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Whole Hearted Gratitude!
Psalm 9: 1
In the week we celebrate Thanksgiving, the words of the ninth Psalm seem so very appropriate.
"I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart," the psalmist wrote.
"I will tell of all thy wonderful deeds."
This is a beautiful attitude.
It is so very important to express our gratitude to God.
I have never known anyone who has not appreciated being thanked when thanksgiving was due.
God also appreciates it when we tell Him that we know that all that we have has come to us
by His grace, generosity, and love.
God would have us have the humility to admit that without His goodness and kindness toward us
life wouldn't be worth living.
Job was admonished to "stop and consider the wondrous works of God." (Job 37:14)
That is what we need to do as well.
We might be more grateful to God, if we fell upon hard times.
- Thanksgiving provides us an opportunity to ponder the mystery and majesty of God's wonderful creation
-- this earth, which brings forth its plenteous bounty to feed and clothe us.
- Thanksgiving gives us an opportunity to thank God for the birds and animals, which make their contribution
to our welfare and happiness.
- Thanksgiving gives us the opportunity to thank God for the flowers and trees which delight our eyes and cheer our spirits.
- Thanksgiving gives us the opportunity to thank God for the sparkling rain, which provides us
with the best drink of all -- precious water.
- Thanksgiving is the time to consider all the wondrous works of God.
Don't you think that if we had to grub for food and went hungry for some time, we would be ready to celebrate Thanksgiving?
Somehow those who have little, and then get much more to make life easier seem to know how to be thankful.
The Pilgrims were ready to be wholeheartedly thankful, when those who had managed to survive that first bitter winter
came to the next fall harvest.
Half of those brave settlers had died.
The rest of them had barely eked out an existence, holding on desperately despite starvation, sickness, and cold.
When things began to look a little better, they were truly grateful to God for life and harvest and hope for a better future.
William Bradford, one of their leaders, looked to the time when their children would say,
"Our fathers were Englishmen who came over this great ocean and were ready to perish in the wilderness;
but they cried unto the Lord, and He heard their voice and looked on their adversity.
Let them therefore praise the Lord because He is good and His mercies endure forever.
Yea, let them which have been redeemed of the Lord show how He hath delivered them from the hand of the oppressor.
When they wandered in the deserted wilderness out of the way and found no city to dwell in, both hungry and thirsty,
their soul was overwhelmed in them.
Let them confess before the Lord His loving kindness and His wonderful works before the sons of men."
The Pilgrims thanked God wholeheartedly.
They hoped their descendants would also.
Most of us aren't direct descendants of those who came over on the Mayflower, but nothing could bring us closer
to the spirit of those first settlers than being profoundly grateful to God.
It would be wonderful, if each of us slipped off alone at some time on Thanksgiving Day and expressed our love to God.
We all need that time to express our thanksgiving to God in our private place.
There is so much for which we can be thankful to God.
- We need to express how very much we appreciate our families and friends.
- We need to tell God how thankful we are for our blessed and beautiful country.
- We should express our gratitude for our cherished freedoms.
- We should express to our God that we are thankful for the church that keeps reminding us of His love,
and provides us with an opportunity to serve others.
If that attitude does not encourage us to be thankful, then perhaps we ought to be like the man who was
attending a prayer meeting.
Different members were telling what they were grateful for.
This particular old fellow, in poor health, without much money, nagged at home by an ever-complaining wife,
said very simply, "I'm thankful that I am alive."
That may not sound very profound, but it is certainly something to consider -- being thankful just for being alive.
The older I get, the more grateful I am that I have life for another year, another month, another day, even another hour.
A pastor went to the cemetery with an 80-year-old man to bury one of his friends.
As they walked among the tombstones going to the grave, the old man kept stopping to point to the names
of those who were already dead and buried.
"I knew him," he would say. "I knew her."
Then he was suddenly overwhelmed by the fact that he knew more people in the cemetery than he knew back in the city.
"I have more friends out here," he said, "than I have still living."
Soon after this, he went on to join his friends in eternity.
One day you and I are going to make that last, long journey.
In the meantime, we have life in this world.
We have life with its challenges and blessings and times of joy and ecstasy.
We also have life with its occasional pain and problems.
We have life when it is exciting.
We have times of surprises and of incomparable inspiration, when we feel lifted out of ourselves
into the very presence of the living God.
How can any one of us be ungrateful?
How can any one of us fail to thank God for the sheer joy of living, whatever our circumstances?
I like what the British actor Robert Morley had to say about gratitude:
"I am not an introspective man," he said, "but I am, I hope, a grateful one.
Life has treated me kindly, and should she suddenly withdraw her favors,
I hope I shall always be mindful that for over 50 years the sun has shone on my back."
When you consider all of your piled-up blessings, how can you fail to say with the psalmist,
"I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will tell of all thy wonderful deeds."
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
Email Dr. White at firstname.lastname@example.org
An additional illustration:
Sir Winston Churchill once told how utterly ungrateful some people can be.
He told how there was a sailor who plunged into the cold waters of Plymouth Harbour to rescue a small boy from drowning.
A few days later, the gallant hero met the boy with his mother on the streets of Plymouth.
The youngster nudged his mother, who remembered having seen the sailor somewhere.
But, she could not be positive about it, so she asked,
"Are you the man who pulled my little boy out of the water?"
The sailor grinned, saluted, and answered briskly, "Yes, Ma'am."
In the back of his mind, he was deciding how to respond to her thanks, but she saved him the trouble.
With her stern face set and without a smile on her lips, she snapped at the sailor, "Then, where's his cap?"