The Shepherd of Hope blog is here to serve you, to help you know Jesus better and to find hope in Him. This blog relies on the Spirit of God using the word of God to build people of God. All material has been prayerfully submitted for your encouragement and spiritual edification. Your questions and comments are welcome.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Oh, That Men Would Give Thanks to the LORD

The Thanksgiving Holiday is upon us. People everywhere will be giving thanks, but to whom will they give thanks? In public schools and the various media modes propaganda will contend that the first thanksgiving was aimed at Native Americans who helped the pilgrims survive a harsh wintery climate. Since by political proclamation we are “no longer a Christian nation,” thanksgiving will likely be directed everywhere but where it ought to be. Who should be thanked on Thanksgiving?

Governor William Bradford made a decree on December 13th 1621 that a day of feasting and prayer was to be set aside to thank God not only for His material provisions, but for blessing them with religious freedom to worship Him as the Spirit led them. In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln officially set aside the last Thursday of November as, “a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father.” In 1941 Congress established the fourth Thursday of November as a legal holiday to be called Thanksgiving Day. It isn’t until relatively recent times that the thought that there is a God and that He ought to be thanked has become societally and secularly blasphemous. It’s interesting that those who contend for freedom to promote filth are so antagonistic toward those who desire freedom to promote faith. Such a stance exposes the depth of depravity and debased reprobation in the world of these latter days. It will only get worse before the Lord Jesus returns.

Psalm 107 opens with the words, “Oh, give thanks to the LORD, . . .” We ought to give thanks to the LORD! J. Vernon McGee comments, “We need more “say so” Christians. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so. Don’t go around complaining and criticizing. If you are a Christian, tell others how good God is. He is good, but He doesn’t have a good name in the world today. God’s reputation is bad—a reputation is what people think about you. God does not have many friends in court among the multitudes of people in the world—no champion, or defender, and few to testify on His behalf. There are few to take the witness stand and say a good word in His behalf. . . . If anyone is going to say that God is good, it will have to be His redeemed ones. God is good. That is not an axiom; it is a proposition that is subject to proof. It is not a cliché, nor a slogan; it is not propaganda. It is true.”

Why should we give thanks to the LORD? “. . . For He is good! For His mercy endures forever.” (Psalm 107:1). God is GOOD! God is MERCIFUL! God is not a tyrant or mean. The word “good” means good in the broadest sense. Goodness is associated with beauty, grace, pleasure, joy, kindness, prosperity, sweetness, and wealth and God is a dispenser of such things. “Mercy” refers to lovingkindness, faithfulness or steadfast love. It is a beautiful word, one of the richest in scripture. God’s mercy is eternal. It is because of God’s goodness and mercy that we exist, are offered a way of salvation from our sin and invited to enter an eternally blessed relationship with the God of the universe. Our salvation and every good thing in existence come from God’s goodness and mercy. God is described in a wonderful way here, a way that should move us to bow before Him in thanks.

Who especially should thank the LORD? The psalmist goes on to exhort, “Let the redeemed of the LORD say so . . .” (107:2). Have you been redeemed from your sins by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ? If so, THANK THE LORD! Remember that the price of your redemption was the precious blood of Christ, the Son of God (Titus 2:14; 1 Peter 1:18-19). Can you thank the LORD for that? I hope so. Don’t lose sight of your most important eternal redemption. This Thanksgiving, despite all the opposition the enemy can muster the redeemed need to proclaim their thanks to the LORD. Thanking God is not optional; it is the only reasonable thing for the redeemed to do.

For what should the redeemed thank the LORD? You may have had a really bad year. You may be going through a tough time. You may be brooding over the economy, a souring relationship, an illness, or some other trial or trouble. You may be in no mood to thank anyone, not even the LORD. But listen, a lack of thankfulness exposes a lack of proper perspective. Psalm 107 gives us five reasons to thank the LORD. Four times the psalmist pleads, “Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!” (Psalm 107:8, 15, 21, 31). We will briefly touch on each one, but you are encouraged to make this Psalm a source of study for this Thanksgiving season.

First, thank God for His redemptive deliverance from the enemy (107:2-7). The Psalmist recalls how God delivered His people from Egypt and through their wilderness wanderings. God heard the cries of His people and acted on their behalf. God will hear our cries and act on our behalf, even today. None of our plight today has caught the LORD off guard. God is in control. He makes a way to live victoriously in life now (Rom. 8:37-39). He defeated Satan on the cross (Col. 2:14-15). He is there for you; the good and merciful God of the universe is there for you. Trust Him. Pray to Him. He will answer. For that we should thank the LORD.

Second, thank God for satisfying the longing soul and filling the hungry soul with goodness (107:8-14). Even when people experience darkness, bondage, and affliction as consequences to rebellion against God and His word, even when we despise His counsel, God doesn’t forsake us. He disciplines us and humbles us until we return and cry out to Him so He can save us. He does this because He loves us (Heb. 12:3-15). God will break our chains, even self-inflicted ones, if we will only repent and cry out to Him. For that we should thank the LORD.

Third, thank God for His healing word (107:15-20). Again the psalmist speaks of those who, “because of their transgressions, and because of their iniquities, were afflicted.” The blame for our affliction is so often clear. We may deny our sin in self-deception (1 John 1:8). We may deny our sin and in effect call God a liar (1 John 1:10). The bottom line is that when we repent and cry out to God, He forgives us and sends His word to heal us and deliver us from our destructions. It is in His word that we see revelation truth; reality; and are directed on the path of life (Psalm 16:11). The volume of His Book speaks of Christ (Hebrews 10:7). For that we should thank the LORD.

Fourth, thank God for His protection in a fallen world (107:21-30). These verses speak of the awesome rolling waves of the sea and how God preserves those who travel them. Did you ever think about the immensity of the world and universe? We are so microscopically focused on ourselves that we miss the incredible grace of God who created, sustains and sovereignly rules over the entire universe. Yet God bends down to help puny little us. We are so quick to point to and blame God for those who die in natural disasters. There is an enemy at work in such situations but we quickly blame God or deny His power (cf. Job 1 and 2). We shouldn’t argue with the God of the universe who in His sovereign determination takes some and spares others. He alone can make those decisions from an omniscient and omnipotent position. We can argue and shake our fist at God; we can turn away in doubt and depression and forfeit all because our small brains and hearts can’t grasp the purposes of Almighty God. But it would be wiser and more blessed to trust our good merciful God and thank Him.

Fifth, thank God for His ultimate justice (107:31-43). God is able to dry up a river or make water flow. He is able to discipline sinful authorities and preserve the poor and weak. He is able to bless and “multiply greatly.” He is able to make the righteous rejoice in the end and shut the mouths of those indulging iniquity. God is in control. The answer is not politics or government. The answer is not in military might, science, technology, or education. The answer is the LORD! “Whoever is wise will observe these things, and they will understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.” “The Lovingkindness of the LORD,” that is what we ought to thank God for, His lovingkindness. Look around you, all is not lost. God is in control. He has a plan and will carry it out. Indeed, if you are paying attention, you can see the prophetic word of God being fulfilled quite nicely. Jesus is coming back! Soon and very soon we will see our Savior and King of kings, our good and merciful God. For that we should be most thankful. “Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD . . . .”

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