Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Special Thanksgiving Message

           Thanksgiving is a holiday that we celebrate every year with our families, friends, and loved ones. We sit around the table, giving thanks for all the great gifts we have been given throughout the year. Over the years, Thanksgiving has become less and less of a holiday for me, because we seldom do anything except eat some turkey and watch some football. (Which, I must confess I will do again this year because my team plays Thanksgiving night) The past couple of days, however, I have began to look at Thanksgiving with much different eyes. I do still anticipate the sweet potato pie and the many desserts that I will make myself sick over, but there is a new appreciation for this holiday that wasn't always there.
                A few months ago, the Lord God laid it upon my heart to write a Children’s Ministry lesson for Thanksgiving for our church. As I pondered and prayed over what to teach on, the Lord God gave me a Psalm to bring to them. There are many Psalms; by the way, that talk about giving thanks to the Lord, but the one in particular He gave to me was Psalm 100. The Psalm was written by David, it is a Psalm of praise for the faithfulness of God to His people. The Psalm is titled, “A Psalm of Thanksgiving”.
                1.” Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands!
                2. Serve the Lord with gladness;
                Come before His presence with singing;
                3. Know that the Lord, He is God;
                It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves;
                We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
                4. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
                And into His courts with praise.
                Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.
                5. For the Lord is good;
                His mercy is everlasting,
                And His truth endures to all generations.”
                As I read this Psalm and prayed for His leading to write the lesson, I found within these verses a call to worship the Lord God this Thanksgiving. As I studied, these words came to me, and our lesson on Thanksgiving turned into a lesson on worship. Worship is singing and dancing and making melody to the Lord, but there is so much more to worship than just singing songs. Worship is a state of the heart; it begins with thanks and praise and leads us to a place of awe and wonder.
Worship is taking time to appreciate who God is, what He has done, and what He is doing in our lives. Worship is responding to God with reverence, praise and a joyful heart. Did you know that Thanksgiving and worship go hand in hand? You can’t worship God unless you are thankful. Thanksgiving means to offer praise to God for what He has done, and what He is doing in your life. Sounds a lot like worship, doesn’t it?  We Christians have been given so very much. We have been blessed with bountiful gifts of provision, love, grace, mercy, hope and eternal life. Thanksgiving is not just a holiday, it is a call to worship the Lord our God for “He is good, His mercy is everlasting and His truth endures to all generations”. Thanksgiving is a day of feasting on the goodness of God.
As we gather around with family and friends this Thanksgiving, let us take time to worship the Lord God with hearts of thanksgiving, with praise and honor for all that He has done for us. I know there have been times when my heart has been less than thankful this past year, but because our God is a forgiving God He gives me mercy and grace and another chance to truly praise Him for all that He has given me. Not only can I be thankful for the earthly blessings, but I have so much more to be thankful for. I have been given new life in Jesus Christ. I have been set free from the bondage of sin and death. I have access to the Throne of God through the blood of Jesus Christ. I have been given grace to face the trials and the darkness that surround me; I have been given freedom to pursue God, to seek Him and to find Him. I have been given hope of eternal life in heaven with Him, I have been given the Holy Spirit to guide me and to protect me and to grow me in the knowledge of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (And that only covers a few of the great things I have been given)
As I begin to list off the many gifts that I have been given through the sacrifice of my Lord Jesus Christ, my heart is lifted into the heavens and my awe and reverence of His greatness bring me to my knees. Throughout the bible men and women of God worshiped God with song, dance, praise and thanksgiving. They offered up thanks for all He is and for who He is. We have an awesome, mighty God who loves to hear the praises of His people.
“- indeed it came to pass, when the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord, and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the Lord, saying, “For He is good, For His mercy endures forever,” that the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.” 2 Chronicles 5:13-14
Can you imagine what our Thanksgiving table would be like if we took time to worship God with thankful hearts? If we would take time this Thanksgiving to make this a day of worship instead of eating? “What a momentous occasion this must have been. The people of Israel gathered here at this fabulously, beautiful temple overlaid with gold. It's now complete…..And they all began to just worship God in the song, in the music. And as it came to this great crescendo, as the sound of the trumpets and the voices blended as one voice of praise and thanksgiving unto God, the cloud of God's glory that was the sign of God's presence among the children of Israel in the wilderness came down and it filled the temple. And the priests, because of the glory of God's presence, couldn't even stand, but just lay there in the glory of God's presence. What a beautiful sight. (Pastor Chuck Smith sermon notes on 2 Chronicles 5:13-14)
                Imagine if we were as fanatical as the Israelite's were on that day! Imagine if we were to take this Thanksgiving to lift up our voices to heaven in song and praise, filled with thankful hearts for all that the Lord God has done for us. My prayer for this nation is that we, as Christians, as the sheep of His pasture would come together as one and praise and worship His holy Name this Thanksgiving. That our hearts would be joined in one accord as we give thanks and praise for His great mercy toward us and for His great love which He shed abroad on the Cross of our salvation. May our hearts be lifted this Thanksgiving in worship, full of praise and honor and awe of the majestic presence of our Lord God. May our praises bring His glory down upon our homes, and may all who hear and see His presence be bowed down and say with us “For He is good, For His mercy endures forever.” Amen and Amen.