GIVE THANKS TO THE LORD

Psa. 136:1 ¶ Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,

for his steadfast love endures forever.

Complaining is the opposite of being thankful. Murmuring and complaining caused a whole generation of Jews to fall short of the promise and die in the wilderness. Paul said those things happened as an example to us. Getting your eyes on Jesus, looking to His word, and reflecting on all His blessings in our lives will drive ungratefulness from our hearts. There is something about giving thanks and acknowledging His goodness that puts us in touch with the Lord. Rather than ungrateful our hearts are filled with gratitude. David, of all people, knew about adversity and had learned how to navigate through the mine fields of negativity. He had worshiped in adversity for years, living in the wilderness in exile. He had found access into the Lord’s presence through thanksgiving. After all, it was David who sang, “We will enter His gates with thanksgiving, and enter His courts with praise”. Here are Spurgeon’s thoughts on today’s verse.

“The inspired writer calls us to praise Jehovah for all his goodness to us, and all the greatness of his power in blessing his chosen. We thank our parents, let us praise our heavenly Father; we are grateful to our benefactors, let us give thanks unto the Giver of all good. For he is good. Essentially he is goodness itself, practically all that he does is good, relatively he is good to his creatures. Let us thank him that we have seen, proved, and tasted that he is good. He is good beyond all others: indeed, he alone is good in the highest sense; he is the source of good, the good of all good, the sustainer of good, the perfecter of good, and the rewarder of good. For this he deserves the constant gratitude of his people. For his mercy endureth for ever. We shall have this repeated in every verse of this song, but not once too often. It is the sweetest stanza that a man can sing. What joy that there is mercy, mercy with Jehovah, enduring mercy, mercy enduring for ever. We are ever needing it, trying it, praying for it, receiving it: therefore let us for ever sing of it.”

Seeing God’s goodness is where it all really starts. Looking at your problems and disappointments can poison you. Looking at the Lord and His goodness changes everything.

ENTER HIS GATES

Ps. 100:4 – Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name!

This is the great lesson of the children of Israel in their wilderness drama. They couldn’t enter in to the promised rest because of unbelief. Their unbelief was expressed in unthankfulness. All they could think about was the good old days in Egypt. The glory of God was in their midst, the promise of entering the land of promise was just ahead, complaining rather than giving thanks to the Lord blocked them from the blessing. Sometimes we have to give thanks to the Lord as an expression of faith, it is in thanksgiving that we access His presence and His promises. Here is how Charles Spurgeon describes this verse.

“In all our public service the rendering of thanks must abound; it is like the incense of the temple, which filled the whole house with smoke….Mercy permits us to enter his gates; let us praise that mercy. What better subject for our thoughts in God’s own house than the Lord of the house. And into his courts with praise. Into whatever court of the Lord you may enter, let your admission be the subject of praise: thanks be to God, the innermost court is now open to believers, and we enter into that which is within the veil; it is incumbent upon us that we acknowledge the high privilege by our songs. Be thankful unto him. Let the praise be in your heart as well as on your tongue, and let it all be for him to whom it all belongs. And bless his name. He blessed you, bless him in return; bless his name, his character, his person. Whatever he does, be sure that you bless him for it; bless him when he takes away as well as when he gives; bless him as long as you live, under all circumstances; bless him in all his attributes, from whatever point of view you consider him.”

David had learned the power of thanksgiving in his life. As a matter of fact Psalm 136 is an entire Psalm given over to thanksgiving. He thanks God for His mercy, His goodness, His signs and wonders, for His creative wisdom, for deliverance from his enemies, for giving them the land of promise, and for remembering them when they were nothing. Acknowledging God’s past goodness and giving thanks places us in a position to continue to enter in to His promises and His presence. Give thanks to the Lord for He is good and His mercy endures forever.

UNTHANKFUL

Lk.17:17,18 – Then Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine — where are they? Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?

What have you done for me lately? That is kind of the attitude the children of Israel had that kept them wandering for forty years. They had seen the plagues on Egypt that launched their deliverance. From there they saw the Red Sea part and then drowned the Egyptian Army. They experienced the cloud by day and the fiery pillar by night. Then there was the manna from heaven every day and the water from the rock that followed them in the desert. The Lord had met them at every turn but their hearts were filled with unthankfulness. Failing to appreciate the daily supernatural nature of God’s provision all they could see was what they didn’t have. They missed the onions and leeks in Egypt. Thankfulness brings us into an awareness of God’s goodness, ingratitude closes ur hearts even further. Ellicott speaks about ingratitude in his comments on the ten lepers who Jesus healed.

