Lucia's Blog: CALLED TO THANKFULLNESS
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

CALLED TO THANKFULLNESS

“Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” 
Colossians 2:6-7


If you had a good mother, she taught you early in life to say please and thank you. Such small courtesies are great indications of culture and refinement. In this way, children learn that they are not gods, and the people around them are not their servants. Above all, we teach them that only God in heaven is worthy of worship, and we owe Him our gratitude for every good thing that we receive.

Thanksgiving is one of the noblest and most non-controversial holidays of the year. The giving of thanks is fundamental to the worship and honor that we offer to the Father of lights from whom all blessings flow. It is a good time for us to meditate on some of the good reasons we have for giving thanks every day of our lives on this earth.  It is my hope, that we Christians may be thankful to our Almighty God every day of our lives, and not just on Thanksgiving Day.  As grateful children of God, our gratitude must be perpetual, choosing to be grateful each day and not waiting until the end of November to do so.  We have so much to be thankful for, even when it seems there is much to complain about.  We must praise God and be always mindful of the many blessings our loving God showers down upon all of us.  When the church first began in Acts 2:46, the disciples broke bread daily from house to house and ate their food with gladness.  They were so thankful to be partakers of God's family that they ate together with joy (gladness and sincerity of heart).  I have prepared some thoughts based on Psalm 138, for it offers thanksgiving for the LORD’s lovingkindness toward us.  I love the Psalms because they praise God for His lovingkindness and mercy.  They help our hearts find deep appreciation and gratitude toward the God of heaven and earth.  I hope this study is edifying to your walk with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  

Thanksgiving Day is a day of reflection where we’re supposed to stop, meditate, and be thankful for all that God has done for us.  Unfortunately, we live in a world of convenience and materialism in which greed rules over thankfulness and contentment.  Rather than being happy with what they have, our society is becoming more materialistic and greedyWhy?  Because they don’t include God in the picture. They forget God and all that He has given to us.  They take all God’s blessings for granted.  God wants our hearts to be grateful and full of joyIs that too much for God to ask for?  Are we so ungrateful that we forget to be thankful toward our Creator, where all blessings come from?  In Colossians 2:6-7, the apostle Paul exhorts us to walk, abounding in thanksgiving.  Sadly, our thanksgiving is often focused on the physical things of this earth, for we tend to be physical people.  So we thank God only for those physical things that our eyes can see.  Indeed, we are grateful for our jobs, our families, our material riches, and many other material things such as these.  But, are we forgetting what God wants us to be thankful for?  Why not turn your hearts to Psalm 138 to open the eyes of your hearts to learn what we must be thankful for?  I invite you to walk through this amazing Psalm with me.


 I.   THANKSGIVING FOR GOD’S LOVINGKINDNESS:

Psalm 138 is one of a group of eight psalms ascribed to King David.  It recognizes the existence of God and His authority over His creation.  It shows reverence and respect to God and His holiness.  It praises and glorifies God, for He is our God to whom we owe everything.  He protects His children in a world of lawlessness and darkness.  Thus we must be thankful and give Him praise and honor.  Jesus said we must be lights that shine brightly in so much darkness that others might see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven. Paul likewise said we must shine as lights amid a dark and crooked world.  Darkness is sin and evil.  So we must shine in contrast to those around us who live in darkness.  We must show the love of God, His longsuffering and mercy in our daily lives to others that perhaps they might come to the Light and be transformed into His likeness.

  • Giving Thanks Wholeheartedly (138:1):
“I will give thee thanks with my whole heart:  Before the gods will I sing praises unto thee.”

The Psalmist starts out by offering praises of thanksgiving to God with all of his heartWhen was the last time we offered praises of thanksgiving to God with all of our heart?  When was the last time we poured out our thanks to God with our whole being?   When was the last time we passionately proclaimed praises of thanksgiving without holding back, reservation, or regard?  Verse 1 shows us a beautiful picture of a heart that abounds in praises of thankfulness to God.

“I will give thee thanks with my whole heart.”  

It is indeed a heart that yearns to sing praises of thankfulness to God in the presence of the heavenly court. The Psalmist sings praises before the gods, the heavenly assembly of spiritual beings, the heavenly hosts.  The gods in our context can also be rulers, magistrates, and earthly authorities.  He is not speaking of idols.  He sings praises because of his thankful heart, and so must we, all the days of our lives.  Our singing is not just an act of worship every Sunday as we have been commanded, but rather an act that we do every moment in our lives with all our heart and being.  God is delighted when we offer praises of thanksgiving to Him from our hearts.  Have we forgotten that part of our daily worship to God our Creator originates from a thankful heart?  Where do you suppose our singing and prayers must come from?  From a heart that overflows with thanksgiving and gratitude. A halfhearted person finds it difficult to offer worship and praise from the depths of his heart. A singing heart overflows with thanksgiving, for the words we sing pluck our hearts as we praise God with our whole being.  This is precisely what the Psalmist is portraying for us. He offers praises of thanksgiving with his whole heart to God before all who can hear him.  What do you think the Psalmist is praising God for?  Let us take a look at the following verses of this beautiful Psalm.

