Psalm 100 (NASB)
1 Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful singing.
3 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.
4 Enter His gates with [d]thanksgiving
And His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
5 For the Lord is good;
His loving kindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations.
Today is Thanksgiving Sunday, and I can think of no greater proclamation of thanks than the words of Psalm 100.
I want to take a few minutes, and open up a few lines of this powerful praise anthem.
Know that the Lord is God: it is He who has made us and we are his
Saint Augustine said this:
Men go abroad to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars: and they pass by themselves without wondering.
King David said this:
You created my inmost being: you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:13-14)
We are his people, the sheep of his pasture
Fifteen years ago yesterday, on October 11, 1999, a baby boy was born in Bosnia, the 6 billionths, human being on the earth. The United Nations Population Fund had estimated the world's population would reach six billion that day and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan who was in Bosnia at the time, said he would symbolically declare the first child born in the Bosnian capital after midnight local time, Baby Six Billion.
There were no political or any other reasons behind the decision, had the secretary-general been in New York, then it would have been a New York baby, but Annan was in Bosnia on a visit.
Fatima Nevic, a first time mother said, "I heard others talking about a six billionth baby but I found out from the doctors that it's mine. I still don't know what name he will have. Regardless of whether he's the six billionth baby or not, I'm a happy mother."
Interesting thought: I wonder what number you are, or I am? Regardless, God loves you relentlessly, and is a happy doting Father.
Today, exactly 15 years later, according to the world population clock, the earth’s population has reached 7, 266,000,000. That is a lot of sheep for God to tend.
And He tends them on a really big pasture. The exposed surface land area of this planet is 45 million square miles. In effect, each person has a piece of land covering just a bit more than ½ an acre at his or her disposal on which to grow all that he or she needs.
Give thanks to Him…
One of the sections of this really big pasture is the nation of India. I’ll never forget visiting there late one evening, the smell, the congestion, the sticky heat, the darkness
The next morning I went for a wall, and soon I was recognized as being a westerner, and little kids by the dozens and beggars started to surround me.
Then the lepers started to arrive,. In desperation, because they didn’t speak English, they would touch my face with the stumps that once were their hands. There were so many, and I felt so helpless to do much of anything.:far more helpless than Jesus was when he found himself in a similar situation, in Luke 17:11-19.
“Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!"
When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed.
One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" Then he said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well."
Now I have no doubt every one of these lepers was grateful beyond words for their healing. They had just been healed of the most hideous disease of their day--think Ebola today.
The issue here is that they didn’t take the time to say thanks to God. That’s wrong for so many reasons, but we must always remember that foremost, we are instructed in Hebrews 13:15, “Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.”
But lets be honest with ourselves for a moment, before we say “bad lepers”. When you have a serious problem and you are crying out for God, and then He provides you with a breakthrough, would you say you move on fairly quickly from that issue that was just dealt with? It’s interesting how we operate. I can say for me the amount of time I spend giving thanks, is disproportionate to the amount of time I spend asking for help.
So what I’d like to do this morning, is return thanks 9 times:
For the breath of life.
For the Trinity, each person, each office.
For the Cross.
For my wife.
For my kids, and my grandchildren.
For the privilege of my calling to ministry.
For this church, Church of Hope, Calgary.
For Pastor Kim and Calgary Central Full Gospel Church.
For the nation we call home, Canada.
There is something spiritually dynamic that happens when we express our gratitude to Jesus. Notice in the passage from Luke, that Jesus cleansed nine lepers, but only the one who returned to say thanks was made well.
Nine were declared clean, but only one was declared saved. Thanksgiving not only opens our lives to further blessings, but also glorifies and pleases the Father.our acknowledgment and honour of His goodness to us, makes us healthy, whole, and complete. It makes us well!
… and bless His name
Did you know that the nuance of the Hebrew word “bless” means to bleed. In other words: to give something of your life to another person. So when we say bless you, it carry’s a much deeper expression than to simply say have a good day.
It is not possible, within the literal meaning of the word, to bless someone without it being an act of sacrifice. When we truly bless, it will cost us something.
For the Lord is good: His loving kindness is everlasting And His faithfulness to all generations.
My family stands as living proof that His truth endures to all generations. Karen’s grandmother, Sarah Ball, was a preacher’s wife, and quite appropriately on Thanksgiving Sunday, I should tell you that she was a descendant of the Quakers.
30 years after the pilgrims left England for America, because of religious oppression, the Quakers followed them. As early as 1650, the Quakers were fundamentally involved in establishing the United States. William Penn, for instance was a Quaker. From his name we get the name of the state of Pennsylvania.
Grandma Ball took her place in a long historic line of unbroken devotion to Jesus. One of the great privileges of my life was the honor of officiating this great lady’s funeral.
I don’t have enough time today to appropriately honour her memory. But I will tell you this much: she took her tiny pension cheque each month and systematically gave it away to a number of ministry’s that will know of her sacrifice one day eternally.
I can tell you that she gave away much more than she kept. She loved and served Jesus faithfully until she drew her last breath at 96 years of age.
Grandma Ball had a long, unbroken line of service to Jesus. Now her great grand daughters, Ella, who is 6, Maicy who is 3, and Clara who is 14 days, continue to perpetuate her Christian legacy, and the faithfulness of Jesus endures.