Thanksgiving is defining where your home is; practicing hospitality and honoring God by giving thanks. This is a breakthrough concept for a culture who is taking Black Friday and infringing on a day designed to honor God by giving thanks to Him. The Psalmist writes in Psalm 50:
50 1-3 The God of gods—it’s God!—speaks out, shouts, “Earth!”
welcomes the sun in the east,
farewells the disappearing sun in the west.
From the dazzle of Zion,
God blazes into view.
Our God makes his entrance,
he’s not shy in his coming.
Starbursts of fireworks precede him.
4-5 He summons heaven and earth as a jury,
he’s taking his people to court:
“Round up my saints who swore
on the Bible their loyalty to me.”
At any Starbucks in any shopping mall on Black Friday there will be more Saints rounded up than at most churches this Thanksgiving. The latest gadgets; the latest burnt offerings will be available and people no matter what their socioeconomic status they are in, will wait for the gun to go off so they can get the first fruits and last offering of “Trample me Elmo dolls.”
6 The whole cosmos attests to the fairness of this court,
that here God is judge.
7-15 “Are you listening, dear people? I’m getting ready to speak;
Israel, I’m about ready to bring you to trial.
This is God, your God,
speaking to you.
I don’t find fault with your acts of worship,
the frequent burnt sacrifices you offer.
But why should I want your blue-ribbon bull,
or more and more goats from your herds?
Every creature in the forest is mine,
the wild animals on all the mountains.
I know every mountain bird by name;
the scampering field mice are my friends.
If I get hungry, do you think I’d tell you?
All creation and its bounty are mine.
Do you think I feast on venison?
or drink draughts of goats’ blood?
Spread for me a banquet of praise,
serve High God a feast of kept promises,
And call for help when you’re in trouble—
I’ll help you, and you’ll honor me.”
The psalmist tells us that He is hardly impressed with the offerings and is really not in need because He owns it all. What He wants from us is something that we rarely give at Thanksgiving or any other time for that matter- acknowledgement and gratitude.
16-21 Next, God calls up the wicked:
“What are you up to, quoting my laws,
talking like we are good friends?
You never answer the door when I call;
you treat my words like garbage.
If you find a thief, you make him your buddy;
adulterers are your friends of choice.
Your mouth drools filth;
lying is a serious art form with you.
You stab your own brother in the back,
rip off your little sister.
I kept a quiet patience while you did these things;
you thought I went along with your game.
I’m calling you on the carpet, now,
laying your wickedness out in plain sight.
So much for family gatherings. Imagine people quoting God’s word and not knowing God’s word. God is with us all the time and yet we don’t invite Him in. How do we give God an invitation? “The least of these” verses in the Gospels bring this to account. “When did we see you hungry?” When you fed the least of these. “When did we clothe you?” When you clothed the least of these. Our petty squabbles at the Thanksgiving Day table have us not even inviting the wayward brother and sister. Stabbing our own parents in the back so we can get on line to worship the god of shopping in the name of “stimulating the economy,” as you pick out stuff for your Dad; your child; and the spirit of buying. This is just a paraphrase of the above verse and not a condemnation or judgement of how we spend Thanksgiving.
22-23 “Time’s up for playing fast and
loose with me.
I’m ready to pass sentence,
and there’s no help in sight!
It’s the praising life that honors me.
As soon as you set your foot on the Way,
I’ll show you my salvation.”
The breakthrough question of the day is “How can we invite God into our homes; practice the gift of hospitality; and honor one another by acknowledging that God has ownership over all we bring and express to one another?” That is what Evangelism is all about. Not some judgement seat that keeps one another down; or stirs up trouble. It is relationship building, truth that sets people free without the bondage of religion. It is a revolution of love in a world that is looking for love without a clear cut definition of what love means. It’s the kind of love that dies for you and me, that rises to free us from sin. It’s a love that invites the least of these into homes. A love that practices hospitality that brings truth and takes no credit for it’s fruit but gives the credit by honoring and thanking God for life-giving water. As Jesus says in John 14:15, “If you love Me, you will obey My commands.” He goes on to say that when you do you are “no longer slaves, I call you friends.”