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Sermon November 18, 2018

Princeton Presbyterian Church (EPC) Sermon # 1375

November 18, 2018 Romans 1:18-25

Rev. Dr. Ed Pettus Psalm 107:1-32

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

 

Thanksgiving Every Day”

 

  • Thanksgiving 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

 

Let’s look at Psalm 107. 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.

 

  • When We Don’t Give Thanks

 

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! Thanksgiving is praise. Thanksgiving acknowledges our worship of God. Thanksgiving demonstrates our trust in God. Giving thanks reveals in us a dependence and devotion to God.

 

Psalm 106 gives another example:

6Both we and our fathers have sinned; we have committed iniquity; we have done wickedness.
7Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wondrous works; they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea.

 

One of the great dangers for people of God is amnesia, that is, forgetting to give thanks. The confession of sin in Psalm 106 is that the current and past generations had sinned by not remembering the love of God. When we forget His love, His works, and His presence, we forget to give thanks for His love and work and presence and it leads to rebellion.

Over and over again Israel is reminded not to forget. They had to be reminded because they kept forgetting, and when they forgot, they did not give thanks. It is not just that forgetful mentally, but they often began to replace their thoughts and their actions with what they claimed to have done instead of what God had actually done. Second thing they would do is to not keep commandment which also led them to forget to give thanks. Deuteronomy 8:11-17 is a classic example,

11 “Take care lest you forget the Lord your God by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, 12 lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, 13 and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, 14 then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt...17 Beware lest you say in your heart, ‘My power and the might of my hand have gotten me this wealth.’

Forgotten commandments and forgotten God leads to no praise and no thanksgiving. No praise and no thanks leads to all kinds of problems that we bring upon ourselves - disobedience, idolatry, and things like these.

 

  • Testimonies of Thanksgiving

 

  • Testimony #1

I want to look quickly at the four cases of testimony for giving thanks in Psalm 107.

 

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: 5 hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted within them.

The cry: 6 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.

God's redemption: 7 He led them by a straight way till they reached a city to dwell in.

The thanks: 8 Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! 9 For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

 

    • 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.

 

    • 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!

 

    • 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.

But notice that each verse that encourages thanksgiving (vs. 8, 15, 21, 31) gives thanks for one thing – God’s steadfast love. It does not matter in those specific verses what the redemption was from, whether hunger, hard labor, distress, or storms, the thanks is for steadfast love. It is out of God’s love that He redeems and provides and blesses and delivers. It is out of love that God saves and helps and restores and leads. We give thanks because God loves us and everything that we have and have gone through is given in that love.

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 testimonies of thanks. Some families do this on Thanksgiving Day when they go around the table to name something for which they are thankful. Imagine taking Psalm 107 testimonies and using it as a pattern to give thanks to God for something.

 

Some were dead in their sin. They stumbled in the darkness but could find no way out. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and God delivered them from their iniquity. 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 ran, through their lives so busy that they never gave God a second thought. They were blinded by consumerism and ambition. They lived an empty life and knew nothing but sorrow and despair. Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and God delivered them from their vanity. 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.

 

Or if we each wrote our own stanza of testimony and thanksgiving...I was caught in a stressful situation and I had forgotten to turn to God. But when I did He brought me out of that mire. I give thanks for His steadfast love, for His deliverance to me.

 

  • Give Thanks Every Day

 

We could write our own stanza reflecting how God has changed or is changing our life. What is our 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.