08-071 GIVE THANKS TO THE LORD P2

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					08-071                           GPBC, 11/30/08 p.m.            Thanksgiving Message
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              “GIVE THANKS TO THE LORD” Part Two
                         (Psalm 103)

         About a week ago I came across an article in the Star Ledger with a
title that immediately caught my attention. The title simply was, “Give
Thanks! It’s good for you.” The article went on to say that scientific studies
have demonstrated that having an “attitude of gratitude” has actually been
shown to produce health benefits such as lowered blood pressure, improved
sleep, and higher energy levels. It’s certainly good to know that being
thankful can be beneficial to our health, but if that’s our only motivation for
being thankful to the Lord, then we’re being motivated by the wrong thing.
We ought to be thankful to the Lord out of a deep sense of gratitude for all
that he has done and continues to do in our lives.

         This is what the psalmist is talking as we turn once again to Psalm
103. He says, “Bless the LORD, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless
His holy name. Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget none of His
benefits.” [Psalm 103:1-2, NASB]. What we see here in the psalmist is a
heart that’s “overflowing with gratitude” for all that God has done for him.
What we see here is not only the importance of expressing our gratitude to
the Lord from the very depths of our being, but also the importance of being
intentional in not allowing ourselves to forget the many blessings that we
have experienced from his hand.

         This morning we barely scratched the surface in looking at all the
reasons why we should be thankful to the Lord. We should be thankful to
the Lord that he forgives our sin, not because we deserve to be forgiven, but
because of the riches of God’s grace toward us in Christ.
08-071                           GPBC, 11/30/08 p.m.              Thanksgiving Message
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We should be thankful to the Lord for his kindness toward us whenever
we’re sick and we experience his healing touch. It’s not that he always
heals, but when we do experience healing we need to give thanks to him as
the source of all healing. Certainly God’s forgiveness and healing ought to
be reason enough for a “river of gratitude” to flow from our innermost
being. But all of this only scratches the surface.

         The psalmist goes on to give us yet another reason for us to be
thankful to the Lord when he says that Lord is the one “Who redeems your
life from the pit…” [Psalm 103:4, NASB]. In the original language of the
Old Testament, the word here for “pit” is the word that would normally be
used for the grave.      What the psalmist is talking about here is being
delivered from death. It’s possible in the context that this goes back to God
as our healer in the previous verse and refers to healing that delivers us from
death. But I suspect it means more than that. I believe what he’s talking
about is our deliverance from death in the day of resurrection.

         It’s what the book of Hosea is talking about where the Lord says of
his people, “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem
them from death…” [Hosea 13:14, NIV]. It’s what the book of Isaiah is
talking about when it says, “He will swallow up death for all time, and the
Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces, and He will remove the
reproach of His people from all the earth; for the LORD has spoken. And it
will be said in that day, "Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited
that He might save us. This is the LORD for whom we have waited; let us
rejoice and be glad in His salvation."” [Isaiah 25:8-9, NASB].
08-071                             GPBC, 11/30/08 p.m.            Thanksgiving Message
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It’s what the book of 1 Corinthians is talking about when it says, “Behold, I
tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a
moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will
sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on
immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and
this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying
that is written, "Death is swallowed up in victory."” [1 Cor. 15:50-54,
NASB].

          Even though our present body will eventually grow old and die and be
laid in the grave, God’s promise to those of us who have put our trust in
Christ is that he will give us a brand new body, an immortal body, that will
live forever. Think where we’d be without the confidence that death is not
the end for us. We may not be able to escape death, but we know that death
cannot keep us in its grip because the day is coming when “death will be
swallowed up in victory.” Having this hope of resurrection should certainly
be reason for a “river of gratitude” to flow from the very depths of our heart.

          But there’s still more! He goes on to say that we ought to express our
thanks to the Lord as the one “who crowns you with lovingkindness and
compassion.” [Psalm 103:4, NASB]. What a beautiful metaphor of how
highly the Lord regards us as his people - he honors us by placing a crown
upon our head. The crown that he’s talking about is something that was
typically worn by the nobility of that day, and was usually made of gold or
silver.      But this crown is different because it consists of his own
lovingkindness and compassion.
08-071                            GPBC, 11/30/08 p.m.             Thanksgiving Message
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God not only possesses these dual qualities of lovingkindness and
compassion, but he delights to show how highly he regards us as his people
by demonstrating these qualities toward us. Both speak of God’s marvelous
love for us, even though we have done nothing to be deserving of such love.

         In the original language of the Old Testament, the word here
translated “lovingkindness” describes the special love that God has for those
who are his “covenant people.” It represents a steadfast, loyal love in which
he is completely and forever devoted to us as his people.                It is an
unconditional love that never wavers, never changes, and depends on
nothing that we have ever done or could ever do. This is why the Apostle
Paul can say in the New Testament, “For I am convinced that neither death,
nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able
to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Rom. 8:38-39, NASB]. Along with all this, it’s a love that expresses itself in
kindness and mercy toward us that we have done nothing to deserve.

