“THE SACRIFICE OF THANKSGIVING” (Ps. 116:17)
FBC Earlville, N.Y. November 25, 2018 10:30 AM
Rev. Jeremy B. Stopford, Pastor
TODAY’S “SPECIAL”: “Two Turkey Funnies”
#1: A lady was picking through the frozen turkeys at the grocery store, but couldn’t find one big enough for her family.
She asked a stock boy, “Do these turkeys get any bigger?”
The stock boy replied, “No ma’am, they’re dead.”
#2: An industrious turkey farmer was always experimenting with breeding to perfect a better turkey.
His family was fond of the legs for dinner and there were never enough for everyone. After many frustrating attempts, the farmer was relating the results of his efforts to his friends at the general store get together: “Well I finally did it. I bred a turkey that has 6 legs!”
They all asked the farmer how it tasted.
“I don’t know,” said the farmer. “I could never catch the thing!”
INTRODUCTION The unnamed psalmist in Psalm 116:17 writes, “I will sacrifice a thank offering to You and call on the name of the Lord.” In our NKJV (and similar to KJV) it reads, “I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving, and will call upon the name of the Lord.” The phrases “thank offering” and “sacrifice of thanksgiving” are quite connected. They imply an offering that has no earthly value. They imply an offering which financially cost the giver absolutely nothing. But an offering must cost the giver something, right? So what is the cost? The cost is the acknowledgement that the Lord Himself is the Giver of all that we have. The offering – the sacrifice of thanksgiving – is the returning to the Lord what He already owns, the recognition that He is the Provider of all that we have. THAT is why it is a “sacrifice”! It is our humblement – as a fellow college student used to call it – to admit that for what the Lord has given only He deserves the praise and thanks for that gift.
Let’s look at some of those things which caused the author of this psalm to offer such a sacrifice. And, in turn, may these prod our hearts to a spirit of thanksgiving as well. PRAYER
1. The intimacy with the Lord (v. 1).
This is huge! The psalmist admits to a personal acquaintance with the living God! It was so personal that he had absolutely no uncertainty that when he prayed, the Lord heard. Not only did God hear his prayer, He also heard his cry for mercy. “Mercy” is the calling out for help that one does not deserve. In light of the cross, it is the Savior taking upon Himself the sacrifice that we deserve because of our sin. Mercy.
So why is this huge? It is huge because of the intimacy. The psalmist had an open book before the Lord. Nothing was hidden between the Savior and he. And the psalmist knew, he KNEW FOR CERTAIN, that not only did the Lord hear, but He answered the psalmist’s cry for help for which he was not worthy.
Do you share that intimacy with the Lord? Is your relationship with Him personal, or is it so shallow that there is uncertainty in your faith that God even hears your cries? Listen to Psalm 55:17, “Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, and He shall hear my voice.” Intimacy – the Lord has designed it to last all day long! Do we enjoy it all day long?
2. The Lord preserves the simple. WHEN? (v. 6)
The psalmist recognizes that he cannot fake his walk with the Lord. His walk is not to be high-minded but, literally simple or “simplehearted.” Let’s look at the many times when the psalmist saw God’s preserving hand:
A. Tough times (v.3). You and I may not face too many “death defying” issues too often. Those are the toughest of times. The times which, as the psalmist writes, “entangle” him. He feels strangled, wondering “WHEN will this end?” Isn’t it refreshing the open honesty of this writer?
But “tough times” don’t necessarily have to be “death defying”, do they? They can also be those times when you are awaiting the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel” and that light seems to never come. You’ve been there. I’ve been there. Tough times. “I was overcome by trouble and sorrow,” he writes. Isn’t it nice to know that we are not alone in the things that come our way?
B. When the soul is low (v. 4). Closely related to verse 3 is when the soul is low. How low? It is so low that he calls out to the Lord for deliverance! “Lord save me!”
Aren’t you glad that books like “Jonah” are in the Good Book? Listen to the opening words of Jonah 2. These are Jonah’s recordings of his wrestling with the Lord after being swallowed by the great fish. He wrote, (vs. 1-4), “Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from the fish’s belly. And he said:
“I cried out to the Lord because of my affliction, and He answered me.
“Out of the belly of Sheol I cried, and You heard my voice. For You cast me into the deep, into the heart of the seas, and the floods surrounded me; All Your billows and Your waves passed over me. Then I said, ‘I have been cast out of Your sight; Yet I will look again toward Your holy temple.’”
