it this last week and it is no fun.  I have had so much on my mind I've wanted to write out and yet could not for the life of me put it on paper to actually make sense.  Hopefully I'm not the only person who has this issue...here it goes.


So the Sunday before Thanksgiving the message at church that day was titled "Theology of Gratitude" and it was awesome and I have been waiting to find some time to write down all that has been running around in my brain from it.  It was such a great way to bring Christ to the center of this turkeylicious holiday and so I wanted to share it with you.


Side note: For all you history buff's out there, Thanksgiving wasn't ratified until 1941 as a National Holiday.  Also, in 1863, after getting a series of letters from a woman named Sarah Hale, President Lincoln wrote his Thanksgiving Day Proclamation.  Here is a small tid bit from it:


"No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverance's and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union."


Now getting back to last weeks service, the scriptural references our pastor used was Luke 17: 11-19, Ten Lepers Cleansed.  Jesus said,


“And it came about while He was on the way to Jerusalem, that He was passing
between Samaria and Galilee. And as He entered a certain village, ten leprous
men who stood at a distance met Him; and they raised their voices, saying, "Jesus,
Master, have mercy on us!" And when He saw them, He said to them, "Go and
show yourselves to the priests." And it came about that as they were going, they
were cleansed. Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned
back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving
thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. And Jesus answered and said, "Were
there not ten cleansed? But the nine--where are they? "Was no one found who
turned back to give glory to God, except this foreigner?" And He said to him, "Rise,
and go your way; your faith has made you well.” 


Only one of the ten lepers who were healed returned to give thanks to God, one! There was only one man out of ten who's heart was so moved by Christ that he came back and gave Him thanks.  Not only was it just ONE man who came back, he was also a Gentile and the only one in the group, aka, the outsider.  This man literally "fell on his face" at Christ's feet out of thankfulness to Him. That just blew me away, not to mention when the pastor then asked, When was the last time you've fallen on your face thanking Christ? I about fell out of my seat.  I don't think I can even remember a time I have.  Sad, so sad.  We live in such an "entitlement" society it is so easy to lose sight of the fact that everything we have and all that we are is because God blessed us with it.  I was so quickly humbled the second our pastor asked that question thinking about how ungrateful we can be to our almighty God but how unconditionally loving He still is.  We are no different than this leper man, the only thing that sets us apart from him is that our disease, sin, is not visible like his leprosy.  As believers in Christ, we are cleansed from our spiritual leprosy, and for that I am SO grateful I can feel my heart smile and I want to fall to my knees with gratitude!
The next half of the sermon was focused on application using 3 main points about gratitude.


1. Comparison is the kiss of death of gratitude.
If you spend your time comparing what you have or don't have to what other have, your not being grateful.  


2.  Thankfulness defends against bitterness and being preoccupied with ourselves. 
After stating the second main point, he posed the question, "Can you be thankful while you sit in the sometimes painful waiting room of life?"  What a doozy of a question huh? 


..and finally...

3.  Thankfulness requires humility. 

Then he posed this last 
(hypothetical) question,

If God never did one more thing for you, would you still be thankful?  Thankful for your salvation? For the forgiveness of your sins?  That you can glorify God through Christ? That you have an intimate relationship with Him? That you will live forever with Him in all eternity in His Kingdom? 

For all this, we should be thankful, that is true Thanksgiving.



Hopefully this doesn't seem like a complete mess to you reading... sometimes it's just hard for me to organize my thoughts. =)  If you have some free time, I encourage you to listen to the entire message! Here is the link: Theology of Gratitude

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