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11-20-22 Gratitude

Gratitude

David Peterson / General

Thankfulness / Deuteronomy 26:1–11

Sermon Type: Textual-Topical

Proposition: The attitude of gratitude expresses itself in a life of giving to God by giving to others. This is grounded in a belief that God is the giver of all good gifts.

Introduction

1. Beliefs, Attitudes, Actions are inseparable

The Founders

On December 20, 1606, three bold boats sailed down the Thames in London, embarking on a voyage to search for a safe port along the shores of Virginia. Susan Constant, flagship of Sir Christopher Newport’s fleet, 110 feet, 7 inches long, was by far the largest vessel. Though she had only nineteen bunks, she carried fifty-four passengers and a crew of seventeen. She was a sturdy ship with the crudest of accommodations. No one had any privacy except the captain. There was no galley. When weather permitted, food was cooked in sand pots on deck.

The second largest ship in this history-making voyage was the Godspeed. It was 69 feet, 2 inches overall, and had cramped sleeping quarters for twelve, yet she listed thirty-nine passengers and a crew of thirteen.

Quite appropriately, one of the boats used by the founders was the Discovery. This small sailing craft displaced about twenty tons of water and measured 50 feet, 2 1/4 inches from stem to stem. The rough “below” was partitioned for four bunks. Yet she brought over twelve passengers and a crew of nine.

It required 128 days for the voyage. The founders arrived at Cape Henry, Virginia, April 26, 1607, at four o’clock in the morning. On this windswept shore, the grateful settlers raised a “large wooden cross” and thanked God for their safe arrival. Jamestown was selected as their site on May 14. These were dark and daring days. The disease-infested swamps, together with Indian warfare, claimed many. Food was scarce. Several hundred colonists came to Virginia in the first six years of her founding, and at one point only sixty persons survived.

On June 7, 1610, it was decided to abandon the settlement. The colonists sailed down the James River once again to challenge the Atlantic. Next morning, Sir Thomas Gates, lieutenant governor of the colony, received word that Lord De la Warr had arrived at Point Comfort with settlers and supplies. Governor Gates returned to the empty fort and, falling on his knees, thanked God the colony had been saved.

Jones, G. C. (1986). 1000 illustrations for preaching and teaching (pp. 42–43). Broadman & Holman Publishers.

I. God’s Intention, Blessing

1. Explanation

These are the poetic symbols of fullness and fertility. Honey is made by bees and bees thrive only where flowers and fruit are abundant. Milk, drawn from cows and goats, implies the presence of good pasture land for grazing. Through the centuries, milk has signified a special privilege and blessing: it is the abundant knowledge of heavenly things, which is given in the promised land. Honey is the gift of happiness and delight that accompanies such knowledge.

Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary: Year C (Vol. 2, p. 31). Westminster John Knox Press.

26:9 a land flowing with milk and honey A Hebrew idiom for fertility and prosperity.

Faithlife Study Bible (Dt 26:9). Lexham Press.

2. Application

It is significant that President Abraham Lincoln established a regular date for a nationally observed day of Thanksgiving while the Civil War was still raging. … In his Proclamation of Thanksgiving, Lincoln urged people to consider that even amid the ravages of war, God had blessed America with “fruitful fields and healthful skies,” and that, even in the nation’s suffering, God had “nevertheless remembered mercy.”

“The Sale That Stole Thanksgiving,” CT magazine online (11-26-13)

3. Illustration

a. Student from Africa

II. God’s Motivation, Love

1. Explanation

The Israelite must confess that the theocratic calling of his people could not be attributed to their might (vv. 5ff.; cf. 7:7, 8; 8:17, 18). A wandering Aramean was my father (v. 5b, RSV). The Hebrew ’ôbēd connotes the ideas of “lost” and “in peril”; cf. “ready to perish” (AV). The reference is to Jacob. He is called Aramean because the patriarchal origins were geographically, though not racially, Aramean and because Jacob himself sojourned in Aram-naharaim during the period of the birth of his sons, the future tribal fathers of Israel. The commemorative recital of God’s redemptive acts in exodus and conquest (vv. 7–9) was Israel’s confessional Amen to God’s own recital of his favor to them in the historical prologue of the covenant. Verse 10b does not describe a chronologically successive step in the ritual (in contradiction of verse 4); it is rather a summarizing conclusion.

Kline, M. G. (2012). Treaty of the Great King: The Covenant Structure of Deuteronomy: Studies and Commentary (p. 119). Wipf & Stock.

The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. 8 But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9 Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands. (Deut. 7:7-9 NIV84)

2. Application

3. Illustration

III. Our Proper Response, Gratitude

1. Explanation

26:1–11 land … LORD … giving. These words recur repeatedly. The ritual offering of firstfruits reminded the individual worshiper that the Promised Land is God’s gracious gift and is to be received with joyful thanksgiving.

Engelbrecht, E. A. (2009). The Lutheran Study Bible (p. 317). Concordia Publishing House.

The offering of “the first of [all] the fruit of the ground” acknowledges that God is the source and true owner of the land’s produce.

Christensen, D. L. (2002). Deuteronomy 21:10–34:12 (Vol. 6B, p. 636). Word, Incorporated.

2. Application

3. Illustration

In Archibald MacLeish’s play J. B., there is a provocative scene wherein the family is seated around the Thanksgiving table. As J. B. carves the turkey, the children begin urging their father to tell the story. They, of course, know the story. They had been brought up on how J. B. had become a shining knight in the business world. But tradition and expectation demanded a recapitulation of the saga on a day of celebration.

All of us have a story. Families hand down stories, and they are often repeated at festive occasions. Individuals have stories to tell, and so do congregations. Professing Christians are commissioned to tell the story of the promised Messiah, His life, death, and resurrection (Matt. 28:16–20).

Jones, G. C. (1986). 1000 illustrations for preaching and teaching (p. 124). Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Conclusion

WHEREAS, It is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor;

WHEREAS, Both the houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness”!

Now, therefore, I do recommend next, to be devoted by the people of the states to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be, that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country.

—George Washington

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