Forever Thankful

Forever Thankful

Home Church Service 11/20/2021

These sermons began as devotionals for my family as we met during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. We have now begun to include our friends and the devotional has now become a full sermon. We are also recording our service and will begin posting those videos in the near future.

When my family and I meet for worship, we like to discuss what we are learning, in the moment. Sometimes that happens right after the message and at other times we will address something during the message. This message was designed to be interactive, discussing what we are learning right after I have addressed each point of the message. You will find the questions at the end of each section. In most formats they will appear in bold. Use these questions as a guide to meditate on the points Paul is making. Allow the Holy Spirit to search your heart and above all, be honest with yourself and the Holy Spirit. After all, He knows any way!

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, For His lovingkindness is everlasting. Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, Whom He has redeemed from the hand of the adversary And gathered from the lands, From the east and from the west, From the north and from the south.

                                                                                Psalm 107:1–3 (NASB95)

Psalm 107 is the opening psalm of the 5th Book of Psalms, a psalm attributed to King David. It is a thanksgiving-wisdom psalm written within the framework of a hymn. The opening verses. 1-3, are an opening call to praise. This psalm is a call for Israel to be Forever Thankful, affirming the goodness and love of God for His people.

As Christ followers, we too are called to be Forever Thankful for all that God has done, is doing and will do for us, in us and through us. He loved us when we were yet His enemies; He included us in His family through faith in His Son; and here, we are reminded that He has redeemed us from the hand of the enemy.

Israel is called to be Forever Thankful to the Lord for He is good. His lovingkindness is everlasting, and He has redeemed them from the hand of the adversary – from the east and from the west, from the north and form the south.

As Christ followers we have been called to be Forever Thankful for all God has done, is doing and will do, for us. His grace is enough for all eternity, and He has saved us from the hand of the enemy – from all points and places on earth.

In this message we seek to answer the question. “As a Christ follower, why are we to be Forever Thankful?”

As Christ followers, we are to be Forever Thankful because God has shown us His goodness, grace and redemption power.

1). As Christ followers, we are called to be Forever Thankful for Gods eternal nature towards those who believe.

God has shown us He is always good, and His grace lasts forever.

So, here we are, on the brink of yet another Thanksgiving Day. It has now been 20 months since the beginning of the pandemic. This has been a difficult time for everyone, to say the least, for some it has been downright disastrous. These 20 months make it hard to come up with anything to give thanks for this year – or do they? In these opening verses of Psalm 107 we find four things in which we are to give thanks. The first two things come in verse one and this is where we will begin our study.  

This psalm begins with the simple statement, “Oh give thanks to the Lord for He is good…” Notice here that the writer is making a statement of truth – “the Lord is good.” He does not say “He has been good,” or that “He can be good,” or even that “the Lord might be good.” No! David proclaims the Lord is good! The word good here comes from the Hebrew root word that means pleasant or agreeable. It can also mean beneficial, beautiful, or choice. This last meaning, choice, stood out for me. Immediately in my mind, I see the sticker on a package of meat that says, “USDA Prime Choice.”   

That sticker tells us this is some of the best meat available – this is good stuff! We all know the benefits of knowing God – eternal life, forgiveness of sin, mercy grace and unconditional love. We all understand the beauty of God. All we need to do is look around to see the beauty of God – the fall colors, the brilliant blue sky, the beauty of the colors at sunset or the beauty of a star filled night sky. But how many of us think about describing God as “Prime Choice” or just simply as “Choice?” When we want a really good steak, we seek out the “USDA Prime Choice” meats. Why wouldn’t we want the same for our eternity? Or the eternity of our friends and family?

Next, we give thanks because God’s lovingkindness lasts forever. Lovingkindness can be translated as mercy or grace. Most of the time it is translated as mercy, but in many of those case it could just as easily be translated as grace. In the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, it was commonly translated as mercy. Perhaps this is why we are so staunch in saying we, Christians, are under grace, as if grace is something new for Christianity. The truth is, God’s grace has always been, even in the Old Testament.

