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The Heart of Thanksgiving

Tom Pennington • Psalm 100

  • 2015-11-22 AM
  • Sermons


Well this week, we're going to celebrate Thanksgiving togethermany of us with family and friends. And I want to step away from our study of Romans today to contemplate how it is that you and I should express Thanksgiving and why.

You're familiar with the history to some extent of the national holiday that we'll celebrate. It was in 1777 that the Continental Congress proclaimed the first national day of Thanksgiving. Several early presidents followed suit in declaring themselves national days of Thanksgiving during their presidency. And the holiday sort of gathered its own momentum. It continued to be celebrated in most states and most territories across our country, but from about 1815 to 1863 it was not a national holiday.

It was with Lincoln's declaration in 1863 that it became again a national holiday, and it became the custom, subsequent to that, each year for the sitting president to declare the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving. But it was something that had to be redone every year. Thanksgiving was still not a fixed annual event in the life of the nation. It was only in 1941 that Congress permanently established Thanksgiving as a national holiday every year on the fourth Thursday of November.

But where did that holiday really come from? Well James Baker writes in his book, Thanksgiving: the Biography of an American Holiday, "… despite disagreements over the details …" he goes on to say that the three-day event that was in Plymouth in the fall of 1621 was quote, "the historical birth of the American Thanksgiving holiday." In other words, what we will commemorate this Thursday really began with a group of Pilgrims in 1621. The Plymouth Plantation website writes this:

"In 1621 when their labors were rewarded with a bountiful harvest after a year of sickness and scarcity the Pilgrims gave thanks to God and celebrated His bounty in the harvest home tradition with feasting and sport. To these people of strong Christian faith this was not merely a revel. It was a joyous outpouring of gratitude, that is to God."

So, what you and I will celebrate this coming Thursday, in fact, began in 1621. There are only two extant descriptions of that first Thanksgiving. Here is one from William Bradford of Plymouth Plantation. He writes,

"They began now together in the small harvest they had and to fit up their houses and dwellings against winter, being all well recovered in health and strength and had all things in good plenty. For as some were thus employed in affairs abroad, others were exercised in fishing. Cod and bass and other fish of which they took good store of which every family had their portion. All the summer there was no want, and now begin to come in store of foul as winter approached of which this place did abound. Besides water fowl, there was great store of wild turkeys of which they took many besides venison, etc." [a great Thanksgiving right there.] "Besides they had about a peck of meal a week to a person, or now since harvest, Indian corn to that proportion which made many afterwards write so largely of their plenty here to their friends in England which were not feigned but true reports."

Now, I don't read that because of the historical element. Instead, I read it to make a very important point to you, and that is, that our Thanksgiving holiday, the one that we will commemorate this Thursday, has its roots in Plymouth in the Puritans, our spiritual forebears, those who came over with the Geneva Bible in their hands. I have a copy in my office printed in 1599. They brought a Bible like that, the first study Bible, really, written under the auspices of John Calvin in Geneva. They believed what we believe. And it was because of their understanding of the Scripture that they founded that first Thanksgiving feast. It was in the rich soil of biblical revelation that our Thanksgiving holiday was in fact born.

So, this morning, I want us to reflect on a biblical understanding of Thanksgiving. And I want us to turn to one of the classic expressions of Thanksgiving in all the Scripture, and that is Psalm 100. Turn there with me. Psalm 100.

Now notice, first of all, the title of the Psalm. It's called a "Psalm for Thanksgiving." Or it could be translated, for thank offering. Although the titles to the Psalms were not a part of the original text, there's some debate about that; they certainly are ancient. And in Luke 20:42 Jesus quotes one of the titles of the Psalms as accurate. So, they pass along to us the ancient understanding of how these Psalms were interpreted and how they were used. This is the only time in 150 Psalms that this title appears. It was for the thank offering.

Now just to remind you of what that was, you remember back in the book of Leviticus where most people stop their annual biblical read-throughs, in Leviticus there are five sacrifices that are prescribed for individuals to offer. One of those five sacrifices was called the "peace offering." And the peace offering could be offered to God for one of three reasons. It could be offered as a free will offering; that is, simply out of your own free will to express general love and gratitude to God.

