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Let all that I am praise the LORD ; with my whole heart, I will praise His holy name. Let all that I am praise the LORD ; may I never forget the good things He does for me.
He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.
He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!

Psalm 103:1-5

Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone. See that no one pays back evil for evil, but always try to do good to each other and to all people. Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

I Thessalonians 5:14-18


Five Kernels of Corn

Randy K’Meyer

A week ago Saturday, November 11th was not only Veteran’s Day, it was also the 403rd anniversary of the Pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock. It was 402 years ago that Governor William Bradford declared the first day of Thanksgiving in which the pilgrims sat down with 91 American Indians for a three-day feast as they gave thanks to almighty God for all His benefits unto them.

But that winter turned out to be a disaster. Seven times as many graves were made for the dead as homes for the living. A ship that was to bring food and relief brought 35 more mouths to feed, but not an ounce of provisions. Tradition says that for a time they were rationed five kernels of corn per day.

So two years later, 1623, 400 years ago, those early settlers had an abundance of food and someone hatched the idea of placing five kernels of corn on their plate prior to the Thanksgiving meal to remind them of how God got them through that difficult time.

That idea grew into a custom of putting 5 kernels of corn upon each empty plate and each member of the family would pick up a kernel and tell what they were thankful for. 1

We too have many reasons to be thankful.

Let’s take 5 grains of corn, and using Psalm 103 as a basis, lift up 5 things to thank and praise God for.

The first kernel is the kernel of Forgiveness: “He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases” (Psalm 103:3).

That ‘heals all my diseases’ part is there because the Jewish belief at the time was that sickness was due to unconfessed sin in our lives. And that if sin was forgiven, disease would be healed. Addressing this particular subject is more than I care to undertake today. And it’s not really germane to grasping the tenor of this passage because the point here in this chapter and this verse is that we should praise (thank) God because God forgives our sins.

Our greatest need is for the forgiveness of our sin(s). The Bible makes this perfectly clear; our sin separates us from God. After the first humans sinned against God, there were consequences; which included death, but the more severe consequence was separation from God. We will be separated from God forever. This is what the Bible calls the second death. And until our sin is forgiven, there can be no reconciliation between us and God.

In Thursday’s Bible study, we were studying Romans and came to 3:23, “For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” and someone remarked that’s bad news. And then we saw in the very next verse, Paul conveys the most wonderful news:

Yet God, in His grace, freely makes us right in His sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed His life, shedding His blood.

Romans 3:24-25

Or as the writer of Hebrews says it more succinctly, “Christ has offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:12). When we trust in Christ and His sacrifice for us, all our sins are forgiven.

Micah 7:19 says, “Once again You will have compassion on us. You will trample our sins under your feet and throw them into the depths of the ocean!”

Now the deepest part of the ocean is just a freckle shy of 7 miles deep. And the pressure at that depth is just a hair shy of 16,000 pounds psi. That’s the equivalent of three adult rhinoceroses per square inch mind you. That means nothing’s coming up from the bottom. And we don’t have to be afraid that our sins will surface either!

Oh, I know it’s true that other people sometimes take great delight in trying to dredge up our sins, but make no mistake about it; our God never will.

“He forgives all my sins!”

The second kernel if the kernel of redemption: “He redeems me from death” (Psalm 103:4a)

Once our sins are forgiven it follows that we are redeemed from death.

Paul writes, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness
of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7).

Redeem is a word that implies we have been set free. We have been set free from having to pay the penalty for our sins. As we have just seen, Jesus paid the penalty for us.

We have also been set free from eternal death. Oh sure, we are going to experience the cessation of bodily function. These bodies will die. But we can thank God that through our faith in Christ’s sacrifice upon the cross, as well as His resurrection from the dead, we do not have to live in fear that we will die forever. Rather, we are guaranteed eternal life.

This past Tuesday, Gail and I went to see the film After Death, which tells the stories of people who experienced NDE’s or Near Death Experiences. Whatever else you make of those stories; some of which speak of going to a dark place of terror and others who experience indescribable love, one thing is for sure.

What we think of death is not the end. For after these people clinically die, their souls or spirits rise up out of their bodies and they can see and with precision describe what’s happening to them. If they died on an operating table, they can accurately describe every detail of how the medical staff responded. One lady who drowned while water rafting after she was pinned under a waterfall for 30 minutes later accurately told those who were trying to rescue her what they had done and even said. The evidence, which is accumulating at an ever-increasing pace, is overwhelming: death is not the end, it’s just a new beginning.

And those of us who have placed our trust in the Lord Jesus can rest assured that when that day comes for us, we will be immediately ushered into the presence of the Living God. Now that’s something to be thankful for!

“He redeems me from death.”

The third kernel is the kernel of God’s Faithfulness: “He crowns me with love and tender mercies” (Psalm 103:4b).

Do we recognize that every day God blesses us with love and tender mercies?

Rev. Wilbur Chapman was a pastor and 19th-century Billy Graham. He told about a man who rose to give the following testimony in NYC. “I got off at Pennsylvania Station one day and 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, do you know me?” I asked.
He threw his arms around me, and 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.

