November 27, 2019

Have you ever been asked the question in the title of this week’s article? It’s a question with more meaning than appears on the surface. I heard this question more than once as a child: a good time to hear it for it can help form your perspective on life, and everyone needs a perspective on life. I heard the question from my mother, usually when we had company for dinner, but also at Christmas. At the dinner table when I might say, “Please pass the mashed potatoes,” and someone would, my mother would look at me and stir my mouth into action with: “Now what do you say?” “Thank you, would you please pass the gravy.” Just kidding. Sorta. At Christmas when I would open a present, probably from my grandparents, my mother would respond: “Look at that. Now what do you say?” those words have stuck with me all of my life.

Thanks. Do you know what this word rightly implies: We aren't independent. We need others in our life. Can you think of anything in or about your life that didn’t involve others? That’s the way God made us. More on this shortly. When Frank Sinatra recorded, “I Did It My way” he wasn’t really expressing the truth about life, neither his, or anybody elses. I wonder if he had any help becoming a popular singer? Where did he get the voice that captured the hearts of so many?

When we think about the word, “thanks,” we need to think about God. Before I started writing this article I was curious to see what the dictionary has to say about thanks, and Thanksgiving Day. Here’s what I read. Thank: “to say that one is pleased and grateful for something given or done: express gratitude”(The World Book Dictionary). Now look what it says about THANKSGIVING DAY. “A day set apart as a holiday on which to give thanks for God’s Kindness during the year” (in the U.S., the fourth Thursday of November: in Canada, the second day in October). Did you make note that the focus of Thanksgiving Day is God, not the turkey.” Without God there would be no turkeys: “And God said,...”Let the skies be filled with birds of every kind...and God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:20, 21). Hey! Even the atheist acknowledges God’s goodness on Thanksgiving Day: “Please pass the turkey.” “Now what do you say?” And to whom (besides the cook) do you say it? Now, like the dictionary, I want to bring God into the conversation about Thanksgiving. The Psalmist wanted to. In Psalm 92:1 we read: “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to the Most High.” Why? The Psalmist gives us a clue at the end of the verse: “the Most High.” Let’s look into it.

Did you know that before there was a Thanksgiving there was a Thanks-beginning? God’s Word (the Bible) tells us about it. In Genesis 1:1 we read: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The whole rest of the Bible including Psalm 92: 1 is suspended from this verse. In fact, it is my persuasion that our whole perspective on life will be formed upon whether or not we believe this verse. It covers everything; our view of others (whether we will harbor racial prejudice or not), our view on abortion, government, marriage, parenting, how we take care of our bodies, how we approach the giving of thanks (including, but beyond Thanksgiving Day), and yes, our belief or unbelief concerning Genesis 1:1, will interpret our view of eternity.

I want to suggest that if there is no God there is no Thanksgiving. “Now wait a minute,” you may be saying,” we can still express thanks to and for each other.” Maybe, but where does an attitude of Thanksgiving come from; against what do we measure it? Does it originate with God, or is life up for grabs? We might ask the same question about morality. Is Thanksgiving an expression of love and if there is a God is it part of the “image” of God he created us in?

As we celebrate Thanksgiving Day and allow it to spill over into all our days Genesis 1 (and 2) reminds us that all that is good came out of Genesis 1:1.

As we examine the fruit of all the, “And God said,” statements in Genesis 1 we discover the ALL to be thankful for: the beauty of the earth, the wonder of the heavens, including the sun through which God sustains daily life on earth. When you go to your favorite supermarket consider all that you see there began in Genesis 1 (without additives). Why not enter the store with a ‘thank-you, Lord.” Oh yeah, don’t forget to thank the person who checks out your provisions from God for being there. And keep in mind that God may want to provide his provision for some folks through your gifts to the Food Shelf.

If you have a pet (dog, cat, hamster, horse, or whatever) have you thanked God for these members of the “family?” God created the animals you know. They are all a part of the, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Have you ever thought about the fact that if it wasn’t for God, you couldn’t enjoy the sport of fishing. Have you ever given thanks to God while you’re out in a boat? And yes, as hard as I find this to say (I’m an animal lover) if it wasn’t for God there would be no need to build a deer stand. We can thank God for the gift of marriage and family. God created marriage, you know: “And God said, It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion to help him’” (Genesis 2:18). And since God created marriage we can thank him by building our marriage on his principles (even before we’re married). How do you think you can thank God for your sexuality?

And then, of course, we want to thank God for his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank him that he didn’t throw humankind away after they sinned. He went looking for them (Genesis 3:8,9). In Adam and Eve’s presence God asked Adam, “Adam, where are you?” I’m convinced that this was not a question of geography (God knows where we are all the time) but a question toward Adam’s inner life: “Adam, where are you in relationship to me right now?) It’s the question God poses to all of us in relationship to his Son. If we answer it honestly, we can then give our lives to Jesus as Savior and Lord, and thank him from then on by living our lives for him. Thank you God, for asking me the question: “Where are you?” If God had not asked me that question, I wouldn’t be here writing this article right now.

Thank you for reading this article, and I thank Jodi for giving me the gift of being able to have my articles printed in the Roseau Time-Region each week. Maybe you’d like to thank her. I also thank my wife, Julie, for helping make this possible and also putting it on Facebook.

I wish for all of you a blessed Thanksgiving filled with thanksgiving, and don’t forget, turkeys began in Genesis 1! So, what do you say?

Until next time,

Pastor Joe


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