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Gratitude



Gratitude

Joshua J. Masters |

As we explore the peace of David in Psalm 23, we learn how true gratitude and thanksgiving are rooted in the praise of who Christ is and His love for us, not the circumstances of this world.






Gratitude
October 27, 2022
Joshua J. Masters

INTRODUCTION

Good morning, Brookwood. 

 How many people here had pie for breakfast at least once this weekend?

How many people in our online campus are eating pie right now?

Okay, those were the warm-up questions.

Now let me ask you a harder one—with all the chaos of family and Thanksgiving, how many people left the holiday with a heart overflowing with gratitude?

And keep in mind, knowing the things you SHOULD be grateful for and actually BEING grateful are not the same thing .

Yet Scripture says:

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 (NLT)

Well, how do we do that?

Yes, some of us had a stressful holiday, but others are facing a life-altering crisis.

Some of us in this room don’t even know how to step into the next moment without bursting into tears, let alone how to be grateful.

Well, you’re not alone. That’s the same struggle David faced in the Bible.

I want to read you something David wrote in Psalm 22.

And I’m going to read it from The Message Bible.

(Now, I would never encourage someone to use The Message when studying scripture because it’s a paraphrase, but it IS very good at capturing the emotion of a moment and I want you to feel David’s emotion).

Listen to what he says to God:

Herds of bulls come at me, the raging bulls stampede, Horns lowered, nostrils flaring, like a herd of buffalo on the move.

I’m a bucket kicked over and spilled, every joint in my body has been pulled apart.

My heart is a blob of melted wax in my gut. I’m dry as a bone, my tongue black and swollen.

They have laid me out for burial in the dirt. Now packs of wild dogs come at me; thugs gang up on me. They pin me down hand and foot, and lock me in a cage—a bag Of bones in a cage, stared at by every passerby.

They take my wallet and the shirt off my back, and then throw dice for my clothes.

You, God—don’t put off my rescue! Hurry and help me! Don’t let them cut my throat; don’t let those mongrels devour me. If You don’t show up soon, I’m done for—gored by the bulls, meat for the lions.
Psalm 22:12–21 (The Message)

How many people have felt like you’re just moments away from the end and if God didn’t step in you wouldn’t make it?

God called David a man after His own heart—yet in this moment, David feels like the world and everyone in it are attacking him.

Those feelings are very real, but this is also the man who wrote these words:

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters.
Psalm 23:1–2 (KJV 1900)

Psalm 23 is considered one of the most beautiful passages ever written, not only in the Bible, but in literature.

And it portrays this perfect heart of contentment, gratitude, and peace.

Now, Psalm 22 and Psalm 23 were probably written years apart.

But how does a man go from challenging God, thinking he’s about to be devoured by the world, to the contentment and joy of the 23rd Psalm?

Let’s go back to where we left off in Psalm 22.

Verse 21:

If You don’t show up soon, I’m done for—gored by the bulls, meat for the lions.
Psalm 22:21 (The Message)

I will proclaim Your name to my brothers and sisters. I will praise You among Your assembled people.

Praise the Lord, all You who fear Him! Honor Him, all you descendants of Jacob!

Show Him reverence, all you descendants of Israel! For He has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy.

He has not turned His back on them, but has listened to their cries for help.
Psalm 22:22–24 (NLT)

Without any indication that David’s circumstances have changed, his heart is changed because he turns his focus to the identity of God.

And even though nothing has changed—his broken life is still broken, the remainder of Psalm 22 is filled with David’s worship for who God is.

Gratitude must be rooted in PRAISE.

When Paul wrote we must be thankful IN all things, he did not say to be thankful FOR all things.

“Be thankful IN all circumstances,” and more specifically, WHO is in the circumstances with you.

Why? Because…

Developing a heart of thanksgiving for Christ Himself overshadows earthly suffering .

That’s how David moved from the despair of Psalm 22 to the complete peace of Psalm 23.

So, yes. We should be grateful for our families, and food, and our blessings, but all gratitude must be rooted in praise for who Christ is.

And that should be the source of our gratitude and thanksgiving.

MY GRATITUDE LIST

So, let’s walk through this prayer of Gratitude, the 23rd Psalm, together.

On the 2nd panel of your outline or in the Brookwood app, we’re going to build a gratitude list based on the text.

So, you can go ahead and turn or swipe in your Bibles to Psalm 23 (pg. 451).

Now, as we enter this Psalm, keep in mind—David is praising who God is.

