“Give Thanks To The Lord”

“Give Thanks To The Lord”

Thursday’s Column

Smiling middle-aged man with purple shirt and tie on with evergreens as a backdrop
Neal Pollard

I wonder if Kathy felt like she was living with Briscoe Darling and the boys (imagine them if they were talkative) through the years they were growing up. She is refined and genteel, words that are not usually connected to our three sons and me. One thing she impressed upon us was the importance of timely, thoughtful thank you notes. Gratitude, though it can be expressed with very little time and expense, is telling. It acknowledges the kindness and generosity of the giver. 

One of the elements of worship, generally, and prayer, specifically, is thanksgiving. Our songs call for it: “Give Thanks With A Grateful Heart,” they express it: “Thank You, Lord,” “For All That You’ve Done,” “How Great Thou Art,” “10,000 Reasons,” and “He Has Made Me Glad.” Though that songwriter, Leona Von Brethorst, apparently wrote the song from Psalm 100, she includes a line from Psalm 118:24: “This is the day that the Lord has made.” 

Five times in Psalm 118, the psalmist says “give thanks” (1,19,21,28,29). He urges others to do so, but also expresses his resolve to do the same. Why?

GIVE THANKS FOR HIS GOODNESS (1-4)

“Good” is a general word that takes in pleasantness, desirability, and beauty. The good quality specified here is His everlasting mercy (lovingkindness). The writer moves from the broad to the specific–Israel, house of Aaron, those who fear the Lord. Everyone is the object of God’s lovingkindness. The righteous freely express their thanks for it.

GIVE THANKS FOR HIS DELIVERANCE (5-13)

There is a sudden, dramatic shift in tone in verse five. From an upbeat, positive tone, he turns to thoughts of trouble and difficulty. Distress, hatred, being surrounded, and violence threatened him, but God was there for him as protection and help. This kept him from fearfulness. It gave him refuge. 

It is an amazing thing to think of all the ways and times God has been with me, but those are just the instances I’m aware of. How many trials has God spared me from, disasters has He caused me to avoid, and troubles has He averted for me that I won’t know about on this earth? Just what I do know humbles me, and it should fill my heart with gratitude. 

GIVE THANKS FOR HIS GREATNESS (14-17)

The writer turns to the Giver. He is strong, a Savior, valiant, and exalted. Summarizing God’s qualities, the writer says, “I will not die, but live, And tell of the works of the Lord” (17). Awareness of who God is for me, physically, materially, and spiritually, will drive me to grateful thanks.

GIVE THANKS FOR HIS DISCIPLINE (18)

Though it is almost a parenthetical phrase in the middle of this song of thanksgiving, it is important and an additional reason for gratitude. He writes, “The Lord has disciplined me severely, But He has not given me over to death.” Who is brave enough to say that with the psalmist? He implies gratitude for God’s severe discipline. Hebrews 12:7-10 tells us that God disciplines those He loves and calls His children. It is for our good and allows us to share His holiness. Can I thank Him for the trials and challenges that refine me and grow my dependence on Him? Or do I just plaintively ask, “Why?”

GIVE THANKS FOR HIS PROVISION (19-29)

He uses the imagery of a city here–gates, stones, and chief corner stone. Then, he ends with a temple analogy, with the house of the Lord, festival sacrifice, and the horns of the altar. Saved inside God’s walls of protection, we are free to offer worship which He accepts. We marvel, we rejoice, we are glad, we prosper, and we extol. He has given us light. The primary thrust is not material, but spiritual. However prosperous or impoverished you are, financially, however strong or weak you are, emotionally, we have the greatest provision of all in Christ. Eternal salvation, the hope of heaven, fellowship with God and the saved, the church, strength to endure, the list is endless. 

