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Sermon for Thanksgiving - Year A
Deuteronomy 8:7-18 and Luke 17:11-19
"Remembering To Give Thanks: Blessing God"


READING:  Deuteronomy 8:7-18  and Luke 17:11-19
SERMON :  "Remembering To Give Thanks: Blessing God"

Rev. Richard J. Fairchild
a-thansm  509000

I came across this little story or parable in a book and I would
like to share it with you today. 

         One afternoon a shopper at the local mall felt the need
         for a coffee break.  She bought herself a little bag of
         cookies and put them in her shopping bag.  She then got in
         line for coffee, found a place to sit at one of the
         crowded tables, and then taking the lid off her coffee and
         taking out a magazine she began to sip her coffee and
         read.  Across the table from her a man sat reading a
         newspaper.

         After a minute or two she reached out and took a cookie. 
         As she did, the man seated across the table reached out
         and took one too.  This put her off, but she did not say
         anything.

         A few moments later she took another cookie.  Once again
         the man did so too.  Now she was getting a bit upset, but
         still she did not say anything.

         After having a couple of sips of coffee she once again
         took another cookie.  So did the man.  She was really
         upset by this - especially since now only one cookie was
         left.  Apparently the man also realized that only one
         cookie was left.  Before she could say anything he took
         it, broke it in half, offered half to her, and proceeded
         to eat the other half himself.  Then he smiled at her and,
         putting the paper under his arm, rose and walked off.

         Was she steamed.  Her coffee break ruined, already
         thinking ahead of how she would tell this offense to her
         family, she folded her magazine, opened her shopping bag,
         and there discovered her own unopened bag of cookies. 

I like that story - it makes me think about how well God treats
me even when I am not treating him well or thinking all that
kindly about him.

It also makes me think about how, sometimes, I do not really
appreciate what I have or act like I know where it has come from. 
It serves as a kind of reminder to me - like that reminder in
today's old testament reading.

There, Moses, after telling the people of Israel how they will
prosper in the promised land that they are about to enter, how,
after so many years of slavery and then of wandering in the
wilderness, they will eat their fill, and have fine houses and
large herds, and that their silver and gold will multiply, says:

         Do not say to yourself, "my power and the might of my own
         hand have gotten me this wealth."  But remember the Lord
         you God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth,
         so that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your
         ancestors, and as he swearing to you today."

Chapter eight of Deuteronomy is really one of my favourite
chapters of the Old Testament. 
It speaks so well of what we all know somewhere in our hearts,
but often seem to forget in our actions and our attitudes.

It speaks of how everything we have is a gift from God,
a git worked upon by our hands, most certainly;
a gift perhaps even enhanced by our own strength,
but a gift none-the -less,
for God gives us the hands we need,
and God gives us the strength we have.

Would that I would remember this at all times - it would make my
life so much easier, and it would bless everyone around me, and
it would bless God..

Not so long ago famous people all over the world were polled by a
magazine which asked them the question - "if you could be granted
one wish that will come true right now - what would that be?"

There were some very interesting responses - but one response
impressed the magazine's editors so much that they commented on. 
That response was this -

                 I wish that I could be given an even
                 greater ability to appreciate all
                 that I already have."

It is an interesting answer
an interesting thing to wish for.

What do you think would happen if each one of us suddenly became
a more thankful person?  If all of us suddenly became a more
appreciative people?

I don't know what comes to your minds -
         but I know for sure that when I was younger my mother would
         have been really pleased;
          and now that I am older - well I know that my wife would
          be very happy 
if I expressed my appreciation a little bit more than I already
do - I know that because she tells me so whenever I am apparently
forgetting who she is and what she does.

No one likes to be taken for granted - or to see someone that
they love taking things for granted.

All of us like to be appreciated,
all of us like to be thanked,
and all of us, I believe, like to see those we love 
live thankful lives, appreciative lives,
         so much so that we teach our children this virtue 
          - at our supper tables,
          - during birthday parties, 
          - in the middle of visits from their grandparents,
          - and just about anytime that they are receiving something
          from someone or asking someone for something.

It is a great thing to teach our kids to say please and thank
you, it helps them out in this world,
         and it is a great thing to be appreciated, to be thanked;
         but as we think with holy and prayerful minds today - 
             as we thank God in our worship service for the harvest
             we are all enjoying,
I ask you - as I ask myself - where is your sense of thankfulness
at?  How complete is it?  How deep does it run in your life?

I Thessalonians, chapter five, verse eighteen says

          "Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the
          will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

and in Ephesians, chapter five, where Paul is telling  
new Christians how they should live, it says:

          "Give thanks to God the Father at all times and for
          everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."

The norm and the standard of the early church of the disciples
and the apostles was really incredible and it had incredible
results in the lives of those disciples and apostles, and in the
lives of all those around them.

They lived happy and triumphant lives,
they rejoiced even when they were being afflicted and persecuted,
and their fellowship continually grew until it reached the ends
of the earth.

Give thanks in all circumstances.  
Give thanks for everything.
Give thanks at all times.

This is a step beyond remembering God and thanking God for all
the wealth that we enjoy in this our promised land.

This is a step beyond remembering God  and obeying his commands
because he has given us fine houses and filled our bellies.

This is even a step beyond thanking God, 
as the leper thanked God, 
for healing him through Jesus of his disease.

This is what Charlene called at recent workshop - "thanks -
living" - and it is demanding - and it is rewarding.

I say it is demanding - because quite frankly when I am feeling
pressed to wall I find it difficult to fulfil the word that says:

          "Do not worry about anything, but in everything by
          prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your
          requests be made known to God."

And when I am feeling struck down by some affliction
or angry at my children for doing something that seems to me to
be thoughtless;
or upset at my dog for his having escaped out the door in the
morning and run off to the school;
I have difficulty feeling grateful to God for the circumstances I
am in.

Instead of wanting to praise God - or to pray to him about the
situation with thanksgiving,
         - I want to feel sorry for myself and the trouble I am in -
         - I want to yell at the kids for being whatever kids are when
         they are thoughtless  
         - and I want to throttle the dog, because I know darn well
         that when Laddie escapes and runs off to school he is not
         going to come back home any smarter than he was before.
  
How about you?
Do you have a faith that is thankful in everything?

It's something to think about
especially it is something to think about when you consider the
power of thanksgiving
and of how not only are we blessed or rewarded for it,
but so is God and all those around us.

Raising foster kids has provided some interesting experiences in
this regard -
many of the kids that have come to us are desperate for some kind
of affirmation and love -
they feel lost and alone and attempt to please us as a way of
securing their place in our midst.

It is beautiful to watch the transformation that comes over their
faces when we thank them for something as simple as clearing the
dishes or when we praise them for something as normal as being
kind to the neighbours' children.

They beam, they radiate, they light up the room - and we 
         - who may have simply praised them because it is the smart
         thing to do, or thanked them because it is the right thing to
         do
suddenly feel one hundred percent better than we did before,
better about them,
better about ourselves,
and better about the world in general.

Giving thanks blesses the person who is thanked and it transforms
the person who gives thanks.

It works the same way everywhere, with everyone, even with God --
when we remember..

When we forget - hard things get harder.

When we allow the situation we are in to swallow us up and to
swallow all thought of God's power and goodness up;
         When we begin to think we have earned and deserve all the
         good things we have,
          and when we forget that God is able to help us in the
          midst of all the bad things that occur,
well - life becomes bleaker,
and true virtue becomes harder to find.

God wants us to celebrate his love.  God wants us to give thanks
in everything.

God doesn't want this because he is greedy for praise, 
         the Lord doesn't want it so that he will feel better about
         himself,
he wants it because it will bless us
         and because it will bless the world he has made.

He wants us to remember what He has done
         - so that we will not be afraid when we are in need of help, 
         and so that we will not grow arrogant or rude when we are
         prospering
He wants us to remember and give thanks to him, and to those
around us
         - so that our lives will be full of light and hope 
         and so our actions full of tenderness and love.
.
As the psalmist declares - "It is good to give thanks to the
LORD, to sing praises to his name"

Praise be unto God and thanksgiving for his many blessings -
Amen.

copyright - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild 1996 - 2005
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.


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