Saturday, November 17, 2007

Thanksgiving

I will bless the LORD at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

My soul shall make its boast in the LORD;
The humble shall hear of it and be glad.

Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
And let us exalt His name together.

Psalm 34:1-3

I. Be thankful for God (1).

A. Our thankfulness should be continual.

The apostle Paul also told us to "rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice." That is easier done when things are going well. But can you thank God after the death of a loved one? when your health is poor? during a divorce? when you lose your job? when nothing seems to be going well?
1. During good times.

King David could remember the good times: defeat of Goliath, crowned king of Israel, married, birth of children, and becoming wealthy. He had experienced more than most people ever will. And during those times, he was thankful for what God had done for him.

2. During bad times.

King David could also remember bad times: ridiculed by older brother, chased by King Saul, separated from first wife, guilty of adultery and murder, death of newborn son, death of an adult son, forced out of Jerusalem, cursed by an angry subject, and attacked by Absalom. During those times, he was sad, ashamed, afraid, but he always returned to God because he knew how good God was.
B. Our thankfulness should be vocal.

Who's your favorite football team? What's your hobby? What interests you more than anything else? Whatever you treasure in your heart will eventually be known by those around you because you will always be talking about it.
1. Praise is a result of mediation.

Praise is something that can't be turned on spontaneously. It must be the overflow of what you have been thinking about already. If you have been meditating on God's goodness throughout the week, praise will be a normal part of your conversation. But if you have not been thinking about him, it will not come naturally.

2. Praise will affect others.

Those who are constantly praising God will be noticed by people around them. There is no guarantee that the world will enjoy or understand what we have to say about God, but they should notice our thankfulness to the Lord.

One day when after hearing a preacher's sermon, a noted atheist trusted Christ and became a Christian. The preacher later asked the man what it was that had convinced him of his need of Jesus, thinking that it was his sermon. But the man informed him that something a little old lady had said earlier had made the difference. She said, "Oh Mr. So-and-so, I wish you knew the Lord Jesus. He is so wonderful." Her sincere love for the Lord made him contemplate his life's greatest need.

Note: The goal of our praise is not other people; it is true thankfulness to God. But if we are truly thankful to God, we will naturally tell others about Him. Remember, thankfulness must come from the heart. It's not something that can be drummed up on the spur of the moment.

II. Be proud of God (2).

Through out the Scriptures, we read about God's displeasure in proud people. He hates a proud look. He promises to put down proud people. Pride was the downfall of Kings Uzziah and Nebuchadnezzar. Think about this. Self-focused pride is always foolish because ultimately everything we have comes from God. However, the boasting David calls for is something different.
A. This pride is good.

God truly deserves the praise we give him. We ought to boast about him to other people. Think of Elijah on Mount Carmel. He was so confident in the ability of God that he challenged the worshippers of Baal to a challenge. Who is a God like our God? There is none other. Being proud of God and bragging about his goodness is a good thing because nobody else deserved the credit for everything.

B. This pride is personal (8).

Later in the psalm, David writes, "O taste and see that the Lord is good." He knew from experience that God was good. And like David, those who have experienced God's goodness can boast about him. Have you tasted and seen that God is good?

C. This pride is enjoyable.

Humble people have come to the realization that they would be nothing except for God's grace in their life. Because of that, they are happy to hear someone else praising the God they have come to know and trust.

III. Magnify God's goodness (3).
A. Reveal the details.

While visiting my parent-in-law during Thanksgiving weekend, we watched a television program called Animal Planet. One of their upcoming programs is going to be about ants. The advertisement showed a close-up of the jagged edges of an ant's mandibles. It was an amazing shot that was all the more impressive because it had been magnified enough to see the details.

David is here calling on us to magnify the Lord with him. The idea is to tell the details of God's goodness to all that will listen. Share with others the details of how God you know that God is good. Has he given you life? health? peace? joy? food? a place to sleep? Then tell others the details!

B. Enjoy him together.

David cals us to magnify the Lord and exalt his name together. There is something enjoyable about praising God with other people who love the Lord. My father-in-law just attended a fifth Sunday hymn sing at a country church. The songs were sung in four part harmony without any instruments. He told me that it was a wonderful time together with God's people.

Life can be quite difficult when most of the week you are away from those who love the Lord. But when you have the privilege of coming together with other believers, it can be a wonderful time because you share the same joy of knowing God. Those times should be a blessing to you. Enjoy them.

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