So even as we thank God for what He provides, the gratitude is rooted in praise for who He is as our Shepherd.

Then, being thankful for who He is LEADS to a heart of gratitude for what He gives us.

Verse 1:

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. …
Psalm 23:1–3a (NLT)

So, the first thing on our Gratitude list is this:

I will be grateful for Christ’s...

PROVISION and Care.

But look closely at the verse.

Why is David grateful?

David says, “The Lord is whose Shepherd?”

The Lord is MY Shepherd—that’s a huge departure from much of the Jewish Scriptures because the Jews tended to keep Yahweh at arm’s length.

It would be much more common to write, “Our Shepherd” or “Israel’s Shepherd” but David says, “MY Shepherd.”

Because you cannot enter the peace of God as an intellectual exercise.

It must be personal and intimate.

The Lord is MY Shepherd… and when you realize He’s your shepherd, you realize you have all you need.

We can grab hold of the Shepherd’s promises of provision and care because His Identity and character are reliable.

The Lord is my Shepherd.

HE lets me rest.

He leads me.

HE renews my strength.

Do you see the subtle difference?

If your gratitude is rooted in the provision and the still waters themselves, you will remain ungrateful until you get what you’re looking for.

But if your gratitude is rooted in the One who will provide it, you have immediate peace.

The only way to avoid a sense of lack in your life is to be focused on the Provider rather than the provision.

I rest knowing I’ll have what I need BECAUSE of who the Shepherd is.

Which is why David uses the personal name He knows for God.

Yahweh is my Shepherd.

But we know an even more personal name for the Shepherd, don’t we?

Yeshua Messiac, Jesus Christ.

Jesus Himself said,

“[The Shepherd] calls His own sheep by name… I am the good shepherd; I know My own sheep, and they know Me, ... So, I sacrifice My life for the sheep.
John 10:3, 14–15 (NLT)

He calls His sheep by name, and they know Him.

To Have Gratitude, We Must:

• Experience God calling us by name,

• Call HIM by name in Gratitude,

• And only then, name the things He has done for us with thanksgiving.

If you read John 10, you see everything the Shepherd does is to glorify the Father and protect the sheep.

Look at the verse again:

The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; He leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength [soul]. …
Psalm 23:1–3a (NLT)

Other translations more accurately read, “He restores my soul” or “my whole self.”

Rest, peace, and new strength—those only come from an intimate relationship with the Shepherd.

So, if we don’t have a heart of gratitude, it’s usually because we’re trying to find rest, and peace, and strength from somewhere or someone other than the Shepherd—usually, ourselves or the people in our lives.

And the verse says He LEADS me beside still waters or peaceful streams.

That brings us to the second thing on our Gratitude List.

I will be grateful for Christ’s...

PATH and Guidance.

We continue in the text:

… He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to His name.
Psalm 23:3b (NLT)

The phrase “right path” is very specific.

The word “right” in Hebrew here means “straight.”

And the word for “path” in Hebrew means a pre-made entrenchment—a clear, easy to follow track.

He leads me beside peaceful streams… and He guides me along straight, right paths that are already prepared.

So, it should be easy to follow His guidance, right?

But here’s the thing:

Sheep are dumb. And I won’t speak for you—but sometimes I’m dumb.

Unless the sheep hears the shepherd’s voice, it will just keep wandering out of the path.

It doesn’t matter what danger the sheep comes to or what signs of barrenness start dotting the landscape, it will just keep roaming in the wrong direction.

Charles Spurgeon said this:

“[A sheep] will go anywhere except in the right direction… it knows how to go astray, but it does not know how to come back home again.”

- Charles Spurgeon

Many of you know my story of running away from God—and as I wandered into the false bliss of independence, there were danger signs everywhere!

Every step I took away from the flock had flashing red lights:

“Wrong Way! Wrong Way!” but off I went, as happy as I could be, walking into the jaws of danger.

It wasn’t until I heard the Shepherd’s voice that I started moving in the right direction.

Jesus said,

My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.
John 10:27 (NLT)

But you know what we like to do when we want something God hasn’t given us?

We like to take some of our sheep wool and stick it in our ears.

I can see some of you are doing it right now.

So, as we seek to follow the Shepherd’s Guidance and path for our lives, we should ask ourselves two basic questions:

<PRODUCTION NOTE: Please put these up on screen together>

Questions to Follow His Path:

1. Am I listening for His voice? Is there any spiritual wool I need to pull out of my ears?

2. Once I am listening, does the answer I think I’m hearing honor God?

Everything the Shepherd does is to honor God and protect the sheep.

