Thankful Hearts (Sermon 11-13-2022)

Some of you may have heard about a young boy about 5 years old. He had never uttered a word during his entire life. Doctors had examined him and not found any clinical cause for his lack of speech.

One morning at breakfast, his mom burned the biscuits and the boy said; “I can’t eat these burnt biscuits.” Both of his parents looked at him in astonishment. They asked why hadn’t he said anything up to that point, to which he told them that everything had been fine up until his mom burned the biscuits.

There are some people who never open their mouth except to complain. These people look for rain in every cloud, even the white puffy ones that may hang against the otherwise clear blue sky.

We are approaching the time when we might sit around a bountiful table and overeat before napping in front of a televised football game. Yes, I am talking of the coming holiday known as Thanksgiving Day.

For those that haven’t had a chance to read my article in this month’s newsletter, the real start of the custom that preceded our Thanksgiving Day holiday was when rain came to break a drought.

In a community that depends on agriculture to sustain itself, rain is vitally important. Indeed, water is a vital need in all communities. Water is essential for all life.

As we prepare to read through our scripture this morning, it may be good to note that Isaiah was called to prophecy about the same time Assyria began to expand to the west around 742 BC. Isaiah had prophecies that were addressed to the northern kingdom of Israel as well as to the southern kingdom or Judah.

In the early section of Isaiah, he warns of the coming invasion. God is not blessing Assyria over Israel, but He is using them to carryout His judgement against Israel’s continued their pride and arrogance (Isaiah 9:9). In chapter 10, Isaiah tells them what God has against them and how God will move to correct the situation.

Woe to those who enact evil statutes and to those who constantly record unjust decisions, so as to deprive the needy of justice and rob the poor of My people of their rights, so that widows may be their spoil and that they may plunder the orphans. (Isaiah 10:1-2 NASB)

Human nature is not different today. The rich and powerful still seek to increase their wealth and power at the expense of those who suffer the most. The widows, orphans, and needy are victimized. Despite many calls to change, nothing had changed. So, Isaiah tells them what is coming.

Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger and the staff in whose hands is My indignation, I send it against a godless nation and commission it against the people of My fury to capture booty and to seize plunder, and to trample them down like mud in the streets. (Isaiah 10:5-6 NASB)

God will use a godless nation to carry out His anger against Israel. (There are times when we ask, “Why God allows bad things to happen?” Well, it may be that we have failed to repent and return to God.)

With the bleak picture of an invading nation, Isaiah turns to a glimmer of hope. In the 11th chapter, we find another promise of God’s restoration and the coming Messiah (the root of Jesse). Isaiah also speaks of the return of the captured to Israel. It will be a time for thanksgiving.

Let’s turn to Isaiah the 12th chapter and read our scripture for this morning.

Then you will say on that day, “I will give thanks to You, O Lord; for although You were angry with me, Your anger is turned away, And You comfort me. (Isaiah 12:1 NASB)

When all of the bad has been cleared away, when Israel is restored, then they will give thanks.

Let’s pause right here and reflect. Most of us here can remember when we made bad choices. We remember when we acted in a manner contrary to the will of God. We may remember the pain we suffered as we reaped the fruits of those bad decisions.

Now, remember the comfort that we felt when we returned to God and found that He is not angry toward us. Not only is God not angry; God is our salvation.

“Behold, God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation.” (Isaiah 12:2 NASB)

Knowing that God is not angry with us and that He is our salvation should bring a refreshing of our spirit. I remember working in the summer “putting in” tobacco. When we reached the last cropping in the last field, we would run and jump in the irrigation pond to cool off. We were hot and sticky. The water helped us to refresh.

God’s salvation should bring us similar refreshing.

Therefore, you will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation. (Isaiah 12:3 NASB)

Whether it is a refreshing drink or a refreshing dip, the living waters of God bring refreshing relief and instills life and renewed energy.

When we look at the situation in Israel, we see the hand of God allowing the Assyrians to meet out discipline toward the goal of restoration. Isaiah is already pointing to the time when Israel will be returned to their homeland and God will be there to receive and bless them.

And in that day, you will say, “Give thanks to the Lord, call on His name. Make known His deeds among the peoples; make them remember that His name is exalted.” Praise the Lord in song, for He has done excellent (or gloriously) things; let this be known throughout the earth. (Isaiah 12:4-5 NASB)

We live in a society where the open display of emotions is rarely seen or expected. It is only rare occasions when we openly laugh or cry because of events in our life. Yet, here in this passage and many other passages found in God’s word, we are called to openly express our thanks to God. We are to break into song. David even broke into dancing in the street to express his delight in what God was doing.

If we pause to reflect on just what God has done for us (individually), why are we not dancing and singing? Most of us find it difficult to even smile. This idea of gratitude and expressing our thanks through public displays is not limited to the Old Testament. We don’t just find this in Isaiah or in the Psalms.

Jesus talked about the shepherd who found the lost sheep. In the 15th chapter of Luke, Jesus shares three parables about the lost being restored. Listen to what happened when the lost sheep was found.

And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ (Luke 15:6 NASB)

Then Jesus tells us about a woman who lost a coin and was so happy to find it that she could not contain her excitement.

When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!’ (Luke 15:9 NASB)

Then Jesus tells us about the younger son who made some really bad choices but returned home. Listen to the word of the father about this returning son.

But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found. (Luke 15:32 NASB)

In each case, something was lost and then restored. In each case, there was celebration and rejoicing. We are not told how the sheep got lost. We are not told how the coin got lost. We see the younger son made poor choices. We also see that it does not matter how we are separated from God. It does not matter is we were led astray by others or we made poor choices. What we see is that God has made a way for us to be restored to Him and for that we should rejoice and be thankful.

If there is a separation between you and God this morning, the good shepherd is looking for His sheep. Let Him know that you are ready to be found. If God is already your salvation, then let the world know that you are happy.

We will close with one final scripture that reminds each of us to have thankful hearts.

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the Lord Himself is God; it is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the Lord is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations. (Psalm 100:1-5 NASB)

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