Today, as you go through the day, why not stop and spend time in prayer to God thanking Him categorically: physical blessings, relationship blessings, emotional blessings, national blessings, and spiritual blessings. No doubt, there are things in your life right now that are dissatisfying and disappointing. You may be struggling mightily. Perhaps those are ways God is disciplining you in His love. Whatever is happening in your life, choose to give thanks and know God is trustworthy! It’s more than polite. It’s righteous!

You Sure Do Have An Attitude!

You Sure Do Have An Attitude!

Neal Pollard

Unavoidably, you do! And consider what hinges on what kind of attitude you have. Often, the difference in winning and losing is attitude. Happiness and sadness is a matter of attitude rather than circumstances. Failure and success is determined, many times, by what kind of attitude we have toward the task. Even one’s attractiveness and repulsiveness are, many times, gauged by his or her attitude in life.
You, the Christian, have an attitude! You can be a sour-faced, negative, paranoid, bitter, fearful, stressed out, unhappy, grouchy, withdrawn, depressed, whiny, angry, hypercritical, pessimistic, suspicious, and therefore poor specimen of a Christian. Or, you can be a hopeful, interested, enthusiastic, peace-filled, joyful, bright, forgiving, compassionate, holy, pure, winsome, righteous, smiling beacon of light in a world filled with tons of negative, disgruntled, and chronically unhappy people.
Since your sins are forgiven, your Lord and Master is unmatched, your life is blessed, and your future is exciting, isn’t it natural that you should have a good attitude? A good attitude can transform the people around you, positively impact your circumstances, win the hearts of rivals and enemies, transform your own inner trouble, and give pleasure to the God of heaven. You didn’t know you had that much influence, did you? But you do! Use it for good by wielding a good attitude.
Salvation to restore a sin-sick soul, forgiveness for a guilty heart, and acceptance from a loving God despite our unworthiness are often more unbelievable to folks than any physical feat to attain. If our attitude reflects the consequences of having received those things, we can appeal to untold others to achieve the same state of life by following our lead. So, how’s your attitude?
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THE BEAUTIFUL QUALITY OF THANKFULNESS

THE BEAUTIFUL QUALITY OF THANKFULNESS

Neal Pollard

Her name was Mrs. Broadhead. She was a resident in a west Alabama nursing home. She was known for saying one thing with great frequency: “We have a lot to be thankful for, don’t we?” Emaciated, confined to a wheel chair, with a speech impediment due to a stroke, and filled with aches and pains, that phrase was still her life’s motto.

Wedding and baby showers, small gifts or tokens of appreciation, compliments, words of encouragement, acknowledgements, visits, deeds of kindness, and the like are golden opportunities to express it. yet, far too many have failed to learn the beautiful grace of gratitude. It is wondered if Jesus used the parable of ten lepers to illustrate not just the importance of thankfulness but to give an approximate percentage of those who fail to show it. Remember that when the lone man returned to give thanks to Jesus, He obersved, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?” (Luke 17:17).

While showing gratitude to God and to fellow men is growing more rare, it is certainly a Christian characteristic! Paul says, “Be thankful” (Col. 3:15). In prior generations, great emphasis was placed on instilling manners and courtesy within our children. One show of etiquette was to never let a gift or kindness go without a card, call, or word of thanks. It is extreme self-absorption to fail to acknowledge the sentiment of others! Failing to show gratitude is like telling others we’re spoiled or feel entitled.

Christians, above all others, have so much to be thankful for. The remarkable command from Paul is “in everything give thanks” (1 Th. 5:18). Thankfulness for toothaches, flat tires, bills, taxes, and death? Perhaps Pollyanna was a good teacher. She played “the glad game.” Whenever she had to endure bad, she chose to find something to be glad about. Can’t we do that? Christians are to be found “overflowing with gratitude” (Col. 2:7).

God rejects those who aren’t thankful (Rom. 1:21). It is an ugly trait to be ungrateful. It’s synonymous with inconsideration. Paul says esteem others better than self (Phil. 2:4).  Never fail to return a favor, gift, or thoughtful act with a simple “Thank you.” It is your obligation. It will become your joy!