Happy Thanksgiving Day from Decision magazine! On this day especially, we encourage you to consider all that God has done for you. His grace goes far beyond the provision of material things, as Billy Graham points out in the following excerpt from a sermon published in the November 1972 issue of Decision.
This year as we observe our season of thanksgiving, let us be grateful not only in word but also in deed. Let our gratitude find expression in a resolve to live a life more unselfish and more consecrated to Jesus Christ.
When we sit around our tables laden with sumptuous delicacies, let us not forget that half the world will go to bed hungry. As we enjoy the comforts of our cozy homes, let us not forget that great numbers have no homes to go to. When we step into our modern cars, let us not forget that many people in the world cannot afford even a bicycle.
As we go to our churches to thank God for material and spiritual blessings, let us remember that millions have never heard the Gospel story of salvation. Let us remember the servants of God in many parts of the world who deprive themselves in order to take the Gospel to the millions who have not yet been reached with the message of Christ.
A frightening passage in the Bible is found in Psalm 106:15. It reads, “He gave them their request, but sent leanness into their soul.” Many people have riches today as a result of greed and covetousness; but their souls are lean, their hearts are cold toward God, their consciences are dulled and their minds are blinded.
The very prosperity that we know should lead us to repentance. Our prosperity should drive us to our churches to give humble thanks to God. Jesus said, “How hard it is for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God.”
Christ taught also that to whom much is given, much shall be required. Someday God will ask for an accounting of our stewardship. A great percentage of the wealth of the nations of the world is expended on alcohol, gambling, entertainment, cosmetics and overeating. We are enjoying the bounty that God has bestowed upon us, but often we are biting the hand that feeds us.
The Bible teaches that God delights in giving, and that He gives even to His enemies. Men and women spread nets and snares for their enemies, but God spreads a table. The rain of God’s mercy falls upon the worst of people. God puts bread in the mouths that are opened against Him. God feeds millions, and they fight against Him. He gives them bread, and they give Him rebellion. Not only do the ungrateful millions forget His mercies, but they abuse Him. The Lord said to Jeremiah, “When I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery.”
The Bible warns that a day is coming when those who sin against their Giver and abuse God’s royal favors will face a terrifying judgment. They will scream for mercy and call for the rocks to fall on them and hide them, but they will not escape the wrath of God.
The real war in which men and women are engaged is a war of rebellion against God. God longs to see this rebellion cease. He has sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to the cross as a demonstration of His love and mercy. He asks us to come to that cross in repentance of our sins and submission of our will to Him. He promises a peace treaty for all who will come by faith.
Several years ago, I received a letter from a man who said that he had been on the verge of alcoholism. His home had broken up and twice he had been on the brink of committing suicide, but had not gone through with it. With this deep need in his soul, he came to one of our Crusade meetings. As he sat among the thousands of people, he felt lonely and miserable. He hated himself and despised God. He made fun of Cliff Barrows as he led the singing. When the offering was taken, he thought, What a racket! When I stood to preach, he sneered.
This man was a University of California graduate who had taken several speech courses. He said that during the first five minutes I broke every law of speech he had ever learned. Yet even as I spoke, another voice began speaking to his soul. That night I preached on the text, “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” At the invitation, this man who had cursed God and made fun of his wife’s churchgoing felt himself pulled out of his seat by an irresistible power. Tearfully, he made his way to the front of the auditorium to stand with the others, indicating a need of repentance and asking to receive Christ as Savior.
He wrote, “That night I made my peace with God. I never dreamed what a transformation would take place in my life. I lost all taste for alcohol and have not uttered a swear word since that night. My business is prospering. I am back with my family, and we are enjoying daily Bible readings and prayers. I have joined the church and was recently asked to teach a Sunday School class. I wish to thank you, but most of all I want to give thanks to Him who died on the cross to make it all possible.” Thanksgiving? Yes. Let us get on our knees humbly and thank God for the blessings He has given us, both material and spiritual. They have come from His hand.