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Princeton Presbyterian Church (EPC) Sermon # 1280

November 20, 2016 Romans 1:18-25

Dr. Ed Pettus Psalm 107:1-32

(This is an extended outline, not a verbatim transcript.)

 

 

"Give Thanks to the Lord"

 

  • Thanksgiving Day Every Day

 

This Thursday, and even in a few minutes, we will gather with family and friends to eat and enjoy a day feasting together. No doubt some will, on Thursday, plant themselves in front of the TV to watch football, others will play games, and some will give some time during the day to serve those less fortunate. We give thanks to God for all God has done. We celebrate God’s abundant blessing. Our scripture readings for worship today offers thanks to God. Many Psalms encourage and command that we give thanks to God, but not just on one day in the year. The Bible encourages us to practice gratitude every day – to develop an attitude of gratitude. In essence we should thank God daily but skip the giant meal daily!

 

  • Give Thanks to the Lord

 

I chose for today one Psalm for our focus. It begins with thanksgiving.

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! 2 Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble 3 and gathered in from the lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the south.

 

The first verse is a call to give thanks to God. With every worship service we give thanks to the Lord. Why do we give thanks? And why do we thank God? Thanksgiving is an act of self-abandonment, that is, to give thanks is to realize that we do not rely on ourselves. Giving thanks is a confessional act that demonstrates reliance upon another, namely God. Those who rely only on themselves never need to give thanks. Giving thanks is also a confessional acknowledgment that we are committed God. To give thanks is to make a commitment. We are committed to God because we rely on God for our life.

Christians thank God because we know that God is the source of life and blessings and even the smallest of things that we might sometimes take for granted. The Psalm tells us why to thank God, “For he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” This is a very general statement; give thanks to God because God is good and loving. All of God's blessing come from his goodness and love, we may simply see some as bigger than others.

Psalm 107 continues with another summons: “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom he has redeemed from trouble.” One of the ways we give testimony about God is to tell other people why we are thankful. Let the redeemed say so, that is, let them give witness to the many ways God is worthy of our thanks. Thanksgiving Day encourages everyone to be thankful and Christians above all have reason on Thanksgiving Day and every day.

 

  • Failure to Give Thanks to the Lord

 

Romans reveals what may happen if we fail to thank God.

 

Romans 1:21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

 

When those who know God become foolish and wise in their own eyes – in this case dishonoring and not thanking God, he gave them up to their own lusts. When we fail to thank God we endanger ourselves and we may be left to our own devises. Let me tell you this, thank the Lord!

 

  • Case Testimony #1

 

I want to look quickly at the four cases of testimony for giving thanks.

 

Psalm 107:4-9

In each of these cases, we find a people identified, a problem, a cry to God, God's redemption, and thanksgiving. Every stanza will carry this pattern. Starting in verse 4,

 

People identified: 4 Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in;

The problem: hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them.

The cry: Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.

God's redemption: He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in.

The thanks: Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

 

  • Case Testimony #2

 

Psalm 107:10-16

People identified: 10 Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in irons,

The problem: 11 for they had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High.
12 So he bowed their hearts down with hard labor; they fell down, with none to help.

The cry: 13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.

God's redemption: 14 He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart.

The thanks: 15 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!
16 For he shatters the doors of bronze and cuts in two the bars of iron.

 

  • Case Testimony #3

 

Psalm 107:17-22

People identified: 17a Some were fools through their sinful ways,

The problem: 17b and because of their iniquities suffered affliction; 18 they loathed any kind of food, and they drew near to the gates of death.
The cry: 19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.

God's redemption: 20 He sent out his word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction.

The thanks: 21 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! 22 And let them offer sacrifices of thanksgiving, and tell of his deeds in songs of joy!

 

  • Case Testimony #4

 

Psalm 107:23-32
People identified: 23 Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters;

The problem: 24 they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep.
25 For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea.
26 They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight; 27 they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits' end.

The cry: 28 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.

God's redemption: 29 He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed.
30 Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and he brought them to their desired haven.

The thanks: 31 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! 32 Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

 

In every instance, God saves, delivers, or brings them out of their distress. That is, God redeems them all! Let the redeemed say so! Let them give thanks – for God has acted. The final verse in this last case, 107:32, gives us the picture of a congregation at worship, "Let them extol him in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders." This Psalm was probably used at thanksgiving services just as we have gathered to give thanks.

Like the congregation worshiping in the Psalm, we come to final fulfillment in the realization of the presence of God because some how in some way, God has made himself known in our lives through life and blessing and we respond with thanksgiving and praise.

We could write our own case testimonies of thanks:

 

Some were blinded by their sin. They stumbled in the dark unable to find their way to God. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and God delivered them from their distress. He gave his only Son that they might know eternal life, that they may know the salvation of God. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to mankind.

 

Some became trapped in their circumstance. They saw no hope for themselves for they were powerless. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and God delivered them from their distress. For he set them free from destructive patterns and gave them strength to over come the evil one. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humanity.

 

Some walked, mostly ran, through their lives so busy that they never gave God a second thought. They were dead people walking! They lived out of an empty shell and knew nothing but sorrow and despair. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and God delivered them from their distress. For God gave them purpose and meaning, for they realized they belonged to God. Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wonderful works to humans.

 

 

  • Give Thanks

 

You could write your own stanza reflecting how God has changed or is changing your life. What is your Psalm of thanksgiving? We all have one; we all have a testimony of God’s goodness and love for which we give thanks to God. Perhaps between now and Thanksgiving Day you could write your own thanksgiving Psalm using this pattern we see in Psalm 107. Give a shot and give thanks! Amen.