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Bryan Clements - Thanksgiving Meal Fellowship

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Thanksgiving – Meal Fellowship

When somebody says Thanksgiving what do you think of?

In the US, about 280 million turkeys are sold for the Thanksgiving celebrations.

More than 40 million green bean casseroles are served on Thanksgiving.

Twenty percent of cranberries eaten are eaten on Thanksgiving.

We think of food and family and friends all getting together.

When you talk about thanksgiving in the bible you have to be drawn to one place.  You find thanksgiving mentioned throughout the bible, but we see it in the Psalms over and over again.

In Ps 26 david says that he has walked with God.  Not physically, but spiritually and then he says in vs 6
6 I shall wash my hands in innocence, And I will go about Your altar, O Lord,
7 That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving And declare all Your wonders.  (What had Israel seen up to this point?)

David is not listing all the great things that God has done for him.  He is offering thanksgiving because of who God is and all the things that He is capable of.

Psalm 42:1-4 (NASB95)
1 As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God?
3 My tears have been my food day and night, While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember and I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go along with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God, With the voice of joy and thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival.

Here we see the psalmist remembering what it was like to go to the house of God and offer thanksgiving.  God dwelt in the tabernacle. If you were going to worship Him you had to go there and offer your worship.  If you were out of the country, you waited until you returned.  If you were off at war, you longed, like the psalmist, to go to the place of God and worship Him.

What about us.  Where do we go to offer thanksgiving?  Where does God live for you?  We don’t have to wait to come here.  We can offer thanksgiving anywhere. (Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well.  True worship is in the heart.) But there is something special when we do offer our thanksgiving and praises together.

Psalm 50:14 (NASB95)
14 “Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving And pay your vows to the Most High;

Psalm 69:30 (NASB95)
30 I will praise the name of God with song And magnify Him with thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is more pleasing to God than sacrificing for sins.

Psalm 95:2 (NASB95)
2 Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving, Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.

Psalm 100:1 (NASB95)
1 A Psalm for Thanksgiving. Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.

Psalm 100:4 (NASB95)
4 Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name.

Psalm 116:17 (NASB95)
17 To You I shall offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving, And call upon the name of the Lord.

Psalm 147:7 (NASB95)
7 Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; Sing praises to our God on the lyre,

We see individual worship, but…

“Let us come.” “Let them also offer”

 We are to come together to offer thanksgiving.  Yes, we can be thankful by ourselves, but something happens when we come together to offer thanks. 

·       We get to share the joy of our thanks with those around us.

·       Our joy reminds other people of what they have to be thankful for.

·       We lift up others who may not be feeling thankful.  Reminds them that God is still working.  Some don’t look forward to the holidays.

·       We are lifted up when we share in somebody else’s thankfulness.  As long as we are not jealous and truly want the best for our brothers and sisters.  We talked about this in Romans 12.  Weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice. We don’t covet their blessings. This would be trying to steal what God has given them.

The idea of celebrating a thanksgiving day was intended to stop and consider all of the blessings that we have been given. Listen to this. It is the first proclamation of a thanksgiving at Plymouth.

First Proclamation After Plymouth

Governor Bradford of Massachusetts made this first Thanksgiving Proclamation three years after the Pilgrims settled at Plymouth:

“Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.

Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the day time, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty-three and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.”

—William Bradford

Ye Governor of Ye Colony

The governor didn’t specifically say to have a meal. He said to gather at the church and listen to the pastor and give thanks.  But you see what he listed as reasons for thanks.  If they ate half the stuff that was listed in the proclamation they would have had a pretty good meal.

That ‘s the highlight of Thanksgiving.

The highlight of Thanksgiving is obviously the meal.  Turkey, ham, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green bean casseroles, yams, pies – pumpkin, pecan, apple.  And not only do we get to enjoy the meal, we get leftovers.  The meal keeps going for a few days.    That’s okay, the first Thanksgiving celebration lasted for three days.

But, How is stuffing all this food in us a way of saying thanks?  Can’t we say thanks by fasting?   There is something about meal fellowship. 

You don’t eat with people that you can’t stand.  Eating with someone means that you agree with that person.  That is what people are going to assume.    
You don’t fight while you pass the potatoes.
You do have the opportunity to talk and share.  There is a fellowship that takes place over a meal that you can’t get in worship.  You learn stuff about people when you eat with them.  Likes/dislikes, family, history.

Jesus made great use of meal fellowship. 

·       He fed 5,000.                He was able to meet their needs.

·       He ate with the sinners and the tax collectors. This gave them a value that nobody else in their society was willing to give them.   

