Summary: As we count the blessings our Lord has given us we are moved to thank him every single day.
O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good His mercy endures forever! How many times have you uttered those words? If you’re like me you find yourself speaking those phrases right around mealtime. Unfortunately there are times that I’ve caught myself ripping through those words, not thinking about what I’m saying – but thinking about what I’ll soon be eating. I’m embarrassed to say that those words have at times become somewhat routine. It’s almost like I treat them as some sort of ritual incantation that I must recite before I eat. I suppose there have even been times that I’ve treated those words like they are my verbal sacrifice offered to God just to keep him happy so that he won’t cut me off from his supply line.
If those words should ever cease to become an expression of my heart and only a mechanical moving of my lips I would be better off not to have said them at all. Should I ever think that God can be manipulated by saying just the right words or that he is like a puppy dog who is satisfied with a few words of attention and appreciation from time to time – if that would ever be the case then it would be apparent that I really don’t know the true God at all and my spiritual-self confidence would actually be securing my eternal demise.
That would be unfortunate. Why? Because such outward actions reflect the inner attitude of a heart that isn’t truly thankful at all. Listen to the Lord’s own evaluation of such a situation as he speaks through the prophet Isaiah: “The Lord says: ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men’” (Isaiah 29:13).
Now listen again to the words of the Apostle Paul in the text for this morning: “ Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:4-7). Can you sense the difference? Did you feel the intensity of what Paul says in the way he says it? Paul’s thankfulness does not consist in words that he regurgitates on command! These are words that come gushing up from his heart and overflowing off of his lips. With these words Paul expresses true thanksgiving!
So that our worship and thankfulness at this time of national thanksgiving will truly honor and glorify our God we pause this morning to meditate upon the words of God expressed by the Apostle Paul first to the people of Christ’s Church at Philippi and now today to the people of Christ’s Church in Irmo. With a joy-filled heart the Apostle urges all Christians: Give Thanks to the Lord Always! Give him thanks always 1) because he gives us every reason to thank him. Give him thanks always 2) because he gives us endless opportunities to thank him.