Being Thankful is Fundamental!
1 Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.
3 For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him.
5 The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land.
6 Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker;
7 for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.
Today, if only you would hear his voice, “Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness,
9 where your ancestors tested me; they tried me, though they had seen what I did.
10 For forty years I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they have not known my ways.’
11 So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’”
When I first started preaching on Thanksgiving, I began to see that being thankful is not something that we add to our lives like a cherry on top of a sundae. It is much, much more than that. Being thankful is fundamental to our relationship with God. And it is fundamental in many different ways. Being thankful is a right attitude and response. When we are thankful to God we are acting in a proper response to Him. And that is always true!
It is why we are told in I Thes 5 to rejoice always, pray without ceasing and always give thanks.
It is why we are told to pray about our anxiety with thanksgiving.
The more thankful we are, the more our lives are aligned with Who God is, the more our lives are aligned with Who God is, the more we experience Him in our lives. God is at work all the time in our lives but we don’t see Him or are not aware of Him. Just like the nine lepers who did not return to give thanks to Christ, they did not understand Who He was. It is my contention that being actively intentionally thankful connects us to God in practical ways that is easier than almost anything else that we can do!
- Being Thankful Helps Us to See God
- We see what He has done in Scripture and life
The LORD is the great God, the great king above all gods. V.3
All of heaven and earth are in His hands.
All of creation have come from His hands.
This includes me. I am made by Him!
And He is my God! And I am under His care.
And all that He does is good, wise and loving!
The Psalmist entreats us to celebrate all of these truths in this Psalm. Why would we need to? Because our being thankful helps us to see that they are true!
There are rebuttals to all of these truths of course. There are other voices in the world. The word devil means accuser. And the accuser accuses God of not caring for us and for creation. But, when we come together and are thankful, we see the truths emerge from the twisted brokenness of our sinful lives and our sinful world.
- We have a sight problem
We cannot see God. John 1:18. And people who do not believe that God is there are involved in our lives have gone to great lengths to replace God with other processes, often describing the way He works but denying His acting in the world. (The hold to a form of godliness, but deny the power of God in it.)
And a description of that problem is seen in Romans 1:18ff
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
Being thankful is often a direct expression of faith.
This is why we are told to keep our prayers bathed in thanksgiving. Phil 4:6 I Thes 5:16-18
And this is why it pleases God. Hebrews 11:6
And this is why it allows us to see God. Hebrews 11:1
- Being thankful opens our eyes
Faith is the evidence of things not seen. If we do not act in faith relative to God, then we will never be able to see His handiwork. But if we believe, then John 1:18 becomes real to us!
18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
In a very real way being thankful in our lives connects us to the direct blessing of God in our lives.
I have said this many times, but we, all of us in this room have hit the lottery in terms of when we live. We live in the age of anti-biotics, laser surgery, Tylenol, food abundance, public sanitation, interstate highways, reliable automobiles, airplane travel, clean water, hot water, great heating and air conditioning, good mattresses and pillows. We are not beset by parasites and bugs and so on and so on.
Life can be hard. We all suffer the effects of sin, aging and death. This is true, but life could be much worse! And we are living in a much better place and time.
If we would complain less, and stop listening to complaining and fear mongering in the media, our quality of life would improve because it would be easier and more natural to thank God every day for what we have instead of complaining about what we don’t have.
When we complain about what we don’t have, then we lose the joy of what we do have! Complaining acts like an eraser of blessing! But…
- Being Thankful Protects us from Forgetting God
- We rehearse in order to remember
Deut 4: 9 Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them.
23 Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden. 24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
Deut 6: 10 When the Lord your God brings you into the land he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give you—a land with large, flourishing cities you did not build, 11 houses filled with all kinds of good things you did not provide, wells you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves you did not plant—then when you eat and are satisfied, 12 be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
Deut 8: 10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. 11 Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe his commands, his laws and his decrees that I am giving you this day. 12 Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, 13 and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 15 He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. 16 He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. 17 You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” 18 But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.
19 If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. 20 Like the nations the Lord destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the Lord your God.
And the rest of the Old Testament is a record of them forgetting what God had done for them.
And they forgot their covenant.
And they worshipped idols like the people around them!
And they were destroyed!!
- We give thanks for what we remember
Psalms 103: 1 Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
6 The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel:
8 The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.
- What you remember you have again and again
III. Being Thankful Spreads Joy
- Corporate thanksgiving activates joy
Let us: sing for joy
Let us: shout aloud
Let us: Come before God with thanksgiving
Let us: Extol God with music and song
This what many of the Psalms are!
- We are made to share our joys
1 I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.
2 I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
3 Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.
When I discover something really grand, I want to share it with others so I can be a source of goodness and joy in their lives. So, we do this together in church!!
When you share a burden, it is halved. When you share a joy it is doubled!
- Being thankful connects us to life
If we see God’s work. And if we don’t forget it, then we enter into the life that He has for us. Negative example of the COI in the wilderness!
Today, if you would hear God’s voice, do not harden your heart!
Deut 8: 2 Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. 3 He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. 4 Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years.
10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you.