Psalm 92:1, “It is good to give thanks to the LORD, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High”
Psalm 107:1, “Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever”
It is essential that we realize our future is not defined by our years here on earth. We have an indescribable feast being prepared for us in heaven, that is, if you have been saved by receiving God’s free gift of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. Psalm 95:3-7 says, “For the LORD is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is out God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if only you would hear his voice.”
The psalmist is giving the basic reasons everyone should give thanks and praise to God. They apply not only to believers but also to all people. Each person has a responsibility to praise God, for all are creatures of His hands. In Romans 1:21-25, the apostle Paul penned these words, “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,
23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. 24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves: 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
It is a constant source of amazement that people can be so blind to the fact that they are not, as they often imagine themselves to be, independent creatures making their own way through life. We take for granted all the forces that keep us alive and boastfully talk about being self-made people. We strut through life as if there were no one else we need to recognize as the source of our strength and power but ourselves
Dr. H. A. Ironside used to tell of an experience he once had at a restaurant. He ordered his meal, and just as he was about to eat, a man walked up to his table and said, Do you mind if I sit down with you? Dr. Ironside said that it was quite all right, so the man sat down. As was his custom, Dr. Ironside bowed his head and said a silent word of thanksgiving to the Lord before he ate. When he lifted up his head, the man said to him, Do you have a headache?
Ironside said, No, I don’t. The man said, Well, is there anything wrong with your food? Ironside said, No, why? Well, the man said, I saw you sitting there with your head down, and I thought you must be sick, or there was something wrong with your food. Ironside replied, No, I was simply returning thanks to God as I always do before I eat. The man said, Oh, you’re one of those, are you? Well, I never give thanks. I earn my money by the sweat of my brow, and I don’t have to give thanks to anybody when I eat. I just start right in! Dr. Ironside said, Yes, you’re just like my dog. That’s what he does, too!
That little story suggests that when people will not give thanks to God, they are acting like irrational animals. Such is the basis of this appeal by the psalmist: no matter how we may feel or what our attitude toward God may be, we are bound, as creatures dependent upon His love and grace, at least to give thanks to Him as our Creator.
Psalm 96:8 says, Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name. God is always worthy of our thankfulness and praise, not just when we feel like giving it. We should do it for His name’s sake. Doubtless it would make a great difference in our worship if we would remember that praise is not something that merely reflects our short-lived feelings but is something we ought to do simply because God made us, and we cannot live a moment without Him.
As believers in Christ, we have so much for which to give our praise and thankfulness to the LORD. Thankfulness is mindset of gratitude that ought to be a characteristic of every person, especially those who know Christ as Savior (Psalm 34:1) who has put their trust and faith in the living and risen Savior. Our life will take on a much different perspective when we spend our time counting our blessings rather than airing our complaints. We should pause for a moment throughout our busy day to think about the abundance God has so graciously showered upon us. If you do this, you will discover many reasons to express your gratitude to Him. Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to take God’s goodness for granted.
After all, Scripture emphasizes the importance of praising God for His goodness and mercy. Many of the psalms are the outpouring of thankful hearts. For example, “Let the peoples praise You, O God; let all the peoples praise You” (Psalm 67:3). “Be thankful to Him, and bless His name” (Psalm 100:4). The apostle Paul urged his fellow Christians (we should too) to give “thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). In light of the above, take some time to recall the Lord’s pardon, His constant protection, His faithful provision, and His abiding presence in your life.
Occasionally it’s helpful to spend a few quiet moments looking back over our lives to review how indebted we really are to God for His goodness, grace, and mercy. Of course, no two personal histories are the same. But we can all echo the words of David, the poet-king, in Psalm 23:6 where he wrote, “Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” If we are trusting Jesus Christ, those few words sum up the whole of our experience in life. God’s goodness imparts what we don’t deserve; His mercy withholds what we do deserve.
In times of pain and sorrow, our heavenly Father faithfully meets our needs, comforts our hearts, and gives us strength to bear our burdens. Although we are believers, we still sin and fall short of the holy standard set by His Son, Jesus Christ. Yet, He keeps on pouring His forgiveness into our souls as we confess our sins. We may think of ourselves as decent people, but we must still admit that “we have left undone those things which we ought to have done, and we have done those things which we ought not to have done.”
May gratitude continually fill our hearts, because God’s goodness and mercy will follow us all the way to glory. We are indebted to Him forever and the words on our lips should say, “Thank you LORD”.
Although the word thankfulness doesn’t appear in Matthew 5:1-12 our Lord shows us what the good life is all about. Rather than emphasizing material success, Jesus Christ teaches that genuine happiness; thankfulness and prosperity begin in the heart. So, how can we say thanks in a meaningful way? Well for starters try thanking God for the trials that caused you to recognize your spiritual need, to mourn over sin, and to submit to God. Thank Him for the joys and sorrows that encouraged you to hunger after His righteousness, to show mercy, to be pure in heart, or to be a peacemaker.