  • Giving Thanks to God for His Steadfast Love and Faithfulness (138:2-3):
“I will worship toward thy holy temple, And give thanks unto thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth:  For thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.  3 In the day that I called thou answeredst me, Thou didst encourage me with strength in my soul.”

The Psalmist is making reference to the Tabernacle.  He bows down toward God’s holy temple. Bowing down toward the temple is a call of repentance (1 Kings 8).  This is portrayed in verse 2.  The Psalmist thanks God for His steadfast love and faithfulness. He is thankful for God’s salvation, forgiveness, and restoration.  It is beautiful beyond words how faithful God is toward us!!  He is faithful to us through our valleys of difficulties and trials. He is faithful to us even amid our sinfulness. Knowing God’s faithfulness and steadfast love toward us, Do we reflected on how faithful our God has been to us even amid our difficulties, pains, and trials?  Do we pause to acknowledge God’s steadfast love toward us even amid our many failures and sinfulness? How often has He forgiven us throughout our walk with Him?  As I read verse 3, I cannot help but see that this is true in my life!! 

3 In the day that I called thou answeredst me, Thou didst encourage me with strength in my soul.”  

I cannot help but think of the many, many times I have called on my God, and He has answered me with His steadfast love and kindness!!
    1. I think about the many times I’ve been in the pit of life or on the mountaintop of glory and how my God has answered my prayers. 
    2. I think about the times my heart has been weak and overwhelmed with life’s anxieties and difficulties and how my God has given me the strength to endure those dark times.  
    3. I think about all the times He has rescued and sheltered me when I thought all hope was lost.  
    4. I think about all the times I have been broken and crushed, but my God has been there to strengthen my soul and to give me encouragement and support. 
    5. For all those trying times and God’s lovingkindness and faithfulness toward me,  my heart will always sing praises of thanksgiving to Him!!

The Psalmist focuses his prayer in verse 2.  He gives thanks writing,
“And give thanks unto thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth:  For thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name.”  

In Exodus, “the name” represents a person’s character, for it reflects who the person is. The Psalmist praises God as he exalts His own name and Word above all things. Think about what we know about the name of the LORD.  Exodus 34 gives us the answer about what God’s name is all about.  Here are God’s words.

“And Jehovah descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the name of Jehovah. 6 And Jehovah passed by before him, and proclaimed, Jehovah, Jehovah, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in lovingkindness and truth; 7 keeping lovingkindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin; and that will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, upon the third and upon the fourth generation” (Exodus 34:5-7).

What a wonderful grace it is to us, God’s exalted name and Word!  His name reveals His mercy, grace, patience, steadfast love, and faithfulness. His name reveals His love, forgiveness, and righteousness (His justice). God’s glory is good and righteous. Thus, we must always praise God’s righteous and holy character.  We must praise God, not only for what we have received from Him but also for who He is.  Because of God’s holy and righteous character, we have life, hope, and confidence.  God strengthens our soul when we call on Him because of who He is.

  • Calling All People To Give Thanks to God (138:4-6):
“All the kings of the earth shall give thee thanks, O Jehovah, For they have heard the words of thy mouth.  5 Yea, they shall sing of the ways of Jehovah; For great is the glory of Jehovah.  6 For though Jehovah is high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly; But the haughty he knoweth from afar.”

The Psalmist calls for the rulers of the earth to give thanks to God.  Our text can be read two ways. One way one could understand the Hebrew text would be prophetic.  The Psalmist states, “All the kings of the earth shall give thee thanks, O Jehovah.”  According to the Psalmist, the kings of the earth will one day give thanks to God. That will be possible because the Scriptures declare that one day, every knee will bow before the Lord (Philippians 2:10).  The other possibility would be that the Psalmist is calling on the kings of the earth to give thanks to God. My understanding of this passage is that this is a call to all people (even kings of the earth) to praise and give thanks to God.  All people of the earth are compelled to hear God’s decrees and offer praises of thanksgiving to Him alone.  They are obliged to sing of His greatness.

