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How Can I Say Thanks At Anniversary Time

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Pastor Hawkin’s 1998 Anniversary

How Can I Say Thanks At Anniversary Time?

Psalm 116:12-15

Psalm 103:1-5

        On the day that God delivered the children of Israel from the harsh bondage of slavery, we find these words in

Exodus 13:3, “And Moses said to the people, ‘Remember this day in which you went out from Egypt, from the house of slavery; for by a powerful hand the Lord brought you out from this place.  And nothing leavened shall be eaten.’”

Here, in the word “remember,” Moses established an annual, memorial celebration to celebrate what God did for Israel that day.  Moses established an anniversary celebration to remember the miraculous deliverance of Jehovah God.  The word "celebration" also denotes the festive, merrymaking, grateful, happy aspects of worship.

  God has been showing me that humanity needs celebration.

  He has been showing me that celebration is a very important part of the Christian life!

  He has been showing me that celebration is of special significance and importance to African-American Christians.

In short, we need to fellowship together in festive celebrations commemorating what Jesus did for us on the cross, feasting on the Word of God!!!  We should also celebrate the ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, but there is another important time of celebration:  anniversaries.

        Today we ought to be thankful and celebrate what God has done through Pastor and Sister Hawkins here at The Good Shepherd Baptist Church—but there is a problem.  I believe that American people have, for the most part, lost the capacity to be thankful.  This malady brings to mind a question that is posed in an outstanding song written by Andre Crouch, entitled:  “My Tribute.”

Listen to the words of this song:

My Tribute

How can I say thanks for the things You have done for me¾

Things so undeserved, yet You give to prove Your love for Me?

The voices of a million angels could not express my gratitude¾

All that I am and ever hope to be, I owe it all to Thee.

To God be the glory, to God be the glory,

To God be the glory for the things He has done!

With His blood He has saved Me, With His pow’r He has raised me¾

To God be the glory for the things He has done!

Just let me live my life¾Let it be pleasing, Lord, to Thee;

And should I gain any praise, Let it go to Calvary.

With His blood He has saved me, With His pow’r He has raised me¾

To God be the glory for the things He has done!

To God be the glory for the things He has done.  The words of this song restate the question that is found in Psalm 116:12 and then answers the question.  Would you turn there with me please?  The Psalmist wrote in

Psalm 116:12, “What shall I render to the LORD, for all His benefits toward me?”

The inspiration for Andre Crouch’s song evidently arises from this verse of Scripture.  The words of the song, especially the two phrases in the first line, express the question of Psalm 116:12.

·        “How can I say thanks...”, correlates to “What shall I render to the LORD;” and

·        “for the things you have done for me,” correlates to “...for all His benefits toward me?”

But Andre Crouch goes on to answer the question with the theme:  To God Be The Glory!  His answer to the question is thanksgiving, praise, and worship!  And his answer is entirely biblical and appropriate.

        We shall use the first phrase of “My Tribute” as our theme for this sermon:  “How Can I Say Thanks At Anniversary Time?”  What a great question!  What a great question as we celebrate this great occasion.

David’s commands, to the Israelites, give us one answer to the challenging question before us.

Psalm 29:2 NIV, “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name; worship the LORD in the splendor of His holiness.”

“How Can I Say Thanks?”  The answer is:  Worship the Lord!  That is what the psalmist said and that is what “My Tribute” says.

(But before we can deal with the what and how of worship, we must deal with a very important implied question:  “Why should I say thanks?”)

From the looks of things, circumstances, and people around me, I cannot assume that people understand why or for what reasons they ought to be saying, “Thank you,” to the Lord.  What do I see?  I see an unthankful, unholy, nation, and world!!!

        In 116th Psalm, the psalmist is writing a song of personal thanksgiving.  Why he should thank, praise, and worship God is seen in the Psalm.  In the Psalm, he reiterates his love for the Lord, he rehearses his past distresses, he reports and reflects on his deliverance, and he resolves anew to praise the Lord for his deliverance.  He knows why He should thank the Lord, and it is in recounting the reasons why that he arrives at the question before us:

“What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits toward me?”

        I would like to suggest that God’s benefits through Pastor Hawkins are corporate benefits for Good Shepherd Baptist Church and individual benefits for its members.  The genuinely saved members of this church share a mystical, spiritual koinonia or communion through the baptizing work of the Holy Spirit!  Thus the blessings to Pastor Hawkins, or any of the community, are blessings to all members of the community—and vice versa.  No wonder Paul exhorts us to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.

(Now some of you may be saying, “What benefits?”  Perhaps we can better see the benefits that David had in mind, by looking at Psalm 103:1-5?)

Psalm 103:1-5

“A Psalm of David.

Bless the LORD, O my soul;

And all that is within me, bless His holy name.

