Give Him Thanks

Bible Book: Psalms  100
Subject: Thanksgiving; Gratitude
Introduction

Someone has said that the most difficult arithmetic to master is that of counting one’s blessings. That, indeed, might be true. We are drawing close to Thanksgiving Day and it is fitting that we think about thanks. One lady said that there were seven things for which she was thankful:

For automatic dishwashers. They make it possible to get out of the kitchen before the family come in for their after-dinner snacks.

For husbands who attack small repair jobs around the house. They usually make them big enough to call in professionals.

For the bathtub -- the one place the family allows Mom some time to herself.

For children who put away their things and clean up after themselves. They're such a joy you hate to see them go home to their own parents.

For gardening. It's a relief to deal with dirt outside the house for a change.

For teenagers. They give parents an opportunity to learn a second language.

And on Thanksgiving Day, gratitude for smoke alarms, for they let you know when the turkey's done.

We do need to know that being thankful means doing more than saying grace before a meal. One little boy asked his teacher, “Teacher, do you know what you get when you cross a praying mantis with a termite?” The teacher acknowledged that she did not know. The little boy answered, “An insect that says grace before eating your house.”

Being thankful also means more than just living in pleasant circumstances. Perhaps you may have heard the story of the young man who was told by his doctor that he had only six months to live? In shock, the young man asked if there was anything that could be done. After all, he was still a young man and had many things left to do in life. The doctor thought about his question for a bit, and then finally gave him a solution. The doctor told the young man to go out and find the ugliest, most cantankerous woman he could find and marry her. He told the young man to insure that he found a woman that would incessantly nag him, and complain about everything he said or did. Then he had to go out and buy the most beat up old pickup truck he could fine, preferably one that wouldn't run all of the time. Then he needed to buy a run down old apartment right in the middle of downtown Orlando. Somewhat skeptical the young man looked at the doctor and asked, “Doc, are you sure that this will help me to live longer?”

The doctor replied, “No, it want make you live longer, but it sure will make the six months you have left seem like a lifetime.”

Maybe you feel that life is not being particularly good to you right now. I want you, everyone of you, to think today about the fact that every true child of God ought to be thankful, no matter the circumstances. That even includes understanding that during the best of times the blessings are from the Lord and not that of your own doing!

The attitude of gratitude produces a spiritual altitude which is the design and desire of our Maker. Through praise and thanksgiving we are lifted up to that higher ground which we need and for which we long. The songwriter penned:

“Lord lift me up and let me stand,

By faith on heaven’s tableland,

A higher plane than I have found,

Lord, plant my feet on higher ground.”

That higher ground is certainly involves a proper spirit of thanksgiving in worship. The biblical writer inscribed, “A merry heart does one good like medicine.” In juxtaposition one might counter that a negative heart tastes like poison.

I thought it interesting that a study recently revealed that those who worship regularly with other Christians in church have an average life expectancy which is 10% longer than those who do not worship corporately. The latest study shows that regular worshippers live longer. No kidding. The article was in USA Today a few weeks ago. The full study is supposed to be published later this month, but the researchers found that the average life expectancy for weekly churchgoers is 82 years, versus only 75 years for non-churchgoers. That's a 10% longer life, that's not a small amount. The study tracked some 22,000 people over a period of nine years. They supposedly accounted for other possible influences, such as the fact that sick people can't usually attend church because they're sick, and yet they're more likely to die. But they accounted for all those kinds of factors, and the conclusion was that you're likely to live 10% longer if you worship on a regular basis. That's good news for most of you sitting here today. But it shouldn't be a big surprise. When God tells us to do something, it's usually for our own good. Of course, we're commanded to worship God, we don't have much choice, but still, it's nice to know that there are some side benefits to what we do. Worshipping helps you live longer.

But our reason for praise must be more than selfish in nature. I want us to see today where we are to worship, how we are to worship and why we should worship our Lord with vigor and enthusiasm.

I. The Problem of Thankful Worship

This passage is filled with imperative statements. Why? These statements are imperatives because we are so prone to complain rather than be thankful. Look at the 10 lepers whom Jesus healed. Only one of them returned to give thanks to the Lord. In Romans 1, when God speaks of giving up on an unrighteous people, he speaks of them as being unthankful. In 2 Timothy 3 Paul reminds us that in the last days people will love themselves and will be unthankful (ungrateful).

Look at the commands of God as they relate to thankfulness and praise. Words like Shout, Worship, Give and Praise are commands in this passage. These are not words calling for some kind of passage activity in God’s House, on the contrary, these words call for action, for noise, for humility.

II. The Place of Thankful Worship

This immediately and naturally leads us to think about The Place of Thankful Worship. Some will say, “Oh, I praise God alright, I just don’t like to do that in front of others.” Dear friend, let me tell you that you can praise God anywhere, but to obey the Scriptures you must praise God in the midst of His people, in the arena of His House of Worship.

Now let us understand something clearly. Worship must come from the head and heart before it reaches the voice and hands. Noise in church for the sake of noise is nothing but noise, and in fact may be a clanging gong in the ears of God. But a people that lack a joy and gratitude which causes them to sing, to clap, to bow, yes, and even to shout sometimes, are pointing out that something is lacking in their spiritual lives. We shall see in a moment what is lacking when true open gratitude if not present among the people of God in worship.

God calls for worship to take place in His courts, at His House. Each command in this passage is plural in nature, meaning that it is meant for an assembly and not just for an individual alone. When the people sought to praise Jesus upon His triumphant entry into Jerusalem, the religious leaders tried to silence them. These religious leaders even asked Jesus to stop the people from praising Him. Jesus told the leaders that unless the people praised Him the rocks and stones would cry out in praise to Him. We need to determine that no rock or stone is going to take our place in praising and worshipping our God. Those unredeemed, inanimate objects have no place stealing the praise from the blood-bought Children of God.

