Eat, Drink, & Be Merry This Thanksgiving!

Text: Deuteronomy 8:1-10

In the name of Jesus: Amen.

In our Old Testament reading from this morning, we read, "And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given you."

Now, isn’t this an appropriate verse to meditate on for Thanksgiving Day? It was first given to the Israelites when they were about to enter the land of Canaan, a land that was "flowing with milk and honey." But immediately after all these words – that celebrated the good gifts of God – the Lord warned the Israelites. The Lord warned them in the midst of their abundance that they might be tempted to forget Him. That is to say; the Israelites might be tempted to forget how the Lord redeemed them and brought them out of their slavery in Egypt. They might be tempted to forget how the Lord led them through the wilderness and fed them with bread from heaven and water from the rock. They might be tempted to think: "We have made it this far because of our power and might. We are blessed because we have endured." They might be tempted to forget that it was from the Lord’s hand that they received all good things, not their own hand.

And like those Israelites, we possess this same forgetfulness. We face the same danger of enjoying the good things of God in such a way that we forget where it all came from. Even worse, in this wonderful land of abundance, we can begin to take credit for everything ourselves. 

You see, when times are going well, it is easy to forget. On the other hand, when we have tough times as a nation or individually, it is easier to remember to be thankful.

Now, considering all of this, if the day of Thanksgiving does nothing else, it serves as an annual reminder for our culture that all the good things of this land, come from the Lord. All that we take for granted comes from the Lord as the way of gift. All the good in our lives is not some payback from the Lord because we have done a bunch of good things, but instead, all of these blessings are an overflow of the Lord’s gracious heart.

And still, we times are abundant we have this ongoing struggle to kick back and enjoy life with forgetfulness. We have this constant struggle to become so delighted in the gifts that we forget the Giver. In fact, it is so easy to get caught up in the good things of this life that we not only forget where these gifts come from but we also forget the Lord’s greater gifts. In other words, it is all too easy to forget how the Lord did an even bigger rescue for us than the one of the Israelites from Egypt. That is to say; how God came among us, how Jesus put on flesh and blood to bear our sin and suffering so that we might be rescued from our bondage to sin and Satan.

This forgetfulness is probably one of the biggest dangers we face. When times are good, we can forget that the Lord has set us free from sin and death by His own suffering, death, and resurrection. We can forget that He has washed away our sins in His blood that flowed from the cross of Calvary. Yes, it is easy, when there is an abundance, to forget the things that matter most.

So what are we to do about our forgetfulness? Is our Lord telling us not to eat this Thanksgiving – to be hungry and suffer?  Are we to eliminate the abundance by going home and tossing the turkey in the trash? No! He tells us to eat and be full. But He also tells us not to forget to "bless the Lord oour God for the good land" when we have eaten and are full.

And so we are gathered here today before we eat turkey, stuffing, and gravy. We are gathered here to hear the Words of the Lord and to join in the praise of our God from whom all blessings flow. But what begins in today's service, cannot be allowed to end when we leave this service and go our separate ways. But rather, it is to continue in our homes as we bless God. Yes, with eyes wide open to the mercies of God, we bless Him for His gifts this Thanksgiving Day and we bless Him every day for that "indescribable gift" He has given us in the person of His Son, our Savior.

And while we give thanks for the Lord’s spiritual blessings we also remember the temporal blessings we receive on account of Christ. His love showers down on us in so many ways. Indeed, the Lord causes the sun to shine, the rain to fall, the plants to grow. He gives us family. He gives us friends. He gives us this land. He gives us our government. He gives us our homes. He gives us animals. He gives us strangers who smile and speak a kindly word. He gives us the beauty of flowers in the spring and the splendor of the fall and winter.

It is all the Lord’s giving – all His gift. Today we see life truly for what it is: a gift from the hand of the heavenly Father who gives us all these things "out of divine fatherly goodness and mercy without any merit or worthiness" on our part.

So for us as God’s people, it is not, "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die." But rather, it is, "Eat, drink and be merry, and bless the Lord your God for the good land He has given you, and for the gifts He showers on you both temporal and eternal - and especially for the gift of His Son so that your tomorrow may not end in death, but in life everlasting."

In the name of Jesus: Amen.

Note: This sermon is borrowed in part from Rev. William Weedon.

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