Isaiah 6:8

8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Five Kernels of Corn and All I Am Thankful For

Our scripture today is from Ps 103:1-13

The Pilgrim fathers who landed at Plymouth Rock over 300 years ago knew nothing of the affluent times which you and I enjoy today in this great country of ours.  The next time you and I are tempted to complain about inflation and the state of our economy, we need to remember the following:  During that first long winter at Plymouth Colony, seven times as many graves were made for the dead as homes for the living.  The ship which was to bring food and relief brought 35 more mouths to feed, but not an ounce of provisions.  Touching indeed is the picture of William Brewster, rising from a scanty Plymouth dinner, consisting of a plate of clams and a glass of cold water, to thank God “for the abundance of the sea and the treasures hid in the sand.”  The Pilgrims didn’t have much, but they possessed a great gratitude and it was upon this very thing that America was built. These stalwart people, strong, devout and sincere were the timbers upon which our nation was founded.  They had a custom of putting 5 kernels of corn upon each empty plate before a dinner of “thanksgiving” was served. Each member of the family would pick up a kernel and tell what they were thankful for. It was to remind them that the first Pilgrims were in such dire straits that their allowance was only 5 kernels of corn per person each day.

Let me tell you…we have many reasons to be thankful. Let’s take 5 grains of corn, and using Psalm 103:1-5 as a basis, think of 5 things to praise God for.  In this Psalm David calls upon his body, mind, soul, and spirit to join in one grand symphony of praise for the benefits God has so graciously bestowed upon him. Can you see the 5?  The first is the  Kernel of Forgiveness

Verse 3a tells us: “…who forgives all your sins…”

One day a fellow was visiting with his pastor in the parsonage. He picked up a book that was on a stand and began to read. Suddenly he shouted, “Glory! Praise the name of the Lord!” The pastor asked, “What’s the matter with you?” The visitor replied, “This book says that in certain places the sea is 5 miles deep!” “Yes, that’s right,” said the pastor. “What of it?” The visitor answered, “Why the Bible says that my sins have been cast into the depth of the sea, and if it’s that deep, I’m not afraid of their coming up again. The pressure of the water is so great there that if the largest battleship could be sunk to that depth, it would be crushed like an egg shell.”  There’s no mistaking it—God offers forgiveness. All any person must do is repent and forsake his sin, and God will forgive him and revoke the penalty of sin.

This forgiveness is a…

 Promise of the Father

 Provision of the Son

 Proclamation in the Bible

 Required practice in the church

From the depths of our hearts, a sense of gratitude should well up. Gratitude should ascend like incense to the throne of God.

The second kernel is the Kernel of Redemption.  Verse 4a: “…who redeems your live from the pit…”  The London Times publishes the prices paid for art objects in all of the salesrooms of the world. If a painting is sold in New York or Paris or Rome or London, The Times gives the full details of the sale. You can judge the value of the painting by the price paid for it. And we can judge our value by the price Jesus paid for us—the depths into which He had to reach in order to redeem us.  The Governor of Texas, spoke to the assembled convicts of penitentiaries of that state. He finished by saying that he would remain to listen if any man wanted to speak with him. When the meeting was over, a large group of men remained, many of them lifers. One by one they each told the governor that he was there through a frame-up, and injustice, or a judicial blunder. Each asked to be freed.   Finally, one man came up and said, “Governor, I just want to say that I’m guilty. I did what they sent me here for, but I believe I’ve paid for it. If I were freed, I would do everything I could to be a good citizen and prove myself worthy of your mercy.” The governor pardoned this man. Why? Because he admitted his guilt. So it is with us if we are to be redeemed from the awful sentence we’re under. But there is a difference. We can’t say that we’ve paid for any of it because as the old hymn says, “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe; sin has left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow."” If we will plead His blood, God will redeem us.  The Lord not only saved our souls from hell, but He also redeems our lives from the clutches of the devil. Satan is bent on destroying our lives. But thanks be to God who redeems our lives from his power. All one has to do is take a look at our penitentiaries, sanitariums, hospitals, and half-way houses. They are filled with people whose lives are being destroyed by our enemy. Jesus said in Matthew 7:13, “Wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction and many are on that road.”

