Singing Thankfulness

Singing Thankfulness. Col 3:16—Drummondtown Baptist Church– Nov 25, 2018.
Dr. David R. Denny

*Can anybody whistle?  (Ask to hear).
*I was a little bored the other day and so I did what we all do when we’re listless and in need of inspiration—I watched Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. In the scene I watched, Snow White was faced with a chore that many men have faced:—a dirty kitchen that your wife told you to clean up.  In this scene, Snow White showed us how to do it. “Just whistle while you work,” she told the squirrels and chipmunks and birds who helped her.

snow white.jpg

Just whistle while you work
And cheerfully together we can tidy up the place
So hum a merry tune
It won’t take long when there’s a song to help you set the pace
And as you sweep the room
Imagine that the broom
Is someone that you love and soon you’ll find you’re dancing to the tune
When hearts are high the time will fly so whistle while you work

Colossians 3:16 is our text today and it stands high and lifted up beside John3:16 as one of the most powerful texts in the Bible.  If I was to translate it from the Greek it would go something like this:  JUST WHISTLE WHILE YOU WORK.

What makes this so impressive is that Paul was in prison while he wrote this. And it is this context that he reminds us that thankfulness is possible no matter what our life situation. My sermon outline is simple this morning:  1.  Sing thankfulness (or whistle) when times are good. 2. Sing thankfulness (or whistle) when times are bad.

1. Sing thankfulness (or whistle) when times are good.

        This is what David did in Psalms 9, the text I used here at DBC on Thanksgiving morning.  David gave thanks when times were good.  His battles behind him, peace had settled in on the people of Israel and in this tranquility, David sang his thankfulness.  READ TEXT…I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.

*This is what the pilgrims did on the first Thanksgiving in Massachusetts.  Just ten months after their arrival in the new world, they had already built seven houses, a common meeting place, and three storehouses. And so they joined with their Wampanoag Indian friends and gave thanks.

But it is often the case that when times are good and we are blessed and contented that we often forget to sing our thankfulness to the Lord.  We become complacent and take our blessings for granted.

*Such was the case in Malachi’s day.  He tells us in this sad treatise on the frailties of the human heart.  Everything was good in Malachi’s day.  The people had come home from captivity Babylon.  They had rebuilt the city walls under Nehemiah’s leadership, and the temple was also repaired and ready for use.  Everyone had it pretty good.  But they forgot God in their abundance.  They no longer sang thankfulness. They gave God only the leftovers.  The priests brought God the weak and maimed animals for sacrifice and the people only put pennies in the offering plate.

*One of the books I taught my 8thgraders was written by Elie Wiesel entitled, Night. He starts the book with a strange character named Moishe the Beadle.  Moishe was a loner, almost clownlike.  Nobody took him seriously.  He was a quiet somber person who spent most of his time in prayer and reading of the Scripture.  He lived in Transylvania a region of Romania.


He warned everyone to flee because the Nazis were coming but no one believed him.  He was just a clown. But one day they did come and the foreign Jews in the town were herded into cattle cars and taken off to their deaths.  Everyone on the cars had been ordered to walk into a near forest many miles from their town.  They were all shot with machine guns.  Moshe played dead lying under dead bodies.  When the Nazis left, he went back to town and warned the rest to flee.  But nobody believed him.  They were so complacent.  They were like the people in Malachi’s day—sated and full and giving God only an occasional wink.  But then not long after they all of the Jews of Transylvania were ordered into cars and taken off to their deaths.

All of this brings us back to our main point.  Sing thankfulness when times are good. They won’t always be good so develop the habit of giving thanks now while your life is blessed with abundance.  Don’t be complacent.  Don’t give the God the leftovers. Give Him exuberant thankfulness each day.

2. Sing thankfulness (or whistle) when times are bad.

It was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow who reminded us all that hard times are likely to fall upon everyone sooner or later.

The Rainy Day
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life, some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

It is simply a fact of life that hard times will befall all of us sooner or later.  Is it possible to give thanks in the dark days?  It defies all logic.  I know it is a task that must seem impossible.

*Peter understands that difficult may befall any of us at any time.  He reminds us in 1 Peter 5 that Satan is a roaring lion who seeks to devour us.    But he also tells us that suffering has its limits and “after a little while the God of all grace…will perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you,” 1 Peter 5:9-10).

