Picture of Pastor Gettys

Sermon delivered DATE by Pastor Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

ThanksLiving

I hope you all benefitted from the Fourth Thursday of November. Hopefully we all gained from it. (Not weight). Many of us have also lost. Maybe your wife or husband went off to the mall yesterday to second-mortgage the house to get all those juicy bargains for Christmas. Did Thanksgiving make much of an impact upon you? The stores aren't decorated for Thanksgiving, are they? Is Thanksgiving really... Is it Biblical? Is there any precedence for eating all this food and everything?

Of course eating and sharing isn't wrong any time we want to be appreciative of what God does. It is even Biblical. Turn to Nehemiah 8:10. They had found the book of the Law and they were so thankful, And when you're really thankful for something, this describes what they did. Nehemiah said, "Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared." Verse 12, Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them. I would assume that after every sermon there ought to be a thanksgiving time. Your Sabbath meal ought to be like that, too, because you knew and understood the words of the Lord, you were fed from the pulpit.

One day a pastor went to visit an elderly church member in south Arkansas. He finally found the old tin-roofed shack and stepped onto the front porch. There he could see the old saint finishing his meager meal of beans and meat. At that point the old man bowed his white head and prayed, "I thank Thee Lawd, that I have dined sufficient!" A meager meal. A big thanksgiving.

The old man's life was one of peace and thankfulness. Gratitude isn't based on the quantity of the things that we have; our wealth, our position. A meal of beans and greens becomes a feast to the thankful heart. I've found that blessings often follow gratitude rather than gratitude following blessings. Have you thought about that? Well, we've been blessed, therefore we're grateful. Well, not really. It ought to be the other way around. If we aren't thankful for ten dollars then probably we would not think ten thousand dollars would be enough either.

Come to Psalm 145. David had a thankful attitude, and I think Thanksgiving of double praise. Every day ought to be a day of praise. Psalm 145:2. Every day I will praise you and extol Your name forever and ever. Every day should be a day of praise and thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is a time of double praise. Do you have a lot to be thankful for? Be thankful for whatever you have in all circumstances that you are facing.

I would like to talk, first of all, about the unthankful. There are those who are unthankful. They have a lot of things, but they are not thankful for anything, much.

One Christmas the students gave their teacher a brand new Bible. They said, "Here, this is for you." The quirky man looked at the gift, looked it over, and said: "I thank each of you so very much for this Bible, but, I see it has no concordance in it. You wouldn't mind if I took it to trade for one I liked, would you?" We ought to be thankful for what we get. Do we kneel and pray to God like that? "Lord thanks for this, BUT, it really wasn't what I was expecting. I don't quite like it!" Do we go from Church where we have sung songs and praised God from Whom all blessings flow and on the way home we grumble and complain about the weather or the pastor's sermon? Are we Grumblers? Or are we grateful?

A poor man was invited to eat at the house of a rich gentleman. Before eating the poor man simply bowed his head, the rich man wasn't going to do it, and asked the blessing like he did at home. His wealthy host jeeringly said, "What you just did is not done in the homes of the well educated and wealthy." The poor man said, "Well, where I come from only a few did not pray over their food. Almost everybody does." "Aha!" said the rich man. "The ones who don't are the sensible and enlightened ones. Tell me who they are." "My pigs," said the farmer.

If we pause to think, we'll have plenty to thank our openhanded God for. Why are we so unthankful? God knew it would be worse as time moved along. It wasn't so bad with Adam and Eve, I suppose. But look at 2 Timothy 3. Here is a prediction that God makes. 2 Timothy 3:2. In the last day, People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful. Ungrateful!

Each year just before Christmas the newspaper offices receive many letters from girls and boys asking, "Dear Santa, I want this and this and this and that." Signed, Sally. One New York newspaper devoted several pages to these letters to Santa Claus. After Christmas that large newspaper got only thanks letter from only one child. Just one!

The true Santa is God. God's highest gift should awaken our deepest gratitude. How often we are so unthankful, even for Jesus, and especially to God from Whom ALL blessings flow. We should be thankful. We should remember the old saying: "When you drink from the Stream, remember the Spring." God is that Spring. In Ministry of Healing, page 253, Mrs White says this: "Morning, noon and night let gratitude as a sweet perfume ascend to heaven."

