Giving Thanks to God

A mother and her little four year old girl were walking through a fruit market and the man running the orange stand thought the little girl was so cute that he just handed her an orange. Seeing an opportunity to teach one of those life lessons, the mother looks at the little girl and says “Honey, now what do you say to the nice man?”  After a short pause, the little girl holds up the orange and says “Now, peel it!”

That’s a funny story but I hope all of us desire to be a little more thankful than that. At some point this week, all of us will probably gather around a table somewhere with our family and at some point we will probably even pray “Thank you Lord for my family.”  “Thank you Lord for your blessings.”  “Thank you Lord for our home and my job.”  There’s nothing wrong with that, but I do think it is important to point out that words are cheap. It is possible to pray that way at Thanksgiving and then never give it another thought the rest of the year. That is why the Bible presents thanksgiving as more than just words.  In the Bible, thanksgiving is an attitude of the heart that overflows into words.

Probably the greatest teaching about giving thanks in the entire Bible is found here in Psalm 100. It has been appreciated by the church through the centuries. In fact, the great Charles Spurgeon once said that one of the everyday expressions of the Christian church of his day was “Let us sing the Old Hundredth.” The Old Hundredth. It starts out with a familiar whallop that we have all read and heard quoted.

Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” (Psalm 100:1–3, NKJV)

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.” (Psalm 100:4, NKJV)

All of these things are great, but what we may have overlooked is verse 5.

For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.” (Psalm 100:5, NKJV)

Verse 5 gives us the reason for verses 1-4. Verse 5 teaches us something that we often forget at Thanksgiving: there is a theological basis for our thanksgiving. There is truth that, when comprehended, drives us to give thanks. It is found here in the truths taught about God in verse 5. From this verse, I want us to see three truths about God that are the source of all true thanksgiving…

Give thanks to God for His complete goodness.

 “For the Lord is good….”  God is good. He is completely good. There is absolutely nothing that comes up short with Him. This Hebrew word is a little three letter word tob, but it is rich with meaning. Most of the time in the KJV of the Bible, it is translated simply “good”, but there are 8 times that it is translated “best.”  On two occasions, it is rendered “fine.” I like that one!  On two others, it simply says “beautiful” and four times in the OT, it says “precious.”  God is good. He’s fine!  He’s the best. He’s beautiful. He’s precious!  

If you know the Lord, then you know the only One who is good.  I love Psalm 34:8, do you know what it says?  “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”  When you get to know the Lord, then you will come to know with all of your heart that God is good.  His absolute goodness will shine through.

Someone once said that God is good all the time and all the time, God is good!  I like that. God may be good all the time, but life is not always good. Each day may even be good or bad. There’s a song that says “Life is hard, but God is good.”  I like that. Maybe you are reading this blog and your life is hard. You are burdened and discouraged. It appears that nothing is working out – or maybe it looks like everything is falling apart. Your God is GOOD.  Now, I want us to see a second truth about God from Psalm 100…

Give thanks to God for His everlasting mercy.

 Psalm 100:5 says that “His mercy is everlasting.”  Now God is a just God, but thankfully He is also a God that is filled with mercy. Mercy means that God looks at us and sees lost, sinful human beings – people who deserve eternity in Hell – but He still loves us. But mercy does not end there. Mercy means that God extends mercy to us. It means more than He simply feels sorry for us. It means that He gives us a chance. It means that He makes a way.  He offers us the opportunity to be forgiven. He extends His mercy to us.

Did you know that in the Bible, our salvation is always tied to God’s mercy? Jesus told an interesting story in Luke 18:9-14. A pharisee and a tax collector go up to the temple to pray.  The pharisee approaches the Lord thanking him that he “isn’t like other people” and specifically mentions the tax collector – a hated group of people in that culture. However, the tax collector simply cried out to God, “Lord, be merciful to me a sinner.”  To the absolute astonishment of everyone listening, Jesus stated that the tax collector went home right with God – not the pharisee!