Secondly, the peace offering could be offered as a vow offering. That is, it was to express your gratitude for God's deliverance. After you were in trouble, you made a vow to God. He delivered you, and then you would offer this peace offering as a vow offering. That is to express your thanksgiving to God for His deliverance.

The third reason for offering the peace offering was as a thank offering, to express thanksgiving to God for His blessing. It's also called the sacrifice of thanksgiving. In fact, here in the Psalms we see this. Keep your finger here in Psalm 100, but turn over to 107, 107 and notice verse 21. Verse 21 says:

Let them give thanks to the LORD for His [steadfast love] … and for His wonders to the sons of men! Let them also offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, [or offerings of thanksgiving] And tell of His works with joyful singing.

So, understand then that Psalm 100 was written for the purpose of, and was often used along with, offering a thank offering to God, one of the peace offerings. But it's benefit was not restricted to Old Testament believers under the sacrificial system.

Throughout the history of both Israel, and of course the church as well, this Psalm has challenged God's people to lift their hearts to Him in the sacrifice of praise even the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. It is a wonderful Psalm for expressing one's gratitude to God whether or not it is offered with a thank offering. As we think about how to properly celebrate Thanksgiving on Thursday, I want us to examine this magnificent Psalm together. Let's begin by reading it. You follow along as I read Psalm 100.

    Shout joyfully to the Lord all the earth. Serve the LORD with gladness.

    Come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the LORD Himself

    is God; It is He Who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His

    people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanks-

    giving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him. Bless His name.

    For the Lord is good; His [steadfast love] … is everlasting And His 

    faithfulness to all generations. 

This brief Psalm outlines for us exactly how we are to offer our Thanksgiving to God and why. One commentator, Davidson, writes this, "The whole Psalm speaks of that unashamedly joyful response to life which seeks to praise God for all He has done and for all that He is."

Now the structure is very simple. You can see it even in our English text. It's composed of two stanzas: the first stanza, verse 1 to 3, the second stanza, verses 4 and 5. Both stanzas are a call to Thanksgiving. And each stanza calls us to Thanksgiving by rehearsing one main truth about God that inspires our thanksgiving. The first stanza commands us to offer thanks to God because God is God. Or we could say because God is great. The second stanza commands us to offer thanksgiving to God because God is good.

My father-in-law, whose now with the Lord, taught theology for 50 years, and he said you know much of what we need to know about theology we learned in kindergarten. God is great and God is good. That's what the psalmist is telling us here.

Now both of these two stanzas consist of two simple elements. In each stanza we'll see this. First of all, there will be the expression of thanksgiving. That is how to offer our thanks. And then in each stanza there will be the reasons that we ought to offer our thanks.

So, with that road map for Psalm 100, let's consider first of all the first stanza. We're to offer our thanksgiving to God because God is great. We see this in verses 1 to 3. And as I said, he begins by talking about the expressions of thanksgiving; how we are to offer our thanks in verses 1 and 2. Now I want you to notice, first of all, that giving thanks to God as a believer is not optional. There are seven different ways to offer thanks that are identified in this brief psalm, and every single one of them is a command.

Notice verse 1, "Shout joyfully." Verse 2, "Serve … with gladness." "Come before Him with … singing." Verse 3, "Know." Verse 4, "Enter His gates with thanksgiving…. Give thanks, bless His name."

They're all commands. This shouldn't surprise us as New Testament believers, we too are commanded with these sort of comprehensive sweeping commands to offer God our thanks. The most notable being 1 Thessalonians 5:18 which says, "In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." You want to know what God's will is for you? Give thanks to God. That's His will.

Now in the first stanza here of Psalm 100 we are commanded to express our thanksgiving in four specific ways. Notice these expressions.

The first expression is in verse 1, "Shout joyfully to the LORD all the earth." The Hebrew word that's translated "shout joyfully" is not a generic sort of word. It's a word that's often used in very specific circumstances. It's the word that was used of the welcome that a people gave to their king when he entered his capital and took possession of his throne. It is a royal greeting. "Shout joyfully." It means "Greet God as your King. Acknowledge Him as your King."

And notice Israel's God is no local deity. All the earth is called to recognize Him and to worship Him as their King. So, the first expression of our thanksgiving is simply to acknowledge God as our King; the one who provides everything that we need, who oversees us in every conceivable way. Shout joyfully to the LORD all the earth.

