1480 "Attitude of Gratitude" Psalm 103 Drawing Near CD4
We continue our series on prayer and we look at thanksgiving today. One of the aspects of our prayer life out to be a grateful heart, an attitude of gratitude. And so we're turning to Psalm 103 this morning to kind of take a look at David's heart of thanksgiving.
Why don't we pray before we start. Lord, we are grateful that we are in a comfortable room right now, a comfortable setting and we have the freedom to worship and to read this book, the Bible, a privilege that many across this world at this moment do not have. We are so blessed and we're so thankful. Help us Lord to return thanks often, not just before meals but as a way of life. For we ask it in Jesus' name. Amen.
Let me read to you what a businessman once wrote, a cynical businessman. He said, "People are ingrates, it took me sixty-one years to find that out. I have 175 employees, men and women. At Thanksgiving I sent them 175 choice turkeys, only four thanked me. Two thanked me by notes and two said thank you when they chanced to meet me in the hall. Because of their thanklessness I have decided to never go out of my way to be nice again. If you want to find gratitude, look for it in the dictionary." I'm glad that God is not like that. Though I can understand that tendency to become cynical because people often are ungrateful. But how often have we failed to give thanks and yet God has continually poured out his gracious blessings upon us. You know, of all the books I've ever read on prayer, I've noticed that not many of them include a chapter or a section on thanksgiving, ironically enough. It seems that the hardest arithmetic for us is counting our blessings. But David does in Psalm 103. In fact, David realized his need to be thankful and so he talks to himself about it, which by the way is something David is good at. There are a few psalms where David stops and talks to his soul. At one point he said, "Why are you disquieted within me O my soul." Now here he says, "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord O my soul and forget not all of his benefits who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindess and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagles." It is supposed that David wrote Psalm 103 during one of the darkest times of his life, if not one of the darkest times of the entire nation of Israel. It was at a point where he had the tendency to complain, to bemoan his circumstances. And so he stops, talks to his soul as if to say, "Hey, wake up in there. Bless the Lord. Let's count his benefits and let's return thanks because of it." It's the natural tendency of mankind to look at the black dot on the white sheet, right? Though there's more white in thes sheet, there's that little black dot, our attention is drawn to that black dot. We count the days that are overcast rather than the days of sunshine. What makes headline news? Disaster, crises. It's rare that somebody will come up on Nightline with some good news, so great thing that happened, some great humanitarian outreach. It's usually the catastrophes that make headline news and that's often our focus.
One of my favorite books, and actually one of the best books I've ever written on a loving God and a suffering world is by John Tal Murphy. And in the first chapter of the book, he wrote something I'd like to share with you this morning. He said, "It is ironic almost to the point of comedy that people should so focus on evil that they blindly overlook the immeasurable abundance of good, happiness and even pleasure carried on by this planet at every given point in time. Should we count the thorn without counting the stars? Do we forget that there is more peace than there is war? That there is more beauty then there is ugliness? Why should we focus on hate and miss seeing love? Or, hear the groans of grief but be deaf to the songs of joy? On any fair estimate, the sheer volume of beauty, pleasure, goodness, and happiness in the world would eclipse the very highest count of evil." David understood that and at a very low time he commands his soul to bless the Lord because he refused to be blinded by all the bad things.
We should evaluate our hearts as we go through this study today and ask ourselves the question: Does thanksgiving permeate my life? Or, does complaining and ingratitude and indifference mark it? I think a Christian should be marked by thanksgiving. And some of the benefits are listed here. First of all, verse 1, the response to God's benefits is that one word bless. "Bless the Lord, O my soul." The word bless is tantamount to thanking God. In fact, it could be defined as adoring God because of his goodness and returning thanks. If you have an Amplified Bible this morning it says, "Affectionately and gratefully praise the Lord" because praise and thanksgiving are often synonyms. Look back at Psalm 100 and notice verse 4. David says, "Enter into his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise. Be thankful to him and bless his name for the Lord is good." When the Jews would often open up in prayer to give thanks to God, they would use the word bless. They would say baruch ata adonai elhani, blessed art thou O Lord our God, because the word bless means to give thanks. And often as we read the book of Psalms there's this spontaneous eruption of praise and thanksgiving that comes from so many of them.
