11-22-15 GIVE THANKS
November 22, 2015
I'm sure most of you have seen the commercial on TV for St. Jude's Children's Hospital, where a number of celebrities including Jennifer Aniston and Robin Williams (God rest His soul) tell us to "give thanks for the healthy kids in our life", and donate to St. Jude's so they can help those that are struggling with life-threatening illness. It is a good reminder that we often take our many blessings for granted, forgetting to thank the Lord for them; and that our Lord wants us to reach out to those who are less fortunate as well.
In our last Scripture reading for today, Jesus healed 10 lepers who pleaded with him to have pity and heal them. Of course Jesus healed all 10 of them, but only one came back to thank Him afterwards. And even sadder is that the one that did thank Him, was a Samaritan. To bring that into perspective, it would be like Jesus healing 9 of us who are Christians, who attend Mazon UMC faithfully, giving our offering every Sunday, participating in worship - the whole bit. But not one of us took the time to return to Jesus and fall at His feet and give Him thanks. Instead, it was that guy across the street who doesn't step foot in the church, who thanked God for being healed. And don't think it can't happen. We too often become complacent, expecting God to work miracles in our lives - which He does. But then how do we show our thanks?
Let me lift up one of our sisters in Christ here for a moment (not that there aren't others among us who do just as much). Jane McCormack, as most of you know, has been through a very trying ordeal with cancer. We all prayed our hearts out for her healing, and the Lord heard and answered our prayers. And Jane not only thanked the Lord (and us for our prayers), but during this time she put together 13 shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child! She exemplifies what it means to have faith for healing, AND a truly thankful heart. Because thankfulness is more than just saying "Thank you". It is an attitude of gratitude! And if we are sincerely grateful, it will reflect in our actions, not just our words.
So before you sit down to that Thanksgiving dinner this year, and feast on turkey or ham, maybe some pumpkin pie¦, reflect on the many blessings that the Lord has bestowed on you during this past year. And then reflect on the many blessings that people in your lives have bestowed on you this year. Thank the Lord, and thank those people. Not just with words, but by doing something to show your gratitude. Help someone less fortunate. We have many ongoing projects this time of year. Besides the shoeboxes, there is Toys for Joy and MVK Christmas baskets, both of which help folks that cannot afford the things we take for granted at Christmastime. I know that being a small church, we sometimes feel as though we can hardly make a difference. But God does not look at things the way the world does. Remember the poor widow and the two small copper coins she put into the offering? In Mark 12:41-44 we read, "Jesus sat down near the collection box in the Temple and watched as the crowds dropped in their money. Many rich people put in large amounts. Then a poor widow came and dropped in two small coins. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, "I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on." Jesus said she put in more than the rich Pharisees who gave bags full of money. Why? Because she gave everything she had to God, but the Pharisees 'gave a tiny part of their surplus'. Now I am not saying you should give the money you were going to use to pay this month's mortgage payment, or to buy groceries for the family. But do you view everything you have as the Lord's?
What if you were the owner of the colt that Jesus wanted to ride into Jerusalem on? In Luke 19:28-34 we read, "After telling this story, Jesus went on toward Jerusalem, walking ahead of his disciples. As he came to the towns of Bethphage and Bethany on the Mount of Olives, he sent two disciples ahead. 'Go into that village over there', he told them. 'As you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks, Why are you untying that colt? just say, The Lord needs it.' So they went and found the colt, just as Jesus had said. And sure enough, as they were untying it, the owners asked them, 'Why are you untying that colt?' And the disciples simply replied, 'The Lord needs it.'" Would you gladly let the disciples take your colt? We don't ride colts into town today, but what if two of Jesus' disciples asked you for your car? We love our cars. Would we just let it go for God?
Of course, Jesus doesn't need your car to ride into Jerusalem, but did he not say, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." ? (Matthew 25:40) What if someone needed a ride, or a place to sleep, or a meal, or a winter coat? Everything we do for someone in need, we are doing for Jesus Himself. We are expressing our thankfulness for all He has does for us, by doing for others.
Our God is a great God, worthy of our unending praise and worship. Let us rise and sing our closing hymn, with hearts overflowing with thankfulness and adoration! (Our Great Thou Art #77 UMH)