I invite you to open your Bibles to Psalm 9. If you don’t have your Bible, you can follow on with the one in the pew rack in front of you.
This morning, the topic of our sermon today is: “Whatever Happened to Thanks-giving?”
Several hundred years ago, after the pilgrims arrived in America, these pilgrims took some time to say, “thank you”. They said “thank you” to God for good crops and for even the fact that they were alive. The biggest part of the tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation has been that turkey dinner, with dressing and cranberry sauce. Somewhere along the line, they added the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade and football.
Then came Black Friday and now Black Friday has creeped into Early Deal Thursday.
Some have simply begun to call it “Turkey Day”.
But whatever happened to Thanks-giving?
We have become so busy and so focused on acquiring things and eating things that we have forgotten to make an intentional time of offering thanks to God.
What are your traditions for Thanksgiving?
We talk so much about not forgetting the reason for the Christmas Season, which as also been forgotten, but we have also forgotten the reason for Thanksgiving, which is to simply give thanks.
This morning as look at the first verse of Psalm 9, maybe we can all be a little more thankful this year.
The Bible says in Psalm 9:1
“I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” (Psalm 9:1 ESV)
Is that your prayer this morning? I prayer this morning that we will all have a revival of thanksgiving. And as we get into the particulars of this passage, let us begin with prayer.
The passage we are looking at this morning is a psalm of David
All of the psalms are important, but, for me, when I see a psalm of David—I immediately identify with him. I have read the story about the giant, I have read the stories about his battle with Saul, and I have read the stories about his leadership.
When I read a psalm of David I immediately picture David and his worship of God.
I see a man who walked with God. It has been said “David was a man after God’s own heart”.
And with all of his success; with all of his power; with all of his military expertise…David was thankful.
We see that David as thankful because:
First, He was intentional
David says, “I will thank you, Lord”. David makes up his mind that he will be thankful. He makes a promise to God that he will thank Him.
David makes an intentional effort to give thanks.
Is this uncommon? No.
All of us have heard the teaching of our parents tell us to say, “thank you” to those who give a gift, or make a complement.
Emily Post recognizes “Please” and “Thank You” as the two magic words, and she encourages parents to teach these to their children.
One of the accepted rituals and blessings after a wedding, or a graduation, is the writing of “thank you” notes to express the appreciation of the gift and the thought.
I love the paintings of Norman Rockwell. I love to see his paintings of Americans going about their business.
I remember one Rockwell painting that I believe many have seen. It was a picture of a restaurant, beside a busy street. The restaurant was full. The focal point of this busy restaurant was one particular table. On one end there were two men smoking cigarettes staring at the occupants on the other end of the table.
These men look as if they are hard workers, but they also look rough. There is a sense of emptiness in their hearts as look to the other end of the table and see an elderly lady.
She has her head bowed and her hands folded. Beside her is her grandson, nicely dressed. He too has his head bowed and his hands folded.
They are saying the blessing before they eat their meal.
We say this blessing as an opportunity to say “thank you” for our food.
The discipline of saying grace is not for the purpose of evangelism. Many times this is encouraged for this purpose. But we should not confuse the two.
We should not be out to show anybody anything through our prayers. We are not there to prove a point; we are there to thank the Lord.
But the discipline of saying grace is important because it is frequent and purposeful and can be habit forming.
But saying grace has to do with the attitude of the heart.
A thankful heart is truly grateful for the meal about to be received.
We must be intentional about our thanksgiving to God.
We must take the time.
We must make the effort; and
We must make the habit of thanking Him.
We must not take what we have for granted.
The Thanksgiving Season is a great opportunity to renew your commitment to being thankful, to look around at what you have and thank God who loves you enough to give it to you.
But as we are intentionally thankful, we need to remember David was also:
David says that he will thank the Lord “with all my heart”.
David is showing his passionate and genuine love for God.
David is not just satisfied with saying “thank you” or merely creating a habit of doing so.
David will thank the Lord will all of his heart.
Authenticity is something that we miss, in this day and age.
Everyone seems to be searching for it, but our society is caught up in fantasy.
Every year, many Americans spend an entire season anticipating “the Bachelor” pick his bride-to-be. It may be fun entertainment, but how more shallow can you get?
Television has its way of making everything believable at one point, yet unbelievable at another.
Often we hear of people committing crimes to be like something on television or on the movies.
The violence of television is spilling over into society.
Pornography has cheapened the relationship between a man and a woman to such a disgrace that love as become, in many ways, a quest for lust.