Were there not ten cleansed?—There is, it is clear, a tone of mingled surprise, and grief, and indignation, in the question thus asked. Looking to the facts of the case, an ethical question of some difficulty presents itself. If the nine had had faith to be healed—and the fact that they were healed implies it—how was it that faith did not show itself further in gratitude and love? The answer is to be found in the analogous phenomena of the spiritual life which are found at times in cases that are as the cleansing of the soul’s leprosy. Men have the faith which justifies; they are pardoned, and they have the sense of freedom from the burden and the disease of sin, and yet their lives show no glow of loving gratitude. They shrink from fellowship with those who, having been sharers in the same blessing with themselves, are separated from them by outward lines of demarcation.”

We can learn a lot about thanksgiving from the Samaritan who returned to give thanks. It wasn’t religious ceremonies or even a healed body that he needed, what he really needed was found at the feet of Jesus. What all of us need can only be found at Jesus feet. No fall into the trap of “what have you done for me lately?” Thank Him for all He has done and then you will see clearly to see all He is doing right now in your life.

VOICE OF THANKSGIVING

Ps.100:4,5 – Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the LORD is good; His lovingkindness is everlasting and His faithfulness to all generations.

Nothing like fervent, corporate worship. Actually, worship flows out from our love of God. Once you taste His incredible love that He has for you worship will be your response. One of the places we see this is in Luke where Luke describes a woman of questionable character who had tasted the love and forgiveness of Christ and could not pull herself away from His feet. She was caught up in fervent thanksgiving, washing His feet with her tears, her hair, and some expensive perfume. She was worshipping from her heart, responding to God’s love for her. Thanksgiving always follows love. Once you glimpse His love for you clearly demonstrated at the cross, your heart will overflow with the fervency of giving thanks. Here is a snippet from Jonathan Edwards Thanksgiving Day message from 1734.

“Love is a principal ingredient in the grace of thankfulness. There is a counterfeit thankfulness in which there is no love. But there is love in exercise in all sincere thankfulness. And the greater any person’s love is, the more will he be disposed to praise. Love will cause him to delight in the work. He that loves God, proportionably seeks the glory of God, and loves to give him glory. Now the hearts of the saints in heaven are all, as it were, a pure flame of love. Love is the grace that never faileth; whether there be prophecies, they shall fail, whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. Faith shall cease in vision, and hope in fruition, but love never faileth. The grace of love will be exalted to its greatest height and highest perfection in heaven; and love will vent itself in praise. Heaven will ring with praise, because it is full of love to God. This is the reason that great assembly, that innumerable host, praise God with such ardency, that their praise is as the voice of many waters, and as the mighty thunderings, because they are animated by so ardent, vigorous, and powerful a principle of divine love.”

So are you ready for Thanksgiving this year? It’s a good opportunity to clear our heads and get back to what really matters in life. Determine this year you will enter His gates with Thanksgiving and His courts with praise.

SMACK YOUR LIPS

Eph.1:14 – Amp. – That [Spirit] is the guarantee of our inheritance [the firstfruits, the pledge and foretaste, the down payment on our heritage], in anticipation of its full redemption and our acquiring [complete] possession of it—to the praise of His glory.

Nothing like some good home cooking. Last week there was an impromptu Mary’s Song Banquet for ladies involved with Rodan and Fields. There was several thousand women from Rodan and Fields in New Orleans for a convention. Because of a friend of a friend being in leadership with that company, a request was made for a banquet with the Mary’s Song girls to “give back” in light of all the Lord has given us. It was an awesome night of testimonies and giving but that is not why I brought this all up. The meal was cooked by the Mary’s Song girls under the direction of Tyren George.The ladies at my table were raving over the “home cooking”. They also said it was the best meal they had eaten all week; pretty good with the amazing restaurants they all went to in the French Quarter. I guess you just can’t beat home cooked meals.

Now this brings me to the whole point of all of this, today’s verse says that the Holy Spirit is the foretaste of all the Lord has prepared for us. That first taste, or sampling of the food before a meal, tastes awfully good. It actually increases our anticipation for the coming feast. In Psalm 63 David was enjoying feasting on the Lord. He was enjoying the feast of God’s presence, enjoying what he was receiving, but smacking his lips in anticipation of more. Here is how it reads in the Message Bible.

Psa.63:3-5 The Message

In your generous love I am really living at last!

My lips brim praises like fountains. I bless you every time I take a breath;

My arms wave like banners of praise to you.

