Summary: Thanksgiving Sermon based on Psalm 136.
11-26-13 Thanksgiving Sermon - Psalm 136
Issued by President George Washington, at the request of Congress, on October 3, 1789
Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and—Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me “to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:”
Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the 26th day of November next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation;
Give thanks. This was not only the command of George Washington for one day a year. It is the command of God for every day of the year. As we say in the liturgy of our worship, “It is truly good and right that we should at all times and in all places give you thanks.” Jesus often gave thanks. When He fed the four thousand with five loaves of bread and two fish, he first of all gave thanks. When He instituted the Lord’s Supper, He first of all gave thanks. Before He actually raised Lazarus, He publicly gave thanks to the Father for hearing His prayer. He wanted everyone to know why and how He did what He did. He wanted His Father to get the praise for His miracles. This is why Jesus told us to do our good works. Do them so that people praise your Father in heaven for what HE is doing through you. God likes it when we tell Him “Thank you,” just like when we enjoy hearing an occasional thanks from our children. He certainly deserves it.
You wouldn’t think it would be so hard to do. But we sure do make it seem that way. Think of the lepers in our Gospel lesson. Jesus told them to go and show themselves to the priests. Luke doesn’t say where 9 of them went after they were healed. Maybe they went to the priests as told. Maybe they went home. Either way, Jesus was upset that they didn’t have the decency to personally return to Him and say “thanks.” It’s a good time you came here to the house of God and say, “Thanks” to Jesus. We’re going to use Psalm 136 as our guide for today.
Give Thanks to the LORD
I. Just for who He is
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.
2 Give thanks to the God of gods. His love endures forever.
3 Give thanks to the Lord of lords: His love endures forever.
When we thank God it is always for something that He is giving us. When someone thanks you because of what you give them, it makes you wonder if they really are thankful for you or for what you give them. Would they like you and praise you if you had nothing to give them? The end of Habakkuk has a wonderful praise of God. It says,
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
The Psalmist tells us to praise and thank God for who He is. He is a good God. We have no choice and no control over who God is. He could have been cruel. He could have been like the Romans made their gods; petty and selfish. But the true God of gods is not that way. He is a good and giving God. He is praiseworthy for who He is, even if He were to give us nothing.
The amazing thing is that in America you can find the most unthankful people of all; even though God has given us so much. Go to the third world countries and you find people praising and thanking God in worship. You know their thanks on not based on their circumstances. They are not praising God for being their sugar daddy. They are praising God for who He is. This is what God wants from us. Pure praise and thanks; just for who He is.