Text: Psalm 145:14-21 November 25, 2012.
1) They were just too used to it: Dr. Joe Stowell, a former president of the renowned Moody Bible Institute, wrote about his negligence on the beauty of his hometown. He said that he was surprised to learn about the selection of his hometown Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore in Michigan as the winner of ¡°The Most Beautiful Place in America¡± by Good Morning America viewers in 2011. ¡°I didn¡¯t expect this winning location is just right there in my backyard. That reminded me of the time when my wife and I visited the Niagara Falls. A man nearby watched our tourist behavior and quipped, ¡°Ain¡¯t nothin¡¯ to it. I see it everyday.¡±
2) We are just too used to it as well: How easily we grow dulled and accustomed to our surroundings, as beautiful as they are, and to the blessing of the Lord, as abundant as they have been, that once brought great joy and delights to our hearts. But slowly all these had become ¡°as usual¡± and we lose our feeling of being blessed and thankful. We take it for granted on what we have and stop enjoying the blessings with thanksgiving. It is easy to lose our joy in living in God¡¯s grace, enjoying the provisions God has given, the abundant love He shows us each and everyday. Too often, we don¡¯t even realize his presence with us each and everyday in our daily endeavor and needs. Isn¡¯t it sad that while many others admire what we have but we just feel ¡°nothing special¡± with God, people and things we have.
WHY ARE WE NOT EXCITED?
1) You forgot how little you had then: Every morning when I come to this beautiful church complex, the well kept land-scaping, the green lawn, colorful flowers, trees lining around the property, the beautiful building and my spacious office, I always feel excited, happy and grateful. I think it is like come to work in a garden. This is so because I always remember how little we used to have as a church on Stratford Road some 20 years ago. I also remember how simple and small my so call office was. In fact it was only half of a storage area with only a desk and a chair and a window unit a/c humming all the time over my head. (See pictures in the hallway and you know what I am talking about) If you remember how little you used to have and compare to what you have now, you will be very thankful.
2) Not happy with what you have now. If I go to visit Bellevue Church to see their grand entrance like a 5-star hotel. And see the grand style staircase and the half-million-dollar chandelier hanging from a 45 feet high ceiling. And I will also see the life-size oil painting of their pastors outside their gigantic worship center and the glamorous stage with all the glittering decoration. Then come back to our church and try to compare the two, it is highly possible that I will feel dejected, small and even sad. If you compare whatever you have, your house, cars, job, income, husband, children and their performance and the level of their success with those who have more, achieved higher, etc. it is hard or impossible to feel happy and excited.
3) We are too used to what we have: Remember how excited you were when you bought your first new car some 20 years ago or this new car you brought just 3 years ago? Do you still have the same excitement on them? The answer is ¡°NO¡±. Right? Do you know why? You may say why should I? They are old things. How can I hold that same excitement so long? You hit it right: we lose that good feeling or excitement of things after a while and that includes people as well. That is why marriages once happy, bright and vibrant had faded into just routine in a few years. We get used to enjoy the same good things too long and lose that excitement and appreciation.
4) We want more than we can do: Some 25 years ago, a family migrated to America from China, stayed with their brother who had been in this country 15 years earlier. Seeing the brother¡¯s family and what they had, the sister made a vow: We will be like you in 10 years. But 25 years later, what she had hoped for didn¡¯t happen and she is wearing out of her energy and hope and became bitter of what she has. If we always feel we deserve much more than what we already have, life cannot be happy.
WHAT CAN AN UNGRATEFUL HEART DO?
1) It can wipe out joy in your heart: If you are ungrateful for all the blessings of God and others pour on you, you won¡¯t have the joy of enjoying all the blessings. The Quality of joy doesn¡¯t rest on how much you have; it depends on how you feel about what you have. If you are not grateful to God and all others who made it possible for what you have, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to have joy in your heart.
2) It can discredit the value of achievement: We know that nothing will drop on your lap from the sky without opportunity God provides and hard work you put in. When you are unhappy on what you have achieved, it automatically discredits the good work God and you have put into your life. You can do little or nothing when others don¡¯t give you credit for your hard work and the achievements you have won, but when you discredit yourself, it really wipes out the value of your life and work.
3) It can create anger on God and people: When you are unhappy in what you have done, you discredits blessings God bestows on you and all the kindness and assistance others extended to you to help you succeed. Some may even get angry with God and people whom they suppose to be grateful of. Some blame God of being unfair. Others blame people not being generous or more helpful. Their relationship with God and people will sink. Instead of searching for their shortcoming, they generate anger against God and others.
4) It can hurt our quality of life: ¡°A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.¡± (Prov. 17:22) A grateful heart is the fountain of a happy life, doesn¡¯t matter how much or little one may have. This has a direct effect on our relationship with people around us. Many otherwise good and vibrant relationships were broken because we just take it for granted on what we have: that includes people, family and friends. An ungrateful and unhappy heart also hurts our health condition. It hurts the quality of sleep, our appetite on taste of food, our digestion system and our heart function.
A FRESH LOOK AT GOD¡¯S BLESSINGS: (Psalm 145:14-21)
1) God holds us up when we were stricken down: ¡°The Lord upholds those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down.¡± (145:14)All of us have experience of being stricken down in our pursuit of life: at home, in school, at work, in relationship, in career or business pursuits, etc. When we were down and out, God is the surest support who will come and hold us up. Do you still remember those days when you needed help the most but no one was there for you except God. Even Paul had those heartbreaking experiences. ¡°At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. Only the Lord stool at my side.¡± (2 Timothy 4:16-17)
2) God provided needs when we had nothing: ¡°The eyes of all look to you and you gave them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.¡± (145:15-16) Some may think that giving credit to God for his provision is not spiritual, but even Jesus included the provision of need from God in his model prayer. Too often we forget how God¡¯s gracious provision in our lean days when we are in abundance. We always need to be thankful to God for his blessings in providing our material needs.
3) God answers our prayers in time of trouble: ¡°The Lord is near to all who call on him. He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.¡± (145:18-19) Do you remember those desperate times when you have no one but God you can call for help? Do you still remember that thankful heart you had when God answered your prayers and gave you your hearts¡¯ desires? Do you remember that the only light your have in those darkest nights is the lifeline of prayer between you and God and He delivered you from despair beyond your power? If you do, you have plenty to be thankful of.
4) God deserves your thankful heart: ¡°My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever.¡± (145:21) If you are good in giving thanks to people, those who have helped you in your journey of life. And to those who had done good thing to you and for you; those who had extended support to you and held you up when you were weak. Then you have more reasons to thank God all year round, particularly at the Thanksgiving time for all He had done for you and to you. If you are humble and realistic, you won¡¯t make it to where you are and what you have without the grace, love, generosity and benevolence of the Almighty God.
1) Do the right thing at the right time. We all agree the importance of do the right thing at the right time in practical life situation. The best of all the right things we may do is to give thanks to God for all his blessings, provisions, guidance, protection and answers of our prayers. To God be all the glory in the earth and in our lives.
2) Do the right thing to the right persons: This is about giving thanks to those who had extended their love, support, comfort and good will in your life journey. Remember you won¡¯t make it to this day without them. Find a way to express your thankful heart and make known to them you will never forget what they have done to you.