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Sermon 11/28/04
Thankful - Psalm 100:4-5


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Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise.  Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations” (Psalm 100:4-5)

Are you thankful?  When you think of the Lord in relation to the circumstances of your life, are you drawn to thank Him for what He has done?  It’s difficult for us because we usually DON’T take Jesus’ advice that we should NOT “lay uptreasures on earth...” but instead “lay uptreasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19-20).  We often look in all the wrong places for that which is valuable.  “The Lord is good” as in our Scripture for today and “His mercy is (indeed) everlasting.”  His utter love for you is the only real value in life.

Decades ago, a song called “Don’t Sleep in the Subway” was made popular by Frank Sinatra and others of the time.  The idea was that the singer and his beloved had an argument and she walked out.  The singer observed, “You walk out on me when we disagree,” and he is encouraging her to “forget your foolish pride” and come home!

The song is interesting because you can tell that the singer is very fond of her.  He’s concerned, but also amused by this strange tendency to walk out when things aren’t going well.  It continues, “Don’t sleep in the subway, darling, don’t stand in the pouring rain…”

People are often like that in relation to God.  He offers us unending love, but we walk out on Him – daily!  We like it when things are good, but often decide life is NOT good when troubles come.  We might thank Him at mealtime, but not for everything else.  It’s interesting that we’re often NOT thankful when our bodies are healthy, and get annoyed at Him when we’re sick.  It’s like we’re outside in the “pouring rain” of life when we should enter into His love.  He is doing a careful work in our lives for our good, and He really means these words: “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).  In the perspective of eternity, these may be our words: “Oh, I should have THANKED Him!”  And it’s time to do just that.

The Psalmist, the one who wrote our Scripture for today, really understood something that ALL of us need: God is with us at ALL times, gently and lovingly allowing us to enter circumstances for which we should THANK Him.  What we want and what we need are often not the same, which is why we sometimes THINK our prayers are not answered.  The fact is, 100% of our needs are always met, an idea that is reflected in 1 John 5:14-15 – “This is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His WILL, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”  He knows what’s RIGHT for YOU.  He’s giving you MORE good than you can ask or think, and it’s time to THANK the Lord!

The Holy Spirit is continually whispering to our hearts: “Ask Him (the Father) for more faith… Ask Him for the courage to forgive the one who hurt you… Ask Him to show you HIS will for your life…” and so on.  We are more inclined to ask for something like a new car, a job that pays better, or to win the lottery.  Authentic prayers are those prompted in us by the Holy Spirit, the ones that reflect real needs, deep inside.  Most of our requests are superficial and He is the Good Parent who does not give in to our every whim.

So why should you thank Him?  Because He has answered ALL of your prayers, the ones you should have uttered when you awoke in the night and at all other times.  He knows what you NEED and it is reasonable to thank Him.

You might be in the hospital or in a wheelchair for HIS purposes.  There may be a REASON why your child had that illness.  There may be eternal GOOD in your job loss or in the closing of your business.  That difficulty in marriage or in a relationship has a positive outcome that you may never perceive in this life.  The troubles you have are sometimes not even about you, but instead He may be inviting you into His creative purposes in the lives of other people.  After all, who is a cancer patient going to listen to? – Another cancer patient!  Your trouble may be a call from God that will have great benefit in the lives of others.  Thank Him – in everything!

Thank Him because He loves you.  He not only looks out for all of your needs, but He also understands that You are utterly UNABLE to respond to Him or follow Him in your own strength.  “When we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6).  In and of ourselves we have neither the strength nor the will to serve Him.  We are “ungodly” in His sight.  “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).  Thank Him for His grace.

There was a point, and perhaps you were so young that you do not remember – There was a time when you did not CARE about God.  “While we were still sinners,” means that when we didn’t care or think about Him at all, He was already showering His love upon us by dying for our sins.  Do you remember such a time in your life when you did not care?  Perhaps yes or possibly you don’t – I DO remember such a point in time.  Possibly you still don’t care.  God remembers when every ONE of us felt that way.  Yet He loves us and even died for us, when we had (or have) no use for Him at all. – Thank Him for His love.

Edgar A. Guest wrote: “I’d rather see a sermon than to hear one any day, I’d rather one should walk with me than merely tell the wayI can watch your hands in action, but your tongue too fast may runI’d rather get my lessons by observing what you do Though an able speaker charms me with his eloquence, I say I’d rather see a sermon than to hear one any day…”  Jesus IS our sermon.  Look to Him and you will see that God loves you.

Whether you have chosen to trust in the Lord or not, He is doing a work in and around you that will last – forever.  His great purpose is to bring you into eternity in fellowship with His Son.  He also is using your life to help others do the same, whether you personally have faith in God or not.  You have a function and it is a good one, which is a sufficient reason to thank Him.  Like the song says, “Don’t walk in the falling rain…”  Come home to your God and “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving” – today.  Let’s pray:

Father, help me to see that it’s even better to trust You than to understand.  Bring me home.  Let me have FAITH in Your Son.  THANK You, Lord.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
Tel: (562) 688-5559
PO Box 92131
Long Beach, CA 90809-2131
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)


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