Point number two. We ought to be thankful people, thankful. Come over here to Colossians 3:15 (NLT). It says, And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts...And always be thankful.

Whatever happens, it is better to appreciate things you don't have than to have things you don't appreciate. Be thankful for what you have. Someone said, "I used to grumble because I had to get up early every morning until, one morning I couldn't get up. So, be thankful for what you have.

Be thankful for your teenager. Somebody says, "Ha, I should be thankful for my teenager? I'd like to do what Mark Twain suggested. 'Just put them in a barrel and cork it until they get to be twenty-five.'" Yes! Billy Graham said, "Our Youngsters will respond if the challenge is tough enough and hard enough. Youth wants a master and a controller." Now, you might not think that. Adolf Hitler proved that, didn't he? He demonstrated well how to motivate the Zealousness of youth. Young people were built for God, and without God as the center of their lives they become frustrated; they become confused; they become desperately grasping for and searching for security. It seems like every day teenagers try on a new face hoping to find out who they really are or what they're becoming. Be thankful for your teenagers. You used to be a teenager, I think, once.

Be thankful for your wife. Last Thanksgiving I wasn't even sure I would have a wife, and I still do. Praise God that He has healed my wife since. You women need to marry an archaeologist, if you aren't married yet. Go get married to an archaeologist, because the older you get, the more your husband will be interested in you. Wives are special. You know, a hundred men could set up encampment, but it takes a wife to make a home.

Charles Dickens said that we Americans have things all mixed up when it comes to our annual Thanksgiving day. He said we should have 364 Thanksgiving days every year. Three hundred sixty-four? He said you could take one day every year and do your complaining and your griping. If that were true, I would like to hibernate on that one blue day. I don't much appreciate listening to numerous grumbling, growling, whining, muttering. And we all have things to complain about. And you don't like listening doing that either, do you.

So, have a grateful attitude. We heard of a man and woman who gave a sizeable contribution to the church to honor the memory of their son who lost his life in the war. When the announcement was made of the generous donation, a woman whispered to her husband, "Let's give the same amount for our boy!" Her husband said, "What are you talking about? Our son isn't dead." She said, "That's just the point. Our son is alive. Let's give it as an expression of our gratitude to God for sparing his life!

Some count their blessings on their fingers, and count their miseries on a calculator. Let's reverse our attitude and be thankful for our innumerable blessings. The Mayo Clinic did a survey this year. I just got a Mayo Clinic Newsletter this week. They found that Optimists have a higher quality of life than pessimists. - Dr. Toshihiko Maruta, M.D. , 2002. And it doesn't cost any more to be optimistic.

During an evangelistic series a paralyzed man was wheeled into the meeting by a friend. The song leader was up front conducting the music. And the song leader asked, "Does anybody here have a favorite song that we could sing?" Immediately the disabled man replied, "Count your Blessings, Name them one by one." I like that kind of a person. The handicapped man had a heart that was overflowing with gratitude. You are about as happy as the depth of your gratitude. He could choose to be happy. Colossians 3:16. ...sing Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. We ought to be full of gratitude.

Mark Tidd of Webster, New York, describes an experience from his college days: They were poor, living in a rented apartment and one day an Old man showed up at the back door. Opening the door a few inches, we saw his eyes were glassy and his furrowed face glistened with silver stubble. He clutched a wicker basket holding a few unappealing vegetables that he had for sale. They made a quick purchase to alleviate both our pity and our fear. We had made a mistake.

The old man returned next week with another basket and he introduced himself as Mr. Roth, the poor man who lived in the shack down the road. Upon closer examination they discovered that it wasn't alcohol but cataracts that marbleized his eyes. He came shuffling in many times that summer wearing two mismatched right shoes. On one visit he said, "Thank the Lord!" "What's happened to you?" He said, "Well, I came out of my shack this morning and I found a bag full of shoes and clothing on my porch." "That's wonderful, Mr. Roth!" we said. "We are happy for you." "You know what"s even more wonderful?" He asked. "Just yesterday I met some people that could really use them. I'm going to give them away this afternoon."

Hebrews 12:28. ...Let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably. We ought to be more thankful, shouldn't we.

A mother and her two little children were very poor. In the depth of winter they were nearly frozen. The poor mother took the cellar door off of the basement. You know, some of these doors are on an angle. She took the doors off the basement and set them up in a corner in the house where they were crouched down and trying to sleep. She was trying to keep the draft off of their shivering bodies. One of the little girls whispered to her, "Mother what do those poor children do who have no cellar door to put up in front of them?"

