A Pervasive Gratitude
A PERVASIVE GRATITUDE
Sermon By Terry Siverd /November 20, 2022 / Cortland Church of Christ - - www.cortlandcoc.org
Our life on earth is a sojourn.
I want to urge you to join us next Sunday for a follow-up on this concept of “sojourning”.
While that sermon is still unfolding in my mind, I have already titled it, You Have Come To Mount Zion.
That lesson will deal with eschatology rather than Christology. Please plan to join us for that important study.
The word “sojourn” is defined as a temporary stay or brief residence. In the Hebrew Bible there is a set of writings collectively referred to as The Psalms. While David wrote most of these psalms, one is specifically attributed to Moses - - Psalm 90.
Although un-tagged, some argue that Moses also wrote Psalm 91 and tradition postulates that he wrote Psalms 90 thru 100.
(You will notice that while not all of the psalms are connected to a particular source, most have accompanying bylines).
With this Thursday bringing our annual Thanksgiving holiday, I've titled this this morning sermon, A Pervasive Gratitude.
In Psalm 90:10, Moses writes - - As to the day of our life, they contain seventy years, or if due to
strength, eighty years. Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow; For soon it is gone and we fly away.
As most of you know I have spent a lot of time at cemeteries.
Although it may sound somewhat macabre, I've often wished that I'd kept a journal over the last 40 years, documenting all of my burial-ground visits with photos and notes for a book I've considered writing, Cemeteries I Have Know.
For the most part, these words that Moses penned hundreds of years ago, still ring true.
Some people die young, but for most of us reaching our eighties is not an unreasonable expectation of the length of life.
My maternal grandfather lived to be 100, but attaining that milestone remains an exception rather than the rule.
Seldom do I do re-run sermons, but for this morning, I am re-formatting a sermon that I preached way back in 2006.
I doubt that you'll remember it, but if you do I hope you'll agree that it's a timely message that needs re-broadcasting.
Our goal in life is not to just log a bunch of miles, but to enjoy the journey itself.
What a pity it would be to chronicle a lengthy ledger of hours and days spent in a life we'd like to forget.
I've been thinking about the new Sunday AM class being taught by Tracy Hood, The Life You've Always Wanted.
It's a much-needed study of the Christian Disciplines. As I examined upcoming sub-topics from Tracy's big whiteboard,
I thought of King Solomon's exhortation in Eccl.9:10 - - whatever your hand finds to do, verily, do it with all your might.
When Tracy asked for other “disciplines”, I thought of hands: emptying … welcoming … resting … and thanking.
Regarding this latter discipline of “thanking”, how would you describe yourself? Ingrate? … Seldom grateful? …
Only occasionally grateful? … Grateful about half the time? … Often grateful? … Always grateful?
If we are to heed to voice of Scripture it is this latter phrase that ought to be our goal: ALWAYS GRATEFUL
Ps.92:1 / It is a good thing to give thanks to the Lord.
Ps.100:4 / Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him; bless His name.
Eph.5:20 / always giving thanks for all things.
Philp.4:6 / be anxious for nothing, but in everything with prayer and supplication
with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.
Col.2:7 / overflowing with gratitude … Col.4:2 / with an attitude of gratitude.
1Thess.5:16-18 / rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks;
for THIS IS GOD'S WILL FOR YOU IN CHRIST JESUS.
This is God's will for every one of us: A PERVASIVE GRATITUDE - - giving thanks every day in every way for every thing.
How much our world be enriched if pervasive gratitude was apparent in all of us - - always and in all ways for all things!
Clearly this pervasive gratitude is scriptural, but is it sustainable? i.e. is it really doable?
When something is pervasive, this implies that it permeates and saturates every nook and cranny of life.
Pervasive gratitude is not just about BIG EVENTS. Elwood Stone was struck by lighting twice; Larry Pierson had a massive heart attack while deer-hunting in the woods of southern Ohio. I fell off a ladder and broke my neck.
In reading the story of Jesus healing 10 lepers (Lk.17:11), we're appalled to note that only one returned to give thanks.
What about the SMALL STUFF? What about all of the LITTLE THINGS in life - - the everyday happenings:
the air we breathe; the ground we walk on; the bread we eat; the water we drink; the love of family and friends?
If thanksgiving only surfaces on unforgettable & extraordinary days and/or in the face of cataclysmic & calamitous
events, then we do not truly possess a pervasive gratitude. A pervasive gratitude is all-encompassing - -
it rules and reigns over all things: the big and the small; the exceptional and the ordinary;
the spectacular and the mundane; the rare and the common; and the marvelous and the modest.
A sense of gratitude that only raises its voice once in a while in the presence of abnormal
happenings is not pervasive, but paltry and perverted. Expressions of thanksgiving that only
stir in the heart on those unusual occasions in life is not pervasive, but pitiful and pathetic.
It seems only right that all ten of the lepers should have returned to Jesus with grateful hearts.
But all ten returning would still be amiss if that miraculous healing was the only event that prompted their thanksgiving.
The hymn-writer Frederick Faber says it well: Thy gifts are strews upon my way like sands upon the great seashore.
They called him Thankful Sam. He was different. No matter what life brought he always found a reason to be grateful.
This obvious and consistent habit greatly annoyed one of Sam's more cynical neighbors, who took it as his personal mission to
break Sam's habit of thankfulness. On a rainy day as Sam was walking near the street, the neighbor spotted a huge puddle,
perfect for a thorough soaking. He steered his car into the puddle, splashing Sam from head to toe. Then he got out of his car
to see what Sam would say. Sam's first words were: I'm thankful that puddle wasn't deeper, or you might have drowned me.
Several years ago Jeannie returned home from her job as an occupational therapist, traveling from one
school to another in a steady drizzle which made the commute quite miserable. She relayed that she was
on the brink of grumbling and complaining when she spied a man in a wheelchair ambulating in the rain.
The story is told about an itinerant preacher who had built a reputation for always being thankful. Wherever he
preached, whatever he faced, this godly man would consistently find something for which to give thanks. One day
when the weather was downright miserable he had an appointment to preach in a small rural church. Faithful to
his commitment, he had plodded through the wind and sleet to meet with the tiny congregation. Since the conditions
were so awful, the congregation listened anxiously to see whether or not this thankful preacher could find anything for
which to be thankful on that day. As he entered the pulpit, he bowed his head and led the church in the following prayer:
This is a wretched day, dear Lord, no doubt about it; But we thank Thee, Lord, that every day is not as bad as this one.
From a biblical perspective, when we approach this subject of pervasive gratitude is it impossible not to think of Paul.
In Acts 16:22f we find Paul and Silas imprisoned in Philippi, yet praying and singing hymns of praise to God.
Later on when Paul writes to the church in Philippi, he is once again incarcerated. He refers to himself and his
young co-worker Timothy as bond-servants of Christ Jesus (Philp.1:1). He notes early in his letter (Philp.1:12) - -
Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress
of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout
the praetorian guard and to everyone else. And that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord
because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.
There Is not a day that goes by that we cannot find reasons to be thankful. If we THINK we will THANK.
Someone has written: Be thankful for what you have received and also for what you have escaped.
Charles Spurgeon once wrote: As long as we are receivers of mercy, we must be givers of thanks.
A pervasive gratitude puts life in perspective.
It helps us to recognize how small we are, and how very much we need God.
If we think about it, we can even be thankful for the numerous problems we face, because
our abundance of problems remind us of God's steadfast faithfulness in addressing our neediness.