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Summary: A look at behaviors that show we're living lives of thanksgiving.

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SPECIAL DAY: THANKSGIVING

“A HYMN FOR HIM”

PSALM 100

OPEN

An atheist was walking through the woods, admiring all the “accidents” that evolution had produced. He was awed by the majestic trees, the powerful river, and beauty of the woodland animals.

As he was walking alongside the river, he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. He turned to look and saw a huge grizzly bear charging towards him. He ran away as fast as he could go.

He turned to look over his shoulder and saw that the grizzly was closing the distance. Somehow, he summoned some more speed. The fear was driving him onward – tears running down his cheeks, heart pounding in his chest.

The atheist turned and looked again. The bear was almost upon him. He tried to go faster but tripped and fell to the ground. He rolled over to pick himself up but the bear was right over him. The bear’s left paw touched his chest and held him to the ground. The bear’s right paw was raised for the strike. At that instant, the atheist cried out, “My God, help me!!”

Time stopped. The bear froze. The forest was silent. Even the river stopped moving. A bright light shone down on the man and a voice from the sky said, “You deny my existence for all these years, tell other people that I don’t exist, and even credit this beautiful creation to a cosmic accident. Do you expect me to help you out of this predicament? Do you now expect me to count you as a believer?”

The atheist looked directly up into the light and said, “I would feel like a hypocrite to become a Christian after all these years, but perhaps you could make the bear a Christian?” The voice said, “Very well.”

The light disappeared. The river started to run. The sounds of the forest resumed. The bear dropped his right paw, pulled the left paw back from the atheist’s chest, and brought both paws together. The bear bowed its head and said, “Lord, for this food which I am about to receive, I am truly thankful.”

Ps. 100:1-5 – “Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth. Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”

Our text this morning was written as a song of praise and worship. It was used by the children of God in the Old Testament to express their joyful thanksgiving for having such a wonderful and loving God to serve.

The 100th Psalm was written for the people of Israel. God said to them: “When you come into the Promised Land and settle down in your warm homes, and you have plenty to eat – don’t forget about Me. I led you out of slavery and out of the wilderness and I brought you into a land flowing with milk and honey.” But it didn’t take very long for the people of Israel to need a reminder. And I’m afraid that we need some reminding, as well.

God also had us in mind when this psalm was written. It’s addressed to “all the earth” and the last verse says that it includes “all generations.” The message of thanksgiving is so deep and wide that it applies to every person in every period of time and in every stage of life.

Col. 3:17 – “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” 1 Thess. 5:18 tells us that we are to “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

I’m sure you have been told for many years – by faithful preachers of the gospel – that thanksgiving is not just a yearly event. For those of us who know God through His Son Jesus Christ, thanksgiving is supposed to be an everyday, all-the-time event. In the 100th Psalm, we are told that there are some behaviors that show that we are living lives of thanksgiving.

DECLARE LOUDLY

The phrase “shout for joy” means to “shout with the force of a trumpet blast.” It’s a reference to a “noise that splits the ear.”

In today's politically correct environment where you have to be so careful to keep from offending anyone, we might all have to talk like this fourth grader who reported on the origins of the Thanksgiving holiday to his class. He said, “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.”

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