Monday, May 13, 2013

Attitude of Gratitude - Psalm 100

Psalm 100

miscanthus in morning sun

A Psalm for Giving Thanks

1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!
2 Serve the Lord with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
3 Know that the Lord, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving,  and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
5 For the Lord is good;  his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 100
Attitude: manner, disposition, feeling, position, with regard to a person or thing; tendency or orientation, especially of the mind. Position or view.
There are good attitudes and bad attitudes. Attitudes and actual behavior are not always perfectly aligned. Attitudes can change. People may change their attitudes to reflect their beliefs or behaviors. They may change their attitudes to please another person or group. People will shift their attitudes to reduce tension created by incompatible feelings.

Gratitude the quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful. Thanks, thankfulness, appreciation, gratefulness.
An  attitude of  thankfulness is a good attitude to develop. An attitude of gratitude has been proven to improve one's feelings. It will improve a person's physical and mental health. People with high blood pressure not only lower their blood pressure, but feel less hostile and are more likely quit smoking and lose weight when they practice gratitude. Grateful people do not focus so much on pain and problems. Grateful people are happier, less depressed, less stressed, and more satisfied with their lives and social relationships. An attitude of gratitude is a good attitude to develop. Dr. Robert Emmons, a gratitude expert and professor of psychology, says "gratitude acts like a psychological immune system. Gratitude lowers stress, boosts happiness, improves relationships, and generally makes you feel better about life." Grateful people do not focus so much on pain and problems. An attitude of gratitude appears to be the single most important personality trait for providing the necessary aspects of well-being.

 Some psychologists recommend that one should keep a gratitude journal. One should add three things they are for to their journal every week. Gratitude is to be practiced like physical exercise. By practicing gratitude one will rewire a negative thinking brain to positive thinking brain. Dr. Emmons says, "When you express a feeling, you amplify it. When you express anger, you get angrier; when you express gratitude, you become more grateful. ... Gratitude is not about ignoring problems, it is about seeking the positive no matter how small."

No one can doubt the benefits of an attitude of gratitude.  The value of gratitude is hardly a new discovery.  The ancient Roman Lawyer, Writer, Scholar, and Statesman Marcus Tullius Cicero said: “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.”  (106 BC - 43 BC)  Psalm 100 predates that quotation by centuries.  Today's science of psychology does not Laud the virtues of thankfulness. It appears to be an empty goal.  With today's emphasis on what's in it for me, we extol gratitude only because of its benefit to one's self – I am thankful because it makes me feel better.

As a Christian, I have some difficulty with attempting to produce these feelings of gratitude using the process described above. For a Christian, an attitude of gratitude should be natural with us.  Martin Luther referred to gratitude as "The basic Christian attitude." It is a great thing to be thankful. We should never forget to thank those who help, teach and guide us. We should be gracious and thankful in our treatment of all. Forcing, scheduling and journaling a specific occasion and number of items to be thankful for will probably not lead to a genuine attitude of gratitude. Look at the great American National Holiday of Thanksgiving. On Thanksgiving Day thousands of American families get together for a feast. Families and friends gather together to express their thankfulness for their good life. Unfortunately, many of those celebrating have no one to thank. We are thankful for every good thing–– but to whom do we offer our thanks?  What is the benefit of a "feeling" of gratitude if you have no one to thank. Thank God!

 Having a feeling of gratitude or thankfulness is also useless it you don't express it.  “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” – William Arthur Ward  Expressing our thanks to God should not be solely an annual occurrence.  Psalm 100 gives us the path one should take for a true attitude of gratitude.  We are told who is to be offering thanks, and to whom the thanks is to be given.  In this psalm we are encouraged to praise and give gratitude to our creator. We are also commanded how we should offer this thanksgiving.

We will look at this short psalm in this and the next few blogs. The remainder of today's blog will focus on who is to be offering thanks, and to whom the thanks is to be given.  Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!   Psalm 100:1   All the earth is to give thanksgiving.  The word earth used is אֶרֶץ eres.  It is used 2,505 times in the Old Testament.  It means most often means: world, earth, all inhabited lands.  Who is to give thanks – all the people of the earth.   His steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.  Psalm 100:5b  All generations is the translation of a short Hebrew word, דוֹר dor. It means just what it is translated as: all generations, all ages, all people evermore, posterity.  So all people of the entire world, from all times (past, present and future), are to give thanks.

Who are we to give thanks to? Make a joyful noise to the Lord  Psalm100:1   Serve the Lord with gladness!  Psalm 100:2    Know that the Lord, he is God!  Psalm 100:3 , the supreme God.  For the Lord is good;  Psalm 100:5a  Four times in this inspired short psalm we are told to adress our God.  We are told to give thanksgiving to  The Lord, (יְהוָֹה  yhwh  Lord Yahweh), the eternal self-existing God,  the "I AM."

In verse three we read: Know that the Lord, he is God!  It is he who made us, and we are his; Psalm 100:3  Both Lord (Yahweh), and God אֱהִים lohiym  (Elohim) are used.  We are assured that this is the only true God. Our God is the creator of all mankind.  All mankind is to praise and thank Him.

In these five short verses we are told to thank God.  All the people of all the earth, of all ages are to show gratitude to the one and only God.  Did you notice in verse three it states It is he who made us, and we are his?  Are you His? Do you know Him? If you do not know the God of whom this psalm speaks, you cannot give Him the thanks He rightly deserves. God created you. God, the Son gave His life for you. God is a selfless giver. Come to Him through Christ and know Him. Give Him the thanks that He deserves.

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