Thanksgiving is about tasting, but it’s not just about tasting the food.
NOVEMBER 23, 2022
Matt Heard: Thanksgiving is about tasting, but it’s not just about tasting the food. Let’s talk about it, on Key Life.
This is Key Life. We’re here to let you know that because of what Jesus has done, God will never be angry at you again. Matt Heard is a speaker, teacher, writer, pastor, coach, and the founder and principal of a ministry called Thrive. He’s been teaching us all this week.
Matt Heard: Thank you Matthew. And a Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. I know I’m a day early, but everyone’s getting ready for the big day tomorrow and this week we’re unpacking the grammatically correct gratitude that needs to accompany a real Thanksgiving. It’s not just about being grateful, it’s not just about being thankful, it’s being aware of who we’re thankful to, or as perhaps if we’re going to be correct grammatically, to whom we’re thankful. So, I’m thankful for different things in my life, but I also need a direct object in there, and that’s what we’re looking at, as human beings, we’ve been created to direct our gratitude, direct our worship, to live to the praise of his glory, to direct it to him. Our guide this week is John chapter 4: verse 23 and 24, where Jesus told that woman by the well.
“But the hour is coming, and has now come, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
So, for Thanksgiving week, instead of it just being a week about stuffing our faces with food, it’s a week about us being thankful, but directing that thankfulness and that gratitude to God. And when we begin to do that, we start living out why we’re created in the first place. God doesn’t need us to worship him, but he created us to worship him because he created us for his glory. So, he doesn’t have an ego that’s needing to be massaged, but when I aligned my entire life, my entire journey and as Paul talked about in I Corinthians 10:13, whether I’m eating or drinking or whatever I’m doing, I’m doing it all for the glory of God. I’m fulfilling the reason that I’ve been made, so I better understand this whole notion of gratitude, of thanksgiving, of worship. Not just to celebrate Thanksgiving, but to be a healthy human being, that’s living out according to why God made me. So, we’ve been unpacking a definition of worship. Worship is my active, not passive, and it’s all of life, not just on Sundays response. I don’t come up with something. I’m just responding to the worth of who God is and what he does. And when Jesus says, combines the words worship in spirit and truth, he’s giving three inseparable ingredients to being thankful, to being grateful, to worshiping. And He, we talked about the first ingredient, keying in on that word truth, of recognizing his worth. We’ve got to pay attention to what’s going on around us, and not just what’s happening, but why it’s happening and who’s ultimately responsible. And so, yes, being thankful involves me noticing all the blessings of my life. But it also means that I take my acknowledgement of those and I direct them back to God. Now, let’s look at a second ingredient and key on that word spirit. For me to worship involves recognizing God’s worth, but it also involves resonating with his worth. In a lot of conversations by commentators and translators about that word spirit and some refer to it as that’s the spirit of a human being. Others refer to, well, that’s referring to the Holy Spirit, and those are not mutually exclusive. It’s the Holy Spirit yes, taking up residence in my life and enabling me at a spirit level to do what I’m wired to do. So, if truth directs me to involving my, the attention of my mind, spirit means that I’m going to in involve the engagement of my heart. And when I say heart engagement, a lot of people key in on the word heart and they think, Well, you talking about being emotional? No, we are creatures of emotion, but we, it’s not being overly emotional. I’ve spent some time before talking with you about how much our heart matters and understanding what the heart is. It’s not just my mind, it’s not just my emotions, it’s my mind, my emotions, and will all together. If I could use a word that obviously, and it needs to start with ours, since our first ingredient dealing with truth involved recognizing his worth. So, let’s talk about resonating with this worth. If I’m gonna worship, I’m going to be truly grateful, I’m going to be resonating with the worth of God. Not just recognizing the blessings of what he’s done in my life and given me, but resonating with that. Maybe a different word would be savoring or tasting. This whole notion of being able to taste is a gift from God, and not just tasting food, but savoring the events of our journey. A lot of Christian people, church people, they pick up the lyrics of the gospel, but they don’t pick up the music of the gospel. And as a result, they miss the dance. And that dance involves savoring the goodness of God, the Psalmist talks about taste and see that the Lord is good, use your mind, your emotions, and your will yes to taste and see. But that seeing and smelling and hearing and all of the senses that we have, what I can see and what I can smell and what I can taste or what I can touch, pay attention to God’s goodness. On a spirit level, on a heart level, it’s not just an, worship is not just an intellectual thing that I do, but it happens at a deeper level. Jesus, in Matthew chapter 15: verse 8 and 9, he says.