*It was St Paul and Silas who sang praises to God in the dark jail cell in Philippi.  (Acts 16:23…).


As Thanksgiving gives way to the Christmas season, let’s all sing our way forward with songs of thanksgiving for all that God has done for us. Let’s give thanks for the smallest of blessings that come our way.  Let’s give thanks in good times and in bad trusting that our lives in God’s hands.



The Call of the Harvest


The Call of the Harvest.  Proverbs 3:9-10/ Malachi 3:8-10—DBC. Dr. Denny. November 18,2018

They were called Stampeders.  These were mostly men, a few women, who left their comfortable homes in the states and rushed to the Klondike to prospect for gold in 1897.  The stampeders numbered about 100,000 dreamers who just knew they would strike it rich in the Klondike.  Few ever achieved that goal.  To get to the Klondike they had to drag a ton of supplies up and over the steep Chilkoot Pass that led to the Klondike.  I have an old photo that shows a string of men in single file struggling to climb this treacherous and narrow path up the mountain.

Chillcoot Pass

It was in the midst of this gold frenzy that a young man from San Francisco named Jack London decided to join this mob.  He was 21 and his life up to this point had been a struggle.  He hoboed around the country doing any odd job he could find. He tried to go to college, but he just didn’t have enough money to make it there.

London said once, “it was in the Klondike I found myself.”  He got sick in the mountains though and had to go home.  But when he got back to California he wrote one of the world’s most famous novels, “The Call of the Wild.”  This story drew from his experiences in the Yukon Gold Rush.  He wrote about a powerful dog named Buck who had been stolen from a wealthy family in California and sold to prospectors in the gold rush.  Buck eventually turned wild, the call of the wild too powerful to hold him back.

The Call of the Harvest

            It was this title of the novel that intrigued me as I considered our gathering today. Harvest Home is one of the high points of our church life here at the DBC.  And harvest Home has its own call as well and it is in Malachi that I hear these sacred calls the clearest.

Background to Malachi:

Malachi was written after the exiles returned from captivity in Babylon (538 BC).  Nehemiah had just rebuilt the temple in Jerusalem and life returned to normal finally.  But as time passed the exiles did the unexplainable—they once again strayed from God, neglecting Him in worship and life.  (Why do we always do this?  Why do we forsake the only One who ever loved us enough to give His life for us)?

The priests began to grow weary of the constant daily summons to the temple and the sacrifices.  They did a horrible thing:  they began to bring the worst of their animals to the altar.  Only the diseased, or blind or worthless animals were selected for God.

And the people also began to neglect the Lord by stealing money from the Lord.  They only brought a small portion of the tithe required by God.  They kept most of their wealth and gave God only the meager leftovers.

Solomon reminds us today that we must hear the Call of the Harvest and bring our wealth to the Lord. Then, he said, would dour barns be filled to overflowing.  And Malachi reminds us that God deserves more than our leftovers.

Three Calls of the Harvest

Let me briefly give you three calls of the harvest for us to consider this morning at Harvest Home.

  1. The Call of our Wealth

Each year we come to this event planning on honoring God with our offering.  We come because love our church, we love our Savior.  This is an ancient tradition.  Solomon taught us to do this.  Malachi taught us to do this.  Jesus likewise taught us to give to the Lord.

*Mathew 2:21.  “Give to Caesar the money that is due Caesar.  And give to God that which is due to Him.

Our goal this year was $15,000.  Your goal might be small but sacrificial for you. Perhaps you brought $5 or $10 or more. Only you will know if your gift honored God.  Only you will know if you stole from God.

*My attempted robbery in Athens.  I was on an Athens bus.  It was crowded and I stood holding on to the ceiling strap.  A Greek man stood in front of me with a newspaper. We swayed back and forth as the bus rounded various corners.  When the bus finally stopped, the man began to pull away from and when he did so, my wallet fell from his folded newspaper to the floor.  That was I knew I had been robbed.  I was so angry.  Perhaps this is how God felt in our Malachi text.  Let us answer the call of the Harvest today and not rob God of our tithe.

  1. The Call of a Hundred Dreams.

For our church to truly prosper, we need more than money.  We also need to bring our Dreams.  I believe when a church stops dreaming, it starts dying.