A second way that we express our thanksgiving is in verse 2. "Serve the LORD with gladness." Now, in the Old Testament this word serve can be used in a general sense or a more specific sense. In the general sense the word serve as in serve the LORD means to be committed to the LORD. In other words, don't serve yourself, don't serve some other God. Serve, be committed to, the true God. For example, Deuteronomy 10:12, "Now Israel what does the LORD your God require of you but to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul." Be committed to God.

And so, this word reminds us that God doesn't accept worship from those who don't demonstrate a commitment to Him. In other words, if you are not committed to the true God day in and day out, He's not like impressed that you showed up today. He doesn't accept worship from those who aren't committed to Him.

But this word "serve" in this context, the context of entering the temple courts, is a word that can also be used for a much more specific usage, and that is of worship. And I think that's probably best how to understand it here. Worship. Worship the LORD with gladness as you come into His presence, as you enter the temple as an Old Testament believer, worship the Lord. And notice the psalmist adds that our service, our worship, is to be carried out with gladness.

Now, that's a bit of surprise in this sense, isn't it? In other words, God is not happy with us when we are not happy with Him,. when we aren't glad about the privilege of worshipping Him. Is that the kind of heart that you've brought here this morning? Did you come eager to exalt your God, to worship Him with gladness? That's what He requires of us. This is how we express our thanks to Him. And by the way, God's very serious about this. Deuteronomy 28, one of the warnings to the nation of Israel, Deuteronomy 28:47 and 48 says,

Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy and

a glad heart, for the abundance of all the things; [He gave you]

therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the LORD will

send against you, in hunger, [and] [in]thirst, [and] [in] nakedness and in

the lack of all things;

God says it matters to Me, that you serve Me with gladness.

Now there's a third way that we are to express our thanksgiving in verse 2, and that is, we are to come before Him with joyful singing. Again, the picture is of the Old Testament believer entering the temple, entering the tabernacle or temple, and bringing his worship to God. And when he comes into that place that symbolizes the presence of God, he is to come to God with joyful singing. You understand that God created music? God created music, and He created it for His own glory.

Romans 11 says, "From Him and through Him and to Him are all things." Music exists to exalt God's glory. In fact, music existed before the creation of the world. In Job 38:7 we read about the angels singing for joy at the creation of the world. In addition, music will always exist as a channel for the praise and thanksgiving of God.

Read the book of Revelation, and you'll discover in several places that those gathered around the throne of God will bring and are bringing their thanksgiving to God in music. They sing. So, music is always an appropriate expression of thanksgiving. In fact, in the Old Testament there in Nehemiah 12:8 there was even a man and a group of people with him who were assigned one responsibility: to write hymns of thanksgiving. Can I just say, that singing is one of the ways we can express our praise and our thanksgiving to God? We are commanded to sing. And by the way we will sing as I said in God's presence forever. Singing is an eternal way of praising God.

I love the fact that our church sings. I love to sing with you even as we did together this morning. But I know some of you, who are newer to our church family, you don't maybe understand the importance of singing. Listen, this is commanded by God. It is one of the ways that throughout history and into eternity we will be in praise and thanksgiving to God. And God isn't just happy that you sing. He says I want you to come before me with joyful singing. I'm not going to ask for a show of hands of how many of you this morning as we sang, sang from joy over God and Who He is and what He's done.

In verse 3, there's a fourth way we are to express our thanksgiving. It's an unusual one. He says "know." Now the word "know" in this context doesn't mean to just have an intellectual awareness of something. It means to acknowledge or to confess certain things to be true. Here is another legitimate form or expression of thanksgiving. It is, "acknowledging" the truth about God. And that brings us to the second part of the first stanza, and the reasons for thanksgiving. You see what we know, what we acknowledge, takes us beyond the expressions of thanksgiving and introduces us to the reasons for our thanksgiving.

And in verse 3, those reasons are all about the greatness or the godness of God. Notice verse 3. "Know [confess, acknowledge]…. that the LORD Himself is God." There's so much in this statement, but let me just unpack it briefly for you. Notice, first of all, that the word LORD is in all capitals, as it is a couple of times in this Psalm. When the word LORD appears in all capital letters in our English Bible, the translators are tipping us off to the fact that this is not the normal Hebrew word for Lord. It's not Adonai. Instead, at that place in the Hebrew text, God's personal name occurs.