 [2] Bless the LORD, O my soul,

And forget none of His benefits; 

 [3] Who pardons all your iniquities;

Who heals all your diseases;

 [4] Who redeems your life from the pit;

Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;

 [5] Who satisfies your years with good things,

So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.”

(Here we can see:)


In this Psalm, as in many written by David, we have an exhortation to bless the Lord.  But, this particular exhortation is not to Israel, but to himself.

The word ‘bless’ is 1288 barak and signifies or means

“1. bless God, adore with bended knees” (Brown-Driver-Briggs-Gesenius).

Ryrie says the phrase, ‘bless the Lord,’ means “adore and thank Him.”  David is exhorting thankful worship of Jehovah God from his soul, i.e. his whole person (intellect, emotion, will, etc.).  He is exhorting himself to worship God with all that is within him, i.e. with everything that he has.  This is certainly total, intense, worship and praise.

        Sometimes, we have to exhort our own souls to worship God!  Sometimes we have to talk to ourselves, encourage ourselves, exhort our souls, command our souls, to worship the Lord!!!  This is not worshipping when you feel like it, but commandeering our souls for the purpose of all-out worship of God.

        Jewish worship is a long way from our subdued, sedated concept of worship.

(What is the object of this all-out praise?)

He is directing his worship and praise toward the magnificent, virtuous, excellent, holy name of God.  A name, in the Hebrew culture, represented the character, personality, etc., of a person.  In short, a name represented the who person.  So, the name of God represents the whole person of God!!!

(But what is his motivation to thank and worship God so intensely?)

In this passage of Scripture, it is first God’s holy, righteous, magnificent name.

That is a good reason for us to intensely worship God, because of the excellence of His name in all the earth!!!

But then he adds another reason for intensely worshipping God:  God’s benefits!!!  He did not want to forget any of God’s benefits.

Maybe that is the reason so many modern Christians can’t worship God intensely?  Perhaps they are unaware of or have forgotten His benefits?  It is so easy to forget the benefits of God, when He daily loads us with benefits.

(Well, if we are unaware of or have forgotten God’s benefits, David gives us a representative list.)

        David summarizes these benefits, that come from God, in five statements that he seems to address to the Israelites:

1.      He pardons all your iniquities;

2.      He heals all your diseases;

3.      He redeems your life from the pit;

4.      He crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; and

5.      He satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.

We see here five categories of benefits for Israel, that represent five categories of benefits that are yours through Jesus Christ, which are mediated through your pastor.  These are benefits that not only have been experienced by Pastor Hawkins, but are dispensed through his ministry.

There are benefits that God provides for us that only eternity can unfold.  Seeing them all is like trying to count the stars.  The greater the power of our telescope, the more innumerable the stars appear.  But we will not let our limited comprehension keep us from gazing upon the wonder of His benefits.

(Let’s review these categories of benefits.  First:)

1.      He Pardons All Of Our Iniquities.

He has given us the marvelous benefit of forgiveness.  Because of the death of Jesus Christ, God remits our punishment and restores us to His favor.

“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”

What a blessing it is to know that our sins are forgiven.  We were guilty of high treason against the King of kings and Lord of lords, but He took our place and experienced the sentence of death on our behalf.  Then He gave us a full and complete pardon and made us just as if we had never sinned, or ever done anything wrong.  Nothing can prevent us from going to heaven!  God forgives us of all our sins¾past, present, and future—with respect to salvation!

        The gift of forgiveness is so great, that sometimes I want to thunder at the top of my voice:  “Forgiven!”

(This is ministered through the ministry of your pastor, but that’s just benefit number one!)

2.      He Heals All Your Diseases.

Keil and Delitzsch says that this phrase represents “all kinds of inward and outward suffering.”  He spiritually and physically healed the Israelites and He spiritually and physically healed us through His death upon the cross.  We were totally healed at Calvary.

“But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourgings we are healed.”

“I was sinking deep in sin far from the peaceful shore,

Very deeply stained within sinking to rise no more.

But the Master of the sea heard my despairing cry,

From the waters He lifted me, now safe am I.

Love lifted me, Love lifted me,

When nothing else could help love lifted me.”

Someone will ask, “Then why don’t I have complete physical healing right now?”  I don’t really know the answer to that question, but I do know that the healing starts now and will be completed in heaven!!!  Even though our total healing awaits a fuller manifestation of His saving power, He has healed us of the greatest disease of mankind:  the disease of sin with all of its attendant suffering.  Therefore, we can start thanking Him right now.

(Thirdly we see that:)

3.      He Redeems Your Life From The Pit.

The word ‘pit’ is a Hebrew word that is used for sheol.  “In the great majority of the cases ‘Sheol’, in the Old Testament, is used to signify the grave” (Unger’s).  He saved the Israelites from death time and time again!

