Three Thoughts of Thanksgiving from Psalm 95 November 27 2015

Our pastor’s Thanksgiving sermon from 2014 is one I have remembered all year, at least parts of the sermon.  It was focused on Psalm 95, about being thankful in our upward look, our outward look, and our inward look.  

He introduced the topic by talking about Rudyard Kipling, who at one time was so popular that his writings were earning about $10 per word.     A few college students, however, didn’t appreciate Kipling’s writings; they facetiously sent him a letter enclosing $10.   It read, "Please, send us your best [one] word." They got back a letter from Kipling, saying simply "Thanks."  Thanksgiving is a concept so simple that a small child can understand it, yet it is also a profound indicator of how we are doing in our walk with Christ.

It is impossible to condense all the points from this 35-minute sermon down to a short blog post, but in a nutshell, our giving of thanks is rooted in our  relationship to the Creator, “the rock of our salvation” (our upward look – verse 2), and it is expanded when we observe creation (our outward look - verses 4-6).  But lets focus for a minute on our inward look.  

The Psalmist says in verses 7-8 “For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the wilderness.”  

It is so easy to grumble, as Israel did in the wilderness, despite all of the Lord’s provision for them.  If we’re not focused on giving thanks, we also can harden our hearts and neglect to see God’s hand in our lives. Some of you have gone through very difficult times this year, or in recent years.  Learning to give thanks in everything (I Thessalonians 5:18) does not minimize how difficult life’s challenges can be.  Being anxious for nothing but making our requests known to God, “with thanksgiving” (Philippians 4:6) is an acknowledgement of our gratitude for God’s love for us and for His ultimate control over these situations regardless of how they turn out.  

Yet even in the midst of all these trials of life, there are hundreds of things we take for granted on a daily basis, things that have become so routine or expected that we forget to be thankful for them: food, clothing, shelter, and our relationships.  Our pastor had a list of things that we are tempted to complain about and what we can be thankful for in them. For example, we can give thanks:

....the taxes I pay....because it means I’m employed.
....the clothes that fit a little too snug....because it means I have enough to eat.
....a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and appliances that need fixing....because it means I have a place to live.
....the spot I find at the far end of the parking lot ....because it means I am capable of walking.
....my huge electric bill ....because it means I am cool through the summer.
....the piles of laundry and ironing ....because it means my loved ones are nearby.
....the alarm that goes off at 6:00 am., ....because it means that I’m alive for another day.

We can find things to be thankful for even in what we can think of as the mundane routine of life.  Pastor told the story of a small resident population at a nursing home that was gathered around their humble Thanksgiving table.  The director asked each one to express one thing for which they were thankful.   One little lady in her turn said, “I thank the Lord for two perfectly good teeth, one in my upper jaw and one in my lower jaw that line up so I can chew my food.”

May God help us each day to see the things to be thankful for in the people and the world around us.