How To Have A Wise Thanksgiving

How To Have A Wise Thanksgiving

By Henry Nelson

 

 

 

Luke 12: 13-3413Someonein the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” 14Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” 15Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” 16And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ 18″Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” 20″But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself ?’ 21″This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” 22Then Jesus said to his disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. 23Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. 24Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no store room or barn; yet Godfeeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! 25Whoof you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? 26Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? 27″Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 28If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. 30Fort he pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you needthem. 31But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. 32″Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. 33Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that willnot wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. 34For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.{{more}} My message to you this week is entitled, “How to have a wise thanksgiving”. In my preparation I came across this story that may speak to numbers of you this week as you are busy making your plans and preparations for Thanksgiving.Martha Stewart will not be dining with us this Thanksgiving. I am telling you in advance, so do not act surprised. Since Ms. Stewart won’t be coming, I have made a few small changes: Our sidewalk will not be lined with homemade, paper bag luminaries. After a trial run, it was decided that no matter how cleverly done, rows of flaming lunch sacks do not have the desired welcoming effect.The dining table will not be covered with expensive linens, fancy China or crystal goblets. If possible, we will use dishes that match and everyone will get a fork. Since this is Thanksgiving, we will refrain from using the plastic Peter Rabbit plate and the Santa napkins from last Christmas.Our centerpiece will not be the tower of fresh fruit and flowers that I promised. Instead we will be displaying a hedgehog-like decoration hand-crafted from the finest construction paper. The artist assures me it is a turkey.We will be dining fashionably late. The children will entertain you while you wait. I am sure they will be happy to share every choice comment I have made regarding Thanksgiving, pilgrims and the turkey hotline. Please remember that most of these comments were made at 5:00 AM upon discovering that the turkey was still hard enough to cut diamonds. As accompaniment to the children’srecital, I will play a recording of tribal drumming. If the children should mention that I don’t own a recording of tribal drumming, or that tribal drumming sounds suspiciously like a frozen turkey in a clothes dryer, ignorethem. They are lying.We toyed with the idea of ringing a dainty silver bell to announce the start of our feast. In the end, we chose to keep our traditional method. We have also decided against a formal seating arrangement. When the smoke alarm sounds, please gather around the table and sit where you like. In the spirit of harmony, we will ask the children to sit at a separate table. In a separate room. Next door.Now I know you have all seen pictures of one person carving a turkey in front of a crowd of appreciative onlookers. This will not be happening at our dinner.For safety reasons, the turkey will be carved in a private ceremony. I stress”private” meaning: Do not, under any circumstances, enter the kitchen to laugh at me. Do not send small, unsuspecting children to check on my progress. I have an electric knife. The turkey is unarmed. It stands to reason that I will eventually win. When I do, we will eat.Before I forget, there is one last change. Instead of offering a choice between 12 different scrumptious desserts, we will be serving the traditional pumpkin pie, garnished with whipped cream and small fingerprints. You will still have achoice: take it or leave it.Martha Stewart will not be dining with us this Thanksgiving. She probably won’t come next year either.I am thankful. The Scripture passage we read from Luke 12 needs to be read inits context. Especially what goes before it? Jesus has been speaking to the crowds of thousands and also more personally to His disciples about some pretty deep and important issues such as the danger of hypocrisy and the high cost of being a bold and unashamed disciple of His, when a fellow inthe crowd blurts out a request that Jesus settle a financial inheritance dispute between him and his brother. Now that interruption could be compared to someone asking what the score was in a Seahawks or Sonics game right in the middle of my sermon! You’ll know by the timing of the question where his heart and soul is! This inheritance issue had obviously so gripped this man’s heart and mind that he heard nothing at all of what Jesus had said. Greed, bitterness, and resentment will do that to you. It will control your entire being to the point where getting what you want is all that matters.So Jesus responds with some noticeable irritation and forthrightness to the real issue in this man’s life – his covetousness – and then sets about telling a story to him and everyone else – a parable to illustrate the danger of greed and that there is more to life than the things you possess or do not possess. For covetousness and greed can capture the soul of both the wealthy and the poor.The one is captured and consumed by what he has and the other by what he does not have. So this is not a parable against wealth. Wealth in and of itself is a neutral commodity that can become either a blessing or a curse depending on how we use it or abuse it.Atleast three lessons stand out in this story of the rich fool, that if applied will enable us to celebrate a wise thanksgiving:Keep Your Focus On The Main ThingJesus calls this man a fool because he placed the primary emphasis of his life on temporal stuff. Stuff that can be here today and gone tomorrow. Fancy cars rust. Thieves break into banks and homes and steal things. Moths get into thef inest of materials and have them for lunch. Tsunamis and earthquakes, hurricanes and tornadoes destroy everything in their path in a matter of seconds. This man was a fool because he failed to look at the bigger picture of life and some ofthe bigger questions of life like whose he was. What his purpose was in life? Why had he been so richly blessed? What was he to do with what he had?And again, this can be a problem for both the wealthy and the poor