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November 14, 2017, 9:17 AM

Give thanks to the Lord, for...

            I love Thanksgiving.  It’s one of my favorite holidays, but I’m panicking a little.  I realize it is closing in on me fast and I am not yet ready.  As a pastor, I have some extra preparations to make before Thanksgiving: an extra worship service to plan, an extra sermon to write, some of next week’s work that I need to get done now so that I can take off Thanksgiving Day and hopefully the day after.  And then Advent is right around the corner.  I am not yet ready.
            My wife loves Thanksgiving too.  She has many preparations to make, but they are different from mine.  She is planning the entire menu from the shopping to the cooking.  She’s thinking about putting up Christmas decorations that weekend.  She’s got a running list of “Christmas Attractions” on a sheet of candy cane striped paper, and most of those activities could begin anytime on or after Thanksgiving weekend.  She’s thinking about gift shopping and Black Friday deals.  She is very well prepared.  I’m blessed to have her and her fantastic organizational skills!  But is she ready to give thanks?  (She is, but not because of the things I mentioned).  That leads us to the question…

Are you ready?
            What is it that makes us ready?  I don’t mean ready for Christmas or the Christmas season.  I mean are you ready to give thanks?  You won’t be ready, you can’t be ready, if you are not ready to recognize and worship the Giver of all that you have. 

Give thanks to the Lord, for…
            “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever,” says Psalm 136:1.  This psalm is one that reminds you to recognize the unfailing mercy and undeserved love of God and invites you to praise Him for who He is, for what He has created and provided, and for the salvation story of Israel coming out of Egypt and into the Promised Land (a salvation story that anticipated and foreshadowed your own rescue from slavery to sin so that you can be called holy and receive the promise of heaven).  You are not ready for Thanksgiving if you do not recognize and praise your Creator, your Redeemer, your Sanctifier—the One True God who saves you.  Therefore, you are invited to join in the psalm’s refrain (that appears in every verse) and acknowledge: “His steadfast love endures forever!”

Thanksgiving Sacrifice
            The psalms are full of thanksgiving and worship of God for His saving work.  Take a moment to think about what God has done for you.  I’ve referred already to the salvation we have in Jesus Christ.  Think of that!  He has paid for sin on your behalf on the cross.  He has conquered death in His rising triumphant from the prison of the grave.  He has cast down Satan and delivered you from the Devil’s reign, transferring you to the Kingdom of light and grace, which is yours already now and will be yours fully and forever when you are with your victorious Christ.  The Giver has given you all you need, for His salvation is everything!
           
In addition to that gracious gift, He has provided all that you have and all you need: food and drink, clothing and shelter, family and friends, even pets and toys and competitive sports and Black Friday sales and blessing upon blessing upon blessing.  In fact, we are blessed so richly that one of the biggest challenges in our culture is to learn contentment.  We are often overcome with selfishness and greed.  How do we overcome our greed and have a true heart of thankfulness?
           
Again, we turn to the psalms.  “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” (Psalm 50:23). Here we are encouraged to voice our praise, give an offering to the Lord out of gratitude for all he has done, and walk in his ways.  Yes, that means we are to learn His Ten Commandments and strive to keep them.  Yes, it means we rejoice in His mercy, grateful that we are forgiven so many sins.  Yes, it means that we give thank offerings to the Lord to support the work of the Gospel.  And in giving to the Church, not only are we learning contentment by depriving ourselves of something valuable, but we also have the joy of knowing our offering is used for work that makes an eternal difference in the lives of many.

Don’t forget to sing!
            Psalm 107 not only mentions a sacrifice of thanksgiving, but also invites us to lift our voices in prayers and songs of thanks: “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!” (Psalm 107:19-22).  When you sing to God with a joyful heart, you are a witness to others.  So tell and sing of His deeds in your life.

What are you thankful for?
            Salvation through Christ?  That you are baptized?  For God’s sustaining Word?  For the Body and Blood of Christ given for your forgiveness?  Are you thankful for your family?  Your material possessions?  Your dog?  Your hobby?  Every good thing is a gift from God, for He loves you dearly as His own precious child.  So make your preparations, carve out a little time and space for a holiday (holy-day).  Join us as we worship our giving God.

Pastor Jon

Thanksgiving Eve Worship at BSLC is Wednesday, Nov. 22, at 7pm.  Join us as we give thanks to the Giver of every good gift!

Special Door Offering? - Typically we collect a door offering on Thanksgiving Eve to help support families in need.  This year our “Help Fund” is already sufficient and we will be able to provide any needed assistance.  Please consider giving any special thank offerings this holiday season to support the ministry of BSLC in its active witness to the community.


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