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.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Is This a Time for Thanks?

“OH, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! . . . .Let the redeemed of the LORD say so” – Psalm 107:1, 2       

Our nation continues its economic slump teetering on recession if not depression. We are losing more and more of our freedoms. Holy institutions like marriage are being desecrated at the altar. Our government is legislating immorality. In the Philippines Typhoon Haiyan has led to thousands of deaths. There has been unprecedented loss. The Middle East remains a powder keg ready to explode. So I ask you, is this a time for thanks?


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. And he did this in a time of famine and great trial.


In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln officially set aside the last Thursday of November as, “a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father.” And he did this during a time of bloody civil war.


In 1941 Congress established the fourth Thursday of November as a legal holiday to be called Thanksgiving Day. And this was done in a time of world war.


An argument can be made that it is especially during times of hardship and trial that we ought to give thanks to the LORD. If Christians are not going to stand firm and thank the LORD in tough times, then who will? Psalm 107 opens with the words, “Oh, give thanks to the LORD, . . .” We ought to give thanks to the LORD! I like what J. Vernon McGee says here about this Psalm:


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 you doubt that, look around. Consider the pagan and heathen religions. Their conception of God is terrifying. He is pictured as a god that will destroy, not save; a god that is difficult to approach, and takes no personal interest in his creatures, nor does he love them. The average person today lives in a land with a veneer of civilization, a modicum of education, with a little Christian culture smeared on like face cream. To him God is not a Person to be cultivated; He is kept at arm’s length. He is not considered a good neighbor, and He is very hard to please. Most people think of God as sort of a policeman, waiting around the corner to catch them in some wrongdoing. A little girl accidentally gave the average conception of God when she recited a Scripture verse and got it a bit confused. She said, “If God be for you, you are up against Him.” That is the thinking of many people. 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. [1]



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!  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.  Your difficulties may have been what was needed to save your eternal soul! This Thanksgiving, despite all the difficulties or 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.


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. Man’s extremities are God’s opportunities. How many have turned to the Lord in the storm to find eternal life? Many and that eternal salvation is worth more than any temporal loss. None of our plight today has caught the LORD off guard. God is in control. He has a plan. 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. But even if we are suffering because of no fault of our own, we still find solace and peace in His word (Phil. 4:6-7). “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3). 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. God preserves those who travel them. Did you ever think about the immensity of the world and universe? Yet God bends down to help us. We blame God for natural disasters and there consequences. But there may be an enemy at work in such situations too (cf. Job 1 and 2). We shouldn’t argue with the God of the universe who in His sovereign determination allows things we don’t understand. He alone can make those decisions from an omniscient and omnipotent position.  It is wiser and more blessed to trust our good merciful God and thank Him, no matter what.


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 solutions to our problems are not  elections as much as it is God’s empowering and using the elect. 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.


Is this a time to give thanks? Yes! 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 . . . .” This is a time for thanks!



[1]McGee, J. V. (1997, c1981). Thru the Bible commentary. Based on the Thru the Bible radio program. (electronic ed.) (2:830-831). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

No comments:

Post a Comment