·       You see him eating with disciples, sharing the Passover feast,

·        and then eating with them on the shore after he is resurrected.   

·       When Jesus appeared to the disciples in the upper room He showed them his scars so they knew that it was him.  If there was any doubt left he cleared it up with his next question.  Luke 24.41:

Luke 24:41 (NASB95)
41 While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
That’s the Jesus we knew and He is alive!!

But this idea of meal fellowship goes back even further than the time of the New Testament Church.  The book of Leviticus prescribes how sacrifices are to be performed and one of the sacrifices mentioned is that of thanksgiving.

Leviticus Chapter 7 lines out the sacrifice of thanksgiving.  They didn’t just offer this sacrifice up to the priests and then leave it.  The thanksgiving offering became a meal shared with the Lord. 

Leviticus 7:12 (NASB95)
12 ‘If he offers it by way of thanksgiving, then along with the sacrifice of thanksgiving he shall offer unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers spread with oil, and cakes of well stirred fine flour mixed with oil.

Leviticus 7:13 (NASB95)
13 ‘With the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving, he shall present his offering with cakes of leavened bread.

Leviticus 7:15 (NASB95)
15 ‘Now as for the flesh of the sacrifice of his thanksgiving peace offerings, it shall be eaten on the day of his offering; he shall not leave any of it over until morning.  (No leftovers)

I don’t know what this looked like, but the offerer ate the thanksgiving offereing.

Sacrifice is the offering of something precious back to God.  It is an act of obedience, but more importantly it is an act of love and honor.  

The distinctiveness of the thanksgiving/fellowship offering was in the communal meal which the worshiper and his family ate before the Lord. It was essentially a voluntary act in which the worshiper accepted the meat from God as a token of His covenant faithfulness and gave God acknowledgment or thankful praise for His past blessings bestowed, whether in answer to prayer, or granted unexpectedly, or the normal blessings such as a good harvest.

A sin offering was left with the priest, who offered it up on behalf of the person.  But the thanksgiving offering was done in such a manner that what was offered came back to the giver.

Listen to the words of Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 30:19 (NASB95)   We honor God and He honors us.
19 ‘From them will proceed thanksgiving And the voice of those who celebrate; And I will multiply them and they will not be diminished; I will also honor them and they will not be insignificant.

When we offer thanks to God, He blesses it.  We offer thanks out of a heart of gratitude not dimply as an act of obedience. We offer sacrifice for what we have not what we are going to get, Rom12.1.  There are certain things that we do for God because He says that we should do them.  It is not the acts that we perform, but the heart with which we perform them that matter.

We want our children to follow our rules.  Not simply because they are our rules, but because we know what is best for them.  We want our children to eventually realize why the rules were there in the first place.  We want them to internalize them.  This is what God wants for us.  He wants us to understand why he requires the things of us that He does.  When this happens our hearts get right with God.

Paul touched on this in Chapter 12 of Romans when he said, “Offer yourself as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable…”

Paul wasn’t talking about a sin offering, that was already paid for.  Paul is talking about a thanksgiving offering.  We offer ourselves out of thanksgiving for what we have already received, forgiveness of our sins and salvation through Jesus Christ.

When we offer ourselves as a thanksgiving offering, God shares that offering back with us.

I can’t give myself totally to God, there won’t be anything left for me.  Yes there will.  He has shown us that.

Every blessing that we get comes from God. 

Psalm 107:22 (NASB95)
22 Let them also offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, And tell of His works with joyful singing.

1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NASB95)
18 in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

We have so much to be thankful for.  That we got out of bed this morning. Health, friends, family, but most importantly the love of God.  His patience and kindness.  The fellowship that we share together.

At the same time we can thank God for who He is and for the gift of His son.  Our greatest thanks is comes when we realize the price that Jesus paid for us.

You may be here this morning and are thinking, “I have never accepted Jesus as my savior. I have never trusted in Him.”  You can do that today.  Come see me when we dismiss and we can show you how.  Jesus said, come to me all you who are heavy laden and I will give you rest. 

You may be here knowing that you have trusted that Jesus is the son of God and that He paid the price for your sins.  But you have never made that a public statement by following through with baptism as Jesus commanded.  We would be glad as a church to participate in that with you.

Or you may be here this morning because God has called you to be a part of this fellowship.  We have met and we agree that God has called us together.  If you are ready today to unite with this fellowship I am going to ask that you see Vicki after the service and let her know that you are ready to move your membership to New Life Baptist Church.  We will be sending requests for letters of membership starting this week. 

It is exciting to see God moving.  We want to continue to seek His guidance in prayer and then to move boldly as he opens doors for ministry.


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