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GIVE THANKS TO THE LORD FOR HE I

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					GIVE THANKS TO THE LORD FOR HE IS GOOD Psalm 136:1-26 Key Verse: 136:1 "Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever." As a season of the harvest comes near, we want to thank God and to find as many thanksgiving topics as we pray. Psalm 136 is a psalm of thanksgiving. The Psalmist has a clear sense of history, especially based on the first two books of the Bible-Genesis and Exodus. Perhaps, he must have studied these two books over and over again until his heart was filled with thanksgiving to God who is creator and savior. May God grant us the desire for the knowledge of God and fill us with thanksgiving. First, Give thanks to the LORD (1-3). One day, I met a Japanese man who asked me for a favor in the street. He loudly said, “Thank you” in Japanese bowing several times 90 degrees. People say “thank you” all the time when they receive something nice. A sincere expression of appreciation to each other is very important in the mutual relationship. In our spiritual relationship to God, it is also important for us to find many thanksgiving topics and give thanks to him in all circumstances. (1 The 5:18) The psalmist says in the first verse: "Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever." To whom do we give thanks? It is to the LORD our God. God is invisible. God is spirit. We usually give thanks to a visible person about some good tangible things. Two days ago, a paper that Dr. Joe and I had worked on was finally accepted by a journal. I said „Praise the Lord!‟ I felt that my academic eyes were a little bit open. But to give thanks to God, our spiritual eyes must be open. Paul says in Ephesians 1:18a “I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened.” We need to first pray that the eyes of our heart may be enlightened so that we may give thanks to God. For what should we thank God? There are so many things to thank God for. The psalmist begins with, "for he is good". He first gives thanks to God because of who he is. He gives thanks to God for he is good. In general, we tend to find thanksgiving topics from our real life about what God has done for us. In this passage, however, the Psalmist teaches us that we should first thank God for he is good. God is good. In Jesus‟ time, people saw his goodness through his life-giving ministry. A certain ruler called him a good teacher. But Jesus said, “Why do you call me good? No one is good—except God alone.” (Lk 18:18-20) Man is both good and bad. This gives a complicated feeling in social relationship. Some French movies have dealt with this kind of issue. So their movies are confusing, boring and misleading. But the Holy Scripture clearly tells us the depth and width of goodness of our God. When we study Genesis 2, we see that God‟s goodness is very personal to one person

Adam. God was so good to Adam. He thoughtfully provided the beautiful garden filled with all kinds of trees pleasing to the eye and good for food. There were excellent natural flower shops and organic foods. God thought about one person, Adam‟s happiness. When God read a little hint of loneliness from Adam‟s face, he brought a suitable helper for him. But when Adam disobeyed and broke the relationship with him, God‟s heart must have been so painful. Still he was good to Adam and his wife. He promised to send his messiah to him. Finally, God sent his One and Only son to us as a good shepherd who laid down his life for us. Give thanks to God for he is always good! All 26 verses of this psalm have a repeated phrase in italics. It is "His love endures forever." This phrase was intended as a congregational response in each verse. This phrase declares that God's love endures forever. It is not easy for us to understand God‟s enduring love. But God showed his enduring love through Israel‟s history. In the Daily Bread passage these days, the Israel people, during the time of the judges went through a vicious cycle for themselves: They committed sins, suffered much, and cried for God‟s help until they were saved. Once they got better, they committed sins again. We can‟t imagine how God could love such people with his enduring love. Despite Israel‟s repeated sins and spiritual failures, God‟s love endured throughout their history. Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament, testifies to the enduring love of God. The first words the Lord spoke to Israel were, “I have loved you.” God‟s words, “I have loved you” convince us that he has loved his people through all time. God‟s love endures forever. 1 Corinthians 13:7, 8a say about God‟s love, “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” God‟s love is difficult for the fallen men to exercise. His love is holy. The greatest display of God's love for us was and still is on the cross of Jesus. Paul wrote, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Ro 5:8) Each of us was doomed to stand before the judgment seat with fear, guilt and condemnation. Each of us was supposed to pay the wages of our sins. But his love covered the multitude of our sins through the gospel of Jesus. Apostle John said, "This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins." (1Jn 4:10) We must surrender ourselves to his love with genuine repentance and sincere acceptance. God’s love endures forever.

Second, to him who made.... (4-9) From time to time, most of us must have seen the wonderful starry night sky. Dr. David told me that he has a good telescope to see the stars. The stars that Dr. David and Davy have seen are probably the same stars that one difficult old man struggled to count with his fingers and see the vision of God. While this old man was counting the

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stars, he realized how great and wonderful God the creator was. Giving thanks to God our Creator is by our basic faith. It opens our eyes to have holy awe for God our creator. The Psalmist must have deeply realized the wonders of God the creator. He said in verse 4a, “To him who alone does great wonders.” These days, the bioinformatician has one of the most demanding jobs. He analyzes genetic sequence to find out the cause of disease and then tries to develop patient specific genetic medicine. Studying of the creatures at the micro-level is wonderful. Perhaps if the psalmist lived in this modern world, he would have sung the wonderful structure of micro-DNA sequence. God is the wonderful creator and owner of our life. God created each of us in micro-DNA detail. He alone has wonderful plan for each of us. God who began a good work in our life will carry it on until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil 1:6). By faith, let‟s give thanks to God who alone does great wonders in our life and ministry.

Third, to God who brought them out (10-15) From verse 10, God reveals his redemptive and righteous love for Israel. There are two events in Israel's history which the psalmist especially praises God for: the Passover and the crossing of the Red Sea. First, he gives thanks to God for delivering Israel through the Passover. The Israelites became slaves in Egypt by God‟s foreknowledge. God struck the Egyptians with plagues and the mandate "Let my people go." But Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not let the Israelites go. Finally, God sent the 10th plague, the plague on the firstborn. Exodus 12:29 says, "At midnight the LORD struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well." There was not a house in Egypt without someone dead. But the homes of the Israelites were passed over, because they put lamb's blood on the doorframes of their homes, as the LORD had instructed them to do. God showed his redemptive love to those who obeyed him. In the next event written in verses 13-15, the psalmist mentions is the crossing of the Red Sea. After the plague on the firstborn, Pharaoh let the Israelites go. But after they left, Pharaoh changed his mind and went after them with all his chariots. The Israelites were trapped with the Red Sea before them and the Egyptian army behind. They were terrified in the face of sure death. At God's instruction, Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, and by faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land (Heb 11:29a). The Egyptian army pursued them. They didn‟t believe God‟s sovereign will for Israel. Then the LORD God swept the entire Egyptian army into the Red Sea. Not one of them survived. But the LORD brought Israel through the midst of it. God‟s love for Israel is victorious and most of all redemptive. God is our Redeemer. We are bound in slavery to our sins. But the LORD our God sets us free. The LORD our God sent Jesus as our Passover lamb to shed his blood on the cross and set us free from our slavery to sin and condemnation. Apostle Peter says that

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the precious blood of Christ redeems us from the empty way of life handed down to us from our forefathers. (1Pe 1:18-19) Also, Apostle Paul wrote, "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace..." (Eph 1:7) Before the power of sin, Paul cried out, "What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” And he answered his own question, “Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Ro 7:24-25) Let us give thanks to God our Redeemer. Fourth, to him who gave an inheritance (16-26). Verse 16 says, “to him who led his people through the desert, His love endures forever." God sustained his people for 40 years in the desert with life‟s necessities such as daily manna, quail, and living water. God also trained them to depend on him, until they were ready to enter the land of promise. When they came to the edge of the promised land, they encountered fierce enemies, the Amorites. The Israelites were not trained for war. Israel sent messengers to say to Sihon king of the Amorites about peacefully passing through his country. But Sihon would not let Israel pass through. He mustered his entire army and marched out into the desert to fight Israel. Israel, however, put him to the sword and took over his land. God gave them the victory. Right after this, Og king of Bashan and his entire army marched out to fight Israel. The LORD said to Moses, "Do not be afraid of him...Do to him what you did to Sihon king of the Amorites..." So they struck him down and took possession of his land. The psalmist remembered these victorious events and praised God "who struck down great kings, and killed mighty kings--Sihon king of the Amorites and Og king of Bashan--and gave their land as an inheritance, an inheritance to his servant Israel." Not only these two kings, but God gave victory to Joshua and the Israelites over 31 more kings, until they could possess the promised land. These enemies were too strong for them. But God gave them victory. In this way, God gave their land as an inheritance to his servant Israel. Our campus is the land where we must occupy and preach the gospel through one to one bible study. Thank God for granting us an excellent opportunity to buy the church across our Bible house. May God help us to enlarge our tents to this church. May God help each of us trust in his enduring love. Let us give thanks to the Lord for he is good. The LORD is the Maker of all things. The LORD is our Redeemer who brings us out of our slavery to sin. The LORD is our Provider and Defender. The LORD gives us a promised inheritance at our campus and in the Kingdom of God. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever. Amen.

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