Intro: I still remember that Christmas night a long time ago when I was about twelve or thirteen years old. It was a Sunday night and all of our gifts had been opened. My family and I had settled down in the den to watch TV, when suddenly we saw car lights pull into our driveway. I soon spotted my uncle and his family getting out of the car with Christmas presents. My mom yelled “Christmas presents.” Uncle Gordon and aunt Ruth had never come to our house, not at Christmas, not anytime. As for Christmas presents, we had never exchanged gifts before, now with no warning they were approaching the house bearing gifts.
My mom went into a panic. The most unacceptable thing in all of the world, at least for mom, was to be given a gift, but not have a gift to give in return. A plan quickly formed. She told my dad to entertain them while she and I would quickly wrap some gifts for them. I think we gave them some of the gifts we had received that Christmas.
That bottle of High Karate after shave lotion that my uncle received that night didn’t have a lot of thought put in it. It was a gift of necessity. It was a gift of duty or obligation. It was gift born out of social pressure.
It happens to the best of us. When I worked at the hardware store many years ago, men would come into the store searching for a Christmas gift for their wife. They often came in on Christmas Eve and the look of desperation covered their faces. In those days a lot of wives ended up with toasters, waffle irons, blenders, and a new set of pots and pans for Christmas and they never knew that a young clerk at the hardware store choose their gift for them.
I wonder how often God receives from us a lot of pots and pans that He didn’t ask for, didn’t want, didn’t appreciate because they were substitutes for the gifts He desired most. What I mean is that we often give God stuff that are substitutes for what He wants.
Unthoughtful giving is worst than no giving at all. It’s a gift that’s all about us. We often do it in order to not look bad. We don’t want to be criticized or talked about. We give because it’s our duty, or our obligation.
The right kind of giving doesn’t focus on us, but on the one who is to receive the gift.
In our text for today, the Psalmist, King David, shows us that thanksgiving should come from the heart. It shouldn’t be the product of duty, obligation, or because it’s the fourth Thursday of November. In these two short verses we see a man who has thought deeply about the God who made him, who called him, who guided him, and who protected him.
Read with me our text in . It’s also found in your pew Bibles on page 572.
I’m sure I’m not thankful enough. If I was as thankful as I should be, I’d never have a pity party, never get depressed, or ever get upset. Being thankful is all about focusing on the positives. This is something our nation has largely forgotten how to do. This is something that we often forget to do.
But then there are those times when I experience moments of thanksgiving. They are wonderful times. They produce joy, peace, and contentment as I reflect on the blessings that fill my life, blessings that come from family, church friends, and others along life’s journey.
This is what king David did. He took time to reflect on God’s blessings. We too need to reflect on God’s blessings.
I. Reflect on God's Blessings
Look at what he says in verse one. “I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” Thankfulness should come from the heart. It should involve the whole heart. Unfortunately, one cannot muster up an emotional, heartfelt thanksgiving. It must be spontaneous. It must be uncoerced. It must be stimulated by something outside of ourselves. It must be the effects of someone’s action.
The key to a heartfelt, genuine, joy producing, expression of thanksgiving, is simply recounting or reflecting on what God has done for us. David describes them as wonderful deeds. David understood a great truth about our God. He’s not some distant deity that rules the universe in a far, far, far away land. He lives among us. He watches over us.He intervenes on our behalf. He blesses us daily and continually.
But David is human just like us. Life is busy regardless of our nationality or our place in history. We have to be intentional. We have to take time to be thoughtful. When my uncle and his family showed up that Christmas night, there was no time to be thoughtful. We wrapped whatever we could find and presented them with gifts.
Sadly, this happens all too often. Suddenly the day is upon us. Suddenly , we are piling the kids in the car, giving it the gas, arriving a just in time, or a little bit late, and then quickly finding a place to sit. Unfortunately, we never got around to giving much thought about the person we came to visit—God.
You see, coming to church is often like going to visit the relatives on Christmas. We are rush to get ready. We rush to the house. We then rush to our next appointment, or place to visit. But we never took the time to think about the person we went to visit or the God we went to worship.
Reflection starts with what we see and have seen. In life we are to walk by faith and not by sight. But when it comes to thanksgiving, we need to use our eyes. We need to look at the blessings around us. We need to look at family and friends. We need to look at our jobs and provisions. We need to look at our blessings of the past, present, and the ones we are, by faith, praying for.
If you, your spouse, or your family, are healthy, give thanks for it. If you have sufficient financial resources to keep your bills paid up, a drive-able car, a roof over your head, and clothes in your closet, give thanks for it.
Do you realize that there are people living on the streets of major cities in America who give thanks for a large cardboard box to live in or a stray grocery cart to hold their belongings.
As I sat in my office yesterday, I gave thanks for blessings in my family. I gave thanks for blessings in our church. I gave thanks for a church that is blessed with youth, children, and babies. I gave thanks for people who are willing to work with our youth, our Sunday School kids, our Junior & children church kids, Wednesday Night children ministries, our babies in the nursery, the Christmas programs, and vacation Bible School.