“6 For though Jehovah is high, yet hath he respect unto the lowly; But the haughty he knoweth from afar.”  


Although God is high and exalted with all glory, He is merciful to the lowly and looks kindly on them.  He draws the lowly to Him. But the arrogant and haughty, He knows from afar. God abhors the proud and keeps His distance from them.  Though He is great and awesome, He cares for the humble. How sad it is when rulers refuse to honor and praise God with praises of thanksgiving!  They are blind and arrogant, for they refuse to acknowledge that the reason why they rule is God’s will.  God has given them that position to rule (cf. Romans 13:1; John 19:11; Daniel 4:32). The more proud rulers become, refusing to give thanks and praise to God for putting them in the position of rule and authority, the worse they rule, and the further they fall from God.  No one can escape from God, for He knows man’s heart (the lowly and the arrogant). And though He knows man’s heart, He delights in the lowly in heart and is near them, but keeps the arrogant in heart afar off.  Isn’t that amazing!  Why?  Because although God’s glory is amazing and great, He gives grace and draws nearer to the humble.  He does not keep His distance from them.  He keeps His distance from the proud.  Our God is worthy of our praise and our thanksgiving, for He draws nearer to the humble, though He is high in exalting glory.  Thus we must praise Him and offer praises of thanksgiving, for He has drawn near to us, the lowly in heart.

  • Giving Thanks For Our Lives (138:7):
“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me; Thou wilt stretch forth thy hand against the wrath of mine enemies, And thy right hand will save me.”

God protects, delivers, and keeps us safe even amid our troubles, shortcomings, and failures in life.  His steadfast love is always there for us.  Isn’t that amazing!  Such love is beyond words!  With God's steadfast love, we are confident in our walk, whatever may come our way, for we know He will be faithful to His faithful children till the end.  God is for us!  How sad it is to fail to realize that the power that sustains our life is God’s power and Word!  We’re shortsighted when we fail to think of life this way.  Nothing and no one is outside of God’s will, for He controls everything.  Thus we must be grateful and thank Him for keeping us alive and providing for us day in and day out so faithfully. How sad it is to take for granted all of God’s provisions and care!  We fail so often to acknowledge that it is by His will that we live and move and that nothing is accomplished without His will.  We deceive ourselves, assuming that tomorrow we will still have all we need, and we will live on this earth forever.  So we act as if we were in control of everything without God’s will in the picture.
    1. We must wake up and start thanking God for all that He has done, is doing and will be doing in our lives and never take any of His blessings, care, and love for granted.  
    2. We must wake up and become better stewards of the blessings that God provides for us from His mighty and providential hands:  our spouse, our children, our brethren, our families.  
    3. We must wake up and start being more grateful to God that He has given them to us yet another day.  
    4. Do you not know that these things, these blessings are not promised to us?  
    5. Do we not acknowledge that life is not promised to us?  
    6. Do we not know that the only thing that is promised to us is death and judgment, not life?  
    7. So, we must wake up and start appreciating everything, and be more thankful for what God has done and still does for us, far more than we deserve, for we do not deserve anything from God’s mighty and providential hands.

  • Giving Thanks to God For Accomplishing His Purposes in Us (138:8):
“Jehovah will perfect that which concerneth me: Thy lovingkindness, O Jehovah, endureth for ever; Forsake not the works of thine own hands.”

The Psalmist ends this mighty Psalm giving thanks to God for “Jehovah will perfect that which concerneth me.”  God’s will is done on earth and heaven, for He always accomplishes His purposes or that which concerns Him that we do for Him.  God accomplishes His purposes in us and through us, for we are part of His mighty plans. We are His instruments that must be at work in His kingdom. Thus we must pray to Him to use us and make us the servants that He wants us to be to accomplish His purposes.  How beautiful it is to be God’s servant and the work of His hands!  How beautiful it is to be changed and molded into His image for His purposes!  How beautiful it is to be useful servants in His kingdom of righteousness!  Thus we must be grateful and rejoice for Him to use us as His vessels of righteousness to His glory.  We must be thankful to God that He has called us from death to life, to present our bodies as instruments of righteousness (Romans 6:13).  Why not listen to the words of the beautiful and amazing picture that is portrayed in 1 Peter 2:4-5?
“Unto whom coming, a living stone, rejected indeed of men, but with God elect, precious, 5 ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

What an amazing and beautiful picture of God’s children!  Though we are God’s living stones, we still have rough edges and bad cuts because of our sins and shortcomings.  We’re still terrible stones that, at times, are not useful for building anything.  But thanks to God’s lovingkindness, He patiently helps us by cutting off those terrible and rough edges, refining you and me to become living stones built into Jesus’ spiritual house.  A house that He patiently is building for Himself.  It is beautiful beyond what words can describe!!  I believe that is the message that the Psalmist is proclaiming toward the end of the amazing Psalm in verse 8.

