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Thanksgiving Lessons

Once again the holiday season has come around and I don't know about you, but I'm sitting here wondering "Where did the year go?" Stores already are filled with Christmas decorations, and some houses already have their Christmas decorations up. It seems that Thanksgiving is basically a pre-season holiday these days. We eat, we sleep, we watch football, and then its Christmas parties, Christmas with families, and the next thing we know it's January! That's a shame because being thankful and saying "Thank you" is one of the noblest things a person can do. There is nothing trivial or small about it. To say "Thank you" is to acknowledge that we have been given something we did not earn and do not deserve. Happy is the man who understands that all of life is a gift of God and that life itself is the ultimate gift. Which is why the Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 "In everything give thanks."

With that in mind, I'd like to bring a special Thanksgiving message from Psalm 131. Psalm 131 is one of the “Pilgrim Psalms” The heading says “A Song of Ascents.” That means it was part of a group of Psalms which were sung as the Hebrew pilgrims made their way up the mountains toward the city of Jerusalem for one of the annual festivals. Fifteen of these Psalms are grouped together -- numbers 120-134. All except one are fairly short, because these were like our choruses that we sing on Sundays. Their purpose is the same – to prepare the heart for worship.

Psalm 131 only has three verses , so you may have overlooked it as not being very important, but that would be a mistake. Charles Spurgeon said that this Psalm is “one of the shortest to read, but one of the longest to learn.” These three verses each reveals an important quality for us to consider as we approach the Thanksgiving season.


I. Humility

"My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty. I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me." - Psalm 131:1

The Psalm begins with these words, v1a "My heart is not proud, O Lord, my eyes are not haughty." This would be odd sounding to our ears if we began a prayer or a chorus this way. It is always tricky to talk about humility. How do you know when you're truly humble? Would you even know if you are truly humble? It has said that humility is the virtue in which when you think you have it, you've lost it.

However, our culture puts a very low value on humility. From the moment we enter the world we are urged to get ahead, to climb the ladder and to look out for number one. It like they are saying "The one who dies with the most toys win," but dead people don't play with toys so what good does that do. While it may be true that the meek shall inherit the earth, the world seems to have missed that memo.

David went on to describe humility in terms of how he looked at his own limitations. v1b "I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me." David is saying, that there are many things in the universe that are far beyond my meager ability to understand. I don't worry about those things and I don't try to figure them out. Humility in this context simply means that you don't run the world, you don't have all the answers, you know your limits. The truth is, we are very limited, but God is not. We need to make sure that we are trying to do too much. A man once said "The man who thinks there are 15 things he could do with his life will probably do none of them very well. But the man who has only one option throws himself into it because that's the only choice he has." I think David would agree, happy is the man who know his limits and within those limits does the best he can.


II. Simplicity

"But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a child with its mother, like a weaned child I am content." - Psalm 131:2

Verse 2 brings us the quality of simplicity. It states, "But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a child with its mother, like a weaned child I am content." The picture is one only a mother can fully understand. A child is born and for a long time he looks to his mother as the source of his nourishment. Breakfast, lunch and supper all come from her. When he is hungry, he cries and his Mom knows exactly what to do. He is then satisfied and back to sleep he goes.

But then the day comes when the bottle is over, when he learns to eat with his brothers and sisters. But he still comes and lays his head on his mother, not in order to be fed, but just because he wants to be near her...he loves her. Unless a mother weans her child, he will never grow up. Though it may seem hard, and though the child misunderstands, if a mother truly loves her child, she will not stop until the job is fully done. Once he could not live without milk, now he no longer needs it.

To be weaned is to have something removed from your life which you thought you couldn't live without. David is saying "I've come to the place where the things I thought I had to have, I don't need anymore. Now my soul is quiet and content." Most of us are the opposite. We figure our contentment on the basis of how many of our needs are met. Unfortunately, it's hard to reach a place where all our needs are constantly met, so it's hard to ever really be content. No wonder Thanksgiving just whizzes on by. No wonder Christmas is a nightmare. No wonder we are never satisfied. Instead of being weaned from the world, we are wedded to it. Our soul is anything but quiet, our countenance anything but peaceful.

How do we get weaned from the world? God uses three things to go about weaning us from our dependence on the things of the world

1. He makes the thing of the world bitter to us

2. He removes one by one the things on which we depend

3. He gives us something better

In the end, we find that we no longer need the things we used to think we couldn't do without. And our walk with God is stronger than ever before. It was Jesus who said in Matthew 18:3, "Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." I think Jesus was talking about a faith which is childlike in its simplicity. Children can teach us at Thanksgiving to have a simple and uncomplicated trust in God. We as adults make things way too complicated.


III. Integrity

"Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore" - Psalm 131:3

The third principle is integrity. Verse 3 says, "Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore." The word "hope" in Hebrew means first to wait, then to wait expectantly. An expanded definition would be "to wait on something because you know the thing you are waiting for will happen because the person you are waiting on is trustworthy." David says, "You have a choice to make. Either you choose to live like everyone else or you choose to wait on the Lord." God wants us to be like the child in his mother's lap not there because he wants something, but because he just wants to be near her. That's what integrity is all about. It's choosing to put your confidence in God alone. It's finding rest in your soul because you discover that the things you used to crave aren't so important anymore.

There's a lot to ponder in these three verses. Now you know why Spurgeon said this Psalm is one of the shortest to read, but one of the longest to learn.

Humility, Simplicity, and Integrity. We need those three qualities everyday of the year, and especially as we approach the Thanksgiving holiday. Thanksgiving is now only a week away. We should be the most thankful people on the face of the earth. May our days be marked with humility, simplicity, and integrity. let us be thankful not only for the things we have, but also for the things we no longer have to have. And let the people of God hope in the Lord both now and forevermore.


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