Summary: This is the final message in the Living in Thanksgiving series and it focuses on gratitude - that outward expression of our thanks.
This morning, we are continuing our series on living in thanksgiving - and lets begin again by reading this text - (read Psalm 100:1-5)
Over the last couple weeks we’ve been talking about how to become people who live with a thankful heart. We’ve talked about learning to delight ourselves in God and in the things of God, and then we looked at learning to serve with a grateful heart. If we live our lives in service to Him, then chances are we will be thankful people. Last week we talked about realizing and appreciating our Dependence on God - learning to depend more and more on him, rather than seeking independence and self sufficiency is very counter-cultural.
...so this morning we turn our attention to Psalm 100:4 and look at another key to living in thanksgiving - one we are going to call ‘Gratitude’.
Gratitude is basically the outward expression of al that is going on inside. As we have talked about if you want to be thankful it has to be nurtured - but it also has to be shown!
Psalm 100:4 speaks of showing our gratitude - “Enter his gates with thanksgiving, go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name.” The language is very descriptive - you can almost image huge gates - a large throne room - surrounded by courts full of people - at every step, the closer and closer you get you proclaim your Thanksgiving and praise...
But as I looked at this passage this week a few questions came to mind...
Do you think that God is approachable?
I think one of the reasons that we struggle with worship and praise and such is that we have a poor understanding of God. I meet people all the time with a very different view of God than I have... I believe that God is someone that I can draw close to. But there are many people who fear God. In their minds God is distant or unapproving - God is not someone that I can get close to.
I think a lot of times we fear God because we view ourselves as unworthy. God is not approachable because he is Holy. God is distant because I am a sinner. How could he really love me? Why would he want me in his presence? Gratitude is difficult when you feel as if you are not even worthy to speak.
There are two verses though that I hope might help. Both are favorites of mine. One is Romans 5:8. It says “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.”
The message says it this way...”But God put his love on the line for us by offering his Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to him.”
I love that verse because it reminds me that God loves me regardless of my condition. While we were still in our sin, Christ died for us... The other verse I would mention is a verse I’ve been looking at this week. Its found in James 4:8 “Come close (or draw close) to God and he will come close to you.”
For me, that verse reminds me of the prodigal son story. The rebellious son goes trudging home in defeat, expecting to find his father disappointed and demeaning. Instead though the story says the father sees his son a long way off and begins to run to greet him in celebration.
The second question that I thought of when I thought of gratitude and showing thanksgiving relates to posture. What is the posture of your worship?
Are your arms folded? Are you on your knees? Have you ever stopped to consider - what kind of posture am I giving to God? What does my body language show him of my inner feelings?
I’m sure you’ve heard and probably used the verse “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord” My mother used that verse a lot to excuse the fact that she couldn’t sing very well. Its true. God doesn’t care what you sound like - but listen to that verse again - he does care about one thing... “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord. He doesn’t care about quality, what matters is attitude. What always matters with God is what’s in your heart.
When I think of posture - I think of two things - open and closed. Am I open to wanting more of God? Am I inviting him to give me more? Have I opened myself up to him or have I shut myself off? Am I closed or open?
We’ve been talking about making worship, and praise and thanksgiving a way of life. In your daily life are you open or closed to God? Life has a way of shutting you of to God if you are not careful. You need to be conscious of trying to open yourself up... Take more walks. Slow down. Change your habits a little.