S-1217 Thanksgiving Day/3C 11/25/10 Hymns (O) #568; #644; (S)#36; LS #569; #566; (C) #574
Text: Deuteronomy 8:1-10; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Matthew 6:24-34
Theme: “Remember, Rejoice and Give THANKS!!!” (Deuteronomy 8:2)
Question: “Do you Remember the blessings of God daily?”
SOLI DEO GLORIA, Armour, SD
Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for our Thanksgiving Day celebration is from the O. T. lesson: “And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD Your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that He might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.” (Deuteronomy 8:2).
Introduction: In Nomine IESU
People of God, chosen and beloved as you know I just recently returned from traveling in the footsteps of Martin Luther and the Savior of mankind—Jesus Christ, in Germany and the Holy Land. What a wonderful trip the Lord gave the 25 of us as we traveled many miles together. Certainly these places are etched in my memory bank forever.
I remember vividly the day we stopped in Wittenberg, and walked through the Castle Church (the place where Luther nailed the 95 thesis) to the door. In that big and awesome church, are the tombs of Martin Luther and Philip Melanchthon. Right above Luther’s tomb is an impressive and breathtaking pulpit. That day, unaware of the great opportunity, I was able to climb the many steps of the pulpit and preached the liberating message of hope and heaven. As I preached, the hair on my neck stood, as I remembered and reflected upon the many Lutheran Reformers who preached the message to burdened souls and guilty consciences—the message of freedom and grace and love. A couple of hundred yards from the Castle Church, I led the Divine Service in St. Mariean’s church were Luther was often the preacher, and there we sang the mighty Reformation Hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”
What joy filled my heart as we traveled through the German cities of Wittenberg, (the birth place of the Reformation), Iseleben (his birth/death place), Cortburg and Wartbug (where Luther translated the New Testament) Weimar (St. Peter’s and Paul’s Church), Eisenach, Erfurt (Luther studied at the university), Warms (where Luther made his greatest confession “Here I Stand!”). These places were merely studied during my seminary training and read about them in books; but here I was walking in these cities, reliving the Reformation all over again and having the greatest opportunity and privilege of sharing the words of the Eternal Gospel.
From there we traveled on to the Holy Land to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. Again, what a privilege and honor to this young pastor from Nazareth, to preach at the same location, where Jesus preached His Sermon on the Mount; and dine at His Table with fellow travelers. Along the road, we visited Mt. Carmel, Cana of Galilee, Capernaum, Nazareth and other locations. In each of these places Scriptures were read and hymns sung. Then, the climax of the trip, we went on to the Mount of Olives and the Garden of Gethsemane and there with tears running down our cheeks we sang, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord”. Oh, the joy that overflowed within me, as I reflected on the wonderful gifts the Savior Jesus gave us—Forgiveness of sin, Peace, Salvation, and Eternal Life assured on account of His death on the cross of Calvary. What feelings! What emotions! What memories! What joys! All because of the goodness of the Lord to a sinner like me. PAUSE.
To be able to remember and ponder things is such a gift. God in His divine mercy and goodness has given us the ability to remember His constant grace and presence in our lives. His holy book is a visual reminder of His constant love and deeds of our redemption through the cross of His Son, Jesus.
Today, as we observe and celebrate Thanksgiving Day, there is another man who speaks of remembering and rejoicing on account of the Awesome and Amazing God he knew. Moses, the great prophet of God, stood before the throng in the wilderness and told them to remember all of the things God has done for them. God with a mighty hand and outstretched arms delivered them from the bondage of slavery in Egypt and led them to the Promised Land.
For forty years, God was their protector and provider of all good things. For forty years He fed them, provided water in the desert and sheltered them from the enemy and kept them safe in His presence. For forty years they lacked nothing. For their God walked with them by day and night. For forty years they knew Him personally as they heard Him speak with Moses and as they saw His mighty miracles. And now, Moses wants them to remember this God, rejoice in His presence and give thanks for all He did and continues to do for them. PAUSE.
You need not travel to Germany, Israel or to the Sinai Desert to remember the goodness of the Lord. You do not need to take a journey with others to be reminded of the Awesome God YOU have. All you need to do is open the greatest book ever written—God’s book of love for mankind—His living Word. There you will know of the all compassionate and merciful God. In the pages of the Bible you will see the mighty miracles of healing and provision for all His people. In the study of His Word, you will be drawn closer to know of the greatest gift to mankind—Christ’s suffering, death on the cross and rising from the dead.
When you do take time to study His precious Word, you will rejoice in all of His promises and you will give thanks for the abundant blessings He has for you. Open this book and you will know without a doubt of His love, mercy and grace for you. Learn from those who left us the records and deeds of our Savior that He is big enough to care for all of us. Know for certain that our God is not a small god, but a God who can and will take care of us in all situations and in all circumstances.
My faithful followers of the Savior, don’t limit your God, don’t make Him powerless, and don’t make Him small. But instead remember God is bigger than any of your problems. Remember that He can and does take care of you and meets all of your needs. Remember that He is mighty enough no matter what the conditions of the world, the job market or the home situation.
Yes, I know we live in an unstable world. I know that the economy has gone sour. I know that many are talking about the latest x-ray scanners and pat-downs at airports. I know that many don’t have jobs or are under-employed. I know we live at the edge of our seats because we fight terrorism. I know that our great and brave men and women continue to fight for our freedom and the world is not peaceful any more.
That is ok. We don’t have to solve the problems of the world. We don’t even have to solve our problems. Because God in His mercy has remedied our biggest problem—sin, death and hell. Therefore, we can by the Spirit’s power remember that God is really good to us. Remember with thankful hearts what He has done for each and every one of you here today. Remember the gift of Salvation. Remember the gift of peace in an unsettled world. Remember the forgiveness earned for you through His death and resurrection. Remember that your names are written in the Lamb’s book of Life and Remember that YOUR eternity is secured and guaranteed. PAUSE.
Dearly beloved! May I be bold to ask you “How old are you?” No matter how old you are, whether you are 6, 16, 26, 56, or 86 take a moment and reflect on your life. Do you remember a day when God wasn’t involved in your life? Do you remember a day when God forsook you? Do you remember a day when God abandoned you? Do you remember a day when He stopped loving you? I am certain that He has never forgotten you or His promises to you. Look to the cross and see His love. Look to the Table and see His gifts of provision and peace. Look to the font and see His forgiveness offered. Listen today, remember, rejoice and truly give thanks to the God of all grace.
Today, many will gather with family in God’s house, but are in a hurry to get home and start eating. Others want to get done eating so they can watch football. But for those who remember the goodness of the Lord, do rejoice and take time to give thanks for His gifts of mercy and grace provided in Jesus Christ our Savior.
I, as your pastor from small town of Armour, SD., have fond memories of traveling around the world, preaching in places I never dreamed about. So do you. You have many things in your memory bank. I urge you therefore to take time to remember them, rejoice in them and give thanks to the Awesome, Amazing and Almighty God, Jesus Christ who provides you with His endless bounty, blessings and benefits; not only in this world, but forever in eternity. HAPPY THANKSGIVING. Amen.
Now the peace of God…