This Sunday, at Good News, we are celebrating the harvest. This is similar to Thanksgiving in the States but it is only done in Evangelical churches here in Moldova. The church is decorated by the produce that the members bring. We show our gratitude to God for blessing the year with a good harvest. I am excited because I will be able to take part in 2 harvest celebrations this Sunday. In the afternoon, I have been invited to one of our church plants to preach/teach on the importance of being grateful and thanking our great God. I would like to share the message with you in this article.
The main passage for the message in Psalm 100. I invite you to read it first and then we can walk through it, step by step.
1 Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth. 2 Serve the LORD with gladness ; Come before Him with joyful singing. 3 Know that the LORD Himself is God ; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves ; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. 4 Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. 5 For the LORD is good ; His lovingkindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations.
I. A challenge is set before us all
In verses one and two the psalmist challenges us to action in three ways. Those of us who live on the earth, all of us, are to shout praise to God, serve the Lord, and come into His presence. For many, the logical question would be “why should I do these three things?”. That is a good question and the psalmist anticipated it. He immediately answers that question in verse three. Before we get into the “why” I would like to ask you a few questions. Do you live on this earth? If yes, do you praise God all the time? Do you serve God by serving the people around you? Do you live in the presence of God? Do you have a personal relationship with God? All of these questions are important and if you can answer “yes” then you are well on your way to being a grateful person. On the other hand, I have observed that most people who do not walk with God, praise Him, and serve Him are also not very happy in life, not very content. They have very few reasons to be thankful. Now let’s take a look at the “why” of the passage.
II. Your attitude is key to being thankful
You know the scenario, you wake up on the wrong side of the bed and are grouchy and ornery while nothing seems to go your way. The world is a bad place because you are having a bad day. This is an example of how your attitude determines your outlook. If your attitude is wrong then you do not see the pretty rainbow that the rain has brought. All you can see is the mud left behind. In order to be grateful to God you must have the proper attitude. Your attitude will change according to how well you know God, His character, and His ways and that is why the psalmist explains this in verse 3. The word that is translated “Lord” in verse 3 is “Jehovah“. The Hebrew word Jehovah means “the self-existent One”. God does not need anything, including mankind. It is a privilege for us to be made by Him and not the other way around. We should never feel like God should be happy because we have chosen Him. We should feel extremely blessed because He has chosen us. This is where thankfulness begins. I realize that my life is a gift from God and the fact that this Creator who does not need, me wants to know me personally. It changes my perspective completely. I am very grateful even if He never ever does another thing for me. So, in order to have the right attitude so that I can be a thankful person, I need to know God as He is presented in His Word and how He has manifested Himself in this world. Not only did He give us life but He also wants us to be His people, to follow Him and know Him personally through an intimate relationship, like with a best friend. When God calls us His sheep, this is not something that we should view negatively. When sheep have a good shepherd, life for them is amazing. He leads them by day to fresh water and green grass. He protects them by night. He helps them up when they fall. When they fight among themselves he steps in to help. When they are attacked by pests he rubs oil and salve on them. They depend on him and he leads them through life. This is the way that God wants us to depend on Him. He offers this kind of care for us if we will follow Him. These are all motives to be grateful to God. Are you a grateful person? Do you know God personally? Do you feel that the whole world owes you something or are you just thankful to be here, to have food to eat and clothes to wear etc. ?
III. Gratefulness is tested daily
God gives us a daily test to see if we are grateful to Him. What does that test look like? Verses 2 and 4 give us the answer. The first test is seen in verse 2, service. Do you see everyday as a new day to serve God by serving the people around you or do you see each new day as a day to care for yourself, your own needs and desires? Many people choose the later because they are not grateful to God. They do not realize that God has called us to serve Him and promises to take care of your needs. Because of this, everyday is a rat-race to care for myself, my family, my needs, my wants, and my desires. The main reason people claim not to be interested in spiritual things is because “I do not have time”. We all have the same 24 hours everyday so that is not a very good excuse but it is convenient. The second test is worship. I do not mean just singing and shouting praises to God. I mean living a life of true worship. The first time that worship is used in the Bible is also in the same passage where love and obedience are used for the first time, Genesis 22. Genuine worship means walking with God day by day, knowing who He is, loving Him, and showing that love through obedience. He has called us to seek His kingdom first by serving Him manifested through serving the people around us. Are you loving your neighbor as yourself? Do you worship God daily? Do you serve those who will bring you no benefit on this earth? Do you sacrifice your time and energy for others or are you just too busy? How are you doing on your daily test?
IV. Be motivated by the benefits
The psalmist understood the power of benefits. They motivate us and that is a good thing. He does not start with them though because he wants us to understand that even without them, we should be grateful to God. So, what are the benefits in verse 5? The first and greatest benefit is the fact that God is faithful and if you follow Him, then He will be faithful to you at all times, no matter what you have to endure. Secondly, when you are no longer here, He will still be here so you can pass on your relationship with Him to your children and grandchildren. You will not have to leave this earth wondering if they will be okay in the future. If you introduce them to God and set a good example before them then they will benefit as you did. Are you leaving this kind of legacy for your children and grandchildren? If not, then why not? You can start the journey today because God has made it possible.