Corrie Ten Boom in The Hiding Place relates an incident that taught her always to be looking for the mercies of God even in hard times. She and her sister, Betsy, had been transferred to Ravensbruck, a German prison camp. On entering the barracks, they found it infested with thousands and thousands of fleas. The day after their arrival, for their morning devotions, they read the scripture we read a while ago, which challenged them to “to give thanks in all things.” Betsy mentioned that perhaps they should thank even for the fleas. Corrie flatly refused to even think about thanking God for fleas.

During the months that followed, they were surprised to discover how openly
they could hold their Bible studies and prayer times without interference from the guards. Six months later, they learned the reason the guards would not enter the barracks was because of the fleas.

I know of an evangelist who was told he had cancer growing in his inner ear. He was at the place on his spiritual journey where he said, “God, I know You can heal me if You wish to, but if You can get glory by me having this cancer then I thank You for it.” Today, that evangelist wears a false ear to the glory of God and he thanks God for using him more powerfully as a result of his illness.

We can be thankful that “He crowns me with love and tender mercies.”

Closely related is the fourth kernel, the kernel of good things: “He fills my life with good things” (Psalm 103:5).

It’s easy to give thanks for the good things in life; life, breath, food, health, shelter, transportation, and family. Giving thanks for everything comes easy when we focus on these blessings.

It’s a little tough to give thanks in the midst of bad. But if we look hard enough and consider God’s call upon our lives to be open to Him using the bad for His good, it will come.

There is an old Jewish story about a man who goes to the rabbi and complains,
“Life is unbearable; there are nine of us living in one room, what can I do?”
The rabbi answers, “Move your goat into the room with you.”
The man is shocked, but the rabbi insists, “Do as I say and come back in a week.”
A week later the man comes back looking more distraught than before. “We cannot stand it,” he tells the rabbi; “the goat is filthy and stinks.”
The rabbi tells him, “Go home and let the goat out and come back in a week.”
A radiant man returns to the rabbi a week later, exclaiming, “Life is beautiful.
We enjoy every minute of it now that there’s no goat — only the nine of us.”

The situation was the same as at first, but now his perception had changed. He realized that he was blessed to begin with.

It is ironic, isn’t it, that the very consistency of God’s blessings sometimes seems to dull our gratitude.

Here are some things to remember when life begins to weigh heavy. If you attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death, you are more blessed than almost three billion people in the world. If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million who will not survive the week. If you have never experienced the agony of torture or the pangs of starvation, you are better off than 500 million people around the world. If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head, and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this world. If you have any amount of money in a bank, you are among the top 8% of the world’s wealthy. If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful, you are blessed because the majority can, but most do not.

And please note that when we adopt that kind of perspective, the Psalmist declares, “my youth is renewed like the eagle’s!”

As it concerns the fifth kernel of corn today, I invite you to take five kernels of corn home with you and between now and Thursday of this week, think of some of the things that you are thankful for. I encourage you to adopt the Pilgrim custom of the five kernels of thankfulness and have everyone at your table share something for which they are thankful; remembering that the basis of our thankfulness; rests solely and completely with the help of the Lord Jesus and that He is the provider of every blessing we have.

Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise His holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things He does for me.

Psalm 103:1-2

I close with a story I love, of an old man with curved shoulders, bushy eyebrows, and bony features hobbling down a Florida beach carrying a bucket.
He walks out on a pier and all of a sudden you see a mass of dancing dots. You soon recognize that they are seagulls, seemingly coming out of nowhere. The man begins to throw from his bucket handfuls of shrimp. The seagulls come and land all around him and feast on the delicacy. Long after the shrimp are gone his feathered friends linger; the old man and birds.

The man in that scene was Eddie Rickenbacker, a famous World War II pilot. His B-17 went down in 1942 and no one thought his crew would be rescued. They escaped death by climbing into two rafts for thirty days. They fought thirst, the sun, and sharks. But what nearly killed them was starvation. Their rations were gone within eight days and they didn’t have anything left.

Rickenbacker wrote they had a Bible and every day they would have a devotional and time of prayer. One day after prayer, Rickenbacker tried to get some sleep. Within a few moments he felt something on his head. He knew in an instant that it was a seagull. But he knew that they were hundreds of miles out to sea. Where did this seagull come from? He was also certain that if he didn’t get that seagull they would die. Soon all the others noticed the seagull; no one spoke, no one moved. Rickenbacker quickly grabbed the seagull and with thanksgiving, they ate the flesh of the bird. They used the intestines for fish bait and survived.

Rickenbacker never forgot that visitor who came from a far-off place; that sacrificial guest. And so, every week, he went out on that pier with a bucket of shrimp to say, “Thank you, thank you, thank you, for all your blessings to me.” 2

1 American Pastors Network
The Promise of Five Kernels of Corn – a Thanksgiving Story
by Bethany Blankley

2 “The Old Man and the Gulls” from Paul Harvey’s The Rest of the Story,
by Paul Aurandt, 1977, quoted in Heaven Bound Living,
Knofel Stanton, Standard, 1989, pp. 79-80