But we praise God today with the Psalmist who said, “He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD” (Psalm 40:2,3).

The third Kernel is The Kernel of Healing.  Verse 3b: “…who heals all your diseases…”  When first considering this passage of scripture, I was reluctant to use it because I couldn’t reconcile it with the fact that God doesn’t heal everyone who has an “incurable” disease. But I believe the Holy Spirit can help us to see three important truths contained in this verse.

The first is that all healing is divine healing and all recovery from sickness, injury and surgery is the result of the healing properties that God has built into our bodies. Medicine, surgery and therapy are merely extensions of God’s healing ministry.

The second… This verse doesn’t say that God heals everyone’s diseases, but that He heals all diseases. There is no disease or sickness that lies beyond Hid healing power—not even what we call “incurable.” He is the Great Physician.

The third…. The main truth I learned is that the Psalmist is speaking to his soul. “Bless the Lord, O my soul,” he said, “who heals all your diseases.”

The diseases of the soul emanate from the virus of sin. Jesus identified this virus and its symptoms and disorders in.  Matt 15:19-20: “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what make a man ’unclean.’”

Just as surely as some disorders of the body can be cured by medicines and surgery, so the soul of man can be cleansed, purged and purified—and made whole when God the Holy Spirit is allowed to possess us completely.

The fourth kernel is The Kernel of Love and Compassion

Verse 4a: “…crowns you with love and compassion…”  In one of Dr. J. Wilbur Chapman’s meetings, a man rose to give the following remarkable testimony: “I got off at the Pennsylvania depot one day as a tramp. For a year I begged on the streets for a living. One day I touched a man on the shoulder and said, “Mister, please give me some money so I can have something to eat.” As soon as I saw his face, I recognized him as my father. ‘Father, don’t you know me?’ I asked. Throwing his arms around me, he cried, ‘I’ve found you! I’ve found you! All I have is yours!’ Think of it! That I a tramp, stood begging my father for a few cents, when for 18 years he had been looking for me to give me all he was worth.”  How similar this is to the loving kindness and tender mercies of the Lord which accompany our lives every day.

The fifth kernel is The Kernel of Satisfaction and Renewal

Verse 5: “…who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”  This reminds me of the words of Jesus, given in the sermon on the Mount: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matt.5:6).
There’s a great paradox here. We’re satisfied but never satisfied. My wife makes the best apple pie in the world. I’m always satisfied when I eat some, but I always want more because what I’ve experienced makes me want to taste it again and again. So it is with righteousness. We’re filled and the filling is so sweet and so rich and full that we want more.  When we seek God’s righteousness, He grants it. Psalm 107:9 says, “He has satisfied the thirsty soul and the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.”  A famous surgeon was seldom seen on the streets without a beautiful, fresh rose in his lapel. His friends wondered why these buds stayed fresh for so long a time. When they asked him his secret, he turned back the flap of his coat and revealed a little bottle of water into which the stem of the flower had been inserted. So it is with believers. If our lives draw from the great resources of the Lord Jesus, who is in us the Water of Life, we will grow more fragrant and beautiful as the days and years go by.  But that’s not the end. Verse 5 also says that God will renew my youth like the eagle’s. The eagle is known for three things: size, strength, and longevity. It’s also known for its annual molting.  This is the result of living a fulfilled, satisfied, spiritual life. I am constantly being renewed, refreshed, and revived in my soul and God is doing it all!  No wonder then that the Psalmist said, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name!”  So, let me ask you….when you sit down to your Thanksgiving meal on Thursday, take time to thank God for these blessings—and remember these five kernels.

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