The verse says,

… He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to His name.
Psalm 23:3b (NLT)

So, if the answer you’re hearing doesn’t bring honor to His name, it’s not the right path.

Are we grateful for His path or are we so busy trying to forge our own that we get lost?

Proverbs 3:6 says this (and I think the CSB has the closest translation):

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding,

in all your ways know Him, and He will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (CSB)

So, we seek to become grateful for who He is as The Shepherd.

Next, we seek to become grateful for His provision, care, path, and guidance.

Then, we must learn how to lean into that gratitude when we face the bleakest moments of our lives.

Verse 4:

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me…
Psalm 23:4a (NLT)

I know it’s killing some of you that it’s not in the King James, right?

So, let’s say it together:

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for Thou art with me.
Psalm 23:4a (KJV 1900)

Do you feel better? I kinda do.

The NLT says, “The Darkest Valley” instead of “the valley of the shadow of death” because the Hebrew doesn’t actually use the word “death.”

But the word tsalmaveth {Sal-MAH-vet] is a shadow so deep with darkness, it’s associated with death, which is why the King James uses the more poetic verse we learned as kids.

Regardless of which translation you use, the sentiment is the same.

When you walk into the darkest moments of your life—the Shepherd is beside you.

Sometimes you’ll be led beside still waters—but other times, the straight, right path is going to lead you through a terrifying valley.

And in that valley, the Shepherd is the only one that can find still waters for you.

So…

I will be grateful for Christ’s...

PRESENCE and PROTECTION.

…in that valley.

You can run ahead of the Shepherd in the dark, hoping to get through the valley as soon as possible, but you’re likely to be eaten by a wolf, fall off a cliff, or drown in a flash flood.

You don’t have to be grateful for the valley in the moment, but to survive you must be grateful for the Shepherd that’s in the valley with you.

In His presence, there is peace and safety.

Now, down the road, when you see where the valley led—maybe then you’ll find some gratitude for what God did through the darkness.

But in the moment, you need to cling onto the Shepherd.

When a child has a nightmare, are they grateful for the nightmare or for their mom when jump into her arms?

First, they’re just grateful because she’s there.

And then they’re grateful because they know mom will protect them.

Now look at the end of verse 4:

… I will not be afraid, for You are close beside me. Your rod and Your staff protect and comfort me.
Psalm 23:4b (NLT)

Your rod and Your staff protect and comfort me.

They’re comforting because they’re symbols of the Shepherds strength and authority.

When the Shepherd wields His rod and staff, no harm can come to the sheep.

Now, it’s EASY to be grateful for the Shepherd’s rod.

That’s the weapon He uses to defend us against wolves and thieves.

We all love that.

But can you be grateful for the Shepherd’s staff?

Because that’s the tool He uses to control and discipline the sheep.

It’s also the tool He uses to examine the sheep, inspecting every inch of them for injury or wounds.

The Shepherd will club a wolf for you—but most of His protection is in His control of your path and constantly inspecting you for wounds that need healing.

Can you be grateful for that inspection and submit to the healing He wants to do in your life?

A big reason we walk through life without gratitude is because we’re unwilling to let God inspect and direct us.

We want the protection of the Shepherd without the submission to Him.

We don’t really like the idea of being a sheep, right? We want more.

Well, the truth is, Great Shepherd has every right to lead us as His sheep and offer no more than His care and protection—but when you submit yourself as a sheep under His care, He then lifts you up to a place of honor that no sheep deserves.

1 Peter 5:6:

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time He will lift you up in honor.
1 Peter 5:6 (NLT)

And that’s the transition we see in verse 5 of Psalm 23.

The Shepherd doesn’t change, but OUR role in the story suddenly does.

Verse 5:

You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.
Psalm 23:5 (NLT)

My cup overflows with blessings.

So,

I will be grateful for Christ’s...

PREPARATION , PLACE and Favor.

Let’s look at the first part of that verse.

You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies.

Psalm 23:5a (NLT)

In John 14, Jesus says there’s no need for our hearts to be troubled because He is going to prepare a place for us.

The Shepherd prepares a place for us and shows us His favor.

We are more than just sheep—we are treasured, honored guests at His table.

And notice how it says, “in the presence of my enemies.”

That means there’s not only a banquet for us in Eternity—but a banquet of blessings and favor for us here and now.

In the Eastern culture, when this was written, the laws of hospitality guaranteed the safety of the guests.