Whenever you come to the word LORD in all caps, that personal name theologians sometimes refer to as the "Sacred Tetragrammaton" tetra meaning "for" grammaton meaning "letters." The Holy four letters because God's personal name in Hebrew appears as four consonants four letters. Y-H-W-H. Y-H-W-H. It was probably pronounced something like "Yahweh." We can't be absolutely certain because in the original Hebrew text there were no vowels only consonants. But probably something like Yahweh.

You remember when we first really encountered the revelation of this name. It's in Exodus 3 when Moses says "Who shall I say is sending me when they ask me in Egypt? And God said, 'Say I AM has sent you.'" Say I AM. When God announced His name to Moses, He used the first person form of "to be." I AM. When we speak of God's name we say "Yahweh" which doesn't mean I am. It means "He is." Yahweh is "He is."

Now notice what the psalmist says here. He says "know." That is, I want you to acknowledge or confess that Yahweh is God. Verse 3 calls for an affirmation of monotheism, that there is only one God. And His name is not Allah. His name is the One Who is eternally revealed Himself as I AM. When God says, "I AM," what does He mean? When we say, "He is," what are we talking about. We mean that He is the One and only absolutely self-existent, self-sufficient One.

Think of it this way: there is no other being in the universe who doesn't depend on someone else for his or her existence. God is the only one who didn't depend on anyone else to come into existence because He didn't come into existence and who doesn't depend on anyone else for anything. God needs nothing. He needs nobody.

That's not true of you. That's not true of me. The very air we're breathing right now God provides. He keeps our hearts beating. We depend on him for everything as does every other creature.

But God is not like that. He simply IS. Matthew Henry points out that of this expression he says,

"Let us know then that concerning the Lord Jehovah…." [and by the way Jehovah is an anglicized version of Yahweh,] "… concerning the Lord Jehovah with whom we have to do with all the acts of worship the Lord He is God, the only living and true God. That He is a being infinitely perfect, self-existent and self-sufficient and the fountain of all being. He is God and not a man as we are. He is an eternal spirit incomprehensible and independent the first cause and the last end." [Henry goes on to say,] "The heathen worship the creature of their own fancy. Workmen make it; therefore, it is not God. We worship Him that made us and all the world. He is God and all other pretended deities are vanity and a lie."

God is simply the One who is. There is no greater way to pronounce the greatness of God of the "godness" of God than that. He depends on nobody. He needs nothing.

Now God most powerfully demonstrates His "godness" or His greatness in three great acts. And all of them are recorded in verse 3. Notice, first of all, creation. "It is He who made us and not we ourselves." We are to thank God for His creation including His creation of us. God owns us. He made us. He has, as Henry puts, it "an incontestable right to and property in us."

There's a second great act of God in verse 3, and that is His providential care. "We are His people and the sheep of His pasture." There's such a tender picture in that expression. It pictures God as a shepherd who not only owns the sheep but who has completely committed Himself to care for, tenderly care for, and provide, and protect those sheep. To give them everything they need. All of the ways that God providentially cares for us, in the same way that a shepherd cares for the sheep, should drive us to give thanks this Christmas. God does everything for you and for me that a shepherd does for his sheep. And you should be thankful, and I should be thankful.

But there's a third great act of God in verse 3, and that is redemption. And this is really the focus of verse 3. You see, although both creation and God's providential care of His sheep are implied in verse 3, listen carefully, neither of those first two is the main point of verse 3. What the psalmist is saying in verse 3, his main point is this: It is God Who made us to be His people. And not we ourselves. He's the one who made us His sheep. Perhaps the alternate reading "and we are His."

There is in these words a sense of shock, a sense of amazement. The psalmist is he's saying imagine this. We, of all people, are God's people. And this didn't happen because we did something. It's by His doing; He made us to be His people. The psalmist is rehearsing the reality that Israel is God's people because God made it so. This is really a profound statement of God's electing love.

It's like Isaiah writes in Isaiah 43:1 "Thus says the LORD, your Creator, Oh Jacob And He who formed you, O Israel. Do not fear for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine! That's what the psalmist is saying. You have been redeemed. You've been made God's people.

