“The LORD is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack. He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He renews my life; He leads me along the right paths for His name’s sake. Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD as long as I live.” (Psalms 23:1-6 HCSB)
I heard about a little fourth-grader who stood up to give a report concerning the origins of the Thanksgiving holiday. He obviously had been trained to be "politically correct." Here's how he began: “The Pilgrims came here seeking freedom of you-know-what. When they landed, they gave thanks to you-know-who. Because of them, we can worship each Sunday, you-know where.”
While there are some who would attempt to diminish this holiday, skip it for the commercialization of Christmas or because as one person has said, “We are not a Christian nation,” I for one will give thanks today and everyday.
There may be some today, reading this manuscript, who think there is nothing to give thanks for because things just have not worked together as they think they should have. Since last Thanksgiving we have seen many major changes in the social and economic areas of life which could land us in a puddle of depression. Many are living in circumstances which are unbearable, pay check to pay check and there is no end in sight. Others have no pay check, waiting on the next governmental bail-out.
Even with those thoughts swirling in your head, I want to remind you today, as believers, we are not to live under or in the circumstances, but above the circumstances and give thanks to God for all we have and all He is to us.
We are to live with gratitude.
In a sense, gratitude is an expression of modesty. In Hebrew, the word for gratitude - hoda’ah - is the same as the word for confession. To offer thanks is to confess dependence, to acknowledge that others have the power to benefit you, to admit that your life is better because of their efforts. That frame of mind is indispensable to civilized society.(i)
Gratitude is thanks and that begins with an understanding of whose we are. Taking a look at the psalmist David’s portrayal of the Shepherd, lets talk about four things this morning which give us something to truly be thankful for…
“The Lord is my shepherd…”
Shepherds were seen with there sheep; sheep were seen with their shepherds. A shepherd spent time with the sheep, tending to their needs, leading them and made sure they knew he was nearby at all times.
Our Shepherd is Jesus! He is with us at all times. He never leaves us, never is uncaring or unkind. He is the “same yesterday, today and forever.”
John writes, “Having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.” (John 13:1) Earlier he had penned these words of Jesus as well: “But he that is an hireling … whose own the sheep are not … leaveth the sheep, and fleeth.” (John 10:12)
What a most cheering thought that we belong to the Lord Jesus — are His very own! Did we realize the fact that we are given Him to be His own by the Father (John 17:24), chosen by Himself (John 15:16), purchased at the cost of His life (1 Cor. 6:19, 20), rescued by His power (Luke 11:22; Gal.1:4) and surrendered to Him to be our only Lord and Partner, it would not only fill our hearts with deepest gratitude and thanksgiving, but it would also increase our desire to be enabled to live daily as Christ’s own.
Called “His own” — endearing name for His loved and purchased ones, “Once in Satan’s bondage held — now to God, beloved ones. Bought at the amazing price paid in blood at Calvary; Chosen by His loving heart to be His eternally. Since I’m not my own, but His, both by purchase and by choice, For His pleasure I would live, and His heart of love rejoice.
For this we can truly give thanks!
“There is nothing I shall lack…”
When the sheep need water, the shepherd provides. When the sheep need green grass, the shepherd provides. When the sheep need protection from the elements, the shepherd provides.
You may not have had all of your prayers answered this year, but did the Shepherd not act to make provisions for your basic needs. He cares for you, you know that right?
He provides and for that we can give thanks!
“He makes me lie down in green pastures…You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.”
Here we have the picture of the shepherd taking care of the sheep, but also notice we have a picture of the shepherd giving safety to the sheep.
While a shepherd would lead his little flock through the darkest valleys searching for green, lush pastures to give food or pristine streams to give water, the shepherd also took his flock in, hemmed them on every side and slept across the gate.
Wow and double wow! Jesus is the great Shepherd and lays down His life for His sheep, that is you and me! The picture is one of us being flanked on every side by protection and the Savior standing in the gate, saying the enemy, “You are not welcomed here!”
Oh, friend we need to give thanks for His wonderful protection!
Notice this ending: “I will dwell in the house of the LORD as long as I live.”
Through the precious, pure, spotless blood of the Lamb of God we are brought into the Family of God. Washed clean, adopted and granted entrance into the presence of the Father.
With such a favored place, we also have the promise of eternal life. So when life is over here, whether by death or rapture we are in the presence of the Father for all of eternity. Never to depart from His presence!
Yes, I believe we have something to be thankful for; this placement is something to surely thank God for this Thanksgiving and everyday of the year.
In Paul’s writings to the young minister, Timothy we find this charge: “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and GIVING OF THANKS, be made FOR all men.” (1 Timothy 2:1)
The story is told: After a baker died, his daughter told how her father prayed. “We went downstairs into the basement and saw the vast supply of flour there, ready to go into the dough. He took the handkerchief out of his suit coat pocket, opened it onto the floor, and knelt there and thanked God for all the flour and for every loaf of bread that it would make. When he rose he explained that many people would not thank God for the bread they ate, and he wanted to thank God for those who would not. I can in my mind see him kneeling there now, and am continually thankful for the love and guidance in the ways of the Lord that he lived before me.”
There is no act greater than the act of giving thanks to the creator and sustainer of the Universe, Father God, who gives us His presence, His provision for our needs, His protection from our enemies and His placement of us in His family.
Therefore, let us Give Thanks!
(i) The Power of Giving Thanks,” by Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe Staff, 11/23/2000. http://www.homiliesbyemail.com/Special/Thanksgiving/power.txt
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