*The BGAV meeting this week in Richmond hummed with countless dreams.  I could scarcely take it all in.  Every speaker talked of a dream his or her church had for ministry. Let me share just one that the BGAV has been promoting for five years.

*More than Nets is a mission project between Virginia Baptists and Ghana.  It focuses on the crisis of malaria in Yendi, a region in Northeast Ghana.  Every year scores of people die malaria.  The solution is a simple net.  A net costs about $10.  The goal is to deliver 100,000 nets in five years.  At the BGAV meeting, the moderator announced that 85,000 nets have been delivered so far.  An offering was taken. The goal is almost completed.

What is your dream for DBC?  Perhaps you haven’t thought of this for a while.  but the Call of Harvest is more than money.  It is dreams.  What can we do?  What will we do here on our mission field?

*One of my dreams before I ever arrived was to start a program to help teachers in the nearest local school.  That dream is now underway.  Once a month a number of you join me in bringing refreshments and a smile to the local teachers of the Accawmacke Elementary School. Already I see an impact at the school. The teachers are so appreciative of our gifts to them.  Many of them share personal problems and concerns as they take an apple or banana in the morning.  What are your dreams for our church?

  1. The Call of Talent

The final call of Harvest Home is the call of talent.  What good are money and dreams without talent?  As you bring your tithe and your dreams, you must also bring your unique talent.  What can you do?  Everybody has a talent or a gift.  Paul made that clear when he spoke to the Corinthian church.

*Last week we issued a call to help staff the nursery.  Immediately many of you stepped forward and now I understand that we have a good foundation for rotation of workers in the nursery.

*Rustburg BC.  At the BGAV meeting, I learned of a small church in Rustburg VA who has a wood ministry. Men in the congregation chop and deliver wood to 28 poor families who would freeze in the mountains without it.


We heard at the beginning of this sermon Jack London’s Call of the Wild.  And from that illustration, we have considered the Call of the Harvest.

We must answer three calls:

  1. The Call to Give
  2. The Call to Dream
  3. The Call to Act


Treasure Hunting–Proverbs 2:1-5. David R. Denny PhD

Treasure Hunting—Proverbs 2:1-5—Drummondtown Baptist Church—November 4, 2018, Dr. David R. Denny PhD


Today we’re going to do some treasure hunting.  It’s not going to be easy.  Expect some hardships.  It is Solomon himself who dares us to undertake this challenge.  He tells us clearly that there are hidden treasures waiting for those willing to search (v4).

            *I would like to take you back to a treasure found almost by accident by a wealthy German businessman named Heinrich Schliemann.  He began the adventure of a lifetime by setting out to find ancient Troy.  Homer wrote about this battle of Troy and Schliemann knew Homer almost by heart. This ancient tale by Homer so captured his imagination that he set out one day in 1871 to prove Troy existed. After several years of poking around in a place called Hissarlik —-western Turkey—where he thought Troy to be, he indeed did find the old city just as Homer had described.  —-But this was not enough for Schliemann.  He wanted to find the Treasures of Priam, the king of Troy.  He reasoned that the king must have buried his treasure in the ground somewhere in the city so the invading Greek soldiers would not find it.

         One day as he was propping up a trench on the southeastern side of the city, he saw a glimpse of gold starring at him from beneath the crumbling dirt.  It turned out to be the spectacular hidden treasure.   One of the many items was a golden headdress worn by his queen that dribbled down over her head in hundreds of delicate golden strands.

         As we begin our own adventure this morning searching for hidden treasure, we will follow the guidelines of Solomon himself. And if you do so you will be richly rewarded beyond your expectation.  You too will find a treasure of value far greater than the gold of Troy.  Solomon wants us all to find the most dramatic and valuable of all treasures—God Himself.  He wants to lead us first to Wisdom, Discernment, and Understanding and when we have found these early traces of gold they will take us directly to God Himself.  (READ vs 4-5—“If you seek her…you will discover the knowledge of God.”