the one fussing over and preoccupied with managing and maintaining all his stuff and the other griping and complaining over what others have who are better off than he. Both individuals can allow themselves to become captives of stuff and theirl ife, their worth, their value, their importance measured by how much stuff they have.Jesus reminds us that our lives are of inestimable value and what God has in store for His children in His Kingdom is far superior to anything we could have ever imagined in our wildest dreams and so He wants us to live with that knowledge and belief informing and directing our choices and actions here andnow.He illustrates his point by referring to the birds of the air who neither sow nor reap nor build big storehouses and barns and yet who trust God to feed them as they go about doing what God intended birds to do to fly, to sing, to build nests, lay eggs and have little birdies and repeat the process all over.If they, with their smaller brains can do it, why do you and I have such a hard time? For we are of far greater value to God than all the birds! You were placed on this planet as the pinnacle of God’s creation to represent God and reflect God’s nature, God’s beauty, God’s kindness, God’s goodness and God’s generosity.Keep your focus on the BIG Picture and don’t allow yourself to become sidetracked and distracted by stuff. Whatever stuff you have been given, put it to use to expand God’s Kingdom.As you prepare the thanksgiving menu, as you decorate the table, as you welcome family and friends, as you gather for the meal, Keep your focus on the BIG Picture, on the MAIN Thing!Remember Your Dependence on OthersJesus also called this man a fool because he lived his life only with himself in mind his own wants, wishes and desires as though the whole world revolved around him and what would please him.In a story of just 103 words 15 of those words are “I”, “me”, “my”, “myself”“my grain”, “my crops”, “my barns”, “my goods”, “my stuff”.How easy it is to forget just how interdependent we are! None of us can accomplish a whole lot just by ourselves. We get places in our families and in life because of the shared activity and labor of others.You did not even come into this world on your own that took the cooperation of your mom and dadYou did not put food in your mouth or clothes on your back or get a roof overyour head on your own others helped provide it.Even the food on your table was grown, processed, or produced by others. You have others to thank for your toothpaste, toothbrush, soap, shampoo, deodorant and cologne to keep you smelling and looking good. You did not get an education on your own others slogged and sweated and sat up late hours at night preparing lessons or grading papers to help move you along in the education process.You did not stay well on your own doctors and nurses and pharmacists and dentists have all played a part in bringing you to where you are now. You did not pave the roads you drive on in your car manufactured by others. You did not build this place of worship and even the Bible from which I prepared this message came to me because of the faithfulness and hard work of countless millions before me. And we could on and on with this list, but you get the point. This man was a fool because he ignored the contributions of all the others who had helped him along the way to his wealth and an attitude of humble gratitude was the furthest from his thinking.As you celebrate Thanksgiving this week, take time to reflect and remember and give thanks for all who have played a part in bringing you to the place in life and growth and wisdom and understanding where you are today. Set the example,be the role model around your table and invite others to follow.Remember Your Dependence on GodJesus also called this man a fool because he was living his life without recognizing and acknowledging his absolute dependence on God. He regards himself as the master of his own destiny, in charge of yesterday, today, and tomorrow. In fact, he almost seems to have made himself the god of his life.“I’ll say to myself, Self, you have done well! You have got it made and can now retire. Take it easy and have the time of your life!’”How many in our day and age live that way not just the active and avowed atheists, but the virtual ones too who may even include church as one of the activities on their weekly schedules. But God needs to accommodate Himself to their agenda. God needs to fit into their schedules and if other more important matters arise, then God must wait. God needs to be there to attend to their wants, wishes, and desires when they need Him. God is the servant and they are the master. While they would never acknowledge that state of affairs, that is the reality.But God is God, my friends. He plays second fiddle to one. We can take His name off our coins and our money. We can remove the 10 Commandments from our Courts. We can declare it unconstitutional to pray in school or other public gatherings. We can ban employees from wishing one another Merry Christmas. We can remove every reminder of God from our national life. But we do not thereby diminish God; we only diminish ourselves. We exclude Him from nothing we only exclude ourselves. Seeking to get rid of God is as foolish as seeking to get rid of the air that sustains our life. Cut yourself off from Him and you cut yourself off from the very source of life itself.So God comes to the fool in this story, just at the moment that he thought he had it all made for himself that he had prepared for every eventuality and had more than enough to sustain himself in the lap of luxury for the rest of his life . Little did he know that the rest of his life was just a matter of a few short hours for God says to him “Fool! Tonight you die. And your barn full of goods who gets it?’Not a year from now. Not 6 months, next month, next week or even tomorrow – but this very night you will stand before God and give an account of your stewardship.Determine today, that as you gather around your meal tables on Thursday, you will take time to remind yourselves of your total dependence and reliance on God and that you will give practical evidence of that belief in the way you seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, making His agenda THE PRIORITY in your life, and trusting that as you do so just as He has always done and continues to do for the birds and flowers far more so for you will He take care of all your needs.Keep your focus on the main thing, remember your dependence on others, and above all, remember your dependence on god. Do those things and you will have not only a good, but a wise Thanksgiving.Deposit your treasure in the bank of heaven it will never go bankrupt and thieves will never break in there to steal. Where your treasure is there your heart will be also. Now you know how to make a wise Thanksgiving. HappyThanksgiving!!!!AMEN