Home Resources Site Archives
Thanksgiving Day Sermon PDF Print E-mail

TEXT: PSALM 103:1-5
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting

The text for the Thanksgiving Day sermon twenty years ago – was drawn from the first verses of Psalm 103.  Bless the Lord O my soul…and forget not all his benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion…” 

(Psalm 103:2) 

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all (or forget none) of His benefits!” 

Dear members of Luther Memorial, friends, family and guests on Thanksgiving Day; Language experts tell us that the words “thank” and “think” come from the same root word.  That means that thankfulness and thoughtfulness are very closely related.  A thankful heart is a thoughtful heart, and conversely, a forgetful, unthinking heart is thankless!

The Bible also closely connects thinking with thanking!  “Bless the Lord, O my soul – that’s thanking!  “And forget none of His benefits” – that’s thinking!  If we are not to forget, then we are to remember!  We are to think about all that God has done for us!  That’s the thought we consider today – JUST THINK ABOUT IT!

First of all, just think about the gifts God so regularly gives.  Those hourly, daily, weekly physical gifts that are so easily overlooked or taken for granted.

The story is told of a man who was sitting on his porch one day when a stranger came down the street.  He turned in, walked up to the man, handed him a hundred dollar bill and silently walked away.  The next day the man on the porch was watching for the stranger.  Sure enough, down the street he walked and up to the porch with another hundred dollar bill.  He handed it over and continued on his way without saying a word.  This went on for a week and the man never missed waiting on the porch for a hundred dollar bill.

On the eighth day, right on time, down the street came the stranger.  But this time he continued walking right on past the house.  This change in routine led immediately to another change in routine for the man sitting silently on the porch.  Up he sprang – running after the generous gift-giver and shouting – “Hey, where’s my hundred dollar bill?” 

By nature, we tend to be like the man on the porch!  The gifts God so richly and regularly gives become an expected thing – a demanded right!  The feedback he then receives is not daily always thanksgiving while they are coming, but protest or complaint if one day the gift is not forthcoming.  JUST THINK ABOUT IT! 

In the spirit of this story, our daily work is a hundred dollar bill!  Our daily shelter (with its running water and electric current) is a hundred dollar bill.  Our daily food is a hundred dollar bill.  (The daily food for the pilgrims that first winter is reported to be a ration of five kernels of corn per meal).  Almost as many of them died, as lived to see the next spring.  Our thanksgiving food is a little different.  JUST THINK ABOUT IT!

The enjoyment of school studies or sports or music is a hundred dollar bill!  The God-given beauty of Lake Michigan is a hundred dollar bill!  Even the rainfall of a gray day is a hundred dollar bill!  JUST THINK ABOUT IT!

Your ears are a hundred dollar bill (listening even now)!
Your eyes are a hundred dollar bill (doing their work almost unnoticed)!
Your legs are a hundred dollar bill (carrying you here today to praise God)!

Even a wheelchair can be a hundred dollar bill!  A former member of mine who had Multiple Sclerosis was hospitalized for a blood clot in her leg.  She had been flat on her back for several days and yet as we visited she was in good spirits.  One of the reasons, she told me with a laugh, was her wheelchair!  That morning she was allowed for the first time to again sit and wheel herself about.  “I didn’t think I’d ever be glad to get in that thing” she laughed referring to it as an old friend that offered some freedom.  Even a wheelchair is a hundred dollar bill!  JUST THINK ABOUT IT!

Your spouse is a hundred dollar bill! (If I were writing this sermon today – I might revise this part and the next few lines to say maybe a hundred thousand dollar bill!  The point, however was not to rank our earthly blessings but to acknowledge the countless unmerited gifts we receive).

Your family is a hundred dollar bill!
Your friends are a hundred dollar bill!
Your Christian family here at Luther Memorial (a caring and confessional congregation) is a hundred dollar bill!

