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Pastor Stephen Muncherian
November 19, 2000

I’d like to begin this morning by reading something a friend emailed me. Its entitled, “The Other Side Of The Coin” and it has a lot to say about thanksgiving. It goes like this:

I’m thankful for…

For the taxes that I pay, because it means that I’m employed.

For a lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning, and gutters that need fixing, because it means that I have a home.

For the parking spot I find at the far end of the parking lot, because it means that I’m capable of walking and that I have been blessed with transportation.

For the teenager who is not doing dishes but is watching TV, because that means he is at home and not on the streets.

For the clothes that fit a little too snug, because it means I have enough to eat.

For the pile of laundry and ironing, because it means I have clothes to wear.

For all the complaining I hear about the government, because it means that we have freedom of speech.

For the lady behind me in church who sings off key, because it means that I can hear.

And finally….

For the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours, because it means that I’m alive.

We have so much to be thankful for. Amen?

What does it mean for us to give thanks to God? I invite you to turn with me to 1 Chronicles 16:34 - as we want to consider this question: What does it mean for us to give thanks to God?

In 1 Chronicles 16 - there’s a thanksgiving celebration going on. About 3,000 years ago the Hebrew people - under King David - after generations of struggle - the Hebrew people have come together to celebrate a tremendous victory and their freedom from the oppression of the Philistines. God’s promises have been fulfilled. And there is a tremendous celebration of thanksgiving.

Outside of Jerusalem - David is leading a parade - a victory procession - and the Ark of the Covenant - the visible sign of God’s promises - His covenant with Israel - the Ark of the Covenant is being brought into Jerusalem. All the clergy are there. There are cymbal players - a choir - tambourine players - harps - zithers - trumpets - dignitaries - David is decked out in ceremonial clothes - and following all this are the Hebrew people - all processing into Jerusalem.

On that day - the people sang a song - which is what we have recorded here in 1 Chronicles 16:8-36. The theme of this song is remembering God’s wonderful deeds - His fulfillment of His promises - and to give thanks to God.

Verse 34 is a key verse. It summarizes the main ideas in the song. 1 Chronicles 16:34 says this: “O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting.”

Give thanks to the Lord - why? Two reasons: First, because “He is good.”

God - with all His wealth - the resources of creation and beyond - doesn’t just write out a check for $50 and say, “Here, this ought to take care of it.”

God is not a tight wad. God makes available to us the key to His safe deposit box - His annuities - His CD’s - all His bank accounts - His real estate holdings - everything. And He says, “I will supply all your needs out of My riches.” (Philippians 4:19)

“Goodness” is a part of God’s nature/essence. God is good and we are the beneficiaries of His goodness. We see this in how God continually cares for our needs - all our needs - no matter how great - how small - how deep - how difficult - even our salvation and relationship with Him. He’s there - always.

Give thanks to the Lord - second, because “His lovingkindness is everlasting.”

A while back I read about a medieval monk who announced he would be preaching the next Sunday evening on “The Love of God.” The following Sunday night, as darkness fell and the light from outside stopped coming through the cathedral windows, the congregation gathered. In the darkness of the altar, the monk lighted a candle and carried it to the crucifix. First, he illumined the crown of thorns, next, the two wounded hands, then the marks of the spear wound. In the hush that fell, he blew out the candle and left the chancel. There was nothing else to say.

Sometimes, in our pride, we imagine that God’s faithfulness - His eternal lovingkindness depends on us. But, God pursues us. Not the other way around. Which means that God is devoted to us forever. He’s committed Himself to lovingly do what is best for us. And He is faithful to His promise. (1 John 4:9,10)

2 Timothy 2:13 says, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”

God says to us, “If you doubt My sincerity - My commitment to you - know that I’ve already given My Son as the example of just how far I’m willing to go to express my lovingkindness to you.”

“O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good - for He meets all of our needs - for His lovingkindness is everlasting.” - even giving us our salvation and eternal relationship with Him.

What does it mean for us to give thanks? I’d like to share two practical examples.

Do you remember Zaccheus? Zaccheus was a short man. I’ve kind of pictured him as being like Danny DeVito in Taxi. Not tall - despising himself - taking advantage of others - rude - obnoxious.

Zaccheus was a tax-collector - he took advantage of his own people by working for the Romans and he was getting rich. By the standards of our society Zaccheus was very successful. But Zaccheus’ wealth had failed him. He was without friends - without hope - insecure - with deep inner needs. When Jesus passed through Jericho - perhaps because of these deep inner needs - Zaccheus climbed up a Sycamore tree - just to see Jesus - just to get a glimpse of hope.

When Jesus passed under that tree where Zaccheus was seated, He stopped and said, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down out of that tree. Regardless of what everyone else may think of you - whatever you may think of yourself - I’m going to befriend you today. I’m going to stay at your house.” Then these words - powerful - life changing: "Today salvation has come to your house."

And Zaccheus had all his needs met. His life was changed. He gave ½ of his possessions to the poor. Instead of stealing from people he started giving back what he had stolen at 4 times the amount he had stolen. What he had - materially meant nothing - compared to how his life - his deepest inner need - had been filled by knowing Jesus. (Luke 19:1-10)

That’s thanksgiving. When our hearts change - when our actions change - when our attitude towards life and others changes - because we know what God has done for us.

Second example. Jesus is with His disciples in the temple in Jerusalem and He’s teaching the people there. Some of the people were distracted by the wealth - the opulence - the rich ornamentation of the building.

Jesus turns to His disciples and pours cold water on their awe and admiration. He says, “These things that you’re looking at, the days will come when there won’t be one stone left on top of another. Its all going to be torn down.”

Rich people were coming by making large donations. The disciples are impressed. But Jesus points out a poor widow - who puts in two small - almost worthless coins. He says, “I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them. They - these rich people - they all are giving out of their surplus - what they have left over. But, she gave out of her poverty - putting in all that she had to live on.” (Luke 21:1-6)

People come to visit our church and they look around at the architecture and the beauty of this sanctuary - the facilities we enjoy - and they’re impressed. Often, we read lists of who has sponsored what event - and we see the amounts given - its only natural that we take notice. Its easy to focus on the physical and not on what God is doing in people’s hearts.

Thankfulness to God comes as we understand what is eternally important - what God is doing in the hearts and lives of humankind - and when we devote ourselves 100% to God’s program - His work - His ministry - His will being done in us and through us and around us.

Giving thanks to God isn’t what we say. It may not even be what we do. Giving thanks to God is who we are in our hearts. That’s where giving thanks begins. Do we really understand the tremendous blessing that we enjoy - God - who is good and whose lovingkindness goes on forever - supplies our needs - physical - spiritual - eternally? Have we given our lives to Him in thanksgiving?



Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture taken from the New American Standard Bible®, © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation.  Used by permission.