By the way, this isn't just talking about the physical descendants of Abraham. It's not just talking about Jews. Notice verse 1; it's all the earth. It's anyone who would come to the true God and acknowledge Him alone as God and as King. Same reality, by the way, is true for us as New Testament believers. We, too, are to thank God not only for creating us, not only for His ongoing providential care for us, but we are to also thank Him that by a sovereign act of His grace He chose us to be His people. He made us His people by an act of redemption. Turn over to 2 Thessalonians. This is exactly what Paul says to the Thessalonians. 2 Thessalonians 2. Notice verse 13,

    "But we shall always give thanks to God for you, brethren, 

    beloved by the Lord." .... [Paul says here's a cause 

    for thanksgiving] "because" [2 Thessalonians 2:13] 

    "because God has chosen you from the beginning 

    for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith 

    in the truth. It was for this [that] He called you through our 

    gospel, that you might gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." 

Paul says, listen, there was a day when you really heard the gospel. I mean when you really heard it. You heard the reality that you were created by God to bring Him glory, to obey Him. And yet, we, as fallen human beings, have rebelled against Him. We have lived in rebellion against Him, and our rebellion, and our sins deserved His justice and His wrath. We will spend all eternity separated from a holy God because of our rebellion.

We also heard in that good news, that is, the gospel, that God who is just and holy and righteous is also a God of love and grace. And He sent His Own Son to become like us, to become fully human, to take upon Himself humanity. And He lived for 33 years a life of absolute obedience to God, absolute perfection. And then He died on the cross suffering not only the wrath of men, but especially and primarily the wrath of God, as God treated Him on that cross as if He had committed the sins of all who would ever believe.

And then God raised Him from the dead. And Jesus announced to us that anyone who would repent of their sins and believe in Him and Him alone would have forgiveness. Be reconciled to God. You heard that. And that day you really heard it, and God was calling you through the gospel to Himself and you responded. And Paul says the reason for that should cause you to give thanks to God. It's because in eternity past He chose you for salvation, and you responded. Praise Him for His sovereign grace.

So, in thanksgiving, Psalm 100 tells us we are to declare God to be our King with joy. We are to worship Him with gladness. We are to come before Him with joyful singing. We are to affirm that Yahweh alone is God, and that He is great. Why? Because of His creation, His providential care, but mostly and especially because of His sovereign grace in redemption. He made us His people. Now the first stanza shouts then of the greatness of God.

But go back to Psalm 100, and I want you to see in the second stanza yet another reason that we ought to offer our thanksgiving. We ought to thank God because God is good. This is the message of verses 4 and 5. And again, the psalmist begins with the expressions of thanksgiving. And in verse 4 we learn of three more legitimate ways to express our thanksgiving to God.

First of all, in verse 4, "Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise." As the Old Testament worshiper entered into the temple, and as he approached the throne room of God, which is really what the Holy of Holies was, of course, you couldn't enter there. But if he came close to it, as he came into the court to which he was permitted to go, he was to come into God's presence overflowing with thanksgiving and praise.

This is how he was to approach God. In the very same way, you and I come before God's presence in prayer, and we must come giving thanks. Colossians 4:2, "Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving." [When you come before God in prayer, you come in a spirit and attitude of thanksgiving. By the way, there's also a wonderful invitation in verse 4. Notice everyone is invited to come before this King. All who are willing to bow before Him as King can enter His gates and enter His courts.]

There's a second way here to express our thanksgiving in verse 4. It's to give thanks to Him. This is a fascinating Hebrew word. It's never used of thanking a fellow human being. Only of thanking God. The basic meaning of the Hebrew word is "to confess." When it's used as it is here of confessing something about God or something that He's done, it's usually translated as it is here, "give thanks." This makes a really important point for us.

This week and as you wander around town, as you're at work in the first couple of days, as you interact with neighbors, unsaved family and friends, you'll hear a lot of people talk about "I'm thankful." I'm thankful. Understand it is not enough to feel thankful. To acknowledge that you've received things from some other source. That's not enough. That's not giving thanks. This word reminds us that giving thanks involves enumerating what you're grateful for and expressing thanks to God for it.

Let me ask you. When's the last time you've done that? When's the last time you sat down or you knelt or you went for a walk and you talked to God and you went through the specific things you're grateful for and you thanked Him? That's what this means. Give thanks to Him. Confess to Him the specifics of what you're grateful for. And by the way, there are a lot of things we do here on this planet that we won't do in heaven. Thanksgiving isn't one of them. We will still do this in heaven. There are a number of references in Revelation with the saints gathered around God's throne giving thanks. So, you might as well get practiced at it.

