How are you doing on preparing for Thanksgiving?
You know, in the preparations for Thanksgiving, you normally sort though the steps of determining where you will be, who will be there with you, and the buying and preparation of the traditional elements of the meal – the turkey, sometimes other meats, the casseroles, the vegetables, the breads, the deserts, the accompanying drink and all that. You, if you are traveling, might make sure the tire pressures are checked and the oil is changed and the car or truck cleaned up a bit. And some folks may even be planning ahead for those big sales on Friday, Black Friday they call it now, which often start at midnight, just at the end of Thanksgiving Day!
Somewhat like Christmas, Thanksgiving is for many people, and probably, most people, in America a time of great attention to preparation, with many details, much energy, some emotion, and some expense of money involved in those preparations. It seems at times that the actual Thanksgiving Dinner is almost anti-climactic, after all the energy spent in preparation. That is sad, and often, sadly, much the same can accurately be said of Christmas and the Christmas Season and its preparations.
It is almost a cliché that the pulpit preachers are frequently railing against materialism and commercialism. And there is a place for that, but that is not a new or deeper message, for it is true that in America, we have made Thanksgiving a mere cultural tradition, as Satan would wish, and we have allowed him, for the most part, to hijack the real purpose and meaning of Thanksgiving. And thus we have come to allow Thanksgiving to serve Satan’s purposes in many ways, and we have allowed the true purpose of Thanksgiving to be largely divested, minimized and devalued.
Once we see this, we could be quick to say, that God has, in that process and by that result, been short-changed. And that is true, but that is not the whole story. The rest of the story is that we who are Believers are also short-changed, and our country and world are short-changed if that is all our Thanksgiving really is. What Thanksgiving is really about is Jesus, and His Ministry of Reconciliation, offering mankind, one by one, the opportunity to be forgiven, to be cleansed of all unrighteousness, to be made holy and unblemished by sin, to be washed in His blood that we may stand without guilt before a Holy and Perfect One, our God. That is what Thanksgiving is really about – not just the provision of our daily bread, but the provision in Christ of the Bread of Heaven! That is an indescribable gift!
When we turn Thanksgiving into a program or a production, if you will, then we miss the whole point of it, which is to address our hearts to giving thanks abundantly, thanksgivings, to God, the Christ and the Holy Spirit – The Trinity—for their abundant, life- giving grace, forgiveness, provision and protection in our lives. That is what its all about – what is going on in our hearts as we go through the preparations and the assemblies of families and friends – what is going on in our hearts about thanksgiving in the Thanksgiving Season? That is the personal question for each one of us American Christians, but it is also a personal question for Christian Believers all over the world: Are we giving thanks, liberally, to God, and are we living our lives not only at the actual Thanksgiving Day/Dinner, but year-round – between Thanksgivings – so that others are caused, in their hearts, to give thanks to God?
The setting for this question comes from II Corinthians 9: 6- 14, “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written: ‘He has dispersed abroad, he has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.’ (Psalm 112:9) Now, may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness , while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”
What a great passage this is, not just one appropriate for our annual Thanksgiving Celebration, 2010-style. No, this is for life- style, year-round and we can especially celebrate this on our annual Thanksgiving Day, yes.
This passage from II Corinthians 9 draws us to expand the horizons of our thanksgiving, but in so doing, I believe that it draws us into a place of deep repentance – yet again. This deep place of repentance is, on one level of analysis, what has allowed us to receive God’s grace, His sure mercies, and His forgiveness, with the promise of eternal life with Christ. But on another level of analysis, to which God is drawing us now as we turn into 2010’s Thanksgiving Week in America, God is showing us not only to transcend the focus on the cultural preparations for Thanksgiving, but also to attain the spiritual focus of Thanksgiving, which is on two levels of analysis:
First, be abundantly thankful for all of His abundant, life- giving grace, forgiveness, provision and protection in our lives;
Second, be so and similarly thankful for God’s provision of the seed and its multiplication (verse 10), by which the fruits of your personal righteousness are increased (verse 10) between Thanksgiving Celebrations! And to see that there is a synergy of Thanksgiving – as thanks build upon thanks like mounting waves in the ocean! – if and as (verses 6-8) we sow bountifully, with open hands, all through our lives, then not only does God’s grace abound to us in all things, so that we have an abundance for every good work, but that through us He gives to the poor, He supplies the needs of the saints, and that in turn (verse 11) those poor, those other saints pray for us (verse 14), and they are blessed and fed and enriched, “which causes thanksgiving through us to God”! All this (verses 12 and 13) is our “liberal sharing with the saints and “all men” (so, non-believers, too) (not liberal sharing through the government, but through the church and its Christians). And that is (verse 14), the “indescribable givt”, this synergy of Thanksgiving (define “synergy”), by the principle of multiplication, where one seed becomes many, all (verse 12) abounding through many thanksgivings to God. And this not all physical bread sharing – it is that, but even that is a fruit of our righteousness, as we – and by the principle of multiplication – we, and they, are all beneficiaries of God’s grace, mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ’s atoning death and resurrection- (verse 13) as we glorify God by that Bread-of-Sharing, the testimony of our lives, and they in turn “glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ and for your (resulting) liberal sharing with them (the saints) and all men. Again, what an indescribable gift!
Here at BibleFaithFellowship, we share our Praise Reports each week, as we share how God has answered our prayers for ourselves and others, how He has used us in His kingdom work, and how in other ways He has blessed us. This is a proving ground, if you will, by which we and our young people have learned to stand up for Christ, and to state publicly, albeit in this safe setting, our and their confession of the gospel of Christ and how He has blessed them and others. These Praise Reports are also “Mini-Thanksgivings” every week through the years. And they are preludes to our annual, “official” celebration of Thanksgiving.
As we continue with our preparations for 2010’s Thanksgiving Day, let us ask some searching questions:
First, is the testimony of my life measured by my confession of the gospel of Christ and my liberal sharing with the saints and all others?
Second, is that testimony bearing fruit in changing other lives and my own, on a daily basis, resulting in a multiplication of thanksgivings not just by us, but through us by those whose lives we have impacted, to God and His glory?
Third, do I need to repent of any sin of selfishness, self- absorption, miserliness in sharing bread, or timidity in sharing the Bread of Heaven, Jesus Christ, with the saints and all others?
Those three questions – that’s enough of a challenge for today, and I believe that the Holy Spirit knows that those questions will bring some, maybe even all, of us to profound places of repentance and change. Whenever we get our hearts right with the answers to those questions, we will understand God’s indescribable gift to mankind even better, and this will enable us to bring even greater and more numerous Praise Reports, as Thanksgivings, into the House of God all through the years and especially at this time in America called Thanksgiving, And this will enable us to prepare, properly in repentance and prayer and sharing, for Thanksgiving. And we will see, and share with, the great passion and joy, in Revelation 7: 9-12, all the great multitude crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb!” and all the angels, and the elders and the four living creatures all around the throne were on their faces before the throne, worshipping God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”
How are you donng on getting ready for Thanksgiving? Amen+