A man in Florida, in his 80s… called his son, who lived in New York…
The father said to the son, “I hate to tell you this but we’ve got some troubles here at the house. Your mother and I can’t stand each other anymore, and we’re getting a divorce. We’ve had it! We both want to live out the rest of our days in peace. I’m telling you now, so you and your sister shouldn’t be shocked when we split!”
The father hung up: and the son immediately called his sister in the Hamptons, and told her the news! The sister said, “I’ll handle this!”
She picked up the phone she calls Florida, and says her father, “don’t do anything until we get there! We will be there Wednesday night.” To which the father agreed.
And as soon as he hung up the telephone, the father called out to his wife, “OK, the kids are on they’re on their way for Thanksgiving. Now what are we going to tell them for Christmas?”
Of course, Thanksgiving day is this Thursday. And the fact of the matter is we have a lot to be thankful for, don’t we? We all have adequate clothing, we all have some food to eat in our kitchens. In fact, most have seldom missed a meal, unless we’ve chosen to. We have homes that are adequate, many are literally mansions were compared to what most people live in around the world. We have loving families, we have a caring church family.
In America, in particular, we’re blessed with a wealth of material blessings, that people in many other countries can only dream of. By third world standards even the poor in America are rich. All of us gathered here today know where our next meal is coming from… most of us have already planned what it will be. We all own more than one pair of shoes, and if you’re sleeping in the same bed tonight that you slept in last night, and if you have a little spare change in a dish somewhere around the house… those who study such things, and keep statistics, tell us that we’re better off than 95% of all the people who have ever walked the earth.
In fact, I recently read where the spare change that we lose every year, here in the USA, the pennies, nickels and dimes that fall out of our pockets, amounts to about $75 per person. There are places on earth where people live off less than that every month! Which means, if there are 330 Million Americans... we lose 24,750,000,000... in pocket change, every year. We are literally blessed, but we usually take those blessings for granted don’t we?
It’s so easy, to overlook, to forget, to fail to appreciate, how blessed we really are. Not because we choose to, but sometimes we can’t see our blessings through the think fog of worry, and anxiety, and fear.
Instead of seeing our glass is half full we worry that it’s half empty. Because we’re constantly comparing ourselves to others. We worry about having new and nicer things… A better car, more money, a better vacation. We get bent out of shape when you economy is not doing as well as we would like, or our 401(k)s have taken a beating… so we cancel cable television… and cut back on eating out to three days a week, as opposed to five.
It’s hard to maintain a straight face, and claim that we are not blessed, when those kind of things are our problems. We are blessed.
But then, God’s people have always been blessed. God brought the Hebrews through years of slavery, they were about to settle in a new land… The promised land… When God told them to always give the first fruits of their labor as an offering of thanksgiving. God knew that the Hebrew people needed to be reminded to be thankful, and to set aside certain things, and times, to offer thanks. The Pilgrims that we learned about in our elementary school days, set aside a time, a day to be thankful… even in the reality of their difficult lives. And our nation set aside a day for Thanksgiving, to do the very same thing.
However, Jesus said don’t waste your time worrying, about food that rots. When you eat earthly bread, your stomach aches for more, and more... you will be hungry again! So look up to heaven for the food comes from God. That food will nourish your soul to eternal life.
We have a tremendous treasure of spiritual blessings to be thankful for. Just think about the Bible. How many of you brought your Bible to church today? Some people say the Bible is the least read best seller of all time. Because most of us own several Bibles… I counted 17 within eyesight of my desk in my study... but how many of us actually read those Bibles? It’s a treasure chest full of inspiring stories of people of faith. We call it “God‘s word” but do we pay attention to it? Do we really believe it’s God’s word, and that it can make a positive difference in our lives?
What about the gift of salvation? “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that who so ever believes in him shall have eternal life.” We all know that. We all acknowledge that. But do we understand how richly blessed we are to be able to profess such a faith.
The gift of salvation leads to the gift of assurance. As in “Blessed assurance Jesus is mine.” What a blessing to know for sure, for absolute certain, that Jesus is yours and that you are his for all of eternity. Your eternal destination is assured. Truth is... we don’t always act like it is! When someone asked us where we’re going, when this life is done: if we’re going to heaven? We say, “Well, I hope so.” I’m sure our response is an attempt to be humble.
But my friends, “I hope so” is NOT the right answer! Our answer should be “yes”! I know Christ, and Christ knows me… my eternity in Christ is secure. It’s a blessing, an assurance, to be able to say with certainty, that I may not be perfect, but I am saved.
Of course, we could go on and on all day talking about such blessings. God has giving us peace, strength, guidance, ministry, work, joy, forgiveness. We have so very much to be thankful for.
The point is: take time this Thanksgiving to truly be thankful. Remember the words of Jesus, “I am the bread of life, whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” Christ has literally provided everything that we need… Gratitude is the only reasonable response.
Take stock this Thanksgiving in all the blessings that surround you. And be grateful.