Picture of Pastor Gettys

Sermon delivered November 25, 2006 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.
Thanksgiving is Not a Day

(RealAudio Version available)

Scripture: II Corinthians 9:6-11

Sermon Notes:

We have thanksgiving all backwards. We think that this special national holiday is a time to express our thanks for all the blessings we have received over the past year. True this is a good thing to do. But according to God’s Holy Word thanksgiving has little to do with all the blessings we have but it has everything to do with how we use our blessings. II Cor 9:11

The Pilgrims dug seven times more graves than they built huts. They could have held a “Poor Me” pity party. But they Celebrated the bountiful blessings of God. From their grateful attitude comes our Thanksgiving Day.

After the Civil War had been in progress for two long years, Abraham Lincoln, said:

"We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown."—1863        This sounds like a blind optimist. How could the president of the United States say they had peace when they were in the bloody Civil War? Because he had his eye on the big picture. Bad occasionally happens to everybody, but focus on the many somethings you can be thankful for.

True Thanksgiving includes an attitude of looking on the bright side. Counting huts instead of counting tombstones; Focusing on the overall prospect.

On January 13, 1997 Steve Fossett climbed into the cockpit of a hotair balloon in St. Louis, Missouri and rose into the sky with the ambition of being the first person to circle the globe in a balloon. After three days he had crossed the Atlantic and was flying at 24,500 feet eastward over Africa. But a major problem came up.

The wind was carrying him directly toward Libya. Libya had refused him permission to fly in its air space. He could be shot down. Hot air balloons don’t have steering wheels. The only thing he could do was to change altitude and hope to find a crosswind blowing in a different direction. So he vented Helium and dropped 6,300 feet. There a new wind blew. He skirted safely south of Libya and then resumed his course. He only got as far as India but did set two records for the longest distance and duration.

In a Balloon you are a prisoner of the wind. In Life people think they are prisoners of circumstances. But in the balloon you can change your altitude and in life you can change your attitude. When we change our attitude we change the direction of our life. We are no longer a prisoner of circumstances. – Bertrand Piccard A positive Attitude will brighten your whole life. Prov 23:7 As he thinketh in his heart, so is he.

Two old friends met. One looked sad. His friend said: What’s wrong? The sad fellow said: Three weeks ago my rich uncle died and to my surprise I received a check for $10,000. “Wonderful” said the friend. The sad fellow continued: But some time after that I got another check for $100,000.

Wow! Said the friend. What a blessing.

The sad fellow said, but just two weeks ago I got another check for $250,000. His friend said: I don’t understand why you are so unhappy. The sad fellow said: Because this week nothing came.

We think, that could never happen. But the truth is it does happen in small ways every day. When the electricity goes off and you can’t operate your hair dryer do you get sad? When you get a cold or get sick do you get upset? We take too many things for granted. Electricity and good health are not our rights. They are privileges.

When you get up, thank God for the warm covers. For the sun that came up. For the soft carpet upon which to kneel while you pray. Thank Him for one more day of eyesight. Thank God for shoes to wear. The list goes on and on. We take too much for granted. We are like the sad fellow in the story. We are showered by far more blessings than we will ever deserve. Let’s be happy for what we have. Hebrews 13:5 –

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have.

Let’s never forget God’s great Generosity to us. Keep it fresh in your heart. Philip Yancy went to visit in Yellowstone National Park. Old Faithful geyser was surrounded by crowds of tourists. A large clock predicted 24 minutes before the next eruption. He said: “My wife and Iapped the countdown in the dining room of Old Faithful Inn overlooking the geyser. When the digital clock reached one minute, we, along with every other diner, left our seats and rushed to the windows to see the big, wet event.

I noticed that immediately, as if on signal, a crew of busboys and waiters descended on the tables to refill water glasses and clear away dirty dishes. When the geyser went off, we tourists oohed and aahed and clicked our cameras; a few spontaneously applauded. But, glancing back over my shoulder, I saw that not a single waiter or busboy– not even those who had finished their chores– looked out the huge windows. Old Faithful, grown entirely too familiar, had lost its power to impress them.”

