Sunday, November 16, 2008

A Psalm for giving thanks

Psalm 100

“A Psalm for giving thanks”

Thanksgiving is essential because ingratitude is one of the first steps to spiritual decline.

“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.” [Romans 1:21]

About this Psalm: this is the only one with the inscription “for giving thanks.” Psalm 93 – 99 are the “Royal Psalms.” They proclaim God as King. Psalm 100 is the Doxology.


I.         We are SUMMONED to give thanks.


            A.        Where does it come from?


                        1.         Thanksgiving comes from the heart.


                                    a.         It is an attitude and an emotion.


                                    b.         Thomas Watson: “It is a sign that the oil of grace hath been poured into the heart...”


                                    c.         Charles Spurgeon: “Our happy God should be worshiped by a happy people; a cheerful spirit is in keeping with His nature.”


                        2.         Thanksgiving comes from a desire for God.


                                    a.         “Shout” is loud noise in the context of God as our King.

(Ill. Medical missionary in India found a cure for a progressive blindness through surgery. Nobody said “thank you.” It was not part of their language or culture. Instead they used a word that means “I will tell your name.” So where ever they went, they told people about the person who healed their blindness.)


                                    b.         “Worship/serve... with gladness”


                                                a.         The word translated “gladness” means “with glee” and has the idea of being given over to joy.


                                                b.         This is not some begrudged duty. It is not out of fear. (Two common ideas for serving God.) It is out of willing joyfulness.


                        3.         Thanksgiving comes from the Holy Spirit.


                                    a.         Joy is “fruit” of the Holy Spirit.


                                                1.)       In other words, it is the product of the Holy Spirit in our lives.


                                                2.)       It is the proof of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives.


                                                3.)       “Fruit” is the excess energy of the life that is in step with the Holy Spirit.


                                    b.         Seriously...


                                                1.)       Look at the faces of those who say they follow Jesus: grave, gloomy, bleak, seldom smile. (But we’ve been burned by pastors who were childish. We train our hearts to think that joyful is childish.)

(Ill. My one grandmother believed that joy was something that a child had to give up to become an adult. Whenever I was happy, she would say, “Stop being foolish.” If I was not joyful, my other grandmother would take my temperature and ask if I was sick.)


                                                2.)       Feel the worship: either it is emotional fluff or bare and uninspiring. (But we’ve been burned by the “worship wars.” Formula is more comfortable than truth. Emotion substitutes for worship.)


            B.        What hinders us?


                        1.         We like to complain.

“Now the people complained about their hardships in the hearing of the LORD, and when he heard them his anger was aroused. Then fire from the LORD burned among them and consumed some of the outskirts of the camp. [2] When the people cried out to Moses, he prayed to the LORD and the fire died down. [3] So that place was called Taberah, because fire from the LORD had burned among them. [4] The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, "If only we had meat to eat! [5] We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost--also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. [6] But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!" ... [10] Moses heard the people of every family wailing, each at the entrance to his tent. The LORD became exceedingly angry, and Moses was troubled. [11] He asked the LORD, "Why have you brought this trouble on your servant? What have I done to displease you that you put the burden of all these people on me?” [Numbers 11:1 – 6, 10 – 11]


                        2.         We tend to forget.

“[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.” [Deuteronomy 8:12 – 14]


                        3.         We suffer from hard hearts.

“Hear, O heavens! Listen, O earth! For the LORD has spoken: "I reared children and brought them up, but they have rebelled against me. [3] The ox knows his master, the donkey his owner's manger, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand." [4] Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the LORD; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him.” [Isaiah 1:2 – 4]


II.       We CELEBRATE God in Thanksgiving.

            A.        We celebrate God’s nature [v5]


                        1.         God’s goodness.


                                    a.         Mercy – NOT getting what we deserve.


                                    b.         Patience – giving us every chance possible.

“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” [2 Peter 3:9]

“Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, tolerance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness leads you toward repentance?” [Romans 2:4]


                        2.         God’s love

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. [17] For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” [John 3:16 – 17]


                        3.         We celebrate God.


                                    a.         The LORD, He is God! [v3]


                                    b.         The LORD, He is creator! [v 3]


                                    c.         The LORD, we are His! [v 3]

Matthew Henry: “Knowledge is the mother of devotion and of all obedience; blind sacrifices will never please a seeing God.”


            B.        Why is gladness, joy, and thanksgiving so rare?


                        1.         The tyranny of inward sin. (Sin is NEVER mentioned with joy, gladness, or thanksgiving.) Includes past sin and their dents and scratches.

“Blessed is the man whose sin the LORD does not count against him and in whose spirit is no deceit. [3] When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. [4] For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Selah [5] Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD"-- and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah? [Psalm 32:2 – 5]


                        2.         Lack of trusting God.

“There you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place. [32] In spite of this, you did not trust in the LORD your God.” [Deuteronomy 1: 31 – 32]


III.      How to have a thankful heart:


            A.        You must have a right relationship with God... start here:


                        1.         ADMIT you have a problem.


                                    a.         It is called “sin.” Sin is a general state and specific attitude and behavior.


                                    b.         Sin separates you from God.


                        2.         BELIEVE that Jesus died to save you from the consequence of sin and reconcile you with God.


                                    a.         Claim that sacrifice and trust only that sacrifice.


                                    b.         Make Jesus your lighthouse and beacon in the storm.


                        3.         CHOOSE God’s way of thinking and living.


            B.        Make these your habit:


                        1.         The habit of joy and gladness [Psalm 100:2]

                        2.         The habit of public worship together [Psalm 100:4]

                        3.         The habit of worship in word [v 1] and song [v 2]

BOTTOM LINE: Thanksgiving is intentional. It is a choice, it is doing, it is taking time.

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that confess his name. [16] And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” [Hebrews 13:15 – 16]

***** Story of Thanksgiving: New Englanders had been in serious trouble trying to survive. They called for fasting and prayer. The people were gloomy and discontent. Some considered going back to England. Leaders proposed another day of fasting and prayer. On plane, common sense man remarked that they had brooded long enough and needed to consider their blessings... religious liberty. We should do that in America... because we may not have that much longer.

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