Tag Archives: King David

Shouldn’t giving thanks be simple?

given on Sunday, November 10, 2013

Scripture:  I Chronicles 16:7-36 as found in The Message

The last few days have been spectacular with the temperatures, the blue skies, and mild November temperatures.  It is easy to forget how hot we were a few months ago or how tired we were of the dark rainy days.  Did you remember to thank God for such wonderful days?

         Giving thanks should be an automatic response, but we have a tendency to overlook this simple gesture.  In an odd way, giving thanks is similar to being able to accept a compliment.  It is sometimes awkward.  We do not always know how to say thank you just like we do not know how to accept a compliment.

In the psalm we read from I Chronicles 16, David provides the guidelines for giving thanks.  According to the Life Application Bible’s study notes, there are four elements in this psalm that tell us how to give thanks.  The words may be simple, but consider these elements:

  1. Remember what God has done
  2. Tell others about it
  3. Show God’s glory to others, and
  4. Offer gifts of self, time and resources.

By including each of these four elements in our thanks, we can practice giving thanksgiving until it becomes a natural part of who we are.

Giving thanks to God, just like offering our gratitude to others for a service or for a gift, should be an automatic reaction.  We need to focus on giving thanks as part of the discipline of living a Christian life.  The psalm demonstrates how giving thanks can be done.  Look back over the verses 8-13, (this time from the Message):

Thank God! Call out his Name!
Tell the whole world who he is and what he’s done!
Sing to him! Play songs for him!
Broadcast all his wonders!
Revel in his holy Name,
God-seekers, be jubilant!
Study God and his strength,
seek his presence day and night;
Remember all the wonders he performed,
the miracles and judgments that came out of his mouth.
Seed of Israel his servant!
Children of Jacob, his first choice

These verses tell us how to sing, play songs, and tell all about all the wonders God has provided us, his children.

The segment of the psalm clearly identifies who God is:

He is God, our God;
wherever you go you come on his judgments and decisions.
He keeps his commitments across thousands
of generations, the covenant he commanded,
The same one he made with Abraham,
the very one he swore to Isaac;
He posted it in big block letters to Jacob,
this eternal covenant with Israel:
“I give you the land of Canaan,
this is your inheritance;
Even though you’re not much to look at,
a few straggling strangers.”

David leaves no doubt who he is thanking.  He is making sure that everybody knows that God is the source of all that he has received.  Do you see how this matches the elements of thanksgivings?

Remember that thanks need to include what God has done for you.  Create a list, look around and acknowledge what God has done for you—is it the weather like we have seen these past few days?  Or is it the family you have?  Is it the home you live in?  Is it the job we have?  It is our health?  The list can be very lengthy, but what we have is valued in part by our acknowledgement that God has a role in it.

Giving thanks even to our family and our friends is part of our life, too.  The reasons may be simple like getting help cleaning house or mowing the yard.  The power of a simple thank you lifts up those you are appreciate, so why isn’t giving thanks to God just as important?

In the psalm, David remembers or credits God for what he has done for him personally, but he also tells others.  We do that, too, especially when we gather with our Christian friends for worship.  It makes it easy when Christians join together to give thanks, but should we not give thanks in the presence of those who may not know God, too?

By sharing what we are thankful for, and sharing how we thank God for being a part of our lives, we also need to point out the glory of God himself.  Remember:  what we do, we do for the glory of God.  If we give thanks, we do that for that glory of God, too.  Giving thanks to others for what they do for us, too, is showing that we appreciate what others do for the glory of God, also.

Giving thanks is a practice that improves our Christian lifestyle, it keeps us focused on God as the center of our lives whether it be in relationships, in what we have, in how we get things, and how we perceive our lives—lives which are a joy.

Shouldn’t giving thanks be simple?  The last element of thanks is to offer gifts such as yourself, your time, and/or your resources.  This is true whenever we give thanks to someone for what they have done for us, so should it not be the same for giving God thanks?

Look back at the verses in I Chronicles as the psalm continues to share thanks:

         Sing to God, everyone and everything!
Get out his salvation news every day!
Publish his glory among the godless nations,
his wonders to all races and religions.
And why? Because God is great—well worth praising!
No god or goddess comes close in honor.
All the popular gods are stuff and nonsense,
but God made the cosmos!
Splendor and majesty flow out of him,
strength and joy fill his place.

28-29 Shout Bravo! to God, families of the peoples,
in awe of the Glory, in awe of the Strength: Bravo!
Shout Bravo! to his famous Name,
lift high an offering and enter his presence!
Stand resplendent in his robes of holiness!

Giving thanks does not take a lot of money, not even a great deal of effort in many cases.  But giving thanks is one more means of living a God-centered life.  Giving thanks demonstrates to others how much we value them, just like we value God.  There is no definite way to share thanks, but David certainly gave us a model in this psalm.  He also wrote many more psalms which clearly show how to give thanks—just open up the prayer book Psalms and read through the ones there.  Or, look again at the final few verses in I Chronicles 16: 34-36:

Give thanks to God—he is good
and his love never quits.
Say, “Save us, Savior God,
round us up and get us out of these godless places,
So we can give thanks to your holy Name,
and bask in your life of praise.”
Blessed be God, the God of Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.

Then everybody said, “Yes! Amen!” and “Praise God!”

Closing prayer:


Thank you for such delightful November days.

We are reminded how you created this earth

filled with all the flora and fauna to meet our needs.

We are so fortunate that you continue to love us

and to forgive us when we fail to thank you.

Let us look forward to opportunities to share

with others the good news of your grace.