These are the written recordings of when the soul is low. Now I don’t think too many of us will find ourselves in the belly of another great fish prepared by the Lord for you or me. But the situations of life may feel that way.
And it is then when the Lord preserves the simple!
C. When God’s grace, righteousness, and compassion are on display (v. 5)
Have you ever read Ephesians 3:10? It reads, “ to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places”. Wasn’t that great? OK, so I’ve taken it out of context. Let’s listen to it from The Message, “Through followers of Jesus like yourselves gathered in churches, this extraordinary plan of God is becoming known and talked about even among the angels!”
So when are God’s grace, righteousness, and compassion on display? When the angels look down on us. What are they thinking when they see us? Well, they know that they have been redeemed for eternity. The good angels will always belong to the Heavenly Father. Always. They did not have to pay for that ownership. They were given it by choice, when they chose to follow Him rather than the devil when he fell from heaven.
But they remember what we were like before we came to the cross! They remember what we were like before we trusted Jesus as Savior! And they look at us as we sit in our churches and offer praise to the living Lord. And they marvel, perhaps thinking, “HOW could the Lord have done that with creatures who were without God and without hope? HOW?”
God’s grace, righteousness, and compassion are on display though us every day. Wow. The Lord preserves the simple, and puts us on display!
3. The Lord keeps the soul at rest (v. 7)
Remember the words of our Lord Jesus in Matthew 11:28? He said, “Come unto Me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
I like this verse. It tells me to “come to Jesus”. It says to come and find that He alone is worthy of my eternal as well as my daily trust. He is worthy of my eternal trust, for He alone was qualified to die for my sins at Calvary. He is the only sinless Savior. There is no other. He is worthy of my daily trust, for He is the Good Shepherd! He doesn’t say, “come to My Church” or “come to My religion.” He says, “come to Me.” The Lord keeps the soul at rest.
And when the Lord gives the soul rest, the psalmist says that His bounty is on display! He has been good to us!
And in giving the soul rest, the Lord gives daily deliverance to walk before Him in the land of the living! Look at verses 8-9. The Lord loves to deliver His children: from death, from tears, from stumbling, all so that we may walk with Him right where He has wisely placed us.
But He gives rest in one more area. Look at the classic verse 15, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.” Perhaps you’ve heard this quoted at a funeral. How on earth can the psalmist combine the two words “precious” and “death”? Because the psalmist is looking by faith at what the one who has passed away is now looking at by sight! The psalmist is seeing by faith that the promises of God have come true to the one whose soul has found rest in the Lord alone.
Have you found that eternal rest? Have you found that daily rest?
So what does a “sacrifice of thanksgiving” look like?
Permit me to close with the reading of a portion of a recent thanksgiving encouragement sent by Dr. Michael Peck:
““Do you think we’ve remembered everything?” Dustin asked his exhausted wife. “I don’t know, but it is too late now to worry about it!” Liz replied. The family was flying across the country to be with Dusty’s family for the Thanksgiving holiday. “You know, Honey,” Liz said quietly, “after all the extra hours you crammed into your work so that you would be able to get away for a few days, after all the expenses to make the trip, after the late night packing and the early morning rising, knowing the lines at the airport, going through security, and everything else, I am not feeling so very thankful at the minute.” Just then Liz’s phone dinged, so she silently read it. “It’s a text from your mom. Let me read it to us. ‘Dusty and Liz, it’s the middle of the night still here. I am crying as I text. I am coming before His presence with thanksgiving and making a joyful noise unto Him. Giving great thanksgiving because in five hours I will get to hug my grandchildren and you folks, too. I am such a thankful Grandma. Love you.’”
THAT is a sacrifice of thanksgiving! When a Grandma looks “outside the box”, the circumstances of all the effort, and sees the Lord’s hand of grace, righteousness, and compassion on display through the events of her life.
THAT is a sacrifice of thanksgiving! When a family comes to realize what true thanksgiving really looks like.
THAT is a sacrifice of thanksgiving! When you and I say, “Father, I am unworthy of Your kindnesses toward me. I return to you what You have given to me. I return to you my thanks.”
Have you remembered “the sacrifice of thanksgiving” this Thanksgiving? It begins at the cross. It continues every day in a living walk with the living Lord. And it will continue one day when we are preciously in His presence!
Have you offered “the sacrifice of thanksgiving” today?
Close in prayer