In worship we heard a series of sermonettes based on 4 Psalms, each with a distinct focus of thanksgiving.
Psalm 100 Come before God and give him thanks and praise.
When you receive that perfect gift, what do you do? You give thanks! You thank that person who knew you so well and cared about you enough to give just the right present to you. And I’m not talking about some expensive gift. Most of my favorite gifts I have received weren’t expensive. But I cherish them because they show me how much my family and friends care about me. When your children give you that handmade drawing, even if it’s the 17th of the day, what do you do? You give thanks! Whether it’s a life-like resemblance of the cat with perfect shading and every whisker is placed perfectly, or if you can’t tell it’s a drawing of a house or a dog, you give thanks. Because your child spent time crafting that picture and they want you to have it. You give thanks. It’s so obvious to us. When we receive something, anything: we give thanks. When someone shows kindness and love: we give thanks.
But in the midst of all of our thanksgivings, it’s easy to forget the one we really should give thanks to. The one who created the skies above and the earth below. The one who knit you and formed you. The one who displays his power for the whole world to see in the beauty and majesty of nature. The one who shows his power through his Word that changes hearts and brings us to life. The King of kings and Lord of lords. The powerful Creator but also the personal and ever listening God.
Let us remember his power, his perfect gifts, his wonderful creation. Let’s remember and give him thanks today in worship and at home with our family. Honor him when we spend time with our friends. Let us remember when we say a prayer when we wake up, before our meals, throughout the day, and before we go to sleep at night. Give him thanks because your God loves you. Give him thanks because he is worthy of all praise. “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.” (Psalm 100:4-5) Amen.
Psalm 92:1-5, 12-15 Give him thanks in the good
You know how on movies and TV shows that have a Thanksgiving scene, how everyone around the table says one thing they are thankful for? Yeah…my family never did that when I was growing up. I think it’s a nice custom. But to be honest I’m not sure I could be satisfied with just saying one thing. I don’t think any of us really could. Just think about all of the good things that God has blessed you with! I’m thankful for my loving family. An amazing Christian wife and four godly children. I’m thankful that God has given us a house to live in and food for our table. I’m thankful you, my brothers and sisters in Christ, and that God gives us the opportunity to worship together and encourage each other. I’m thankful for technology that allows others to worship with us who can’t be here. I’m thankful for Pastor Turriff’s recovery and how God used doctors and nurses and medicine to bring him healing. I’m thankful for every breath and the opportunity to praise his name. I’m thankful for my friends and that God is using me to spread his Gospel among those who don’t know him. I’m thankful for the country I live in. I’m thankful for…well. I should maybe stop for now. Otherwise I’d be going all day. And we should! We should thank God all of the time for his goodness! Look at your life and all of the good things that God has given and worked in your life. Let’s give him thanks for all of his great and amazing gifts. Let’s give him thanks not just on Thanksgiving, not just when we find ourselves in church, but to give him thanks all of the time for all of the wonderful things he gives to us. “It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, proclaiming your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night…For you make me glad by your deeds, Lord; I sing for joy at what your hands have done.” (Psalm 92:1-2, 4) Amen.
Psalm 34:1-8, 17-22 Give him thanks in the difficult
Have you seen the pictures from the unloading of the Christmas tree for the Rockefeller Center for 2020? Let’s just say it looked pretty ugly. Scraggly and beat up, majestic is definitely not a word you would use to describe it. And of course everyone jumped onto social media to criticize it, saying how it’s a metaphor for 2020. It’s been described as a Charlie Brown Christmas tree because of how terrible it looked. Now, to be perfectly honest, the tree is fine. It looks like every other tree from every other year when it first arrives after a long trip. But of course it’s hard to find anything good when the whole world seems to be filled with gloom and terrible news. When Covid illnesses are on the rise and the economy is in question. When small businesses are facing hardships and we’re being asked to keep away from our family members and loved ones. It’s hard to find any reason to give thanks to God when it seems like the world is against us. But wait a minute. Has God stopped being God? Has he abandoned us? No! Of course not! God is always with us. Even in those dark days when it seems like we are all alone, but we don’t face those problems alone! “Taste and see that the Lord is goo; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all…” (Psalm 34:8, 17-20)
Don’t be afraid of 2020. Don’t let the media make you afraid. Don’t let the threats of the world or the problems in your personal life overwhelm you! Remember who your God is: he is the one who is with you in all of your troubles and will work exactly what is needed. Give thanks even in the difficult times because your refuge is in God. Amen.
Psalm 103:1-12, 17-22 Give him thanks for the forgiveness of sins
As we come together for worship today, when we gather with family and friends, when we offer prayers of thanks to our God, let’s not forget about the greatest thing we have to be thankful for. Let’s give God constant thanks for the forgiveness of our sins. It was those sins that held us captive and that Satan used to threaten us. Accused of living for ourselves and serving our desires instead of God. Those sins were proof that we aren’t worthy to be with our God and that there was nothing we could do for ourselves. But the one who demanded perfection made us perfect. The one who declares that all sin must be punished took the punishment on himself. The King of kings and Lord of lords was hung on a cross next to thieves and murderers. For you. “Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, 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…he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.” (Psalm 103:1-4, 10) He does not treat us as our sins deserve because he has paid the price for them. Your guilt is gone. Your God has rescued you. “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psalm 103:11-12) And so, let us give him thanks today and every day. “Praise the Lord, all his works everywhere in his dominion. Praise the Lord, my soul.” (Psalm 103:22) Amen.