The Who and Why of Thanksgiving (Psalm 136)

ww39Every November families get together. They celebrate the holiday known as Thanksgiving. Yet, how many families truly spend the time of reflecting on thankfulness? Consider your own life: Do you approach this season by think who you are thankful for? Do you stop to think why you are even thankful in the first place? My concern is that we do not, but I think we should. Reflecting on Psalm 136, I believe we can begin to let our hearts be softened to the who and why of thanksgiving. From the first three verses it is clear the One who deserves the most thanks is God. In that short span of three verses, the phrase “Give thanks to the Lord” is repeated three times. Surely, God is worthy of our praise. Moving from the ‘who’ to the ‘why’, the rest of Psalm 136 explain why God is to be thanked. A few instances reveal the multifaceted thankfulness of our hearts to God. God is to be thanked because…

  • He does great wonders and works (v. 4)
  • He is the Creator of the world (v. 5-9)
  • He brought Israel out of the land of Egypt (v. 10-22)
  • He remembers us and rescues us (v. 23-26)

The one true God has done great things in the world, creating it and coming into it. Most profoundly, though, we come to God, especially in this season of thankfulness, with joy because of His rescuing us and redeeming us through the gospel of Christ. Because Jesus Christ, God Incarnate, came to live the life we couldn’t and died the death we deserved, we can have the forgiveness of sins. Because He rose again and is now ascended, we can have the hope of eternal life. This is because “His steadfast love endures forever”. Will you thank God for who He is and what He has done as you reflect on His Person, words, and acts?

Reflection Time:

  • Spend time with your family this Thanksgiving holiday, sharing how God has worked in your life this year. What does this reveal about His character?

Count It Joy and Give Thanks (Psalm 69:30-32)

ww38“The highest point of all worship and prayer is adoration and praise and thanksgiving.”
-Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Ever wonder if God is listening to you? Ever wonder if He actually hears you in your time of need and distress? It is with great pleasure to know that you and I are not alone in this wondering! In Psalm 69:30-32, King David found himself in this very position when he was crying out to God (verse 29). David cries out to God that “I am afflicted and in pain”. This particular cry is exactly what you and I say every time we run up against what seems like an insurmountable mountain or wall! Our very nature is to cry out and seek understanding, comfort, peace, and justice during these times. This is exactly what David was doing here. But keep steadfast, my friends, for King David didn’t let the circumstances weigh him down to the point of surrender. What David did next was take the statement “It’s not what happens to me, it’s what happens in me” to the next level.  David said in verse 30 “I will praise the name of God with a song.”

This is exactly just the opposite of what many of us would consider doing when we hit the wall or reach the bottom of the trial. “I will magnify Him with thanksgiving” (verse 30). Think of James in James 1:2-3 “Consider it great joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials.” (verse 3), “knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” Wait, what? Are these men crazy?  Praise the name of the Lord, and considering it pure joy to face trials? No, not at all. In fact, these men are seeking God on His terms and not their own. As David praised God by song, he demonstrated a great faithfulness to a truly deserving God. By this measure of worship, David was offering God his whole-hearted praise and thanksgiving. This form of worship brings one to become humble, which is a sign for all of us who wish to be genuinely faithful. For the Lord does hear us and listens to those who seek Him in faith! My question to you, my friend, is when God sees you in a valley or in a trial, are you going to praise Him or are you going to cry out to God? Are you going to count it joy and give thanksgiving? May the word of God calm your storm, and may the glory of God shine upon you!

This week’s devotional was written by JR Rouse. He has a heart for God and for His people. He teaches adult Sunday School at Westlake Church in Indianapolis.

Enter with Thanksgiving (Psalm 100)

ww37How do you approach God? I think we would do well to dwell on such a question. Too often, we come to God in prayer or His Word in a flippant manner. We don’t come to the throne of grace humbly or even intentionally. Sometimes reciting a short, sweet prayer, we think will suffice. Yet, this is a careless and derogatory way to approach the One who has made us and who has saved us. We need to come to Him, first and foremost, with a joy and thankfulness in our hearts. He is the One who gave us life and He owns us (verse 3). We belong to Him, are sustained by Him, and meet our needs because of Him. Simply said, when we enter His presence, we should do so with thanksgiving. God is worthy of all our praise. Because of His salvation, seen namely in Jesus Christ, we should bless His name and call others to do the same. The whole world needs to hear about God and the rejoicing of those who are His (verses 1-2). What is it about God and His salvation they need to hear and be thankful for? It is His goodness, His love, and His faithfulness (verse 5). God does not hold back good things from us but gives us good gifts so we can rejoice in them in relationship to giving Him praise and glory for it (James 1:17). God’s love is an enduring love, being patient with sinners and saving them even in the midst of their fallenness (Romans 5:8). This love will never end and will last forever as those who repent and trust in the gospel will spend eternity with God. This is due to the fact God will be faithful to all generations. God will not break His promises and will never take back His Word on saving His people. God’s goodness, love, and faithfulness are just three of the reasons worth giving thanks to God and approaching Him with a joyful and humble heart!

Reflection Time:

  • Which aspect of God’s character (goodness, love, faithfulness) do you tend to neglect or not to be grateful for? Make it a priority to give thanks in prayer to God for who He is.