Thank Him for whatever has helped you to develop the blessedness that reflects His plan for your well-being. Despite our trials, we can give thanks for God’s unfailing goodness; for His holy name; for deliverance from sin and for victory over death. Even when all joy seems gone, we can still find reasons to thank and praise God. The psalmist reminds us that “the earth is full of the goodness of the LORD” (Psalm 33:5). May God open our eyes to His many acts of goodness every single day so we’ll never doubt His presence, His mercy, His grace and His love. As each new day springs forth gives us ample reasons to say “Thank you LORD for another day You have graciously given to us and we should rejoice and be glad in it.”
The following illustration entitled, “Who Packed Your Parachute Today” expresses the thankfulness of Charles Plumb , an aviator in the U. S. Navy.
Charles Plumb, a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, was a jet pilot in the Vietnam War. After 75 combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured and spent 6 years in a communist Vietnamese prison camp. He survived the ordeal and now lectures on lessons learned from that experience.
One day, when Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up and said, “You’re Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!” “How in the world did you know that?” asked Plumb. “I packed your parachute,” the man replied. Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude. The man pumped his hand and said, “I guess it worked!” Plumb assured him, “It sure did. If your chute hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t be here today.”
Plumb couldn’t sleep that night, thinking about that man. Plumb says, “I kept wondering what he might have looked like in a Navy uniform: a white hat, a bib in the back, and bell-bottom trousers. I wonder how many times I might have seen him and not even said ‘Good morning,’ ‘how are you?’ or anything because, you see, I was a fighter pilot and he was just a sailor.” Plumb thought of the many hours the sailor had spent on a long wooden table in the bowels of the ship, carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn’t know.
Now, Plumb asks his audience, “Who’s packing your parachute?” Everyone has someone who provides what they need to make it through the day. Plumb also points out that he needed many kinds of parachutes when his plane was shot down over enemy territory — he needed his physical parachute, his mental parachute, his emotional parachute, and his spiritual parachute. He called on all these supports before reaching safety. As you go through this week, this month, this year, please recognize people who “packs your parachute”.
– Author Unknown –
Closing thoughts & illustration:
I read an article in a magazine some time ago regarding a retired schoolteacher who was in her eighties. She related how overjoyed she was to receive a letter from one of her former students thanking her for the role she played in his life. She responded immediately with this response: “I can’t tell you how much your letter meant to me. You will be interested to know that I taught school for 50 years, and yours is the first note of appreciation I have ever received. It filled my heart with much joy.” Sometimes in the daily challenges that life gives us, we miss what is really important. We may fail to say hello, please, or thank you, congratulate someone on something wonderful that has happened to them, give a compliment, or just do something nice for no reason. While putting this devotional together my thoughts was how indebted we are to God who created us and how it is He that sustains us each and every day.
When was the last time you thanked and praised God for your life? For another day He has given you, for your eyes to see with, for your ears to hear with, for legs to take you where you want to go, for your hands to allow you to do things like tie a shoe lace. My beloved, if you haven’t you should, because there are literally thousands upon thousands of people who cannot see because they are blind, can’t hear because they are deaf, can’t walk because they have no legs and can’t do things because they have no hands.
Just as we delight in hearing someone say thank you as the school teacher stated, so does God who takes delight in hearing His children say, “Thank you Lord.” He inspired the psalmist to write, “It is good to give thanks to the Lord” (Psalm 91:1). How fitting it is, therefore, that we express our gratitude to God, not only for the good things He gives to us, but also the trials that cause us to recognize our spiritual needs and the sorrows He brings into our lives that encourages us to hunger after His righteousness.
This last illustration is entitled “Thanks for Fleas” –
Corrie ten Boom was an inspiration and challenge to thousands of people after World War II. Hearts were stirred and lives changed as she told with moving simplicity about God’s sufficiency to meet her needs, even as a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp.
Not only was the camp filthy, but there were fleas everywhere. Corrie’s sister Betsie, who was imprisoned with her, insisted that 1 Thessalonians 5:18 was God’s will for them “In everything give thanks,” But giving thanks in a flea-infested place seemed unrealistic to Corrie, until she realized why the guards didn’t come into their barracks to make them stop praying and singing hymns. They wanted to avoid the fleas! So, the prisoners were free to worship and study the Bible. The fleas, yes, even the fleas were agents of grace, and something to be thankful for.
So, what are some of the “fleas” in our lives? They aren’t the big difficulties, but the petty annoyances. They are the little trials from which we can’t escape. Is it possible that they are one of the ways the Lord teaches us spiritual lessons and helps us to increase our endurance and our faith? When we are tempted to grumble and complain, which we are good at, let’s remember the lesson of the fleas and give thanks to our Lord.
We don’t need more to be thankful for; we just need to be more thankful in our everyday life and never let the abundance of God’s gifts cause us to forget the Giver.