III. The Practice of Thankful Worship

Now exactly what does God call upon His children to do in praise and worship to Him? Let me suggest three important elements in true worship which, if missing, will result in less than true worship when God’s people come together.

A. Our Forgetfulness

We must forget ourselves. We must not major on circumstances which are always changing. Note that all the focus in this passage is upon God! The chorus writer penned:

“Let us come into His House, Forget about ourselves and Worship Him!”

That is exactly what we are to do. Note how many times in this one passage the personal pronoun 'His' is used! The term 'Lord' or 'God' is used 5 times. The term Him is used 3 times. God is referred to 16 times in only 5 verses. That is more than 3 times per verse. The focus is on Him! When we focus on Him, then we can praise His name, then we can exalt Him, then we can forget about ourselves, then we can truly worship the Lord.

Samuel Morse invented the first telegraph. When the first transmission was made more than a century ago, the message Morse declared was, "What hath God wrought.” Someone has suggested if the event were to occur in our times the message would most likely say,” What man can do!” There has been a tremendous change in the attitude of the average individual on the street. Our generation has turned from praising God to praising man - praising ourselves. Generally speaking, there was a time when the Lord was given due recognition. His power was respected and mankind's attainments were credited to the abilities He received from the Lord. That is not true anymore, at least not very often.

B. Our Thoughtfulness

Also, we are to think in order to thank. The word 'thank' comes from the Anglo-Saxon word 'think.' Thinkfulness will result in thankfulness! When we think of where we were headed with Him, then we will thank Him for saving us. When we think of what it cost Him to redeem us, then we will praise Him. When we think of how many times we would have slipped back into the depths of sin without His keeping grace, then we will shout for joy. When we think of how wonderful our future is in the glory to come, then we can come before His presence with thanksgiving. But we have to think! Matthew Henry has said that knowledge is the mother of devotion when it comes to spiritual things. How right He is. Let us know these things and Psalm 43:4, which reads, “Then will I go to the altar of God, to God, my joy and my delight. I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God,” will become a reality for us.

IV. The People of Thankful Worship

Though this verse begins calling on all the earth to praise God, the meaning is clarified in this part of the Psalm. Those of us who know that we belong to the Lord are the ones to praise Him. Those of us who know He has made us and we did not make ourselves, we should praise Him. Those of us who know that we are the sheep of His pasture, should praise Him. Those of us who know the Lord is good, should praise Him. Those of us who know that He is truth personified, should praise Him. Those of us who know that His goodness endures to all generations, should praise Him. Let us call this the Golden Thread of Worship, given through Christ to the Father. He has given us the Scarlet Thread, the blood of Jesus which opens the way. Let us offer the Golden Thread of worship back to Him. In Hebrews we read, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise - the fruit of lips that confess his name.” Matthew Henry said, “Knowledge is the mother of devotion.” Indeed, the more we know about how lost we were, the more we know about where we were bound, the more we know of His great love on the cross, the more we know of how helpless we were till He came to us, the more we know of our state in Him, the more we know of our future in glory, the more we know, then the more we shall praise His name. Yes, knowledge is the mother of devotion.

Verse 2 says to worship with gladness. For the average Jew, this meant to offer your sacrifices with gladness, and for the average Jew in the Old Testament it meant having to travel all the way to Jerusalem, sometimes traveling across the country, maybe as much as 100 miles by foot, just to get to the temple. And not just walking by himself, either. He had to drag his cattle or sheep along so he could make an offering for the sacrifice. Man, that was hard work. Imagine, after that long, hot journey, you finally reach the temple and you have to put a smile on your face and walk in with a joyful heart. Look at verse 4. How was a Jewish worshipper supposed to be joyful after enduring all that hard work just to get there? The Jew saw it as an act of love for God. We must view worship in the same way. It is an act of love for us to come into His house with gladness and thanksgiving! After all, worship is not about you. Worship is about the goodness, grace and greatness of our God and King!

I know it was tough for Martin Rinkert. Martin Rinkert was a minister in the little town of Eilenburg in Germany some 350 years ago. He was the son of a poor coppersmith, but somehow he managed to work his way through an education. Finally, in the year 1617, he was offered the post of Archdeacon in his hometown parish. A year later, what has come to be known as the Thirty-Years-War broke out. His town was caught right in the middle. In 1637, the massive plague that swept across the continent hit Eilenburg... people died at the rate of fifty a day and the man called upon to bury most of them was Martin Rinkert. In all, over 8,000 people died, including Martin's own wife. His labors finally came to an end about 11 years later, just one year after the conclusion of the war. His ministry spanned 32 years, all but the first and the last overwhelmed by the great conflict that engulfed the town where he served as God's minister. It was tough for Martin Rinkert to be thankful. But he managed. Listen to what he wrote:

“Now thank we all our God

With heart and hands and voices;

Who wondrous things hath done,

In whom his world rejoices.”

Conclusion

Man made a garment for himself in the Garden of Eden and it was woefully insufficient. But when God makes a garment for us, it is not just commodious, glorious, it is marvelous. See Isaiah 61:3, “provide for those who grieve in Zion-- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness.”

There was a little boy who said, “Salt is what ruins the mashed potatoes when it is left out.” That, my friend, is what gratitude does to life when it is left out. Let us resolve to never leave it out of our thinking, our praying, our speaking and our worshipping! And, for those who have never trusted Jesus, leaving Him out of your life will result in an empty existence and a fruitless life.