Let us demonstrate your unconditional love

so others, too, may say thank you God,

for such a rich and rewarding life.  –Amen


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A is for Apocrypha; P is for Psalms

given on Sunday, April 7, 2013

Every once and a while an idea just starts bubbling up in the brain, and no matter what you do, you cannot get rid of it.  Several weeks ago, even before Lent, I started wondering about the apocrypha.  Never had it been included either in Bible studies or in Sunday school classes, or even mentioned in sermons.

Yet, somehow I wanted to know what was locked away in this series of Biblical books.   Maybe the term Biblical does not apply because the books certainly are not included in our common versions of the Bible.  Still I could not shake the questions and the ideas that seemed to be flooding my brain.

Even though Lent demanded attention and then Easter called for more traditional readings and sermons, I could only subdue the raging in my head until time had come to consider post-Easter sermons.  That is when the phrase exploded—A is for Apocrypha!  Post-Easter means April and the A’s had come together—A is for Apocrypha.

To begin, the apocrypha is published in between the old and the new testaments and usually only in Catholic Bibles.  Why?  Turns out that the dates the various books are written are between 400 BC and Christ’s birth.  Apparently the gap really does not exist because various religious manuscripts surfaced during that time and were commonly accepted by the Jewish leaders.

Today we opened our service with Psalm 150; a glorious hymn of praise that we frequently include when the tone of our worship is full of energy and excitement.  The tone reverberates the loud music that is listed within the lines.  As April begins and we finally see the promise of spring, the promise of God’s gift of eternal life, Psalm 150 lifts us up from the worst of winter and makes us want to jump for joy.  A is for April, but P is for Psalms of Praise!

As Christians we recognize that Psalm 150 closes the book in the Old Testament.  Studies of Psalms explains the breakdown of the book into various themes and are arranged in an order that journeys the reader through the emotional ups and downs typically associated with David’s life.  Some are written by David, some are not.  But buried in the apocrypha is Psalm 151.  Why?

The Bible is a foundation for our faith.  We read it for guidance, for understanding, for God because he can speak through the words to guide us in our daily lives.  The Old Testament is what the Jewish people read.  The New Testament is added so the story of Christ completes or bridges our earthly life to eternal life.

Psalm 151 is different from those in the Old Testament.  It is autobiographical, written by King David, explaining God’s choice of him over his brothers.  Look back at those verses 1-4:

I was the smallest of my brothers,
the youngest of my father’s sons.
He made me shepherd of his flock,
ruler over their young.

My hands made a flute,
my fingers a lyre.
Let me give glory to the Lord,
I thought to myself.

The mountains
cannot witness to God;
the hills cannot proclaim him.
But the trees have cherished
my words,
the flocks my deeds.

Who can proclaim,
who can announce,
who can declare the Lord’s deeds?
God has seen everything;
God has heard everything;
God has listened.  —the CEB

The first verses of the psalm show who David is—a shepherd, a musician, an average guy who seemingly does not have the same qualities of his brothers.  Yet it is David that God chooses rather than any one of his brothers who most would identify as leaders of a nation.

Some translations of Psalm 151 consider the four verses the complete psalm.  But the scroll on which this psalm was found included the other two verses:

God sent his prophet to anoint me;
Samuel to make me great.
My brothers went out to meet him,
handsome in form and appearance:

Their stature tall,
their hair beautiful,
but the Lord God
did not choose them.

Instead, he sent and took me
from following the flock.
God anointed me with holy oil;
God made me leader for his people,
ruler over the children
of his covenant.  —the CEB

These three verses refer back to the story of David and Goliath.  They are written as autobiographical—in first person—so it does not follow the typical pattern of the 150 psalms already included.  In fact, one reference explains that the scroll on which the psalm is written was ripped.  There has been no way to assure scholars that verse 7 completed the psalm or whether there were more that have been lost.

Is there a message in Psalm 151?  Certainly.  God chooses those to serve.  David may not have felt he was worthy to be called in comparison to his own brothers, but he answered the call.  And in the verses 5 and 6, he explains that by referring back to his battle with Goliath.  He was the smallest, most unlikely of his family to become the leader that he did.  God called him, God anointed him, and God made him leader of the Israelites.

Are we hearing God’s call?  Maybe we do, but we do not believe in ourselves enough to answer.  All too often we ignore God’s calling.  All too often we talk ourselves out of acknowledging God’s call to us personally.  God knows the gifts he provides us, God goes with us wherever we go, and God gives us the strength to handle the whatever we must as long as we believe.

April is renewal.  Easter was the beginning of a new chapter in Christianity.  And just like A is for Apocrypha and P is for Psalms, there is more for us in April:

R is for Reading scriptures;

I is for Inspiration from the scriptures; and

L is for Listening to the Word of God.

The Old Testament spoke to the ancient tribes of Israel; the New Testament speaks to Christians since the beginning of the Church.  What lies in the Apocrypha is a mystery to the Protestants, but has been speaking to the Catholics and the Greek Orthodox faithful.  Therefore, A is for APRIL, a time of renewal, of exploration, and of listening to the stories of the Apocrypha, too.

Dear Eternal Father, Author of Our Lives,.

Open our minds to the stories in the scriptures.

Open our hearts to the messages Your Words share.

Keep us curious as we seek understanding.

Keep us faithful to Your commandments.

Use us to reach out to others in need of Your grace.

Use us to demonstrate Your love to one and another.

As the scriptures tell us the story,

Let us tell the story, too, so others may be transformed.  –Amen

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