Deuteronomy 8:2,7,10 "Remember the long way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments. . . . For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with flowing streams, with springs and underground waters welling up in valleys and hills . . . You shall eat your fill and bless the LORD your God for the good land that he has given you."
Hungry people remember where their last meal came from. Needy people learn where they can find help. And it is said, that there are no atheists in foxholes. In hard times everyone is religious, and everyone has time to worship and pray to God. In deed, the Bible often warns us that some of the greatest dangers man can ever face are prosperity and wealth. And the reason given as to why they are dangerous, is because they often lead us to forget about God and all he has done for us. The poor need food, the sick, need a cure, sinners need forgiveness, and those who are secure need to remember where their blessings come from. Why, if for no other reason, than for the purpose of giving thanks.
You see, giving thanks is not a gift. That is, it is not something you do for someone that earns anything. Giving thanks in no way pays for what has been given. Giving thanks is something that is owed, a debt that must be paid. Its like worship, something that all creation owes to God, and in the end, even the devil, the evil angels, and all the damned will worship and praise God for all he has done, but they will do it from Hell. Giving thanks is part of worship. In worship we confess our sins, we receive forgiveness, and then we give thanks for the salvation that is ours in Jesus Christ. We give thanks for having the opportunity to hear this good news. We give thanks for the opportunity to receive forgiveness. We give thanks for the peace of God which passes understanding. We give thanks for the body and blood of our Lord, given and shed for us. And we close, by giving thanks for the benediction, the Word of God which abides with us.
Today we remember one of the greatest temptations we face; the temptation of prosperity. Today we will eat and be full, and we will remember how Jesus healed 10 lepers, but only one of them stopped to give thanks. For just as the lepers did not heal themselves, so also this good land, which we call ours, did not come to us, except by the hand of God. Today we remember that we own nothing, but all that we have is a stewardship. It is ours to use for a time. It is ours to use wisely, but that the owner will return and ask for an accounting -- what have we done, with the gifts we have been given.
In prosperity, we may forget about God, and so endanger our eternal salvation, and that is bad. But what makes it even worse, is that in prosperity, we also forget that other people still need to hear about all the things God has done to bring salvation. And that is one of the chief reasons God has blessed us. For throughout the Bible, God has blessed chosen people, so that by blessing them, they in turn, might be a blessing to others. And the blessing is this, that we point to the source of all blessings, the fountain of life, and the savior of the world.
So it is that we have this day to remember, that this good land, and this good life, and all the other good things we enjoy are a gift of God. But more than that, we remember that this good life, and all these good things are not the end, they are only a foretaste of a feast yet to come.
And if it is not the end, then this day, a day of rest given by God, is a day to prepare us for the journey yet to come. It is a reminder, that man does not live by bread alone, nor by turkey, dressing or cranberry sauce, or all the other things which will fill us today. Today we give thanks for all the gifts of God, and we ask that he prepare us for the journey ahead, that we might grow in faith and love and service, just as today we will grow in thanksgiving.
Today we pray for all people everywhere. Today we pray to lead quiet and peaceable lives. Today we pray that God might use us so that all mankind might be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, in Jesus Christ our Savior, and for all these things we give God most hearty thanks.