“Thy lovingkindness, O Jehovah, endureth for ever; Forsake not the works of thine own hands.”


O how wonderful it is for our God to work in our lives for His glory and purposes!  O how wonderful it is for God to never give up on us!  He keeps refining us, molding us, cutting us, and changing us into what He wants us to be for His glorious purposes!  O how wonderful it is to know that God will fulfill His purposes in us, for we are His instruments of righteousness!  O how wonderful it is to know that His faithful love endures forever!  For these reasons and many more, we must cry out to God in prayer, knowing that He will not abandon the work of His hands and that He is patiently and lovingly shaping us and changing us into what He wants us to be for His glory. May He never stop shaping us and changing us into His likeness.  May we always be thankful for His steadfast love and for not abandoning the work of His mighty hands. May we always trust in God with full confidence, knowing that His marvelous promises will indeed be fulfilled.


CONCLUSION:

We have so many reasons to be thankful. We have an abundance of blessings bestowed on us, for which we must be thankful. Consider some of the many blessings:  Our families, our good health, our freedom to worship God. We have the Gospel of Christ, the Word of God, our redemption, our hope of eternal life, our many freedoms like being able to home educate our children. We have air to breathe, water to drink, food to eat, and most of all, our Lord and Savior who redeemed us, who cares for us, who sympathizes with our weaknesses, and who has sworn never to forsake us.  Therefore, we are more than rich since we have all these abundant blessings.  Being grateful is the key to spiritual victoryJoy is the result of a grateful heart. A thankful heart is the product of a person who always chooses to give thanks no matter what the circumstances may be.  It is the person who never compares himself to other people but always to Christ.  It is the heart that realizes he is rich beyond measure because he is a child of God and that in Him, he finds His portion. It is the heart that is always looking for reasons to be content and give thanks.

Therefore, we must learn to appreciate and be thankful for God's steadfast love and lovingkindness. Notice what David once said:
"Blessed be the Lord, For He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me in a besieged city"  (Psalm 31:2).

There is nothing more critical than finding oneself in a besieged city.  It is as bad as one's circumstances can get.  Yet David acknowledges God's steadfast love and lovingkindness toward him.  God heard his cry for deliverance.  He made David aware of His love and compassion for him.  Are we aware, and do we acknowledge God's steadfast love and lovingkindness toward us?  Can we fathom the depth of His steadfast love toward us?  Have we forgotten the message of Romans 8:38-39?

Despair is the opposite of a faithful and thankful heart.  When our affections are on earthly things and not on God, we are in danger.  We tend to cling to our immediate circumstances rather than to God.  It makes us not only anxious but also insecure.  Only God can fill our hearts with His peace.  We have so much to give thanks for.  It is not so much for material things but for God's love in sending His only begotten Son to die for our sins so that through Him, we could be redeemed and have access to eternal life.  We have all we need in Christ.  He is the fullness that fills all in all.  Why not take a moment to give honor and offer praises of thanksgiving to God for His goodness and lovingkindness?  Why not praise and bless our God?  Why not look beyond all the material blessings we have received?  Why not look beyond the pleasures of this life and meditate on all that God has done for us, the undeserving?  Why not give thanks to God wholeheartedly for His faithfulness toward us during our trials, sufferings, failures, and yes, even sins?  Why not give thanks to Him with all of our heart and being, for answering our prayers and carrying us through our valleys of suffering, hardship, and trouble?  Why not give thanks wholeheartedly to God for drawing near to us, though He is high and exalted?  Why not give thanks to God wholeheartedly for keeping us safe and preserving our lives yet another day?  Why not give thanks to our God with all of our hearts, for what He is accomplishing and will accomplish in us for His purposes?  Why not give thanks to God for using us as His instruments of righteousness to accomplish His will in us?  Why not give thanks to God for shaping, molding, and changing us into His living stones built into a great spiritual house for Him?

May we always have grateful hearts for God’s lovingkindness and steadfast love toward us.  May our Lord help us to give thanks always, no matter what our circumstances may be.  May we live in His peace, trusting in Him with all of our hearts, minds, and souls. May we always have a thankful and grateful heart that we may see the power of God and our faith in Him working in us to accomplish His purposes.  May we never forget that God is the Giver of all good gifts.   May we keep calm and know that He cares for us.  May we never forget that He is near.  To Him be the glory.  Amen!

Luci

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