        He saves our lives from death.  “Where?” many of you are asking.  Let me say, “I don’t know how many times He has protected me from automobile accidents, seen and unseen!”  Many times Satan would hasten our death, but the Lord delivers us.

        We are “afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.”

“Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”

Through many dangers, toils and snares,

I have already come;

‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,

And grace will lead me home.

(These things are released through the power of the Holy Spirit, through the ministry of God’s man.  Fourthly, we see that:)

4.      He Crowns You With Lovingkindness And Compassion.

God crowned the Israelites with His steadfast covenant love and His compassion.  He put it upon their heads, so that all the world could see them wear it.

(Did you get the two components of God’s love that were stated here?)

        One component is His hesed, i.e. His steadfast covenant love.  This is what we call God’s unconditional love.  His love of Israel was not unconditional.  It had conditions to it.  But, His love was steadfast, and it was based upon the covenant.  In some of these cases, God’s covenant is with Himself.  So, His love is enduring, lasting, eternal.

        The second component of His love is compassion.  He had a deep feeling for and understanding of the misery or suffering of the Israelites, with an accompanying desire to promote the alleviation of that misery of suffering.

        Likewise, He has, He is, and He will continue to manifest His steadfast covenant love toward us who have believed in His Son!!!

1 John 4:9, “By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him.”

God loves us with an eternal, covenant love, because of the covenant He made with Jesus Christ.

        He also has compassion on us:

Psalm 103:13-14, “Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.  For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust.”

He has set both His loyal love and His tender compassion on our heads as a crown for the world to see.

(Lastly in Psalm 103 we see that He:)

5.      He Satisfies Your Years With Good Things, So That Your Youth Is Renewed Like The Eagle.

He sustained Israel in the wilderness for 40 years:  water followed them underground, food fell from heaven, their sandals didn’t wear out, their feet didn’t swell, Moses was 80 years old when he delivered Israel from Egypt, Aaron was 83, Caleb was well advanced in years when he fought with the inhabitants of Canaan and captured the promised land.  He satisfied them with good things, and renewed their youth.

God has done so much for you.  God has given you good things corporately and individually.  No Christian has given up anything, but that God will give Him something better.  It is God who brings satisfaction to a yielded life.  It is God who renews the Hawkins’ youth and your youth.

Isaiah 40:29-31, “He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power.  Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, thy will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.”

(Now that we know what the benefits of the Lord are, that brings us back to the original question, “What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me?” or “How Can I Say Thanks?”  David answers that question in Psalm 116:13-14.  Would you notice these two verses with me please?)

Psalm 116:13-14, “I shall lift up the cup of salvation, And call upon the name of the Lord.  I shall pay my vows to the Lord, Oh may it be in the presence of all His people.”

The question is a proper one:  the Lord has done so much for us that we ought to look around us and within us to see how we may manifest our gratitude to Him—especially at anniversary time.  We must use our holy ingenuity to seek out new ways to offer Him fresh praise.  His benefits are beyond number.  Each of us should have our own idiosyncratic way of expressing gratitude.  As God blesses each of us individually Let us each ask, “What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me?”  “How can I say thanks?”


(David is going to say thanks in three ways.  First He is going to:)

A.     Lift Up The Cup Of Salvation.

“This is a figure taken from the Passover, the memorial feast in celebration of the redemption out of Egypt.  The cup of salvation is that which is raised aloft and drunk amidst thanksgiving for the manifold and abundant salvation experienced” (Keil & Delitzsch).  This is not a prescribed offering, but a freewill offering offered because of thanksgiving.  There can be no worship with out sacrificial giving.

There are times when we should give special freewill offerings to God’s man and God’s church, because we are thankful.  Anniversary time should be one of those times.

Thankfulness evokes giving!

(Secondarily, He is going to:)

B.     Call Upon The Name Of The Lord.

He is going to offer up blessings, thanksgivings, and prayer.  These are other manifestations of worship.  His second response for the benefits of God is to worship God through a verbal offering!!! There are many ways to worship God verbally, i.e. through shouting, singing, thanksgiving, and praise.

       Anniversary time is a time to verbally worship God, because of one’s thankfulness.

(Thirdly, He says I will:)

C.     Pay My Vows To The Lord.

This probably refers to the sacrifice of thanks that he had vowed to the Lord because of all His benefits.  His third way to say thanks was to worship God through keeping vows of sacrificial worship.  He was going to be faithful in worshipping God.

        We, likewise, should be faithful in worshipping God—especially during anniversary times.

So David’s threefold way of saying thanks is a threefold offering of worship to God.  He is, in essence, worshipping God with all that He has and with all that is within Him!!!

        How can we say thanks during anniversary time, by being thankful, praising God, and worshipping Him with all that we are because of what we have experienced through this ministry!

(Now is the Day of Salvation.  Come to Jesus, Now!)


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