I was actually going through the Psalms this week trying to land on a good psalm that would give an overall balance to the theme of thanksgiving. I found that there's so many of them where there's that eruption of thanksgiving and praise for God's benefits. Bless the Lord, or render adoring thanksgiving unto the Lord; which was a part of God's people throughout history. In the Old Testament, one of the offerings that the children of Israel were to bring to the temple was the thank offering. In Kumran, down by the Dead Sea, the Essene (Ascene?) community developed what they called Thanksgiving psalms and they put all of the psalms in the scripture that spoke of thanking God in one section and on special feast days would render thanks unto the Lord. Then we come to the New Testament and we find that thanksgiving isn't just important for people back then but for Christians. It's hard to find a single letter of Paul the apostle, though there are a couple, that don't begin with thanksgiving. A couple examples: the book of Romans starts out, "First I thank God through Jesus Christ for all of you because your faith is reported all over the world." Then he writes to the Corinthians, "I always thank God for you because of his grace given to you in Christ Jesus." To the Philippians, "I thank my God every time I remember you." Now when was the last time you said that to your mate or to your child or to your friend, where you said, "I thank God for you. When I remember you, y heart if filled with thanksgiving and I just thank him for your presence, your love, your fellowship. Paul did.
We should probably at this point define thanksgiving because it's different from worship. Thanksgiving is a form of praise where I respond to God because of what he has done for me. Worship is where I respond to God for who he is to me, we'll get that at a later time. David is responding to God's benefits. Bless the Lord. He's responding to all the things that God has done. Thanksgiving, gratitude, is to mark the prayer life of a Christian. We're not to just rush into God's presence and say, "Look here I am, I've got a need, here's my list, take care of it." It says, "We're to enter his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise." And so Paul writes to the Philippians and he says, "Be anxious for nothing, in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God. And the peace of God which passes all understanding will be yours. It's to mark the prayer life of a Christian. More than that, it's to mark the lifestyle of a Christian. I think it should just be part of the attitude, "Oh thank you Lord," it should just come forth spontaneously from our life. Again, Paul wrote to the Christians, as a matter of life, "Whatever you do whether in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus giving thanks to God the Father through him." When do you give thanks? What is the time or the occasion that prompts you to say, "Oh Lord, thank you." Well, we could say, "Well before I eat." Right? We usually want to give thanks and return thanks before we eat a meal. But listen to what G. K. Chesterton once wrote, he said, "You say grace before meals, all right, I say grace before the concert. I say grace before the opera. I say grace before the play and the pantomime. And I say grace before I open a book. I say grace before sketching, before painting, before swimming, fencing, boxing." Isn't that great? Oh Lord, just bless this time, Whoosh! "I thank God and I give grace before walking, before playing, before dancing. And I say grace before I dip my pen into the ink. David needed to command his soul to thank God, because of the human tendency to not do so, to complain.
I'd like you to keep your finger here and turn with me to Luke, New Testament, Luke chapter 17, for just a moment because we will understand that thanksgiving does not come naturally, it needs to be cultivated. It needs to be cultivated. Luke chapter 17, verse 11 begins, now what happened is Jesus went to Jerusalem but he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. "And as he entered a certain village there met him ten men who were lepers who stood afar off. The lifted up their voices and they said, 'Jesus, master, have mercy on us.' So when he saw them, he said, 'God, show yourself to the priests.' So it was as they went they were cleansed. Now one of htem when he saw that he was healed returned and with a loud voice glorified God, fell down on his face at his feet giving him thanks. And he was a Samaritan. Jesus answered and said, "Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? Were there not any found who returned to give gloryto God except this foreigner?' And he said to him, 'Arise, go your way, your faith has made you well.'" This story is interesting on several accounts. Number one, there's nine Jews and one Samaritan, who are together. Ordinarily Jews do not hang out with Samaritans. Samaritans are unclean, they're halfbreeds. And Samaritans because of their spiritual pride wouldn't hang out with the Jews. But a common disease has brought them together. Isni't that often the case? Tragedy will bring people together. It's been said that adversity makes strange bedfellows. And here they are together, standing afar of because they have a disease the law required that they couldn't come near to a person. And when they saw people walking they would have to shout, "Unclean." In other words, "Back off, I'm contagious." And so they did, they cried out instead of approaching the Lord, verse 13, "They lifted up their voices and said, 'Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.'" Now I want you to notice that that is an earnest prayer, like many Christians pray. It was a prayer filled with the recognition of the authority of Jesus, "Jesus, master." And they recognized his mercy, "Have mercy on us." Again a prayer like many Christians would pray recognizing the authority of Jesus, praying in Jesus' name, recognizing God's mercy and God's love. But then we read that nine-tenths of them did not thank Jesus, again like many Christians. I wonder if the ratio, nine t one, has really changed all that much. I know that when we were putting prayer requests in the agape boxes, though we felt it was an honor to pray for the church, it was about that ratio, at least, nine to one prayer requests to praise reports, thanking God for what people had received. The point is is that these lepers were there for the handout but they were absent for the hands up. When they got healed, they just went, "Oh great, I guess I deserved it." And Jesus expressing pain said, "Where are the ten? Were there not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? And he noticed that this foreigner, this Samaritan, naot the Jews, not the people who should have given thanks but the Samaritan gave thanks. It is human nature to crave, desire, want, plead, beg; but not to give thanks.
Back in the 1800s right of Lake Michigan, well there was a ship The Lady Elgin, it sailed people across Lake Michigan. And during the storm it was floundering. People were being thrown off board, they were drowning. A student from Northwestern University, Edward Spencer swam and fought the waves sixteen times to save seventeen people. He finally collapsed in exhaustion. He never recovered totally. The reports say that he lived his life with ill health, broken health, the rest of his life because of that episode fighting the waves in the cold of Lake Michigan. When he died at age eighty-one in California, the obituary in the newspaper said that not one of those seventeen people that he rescued years before ever sought him out to give him thanks. Not one said thank you.
George Patton, one of America's greatest generals said that of his thirty-five years of military experience, he received only one letter from a soldier who was thanking him for his leadership and his protection. That's human nature. It starts when we're kids. What do you say to your child, I have to do it all the time when somebody blesses him, "Nathan, what do you say?" "Oh, thank you." It's not natural. It's not natural. In fact The New York Times published, they made note of this, several pages weeks before Christmas of letters to Santa Claus. "I want a new toy," "I want a new bear,"I want this." The New York Times also said they received one or two letters annually thanking Santa Claus for those gifts. Now we know Santa Claus didn't give them, the point being: the give me, the I want a was there, the thank you was not. Is this really important? Oh, you betcha, because the scripture says that the root of rebellion against God is the failure to render him thanks. Listen to what Paul said in Romans, "Although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God, nor were they thankful but they became futile in their thoughts and their foolish hearts were _________." There's a Chinese proverb that says, "When you drink from the stream, remember the spring." Returning to give God thanks. So David begins the Psalm with a commandment to his own soul. The response to God's benefits, thankfulness.
Let's go back to Psalm 103. The next thing we notice is the recollection of God's benefits. In verse 2 he says, "Bless the Lord O my soul and forget not all of his benefits, who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindess and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagles." Now keep in mind again that David is speaking to his own soul. He's talking to himself, he's saying, "Soul, wake up! Listen, bless the Lord, he's been good to you, he's forgiven your sins, he's healed you, he's blessed your mouth with good things, your strength and your youth is renewed." I personally think thatit is good to make inventory of God's blessings, to make a list. You will be amazed at how quickly you run out of paper. Last night I decided to take a walk and put this into practice, I was walking through the neighborhood and I was just thinking of all the things I had to thank God for. I barely had any time to ask him for things because more things just kept coming to mind. And by the time I got to my prayer, man it was like, "God, you're so good." So let's think back to God's benefits. In fact, did you know that the word think and thank have the same root? Because once you really think about you're going to thank God for an awful lot. Let's follow David's list. He says first of all, "who forgives all of your iniquities. " Consider the cross, consider that on the cross Jesus put out his arms and said, "Father forgive them, they don't know what they're doing." And then he finally said, "It is finished," or literally "paid in full." Their sins had been paid in full. When's the last time you just said, "God thank you that you died on the cross for me and I don't have to go to hell. I have redemption." A man sat in my office this week and I was telling him about Jesus Christ and he said, "You know, I've heard a lot of television evangelists say the same things. You know, "If you accept Jesus Christ, he'll give you this and he'll give you that and your life will be sweet." And I said, "No, no, no, no, no, I'm not saying that. Don't misunderstand me. I'm promising that if you give Jesus your heart, he'll forgive you of your sins and you won't go to hell." That's the most important benefit you have to thank God for, who forgives all of your iniquities. That's just not past tense, he still does it. WE still blow it, right? We still come before him and say, "Oh Lord, forgive me." And he graciously forgives all of your iniquities.
Look down at verse 8, he kind of recaps on that, "The Lord is merciful, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us nor will he keep his anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins nor punished us according to our iniquities. For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his mercy for those who fear him. As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear him." This is one of my favorites verses, "For he knows our frame and he remembers that we're but dust." We often forget that, don't we? We think, "I'm a rock." God looks at us and says, "Dust." And actually I take comfort in that, God doesn't expect the highest from me, he knows, what do you expect from dust? To blow around a little bit. It's kind of useless until somebody takes it and makes something out of it. God knows our frame, remembers that we're but dust and he forgives all of our sins, all of our iniquities. By the way, that word iniquities is a strong word. It does not mean mistakes because God doesn't forgive mistakes, he forgives sins. Sins, iniquities, transgressions, he forgives all of your iniquities.
It is great for me to know that I have an advocate, right now, this morning, in the court of heaven. And I have an accuser on the other hand, just like you do, and you know what it's like to have Satan accuse you, don't you? Well, he does it before God the scripture says day and night. He might loook over this crowd and say, "Okay God, see that girl back there? She yells at her husband. And see that guy over there? He beats his kids, he has lustful thoughts. But if they're brought before the cross of Jesus Christ, the Father can say, "Forgiven." Each time, "Forgiven." We have an advocate who forgives all of your sins. When was the last time you just thanked God for that? Actually I think that almost every episode of prayer should begin, "Lord I thank you that I can even pray to you right now because Jesus died on the cross for me to allow this to happen." I can empathize with the man who said, "I want only one word on my tombstone: forgiven." One man stood up and he said, "Jesus Christ has forgiven all my sins and he's never going to hear the end of it." I like that, I'm going to make sure I thank him for all of eternity for what he has done for me, he's never going to hear the end of it.
Next on the list, he heals all of your diseases. We take for granted our health, until we lose it, until we're missing some function or some part and we go, "Oh, I took it for granted." He heals all of your diseases. Do you thank god for your health? Lord, thank you for my hands, my eyes, thank you for my legs to walk, even slowing down a bit perhaps, Lord I thank you that I still have them. One commentator, actually many believe that this is not a reference to physical healing but spiritual because the context is that David is looking at his soul, his inward man. He's saying, "Soul, wake up. Bless the Lord, think of all that he's done for you, soul. He's forgiven your sins, he's healed your diseases." And we know that the soul can have ailments too: discouragement, depression, doubt, fear and anxiety. And the Lord can heal all of those diseases. This verse has special application to my friend in San Diego, Mike MacIntosh. Before God touched him, he believed for two years that he had half of a brain, half of a head. He believed that his head was shot off and he was afraid for two years to look in the mirror for fear of what he might find out when he looks. And he came to the Lord one night and he told the problem that he's had because of the drugs and the psychological problems. And we said, "Well let's pray for you Mike, we think God can heal you too." And God took this guy from a stuttering maniac who thought half of his head was shot off to a dynamic evangelist and a pastor. He heals all your diseases.
Next on the list, who redeems your life from destruction. Let me give you another translation that I like. "He redeems your life from going to waste." Hey listen, you were in the pawn shop before God got a hold of you. And there were no bidders. And God saw that broken life and he said, "It's going to waste, I'm going to redeem him from destruction." Listen to another translation, "He preserves your life from the grave." I think the idea that David has is that in this life God preserves you and keeps you and how many times has God saved your hide? Can you look back and you think, "Oh, you know that car pulled out, I didn't see it, I could've been killed." Did you thank the Lord for it? You know, the way some of you drive, this should be an important verse. God dispatching his angels to protect you. I can imagine, when I get out on the road, God says, "Oh double up on the angels, Heitzig's driving." When I was thirteen years old, my parents were driving across Nevada and a man came across the other lane, he was total inebriated and he fell asleep at the wheel and hit us head-on. He was instantly decapitated. My mother was in the hospital for two months, they thought she was dead, my dad was also in the hospital. I came out with a bloody nose, not one broken bone, God preserved my life. And I thank God for that. I often look back to that actually, and think, "you know God preserved me. Why?" Because he had something for me to do. You know I think that each one of you are invincible until God's finished with you, that no one can take your life from you until God is finished with you, doing what he wants to do in and through your life. Hey, and then when he's done, who wants to hang around anyway? When I've done what God has called me to do, he let's go for it. But until then, he redeems your life from destruction.
Let's go on and read the next part, "He crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies." God is so tender, he's so gracious. Even when we goof up he doesn't forsake us, he's tender, he's merciful. Thank the Lord for those times, thank him for his company, thank him for his blessings. Did you just get a new job? He got it for you. How about a raise? That was God. That successful surgery? You have him to thank for it. Now you might say, "Well I've been praying for a job for months, I haven't got one." Hey you bless the Lord too, you're still alive aren't you? He's still on the throne, isn't he?
Let's notice the next phrase. He satisfies your mouth with good things. Now we all know what it's like to thank the Lord for our food, right? "Lord, thank you for this meal. In Jesus' name." Did you know that the Jews would pray after their meal because of verses like this? Once they were satisfied with good things, their belly was full, they would bless the Lord who gave them things to satisfy them, to acknowledge God.
There was once a woman, a slave woman in the South, and she prayed before her meal, she said, "Much obliged Lord for these vittles." A little boy was watching her and said, "You know, you can eat your vittles regardless if you thank God or not." She said, "That's true son, but it makes everything taste better to be thankful." He satisfies your mouth with good things. How about it? Next time you bite into something and it's, "Wow, that's good, thank you Lord." "So that," verse 5, "Your youth is renewed like the eagle's." I think the whole point of this Psalm, that David is responding to God's benefits in thanksgiving, he enumerates those because he is showing that life is absolutely and totally dependent upon God, every single thing that you do is dependent upon God. And the appropriate response to that is an attitude of thankfulness. Not an attitude of ingratitude, but one of gratitude.
Back East, in a Methodist church, a little kid said, "Lord, I thank you for my mommy, I thank you for my daddy, thank you for my brother, thank you for my sister, help my dog, help my cat. And Lord, please take care of yourself because without you we're sunk." I love that prayer, he saw htat he was totally dependent on God. "Hey, without God, we're sunk." Totally dependent.
He recalls his benefits, in verse 6 he goes on, "The Lord executes righteousness, justice for all those who are oppressed. We read the verse 8, look at verse 15, "As for man his days are like grass, as a flower of the field he flourishes for the wind passes over it and it is gone, in its place remembers it no more. But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him and his righteousness to children's children, to such as keep his covenant and those who remember his commandments to do them." When a person recalls God's benefits, it indicates something about that person. Thanksgiving is an indication of the heart just like ingratitude and complaining is an indication of the heart. When a person complains, it indicates that he doesn't believe God is good. When a person thanks God, it indicates that he believes in his heart God is good, that the will of his Father is perfect, that father knows best. In Psalm 118 David said, "Give thanks to the Lord for he is good." I might ask, has God been good to you? I can answer that myself, God's good to everyone. Oh, but are there bad things that happen to you? Yes. When those bad things happen, does that mean God isn't good to you any more? You feel that way, right? When Job suffered the loss of his family, all of his possessions and he was sick and scratching himself with a piece of pottery. His wife gave him that wonderful encouragement, "Curse God and die." What was Job's response? He said, "Shall we accept good from the Lord and shall we not accept adversity?" Is this only a one-sided deal that I say, "Oh God, thank you for all the good things. Shall we not accept adversity from the Lord?" It said, "In all this Job did not sin with his mouth. He said, 'The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed (again there's the word, the heart of thanksgiving) blessed be the name of the Lord." Now that doesn't mean that everything in life is directly from God but he certainly does peruse it and he allows it come in our lives. But the scripture says, "All things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to his purpose." And when I say, "God, thank you," it indicates that my heart believes that God is good.
You see, thanksgiving is based upon the belief that God is painting a picture of my life and it's going to turn out okay. Even though right now the picture looks a little fuzzy, there's a blob of green here and a little blob of orange here and the figures aren't quite painted in. And we look at that and think, "What a mess." But in the mind of the artist he knows the finished product and when I thank the Lord in the midst of the blob, it indicates that I believe the artist is good and he's going to make things out for my good and for his glory.
Also, when I give thanks it shows that I live a life of balance, it keeps me from self pity. We often come before the Lord very narrow-minded, right? "God, I have a few things to tell you. Here they are. I need..., I want..." But thanksgiving balances out our life, in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, enter into his courts with thanksgiving. Don't rush into his courts with a list, "God I've got to go, got a lunch, got a fax here. Take this, do it for me, see you later." No you enter into his gates with thanksgiving it will keep you on balance. It'll balance out your life.
You know, last night as I was walking the neighborhood and I was thinking of all the things to thank God for, by the time I got to my requests, I had such faith that God would answer it, because I was just going over God's track record, thanking God for all the things he has done and given. By the time I got to these requests, I just thought, "Well, it's pretty consistent with your character, isn't it, that you're going to take care of these as well." It brings us balance.
Now I'd like you to look down at the end of Psalm 103, where David concludes by giving us the range of gratitude for God's benefits. The response to God's benefits, bless the Lord. The recollection: he forgives you, he heals you, on and on and on. Now look at the range in vesre 20, "Bless the Lord, you his angels, who excel in strength, who do his word, heeding the voice of his word, bless the Lord all you his hosts, you ministers of his who do his pleasure. Bless the Lord all his works, in all places of his dominion, bless the Lord oh my soul." David covers the range of creation. It's as if he's standing out there saying, "Angels listen up, thank the Lord, praise the Lord, bless the Lord." All of you ministers bless the Lord, all of the works and creation of God's dominion bless the Lord, and let my soul also bless the Lord. I'll join in your voice." Psalm 103 verse 22, another translation says, "Bless him all creatures of his in every corner of his dominion." David's point is this: thanksgiving should go on by all of God's created beings all of the time. All of the time. "In everything give thanks," Paul said, "For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." "In everything give thanks. All of the time." There are two levels of gratitude. Let's call one lower level, the second one upper level. Unfortunately and I admit I am in this category, we kind of dwell in the lower level. The lower level of gratitude is where we see God's work in our lives as intermittent spurts of goodness. Some big blessing comes along and we go, "Whoa, man I've been praying for that raise for a long time. Thank you, Lord." But living on that level of gratitude only shows that we are selfish and that we miss the total perspective of God's goodness. We'll only thank him for those pleasurable comfortable things, we won't thank him for all of, even the bad things that happen, because our view of goodness is comfort rather than becoming like Jesus. Now the upper level, the higher level, is a consistent thanking God, in good and in bad, believing that all things will work out together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose. I admit, I have a long ways to go, I often complain, I often wonder. Instead of saying, "Look, you're in control and I thank you for what you're doing, even though I don't understand it.