I eat my fill of prime rib and gravy;

I smack my lips. It’s time to shout praises!

The good meal at our banquet for our out of town guests last week was really only the foretaste. The real meal was when Parris, Ali Spitsbergen (the lady with Rodan and Fields), and the girls from Mary’s Song began to share what the Lord had done in their lives. The testimony of Jesus was our taste of the coming heavenly banquet. So I think I’m going to join David and smack my lips, if this first taste is this good it’s hard to imagine what the whole meal will be like.

GIVE THANKS TO THE LORD

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Psa. 136:1 ¶ Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,

for his steadfast love endures forever.

Complaining is the opposite of being thankful. Murmuring and complaining caused a whole generation of Jews to fall short of the promise and die in the wilderness. Paul said those things happened as an example to us. Getting your eyes on Jesus, looking to His word, and reflecting on all His blessings in our lives will drive ungratefulness from our hearts. There is something about giving thanks and acknowledging His goodness that puts us in touch with the Lord. Rather than ungrateful our hearts are filled with gratitude. David, of all people, knew about adversity and had learned how to navigate through the mine fields of negativity. He had worshiped in adversity for years, living in the wilderness in exile. He had found access into the Lord’s presence through thanksgiving. After all, it was David who sang, “We will enter His gates with thanksgiving, and enter His courts with praise”. Here are Spurgeon’s thoughts on today’s verse.

“The inspired writer calls us to praise Jehovah for all his goodness to us, and all the greatness of his power in blessing his chosen. We thank our parents, let us praise our heavenly Father; we are grateful to our benefactors, let us give thanks unto the Giver of all good. For he is good. Essentially he is goodness itself, practically all that he does is good, relatively he is good to his creatures. Let us thank him that we have seen, proved, and tasted that he is good. He is good beyond all others: indeed, he alone is good in the highest sense; he is the source of good, the good of all good, the sustainer of good, the perfecter of good, and the rewarder of good. For this he deserves the constant gratitude of his people. For his mercy endureth for ever. We shall have this repeated in every verse of this song, but not once too often. It is the sweetest stanza that a man can sing. What joy that there is mercy, mercy with Jehovah, enduring mercy, mercy enduring for ever. We are ever needing it, trying it, praying for it, receiving it: therefore let us for ever sing of it.”

Seeing God’s goodness is where it all really starts. Looking at your problems and disappointments can poison you. Looking at the Lord and His goodness changes everything.

HE IS MY GOOD

Psa. 118:1 ¶  Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good!

For His mercy endures forever.

My Mom taught me a prayer as a child to pray over my food. Sometimes the simplest prayers can be quite profound. It went like this,

‘God is great

God is good

Let us thank Him for this food

By His hand we are fed

Thank the Lord for daily bread’

The very essence of the Lord is goodness. This goodness is clearly seen in the person of Jesus Christ, it is manifest to us in the person of the Holy Spirit. God not only does good for us, He is Himself good. That is why Jonathan Edwards would often say, ‘The Lord is my good’. Once you get beyond His gifts and begin to see Him as the real treasure, your perspective of life and what really matters will change. Here are some thoughts from Spurgeon on this powerful verse.

“This is reason enough for giving him thanks; goodness is his essence and nature, and therefore he is always to be praised whether we are receiving anything from him or not. Those who only praise God because he does them good should rise to a higher note and give thanks to him because he is good. In the truest sense he alone is good, “There is none good but one, that is God”; therefore in all gratitude the Lord should have the royal portion. If others seem to be good, he is good. If others are good in a measure, he is good beyond measure. When others behave badly to us, it should only stir us up the more heartily to give thanks unto the Lord because he is good; and when we ourselves are conscious that we are far from being good, we should only the more reverently bless him that “he is good.” We must never tolerate an instant’s unbelief as to the goodness of the Lord; whatever else may be questionable, this is absolutely certain, that Jehovah is good; his dispensations may vary, but his nature is always the same, and always good.”

This was one of the famous lines repeated throughout the Psalms of David. Obviously David had tasted the goodness of the Lord for himself. He had discovered the key to life. No wonder we still sing David’s psalms 3000 years later. They are permeated with the goodness of God.

WASHINGTON’S THANKSGIVING

John 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,”

Years ago Parris and I went to Mount Vernon, George Washington’s home. It was similar to any other large home from that era except for one distinct difference. It was on the last stop of the guided tour, the tomb where George Washington’s body was laid to rest where I saw it. I was standing at the tomb, reflecting on the greatness of this man and the obvious touch of the sovereignty of God upon his life when my eyes looked up. Just above his body were these words, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live”. Washington obviously had a personal encounter with Christ for himself. I know not all of the founding fathers were Christians, some were deists and a few agnostic, but some were really born again Christians; Washington was one of those. Our national holiday, Thanksgiving, was part of Washington’s legacy, here is what he said about our national indebtedness to the Lord.

“Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, and whereas both Houses of Congress have by their joint Committee requested me “to recommend to the People of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness. Now therefore I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country previous to their becoming a Nation, for the signal and manifold mercies, and the favorable interpositions of his providence, which we experienced in the course and conclusion of the late war, for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty, which we have since enjoyed, for the peaceable and rational manner, in which we have been enabled to establish constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national One now lately instituted, for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed; and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge; and in general for all the great and various favors which he hath been pleased to confer upon us.”

Have a great Thanksgiving and remember to give thanks to our Lord.

PADDLING INTO DEEPER WATERS OF THANKSGIVING

Luke 17:15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice;

Luke 17:16 and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.

Don’t you hate to turn around after you have left your home to retrieve something that you have forgotten. I often pay the consequences of doing without, I just won’t turn back. I can imagine that feeling mixed with excitement when the ten men who had been lepers received their healing on the way to show themselves to the priest. They were so excited that turning around just wasn’t an option. At least that was true for nine of the ten, one of the healed lepers was stopped in his tracks. I imagine his head was spinning as he realized what had just happened. He had received more than a healing, he had been face to face with his Maker. He had no options, he had to turn around to give thanks and to just see Jesus again. Spurgeon preached a great sermon about this miracle, here is a short blurb.

“There is another blessing about thankfulness, it has clear views. The thankful eye sees far and deep. The man healed of leprosy, before he went on glorifying God, gave thanks to Jesus. If he had thanked Jesus and stopped there, I should have said that his eyes were not well open; but when he saw God in Christ, and therefore glorified God for what Christ had done, he showed a deep insight into spiritual truth. He had begun to discover the mysteries of the divine and human person of the blessed Lord. We learn much by prayer. Did not Luther say, ”To have prayed well is to have studied well”? I venture to add a rider to what Luther has so ably said: To have praised well is to have studied better. Praise is the great instructor. Prayer and praise are the oars by which a man may row his boat into the deep waters of the knowledge of Christ.”

Powerful! prayer and praise are the oars of our boat, I love it. Praising at His feet brings us into a deeper and more profound revelation of who He is. That in turn leads us deeper into praise. As we draw near to Thanksgiving Day, let’s take a lesson from the leper who turned back. Don’t hurry down the path, paddle out into the deeper waters in praise and worship. Thanksgiving has never tasted so good.

THE MAKING OF A WORSHIPER

Luke 17:19 And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”

It takes more than a miracle to make a worshiper. The story of the healing of the ten lepers pretty much answers that; ten were healed, only one returned to worship and to give thanks. You would think that a miracle would turn everyone into worshipers, that is sadly not the case. Obviously we can’t go by every detail of every story or parable, but nine out of ten? That sounds about right. I have seen many people receive all sorts of miracles and, in time, seen many return to the pig sty they came out of. What was the difference between the Samaritan who returned to give thanks and all of the others who just went merrily on their way? The difference is revelation. The natural man thinks that God exists just as some sort of Genie to grant him three wishes toward his best life now. Revelation of Christ as Savior, Healer, and Holy God puts us on our face at His feet with the Samaritan. Seeing Christ for Who He is changes everything. Here are some thoughts on the blessing of thankfulness from Charles Spurgeon.

“The blessing of thankfulness is that it receives the largest blessing, for the Savior said to the man what He had not said to others, “thy faith hath made thee whole”. If you would live the higher life, be much in praising God. Some of you are in the lowest state yet, as this man was, for he was a Samaritan: but by praising God he rose to be a songster rather than a stranger. How often I noticed how the greatest sinner became the greatest praiser! Those that were farthest from Christ, and hope, and purity, when they become saved, fell that they owe the most, and therefore they love the best. May it be the ambition of every one of us, even if we be not originally among the vilest of the vile, yet to feel that we owe Jesus most: and therefore we will praise Him most: thus we shall receive the richest blessedness from His hands.”

Spurgeon is dealing with the heart of the issue. Worshippers are created when they see the greatness of their sin and the riches of His salvation. Those that were the furthest away often become the greatest worshippers. Where were you when Christ found you? How far has He brought you? Maybe its time to join the Samaritan at the feet of Jesus.