I will praise Him!
Reading: Psalm 109
For he never thought of doing a kindness,
but hounded to death the poor
and the needy and the brokenhearted.
He loved to pronounce a curse—
may it come back on him.
He found no pleasure in blessing—
may it be far from him.
He wore cursing as his garment;
it entered into his body like water,
into his bones like oil.
May it be like a cloak wrapped about him,
like a belt tied forever around him.
May this be the LORD’s payment to my accusers,
to those who speak evil of me (NIV).
Right now we are a long way from the giving season. I am of course referring to the pre-Christmas shopping binge, when gifts are purchased, wrapped and hidden away for the big celebration. Many rail against this tradition, but in reality the scriptures are filled with admonitions that encourage us to be generous and bless others. Christmas and year-end provide us with wonderful opportunities to do just that. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed (Proverbs 11:25).
If we find no pleasure in giving, we may be suffering from more than a simple case of Scrooge-like stinginess. Soul sucking self-centeredness destroys us from within. It defaces the image of God that is stamped upon us from birth. God our heavenly Father is the picture of generosity. He gave His only Son for us. In light of this sacrifice, there’s something terribly wrong if we can’t spare a dime or a kind word for the less fortunate. Generosity is never out of season.
Today’s reading provides us with a negative contrast to the generosity of God. The individual being described withheld his blessing. He loved to pronounce a curse—may it come back on him. He found no pleasure in blessing—may it be far from him.
How generous am I with words of encouragement, praise and blessing? How generous am I with this world’s goods that have been lavished on me by a gracious Father? Throughout the year, and in the pre-Christmas season, I need to check my heart and my bank account, but above all my heart. Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously (2 Corinthians 9:6).
Am I generous with words of praise and thanks for those around me—with the clerk at the shopping mall or the life partner who shares my bed? Am I reflecting or defacing the image of God?
Response: Father God, today I want to be a blessing and pronounce a blessing on those around me. I am thankful for the generosity of your love, forgiveness and grace. It’s more than I deserve. Amen.
Your Turn: Are you too tight fisted or too lavish with your giving?
Reading: Psalm 100
A psalm. For giving grateful praise.
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations (NIV).
When you grow up on a prairie farm, as I did, you appreciate the traditional aspects of Thanksgiving all the more. You are reminded each day that the food on your table does not simply come from a store. You are actively engaged in producing the nourishment that sustains your own life. Though today may be a long way from Thanksgiving, I know I need daily reminders to be thankful. How about you?
As a youngster I sat down to many a Thanksgiving feast, and almost all the food found on that groaning table was home-grown. I watched those vegetables growing in our garden in the hot summer sun. I even pulled the weeds from around those peas. And those mashed potatoes, I helped my mother hill those tubers in the spring and then dug them up after the frost hit in the fall.
My brother loved growing pumpkins, and mom would turn his favorite into the best pumpkin pie east of the Rockies. And how can you eat pumpkin pie without a mound of whipped cream on top? Well let me tell you, it tastes even better, when just that morning you milked the cows that produced that sweet rich cream. Oh, and that huge turkey—we’ll miss that pompous strutting gobbler out by the hen-house. But I’m sure we’ll get over it, somehow. For now, let’s just dig in.
Let’s all dig in, and give thanks to the God, who made all this possible. This sumptuous feast has been brought to you by Him. Now that’s Thanksgiving!
The great God in heaven has been kind to us. He has answered our prayers. He brought the warmth of spring and the rain of heaven. He caused his face to shine upon us. The rich earth responded to his touch. It brought forth its bounty, and now around this table we have gathered together as a family to celebrate God’s great goodness to us.
As the psalmist declares, “It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.” So today with joy-filled hearts we enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise. We give thanks to him and praise his name.
Response: Heavenly Father, thank you for all your kindness. You have been so good to us! Help us to maintain an attitude of gratitude all year long and not only on Thanksgiving Day, but every day. Amen.
Your Turn: What blessings from God’s hand are you most grateful for? Say a prayer of thanks right now.
Reading: Psalm 50
“Listen, my people, and I will speak;
I will testify against you, Israel:
I am God, your God.
I bring no charges against you concerning your sacrifices
or concerning your burnt offerings, which are ever before me.
I have no need of a bull from your stall
or of goats from your pens,
for every animal of the forest is mine,
and the cattle on a thousand hills.
I know every bird in the mountains,
and the insects in the fields are mine.
If I were hungry I would not tell you,
for the world is mine, and all that is in it.
Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?
“Sacrifice thank offerings to God,
fulfill your vows to the Most High,
and call on me in the day of trouble;
I will deliver you, and you will honor me” (NIV).
What is humanity’s greatest sin? Think about that for a moment. Is it murder? Hatred? Racism? The desecration of the planet? All of these are serious problems—serious sins. But what is the greatest sin?
Psalm 50 begins with a great summoning of all nations. The LORD is about to enter into judgment. But what charge does He bring against His people? He does not accuse them of heinous crimes, or the desecration of His temple. I bring no charges against you concerning your sacrifices or concerning your burnt offerings, which are ever before me. Instead God calls for thank offerings. The LORD wants His people to have thankful hearts.
There is something rather anticlimactic about this call for thanksgiving. My initial reaction is one of surprise. I thought we had a serious problem here. Why summon the nations to a great gathering unless there is a declaration of some significance. Surely a lack of thanksgiving is an offence of no great significance. Or is it? Apparently in God’s view it is of great importance.
In his epistle to the Romans, St. Paul attributes a lack of thankfulness to the blinding power and deception of sin. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened (Romans 1:20-21).
Because of its long term consequences, a failure to offer thanks may be the gravest sin of all.
Response: LORD God, I owe my life to you. I have so much to be thankful for. Every day is a gift. Amen.
Your Turn: What are you most thankful for? Why do you think ingratitude has such dire consequences?