An Authentic Thanksgiving
An authentic Thanksgiving. I'm sorry. It just dawned on me that perhaps you saw this title, and got the wrong idea. Perhaps, you saw the title "An Authentic Thanksgiving," and thought this is going to be interesting. Greg is going to talk the Pilgrims or the Puritans or maybe what the food was like then. Or perhaps he might talk about all those warm feelings we remember from long ago when we gathered at Grandma's house for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, and we didn't have cell phones, video games and black Friday sales to distract us. If you came expecting that I am sorry, I wasn't trying to be well, less than genuine; I was just trying to explain in detail this idea of authenticity a little more.
Were you last week? Last week I talked a little about authenticity. It is the opposite of hypocrisy. It is about being genuine and honest about what is going on in our heart. I wonder if these days we haven’t accidentally cultivated a less than genuine approach to giving thanks and saying thank you.
Let me give you an example. When children receive a present, they are very authentic with their expressions of their satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the gift. There is something raw and emotional on the face of a child when they open a present. Right? We have all seen this. A child receives a gift and you immediately know whether they appreciate the gift, and the giver, or not. When they receive the toy that they really wanted they cannot contain their emotion. They shout they run they jump they run over to the giver and throw their arms around their neck almost knocking them over. And sometimes the Adults even try to squelch the enthusiasm. Sometime’s in the child's mind the giver is lifted up. The child shouts. “you are the greatest uncle ever,” thank you so much. Praise and thanks, all rolled into one. Authentic, genuine, not hypocritical, right out of the heart.
But what happens when you give kids clothes. Kids excitedly tear into a birthday or Christmas present and then as soon as they see it’s clothes their eyes roll, their face drops, and they toss the gift aside and look for the next one. The parents usually step in and say, now make sure you thank your aunt for the nice sweater. The child mumbles out a thank you auntie. Not very genuine, perhaps a bit hypocritical.
Interestingly, if you went to a third world country, some where the children don't have as many clothes as children in America, and you gave a kid the same gift, instead of disappointment you would see the same unbridled enthusiasm that child here exhibited for receiving the toy he always wanted. Why is that?
It is because the child here perceives that he or she is self-sufficient in the clothes department. They go to the drawer, and pull out what they need. When it is too small, magically more appear. But the toy, well that is something that cannot provide for themselves, they don't have that and there is no other way to get it unless it is given to them. If you perceive that you are able to provide something for yourself, then it is difficult to genuinely give thanks for it. You may do it, but it is not AS genuine.
This is similar to what we see In today's scripture text, Psalm 30. A Psalm is Hebrew Poetry; it is a hymn or a song or a prayer. It is an expression of the heart to God.
King David wrote Psalm 30. In this Psalm King David at least for a period was self-sufficient, but then something happened. David needed to rely on God, for God to rescue Him. God delivered David, and out of David's grateful heart, exploded a testimony of Thanksgiving and Praise to God for who He is and what he has done.
If we can get a handle on how David's thanksgiving came from his heart to God, maybe we can understand a little more how we can be more authentic with our thanksgiving to God.
Turn with me to Psalm 30. When we look at this Song of Thanksgiving or Hymn of Praise to God we see that there is a certain form to it. It will be helpful if we look at a very basic form of this Psalm.
Psalm 30-Basic Outline
Verses 1-5-Testimony of Praise
Verses 6-10-David’s Experience
Verses 11-12-Testimony of Praise
One basic outline of this Psalm is David has a testimony of Praise and thanksgiving to God, followed by David recalling the events that led to it, followed again by a testimony of thanks and praise.
This is not unusual, we do it all the time. Picture having guests over for thanksgiving, and in the rush of the day you burn the pies, as you are wondering what you are going to do, one of your guests arrives carrying two pies. You will say, Thank you so much, how wonderful it was that you bailed me out. A testimony of thanks and praise for what they have done. You may follow that with a recall of the situation, I just burned the pies. Then one more thanks and praise. Thank you so much you are so thoughtful.
With that structure in mind let's begin in the middle where David recalls his situation so that we can tell what led to his praise, and thanksgiving.
When I felt secure, I said, “I will never be shaken.” Lord, when you favored me, you made my royal mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed.
David felt secure; he was on solid ground and God's grace was there for him. The Lord provided, the kingdom was running smoothly. He could go to the well and draw all the grace he would need.
Have you ever been there? You know when things are going good when life is firing on all cylinders. Work is stable, the kids are doing well, send up a quick prayer here and quick prayer there, off to work, back home and ready for the weekend. You give thanks at mealtime and your fridge is full. It's a good spot to be in. My prayer is that everybody here is in that spot.
If David was sitting there with one of those note cards in his hand, he could write on it that he was thankful for food, thankful for the kingdom for protection from enemies, easy peasy. If you think back to our earlier example with the children getting clothes, it is like the drawer is full. A quick reminder to be thankful is all. You know when we are in that spot, it is not as if it insincere, it is just not overflowing, just not bursting.
But for David, he did not stay in that place.
Lord, when you favored me, you made my royal mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed.
But there came a time when God hid his face from David. Things got bad. David was dismayed, he was depressed, he went to the well, and it was dry. He probably had a severe health crisis, and might have been on his deathbed. And the worse part was it seemed God hid his face from him. That's why when people are ill, and we pray for them, we pray that the Lord will be there with them. When you are sick or injured, and while your body heals it is of great comfort to know that at least the Lord is with you. It is important to know as you struggle that God has not abandoned you and that he is right there with you. But for David, it as if God has hidden his face. So David prays.