That man was made right with God because He came to place where he simply gave up and left himself up to the mercy of God. That is the only way that any person will ever be made right with God. To say “Lord, I am nothing and I can earn nothing, I simply beg for your forgiveness and mercy.”  The good news is that if any person ever throws themselves on the mercy of God – then His mercy is everlasting. Isn’t that good?  Praise God!  Now, I want us to see a third truth about God…

Give thanks to God for His unchanging truth.

 Psalm 100:5 says that God’s truth “endures to all generations.”  Many versions say “His faithfulness endures….” The Hebrew word has the idea of “proving to be firm.” “trustworthy”  “steadfast”  Sometimes the OT translates this word “faithful” and sometimes it translates it “true.” If a person is faithful, their word is true. The truth of God endures to all generations.

I believe that God’s truth endures to all generations in two respects.  First, God’s truth endures to all generations in that God never changes or breaks His word.   Charles Spurgeon takes this approach…

“No fickle being is he, promising and forgetting. He has entered into covenant with his people, and he will never revoke it, nor alter the thing that has gone out of his lips. As our fathers found him faithful, so will our sons, and their seed for ever. A changeable God would be a terror to the righteous, they would have no sure anchorage, and amid a changing world they would be driven to and fro in perpetual fear of shipwreck.”

                        -From the Treasury of David

Aren’t you glad that in a world that is filled with war, terror, deceit, lies, and unfaithfulness that we serve a God who has NEVER broken His word?  His truth endures to all generations.

Now, there is a second way that His truth endures to all generations. His truth endures to all generations because His Word is always true. We live in a time when people want to say that there are no absolutes.  They say things like “What’s right for you is right you, but I determine what is right for me.”  That is the view that there is no absolute right and wrong.  Then we have people who say “Well all religions are headed to the same place.”  That means that they do not believe that there is absolute truth in religion and salvation.

All religions are not equally true. All books are not inspired the way the Bible is. Only the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. There is one name given under Heaven among men whereby we must be saved – our Lord Jesus Christ. There are not many ways to Heaven, there is one way to Heaven: the Lord Jesus Christ.

His truth endures to all generations. Whether they believe it or not. Whether they accept it or not. Whether they persecute it or not. Whether they ignore it or not. It’s still true!   His truth endures to all generations.

We have seen that the source of all true thanksgiving is the character of God.  We can be thankful because of His complete goodness, His everlasting mercy, and His unchanging truth.  Remember that earlier I told you that the church has sung Psalm 100 down through the centuries. Some Bible historians point out that the ancient Jews sang this Psalm as they brought what was called the peace offering or the offering of thanks. As a matter of fact, if you read Leviticus chapter 7, the Bible says that thanksgiving was what that offering was really all about anyway.  If you study the OT, you will find out that God told them to have several offerings. For instance, there was the sin offering and burnt offering. Each offering pointed to a great truth of salvation through Jesus Christ. However, the last one mentioned is the thanks offering. I do not believe that is an accident. From the very beginning, God intended for thanksgiving to flow from a heart that is overwhelmed with realization of all that He has done for it.

This week, if we are going to truly going to experience thanksgiving, we must get back to the source of all true thanksgiving – our great God and all that He has done for us. Look back with me at Psalm 100 one more time. Remember, v. 5 gives us the reason for v. 1-4. Think of it this way….

the Lord is good, His mercy is everlasting and His truth endures to all generations – so Make a joyful shout to the Lord, serve the Lord with gladness

the Lord is good, His mercy is everlasting and His truth endures to all generations – so enter into his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts with praise

 the Lord is good, His mercy is everlasting and His truth endures to all generations – so be thankful unto Him and bless His name! 

In Germany in the late 1930s, young Dr. Herbert Gezork was fortunate that he was sentenced to exile instead of execution. Yet the night before his departure for America, he wandered the streets of Hamburg in deep despair. He kept asking, “What hope is there in a world where demonic forces are triumphing?”

Then Gezork heard music coming from a church. He walked in and listened as the organist played the hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” The words of one stanza rang out to the depths of his soul… “And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us, we will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us.” Gradually the truth of the lyrics sank into his soul and brought him peace.  (Our Daily Bread, March 14, 1999)

If you are reading this blog and you are a Christian, you can GIVE THANKS  because your God is a mighty fortress and, no matter what you are going through, God has willed His truth to triumph through you!

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