“Bless the Lord, O my soul and forget none of His benefits.”  JUST THINK ABOUT IT and you could add a hundred more hundred dollar bills in no time.  Yet there is a constant pull away from such thinking and thanking by our Old Adam.  In today’s super fast, supermarket world there is the ongoing temptation for us to go on receiving until something stops coming and then, in effect, cry out, “Hey, where’s my hundred dollar bill?” (as if it is our by right)

But your presence here this morning shows a different spirit at work!  Your presence to think and thank God for His ongoing gifts, mirrors the spirit of our text, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits.”

But does not even this exhortation, if we take it seriously, give us more reason for un-thankfulness than for thankfulness?  “Forget none of God’s benefits?”  Why pastor, I know I’ve failed in this regard time and time again!  I don’t have a chance of remembering all of His blessings and benefits!

You see, if we stop here, this command to think and to thank really gives us no help in being truly thankful!  It rather lays something on us too heavy to bear – “Forget none of His benefits!” 

That’s why it’s so important to keep going just a little further in the Psalm.  “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits.  Who pardons all your iniquities; who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit; who crowns you with loving kindness and compassion.  JUST THINK ABOUT IT!  One of God’s benefits is to pardon all your iniquities!  In fact, that is the main benefit He does not want us to forget!  You see, He pardons all of our iniquities – even the iniquity of forgetting most of His benefits.

If the message today makes us aware of the many hundred dollar bills that have passed from God to us with too little thanks; if we sense that our best thinking and thanking falls far short of His bountiful giving, then what is it that our thankfulness is to be anchored in?  These verses make clear that our thankfulness is ultimately anchored in the fact that God who gives us everything also forgives us everything!  JUST THINK ABOUT IT!

The most wondrous gift we have to think about is that God no longer thinks about our sin!  Above all, we are not to forget that God does forget – even as He forgives!  The prophet Jeremiah expressed it this way (31:34) – “I will forgive their iniquity and their sin I will remember no more.”

JUST THINK ABOUT IT!  For Christ’s sake God is not thinking about your sin or mine at this moment.  It has been taken away by the blood of Christ!  It was taken away by the sacrificial death of the one human being who perfectly remembered all of God’s benefits!  It was taken away as far as the east is from the west (as Psalm 103 states a few verses later – v. 12).  Even our sins of ingratitude are taken away in Christ and we receive His record of thinking and thanking!

Remember what God is not thinking about for Jesus’ sake!  That’s our greatest benefit each and every Thanksgiving Day!  It is such a wondrous benefit, in fact that it turns even our death into a hundred dollar bill!

About 100 years after Jesus rose from death, a Greek by the name of Aristides was writing to one of his friends about the new religion – Christianity.  In his letter he wrote – “If any righteous man among the Christians passes from this world, they rejoice and offer thanks to God, and they escort his body with songs of thanksgiving as if he were setting out form one place to another nearby.”

Because of the work of Jesus, even this thanks is in order!  By the power of His death and resurrection, Jesus uses death for our benefit!  In fact, it is through death that He grants us the perfect healing described in this Psalm.  “Bless the Lord, O my soul…Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases…”  While the death of a loved one bring us loss and bereavement, in Christ it brings them gain (perfect healing) and benefit!  While the loss of a loved one brings us grief and tears, none of those tears should be for the one who died in Christ!  They aren’t missing out on a thing this Thanksgiving!  Rather, it is they who are now thinking and thanking perfectly in the Savior’s presence!

And in Him that’s your future too!  JUST THINK ABOUT IT!  “Bless the Lord, O my soul and forget none of His benefits, Who pardons all you iniquities; Who heals all your diseases; who crowns you with loving kindness and compassion.  AMEN. 


Worship with Us!

Divine Service
Sundays @ 9:00am
Mondays @ 7:00pm

Bible Study
& Sunday School
Sundays @ 10:30am
Morning Prayer (Matins)
Wednesdays @ 8:30am