Participating in the Psalms IV: Thanksgiving Edition

Often the writers of the Psalms aren’t just trying to teach us about God, but they are trying to share their experience of Him.  As in Psalm 96 and 100, included in earlier posts, Psalm 136 opens with encouragement, or even instructions, to join the Psalmist in thanksgiving:

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
     for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods,
     for his steadfast love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords,
     for his steadfast love endures forever” – Psalm 136:1-3

All 26 verses of this Psalm end with the phrase “for his steadfast love endures forever,” following something about God that is worthy of praise and thanksgiving.  This constant repetition is a reminder that it is “his steadfast love” for His people that drives His acts of creation, His works in history, and ultimately His death on the cross.  His works are all done by a person, for a people.  What God really desires is relationship with us. We are not alone in the universe.

Giving thanks only makes sense if someone exists to thank, who is good, and has the power to provide what we are thankful for.  If creation is a mere accident, if wicked acts are never corrected and righteous acts are never rewarded, and if mankind can only hope in themselves, there is no reason to give thanks to someone, or something, else.  Many religions seem to acknowledge this, giving personality and reverence to created things – trees, the sun, the harvest, and so on – but in Christ we can know the Person who is behind it all, and who actually is a Person that loves us.

Therefore, today give thanks to the Lord who is good, and is above any god or lord of this world.  As we celebrate Thanksgiving today in the United States, be thankful above all else that Someone exists to thank, that He is good, and that He has the power, and love, needed to care for His people.  Now and forever.

Amen.


Earlier posts on Participating in the Psalms are here, here, and here.

Thanksgiving is Good and Fitting

Since 1942, the United States have celebrated a holiday for Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of every November.  For Christians the holiday is a time to remember the source of their blessings, regardless of how large or small those blessings seem.  In Ecclesiastes 5:18-19, the Preacher recommends celebrating and enjoying our material things, and recognizing God as the Giver of them all, including the work needed to produce and prepare them:

Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot. Everyone also to whom God has given wealth and possessions and power to enjoy them, and to accept his lot and rejoice in his toil—this is the gift of God.

However, as the Preacher wrote, even those with good jobs and plentiful possessions may find it difficult to truly enjoy them.  It is “good and fitting”, but it is also “the gift of God” to find joy in the now instead of chasing things we don’t already have.  It does not come naturally.

For many, time and events make each Thanksgiving different.  The company around the table may have changed.  The meal may be different.  The means of providing the meal may be different.  The familiarity of tradition may have been shaken by the pandemic and other circumstances.  Much has changed, and much will change.

Therefore, focus on the Giver behind the gifts you have, and seek contentment with thankfulness that He has provided everything you need. For now, and in eternity.  You are in good company.

Three Blessings to Count Today

Photo by Sixteen Miles Out on Unsplash

Some say that grace stands for God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense, but what are these riches?  David says at the end of Psalm 144 that:

Blessed are the people to whom such blessings fall!
            Blessed are the people whose God is the LORD!”

The desire of the Lord is to bless His people, in part in this world, and fully in the next.  The verse above follows verses 12-14, which list three specific blessings: family, prosperity, and safety:

May our sons in their youth
            be like plants full grown,
our daughters like corner pillars
            cut for the structure of a palace;
may our granaries be full,
            providing all kinds of produce;
may our sheep bring forth thousands
            and ten thousands in our fields;
may our cattle be heavy with young,
            suffering no mishap or failure in bearing;
may there be no cry of distress in our streets!”

Knowing God is no immediate guarantee of these things, but we may ask Him for them, and know that when we do receive them, they come from Him.  He has paid for our riches and our blessings in full on the cross, so that in Paradise we will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5), be eternally His family (Ephesians 1:5), and our pain and tears will be wiped away forever (Revelation 21:4).

Today, count these blessings, praise God for them, and pray that His people will hope in His provision forever!

Sunday Share from Blogger Mama Lava – Helpful Little Hack of the Hour: Your Face

Dear fellow travelers,

Sundays here are now “Sunday Share.”  The post below is a clever piece of advice on how to use something everyone has – their face – as a reminder to practice gratitude in everyday living.  Mama Lava has been posting daily “hacks” to encourage and entertain her readers and this is one of my favorites!

Participating in the Psalms III – Psalm 100:4-5

Photo by Steven Lasry on Unsplash

Psalm 100 is “A Psalm for giving thanks.”  Yesterday’s post focused on the first three verses, and today’s covers the last two, which continue the Psalmist’s encouragement to personally join them in thanksgiving.

Psalm 100:4 reads:

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
            and his courts with praise!
            Give thanks to him; bless his name!”

Verse 3 ended describing us as God’s sheep, and as our Shepherd, He guides us into His presence.  At the time the Psalm was written, this would probably be in His temple, but for us it is whenever we worship in public or in private.  Does our worship involve willing and joyful giving of thanks, praise, and blessing to God?  Or do we sometimes worship reluctantly?  Do we feel we don’t measure up to what God expects?  In case we need encouragement, the Psalmist continues with verse 5:

“For the LORD is good;
            his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

Like verse 3 covered yesterday, this verse is a list of things to be thankful for.  A list of reasons we can enter His gates and courts with thanksgiving and praise:

“For the LORD is good” – We can approach God and worship Him because He is good
“his steadfast love endures forever” – We can approach Him because His love is steadfast
“and his faithfulness to all generations.” – We can approach Him because of His faithfulness

It is His characteristics that make Him love us, and His character endures forever.  If we have lacked goodness, love, or faithfulness since we last met with God, His love for us in Christ overcomes it all.  His nature is 100% reliable, and worthy of our thanksgiving!

Take a moment and ask Him how you might participate in the Psalms, being thankful for His character regardless of how your day is going, or how you feel.  He wants to walk through it with you.  Be thankful!