Friday, November 25, 2011

“Thankful Hearts” (John 6:25-35)

S-1279 TD/3C 11/24/11 Hymns: (O) #574; 568; S#36; L.S. 566 (C)#578

Text: Psalm 100; 103; Deuteronomy 8:1-10; 1Timothy 2:1-4; John 6:25-35

Theme: “Thankful Hearts” (John 6:25-35)

Question: “How grateful is your heart?” Armour, SD

Faithful followers of the Savior, Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Alleluia! The text for the Thanksgiving Day celebration is the gospel lesson: So they said to Him, ‘Then what sign do You do, that we may see and believe You? What work do You perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Jesus then said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the Bread from heaven, but My Father gives you the true Bread from heaven. For the Bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ They said to Him, ‘Sir, give us this bread always.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I Am the Bread of Life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst’” (John 6:25-35).

Introduction: In Nomine IESU

Saints in Christ, blessed Thanksgiving Day to each and every one of you. A story is told of two old friends who bumped into one another on the street one day. One of them looked forlorn, almost on the verge of tears. His friend asked, “Jimmy, What has the world done to you, my old friend?” The sad fellow said, “Let me tell you. Three weeks ago, an uncle died and left me forty thousand dollars.” His friend responded, “That’s a lot of money.” Jimmy continued “Two weeks ago, a cousin I never even knew died, and left me eighty-five thousand free and clear.” “His friend said: “Sounds like you’ve been blessed....” “You don’t understand!” he interrupted. “Last week my great-aunt passed away. I inherited almost a quarter of a million.” Now he was really confused. “Then, why do you look so downcast?”This week... nothing!

That’s the trouble with receiving something on a regular basis. Even if it is a gift, we eventually come to expect it. This is the “entitlement mindset” that has permeated American society at almost every level—even in the church. We have been blessed to live in a land of plenty and as a result we become complacent and many times are completely unwilling to give thanks to anyone for anything.

Indeed the old saying is true “attitude is everything”... Well, it is no different when it comes to thanksgiving. The attitude we carry with us through life is of utmost importance if we are truly to live lives that demonstrate our gratitude towards our good and gracious God for His continual provisions and blessings in our lives.

St. John tells in the text of the unthankful crowd who had just been fed by the Savior. Jesus had just demonstrated His mighty power by feeding 5000 people with a few loaves and fish. Yet, these ungrateful people questioned Jesus as to how He is going to prove Himself to them yet again. They’d followed Jesus all the way around the lake and rather than recognizing the fact that they were being offered the solution to a REAL need, they were asking yet again to have a PERCEIVED need met. Jesus reminded them of the importance of what He was offering them in His teaching and then continues to teach them rather than meeting their perceived need for food.

When the masses demanded food, He referred them to Spiritual food by His teaching about the things of heaven. When these Jewish listeners were trying to grasp what He was teaching them, He made a historical connection for them referring back to the Manna from Heaven that God provided for the Israelites when they were wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, demonstrating that God met their needs when they needed it. Again, Jesus turns the discussion to things of a spiritual nature and they asked Him to provide “this food” for them. Jesus then told them that He is the Bread of Life. With the Savior in their lives, they would never be hungry or thirsty... at least not in things of eternal significance. PAUSE.

How sad, that we are not any different than the people who followed Jesus around the lake. We don’t always have thankful hearts for all He gives us. WE ALAWYS WANT MORE! No wonder tomorrow many people, maybe even some of you here, would forgo sleep to go and shop for more stuff. We put the physical need, before the Spiritual—the Bread of Life Himself. We pursue cars and homes and trophy spouses and all manner of possessions and in the process neglect the importance of returning thanks to the Giver of all good gifts for the only thing that really matters for eternity.

Beloved in the Lord, you and I live in a land of plenty. Even the poorest among us are wealthy by the standard of the rest of the world! We still have a roof over our heads, a car or two in the garage, 2 or 3 TV’s, cell phones, computers, etc. Certainly, our loving Father has blessed us in ways too many to number, and yet, we feel just like the people in the text for today. We too, want Jesus to give us one more thing... to give us one more demonstration of His power. It is almost as if they were viewing Jesus’ ministry among them as a magic show of sorts and they weren’t satisfied with the things He had already done to demonstrate to them who He was and what it was that He had really come to do in their lives. They wanted yet another demonstration of His power so “then they would believe.” Likewise, we too, at times act just like the people in the text. We don’t believe in the power of the Father, who in love sent the Bread of Life to earth to feed and nurture us. True faith calls us to acknowledge and confess our dependence on Him—who provides every good and perfect gift—and with an attitude of gratitude, have thankful hearts.

I am indeed amazed at how many people wish others “Happy Thanksgiving Day” and rightly so, yet NOT many are happy. Perhaps you can’t see the gifts that God has given you... Maybe the pain of life has overwhelmed you to the point where you don’t see anymore how blessed you truly are. Perhaps, the economy and life’s situation has put a bad taste in your mouth and don’t see the hand of God directing and leading you.

If that is where you are today, then I implore you by the power of the Holy Spirit to lift your eyes to Him who is the Bread of Life—Jesus the Christ. Hear His Words again: ‘I Am the Bread of Life; whoever comes to Me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in Me shall never thirst’” Yes, my beloved, He is the source of every breath, bread and blessing. Jesus the Christ is the One who blesses us when we don’t deserve it.

As you, today, or this evening, munch on turkey, dressing and pumpkin pie; remember these are all gifts from Your loving God and Lord. But also today, as we gather in His house to feed on His Eternal Word, Body and Blood, may we have thankful hearts that appreciate His giving us His all, on the cruel cross of Calvary.

Today, my beloved and His beloved, in the simple, yet very clear way of worship, we have a great opportunity to teach the world, that our loving Father sent His Son for us so that we may be blessed. The Son fulfilled the will of the Father—by dying our death and rising again to fill our hearts with His love and blessings. And therefore, with great joy we do acknowledge our dependence on Him for every good and perfect gift and with an attitude of gratitude, have thankful hearts.

I pray that we don’t have the mind of Jimmy, who said, “This week…NOTHING!” Because every week, we are blessed, not only with material blessings, but more importantly with His eternal and spiritual blessings.


Now the peace…


No comments: