Praise and Thanksgiving

“Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness.” – Psalm 107.8-9

Gratitude is characteristic of genuine, mature Christianity. It’s one thing to be obligated to our Creator, but it’s quite another to be obligated AND thankful for His Presence in us. The trouble with most religious activity today is that it is not merely a vehicle but an end in and of itself. It confined by the temporal activities of men. It is the form of godliness while denying its power. Once we taste and see that the Lord is good, then gratitude genuinely overwhelms the heart.

There are two aspects of praise and our relationship to it in Psalm 107:

It is absolutely necessary.

Gratitude is something you see in an expression, hear in the tone of one’s voice, or recognize in the whole demeanor of a person.  I’m saying that it is external, but it begins, as everything does, within the heart. A heart for God leads to a grateful life for God.

  • “The four living creatures who cried, ‘Holy, holy, holy!’ give glory and honor and thanks to the LORD” in Revelation 4.9.
  • Psalm 63.5 speaks of the satisfied soul who praises the Lord with joyful lips.
  • “It is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful” (Psalm 147.1).
  • It is the will of God in Christ Jesus for us to give thanks in everything (1 Thessalonians 5.18).
  • We should be giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5.20).
  • The ungodly are unthankful and have the wrath of God abiding upon them (Romans 1.21).
  • Great and awful consequences come upon those who fail to serve the LORD with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything (Deuteronomy 28.47).
  • However, “whoever offers praise glorifies [God]; and to him who orders his conduct aright” will see His salvation (Psalm 50.23).
  • The Psalms end with six verses which repeat praise to the LORD no less than 13 different times.  That’s more than twice per verse.

So, first of all, praise is absolutely necessary.  However, there is a second aspect to praise and our relationship with it.  As necessary as it is to praise God, we often…

Neglect to do so.

We look to the gift and forget the Giver. Actually, we don’t even know what we have until we have lost it. We fail to acknowledge God’s grace, mercy, and kindness toward us to our own peril. Our ingratitude leads to presumption and great sin against His great mercy. We live as if God is so far away. We constantly call out for mercy or just a sense of thankfulness, when our lives should be so much more than this.

We should meditate on who God is, on the excellency of Christ, and on the blessedness of His abiding presence. We tend to have too much of this world in our hearts. Our faith rests in the wrong object. Glorifying God means reflecting His character. We can hardly do that when our thoughts are chained to this earth. We must show our gratitude generally and specifically.

First, gratitude is expressed generally because God is too great and overwhelming to do otherwise.  

God has been so good to us. He provides for us even though we have rebelled against Him. We are often so unfaithful.  Yet He has preserved our lives from destruction from the first day of our existence until now. God is gracious to be so longsuffering and patient with us. He withholds our hand from greater evil and rebellion against Him.

God has redeemed us through the gift of His only-begotten Son sent to die for us. He has given us the gift of His Spirit to illuminate us and to ignite right desire within us. He has promised lives of grace, mercy, and peace. An eternal inheritance is reserved for us in Heaven. Are the fallen angels extended mercy like this? Shouldn’t we praise God for these great principles of Christianity?

Second, our gratitude is specific as well.  

It is well-honed by the experiences of life. The Lord satisfies the hungry soul with goodness. We hunger and thirst for righteousness. We enjoy God. We have put to rest the anxiety of our destiny. These are our experiences.

Others who have no such experiences do not know what can be done with their guilt and rapidly deteriorating condition. But we know the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  “Whoever is wise will observe these things, and they will understand the lovingkindness of the LORD” (Ps 107.43).

Most Christians want to praise the LORD. Maybe we can praise the LORD for His goodness. But why the discontentment, grief, and anger when God offers satisfaction and rejoicing? Maybe we spend too much time looking at our own corruption and too much time looking within ourselves instead of looking to Christ at the right hand of the Father.

We meditate on our own unfulfilled desires but ignore the Lord’s satisfying promises. We anticipate future trials but forget past victories. We often cannot praise God as we would like because we forget those benefits loaded daily upon us.

You cannot praise God from a heart filled with disappointment and discontentment. See the disillusionment in this and begin to look at God’s fresh daily mercy. Praise Him in the heart privately; then testify of His greatness publicly. That is powerful worship!

Sing praises to God, sing praises!
Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth;
Sing praises with understanding.

-Psalm 47.6-7

Our Greatest Patriotic Duty

He saved them from the hand of him who hated them,
And redeemed them from the hand of the enemy.
The waters covered their enemies;
There was not one of them left.
Then they believed His words;
They sang His praise.

Psalm 106.10–12

Psalm 103 declares the everlasting mercies of God. Everlasting mercy governs the character of man while glorifying the character of God. Either we acknowledge God’s mercy by showing gratitude, or we ignore God’s mercy and take it for granted.

This is true of individual people and nations. As the history of Israel is rehearsed in the Psalm 106, we are reminded of the fragile condition they were in. They camped by the Red Sea. Pharaoh came upon them with his army. There was no way for them to escape or defend themselves. From a human perspective, all hope was lost.

But God delivered them in a miraculous way. This is replayed throughout the Old Testament. The LORD kept Pharaoh and his army at bay with His presence, radiating as a pillar of fire. He made a way through the Red Sea and upon dry land for the Israelites to cross over. He allowed every Israelite to pass over safely, and then He swept the waters over the Egyptian army in judgment. How did this affect the nation of Israel? We see it in two collective responses: 1) Belief and 2) Gratitude.

  1. They believed the words of God. They acknowledged God’s power and faithfulness because they could not deny what He had done for them. It would have been inconceivable for them to think that they would ever disbelieve His words.
  2. They gratefully sang God’s praises. There is no way they could overlook what God had done.  Some say even today, “That was a Red Sea experience” to denote the great and miraculous deliverance of God.

But notice the phrase in Psalm 106.21: “They forgot God their Savior.” They were ungrateful. Ingratitude is one of the great and heinous sins of mankind. Scripture speaks about how terrible it is to be unthankful. Romans 1.21 says, “Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.” The Old Testament speaks of Hezekiah’s response to a miracle he personally experienced: “Hezekiah did not repay according to the favor shown him, for his heart was lifted up; therefore wrath was looming over him and over Judah and Jerusalem” (2 Chronicles 32.25).

There is nothing so great as a Red Sea experience. Yet the nation forgot God their Savior. We expect God’s consuming wrath to devour His people. We marvel at His patience toward them. Why has God not consumed our own nation?  Even as Moses interceded for Israel, believers in the United States intercede for their own country.

  1. Pray for the United States of America. God commands us to intercede for our country. We must pray for kings and presidents and all those in authority. So many people are willing to defend their understanding of freedom, but they fail to pray for their country. The greatest way to defend the Constitution and the United States of America is to pray for her. There is a lot of protesting and complaining, but what about intercession? We still enjoy great freedom and prosperity in America. It’s not that authorities deserve prayer; it is simply what we are commanded to pray. Pray for the preservation of freedom to worship the one true God. Pray for revival. Genuine revival is foundational in our country’s battle against injustice, racism, poverty, and immorality.
  2. Pray in earnest for the United States of America. As we approach the next big election, prayer and fasting are the most important spiritual weapons wielded. The battle is not ours but the LORD’s. God may relent from the disaster that He has planned to bring upon our nation. One man named Moses interceded for the entire nation, and God heard him. Therefore, we must pray.
  3. Pray for revival in the United States of America. God’s everlasting mercies are new every day. Great is His faithfulness. And great is the danger of neglecting Him as individuals and as a nation. The bondage of sin is very great. The deliverance from sin is a Red Sea Miracle. We will either gratefully acknowledge this or we don’t. It is a miracle far greater than water heaping up to form walls. It is a miracle purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ. He is God our Savior. Will we forget Him?  “How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?”  Thank the LORD for your personal deliverance. Pray for the deliverance of others in our nation. We may be closed up in our homes, but God’s Word is not bound. May He bring personal revival and power into all of our lives.

God promised Israel: “If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7.14). Who knows what God would do for our country if we would but humble ourselves as Christians, pray, seek His face, and turn for our wicked ways. I believe God is merciful. Do you? I will gratefully sing His praises in the wake of revival. Will you?