A humble attitude can make a person thankful. A humble mind is the soil out of which thanks naturally grows. Henry Ward Beecher said: "A proud man is seldom a grateful man; he never thinks he gets as much as he deserves. But a humble man is a grateful man. He feels he gets more than he deserves." I think pride is what kills thanksgiving.

Come back here to Psalm 50 in your Bible. The Lord just fills up the bible with things about thankfulness. It's all through the Bible. The ten lepers: even one of them were thankful. Psalm 50:14 KJV. Offer unto God thanksgiving; The New Living Translation says it this way: What I want...is your true thanks. That's all God wants. You can't repay Him for your health. You can't repay Him for your blessings. All He wants is your true thanks. That's all.

We need to make other people thankful. You can do that. You can make somebody else thankful. We can love things too much. As the ball of snow is melted by the heat of the hand that holds it too long, as a rose is spoiled by holding it too tightly. Likewise whatever we thankfully receive should soon be thankfully shared and passed on. We don't need to keep it all and consume it on ourselves. This way we spread the joy. Make someone else thankful. There are two kinds of gratitude: the sudden kind we feel for what we take, the larger kind we feel for what we give. (Edwin Arlington Robinson) And, that s a better kind of gratitude. Did you know that true thankfulness is being able to help someone else to be thankful.

I enjoy giving people compliments. And why not? If a man deserves praise--give it to him now. He cannot read his own tombstone. He will never hear someone stand up and read his obituary. One day our Southern Union President, Malcolm Gordon, introduced me to someone. He said: "I am proud to introduce you to one of our fine pastors... the inimitable, Don Gettys." And you know ever since, I really like that man. I don't know how to spell that fancy word and I don't even know what it means and I can hardly pronounce the word: INIMITABLE. But somehow I know Malcolm Gordon appreciates me and that makes all the difference.

Dr. William Strider sat down and wrote a letter of thanks to a schoolteacher for having given him so much encouragement when he had her as a teacher 30 years ago. A week later he got a letter back in shaky handwriting.

"My Dear Willie: I want you to know what your note meant to me. I am an old lady in my eighties, living alone in a small room, cooking my own meals, lonely, and seeming like the last leaf on the tree. You will be interested to know, Willie, that I taught school for fifty years. And in all that time, yours is the first letter of appreciation I have ever received. It came on a cold, blue morning and cheered my lonely old heart."

Have you ever thought of writing or calling someone to express your appreciation?

But please say it. It needs to be said.

Philippians 4:6 (NLT) Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. We need to be thankful, don't we.

William Law, in his Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life said, "Would you know who is the greatest saint in the world? It is not he who prays most or fasts the most but he who receives everything as an instance of God's goodness, and has a heart always eager to praise God for it."

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT) No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. We need to be thankful.

Have you ever noticed that flowers carry dewdrops, trembling there on the edges of the petals. They are ready to fall at the first waft of the wind. Just so the heart should carry its beaded words of thanksgiving. At the first breath of heavenly flavor, let down the shower, perfumed with the heart's gratitude. (Henry Ward Beecher) I think when we get to heaven... What language will we speak there? I don't know what Language they speak there. Japanese? No. Swahili? No. Vietnamese? Southern? I doubt it. Whatever language it is, I believe it will be the language of gratitude. And I think that if you don't know the language of gratitude, you and God might not be on speaking terms when you get to heaven. So, maybe right now would be a real good time for us to get the knowledge of gratitude and to learn gratitude.

There are three kinds of giving:

  1. Grudge Giving - Says "I hate to, but..."
  2. Duty Giving - Says "I Ought to...."
  3. Thanksgiving - Says "I'd Love to..."
The last one is the type we want.

In love with Jesus, in love with everybody else.

At this season of Thanksgiving I would encourage you to go home and write a letter to somebody to tell somebody that it's overdue maybe that you love them and just have that spirit of thankfulness and gratitude in your heart. Thank god for all He has done, for all He is doing, and for all that He will do.

Happy Thanksliving.

Hymn of Praise: #27, Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart!
Scripture: Psalm 37:3-6
Hymn of Response: #557, Come, Ye Thankful People

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