--So though the wolves may surround your table—they cannot come near.

--Though giants sit outside the gate, they cannot raise their club.

--And though your enemies may pace back and forth outside the door—they cannot pass the threshold of the Shepherd. Jesus said I am the gate for the sheep.

The Shepherd guards you and honors you at His table.

So, don’t walk away from the table.

William Fetler, who was probably the greatest missionary to Eastern Europe, saw incredibly dark things during his work in the Russian Empire.

He was constantly surrounded by enemies, he faced persecution, and he suffered exile.

But still he wrote these words:

Thy banqueting-house is so full of light,

And I was in darkness outside!

Thy banner of love has become my delight.

But oh! How cruel and cold is the night…

-William Fetler

What if we built a heart of gratitude—not for the blessings on the table, but because we’ve been invited to the table?

To live a life of gratitude, you must focus on the host of the table not the wolves encircling it.

Now look at the second half of verse 5:

… You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.
Psalm 23:5b (NLT)

He not only blesses us by lifting us up to a place of honor with Him, but He anoints us with oil.

So, on my gratitude list, I will also be grateful for…

I will be grateful for Christ’s...

PURPOSE and PRIVILEGE.

The place the Shepherd is preparing for you is a life of Purpose and Privilege.

Now, I know the word privilege is not very popular in our culture right now—it has negative connotations.

But the privilege offered as an honored guest at Christ’s table is not a privilege to self-aggrandizement.

It is a privilege of sonship (or daughtership)—it is an inheritance of authority as the children of God (1 John 3:1).

But that authority can only be wielded if we continually carry the humility and gratitude of a sheep.

Hebrews 12:28:

Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping Him with holy fear and awe.
Hebrews 12:28 (NLT)

We are not called to live a life of privilege; we are privileged to live a life of calling.

The Psalm says, “You honor me by anointing my head with oil.”

This was not only a way to honor an important guest, but it was used to heal wounds and solidify a calling.

--A shepherd anoints his sheep with oil to soothe wounds.

--A priest is anointed with oil as a confirmation of their calling to serve Christ.

--A King or Queen is anointed with oil in their coronation.

And as a favored child of God, you get all three.

The Shepherd will soothe and heal the wounds of your past.

But the Bible doesn’t just call us sheep—it calls us Kings and Priests (Revelation 1:6).

You have an anointing of healing, and purpose, and authority on your life—but we fail to live in that anointing when we have a heart of grumbling instead of gratitude.

Finally, on our gratitude list is this…

I will be grateful for Christ’s...

PURSUING Love and PROMISES.

Being grateful for everything we’ve talked about this morning, and the ability to live a life of gratitude really comes down to being grateful for who God is—and He reveals who He is through His pursuing love and His unwavering promises.

Verse 6 of our text:

Surely Your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 23:6 (NLT)

That last word, forever, can either be translated “all the days of my life” or “for days without end.”

Scholars like to argue which one is correct, but I tend to think it means both—that God’s unfailing love pursues us in this life and is fully revealed in the next—that we have a place at His table now and in eternity.

Jesus told this parable:

“If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders away, what will he do?

Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others on the hills and go out to search for the one that is lost?

And if he finds it, I tell you the truth, he will rejoice over it more than over the ninety-nine that didn’t wander away!”
Matthew 18:12–13 (NLT)

That is pursuing love—but when we’re out wandering, as I did for so long, we’re not grateful for the one pursuing us, are we?

We’re only temporarily grateful for the scraps we find along the way.

Stop settling for scraps and turn your attitude toward the One who is pursuing you with unfailing love and unwavering promises.

Do we want to do that together?

Here’s my challenge to us to help us develop that heart.

On the next panel of your discussion guide is a Prayer of Gratitude I’ve written.

It’s based on more than 25 passages of Scripture used in today’s message.

[If you’re in our online campus, you can get the discussion guide on our website or use the Brookwood App.]

As we develop hearts of thanksgiving, I’m going to challenge us to declare this prayer and meditate on the passages it reflects throughout the week with the daily readings.

Ask God to reveal His hope in a way that draws us to a place of gratitude.

Then, I want you to share what you sense from God with a friend, your family, or in your Community Group.

Christ is pursuing us—both individually and as a church.

Jesus said:

“… [the Shepherd] calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. After He has gathered His own flock, He walks ahead of them, and they follow Him because they know His voice.”
John 10:3–4 (NLT)

Let’s follow in gratitude.

<PRAYER>

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