Monday, November 19, 2012

Attitude of Gratitude

A Psalm for Thanksgiving. Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth. Serve the LORD with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the LORD Himself is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 100:1-5

Thanksgiving Day is a distinctive holiday.  It doesn't commemorate a battle or anyone's birthday or anniversary.  It is simply a day set aside to express our nation's thanks to our nation's God.  Today our nation pauses once again to give thanks.  One would assume that because of the example of our forefathers and because we have so much today, that we would be an extremely thankful people.  But it is often just the opposite, isn't it?  The more we get, the less thankful we become, the less mindful of God we become and the more we want.  I think that 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.

The Basis of Our Thanksgiving
The 100th Psalm was written for the people of Israel. God said to them, "When you come into the Promised Land and settle down in your warm homes, and you have plenty to eat, don't forget Me. I led you out of the wilderness and I brought you into a land flowing with milk and honey."  But it doesn't take very long to realize that the people of Israel needed a reminder and I am afraid we need it too.  Psalm 100 gives five Thanksgiving commands. We will look at the first two today.

The first command is in vs.1: "Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth."  It means to "shout with the force of a trumpet blast;" a shout of joy to the Lord that comes from the very depths of your being.  A shout represents all that is within us and lets others know what we think or feel.  Maybe God solved your problem; maybe He has given you the direction to go; maybe He has provided a blessing and you realize that it has come from God. So from the depths of your being you proclaim your praise.

Roland Allen tells about a veteran missionary who came up to him one day after he had delivered his sermon. The missionary introduced himself and said, "I was a medical missionary for many years in India. And I served in a region where there was progressive blindness. People were born with healthy vision, but there was something in that area that caused people to lose their sight as they matured." But this missionary had developed a process which would arrest progressive blindness. People came to him and he performed his operation.  They would leave realizing that they would have become blind but now they were going to be able to see for the rest of their lives. He said that they never said, "Thank you," because that phrase was not in their dialect. Instead, they spoke a word that meant, "I will tell your name." Wherever they went, they would tell the name of the missionary who had cured their blindness. They had received something so wonderful that they eagerly proclaimed it.
And that is what the Psalmist is saying. "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.

The second command is: "Serve the Lord with gladness." It doesn't say "serve the church."  It doesn't say "serve the preacher, or serve the leaders, or serve the organization."  It says, "serve the Lord."  The Bible teaches that if we witness on behalf of the Lord - if we feed the hungry, if we clothe the naked, if we do the work of the Lord whatever it might be - we are serving the Lord.  Jesus said, "Inasmuch as you have done it unto the least of these, you have done it unto me."  I'm not sure we grasp that.  The Psalmist says, "In whatever you do, serve the Lord with gladness."

Scripture to Claim: And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.  Colossians 3:15 

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