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