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					08-070                             GPBC, 11/30/08 a.m.            Thanksgiving Message

               “GIVE THANKS TO THE LORD” Part One
                          (Psalm 103)

         I think it’s probably safe to say that all of us are forgetful at times,
especially as we get older. At the pastors conference I attended last week
one of the speakers told about an older gentlemen who was telling his friend
about a therapist he had been seeing to learn an association technique that
would help to improve his memory. “Really!” said his friend. “What’s the
therapist’s name?” “Well, I’m thinking of a certain flower that has thorns.”
“Are you talking about a rose?” asked his friend. “That’s it!” replied the
man.      “Hey, Rose,” he called to his wife, “What’s the name of that
therapist?” Some of us who are over 50 can probably identify. We all tend
to forget things at times, but one thing we need to make every effort not to
forget is to thank God for all of his blessings of in our life. We often find it
easy to accept and enjoy the blessings that God delights to pour into our
lives without remembering to thank him for those blessings. That’s why
celebrating Thanksgiving is so important, because it serves to remind us, at
least once a year, that we need to be thankful for the blessings of God all
year long.

         A few weeks ago we saw in the book of Colossians how important it
is in the Christian life to have a “river of gratitude” continually flowing out
of us. It says, “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so
walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and
established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with
gratitude.” Col.2:6-7, NASB]. We saw that in the original language of the
New Testament the word here translated, “overflowing,” is the same word
that would be used of a mighty river overflowing its banks at flood stage.
08-070                           GPBC, 11/30/08 a.m.              Thanksgiving Message

As we live under the lordship of Christ, we need to be cultivating at “attitude
of gratitude” that is constantly flowing out of us like a mighty river.

         With this in mind, please turn with me in your Bible to Psalm 103.
Notice that the psalm begins with the words, “A Psalm of David.” We know
that David was a man who was passionately in love with God and who
enjoyed a deeply intimate relationship with God.          In this psalm David
reflects upon the blessings of God in his life, and in doing so he sets an
example for us in the depth of his gratitude for all of those blessings. He
begins withn the words, “Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within
me, bless His holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of
His benefits.” [Psalm 103:1-2, NASB]. The word, “bless,” is an interesting
word in the original language of the Old Testament, because it is derived
from the word for “knee.” The picture is that of bowing the knee before
God’s throne, either to receive a blessing, or to express humble, heartfelt
gratitude for a blessing received. In the case of David, he has already been
abundantly blessed, and as he reflects upon the many blessings that God has
bestowed upon him, he offers grateful thanks for them all.

         As we take a closer look at these opening verses of the psalm, there
are several things that stand out to me. The first thing I want you to see here
is that genuine, heartfelt gratitude goes much deeper than mere words. God
is worthy to receive the kind of gratitude that flows from the depths of our
innermost being. He says, “Bless the LORD, O my soul; and ALL THAT IS
WITHIN ME bless His holy name.” It brings to mind the words of Jesus
when he says, “…You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and
with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.” [Mark
12:30, NASB]. In other words, with totality of our being.
08-070                           GPBC, 11/30/08 a.m.            Thanksgiving Message

In light of all God’s blessings, no amount of gratitude that we could ever
express to the Lord would ever begin to compare with the magnitude of his
blessing in our life. When it comes to expressing our gratitude to the Lord,
we need to “give it all we’ve got.” It may be expressed in words, or
sometimes it may be more than words can express, but either way, it needs
to be that mighty “river of gratitude” that flows from deep within our heart.

         The second thing I want you to see here is that a genuine, heartfelt
gratitude for all of God’s blessings is characterized by a deliberate and
intentional remembering of all that he has done for us. That’s because it’s
just too easy to forget otherwise. The book of James tells us, “Every good
thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the
Father of lights, with whom there is no variation, or shifting shadow.”
[James 1:17, NASB]. Notice James says that EVERY good thing that we
experience in life comes down from the Father – not just some of the good
things we experience in life, but EVERY good thing. And in that regard
God is both unchanging and unchangeable, - he is the one “with whom there
is no variation, or shifting shadow.” God by his very nature delights to show
his goodness toward us, and in that he remains forever the same. Because of
that he is worthy of our gratitude and our praise.

         We live in a world that doesn’t understand what it means to be
grateful to the Lord for his blessings. I can think of one individual who
recently lost his best friend in an automobile accident. His friend was drunk
and was having an argument with his wife as they were driving home from
the party. The argument go so heated that she stopped the car by the side of
the road and told her husband to get out. The man was so drunk when he got
out of the car that he inadvertantly walked out into traffic and was killed.
08-070                            GPBC, 11/30/08 a.m.           Thanksgiving Message

That’s a tragic story, but the greater tragedy is that this man blames God for
his friend’s death. Can you explain to me how it’s God’s fault that a man is
so “falling down” drunk that he walks out into traffic and gets run over? Yet
this same man’s wife got a nice promotion at work along with a nice raise in
pay, and all he could say to her was, “Boy, were you lucky!” The idea that
this blessing came from the hand of a loving God never crossed his mind.
Why is it that some people are so quick to blame God for the bad things that
happen in life, but they never give him credit for the good things that
happen? Because they really don’t understand the heart or character of God.