So, how do we go about finding this “hidden treasure”?…

 1. We must awaken our spiritual senses. (v2—“your ear…your heart”).  You will not find God—whom Solomon considers to be the greatest treasure that exists—without awakening your spiritual senses. You can see he focuses our attention on our ears and our heart.  Solomon wants us to learn how to listen for the still small voice of God who often lingers behind the noise of the modern world.  And we must tune our hearts to hear a different melody than plays on the radio stations. Our ears and our hearts must be conditioned to seek wisdom. —— I think he is telling us something profound here about how we live and go about our daily activities. It is possible for people to go galloping through an entire day without once listening for God’s voice.  We must change that, Solomon says.  We must step out of our doors in the morning and search for the divine.  God is there, but we must seek him.

             *It was Jeremiah who said to a dispirited nation of Israel held in captivity in Babylon that even though their daily lives were difficult in captivity, they could still find hidden treasure in their misery.  Jeremiah 29:12-13Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”

    Sistine        *Michelangelo was only 33 when he was summoned by Pope Julius 11 in 1508 to paint frescoes on the ceiling of the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel.  He was known as a sculptor, not a painter.  He was working at this very time on the astonishing 17 foot high “David” in Florence. It was then that the pope summoned him and gave him the plum commission to paint the ceiling.  Nobody believed he could do it.  But of course, we know better.  When you walk quietly into the chapel today and stare in silent awe at the great masterpiece, you feel all of your inner senses scrambling to attention.  This is what Solomon wants for you as you search for divine treasure.  He wants your ears to hear the quiet voice of God in your daily walks and your heart to open in your valiant quest for God.

2.  We must awaken our voices.  Solomon wants us to invoke more than our ears and our hearts.  He wants us to lift our voices in this quest for treasure.  (2:3: “… cry for discernment, lift your voice for understanding”).  There is a rising intensity here as our search for treasure continues.  We are now progressing from the silent search with our ears and hearts to a more boisterous calling out for God.  “Cry out for discernment,” says Solomon and “lift your voice for understanding.” 

            *When I was little I ran away from home.  I was living on the Yokohama Air Force base and I was in the 3rd grade.  My mom had ticked me off somehow. I can’t remember what happened, but I remember very clearly running away.  I had made it all the way to my school, and I was determined to never ever go home again. I would live like Huckleberry Finn using my wits to survive. I was just about to begin this new life when I heard my mother calling out for me way off in the distance. It was a sound I will never forget. It was not just a call.  It was more like a sorrowful wailing. There was a desperate tone in her voice I had never heard before.  As she came closer and closer, the voice grew louder, more pressing and poignant. I hid behind the corner of the building.  My heart began to slowly melt as I felt her anguish.  I finally stepped out surrendering so she wouldn’t cry anymore, and she took home lovingly.

            There is something about calling out, about lifting our voices to a cause.  And Solomon tells us to do this very thing as we search for God.

            Jesus once said the most amazing thing as He walked triumphantly toward the city of Jerusalem inLuke 19:40.  The people who lined the road toward Bethany were tossing their coats on the road before Him praising in a loud voice.  The Pharisees didn’t like it all.  They told Jesus to order the mob to be silent.  “But Jesus answered,  ‘I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out’).  And so, as you move through your day, find time to cry out to the Lord.

3.  Solomon Promises us Success.  As we conclude our quest for hidden treasure Solomon is quick to tell us the most important fact of treasure huntingThe Treasure is meant to be found. v5:  “you will discover the knowledge of God.”  For God is never so distant or so reclusive or hidden that we cannot find Him.  He wants to be found.  Again we turn to Jeremiah where He records the voice of God telling us that God will be found if we search for Him with all our heart.  I’m so happy to hear that.  It would be discouraging to be always be looking for something and never to find it.

            When we had our Easter egg hunt last year,  I remember it was a beautiful day outside. We had about 90 or so folks crammed inside the fellowship hall while Diane and her elves began hiding the eggs. I’m not sure how many eggs she hid, but I know it was hundreds and hundreds.  Scores of little treasures all tucked away in the yard beneath bushes and flowers.  And when the kids were released to find them, I think they were all plucked from their hiding places in less than five minutes!  Those treasures were hidden but in such a way that anybody who searched for them could find them.


            Our search for hidden treasure is now coming to an end for this morning. But let’s always remember Solomon’s wise words. Begin your daily search for God with your ears and your heart opening like a rose beneath the sun.  Then open your voices in prayer and call out for God.  And when you do these things you will find hidden treasure for God wants you to find Him.