Summary: The descendants of the Pilgrims would put 5 kernels of corn on an empty plate and each family member would pick up a kernel and tell what they were thankful for. This sermon examines “Five Kernels of Thanksgiving” that David shares in Ps. 103:1-5.

Five Kernels of Corn at Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving sermon

Chuck Sligh

November 19, 2017

Adapted from Five Kernels Of Corn, by Bruce Howell on

TEXT: Psalms 103:1-5 – “Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. 2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: 3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; 4 Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; 5 Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”


Illus. – Two men were walking through a field one day when they spotted an enraged bull. Instantly they darted toward the nearest fence. The furious bull followed in hot pursuit, and it was soon apparent they wouldn’t make it.

Terrifed, the one shouted to the other, “Put up a prayer, John. We’re in for it!”

John answered, “I can’t. I’ve never made a public prayer in my life.”

“But you must!” implored his companion. “The bull is catching up to us.”

“All right,” panted John, “I’ll say the only prayer I know, the one my father used to repeat at the table: ‘O Lord, for what we are about to receive, make us truly thankful.’”

As you know, this Thursday will be Thanksgiving, which tradition tells us began with the Pilgrims. The Pilgrim fathers who landed at Plymouth Rock over 300 years ago knew nothing of the prosperous times you and I enjoy today.

Illus. – The next time you’re tempted to complain about the economy and the cost of living, remember the following:

--During that first long winter at Plymouth Colony, seven times as many graves were made for the dead as homes for the living.

--The ship which was supposed to bring food and relief brought 35 more mouths to feed, but not an ounce of provisions.

And yet, William Brewster, one of the colony’s leaders, rising from a sparse Plymouth dinner consisting of a plate of clams and a glass of cold water, thanked God “for the abundance of the sea and the treasures hid in the sand.”

The Pilgrims didn’t have much, but they possessed a great gratitude, and it was upon this spirit of gratefulness, and these stalwart people—strong, devout and sincere—that America was built.

The descendants of the first Pilgrims had a custom of putting five kernels of corn upon each empty plate before a dinner of “thanksgiving” was served. Each member of the family would pick up a kernel and tell what they were thankful for. It was to remind them that the first Pilgrims were in such dire straits that their allowance was only five kernels of corn per person each day.

We have many reasons to be thankful. Let’s take the idea of five kernels of corn, and using Psalm 103:1-5 as a basis, consider five things to praise God for this Thanksgiving.

In verse 1, David says, “Bless the LORD, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.” In this verse, David called upon his body, mind, soul and spirit to join in one grand symphony of praise for the benefits God had so graciously bestowed upon him.

Let’s look at David’s five kernels of thankfulness in our text this morning.

I. FIRST IS THE KERNAL OF FORGIVENESS – Verse 3 – “Who forgiveth all thine iniquities…”

The word “iniquities” is a strong one. It doesn’t mean “mistakes.” God forgives our INIQUITIES—all our ingrained perversity, all the “bentness” towards self and selfishness and sin of our being and all the wicked actions and thoughts these lead us to do and think.

David sees the believer as a forgiven sinner. “He forgiveth all our iniquities.” Now, there’s an item for praise! One of the blessed truths of the Gospel is that when we’re saved, God forgives all the sin we HAVE EVER DONE and all of the sin WE WILL EVER DO.

How extensive is His forgiveness? In Psalms 103:12 David says that, “As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.”

Do you know how far that is?—That’s the length of infinity because if you travel north from a given point, sooner or later you’ll reach the North Pole, a definite end point; and if you continue traveling from that point, you’ll be going south until you reach the South Pole, another definite terminus.

But East and west are a different matter. You can start to travel east and there is no terminus—no end point. There is no East Pole or West Pole. So long as you continue going east or west, no matter how long you continue, you keep going in that direction. West extends for infinity and east extends for infinity in completely opposite directions. In other words, God removes our sin from Him to infinitude.

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