I wonder if we take for granted God’s faithfulness to us. Somebody asked Bill Gates a question. ‘If you were to go blind, Would you trade all of your billions to have your eyesight restored?’ At that time he was worth 35 Billion Dollars. He said: I Would! Your sight is priceless! Never take for granted the blessings of sight, taste, hearing. We do not value things like family or health until they are gone. 1 Th 5:18 always be thankful

Today I would like for you to change your perspective on Thanksgiving. It is not simply a time to be thankful for all our blessings. If that is all it is then Thanksgiving would be a good time to tally all our assets and think of all the money we have accumulated.

A young lady got a job and decided to invest over 75% of her income in the stock market. Over 50 years it grew to a $22 Million fortune. She was wealthy. She had walked to work to save money. She had no car. Her clothes were old and worn. She was extremely frugal. But She had invested zero time in relationships and died without a single friend. In the last 5 years of her life she did not have one personal phone call. Let me ask a Question: Was she rich or poor?

Are your goals similar? Do you exist to get another ten thousand dollars in your Portfolio?

How much do you really need? Should this lady have celebrated at Thanksgiving because of her great wealth? Maybe it is time to look at the true Bible definition of thanksgiving.


2 Cor 9:6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

2 Cor 9:7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

2 Cor 9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

2 Cor 9:9 As it is written: "He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever."

2 Cor 9:10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.

2 Cor 9:11 You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

Let us Focus on verse 11. Does true Thanksgiving come from what we get or what we give? A genuine Christian will live His or Her life in such a way that it will result in Thanksgiving. Here the Bible says that Bona fide Thanksgiving comes not from what we get but from what we give. Thanksgiving is a by-product of generosity!

If I were to say praise God for ABUNDANCE!

A high percentage of you might hang your head as you remember the balance in your checkbook. If I were to say: Let’s praise God for GOOD HEALTH! Another fairly good percent of you might hang your head as you think about the problems you face.

If I were to say Praise God for the LOVE we all have in our homes! Quite a chunk of our congregation could lower their eyes as they think of the arguments and problems they face with their children.

If I were to say Praise God for GOOD PARENTS who pray for me every day! Many of you might shed a tear because you no longer have a living parent to pray for you. True Thanksgiving is NOT simply being thankful for what we have but for what we can give. The Pharisee’s Thanksgiving is being thankful that I have something that someone else does not have. The true Christian’s Thanksgiving is better than that. It is the knowledge that God has blessed us with something we can give to meet the needs of others.

Eph 5:20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us be more thankful. We have been so richly blessed. Let’s also be a blessing.

We sing a song called the Doxology. It goes like this: Praise God from Whom all blessings flow. But, when you give of your means to bless the needs of someone else, you are participating in that Divine Function. God ever lives to bless others. You become like God when you give to a needy cause. When you help some needy child or when you give a liberal offering.

A small boy sat down at the kitchen table with his crayons and started to draw on a blank paper. His Daddy said: What are you doing son? “I’m drawing a picture of God”. But Son, you can’t draw a picture of God. Nobody knows what God looks like. The small lad said: “Well, they will when I get through!”

The boy was right. God’s image slowly begins to show through a life that is well lived. When you share of your resources to bless someone else, you do indeed show the world what God looks like. When you get through, you want them to see God in your life.

Why does God enrich His children with talents, physical possessions, and abilities? To bless them AND to enable them to be a blessing. It is like perpetual motion. When you share your means with others you don’t get weaker you actually gain strength. This Bible principle is stated in Proverbs 11:24 Some people give much but get back even more. Others don't give what they should and end up poor.

Prov 11:25 Whoever gives to others will get richer; those who help others will themselves be helped. – NCV

God has extended grace to us that we might extend grace to others. God has forgiven us of much that we might forgive others who have wronged us greatly. Until you can finally and fully forgive the person who hurt you many years ago, they will still continue to hurt you. True Thanksgiving is reflecting the same qualities that we see in God in our own daily actions.

2 Cor 9:11 You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

Thanksgiving is not created by Hallmark. Godly Generosity is what creates true Thanksgiving. The yardstick of your personal thankfulness is the record of how you have benefitted others during the years of your life. You cannot exhaust His supply by sharing it with others. Jesus said:

Luke 6:38 Give, and it will be given to you.

Closing Hymn: 557 Come Ye Thankful People Come

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