To you, Lord, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy:
David prays to the Lord and cries for mercy. Mercy. When we hear that word mercy, there is this image of the condemned pleading for mercy for his sentence. That game when you were a kid, someone has the upper hand, and they can do away with you at any moment unless you cry for mercy.
David is someone who is aware of who is. David is aware of the fact that He is a sinner. In the ancient jewish mind there was a correlation between illness and sin. We don’t think so much that way today. Really the issue is not whether sin caused the illness or not. David, just like us, one way or another well or sick, still sins. We have this narrow view of God, where we think things are going well God is happy with me, things are not going well, I must be doing something wrong. That is too narrow of a view. Even when things are going well, we sin. When things are going wrong we still sin. Right or wrong, one way or the other we still sin. So David pleads for mercy.
David is someone who is aware of who he is. He is aware that he is the creature, and that He owes all to his creator. David knows when he goes to the well to draw grace, that is only by God's mercy alone that his bucket comes up full.
Then after that, David says something amazing. Follow me on this for a minute. When we are faced with our own mortality, our thoughts are drawn to ourselves, and our loved ones. So in our mind you think Lord I don’t want to die because I don't want to miss my child's wedding. Or Lord I need to live so I can hold my grandchildren, or Lord don't let this illness end in death because I need to take of my loved ones. These are the typical thoughts cross people's mind all the time.
But not David, something is different about David, David is concerned about God. Look at this.
“What is gained if I am silenced, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness?
David says, “God if I die you lose a worshipper. God if I die there one less person to praise you.” Think about that. We think of life insurance and wills, and paperwork, and David says Lord if I die I can’t praise you!
He then again repeats his plea to God for help and mercy in verse 10.
Hear, Lord, and be merciful to me; Lord, be my help.”
This is a dark time for David. If David had that note card in his hand, he might find it challenging to write anything on it. He cannot see God, God is hiding his face, and David is praying, pleading.
But somewhere in that darkness God did show up. God heard David. God answered David. And even though David was a sinner, in need of mercy. God answered Him. So David’s heart is grateful. Inside David is grateful to God, and out of that overflows David’s Praise and Thanksgiving.
I will exalt you, Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
David will speak very highly of God because God rescued David. David’s enemies were shown that God has his hand on David. God did not hide his face from David for ever, what David was going through, was temporary, God heard, and rescued David from death.
Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit.
So David not only praised God, but pleading others to praise God as well.
Sing praises to the Lord, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name. For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
David tells everyone to sing praises to our God because our God is merciful. Our God will not stay angry with us forever. Our God is a God of hope, there may be sadness for a time, But joy will come, and will last.
God is a God who delivers, a God who rescues, and God who has mercy, because David knows this God, Davids heart erupts with this praise and Thanksgiving and he testifies and tells others to Praise God. Then at the end of the Psalm David again gives Praise and thanks to God.
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; you have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!
God has turned David’s sadness to joy, what looked black and dark, was now filled with joy AND David’s heart overflowed with Praise to God.
If David would have that card in his hand now, He would fill it out, and now it would be stained with tears of joy, as his thankfulness flowed out of His relationship with God.
David heart in this Psalm overflowed because he was grateful to God for saving him from a physical illness, and near death. The new Testament gives us a different perspective Jesus came to save us from our spiritual sickness. To save us from our sin, to restore us to a relationship with the the God who delivers through the cross. A God who delivers us to a life once in bondage to sin and death to a new life of joy based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
This Psalm, and David’s experience reach into the New Testament, and parallel Jesus.
I will exalt you, Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me.
Jesus said in John
And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
David said do let my enemies gloat over me.
Matthew wrote this about Jesus
Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ” In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.
David wrote, "When you hid your face I was dismayed,
Jesus said, My God My God why have you forsaken me.
David said this about God, Your anger lasts but for a moment, but joy comes in the morning.
Jesus said this in
So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.
God's anger was present at the cross, and then three days later there was joy when Jesus rose.
For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
David cried to God for mercy, and God heard him, healed him and delivered Him.
When we cry out to Jesus for mercy from our sin, he will heal our relationship with Him and deliver us from our sin.
How do you have that authentic thanksgiving that flows out of your heart, and testifies to the greatness of our God, There are two essential components.
The first is that you realize who you are, honestly. You realize the real condition of your heart, honestly, and authentically. Not what other people say, just you and God. Not against the worlds standards, but against God’s standards Are you compassionate? Do you love your fellow man as God would have you love them? Are you the king of your kingdom or is God?
The second part is that you know who God is. Do you know that He is the God who delivers. Do you know that God Holy and mighty and awesome. Have you honestly come to the place to really understand whether you have plenty or whether you have little there is a time when you have turned your back on Him, and honestly we probably don’t deserve all he has given us.
And when we come to the place of who we are in relation to who God is, we can cry out to Jesus for mercy. We can lean on Jesus Christ and the grace that he gives at the cross. And when we cry out for mercy, God shows up! When we cry to Jesus for mercy he.shows up mightily.
He is the God who delivers. He is the God who provides. He is the God who went to the cross to pay the price for your sins, He is Jesus, the one who the grave could not hold and he calls you into a relationship with him. And when you truly, authentically come into that place the joy overflows out of your heart and You burst into praise and you give thanks and praise to Lord for ever, and ever, Amen
Bow with me in Prayer.