Based in 2 Corinthians 9:6-15

Perspective: It can be difficult to find and even more difficult to sustain. Webster’s Dictionary defines it as: “the ability to see all the relevant data in a meaningful relationship.: The problem we have is that we like to put everything in cubbyholes, so that when we look at things we see only the part that is in that cubbyhole. Of course the world around us teaches us that perspective, we have the 30 second soundbite, the news of the day in 20 minutes. I like to watch the news at 10pm just to catch the weather report. All the news is done in about 10 minutes, the weather comes on at about 15 past and is over at 20 past the hour. Not much meat in that 15 minutes, I place the stuff I that interests me in its respective cubbyhole and move on.

They tell me that if I will pick up a newspaper the next day, I will get the full story. Of course by then my perspective has changed because of the stuff going on around me. The truth is, unless we are directly involved in something, unless we actually watch what it is when it happens, we will not really understand what happened, we will not have the full picture. The week before the last Sunday, there was another Republican Presidential debate, and well our Governor Perry messed up an answer again. All the news shows had that sound bite out there for all the world to see, and there was quite a bit of ridicule over it.

The truth of the matter is that Gov. Perry actually gave some great answers during that debate, but all you heard about for the next several days was his forgetting the third agency he would shut down. Hey, sometimes I forget what I was going to say as I’m saying it. It happens, get over it. Of course since the news only seems to concentrate on what is not right, we get a very isolated shot, and will not have the proper perspective in which to judg what really happened.

God has given us so many things in our lives, and we can start with forgiveness of our sins. Paul in today’s reading from 2 Corinthians gives the perspective we need to understand why we should be thankful to our God Why we should be joyful in Jesus.

Paul says to us that: “The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” In other words, if you plant just a few seeds you will only receive a small crop, but, if you plant the whole packet of seeds, you will reap a large reward. He goes on to say that God loves a cheerful giver, and, we should not give of ourselves reluctantly or as if we were forced to give. Rather we should be joyful in our giving to our God. If that was all that was said, we would not have the proper perspective, so Paul goes on the say. “As it is written, He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”

Perspective is a very important part of our life in Christ. Knowing that our God has our good always in His hand, it after all is He who supplies the seed to the one who sows. If we know this to be true, then we know that God’s request o first fruits is a valid one, and 10% is a small amount of a bountiful harvest. I once had someone tell me that a tithe (10%) was too much to ask. So I asked him if he knew how much that it really was. He said well it’s 10% of what I have in my pocket. OK said I, but you give 10% of $1.00 how much of that dollar do you keep? Well my friend said, of course 10% is only 10 cents so I keep 90 cents. So who get the bulk of that dollar I asked. The answer of course is that you get to keep 90% of the dollar. Seems like God really does want you to keep the best part of the deal. I am going to play a piece for you, it may help to give a bit of perspective about Thanksgiving, giving of yourself to God with thanks.

“The Master’s Hand” – Terry G. Hall.

Let me tell you a story that many preachers have told over the years, but it too should help to give you perspective on this Thanksgiving idea. “Anb atheist was walking through the woods, admiring all the “accidents” that evolution had created. “What majestic trees! What powerful rivers!What beautiful animals!” he said to himself. As he was walking alo0nside the river, he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. Turning to look, he saw a 7 foot grizzly bear charge towwards him. He ran away as fast as he could up the path. He looked over his shoulder and saw the grizzly was closing. Somehow he ran even faster, so scared that tears came to his eyes. He looked again, and the bear was evn closer. His heart was pounding, and he tried to run faster. He tripped and fell to the ground. He rolled over to pick himself up, but the bear was right over him reaching for him with its left paw and raising it right paw to strike him. At that instant the atheist cried, “Oh my God!”

Time stopped. The bear froze. The forest was silent. Even the river stopped moving. As a bright light shone upon the man, a voice came out of the sky, “You deny my existence for all these years, teach others that I don’t exist, and even credit creation to a cosmic accident. Do you expect me to help you out of this predicament? Am I to count you as a believer?” The atheist looked directly into the light and said, “I would feel like a hypocrite to become a Christian after all these years, but perhaps you could make the bear a Christian?” “Very well,” said the voice. The light went out. The river ran. The sounds of the forest resumed. Then the bear dropped his right paw, brought both paws together, bowed its head and spoke: “Lord, for this food which I am about to receive, I am truly thankful.” (Mark Eberly 11/23/08 Sermon Central)

On Thursday we will celebrate the Holiday known as Thanksgiving, but what is this holiday all about really? Is this a day to celebrate football, the sales coming up on Friday, maybe Turkey and all the trimmings, or is it about family? Over the years as I have read the scriptures, I have seen that thankfulness is about giving God the glory. In the scriptures there are prayers of thanksgiving, there are offerings of thanksgiving. It is all about a recognition of what God has done in the lives of God’s people. Giving thanks is not a duty, nor an obligation, it is a recognition of all that God has done in your life. From forgiveness for sins, to the blessings of family and friends, to our job, to the bounties of a life well spent in His presence, and the abilities to be a blessing to others.

Actually, in my reading and studying, I have come to understand that thanksgiving, is really THANKSLIVING. My perspective has changed over the years, has changed so that I have come to realize that real joy is not in my own accomplishments, but rather in what God has used me for, in accomplishing His work. Consider this brothers and sisters:

Attitude of gratitude:

Paul tells us that God loves a cheerful giver, “And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work.” If you are generous with yourself, giving to God your whole being, then God will make you rich. Not in material wealth, but rather in an appreciation for life and all its bounties. Those things that the atheist spoke of as he walked through the forest. The things that the song writer says, when talking about hearing the brook and feeling the gentle breeze. There is much to be grateful for in this world in which we live. God is good, all the time.

Serving Others:

With our understanding of what God has done, is doing, and will do in our lives and the lives of those around us, our gratitude extends to serving others in gratitude for the things we have received. Yvonne, Pat and I went to the Civic Center last Sunday for the Feast of Sharing. It was a joyous time, there were people there from different walks of life, all serving others. I was really impressed with the number of young people there, with their T-Shirts proudly displaying messages of God in their lives. Here they were witnessing to what God had done, by simply serving others.

Worship as Gratitude:

Paul speaks of the ministry of the Corinthians, and that there are prayers lifted in thankfulness for their giving to provide for those who are in need. Then Paul says “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” Such is his excitement over their generosity, he is unable to hold it inside himself and must exclaim in a worshipful moment. Worship is a corporate event, and we are here today to worship and praise God, to publicly proclaim how great our God really is.

As I go through life, I have so many things to be thankful for, regrets yes, I do have regrets about the past, but there are many more wonderful memories than there are regrets. Mostly, this time of year, reminds me about Family and the times we shared around the table. I regret that I never got to know my Dad’s mother, she died before I was born. But I got to know both grandfather’s and my mother’s mother. Every Thanksgiving, the whole bunch of us got together around the dining room table. We talked and laughed and we began by thanking God for his bounty. Whatever you do this week, remember what God has done in your life, and live with that perspective in mind. Thanks living in Christ.