A Grateful Heart

Bible Book: Psalms  100
Subject: Thanksgiving; Gratitude; Thanksgiving Day

Ever since I was a boy I have enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday. I can remember my teachers teaching us the lesson of our beginnings.

Early in our history a small band of Pilgrims gathered with a tiny tribe of Native American Indian converts around a bountiful harvest table and with grateful hearts, celebrated America's first Thanksgiving. I can even recall the pictures that tried to capture this celebration.

Now consider how far we've come since that first Thanksgiving celebration in 1621. Today America is the richest country on the face of the earth. A few years ago Forbes Magazine reported the amount of edible garbage disposed of by Americans in a week could feed many third-world countries for a year. Today we're becoming more and more a nation of people with ungrateful hearts. We are eaten up with selfishness. We are the society of self-centeredness and self-absorption. We get all we can and can all we get, and it is bringing about devastating results to our nation. We are a prosperous nation just not a Thankful nation. Perhaps historians will say, "we were the generation that knew everything except how to give thanks with a grateful heart".

Why are we to give thanks?

We give thanks for several reasons.

I. Because God Deserves Our Thanks (Ps.100:3-4)

In the fast pace of our hectic lives, have you stopped long enough to consider the truth of the exhortation of this Psalm? It is a worship psalm. It is an exhortation to come and shout praise unto the Lord. Why? Because He is worthy and deserving of our praise. He is holy God. In a day of skeptical faith one would dare ask, "Why should we praise Him with a thankful heart?"

A. Because He Is Our Provider

Years ago I was taught to fall in love with the One who provides everything I need. All that I am - is because of my God who loves me. All that I have - is because He is my Provider. He is my Jehovah Jireh.

The Scripture says, which reads, "Some boast in chariots and some in horses, but we will boast in the Name of the Lord our God." Psalm 20:7 May I give you a paraphrase? "Some trust in brains and some in scheming, but we will trust in the Name of the Lord our God."

When I read that, I resolved that I would trust God not only for life's necessities but also for everything. He is my Great Provider.

I thank God for material possessions.

One of the first things I learned is to give thanks for the big things, but especially for the small things. The material things of this world all come from God.

T. W. Hunt spoke to this issue. One day he was squeezing his toothpaste onto his toothbrush when it dawned on him he had never thanked God for the toothpaste, much less his teeth.

I learned early on to thank God for the simple things. I learned to thank God for my clothes, my furniture, my home, the food I consume, and the cars I drive. Just look around. Everything comes from above and we are to give Him thanks.

I thank God for meaningful people.

Do you know my life is enriched because significant people have invested in me? I am what I am because of people who passed my way and saw something in me worth enhancing.

The story is told of the proverbial turtle on the fence post. The caption reads as the turtle is speaking, "If you see me on the fence post, believe me, I had help getting there."

Every one of us has meaningful people who helped us get where we are today. It may be our parents, a school teacher, a coach, a minister, a co-worker, you name them. Now here's the question: Have you ever thanked God for bringing those people into your life? In your quiet time you ought to spend time thanking God for these people and their investment. Then why don't you get up off your knees and write them a note and tell them "Thanks"? Thankfulness seems to be a lost art today.

In 1860 a ship went aground on the shores of Lake Michigan near Evanston. A young ministerial by the name of Edward Spencer waded again and again into the frigid waters to rescue 17 passengers. In the process his health was permanently damaged. Some years later at his funeral, it was noted that not one of the people he rescued ever thanked him.

Have you thanked the people who have helped you most in life?

B. He Is Our Sustainer

The Word tells us that we are His people, the sheep of His pasture. He is our Shepherd. He sustains the needs of His flock. The Shepherd Psalm (23) extols the sustaining ministry of the shepherd. In the morning he would lead them to pasture and all day he watched over them to meet every need they would have. If they strayed he went after them. The Shepherd would lead them to food and to water. The Shepherd would always provide safety for his sheep.

Psalm 23 was written by David when he was fleeing from Saul. He was wandering from place to place. His life was being threatened at every turn. No matter the circumstances, his faith was in his Sustainer. So should ours. No matter the enemy, our Shepherd will meet every need. God deserves our thanks.

II. Because God Demands Our Thanks (Psalm 100:4)

The psalmist states, We are to come before Him with thanksgiving; His court with praise. We are to give Him thanks.

The Scripture says we are to bless Him. (v. 4) It comes from the Hebrew word (baw-rak) that means in our giving thanks we are to adore Him.

A. Adore Him For His Offer Of Salvation

His loving kindness speaks of His mercy, His grace. What greater demonstration for us than the precious Son of God coming and giving His life for us in order to offer us salvation? I like what Paul wrote to the Thessalonians about salvation. (I Thess.2:13) All you have to do is believe in Jesus, repent, and receive Him. The Scripture says there is no other Name to be saved other than Jesus. (Acts 4:12) Say that Name with me: Jesus.

A marshal in Napoleon's army, a man who was devoted and enthusiastically attached to Napoleon, was mortally wounded in battle. As this man lay dying he sent for Napoleon.

The poor man thought his emperor could do anything. Perhaps he even sought to put him in the place of God, so he earnestly pleaded with his leader to save his life. Napoleon shook his head and turned away. As the dying man felt death advancing, he was heard to shout out "Save me, Napoleon! Save me!" In the hour of death that soldier discovered that even the powerful Napoleon could not give him life.

There are millions of people dying every day and they're calling upon the name of their companies, the names of their bankers, the names of their lawyers, the names of their doctors, crying out for them to save them, but there is no one who can give them life except Jesus Christ.

B. Adore Him For His Opportunities To Serve (Psalm 100:2)

Serve the Lord with gladness. Listen, could you imagine the impact we could have if every believer stopped viewing their "service" as a "job" and began viewing it as a "joy"?

Does God take joyful service serious? Ask Israel. God told them because they didn't serve Him in gladness and joy, He would see to it they served their enemies. (Deut. 28:47-48)

God has gifted us to glorify Him. The way to glorify Him is to take your spiritual giftedness and serve Him through it. The problem is most want to serve Him, but only in an advisory capacity. Service means we give of ourselves.

In 1878 William Booth's Salvation Army was beginning to make its mark, and men and women from all over the world began to enlist. One man was Samuel Brengle left a fine pastorate to join Booth's army. At first General Booth accepted his service reluctantly and grudgingly. Booth said to Brengle, "You've been your own boss too long." In order to instill humility in Brengle, Booth set him to work cleaning the boots of other trainees. Discouraged Brengle said to himself, "Have I followed my own fancy across the Atlantic in order to shine boots?" And then in a flash in a vision, he saw Jesus bending over the feet of rough unlettered fishermen. "Lord" he whispered, "You washed their feet. I will shine their shoes."

III. Because God Delights In Our Thanks

A. Genuine Thanks Is Pleasing To God

The Scripture tells us, In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. (I Thessalonians 5:18)

B. Godly Thanks Is Praise To God Ps. 100:4

One of the greatest ways we can show our praise to God is by developing a thankful heart.