“The Thanksgiving List” – 11-19-17

A psalm of Thanksgiving – Psalm 100 – “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

If we concentrate on what we have rather than what we don’t have, can we not agree that we have been greatly blessed by God? It is common to make a Christmas wish list. But today I want us to think about a Thanksgiving Day list of all the things that we are thankful for.

10. A house – many people in this world today have no place to live or live in below par housing. Especially outside the US and even in the US. In many places in the world several generations live in one home or apartment.

9. Food – we always have plenty to eat at our house. Many people don’t. Some of those people beside the road actually “will work for food.”

8. Clothes – I never have to worry about whether there will be clothes in my closet for me to put on each day. Many people only have the clothes that they are wearing and a few more.

7. Health – I am thankful that I am blessed with good health. Many people have a serious illness which keeps them from enjoying a full and happy life.

6. My country – I am thankful that I live in a country where I enjoy great freedom. In many countries you can be put in prison, or even put to death, for telling others about Jesus.

5. Churches – I am thankful for the Churches that we can easily attends.

4. Friends – I am thankful for my many friends, especially the ones who will help me.

3. Family – I am thankful for family. That is likely near the top of all of our lists.

2. Wife – I am thankful that God blessed me with a wife that loves me, cares for me, and walks with me on my journey with Jesus.

1. Jesus – Jesus is number one on the list of things for which I am thankful.
No one ever loved me like Jesus. He loved me so much that he was willing to die on a cross so that I can have everlasting life. Thank you, Jesus. With Jesus we have so much to celebrate on Thanksgiving!
Has it ever occurred to you that no Americans were more underprivileged than that small group from the Mayflower who started the custom of setting aside a day of Thanksgiving to Almighty God?

They had no homes. They had no means of transportation but their legs. Their only food came from the sea and the forest, and they had to get it for themselves. They had no money and no place to spend money if they’d had any. They had no entertainment, TV, phone, ear buds, internet, no social security, no insurance or Medicare. But anyone who dared to call them underprivileged would probably have ended up in with a black eye and a bloody nose.

They did have 4 of the greatest human assets: initiative, courage, a willingness to work, and an endless faith in God. Our forefathers had “an endless faith in God.” That almost sounds strange to us here today. The “Declaration of Independence” says, “We hold these truths to be self -evident, that all men (& women) are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights . . .” We are still working on that. It ends with these words, “. . .with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

Thanksgiving Day is more than turkey day. Thanksgiving is a day set aside to express our thanks to God. In 1789, George proclaimed: Whereas, it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor, and “Whereas, Both Houses of Congress” (Did you hear that, “Both Houses of Congress?”) “have by their joint committee requested me `to recommend to the people of the United States a day of Public Thanksgiving and Prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many sacred favors of Almighty God. . .’

But how many people even know what Thanksgiving Day really means? The 100th Psalm was written to deal with that attitude, to remind us of our need to be thankful, and to maintain an attitude of gratitude. Deuteronomy 8:12-14 describes our lives, no matter how non-great we think they are and God’s caution, “When you have eaten your fill and have built fine houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks have multiplied, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, then do not exalt yourself, forgetting the Lord your God.”

He has blessed you with everything you have and today & Thursday we are reminded of this truth. Notice Psalm 100 addresses “all the earth” and ends with “all generations.” This message of thanksgiving is so deep and wide that it applies to every person everywhere today. It’s sad, that Canada, the Philippines, & the US are the only countries that celebrate a Thanksgiving Day. What if all nations did?

What if everyone gave thanks and remembered that we got here with the help of God, and that He is the provider of every blessing we have. That’s a new concept now-a-days as we as a people and country seem to have developed an attitude that we, ourselves, did all the work without any help from God. Psalm 100 gives us 5 commands for thankfulness.

1. “Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.” – verse 1
It means to “shout with the force of a trumpet blast,” There are times to be quiet and solemn in the life of the church. We think during prayer time is a time to be quiet. But there are over 60 times in the bible where it says I cried with a “loud” voice! Singing in the bible? They sang with loud instruments and trumpets and cymbals and praise making a joyful noise. Preaching? The prophet stood and cried with a loud voice even Jesus at the ninth hour cried with a loud voice.

