Sunday 7 December 2014 (Annual Thanksgiving Service)
Key Passage: Psalm 92:1-8
Psalm 92 is our key passage for our Thanksgiving Service today. This Psalm teaches us the reason, the when, the what, the how, the joy, and the blessings of thanksgiving. For our personal enlightenment, it is important to point out this subtle difference between thanksgiving and praise. You thank GOD for what he has done for you, and you praise him for who he is. Thanksgiving is private and personal, while praise is public. Thanksgiving can be quiet; while praise is vocal. Thanksgiving is directed to someone; while praise is spoken about someone. God is always eager to receive our thanksgiving, this was why JESUS taught about the ingratitude of the nine lepers who never bothered to return to express their gratitude for the healing they received from him (Luke 17:17-18).
THE REASON FOR THANKSGIVING
Psalm 92:1 shows us the WHY or REASONS for thanksgiving. The Psalmist says, “It is good to give thanks to God…” This means, thanksgiving is a good act. It is the demonstration of our gratitude to God for all he has done for us this year or in the past years. 1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “In everything give thanks….” We are to thank God irrespective of the circumstance or situation, whether good or bad. This means that for every one of us thanksgiving is mandatory.
Let me add that a disposition of thanksgiving prompts one to sing. Psalm 147:7-9 reads thus: “Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; sing praises on the harp to our God, who covers the heavens with clouds, who prepares rain for the earth, who makes grass to grow on the mountains. He gives to the beast its food, and to the young ravens that cry.” We are encouraged to approach God’s presence daily with thanksgiving (Psalm 100:1-4).
THE WHEN OF THANKSGIVING
Verse 2 of our Psalm tells us when we are to thank God. It should be in the morning and in the evening. “To show forth your loving kindness in the morning, and your faithfulness every night.” Don’t you start your day without a note thanksgiving to God, and don’t you end your day thinking your strength and wisdom saw you through the rigours of the entire day. You owe it all to God.
THE WHAT OF THANKSGIVING
What are we to thank God for? We are to thank him for his love and for his faithfulness. Dear child of God, look around you and you will see the evidences of God’s loving-kindness and faithfulness. What you take for granted was due to the grace and mercy of God. Many of us ascribe our achievements and success to ourselves rather than to God who gives us life and strength.
For us as a Church, the evidences of his loving kindness and faithfulness are too numerous. For example, God has blessed us with new babies this year in 2014. The high mortality rate notwithstanding, our wives recorded safe deliveries during child birth. Despite the high level of unemployment, some of us got new employments into various organisations. Some of us had promotions in our places of work. Some of us started and in some cases completed our personal projects. God,faithfully provided for us.
Another evidence of God’s love and faithfulness to us are the new marriages we had in the church. While the young ladies rejoiced about their husbands, the men also rejoiced about their wives. God also blessed us with new members who have settled to be worshipping with us. Within the same year some of our children gained admission into the universities and others graduated from the universities in flying colours. These are blessings worth thanking God for.
There is hardly anyone of us in this church who did not travel by road or by air this year. The safety we had, on air or by road, were all the mercies and kindness of God. It had nothing to do with our abilities, but simply by his grace. These are just a few acts of God’s love and faithfulness.
Beyond these physical blessings, we are to remain thankful to him for our salvation and all the accompanying favours, “giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light” (Colossians 1:12).
THE HOW OF THANKSGIVING
In verse 3, the Psalmist then encourages us on how to thank God. “On an instrument of ten strings, on the lute, and on the harp, with the harmonious sound.” This text and other passages in the Psalms gives us the scriptural grounds for using the instruments to praise God. Some CHRISTIANS abhor the use of instruments in worshipping God; they claim that it is worldly. Not until the 1980s, many Pentecostal Churches considered it carnal and worldly using instruments to worship God. But the Bible teaches us to worship God with different instruments.
THE JOY OF THANKSGIVING
In verse 4, the Psalmist is joyful in the works of God. The work of God in and through us should make us glad. God’s work in our hands shouldn’t bring us sorry but joy. We are meant to be victorious and to triumph in his work.
THE HOPE AND BLESSINGS OF THE THANKS GIVER
In verses 13-15 of our Psalm we find the hope and blessings of thanksgiving. Thanksgiving causes us to flourish and grow in the house of God. Thanksgiving brings about fruitfulness and wholeness to our mind. “The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree. He shall grow like a cedar of Lebanon. Those who are planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. They shall still bear fruit in old age: they shall be fresh and flourishing. To declare that the LORD is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.”
Beyond the thanksgiving of today, don’t be economical with thanksgiving to God; rather, be exuberant and profuse in your praise and thanksgiving to Him, for his generous blessings. Let thanksgiving be your daily lifestyle. A humorist once said, “if you are thankful to God, he will make your spiritual tank full of blessings.”