         Not only does God possess such love as this, but verse eight adds that
he “abounds” in such love.         When it says that he       is “abounding in
lovingkindness,” it pictures an overflowing abundance. There’s a place in
Florida I’ve been to called “Rainbow Springs,” where hundreds of thousands
of gallons of fresh water continually bubble up through the sandy soil to
create a river that flows all the way to the Everglades. That’s the way God’s
love is – it’s like a perpetual spring that keeps on flowing and never runs
dry. And we as God’s people are the recipients of that love.
08-071                            GPBC, 11/30/08 p.m.             Thanksgiving Message
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         The word, “compassion,” is another precious word that describes a
different aspect of God’s love for us. In the original language of the Old
Testament, it’s the word used of the tender love of a mother for her newborn
child. Have you ever thought about why a mother doesn’t hesitate to get up
in the middle of the night to feed her newborn child when he’s hungry, or to
change his diaper, or just to hold him until he goes back to sleep? It’s
certainly not because she loves to get up in the middle of the night, and wake
up the next morning feeling like she’d just been hit by a truck. It’s because
of the special love that she has for this tiny, helpless baby that is totally
dependent on her care. That, too, is the kind of love that our God has for us.

         It’s because of such love that our God is always there for us, always
ready to meet us in our time of need, always ready to care for us when we
turn to him in our weakness. It explains why the psalmist can say, “Cast
your burden upon the LORD, and He will sustain you…” [Psalm 55:22,
NASB]. It’s why the New Testament can tell us, “Cast all your anxiety on
him because he cares for you.” [1 Peter 5:7, NIV]. It’s all because of his
compassion, - that special love that God has for us as his children. Think
what life would be like without being confident of God’s abounding love
and unfailing compassion.        Knowing that God regards us so highly and
loves us so deeply should certainly be reason for a “river of gratitude” to
flow from the very depths of our heart

         With all this we’re still only scratching the surface. David goes on to
say that we should be expressing our gratitude to the Lord as the one “who
satisfies your years with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the
eagle.” [Psalm 103:5, NASB].
08-071                              GPBC, 11/30/08 p.m.              Thanksgiving Message
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I think it’s probably safe to say that none of us got up from the table on
Thanksgiving Day still hungry and wishing we had more to eat. It’s more
likely that most of us got up from the table full and wishing that we hadn’t
eaten quite so much. We didn’t just have enough to satisfy our hunger, - we
had more than enough! And that’s the picture we have here when it says
that the Lord “satisfies our years with good things.” In the original language
of the Old Testament, the word for “satisfy” has the idea of a “fullness” in
which we don’t just have enough to get by, but far more than we could ever
possibly imagine. That’s the way God is! When he blesses us, he doesn’t
do it sparingly and give us just enough to get by. As Howard Hendricks
would say, he delights to “bless our socks off.”

         I love the last part of this verse when it says, “[He] satisfies your years
with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle.” [Psalm
103:5, NASB]. The eagle is a symbol of strength. The idea is that being
satisfied with God’s goodness in our lives has a way of continually renewing
our strength from day to day, even when we face the hard times of life. We
find the same imagery in the book of Isaiah when it says, “Even the youths
shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who
wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with
wings like eagles...” [Isaiah 40:30-31, NKJV]. If you’ve ever seen an eagle
soar to the heavens, you have some idea of the great strength in its wings. In
the same way, when we are satisfied with God’s goodness, he continually
renews our strength like that of the eagle. It brings to mind the testimony of
the Apostle Paul when he says, “…Though our outer man is decaying, yet
our inner man is being renewed day by day.” [2 Cor. 4:16, NASB]. The
trials of life may sometimes “wear us down.”
08-071                            GPBC, 11/30/08 p.m.            Thanksgiving Message
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But when we are satisfied with God’s goodness in our life, they will never
“wear us out,” because God will continually “renew our strength.” Knowing
that should certainly be reason for a “river of gratitude” to be continually
flowing from our innermost being.

         A thankful heart is not something that most of us come by naturally, -
it’s something we have to work at cultivating by intentionally thinking about
all of God’s blessings in our lives. In Psalm 103 we’ve looked at just a few .
We’ve looked at how God is the one who pardons our iniquity, - he forgives
all our sins, not because we deserve to be forgiven, but because of his grace
in Christ Jesus our Lord. We looked at how God is the one who heals our
diseases, - that doesn’t mean God always heals all the time, but when we do
experience healing, God is always the one who does it. We’ve looked at
how God will one day redeem us from the grave in that glorious future day
of resurrection when “death will be swallowed up in victory.” We’ve looked
at how God thinks so highly of us that he pours out his love and compassion
like a crown upon our head. We’ve looked at how God delights to satisfy us
with his goodness so that throughout our life we experience his strength to
face whatever trials we may encounter along the way.

No wonder the psalmist cries out in Psalm 106, “Praise the LORD! Oh give
thanks to the LORD, for He is good; for His lovingkindness is everlasting.
Who can speak of the mighty deeds of the LORD, or can show forth all His
praise?” [Psalm 106:1-2, NASB]. God wants each of us to be someone who
is “overflowing with gratitude” for all that he has done, not just at
Thanksgiving, but every day of the year. Are you that kind of person? Am
I? If not, then that’s the kind of person we need to become.
                          (Closing Song: “Forever”)

				
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