Summary: Thanksgiving always brings a variety of personal "thank-you's" to God, but how in the world would sinners ever be able to "bless the Lord".
Thanking God for a Grace-Infused Life
Prelude: “Perfect Wisdom of Our God”, by Getty Music
Proclamation: Good traditions do not always promote traditionalism. Some are very important to honor. President George Washington stated in his Proclamation of October 17, 1789, “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 so we continue to honor a Day of Thanksgiving and Praise to the one and only true God for His grace and favor to us throughout the year.
Several times in US history, leaders have called for a day of fasting and repentance to God, NOT a day of Thanksgiving. President Abraham Lincoln stated in his Proclamation of April 24, 1863, a day of national humble repentance, fasting and prayer, “It is the duty of all Nations as well to recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history that those nations are blessed whose God is The Lord (Psalm 33:12)…But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand, which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined in the deceitfulness of our hearts that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace-to-proud to pray to the God that made us…”
Prepare to Give Thanks: “Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! 2 Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! 3 Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice!” Ps. 105
PRAYER: We Praise your goodness, O Lord! We give thanks to you, O Lord, for Your mercy endures forever. Remember us, O Lord, with the favor You have shown toward Your people; Thank you for visiting us with Your salvation, who IS the Lord Jesus. Help us to more clearly see the benefits of being Children of the most High God, so that we would rejoice in the gladness of belonging to you, that we would glory IN YOUR PROMISES to us in Christ. We have sinned with our fathers, We have committed iniquity, We have done wickedly… “Save us, O LORD, our God, and gather us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your Holy Name and glory in your praise.” Thank you for the cleansing and forgiveness which you have supplied in fullness through our Savior, the Lord Jesus, in whose name we worship. Amen.
Songs: Bless the Lord, O My Soul, Blessed Assurance
#1. Psalm 103:1-2: “Bless (or Praise) the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! (Not just Yahweh or LORD, but bless Him for EVERYTHING THAT HE IS! 2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits.” (His “Benefits” are the FRUIT of God given to you, out of His Heart of Mercy)
David is writing this and the first verse is a command to his soul (the very center of your being) to BLESS the Lord. The only way that a human could “bless” the LORD God Almighty is to recognize first of all what the LORD has given, because generally, blessing can only be transmitted from the greater to the lesser, and God is infinitely greater than man. The root word for “bless” (barak) means “to kneel” and although that aspect of this word is only used 3 times in the Bible, KNEELING before God is really a prerequisite to understand how one’s sinful soul could ever “bless” the LORD. (The word is translated “bless or praise” 302 times.) In order to “bless” or “praise” God you have to humbly BOW BEFORE HIM in humility.
Some of the early leaders of our country understood this; James Madison wrote this in 1815: “To the same Divine Author of Every Good and Perfect Gift we are indebted for all those privileges and advantages, religious as well as civil, which are so richly enjoyed in this favored land. It is for blessings such as these, and more especially for the restoration of the blessing of peace, that I now recommend that …the people of every religious denomination may in their solemn assembles unite their hearts and their voices in a freewill offering to their Heavenly Benefactor of their homage of thanksgiving and of their songs of praise.” God’s desire is for you and I to BLESS and PRAISE Him who is the Giver of all Good and Perfect things.
This proclamation also was made by God often times in the Old Testament, but you can’t bless or praise the LORD unless you have a heart that actually loves and honors God for who He is! In fact, In HUMILITY before the Mighty God is how mankind should live their lives. In April of this year, Governor Terry Branstad signed a proclamation declaring July 14, 2014 as a day of prayer, fasting, and repentance in the state of Iowa. Christians in Australia are calling for a month of national prayer and fasting from Feb-March 2015.