Have you ever thought about the word “holiday”? The word comes from the Old English word “halig” (holy) + “daeg” (day). Holy means “to be set apart for a purpose”.
“Holidays” are days set apart for a purpose. At Christmas, we set time aside to recognize the gift of the incarnation of Christ. At Easter, we set time aside to recognize the monumental importance and impact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
This time of year, the day we set apart is Thanksgiving. It is a day set aside for being grateful and thankful. If you were to ask the typical American who they should be grateful to, many might say other human beings that have helped them- parents, family, friends, bosses, and leaders to name a few.
But as believers we understand that our primary gratitude ought to be God! Thanksgiving then ought not to be a day set aside to be thankful to whomever we wish to be thankful to based on our whims. No. Thanksgiving should be primarily directed towards God!
Psalm 100 is a beautiful psalm that gives us marvelous encouragement to praise, worship, and thank God.
(1) A Psalm of praise. Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
(2) Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
(3) Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
(4) Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.
(5) For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
There are 6 verbs in this psalm that tell us what to do:
- Make a joyful noise to the Lord.
- Serve the Lord.
- Come into His presence with singing.
- Know that He is God.
- Enter His courts with praise.
- Be Thankful to Him.
- Bless His name.
These are all right responses. That last one really hits home during this time of year. “Be thankful unto Him and bless his name.”
Not only does the psalmist tell us what to do- Make a joyful noise, praise Him, serve him, worship him, and be thankful to him- He gives us WHY we should do it.
Why should we cultivate a heart of gratitude and thankfulness to God? We should cultivate a heart of gratitude to God when we recognize four realities about God found in Psalm 100.
The first reality about God that should cause us to be grateful is His Deity. (v.3a) The psalmist says, “Know ye that the Lord He is God”. We must recognize that He is the Supreme being in the universe. He is number 1. He is the source of life. He is the uncaused first cause.
That also means that we must recognize that we are not God. There is no other god that we should have. Idolatry hurts us. Idolatry takes away from us and takes credit that is only due to God for no more reason than He is God alone.
The second reality that helps us cultivate a heart for God is closely related to His Deity. It is His Creativity. (v.3b) The psalmist continues by saying, “it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves”
As God, He created us. We were his idea. This is true in at least two senses.
Humanity was His idea. The Bible says that God created man in His own image.
(26) And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
(27) So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
We are different than the animals and plants. We were made in the likeness of God. We have personhood. We have personality. We have intellect. We can reason. We are moral. We make choices.
The other sense is this. Not only was humanity collectively the idea of God, you individually were thought up by God. God made you.
(13) For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb.
(14) I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
Aren’t you glad? God created you and loves you. He made this world for you to live in. We should worship Him. We should be grateful to Him.
The third reality about God that the psalmist points out is closely connected to the first two. He points to who is God’s (v.3c). He says, “we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture”
We don’t own ourselves. We are His. He takes care of us. Some might think we take care of ourselves. The problem with that is it forgets this truth. We depend on Him and what He has created to sustain us. Our very breath is a gift of God. Everything we have is a gift of God.
(17) Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
Everything we have is a gift from God. We should thank Him because He is God. He created us. He owns us. We should be grateful to him for this last reality.
The last reality that helps us be grateful to God is His Character. Here is the psalmists reasoning- “For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations”
Has not the Lord been good to us? He sent His Son to die for us. He made everything for us to enjoy in its proper place. He is that shepherd who gives us pasture to graze in.
He did not give us what we deserved. He gave us mercy instead. He promised it to us and because He keeps his promises His mercy will not end.
He does not change. His truth does not change. It endures. What was true in one generation is true to the next because it is the nature of truth and truth is founded in who God is. He does not change.
This Thanksgiving, let’s not just set aside the day for turkey. Let’s not set this day aside for merely family. Let’s not set it aside for football. Let’s not set it aside for being grateful merely to other people.
Let’s direct our thanksgiving to God…
…because He is God.
…because He made us.
…because He owns us.
…and because He is good, and merciful, and true!