11-24-13 “Thanksgiving Disguised as a Feast” Psalm 116:12-14; Lk. 17:11-19
?Thanksgiving Disguised as a Feast?? Psalm 116:12-19; Luke 17:11-19? Dr. j. Ben Sloan at Lake Murray Presbyterian Church 11-24-13
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So how do you say ?thanks??? We say thanks not just with our words, but with our deeds.?? Faith Wambua was shopping in the Westgate Mall September 21 in Nairobi Kenya when the Al Shabab terrorists came in and started shooting. Seventy-two died. Faith fell to the floor and played dead with her two children- five and two for three and a half hours.? Finally a Kenyan policeman came and tried to help them escape.? But she was too scared to move.? The policeman coaxed them to move and helped them out.? Later Faith wanted to thank that policeman. She found him and she and her husband invited him to their house to say thanks.? But how do you thank someone for saving your life?? ?Ten lepers were healed by Jesus.? They went and were declared clean by the priest, but only one came back to follow Jesus and give him thanks.? To come back to God with gratitude was a way to show thanks.?? This is true for all of us.? All of us are to thank God not just by saying so- but by showing it.
THANKSGIVING AS LOVING- The Psalmist was speaking how God had delivered him from evil, hurt, and harm and asks the question in gratitude and love that we all need to ask: ?What shall I render to the Lord for all the blessings He has given me.? He said, ?I will lift up the cup of salvation.?? He knows that God is his help.? God has delivered him and he is not just talking about the life to come, but the here and now. ?He is not afraid to hold up to others that he was delivered by God.? He is bearing witness to God?s ability to help and to save. ?He was grateful to God for helping, saving, and blessing him.? He was trying to be thoughtful toward God out of love and gratitude.?? When you love someone you try to be thoughtful toward them.?? So many people will be as creative as they can be toward those they love this Christmas.? It REALLY IS the thought that counts.? Thanksgiving as love asks, ?How can I give back in love??? Start to ask that question.? I knew a guy in Georgetown who used to brag that he gave the same thing to his children each Christmas.? He said, ?When they were born I gave them $10, and they know what to expect from me today. Every year I give them the same thing.?? Fortunately, his wife made up for his thoughtlessness.???? There are times when we are blessed and can be more of a blessing, and times when we are not blessed and cannot bless.? But we do not seek to be thoughtless in what we render to the Lord.? I have heard the same thing about how people give to God.? I pledged $200 in 1985 and I do the same today.?? But ?if you believe God blesses you with all you have- what shall you render to the Lord for all the blessings He has bestowed on you?
THANKSGIVING AS GIVING BACK- I?ll fulfill my vows to the Lord.? I?ll do what I told God I would do.? If you believe God keeps His promises to you, you want to keep your promises to Him.? There are those who say that pledging is not in the Bible, but this is an example of someone who says they will fulfill their pledge to the Lord.? Twice the Hebrew is literally ?I will pay my vows? or ?I will pay my pledge to the Lord in the presence of His people.?? ?One of the ways we render to the Lord in thanks for all the benefits He gives us is to pass His benefits on to others.? If you have been blessed, then seek to be a blessing.? In some ways it is the great test of God.? He is testing our hearts- to see if we will respond to His blessings.?? Again, Jesus and the Bible make it clear that it is not a matter of how much you give, but that you seek to return something back to God in gratitude to the proportion of blessing you receive.
I can remember talking to a fellow who had a heart attack years ago.? When I went to see him, he knew that he had been resuscitated after several times. ?He kept saying, ?God left me here to do something for Him.? ?He said he knew it.? He really did live a grateful and giving life after that.
In contrast to that- at about the same time, was a man who had a heart attack and did not acknowledge that God had helped him and he had no sense of gratitude that I could tell.? In fact, he drifted away from his faith and his church.? Which one did what was right?? Truth is, all of us should be like the first person.?? Everyone of us has been spared and given time and given gifts.? THANKSGIVING AS PRAYING- What shall I render- I will call on the name of the Lord. The Psalmist starts out by saying, ?I love the Lord for He heard my voice, he heard my cry for mercy.?? Part of thanksgiving is recognizing that God is worth calling on.? He likes to bless and likes to be called on.? If you ignore God, if you do not call on Him you are not giving Him the thanks He deserves.? God is our Savior- our Help- and we should call on Him. ?The opposite of thanksgiving for this Psalmist is apathy- and that is the great bane of our time.
When I was little I would go see my uncle in Walhalla, South Carolina.? He was a wealthy man and he was also a generous soul.?? But he played a game with me.? Each time before we came he would go out and hide gold and silver coins under some nuts by the bird feeder.?? We loved to come and find the shiny coins.? He told us ?The Squirrels have hidden something for you.?? Of course when I got older, I did not want to tell him I knew the squirrels didn?t hide the coins.? When I confronted him he would just laugh and we continued to play the game for years.?? It was a change in my thinking from thanking the magical squirrels to thanking the one who really blessed me.?? Later on he helped pay for my seminary studies.? Sometimes we thank the wrong ones.?? Sometimes we thank our lucky stars when the stars (just as the squirrels) had nothing to do with it.? God rescued the people from Egypt, but they worshiped the golden calf.? Ten were saved, only one came back. ?JFK said 50 years ago, ?As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.? Let us ask the question- ?What shall we return to the Lord for all the benefits He has given us.?