This talk was delivered in two parts.
Part One introduced the idea of Gratitude.
Part Two explored Psalm 65 by using five pictures which we considered one by one.
Later on, we’re going to read Psalm 65, and this Psalm is a Psalm of Gratitude….
But what does gratitude mean? Any ideas….
Well it’s a quality of being thankful, saying thanks, showing our appreciation,
And thinking about being thankful made me remember a song, which I sang as a child…..
I wonder perhaps if you know or recognise it…
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings,
name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
This song reminds us that we do have lots to be thankful for each and every day…..
So, in groups of 3 -4, turn to the people around you, I want you to share some of the things that you have or enjoy and are grateful for….
We do have lots to be thankful for….
Homes, families, friends, relationships, food, technology, clothing, toys, freedom, travel, education, freedom of speech, all sorts of amazing things….
All sorts of material things which more than half the world’s population does not have….
And so we’re going to pause here for a moment….. and we’re going to thank God for all the amazing things we have…..
Now our Psalm today, Psalm 65, belongs with 3 others – 66, 67 and 68, written almost certainly by David. It would have been used by God’s people gathered together in the temple to say and sing their thanks to God after their Harvest was complete.
This Psalm is a prayer of gratitude…..it is a song, a prayer which acknowledges and recognises all that God is and all that God has done and is doing.
It is a prayer which looks beyond the immediate here and now, beyond the material,
and sees the bigger picture, sees God for who he is,
and responds with alleluia.
Picture 1 – (big letters – GOD)
This psalm begins quite simply by recognising that God is God and is worthy of our praise.
Not just because of the things He’s done.
But simply because of whom he is, God Almighty.
A faithful God, a loving God, a merciful God,
A God who does not change
A God who created the world, who said “Let there be light”, and there was light,
A God who abounds in steadfast love
A God who loves each and every one of us.
And so we can be thankful that God is God.
Picture 2 – (praying hands and listening ear)
This psalm reminds us that God is a God who is with us in the midst of life.
God isn’t far removed and distant, rather he walks with us.
Verse 2 says that God hears and answers our prayers.
You see, none of us are alone. God listens to us. Anytime, anywhere.
We have a privilege that Old Testament believers didn’t have.
We don’t have to go to a priest with burnt offerings and sacrifices.
We can go directly to God, anytime, anywhere and He listens and answers; he hears our cries and petitions.
Hebrews puts it this way – ‘so let us come boldly to the throne of our Gracious God, there we will receive mercy, and find grace to help us in time of need.’
And so we can be thankful that God hears us and answers our prayers.
Picture 3 – (the word power with a lightning flash)
Several times this psalm refers to God’s power and strength.
God is Omnipotent – all powerful….
Verses 6 and 7 remind us that the God who set the mountains in place
can also silence and bring peace to the roaring seas.
And this God can do amazing, miraculous deeds, bringing deliverance and healing.
For the psalmist, God had delivered Israel from oppression, fear and slavery.
And for us, we too can be thankful, for God has rescued us from oppression, fear and slavery through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Because Jesus who was without sin, died for each of us, we can know his righteousness covering us….
And God continues to work in power in our lives today,
bringing peace and calm,
stilling the storms which rage in and around our lives.
And so we can be thankful to God for his power and strength.
Picture 4 – (a loving heart and cross)
Verse 5 reminds us that God is a good and compassionate God –
the God of salvation, the one who forgives.
In fact, all through history, all through the Bible, God is revealed as a God who loves humanity, who longs to be in relationship with people,
who time and time again reaches out to men and women,
old and young and invites them to draw close,
to walk with Him, to place their trust in Him.
You see God is our only salvation, our only hope,
as this psalmist says, the hope of all of creation.
And this hope is ultimately revealed in Jesus, Peter tells us that Jesus is our living hope,
who in his life, death and resurrection makes possible for each of us to come to God Almighty,
to find reconciliation and love, healing and freedom, life in all its fullness.
You see God is a forgiving God who forgives our mistakes,
the times when we mess up,
the times when we get things wrong.
And so we can be thankful that God loves us and forgives us.
Picture 5 – (image of the world)
And finally, in verses 9-13 this Psalm reminds us that God lovingly created the world
and continues to sustain and care for it.
God provides for creation, sending rain and blessing growth.
1 Chronicles says ‘yours O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on the earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom….we adore you as the one who is over all things.’
With our modern supermarkets, and most things available at the click of a button, we can become removed from creation – this Psalm reminds us that god is our Provider, not of riches or luxuries, but of necessary and appropriate blessings….For a farming community like Israel, that meant a good harvest.
And so we can be thankful for creation, for God’s love and his care for it.
Psalm 65 is a prayer of gratitude….
it reminds us of all that God is,
it reminds us of all that God has done and continues to do in our lives.
It gives us a different perspective….
allowing us to say alleluia,
to give thanks,
to develop an attitude of gratitude.
What I’ve shared now is in many ways a quick snapshot of this prayer of gratitude…
Perhaps you may want to think about ways in which you might develop a deeper, greater sense of gratitude in your own life,
it might be as simple as counting your blessings each day,
it might mean showing appreciation to others, a compliment, some flowers, a card of thanks,
it might be thanking God more often for all we have.
it might mean choosing to say alleluia, instead of moaning or groaning.
I’m going to end now by sharing some words, based on Psalm 65, which affirm our faith and give thanks to God.
Thank You God for being God. Alleluia.
Thank You God for hearing and answering our prayers. Alleluia.
Thank You God for forgiving our sins and giving us hope. Alleluia.
Thank You God for your power, strength and awesome deeds. Alleluia.
Thank You God for creating the earth and sustaining it. Alleluia.
Thank you God. Alleluia. Amen.