Do you ever give thanks for the people who serve in the kitchen, in the video/audio booth, and the music ministry? Do you ever give thanks for our beautiful sanctuary? Do you ever give thanks for ever new face that walks through those doors?
Do you understand that all these things I’ve mentioned are blessings? Do you understand that these blessings don’t just happen, they’re from God? The Bible says in NLT, “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens.” Examine this verse. “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens.
II. Rejoice in God's Salvation
Do you realize that every young person in this church is like a light from heaven. Every person who serves in the church family is like a light from heaven. Every person who gives faithfully to the church is like a light from heaven. Every new person that walks in our service is like a light from heaven. I say all of this because without children, without servants, without givers, without new people, this church will die. The doors will be shut and the lights will be turned off, for good.
I have attended worship services where there are no children, no young people, and no new people coming into their services, and where there’s not enough givers. Now, if you want to visit these churches, you better do it soon, for they don’t last long—they die.
So this thanksgiving let us give thought to what we have, and let us give thanks for the blessings from above. Then let us rejoice in the salvation that God has provided us.
II. Rejoice in God's Salvation
As we age we often take for granted some of the blessings God has provided over the years. We reveal our childlike nature. On Christmas morning the joy and excitement on our children’s faces and in their voices is a sight to treasure for a lifetime. But a few months, and sometimes, only a few weeks later, that gift that brought the words, “Oh Daddy or Mommy this is the bestest gift I’ve ever gotten,” or “thank you, thank you, thank you, Mommy and Daddy, for the best gift in the whole world,” is suddenly put in a toy box or a dark corner of the closet to never be appreciated again.
We adults are not much different. We take for granted our spouse of twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty years. We don’t give thanks for them or make the most of the time we have with them. Our job that created the retirement we have, or made possible the home we own, is no longer on our thank you list. This shouldn’t be, but so often the daily routine pushes us into a unthankful mode.
But there is one of God’s blessings that we often appreciate more as we grow older. It’s God’s great salvation. We were not created to just enjoy God’s fellowship in this life, but for eternity. We are created for His pleasure and it is in Him that we experience the greatest pleasure of all. He made us to be a perfect match for Him, but sin damaged us and destroyed our relationship with God.
states, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit[.]”
One of the greatest deeds that God has ever blessed us with is salvation. It cost Him His Son and cost Jesus His life. But there was no other way to satisfy God’s justice that demands that all sin be punished, and still save the sinners.
King David understood the blessing of God’s great salvation. He may have lived centuries before Christ came on the scene, but he knew from the prophecies of the Old Testament that there would come a Messiah, a Savior of the world one day. He writes in , “But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.”
5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
When it comes to dying, there is only one escape plan—God’s. We don’t have to fear death, worry about death, or be hurt by death, if we have, really have, the Son of God in our life, as our Lord and Savior. The Bible says, “Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:12).
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
(1 John 5:12)
Circumstances can take our job from us. Disease can take our health from us. Death can take our family from us. But if we have Christ as our Lord and Savior, we have something to rejoice about, something to give thanks for, something that nothing can take away from us.
states, “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” The key to being thankful in all circumstances is being thoughtful of the blessings of God. This verse doesn’t say to give thanks for everything or for all circumstances, it says give thanks in all circumstances. If we give thought to the blessings of God, especially that of our salvation, we can give thanks in all circumstances.
Thinking correctly, that is being able to think about the blessings of God, is made easy by residing in God’s Word.
God has given us.
III. Reside in God's Word
King David spoke of recounting God’s wonderful deeds. The recounting God’s wonderful deeds should begin, not with us, but with God. In Max Lucado’s book, “It’s not about me,” he points out that life is not about us, it’s about God. It’s about His glory. Only after we understand this does life seem to become more enjoyable. I say this because it’s even true in the area of blessings. They must not become the focal point of our lives. We must not seek them, but Him with all our heart.
The key to staying focus on the right things is residing at the right place--in His Word. His Word reminds us of His love. states, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”
His Word reminds us of His grace. 2 Corinthian 12:9 states, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
His Word reminds us of His great salvation. “3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, 4 while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will” ().
And it is in His Word that we are reminded of His wonderful deeds.
The apostle Paul wrote these words to the Corinthian church, “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come” (). In this, Paul was referring to the punishments that the Israelites received in the wilderness because of their disobedience. But the same is true for the wonderful things that god did for the Israelites. They were written down for our benefit. Through His written Word, we have a history of His love and grace that have been shown to all people.
But of most of all, His word is what changes us. His Word enables to appreciate God’s love. It also enables us to respond with love. As the apostle puts it, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." If we will let the word of Christ dwell in us richly, we will have thankfulness in our hearts and we will give thanks to God the Father through Him” ( & 17).
