Give It Up - 11/18/18

GIVE IT UP! 11 18 2018
Deuteronomy 26: 1-11

"The First Fruits"
The Lord God said; … “When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you
as an inheritance, and you take possession of it and live in it,  2  you must take some
of the first of all the land’s produce that you harvest from the land the Lord your
God is giving you and put it in a container. Then go to the place where
the LORD your God chooses to have His name dwell.”
As we gather this morning to celebrate the day of Thanksgiving which comes upon
us this coming Thursday, … our thoughts turn to the Pilgrims who came to
America and celebrated what we have regarded as the first Thanksgiving … but as
you heard the first lesson read from Deuteronomy, … the first Thanksgiving was
really celebrated by the Israelites as they moved into the promised land.
God told them, as they came into this land flowing with milk and honey, …
they were to take the first fruits of the ground, … place them in a basket and take it
to the priest. … There, they were to relive through the words of that speech which
begins, "My father was a wandering Aramean. He went down to Egypt with a few
people and lived there. There he became a great, powerful, and populous nation,"
(Vs. 5b); … God’s deliverance in their lives.
Because God had delivered and blessed them, … God asked them to return to Him
the first fruits of the ground, … to give thanksgiving to Him for this act of
deliverance in their lives.
For the Israelites, … their thanksgiving was seen in the action of God as He
delivered them from Egypt and brought them into this land flowing with milk and
honey. …
The Pilgrims gave thanks for the deliverance which came to them during their first
year on the North American shore. … They were delivered from hunger by a good
summer crop, … they were delivered from war by peacefully living with the
Native Americans, … they were delivered from cold by building strong sturdy
homes … and we could go on and on.
Deliverance brought thanksgiving into their hearts.
Can we think of Thanksgiving as deliverance for us??
Think about that for a moment. … Usually, when we think of this time known as
Thanksgiving, … we list all those possessions we are thankful that we have …
or been blessed with. … But what about being thankful for all those occurrences
we have been delivered from; … that we don’t have to experience?

Maybe this story will clarify the point:
"There was a man who lived with his 6 children in the suburbs of Philadelphia. …
Just before school was to start, all of his children were in need of new shoes.
At the same time the washing machine wore out. … To top it all off, because of bad
weather, … his work as a carpenter, had dwindled to almost nothing.
He was able to scrape together enough money to buy the children shoes … but he
ran an ad in the paper wanting to buy a used washing machine.
One day the phone rang … and it was someone who had a used washing machine
to sell. … He went to the home and noticed they had all the goodies he wished for
his family. … After talking to the man of the house concerning the washing
machine and how he would get it home,… the conversation got around to
children. … Claude, … the out of work carpenter, … began complaining about
how expensive it was to raise six children. … Especially when they all needed
shoes at the same time.
The woman of the house then left the room crying.
The poor carpenter asked had he said something wrong. … Her husband explained
that they had only one child who had been paralyzed from birth … and he had
never needed a pair of shoes.
When Claude got home, … he picked up the worn-out shoes; … worn out from
skipping rope, kicking rocks, and jumping puddles, … then went off to be by
Kneeling by his bed, he gave thanks to God for the worn-out shoes in his house."
Claude was thankful for the deliverance he had been granted! … His children
could walk, run and skip rope. … They could wear out a pair of shoes.
Claude had been delivered from the pain of the other family who could not watch
their child run, kick rocks, jump and wear out shoes.
Have you been thankful for the deliverance which has been granted in your life ?
Think about all the food each of us will consume Thursday. … Are we thankful we
have been delivered from the pain of hunger, … the sickness of malnutrition when
countless men, women and children around the world are now dying a slow and
painful death because of the lack of food?!
A housewife as she worked around her house, began to think about all those
situations she had been delivered from, … even as she tackled all the household
chores many get tired of doing.


Listen to her thoughts: "Lord, … thank You for this sink of dirty dishes, … we have
good food to eat. … Thank you for this pile of dirty laundry, … we have nice
clothes to wear. … I’d like to thank You for these unmade beds, … they were all
comfortable last night."
She was thankful in the midst of her work … because she knew in her heart,
she had been delivered from hunger. … She was delivered from the extremes of
the elements with the clothes waiting to be washed. … She was delivered from a
fitful night … as she slept in a warm house and a comfortable bed.
Thankful hearts develop as we recall all those acts of deliverance which God
brought into our lives. … We can and should be thankful for these acts.
I would venture to say, … most people take their good fortune, … their health,
their wealth, … their warm clothes … and abundant food for granted …
or see them as their due (the word “Entitled” comes into play, here).
They are not thankful … but expect this as something owed to them by life …
or by God.
It is not owed … but given freely from God.
When we realize that everything in life, … those life-acts we have been delivered
from … and all of our possessions, … all come from God, … we have a very
difficult time being thankful ..;. because we realize we depend on God for
everything … and most of us, … even if we don’t want to admit it, …
are self-centered enough not to want to be depend on anyone, … let alone God.
Paul Tillich, a famous theologian of the 20 th Century, … has this to say about
thanks and thanksgiving: … "The reason most of us do not respond to ‘thank you’
or do not say ‘thank you’ … is because we instinctively realize that it makes us
somehow dependent on that person. … If I thank you, … I am saying that I am
dependent on you … and I am publicly affirming it before God and people. …
Gratitude is an action that has its roots in grace, … the free undeserved love-
action of God. When we are truly grateful, … we become starkly aware
that we are wholly dependent for everything upon God and upon our fellow human
beings who are made in His image. … When we are truly grateful, … we recognize
that God has favored us, … whether we deserve favoring or not."
Thanksgiving is our acknowledgement that we are dependent on God for all His
acts of deliverance … and all His blessings in our lives.
Thanksgiving is a twofold time for us. … We are "thankful" for being delivered,
… and we are “thankful” for the blessings we have.


Our thanksgiving to God is an action commanded by God. … In our reading today,
… He commands the people to put the first fruits in a basket and take it to the
priest. … God wants our physical act of response, … a physical movement on our
part. … Thankfulness toward … is not a self-conscious attitude dutifully displayed
in response to the demands of religious custom. … Neither is true thanksgiving just
something we say or a gift we bring.
True "thanksgiving" is simply the quality of life that we live.
Thanksgiving is a daily attitude of gratefulness toward God who delivers us from
painful situations … and who grants to us many blessings.
Thanksgiving is an attitude which acknowledges God is indeed in control of life.
… Without God nothing would be possible.
We are a people who have been delivered and blessed.
As we look around this world, … let us see our deliverance and blessings …
and not be jealous, … selfish, … or self-centered.
Let us truly be a grateful people, … dependent on God for all of life!
I close with the following poem: …
Today upon a bus,
I saw a lovely girl with golden hair...
I envied her, … she seemed so young
I wished I were one-half so young
I wished I were one-half as fair
When suddenly she rose to leave
I saw her hobble down the aisle;
She had one leg; she used a crutch
As she passed, she flashed a smile