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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles,
Lord’s Day Evening, November 20, 2011

“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name” (Psalm 100:4).

I am lifting out those words, “be thankful unto him, and bless his name,” for my text this evening. I will not speak very long because I know you are hungry – and a great Thanksgiving meal awaits us upstairs in the fellowship hall. Dr. John R. Rice said,

      The Pilgrim Fathers who had come to America to make a home in the wilderness, where they [could] have freedom to worship God according to the dictates of their conscience, had the first harvest in 1621...amid many perils [they] set apart a day for Thanksgiving to God. On that day they feasted and gave thanks (John R. Rice., D.D., “Count Your Blessings,” in Great Preaching on Thanksgiving, Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1987, p. 65).

D. L. Moody added this detail,

It is said that in a time of great despondency among the first was proposed in one of their [church services] to proclaim a fast. An old farmer arose [and] spoke of their provoking [God] with their complaints. [He] showed that they had much to be thankful for, and moved that instead of [having] a day of fasting, they should [have] a day of thanksgiving. This was done, and the custom has been continued ever since (D. L. Moody, ibid., p. 128).

And Dr. W. B. Riley said,

      The custom of Thanksgiving Day originated with the Plymouth Pilgrims in was made official when George Washington proclaimed Thursday, November 26, 1789 as a national day of thanksgiving...[and it became an annual national holiday] when in 1863 Abraham Lincoln established the last Thursday in November as the date on which the people should assemble in their churches and acknowledge the “grace of God” (W. B. Riley, D.D., ibid., p. 229).

Thus Thanksgiving is an American holiday, based on the tradition of our Protestant and Baptist forefathers. And it is a very Biblical thing to do, to pause and give thanks to God. Our text says,

“Be thankful unto him, and bless his name” (Psalm 100:4).

I never celebrate Thanksgiving without thinking of my mother. It was her favorite holiday. My mother didn’t get saved until she was eighty years old. Dr. Cagan led her to Christ. I baptized her on the 4th of July in 1993. Mother’s favorite hymn was the song that we sing every Thanksgiving, “Count Your Blessings.”

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
   When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
   And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
   Count your blessings, see what God hath done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
   Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.
(“Count Your Blessings” by Johnson Oatman, Jr., 1856-1926).

Whenever we sang that song, Mother would say, “Oh, Robert, we really should count our blessings, and name them one by one! It really is surprising what God has done!” I sang that song with her in the hospital, at the end of the last conversation I had with her before she passed away.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,
   And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

“Be thankful unto him, and bless his name” (Psalm 100:4).

We should thank God for the Bible – His holy Word. The Bible was given by inspiration. The very words of the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures were “breathed out” by the Spirit of God. Without the Bible we could never know about the Trinity, the substitutionary death of the Saviour, the new birth, or any of the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith. The Apostle Paul said,

“The holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”
       (II Timothy 3:15-16).

Dr. B. B. McKinney, an old fashioned Southern Baptist hymn writer, said,

I know the Bible was sent from God, the Old, as well as the New;
   Inspired and holy, the living Word, I know the Bible is true.
I know, I know, I know the Bible is true;
   Divinely inspired the whole way through,
I know the Bible is true.
    (“I Know the Bible is True” by Dr. B. B. McKinney, 1886-1952).

Thank God that He gave us the Bible!

“Be thankful unto him, and bless his name” (Psalm 100:4).

We should thank God for His providence. I spoke on that this morning – how the providence of God led Lydia out of Thyatira to Philippi, and then led Paul to Philippi, where he preached Christ to her and she was converted. It seemed like an accident that Paul went to Philippi and met Lydia there. But it was not an accident. It was the providence of God! Mrs. Cook gave a testimony this morning. She told us how she was attending USC, but for “some reason” she took one class she didn’t really need at another school, at UCLA. One of the men in that class was from our church. He invited her to come. She said she could feel God’s presence when she came into the church. I preached and she was immediately converted – the first time in her life that she heard a sermon on the Gospel of Christ! She went to that one class at UCLA by the providence of God! God arranged for her to be there! That’s what providence means! If you were born to parents in the church, you too, are here by God’s providence. I exhort you to take advantage of this privilege! By the way, you are here tonight by God’s providence. Someone invited you, and somehow you came. But it was not by chance! It was no accident! You are here tonight by the providence of God.

“Be thankful unto him, and bless his name” (Psalm 100:4).

We should thank God for sending His Son to this earth. Man sinned in the Garden of Eden. The whole human race was ruined and lost. God could very justly have let all mankind go to Hell. But God sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, into this old sin-ruined world to save all those who trust Him. Jesus went to the Cross to pay the penalty for our sin, so we could be saved for ever and ever! The most beloved verse in the Bible is John 3:16. It says,

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
   God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
   And pardoned from his sin.
O love of God, how rich and pure!
   How measureless and strong!
It shall forevermore endure,
   The saints’ and angels’ song.
(“The Love of God” by Frederick M. Lehman, 1868-1953).

“Be thankful unto him, and bless his name” (Psalm 100:4).

I could mention many other things for which to give thanks. We should thank God for our families. I thank God for my wife, Ileana. She is God’s gift to me. I think she is the greatest pastor’s wife in America. I love her with all my heart. I am thankful for my sons. I am so glad they are in church with me every Sunday. I love to see them and spend time with them. I am so thankful for this church. I thank my God every time I think of the thirty-nine people who saved our church in a time of great trial. I thank God for all the new young people who are coming into this church. I thank God for our deacons and other leaders. I thank God for those who guard our building and our parking lot. I thank God for those who buy the food and prepare two meals for our church every Sunday. I thank God for our soul-winners. I thank God for our translators who put our sermons out in fifteen languages, read by thousands of people around the world in over 160 countries.

“Be thankful unto him, and bless his name” (Psalm 100:4).

But I am focusing on the most important things. I am thankful for the Blood of Jesus our Saviour! There is a deadly error going out in some churches today that the Blood of Christ no longer exists! With my own ears I heard one prominent Bible teacher say, “The blood of Christ ran into the ground and perished.” If that is true, my friends, we have no hope of ever being cleansed from sin. But, I am thankful tonight that the Bible teacher is wrong – dead wrong! I am thankful that, “The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin” (I John 1:7). I am thankful that in Heaven we will sing praises “unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Revelation 1:5). And I am thankful that Christ rose physically from the dead. I thank God that we serve a living Saviour!

“Be thankful unto him, and bless his name” (Psalm 100:4).

And if you are not yet saved, I plead with you to come to Jesus. He is seated at the right hand of God in Heaven. He loves you. He died and rose from the dead to save you. Repent and come to Jesus, and He will wash away your every sin with His precious Blood – and give you eternal life. And I pray that you will come back to church next Sunday to hear more about Jesus, and to experience the joy and love of God’s people. Amen and Amen!

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Psalm 100:1-5.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“The Love of God” (by Frederick M. Lehman, 1868-1953).