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." If we will let the word of Christ dwell in us richly, we will have thankfulness in our hearts and we will give thanks to God the Father through Him” ( & 17).
We can never respond rightly to God’s love until we’ve been changed greatly by God’s love and His Word. But respond we must.
IV. Respond to God's Love
How should we respond? King David gives us guidance on this. Our text says, I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. 2 I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High. We should give thanks and praise to God with all our hearts.
A. Give Thanks
Giving thanks to God, how does one do that? Most assuredly, we do it through prayer. We do it privately and publicly. There should always be a section in our prayer that gives thanks to God. But words without actions to back them up ring hollow. When someone goes out of their way for us, we usually say thanks. But later on when that same person needs our help, and we say sorry we’re too busy or we perform the task needed, but do it in a begrudged manner. We are saying we didn’t really mean it when we said “thank you.” We are saying we didn’t really appreciate what did for us.
There are millions in America who profess faith in Christ, but they never darken the doors of a church. There are millions who profess faith in Christ, but never give or give very little when they do come to church. If we never sacrifice for God, if we never go out of our way for God, if we never change our living, our giving, our habits, our attitudes, our language, and our knowledge of God, if we never do these things for God, do we really have a thankful heart. The answer is obvious—no. True thankfulness will always show up in actions.
King David gave God thanks and praise.
B. Give Praise
King David was both a praying and singing man. He wrote most of the book of Psalm, which is a book of songs. We think of the Psalms as part of the Scriptures, and they are, but they were inspired songs penned by inspired writers. I don’t know if David had a voice like an angel or whether he couldn't carry a tune in a bucket. In times of private worship, it doesn’t matter, because no one but you and God can hear you. In times of public worship, it doesn’t matter, because when everybody sings all our voices blend in together to make a beautiful sound, that is, as long as some of us don’t out volume the majority.
But singing is not the only way we praise God. We do it through our testimonies. We do it through sharing with others, God’s blessings--His love, His grace, and His great salvation. In fact, tonight there will be a time for everyone, who so desires, to give thanks to God during our testimony service.
Oh, I encourage you to join us tonight for our thanksgiving meal and service. It’s always a good time of thanksgiving. It’s a time to get to know one another. It’s a time to enjoy one another. It’s time to reflect on the blessings that God has given us this past year. It’s a time to give thanks for those who have join our church family this year. It’s a time to remember and give thanks for those who were a part of our church family, but are no longer among us, for they now reside in their new home in heaven.
But before you come, prepare yourselves by reflecting on what God has done for you this past year. We can only give praise and thanksgiving from the heart, after we’ve given much thought to God and His blessings.
David said he would give thanks with his whole heart. Our thanks, our praise, and our giving should come from the heart.
C. Give from the Heart
In the bible, the heart represents the center of our emotions. It’s the real us. It’s what makes us who we are. God doesn’t want us to give out of duty or out of expectation. He doesn’t want us to say good things about Him in testimony service because everyone else is saying good things about Him. He doesn’t want us to put money in the offering plate fo fear of looking bad if we don’t. He wants it to be from the heart.
In the Old Testament we are told to give 10% of our income. It was an expectation from God and it became an expectation from others. But it also became a duty to perform, a part of one’s to do list to be checked off every Sabbath.
But this was not to be the case for New Testament Christians. New Testament giving is about thanksgiving. It’s about actions that back up words. It’a about thoughtful giving. It’s about giving from the heart. It’s about responding with love to God’s love and His sacrifice. It about giving back to the One who gave His all for us.
In times past I’ve highlighted the things our thanksgiving offering will be used for. While I don’t think it’s wrong to publicize how the church is planning to use the offering, it shouldn’t be used to motivate us to give, or be the determining factor for how much we give. The key factor should always be, how much God has blessed mr. The Bible makes this clear in 2 Corinthians 16:2, “On the first day of every week, each of you is to put something aside and store it up, as he may prosper, so that there will be no collecting when I come.” The words are “as he may prosper.” We should give in accordance to how God has prospered us. Has He prospered you this past year? Has He blessed you? Can you count the many blessings that He has rained down on you with this year?
I used to always say pray about what God would have you give tonight. But I’m not saying than today or any other time. There’s no need to pray about that. God has already told us what to give. We are to give according to how He has blessed us this past year. How has He blessed you in your business, your job, your health, and your family?
I used to say pray about what God would have you give tonight. But I’m not saying than today or any other time. There’s no need to pray. Just follow God’s Word. Give according to how God has blessed you this past year.
Conclusion: In conclusion I want to challenge you to take time out today to prepare for tonight. Take time to think about God’s blessing on your life. After doing so, come and give Him the thanks and praise that He deserves, from the heart. And take time to consider how much you will give tonight, based on God’s blessings this year, and having done so, come and give from the heart.
And one last thing, if you can’t give thanks for His great salvation, because you have never received it, you can receive it this morning and then give thanks for it tonight.
1 I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. 2 I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him"().