October 9, 2022

Thanks be to God

Passage: Psalm 95:1-8

Rudyard Kipling, who was the author of “The Jungle Book”, was so popular that his writings were earning him about $10-00 per word.  A few college students however didn’t appreciate Kipling’s writings, so they sent him a note, enclosing with it $10-00.  It simply read, “Please, send us your best word.”  They received a note back that simply read, “Thanks.”  Thanks is a word we are taught at an early age.  It's a word we teach our children at a very early age.  “What do you say?” is a question they hear all most as soon as they can talk.  On this Thanksgiving Sunday we come with praise and adoration before God and we thank Him for the bounty He brings before us again and again.  Let's just try to calculate how many meals we enjoyed in our life time and how many times we had something that we would reckon as straightforward – a drink of water.  You see, nothing is straightforward, because everything is a gift from God – life, family, health, our professions, our homes and the list goes on and on.  St. Paul wrote to the Ephesians something essential, “Always thank God for everything in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.”  You see, my friends, even for the hardships in life we have all the reason to thank God.  There was a lady who lived on very low income and she was taking care of her two daughters who were clustered to wheelchairs.  A new pastor in her church paid her a visit and said, “I'm so sorry for the hardships you have to go through.” In a calm voice she responded, “Pastor, I thank God every day for this small house with just the basics and my two disabled daughters.  You see, it keeps me close to Him and reminds me that I have to be thankful for what I have.”  What a tremendous attitude.  Do we have gratitude to God when we pause on this Thanksgiving Sunday?  Are we truly grateful or do we perhaps think of the things we don't have?

There is no author mentioned for Psalm 95, but in Hebrews 4: 7 we see that David is attributed to have written it – “again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted, “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.”  What brought David to break out in praises to God?  First he exclaimed – 1 God Is Great.  The main reason that God is great is because of what He can do.  We talk about great plays in sport, we talk about a  movie that we have seen and we think it was great.  We even talk about food being great.  So what makes God greater than anything else we could think about?
Jeremiah 32:17 gives us the answer, ”Ah, Sovereign Lord, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm.  Nothing is too hard for you.”  Let's just think of things we can formulate in our human minds God is capable of doing.  There is His creation.  Quite often we are breathless when we see something something God created and then we think – only God could have brought this into being.  In Psalm 8 David looked up into the sky at night and he saw the stars and then the thought crossed his mind – with His fingers God gave each one a place.  Truly the words from Jeremiah 32: 17 affirms, “Nothing is too hard for You.”  David went into some detail of how God holds the depths of the earth in His hands and the mountain peaks belong to Him and that He made the seas.  That tells us that God is great in the way He holds everything together.  Therefore our praise and thanksgiving we bring before our God for the wonderful peace that He will continue to hold everything together as He has done in the past.  The only thing we have to ask is, “Do, we truly believe that?”  Because my friends, there are those live in fear; they literally wait for the hammer to fall.  They have lost there purpose in life and their reasons to rejoice.  But, as a people of God, we know that He is above, beyond and around everything we see and hear.

With David we are filled with the greatest gratitude because 2 We Are God's People.  David says, “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, the flock under His care.”  What David thought at the time was God's covenant that He kept in His faithfulness.  Even all the times when His people wandered away from Him and disappointed Him so immensely, God kept His covenant – He wasn't going to give up on the people He created as His own.  But for us as a people of God, there is something that brings great peace and joy into our hearts – God made us His people.  We can place 2 Corinthians 5: 17 always before us, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ Jesus, He is a new creation.  The old life has gone, the new has gone.”  We were lost in darkness, doomed and eternal condemnation was the only reality, we were facing. But then because of His love for us, God made us new in His Son, Jesus Christ.  Think about it – we became part of the big family of God.  There was a plantation owner many years ago that was very good to the slaves that worked for him.  He had a very good heart and they all felt taken care of.  One of the workers a woman lost her husband and she had a young son.  She became sick and died.  And then the plantation owner did something other people couldn't believe.  He took the boy into his home and when he walked him through the door he said, “You are a part of the family now.  What you see, is yours as well.”  Isn't that how we were made a part of God's family?  Jesus died for us and made us new and then we were brought into the family.  That wasn't our doing; it was the grace of God that reached us.  Can there ever be something greater to thank God for on Thanksgiving?

There is a last thought form Psalm 95 – 3 We Owe God Our Thanks.  David says, “Let us come before Him with thanksgiving and extol Him with music and song.”  It's like David wanted to say – it's nor optional; we owe God every single act of praise we can bring before Him.  We owe Him our thanks for the great things and the small things.  The great things we think about are His creation, His wonders and the salvation we just meditated on.  But then there are the small things we have to be grateful for as well – our daily bread, our material needs that God provides each day of our lives.  And you know, it's so easy to take those things for granted.  Some people live with the perception, “Oh, this is mine.  I worked for it.”  They never have the thought that cross their minds, “Every good gift come from above; from the Father of the lights.”  A man went to dine at a restaurant.  When he received his food, he said grace by himself. The waiter forgot to place ketchup on the table.  He waited for the man to finish his prayer and after placing the ketchup on the table he said, “I don’t pray before a meal” “Well, then you’re just like my dog at home”, the man responded.  “He doesn’t pray either.  But, I think he’s better than you.  At least he’s wagging his tail when I bring his food to say thank you.”  Let's do what St. Paul instructed the Ephesians, “Always thank God for everything in the name of Jesus Christ.”  Never forget to give thanks.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Amen.                                                                                     Rev. Willem H. Van de Wall