There's a third expression of our thanksgiving in verse 4, "Bless His Name." Bless His Name. A lot of people are uncomfortable with that expression. Sometimes you'll hear me pray and I'll say, "Lord, we bless You." And it surprises some people because when we think of "bless," we think of God blessing us. , That is of not only pronouncing good over us but then doing something about it. And of course, we can't do anything to improve God's situation. He doesn't need that.

That isn't what it means when we talk about blessing God. It means instead that we acknowledge certain things to be true, and we praise Him, and we give Him thanks for it. It really is a synonym for praise and thanksgiving. And notice it says "Bless His Name" that is, His character. Those things that are true about God. And that's exactly what the psalmist does. He's told us now how to give thanks in the second stanza, but notice again in verse 5 he tells us why. He gives us some additional reasons for thanksgiving. Here the psalmist adds three reasons for thanksgiving.

Number one verse 5, "For the Lord is good." The Lord is good. This is a common biblical reason to thank God. In Psalm 106:1, 107:1, 118:1, 136:1, and in numerous other places, we read something like this, "Oh give thanks to the Lord for He is …." He is "… good." He's good. Give thanks to Him because He's good. What does that mean?

Louis Berkhof explains that by the goodness of God we mean that perfection of God which prompts Him to deal bountifully and kindly with all of His creatures. In other words, there is something in the character of God, that permeates the character of God, that delights in being generous. God doesn't just give us barely what we need to squeak by on. Yes, there are lean times in every life, and God in His own purposes takes certain lives through extreme leanness. But when you look at the human race as a whole, you see the generosity of God.

Look around you here this morning. Consider what we have. God is generous. He's good. One writer says, "To speak of God as good is to affirm that the Lord is the source of all that makes life possible and worthwhile. It is an all-encompassing attribute that catches up everything positive that human beings receive in life." He's good.

Biblically, the goodness of God consists of one major idea: God is genuinely concerned about our well-being, and He acts to meet it. He's good. Ezra 822, "The hand of our God is favorably disposed to all those who seek Him, but His power and His anger are against all those who forsake Him." God doesn't have to be good to those who are His enemies, but He does show that goodness. He is good. Acts 14:17 Paul says, "… He did not leave Himself to these pagans without witness, in that He did good [and] … gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness."

Listen, this week your heart will be satisfied with food and gladness. That is a gift from a good God. It is a witness of His goodness, of His generosity. James 1:17, "Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow." [Everything good in your life comes to you from the hand of a good God. Give thanks to Him for He is good. And for that amazing goodness we owe God gratitude.] A. W. Pink writes,

"Gratitude is the return justly required from the objects of His beneficence. Yet it is often withheld from our great Benefactor simply because His goodness is so constant and so abundant. It is lightly esteemed because it is exercised toward us in the common course of events. It is not felt because we daily experience it." [We are to give God thanks because He is good.]

The second reason for our thanksgiving related to His character is also in verse 5, His loving kindness is everlasting. As I've noted for you before, there really is no single English word that captures the Hebrew word here translated "lovingkindness. But I think it can better be translated as "steadfast love" or perhaps "unfailing love." The psalmist says listen you ought to give thanks to God because He loves you and that love will never ever change. His steadfast love, that ought to be enough, is everlasting! It'll carry you through this life, and it will usher you into His very presence.

I love Psalm 23:6, surely God's goodness and His steadfast love will chase me down is the idea every day of my life. Every day you live here God's goodness and His steadfast love will hound like a hound dog. And it will take you into His presence forever. And we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. It's everlasting. Give Him thanks.

The third reason is also there at the end of verse 5, "… and His faithfulness to all generations."

Faithfulness is a rich Old Testament word. It has the basic idea of something that is steady. something that is firm. In other words, God is totally dependable. He is utterly reliable, especially in what He says. He's trustworthy. You can trust Him.

You know, as Christians, we talk a lot about you just need to trust the Lord. But we often fail to mention why. The psalmist doesn't fail to mention why. He says you ought to trust Him because He's faithful, He's trustworthy, He's worthy of your trust.