Corrie Ten Boom who was in a concentration camp in World War II for housing Jewish people when the Nazis were taking over, she went to Rabrinsbruck and in her book the Hiding Place, she said she went into the barracks and they were horrible, horrible barracks. The beds were wasted, there were holes in the windows so t6here was cold and there were fleas in the bedding. Corrie's sister said, "Let's go point by point over the room and thank God for every provision he's given us, that he's given us beds, that he's given us at least a place to lay our head." So they went through thanking God for everything in the concentration camp. Corrie ten Boom, said, "I won't thank God for the fleas. I refuse to thank God for these fleas, they're an annoyance." Months later she found out that the reason the soldiers refused to come in the barracks which allowed them to have daily prayer and Bible study is because of the fleas. And at the end of that she said, "God, thank you for the fleas."
A consistent outpouring of thanksgiving, that higher level is like an evergreen. You know, it's funny, evergreens don't lose their leaves, do they? They're green in the summer, they're green in the winter, if there's snow, if it's a hundred and five degrees, they're green. A Christian can live like an evergreen, the heat of problems, the cold situations of departure, death, disease, still shining for the Lord.
I'd like to read you what Matthew Henry, one of my favorite commentators as I was a young Christian, wrote the night he was robbed. He said, "Lord, I thank you, first of all because I was never robbed before. Secondly, because although they took my purse they didn't take my life. Third Lord, thank you because although they took my everything, it wasn't very much. And fourth, because it was I who was robbed not I who robbed."
Bless the Lord, oh my soul and forget not all of his benefits. You won't be able to remember all of his benefits but don't forget them all either. Count them, enumerate them, I challenge you to go home and make a list. You'll be there a while. May God give us the attitude of gratitude.
Next month we celebrate a special festival, what do we call it? Thanksgiving. It's a great holiday. Did you know that the months and years before Thanksgiving was inaugurated that the Pilgrims made seven times more graves to bury the dead than homes to house the living. They buried more people, more people died than remained. And yet William Bradford, the first governor, the first government official of the land gathered the survivors together. In the year 1623 this is what he said, "Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, beans, squashes and garden vegetables, he has made the forests abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, inasmuch as he has protected us form the ravages of the savages and spared us from pestilence and disease, he has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our conscience. Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that ye pilgrims with your wives and little ones do gather at the meeting house on the hill between the hours of nine and twelve in the daytime, on Thursday, November 29th in the year of our Lord 1623, the third year since ye pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock, and there go to listen to your pastor and to render thanksgiving to your almighty God for all of his blessings." Goodness, that's a government official saying that. But Thanksgiving is never to be confined to a day, it's to be an attitude of the Christian.
Father, with a heart of thanksgiving we've touched on just a few blessings this morning. The principal one being that you forgive all iniquities and you separate our sins from us as far as the east is from the west. Lord I pray that you might change from those of us who see the black dot, the cloudy days, that we would live seeing y our goodness and not complain because we don't' have more but thank you for what we have, having an attitude of gratitude, that that would be a mark not only of our prayer life but of our life in general. For we ask it in the precious name of Jesus Christ. Amen.