Tuesday, November 20, 2012

EMMDEV 2012-11-20 [Thanksgiving Thoughts] Gratitude - start right

Hi everyone
I am taking a bit of leave today, but as this week is Thanksgiving in the USA and I have been challenging folk in the congregation to celebrate Thanksgiving in their own way, I wanted to interrupt the Proverbs series to write on gratitude. Bill Hybels contends that the holiday of Thanksgiving _institutionalizes_ gratitude.
I'm summing up the sermon I preached on Sunday (so I'm not working too hard on a leave day!)
Today's text is longer than usual, but worthwhile:
Praise awaits you, O God, in Zion;
to you our vows will be fulfilled.
2 O you who _hear prayer,_
to you all men will come.
3 When we were overwhelmed by sins,
you _forgave our transgressions._
4 Blessed are those _you choose_
and bring near to live in your courts!
We are filled with the _good things of your house,_
of your holy temple.

5 You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness,
O God our Savior,
the `hope` of all the ends of the *earth*
and of the farthest *seas*,
6 who _`formed` the *mountains* by your power,_
having armed yourself with strength,
7 who _`stilled` the roaring of the seas,_
the roaring of their waves,
`and` the turmoil of the *nations*.
8 Those living far away fear your wonders;
where morning dawns and evening fades
you call forth songs of joy.

9 You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it.
10 You drench its furrows and level its ridges;
you soften it with showers and bless its crops.
11 You crown the year with your bounty,
and your carts overflow with abundance.
12 The grasslands of the desert overflow;
the hills are clothed with gladness.
13 The meadows are covered with flocks
and the valleys are mantled with grain;
they shout for joy and sing. Psalms65:1-13

Selwyn Hughes makes this insightful statement: “One of the worst moments for an atheist is when he feels thankful for some special blessing but has no-one to thank”!

David does not make this mistake:
He is thankful for the rain that has fallen (see the end part of the Psalm) but he starts in the right place. He is not filled with an abstract sense of gratitude - He is THANKFUL TO GOD. He is thankful to the GIVER before he focuses on the gifts. (It's similar to the way we want our kids to read the card on the gifts before ripping off the wrapping.)

In the first stanza (1-4) David is thankful that God:
- hears prayers (i.e. steps into personal relationship with us)
- forgave our sins
- chooses us
- fills us with the good things (blessings) of His house.

In the second stanza (5-8) David realizes the scope of God's greatness extends throughout the earth, the sea and the mountains.

The third stanza (9-13) is about the rain that has fallen to nourish a dry land. His imagery is beautiful and evocative. It creates the impression of walking in freshly rained on fields (something he would have done as a shepherd.) It shows deep reflection on and appreciation of a gift many take for granted!

This week marks a time of focusing on Gratitude as an attitude.
But David gets our thinking straight - more than an attitude, it is a Relationship with God who is an awesome Giver.

Theo Groeneveld theo@emmanuel.org.za
You can see past EmmDevs at http://emmdev.blogspot.com/