And notice His faithfulness extends to all generations. He will always be faithful to His Word and completely reliable to you. When you're done with this life, it is His faithfulness that will usher you into His presence. And even when you're in His presence, His faithfulness to you will continue with the generations that follow you here. Because it's to a thousand generations of those who love Him. What a God.

Now did you notice, as you look at the reasons for thanksgiving given us in this passage, that almost none of them have to do with our circumstances? I don't know where you find yourself today. Maybe you are as we are saying earlier, you are in the midst of one of those high times of life when really there are very few troubles, and everything seems to be going well, and you're just enjoying life. Give thanks. This Psalm is for you.

Maybe you're here this morning, and you find yourself in the midst of one of those deep dark valleys the psalmist talks about. Listen, it doesn't matter. This Psalm is for you because the things you're giving thanks for here don't change with our outer circumstances. God is still the same. You can celebrate and give thanks for who He is. If you have lived in Old Testament times, you would have offered a sacrifice of thanksgiving, a thank offering.

Here's how it would have worked. You would have chosen, depending on your wealth, an ox or a lamb or a goat. You would have taken that animal to the temple. There you would have laid your hands on its head, transferring your guilt to it, and then you would have taken the knife and slit its throat. Then the fatty portions of that animal, its entrails, would have been burned on the altar. But the peace offering was unique. It was the only one in which the worshiper ate some of the sacrificed animal. You would have cooked the rest of the animal in other words, and you would have eaten it that day in a fellowship meal with the priest.

But it wasn't just about you and the priest having a meal together. The real significance of that meal was that it was as if you were enjoying a meal with God as you celebrated His goodness to you. If you understand that thanksgiving takes on a whole new richness. Let your thanksgiving on Thursday be about more than family and food and football. Enjoy those. Those are good things that everything good comes from God. But don't let it just be about those things. Make it a sacrifice of thanksgiving a thank offering to God. How can you do that? Very quickly, let me suggest some practical ways from Psalm 100.

Number one, eat your thanksgiving meal with the same attitude as the Old Testament worshiper, as if you were having a meal with God. Sometimes in the past, my family and I, we have set an extra place at the table to remind ourselves that God is having a meal with us. It kind of creeped my girls out, but it's a good message. It's an important message. When we celebrate thanksgiving it's as if we're eating with God and thanking Him for His generosity to us.

Number two, rehearse to one another in conversation what you're thankful for. Often the psalmist will tell other people, let me tell you what God has done. Rehearse that. In our family, we'll go around the table and take turns again and again sharing what we're grateful for. From the trivial and every day temporal blessings of this life to the things that are true about God.

Number three, set aside time to sing together to and about God. Come before Him with joyful singing.

Number four, take time to pray and give thanks directly to God. Don't just say you're thankful. Thank God! Give God thanks.

Number five, make God the focus of your Thanksgiving. What He has done, His creation, His providential care, His sovereign grace in saving you, and who He is, His goodness, His steadfast love, His faithfulness. Here's the amazing thing about our thanksgiving. Listen to Psalm 69:30 - 31.

"I will praise the name of God with psalm and magnify Him with thanksgiving. And it will please the Lord better than an ox Or a young bull."

Listen, a truly thankful heart this Thanksgiving will please Him more than if you offer Him an animal sacrifice. And secondly, and this is amazing, our thanksgiving magnifies God. It points out His greatness. As believers, the primary focus of our thanksgiving ought to be exactly what the psalmist says here in verse 3. It ought to be the reality that God has made us His own. He's made us His people. By an act of sovereign grace we are His. That's why the writer of Hebrews says, Hebrews 13:15 "Though [Christ] … then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name." That is a heart of thanksgiving.

Let's pray together.

Our Father, we are truly thankful. We thank You for the richness of this Psalm, for the one who wrote it and who laid out for us under the inspiration of Your Spirit, such a wonderful pattern for our own thanksgiving. Lord, we thank You.

We thank You for what You've done and for who You are. Help us to use this pattern this week to truly express our thanks, and not just this week, but every week.

Father, I pray even for the Thanksgatherings tonight as so many from our church gather around the metroplex. Lord, may we follow this pattern in celebrating Your goodness and Your greatness.

Father, as we gather with our family and friends this week, don't let us be like the people around us who say they're thankful but never bother to give You thanks. Father, may we be a thankful people because we have so much from Your hand. We pray in Jesus name. Amen.