Thanksgiving Eve (2022)

Thanksgiving Eve  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  29:49
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Remember to Thank God!
Thanksgiving Day, a day our nation has set aside to remember to give thanks to our God.
In the creation account in the Book of Job we read, “The morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy” (38:7). That’s the beginning of creation. And in Revelation, the very last book of the Bible, we read about the “elders” who are gathered around the throne of God praising him day and night. The Bible in many places speaks of praise to God, from the beginning of creation to the time we’re in heaven.
“In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you,” St. Paul writes in 1 Thess 5:18. Praise him that he is God, first of all. Praise him that he is the God who through his Son, Jesus Christ, brings life out of death, joy out of sorrow. Praise him for his presence in those crisis situations of illness and accident, loneliness and death. Praise him that even though it seems terrible to you at the moment, he is using it as a way of working out his ultimate and good purpose for your life.
Therefore, on this Thanksgiving eve we remember to thank God.

God Wanted Israel to Remember to Thank Him

Here is the new generation, standing on the east bank of the Jordan River. They are ready to cross over into the land with high anticipation and hope. As Moses is preparing them to enter the land, he encourages them to obey God. God wants them to remember the past and realize that he has been testing and training them.
God tested Israel in the wilderness to humble them, to prove what was really in their hearts, and to teach them.
See Deut 8:2–3 “And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord.”
Our Lord quoted those verses when he was tempted in the wilderness (Mt 4:4; Lk 4:4).
God has been good to us. He has blessed us in many, many ways, including material blessings, so we might see that there is a spiritual wealth, the Word of God. It is the Word of God that is the real manna for the child of God today.
Deut 8:4 says, “Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years.”
A missionary doctor explained to me that in the Orient where he served, the people had a sameness of diet. They did not get all the vitamins they needed, so they showed symptoms of beriberi, including a swelling of the feet. Beriberi is a deficiency disease, marked by degenerative changes in the nerves.
The people of Israel received all their required vitamins and nourishment through the manna—a miracle food—that God provided. Spiritual manna is the Word of God that supplies all your needs.
And then, the Lord said to the Israelites, Deut. 8:10 “When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you.”
Praise the Lord and thank him, as all people ought for the food they eat. Even now some people see no reason to thank God for food grown and processed by human hands. Skeptics like to tell of the preacher who complimented a farmer by saying, “You and the Lord produced a fine crop on that field.”
“Yes,” the farmer replied, “but you should have seen that field when the Lord had it all to himself. It was nothing but a weed patch.”
The skeptics, however, forget what the field would be like if the farmer had it all to himself. All his work would be useless if the Lord did not provide sunshine, rain, and air. Not even weeds would grow without the Lord.
God was calling his people to be thoughtful, not careless. He was urging them to remember him and all the things that he was doing and how much they depended on him. How foolish it would be for the people of Israel to forget him and give themselves all the credit for their success! How foolish it is for people today to do the same!

God Wants Us to Remember to Thank Him

God wants us to remember our past too. Paul put it like this for the believer: “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil 1:6). We are to remember that God has led us and blessed us in the past and promises to continue to do so in the future. Remembering is for our encouragement.
When our lives are filled with “goodness,” we begin to feel invincible and, thus, have little need for God. We become neglectful in our praise. In the account of Jesus and the lepers, 10 were healed. Ten of them had this good thing happen to them, but only one came back to give praise and thanks. We thank God when Jesus brings his healing power into our lives. It is important that we do not become forgetful and neglectful and self-sufficient in our newfound health and strength.

Thank God for the Gospel!

More than anything else, thank God for the forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation that is ours because of the sacrificial death of his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ neighbors once chased him out of town and tried to throw him off a high cliff. Jesus’ closest friends betrayed him and deserted him in time of trouble. Jesus’ body sweat became blood when he reflected on the sins of the world. Jesus’ compassion for the world propelled his broken body up Calvary’s hill, where he was executed by order of his own people.
Yet through it all Jesus never ceased praising and thanking God. Jesus was the “Sacrifice of Thanksgiving” because he knew the Father would not abandon the world. He knew that after the darkness there would be light; after defeat, victory; after sorrow, joy; after death, resurrection.
Jesus Christ, on the cross, was forsaken by his Father. He suffered agonizing pain for all sin. Finally at the sixth hour, Jesus had completely paid for the sins of the world. He cried from the cross, “It is finished!” But then on Easter Sunday morning he rose. By the resurrection of Jesus Christ we know that God our heavenly Father has accepted the sacrifice of Jesus Christ for our sins. And, we know that we, too, will rise from the dead and be with God the Father forever and ever.
Jesus Christ is our heavenly Father’s gift for you and for me. Forgiveness of sins is ours! The resurrection is ours! Eternal life in heaven is ours! Remember to thank God for all of this.
Martin Rinckart, author of the hymn “Now Thank We All Our God,” lived during the time of the Pilgrims. His home was a small village in Germany. Unlike the Pilgrims who journeyed from England to Holland to New England, he was caught in the middle of the Thirty Years’ War. Because this village had a big wall around it, thousands of people crammed inside for protection. Adequate sanitation facilities were lacking. Adequate medical supplies were lacking. Food and water supplies became contaminated—conditions not unlike those of the Pilgrims in the belly of the Mayflower. As a result, the plague came. Eight thousand people died during one period of epidemic. For part of this time Martin Rinckart was the only Christian clergyman in the village. According to his journals, he personally buried more than 4,000 bodies—sometimes as many as 50 persons in a single day. During this time Rinckart wrote his great hymn (taken from Kenneth Osbeck, Amazing Grace [Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1990] 351). (The hymn was translated into English by Catherine Winkworth, 1829–78.)
Now thank we all our God With hearts and hands and voices, Who wondrous things has done, In whom his world rejoices; Who from our mothers’ arms Has blest us on our way With countless gifts of love And still is ours today. (LSB 895:1)
After the darkness, light; after defeat, victory; after sorrow, joy; after death, resurrection. “Offer to God,” the psalmists have written, “a sacrifice of thanksgiving” (see 116:17 and others). Offer to God the “praise of sacrifice.” Remember to thank God.
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