The TV dramas about love and family have been given twists and turns have legitimized the dysfunctional family—to the disgrace that we don’t call it dysfunctional anymore.
We have lost some of the ability to understand what authenticity looks like.
One of the skills that I wish for is to be an expert of is to take that time to write a good love letter to my wife. I was thinking about it this morning. She does so much for our family—just this morning she got all of the kids ready of church, got me ready for church—before getting herself ready, and made a dish to bring to our lunch today.
One of these days, I will produce a masterpiece of romantic literary art, but I’ve not produce it yet.
I did find, however, that you can go online to download prewritten love letters from the experts in the romantic tongues.
There are several different websites that for $35, you can download thousands of prewritten love letters—all you have to do is to input the names.
Do we do the same thing with God? We hear a good prayer—one that sound very religious and expressive, so we repeat it enough until we can recite it when it is time to give thanks, rather than finding in our hearts the thankful words to express to our God?
In Luke 17, the Bible tells a story of ten lepers that cried out to Jesus
“saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When Jesus saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed.  Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. (Luke 17:13b–16a, ESV)
This is the honest picture of authenticity. This is how we must approach God.
Have we lost our ability to be thankful? Too many times we are like this man’s companions, who did not return to Jesus.
And Jesus asked the question;
“Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?  Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:17b–18, ESV)
We get so caught up in the busyness of life and we neglect to look around at the blessings that we have in life.
We may thank God here and there—we may say grace at the table; But we must truly mean it.
We must approach Him, thanking him—with all of our hearts.
Pure and authentic.
We must be intentional and authentic when we give thanks to God. As David was, but Why?
David points to the fact that:
God is deserving.
David says, “I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.”.
And David saw the wonderful deeds:
He had victory over his enemies.
He was anointed King of Israel.
He was given opportunity after opportunity to excel.
Not to mention the riches that he was given.
David thanks God because he sees God as the root all of his blessings.
Each year, the Awards shows will grace the TV screens across the country. The Emmy Awards, the Grammies, more importantly the CMA Awards, the Espys and the Oscars all take center stage as we anticipate the winners of best actor, sports figure, or artist.
Occasionally, you will hear “I would like to thank God.” Typically, a quick comment—but it is there.
We should make God the pivotal person to give thanks for all that we do. We shouldn’t be trite or disrespectful—but have that understanding that God is truly deserving of our thanks for all that He has done for us.
From the dust he created us.
It is him that we have to thank for our every breath.
He has given us food, water, and shelter. He gives us our meals.
He has given us families that we can find love and comfort—that stand with us while we are a million miles away, so that people from another part of the world can be free—families that stand with us through PCS moves and separations.
And beyond that, God has protected us in times of danger. He has provided us victories so that we will be able to make a difference in the world and set the example of how to live as free people.
And He has given us Salvation. Through his son, who died for us, our debts were paid.
God deserves our gratitude.
Gratitude with all our hearts.
We should all say, “I will thank the Lord”.
So this morning, as we examine our hearts we ask “Whatever Happened to Thanks-giving?” And it is an important question to ask.
But, we also must ask—how do we begin to approach God intentionally and authentically.
One of the biggest ways, we give thanks to God is by responding to him. We respond to him by acknowledging our position before him and our dependence on him.
We are all fallen before Him. We are sinners. The Bible says that the payment of sin is death and by accepting his payment, of sending his son to die on a cross, in our place we can have this debt paid for and begin looking forward and being thankful an eternal life.
One of my guiding principles is from a portion of E.M. Bounds book “The Necessity of Prayer” he writes:
“The preacher is not sent to merely induce men to join the Church, nor merely to get them to do better. It is to get them to pray, to trust God, and to keep God ever before their eyes, that they may not sin against Him.”
(Bounds, E. M. (1999). The necessity of prayer. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.)
And part of getting people to pray, to trust, and to keep God before their eyes is to remind them to respond to God in thankfulness.
In thankfulness, we begin to truly see, what is being done and provide all around us by the loving grace of the Father.
This morning, you can do this you can take an opportunity to respond to Christ by accepting his payment for your sin and to begin a life of thank fullness before him.
I will stand here in the front. His is an opportunity for you to come. This may be the day you wish to surrender to Christ. You also may want a moment for prayer. This is God’s invitation to you. Whatever the need in your heart, you come.
Let us pray.
This sermon was preached at USASMA Memorial Chapel. Fort Bliss, TX on 26NOV17