It isn’t just about volume but what comes from the very depths of your being. There is no such phrase as silent praise. Or quiet Thanksgiving in the bible. There is not enough room in the believer’s heart for love as well as hatred. There is not enough room at the table for discord and bitterness. So, Jesus solved the problem. Jesus gave you a blessing. Jesus provided you with a blessing and you realize that it has come from God. So, from the depths of your being you proclaim your praise.

You did not win the lottery, but you have been given eternal life by faith. The Psalmist is saying that “Suddenly you realize that God has been so good to you that you can’t keep it inside any more. From the depths of your being you shout your joy unto the Lord.”

#2 command is, “Serve the Lord with gladness.”
It doesn’t say “serve the church.” It says, “serve the Lord with gladness.” If you’re a follower of Jesus, do you get the point? This is about whatever you do. Sing with gladness. Pray with gladness. Show hospitality with gladness. Do it because you know Jesus loves you. So whatever you do the command is to Serve the Lord with gladness.

#3 command is, “Come before Him with joyful songs.”
Psalm 98:4 says, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord.” And that I can do. Have you noticed? In these first 3 commands, God has said, “I want you to be happy. Shout with joy, serve with gladness, and come with joyful songs.”

Take a moment and think about whether or not you are happy. Is there joy in your heart? Is there celebration in your soul? Is there delight in your spirit? Is there thrill in songs? The Psalmist says, “Come before Him and serve Him and sing His praise with joy in your heart.” Joy, a fruit of the Spirit.

#4 command is, “Know that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture.”

God took our bones, our muscles, our skin and made us. He gave us eyes that see, ears that hear and brains that think, and fingers that can pick things up. God made us, inside and out. He made you the way He wanted you to be. And He made me the way He wanted me to be. That is a mystery, isn’t it? I don’t understand why, but He decided that I would be bald and without glasses I wouldn’t know who is in the peanut gallery.

He didn’t make me a doctor, an MLB baseball player, or an inventor. No, he made me to be a banker, an bulldozing and baseball owner, an office furniture VP and a pastor. And he is still making me. He is not satisfied with me. He is still working on my weakness. He is still fine tuning my gifts. I am still an unfinished product. So are you.

What is he making you to be? God is still making each of us. He’s still working your life. God is your maker, and you are created in His image. Therefore give Him thanks for what you can become. Then He says, “We are His people, the sheep of His pasture.” Most people don’t want to be sheep.

In a Christmas play you might get volunteers to be Joseph or Mary or the wise men, but I doubt few did or would jump at the chance to be a sheep! “It’s not any fun being dumb sheep.” we might say. But the problem is, we don’t know where the green pastures are. And every time we go out searching for them, we invariably end up lost in the wilderness. God is saying, “You be the sheep. Let me be the shepherd, and I will lead you beside the still waters and the green pastures. Just let Jesus lead.”

#5 command is this, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is good and His love endures forever. His faithfulness continues through all generations.”

The temple symbolized the presence of God and when the people came to the temple and entered the courtyards they knew that they had come into the presence of God. That temple is gone. But God is everywhere. You know that. Everywhere: your house, in your car, your work, your everything. He is with you every moment of your life. That is the real source of our thanksgiving, isn’t it?

But what if God began to treat us like we so often treat Him? What if God met our needs to the same extent that we give Him our lives? What if we never saw another flower bloom because we grumbled when God sent the rain? What if God stopped loving and caring for us because we failed to love and care for others? What if God took away His message because we wouldn’t listen to His messenger? What if God took away His message because we don’t spread it?

What if He wouldn’t bless us today because we didn’t thank Him yesterday? What if God answered our prayers the way we answer His call for service? What if God decided to stop leading us tomorrow because we did not follow Him today?
Psalm 10:3 O Lord, help us to be thankful that you do “not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities”

I pray that this week and beyond will be a meaningful Thanksgiving time for you. Take time to read the 100th Psalm again. And if you’ll heed those commands, your heart will overflow with thanksgiving to the Lord.

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