These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. As a result, they worship me in vain. They’re teachings about rules taught by men.
So, you’re saying they’re not resonating, they’re not savoring, they’re not coming to me with the spirit enabled heart that engages, that resonates with my beauty, with my goodness, with my blessing. C.S. Lewis in his essay, The Abolition of Man, he talks about men without chests. And when Jesus is referring to worshiping in spirit, he’s referring to worshiping with the enablement of the Holy Spirit in a way that involves my internal engagement, not just the external forms and rituals. Resonating, Psalm 51: verse 16, God says.
You do not delight and sacrifice, or I would bring it. You do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
So, he is saying worship, gratitude, thanksgiving must involve the heart. So, it involves that truth of recognizing God’s worth, but then it moves to resonating with his worth on a heart level. Stephen Charnock wrote a two volume classic called, The Attributes of God, long ago. And he says this, I still remember the first time I read it, it just stopped me in my tracks.
Without the heart, it is not worship. It is a stage play. An acting a part without being that person, a hypocrite.
And the notion of the word is a stage player.
And to worship God without our spirits is presenting God with a picture, an echo and nothing else.
That’s why Jesus was saying.
These people worship me in vein cause their hearts are far from me.
What does the Westminster Shorter Catechism say?
The chief end of man is to glorify God
to worship God, to live to his praise and glory, and to be grateful for who God is and what he does, but with the second part of that is
and to enjoy him forever.
It’s not just doing the right things, it’s engaging with Jesus’ way and truth, but also life. It’s understanding that I get the lyrics of the gospel, but also the music and do the dance. So, this whole notion of worship is not just me being theologically correct and recognizing the worth of God on an intellectual level, it’s also me resonating, worshiping not only in truth, but also in spirit and resonating with him. William Willimon, Duke Divinity School years ago he wrote that.
You and I can give thanks, that the locus of Christian thinking appears to be shifting from North America and Northern Europe, where people write rules and obey them to places like Africa and Latin America where people still know how to dance.
I love that. Now, of course, he’s being sardonic, but he was being prophetic. So much of that engaging with the lyrics of the gospel, not the music that we’ve become men and women who are in our worship are like without chests, without hearts. And Lewis as he referred to his reflections on the Psalms, he said.
I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses, but completes the enjoyment. It’s the appointed consummation.
So, this whole notion of worship is something that we are to enjoy. And so, as you’re gearing up for Thanksgiving tomorrow. Yes, enjoying the meal, enjoying the physical tastes, that are present in a Thanksgiving feast with people that you love. It’s also a matter of enjoying and tasting the goodness of God, savoring it. How do you taste food? You keep it in your mouth long enough to pay attention. How do we savor God’s goodness? We recognize it, but then we savor. We let it turn over in our hearts enough to say, You know what? This is good to acknowledge this together. So today I hope you gear up and become even more thankful than you were yesterday. And as a result, I hope you thrive.
Thank you Matt. That was our friend Matt Heard, continuing to teach us about grammatically correct gratitude. And we still have one more day of teaching tomorrow. So, after you push back from the table, hope you will join us for that. And in the spirit of gratitude and giving thanks, thank you for faithfully visiting us at Keylife.org. We really do work hard to keep that website fresh with new features, and I’d love to tell you about some of our latest updates. If you go to keylife.org/biblereading you’ll find a very cool new project, Steve reading entire books of the Bible. Hope you enjoy that and make sure you check back often as we continue to record and upload new books. Also be sure to check out Keylife.org/simplysermons this is our latest podcast and it features digitally remastered full link sermons from Steve. That’s pretty cool. Oh, and if you’re looking for a thoughtful Christmas gift, stop by Keylife.org/store you’ll find Steve’s newest book there. It’s called Laughter and Lament, plus a whole bunch of other cool stuff. And of course, all of these features are still free, thanks to the generous support of listeners like you. If you’d like to donate, just call us at 1-800-KEY-LIFE. That’s 1-800-539-5433. Or you can mail your donation to
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