         You might think that this kind of thinking is only found out in the
world, but it’s not. All too often this same kind of thinking is found in the
church where we blame God for the “bad stuff” that happens, but we forget
to thank him for the “good stuff.” We find it so easy just to take God’s
blessings for granted, and to enjoy those blessings without ever really giving
thought to the One “from whom all blessings flow.” This is why David says,
“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits.” [Psalm
103:2, NASB]. In expressing his gratitude for God’s blessings, he doesn’t
want to overlook a single one. And neither should we! That’s why we need
to make a deliberate and intentional effort, as David did, to remember all the
good things that God has done and continues to do for us.

         In verses 1-2 David expresses his own heartfelt gratitude to the Lord
for his many blessings. In verses 3-19 he elaborates on those blessings, and
he concludes the psalm in verse 20-22 by calling upon all creation to bless
the Lord. Now let’s come back and look at just the first of these many
08-070                            GPBC, 11/30/08 a.m.           Thanksgiving Message

He starts off where our relationship with God really begins when says that
God is the one “who pardons all your iniquities…” [Psalm 103:3]. God’s
forgiveness of sin is one of the great themes of the Bible. We see it again in
Psalm 130 where the psalmist writes, “If You, LORD, should mark
iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? But there is forgiveness with You, that
You may be feared.” [Psalm 130:4-5, NASB]. Another translation makes
the meaning clearer when it says, “LORD, if you kept a record of our sins,
who, O Lord, could ever survive? But you offer forgiveness, that we might
learn to fear you.” [Psalm 130:3-4 NLT].

         It’s true that God, as the righteous judge, does keep a record of our
sins. But when we come to him and receive his forgiveness, the record is
wiped clean. It’s much the same as a presidential pardon, where a person is
not only released from prison, but as far as the record of his crime is
concerned, it’s as if it never happened. That’s what God does for us in
forgiveness. The New Testament brings out the added truth that forgiveness
comes only through the blood of Christ, and is found in him alone. It says,
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our
trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.” [Eph. 1:7, NASB].

         Can you imagine where we would be if it weren’t for God’s
forgiveness? The Bible says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift
of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” [Rom. 6:23, NASB]. We’re
not talking here just about physical death, but eternal death, - being banished
from the presence of God to a place called “hell” forever.              It’s too
frightening even to think about! If you’ve come to faith in Christ, then all
your sins have been forgiven, not because any of us deserve it, but because
of the riches of God’s grace.
08-070                            GPBC, 11/30/08 a.m.            Thanksgiving Message

And if you’ve not yet experienced God’s forgiveness in your life, you can by
coming to Christ in simple faith. Certainly knowing that we are forgiven
because of the grace of God the moment we put our trust in Christ ought to
cause a “river of gratitude” to flow from the very depths of our heart.

         Along with forgiving our iniquities, the psalmist goes on to say that
God is the one “…who heals all your diseases.” [Psalm 103:3, NASB].
This doesn’t mean that God always heals us whenever we get sick. We
know from personal experience and from the experience of others around us
that this just doesn’t happen. If God truly healed all our diseases all the
time, then no one would ever die from cancer or heart disease. If God truly
healed all our diseases all the time, no one would struggle for a lifetime with
crippling or debilitating illnesses.     To put it simply, there are times when
God heals, and, for whatever reason, there are times when he doesn’t heal,
and we may never understand why. All we can do is trust in the infinite
wisdom and purposes of God. All we can do is come back to the book of
Romans where it says, “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and
knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable
His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His
counselor? Or who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to him
again? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be
the glory forever. Amen.” [Romans 11:33-36, NASB].

         What I believe the psalmist is saying here in Psalm 103 is not that
God always heals all the time, but that all healing, whenever it does occur,
comes from God. We may not experience healing all the time, but when we
do experience healing, God is the one who deserves the credit.
08-070                           GPBC, 11/30/08 a.m.              Thanksgiving Message

It’s easy when we do experience healing to give credit to the doctor, or to
some new medical treatment, or to some new drug. These things may play a
role in our healing, but we need to look beyond all these things to realize
that God is our healer. We need to recognize that God is the one at work to
bring healing through the doctor’s skills, or through some new medical
treatment or drug.       God has his reasons why he doesn’t always heal
everyone all the time; but when he does choose to heal us, it should cause a
“river of gratitude” to flow from the very depths of our heart.

         As you can see we’ve only scratched the surface with Psalm 103.
We’re going to pick up tonight where we left off . The challenge that I want
to leave with you from this psalm is that none of us would overlook or
minimize the importance of a grateful heart in light of all that the Lord has
done for us. We have a God who demonstrates his grace in forgiving our
sins and wiping the record clean because of what Christ has done for us on
th cross. We have a God who demonstrates his kindness toward us every
time he sees fit to heal our bodies. We need to be be deliberate and
intentional as David was in cultivating an “attitude of gratitude” that flows
from our innermost being like a mighty river. We all appreciate being
appreciated or hearing someone say, “Thank you,” for something we’ve
done. God is no different. It truly blesses our God when we appreciate
him and thank him for all that he’s done for us. This is why we need to be
cultivating an “attitude of gratitude,” not just at Thanksgiving time, but all
the time. The more we think about all that God has done, the more we will
find ourselves “overflowing with gratitude”            because of his abundant
goodness in our lives.
                         (Closing song: “Give Thanks”)

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