I’m reading a heart-chilling story of a great Chinese pastor who struggled and suffered immensely under the Communist Authorities in China the 1950’s. His name was Tang Ming Tao. Brother David takes one through personal knowledge of a man who, according to him, would have been mentioned in the Bible if he lived in the First Century Church. Suffering and struggling are not foreign to the Christian, whether you are in a country rejecting true Gospel Living or whether you live in a secular country such as ours. At the same time I have been meditating on Psalm 107. This is a great Psalm to work through slowly as it covers a huge section of Israelite history and what they went through as a people.
The first lesson to learn is that as believers we need to give thanks to the Lord … continually!
Ps 107:1 Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
Ps 107:8 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men.
Ps 107:15 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men.
Ps 107:21 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men.
Ps 107:31 Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men.
Ps 107:43 Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the LORD.
One of the greatest shames in Christendom today is our lack of appreciation to God for what He has done and is doing for us each day! We have daily opportunities, but tend to take His reign, provision and care for granted. Think of creation … everything created out of nothing by the Word from His mouth. Take His sustaining power of all creation by the power of His mighty Word. Take the majesty of Calvary where He substituted Himself in our place for our wickedness.
One of the reasons we don’t express our thanks to God for His workings is because we don’t read through the Psalms and the Gospels. The Psalmists so often thank God for his mercy, kindness, love, provision, protection, etc. In the Gospels we find God’s salvific plan with you and me in mind. In teaching on prayer with the focus on “thanksgiving”, one Bible Teacher asked the audience: “Did you thank God for your toothbrush this morning?” Honestly … we don’t … yet that very issue of a toothbrush initiates so many other ideas of thanksgiving.
Those verses above tell us that two specific things ought to drive thanksgiving. The first is God’s unfailing love. The quality and caliber of God’s love is vastly different to our human love … even our love as Christian people. Apart from God’s sacrificial love for His people, His love is so perfect that 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, intended to be about our love, sums God’s love up perfectly … “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” This is the love that can give thanks!
The second is God’s “wonderful deeds.” Where man has messed up the environment so much, there remains huge footprints of God’s handiwork across the planet. During the past week being in Pilgrim’s Rest, we stood in awe at God’s wonderful creation. The mountains and hills, the valleys and the forests, the rolling mist and the rain, the monkeys and baboons, the zebra and the giraffe, the wild flowers and the shrubs. But then, returning to Calvary … the most glorious work paving the way not only for salvation by grace, but the displaying of the Kingdom of God in all its magnificent beauty (the beauty of each redeemed soul) pointing to the New Heavens and the New Earth, the Home of Righteousness where Jesus is eternally Lord.
Although Psalm 107 provides many lessons for the serious believer, the other one I would like to stop at is found in verse 2:
Ps 107:2 Let the redeemed of the LORD say this—those he redeemed from the hand of the foe.
My NIV reads:
Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story.
Did you notice what this story is about that the redeemed (saved – believers) must speak about? It’s a story about their deliverance … about their rescue from the enemy’s hands. As you read through the Psalm, you quickly see the physical environments they were saved from … yet the term “Redeemed” reminds one of a greater saving from a terrible and evil enemy. God redeemed these people and then protected then, provided for them and saved them from awful situations. As an example, read verses 23 to 32 and see how utterly distressed they were due to the humungous waves, tossing their ship around, lifting it high on the waves and then dropping the ship to the depths as the waves passed by! Their sea sick-ness can be compared to being drunk (v27), crying out to God (v28) with God coming to their rescue (v28b-29). Tell your story about how God redeemed you from the enemy (v2).
Naturally this is far more real to you and me as we know that through God’s sacrificial love at Calvary we are saved from our enemy the devil. Our sin is forgiven. Our names are inscribed in the register in Glory … but there is more, just like Israel. You see, even though we are redeemed, we are never out of need! We travel through life on this planet encountering many, many onslaughts upon our person, possessions and position … and as we cry out to the Lord, He comes to our aid in the same manner, with the same power and with the same dedicated love He used with Israel. He uses these to bring about our deliverance. O yes, we have a salvation story … but we also have so many other stories of God’s help, intervention, provision and deliverance. When one thinks of thanksgiving … there is plenty to thank God for! Meditate upon Ps 107:43: “Whoever is wise, let him heed these things and consider the great love of the LORD.”
Dear God, You are so good all the time. Please help me to be ever thankful for Your workings in my life. Amen.