But notice that the writer specifically states this lovingkindness is everlasting – it lasts forever! God does not give us grace for a short period of time – for those who trust in Him, His grace is meant to last forever. Our journey into spiritual maturity takes time and is filled with many setbacks and pitfalls. Throughout our journey, God pours His grace into our lives, and the same can be said about His mercy. We are not to be a flash in the pan Christ follower, we are to be in this for the long haul – our journey takes a lifetime!

God’s goodness is also for eternity. David says God is good – as in He has always been and will always be good – this is His nature, and it does not change. So, we give thanks. Thanks here comes from the Hebrew root word meaning to throw or to cast, it can also mean to confess or give thanks. To throw, to cast or to confess does not always have to be in the negative, as in, we throw or cast our cares and anxieties on God, or we confess our sins. No, not at all, for we can throw or cast our thanks, praise and worship upon God as well. In addition, we can confess our love, praise and thanks for God.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How have you experienced God’s lovingkindness (mercy or grace) this week?

How have you experienced the goodness of God this week?

How does understanding God as “choice” impact your faith?

As Christ followers, we are to be Forever Thankful because God has shown us His goodness, grace and redemption power.

2). As Christ followers, we are called to be Forever Thankful for Gods power to bring us out of darkness.

God has shown us He can save us from a land of darkness under the influence of the enemy.

The final two things in which we are to give thanks are found in verses 2-3 and both have to do with being redeemed. First, God has redeemed us from the hand of the adversary and then He has redeemed us from the land of darkness. Verse 2 begins with the exhortation “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so…” Yes, of course, this is our thanks, praise and worship but it is also that God has, indeed, redeemed us from the hand of the adversary. Redeemed comes from the root word meaning to redeem or act as a kinsman. Kinsman is equivalent to our word clan or clansman and generally carries the meaning of family relationships.

We are able to call God our Father because He has acted as our kinsman and redeemed us from the hand of the adversary. This is expressed in verses 10-16 as those who dwelt in darkness, in the shadow of death – prisoners in misery and chains. People have rebelled against God, under the influence of, or in the hand of, the adversary. But God saved them, saved us, bringing us out of darkness and the shadow of death. In verses 17-23, people are described as fools because of their rebellious ways, they were afflicted. They took no food for their souls and drew close to the gates of death, and yet God saved them, saved us, by sending His word and healing us.

In speaking of the adversary, David is referring to an enemy. We must remember that Israel experienced many enemies and many wars, ending, at times, in captivity or oppression. For Christ followers, our enemies are many as well and many times we forget we are not fighting against flesh and blood enemies, but rather the spirit behind the actions of flesh and blood. We too are held captive, in bondage to our sin – bitterness, anger, revenge, hatred – or the spirit behind the actions of flesh and blood. In this case, adversary is, of course, Satan, for this is the meaning of adversary, the one who is also called the devil, the dragon, the evil one, the angel of the abyss, the prince of the power of the air, the ruler of this world, the god of this age, Apollyon, Abaddon, Belial, and Beelzebub. Yes, the adversary behind our spiritual warfare is the same adversary faced by Israel throughout its history!

Verse three tells us that God has gathered us, or redeemed us, from the land. Verse 4-9 tell us this was a wilderness land. The word gathered comes from the root word which means to collect, assemble or to bring together. This is, of course, a picture of Israel being gathered after captivity, but it is also a foreshadowing of the gathering, or bringing together, of those near – the Jewish people – and those who were far away – the Gentile nations, to form the body of Christ. Once again, God’s eternal nature is on full display.

The land is described as the wilderness in a desert region. There are no cities to inhabit, no food or water to sustain human life. And yet God saved them, saves us, by leading us in a straight way – He leads us to a place where He satisfies the thirst and hunger of our souls. The wilderness is described as a wild, uninhabitable place. It is a sterile piece of land that cannot support human life and thus is defined as a place of desolation. When we talk of people walking through the wilderness, we are talking about people whose souls are dying – they look for food and water for their souls – but they wander aimlessly around, unable to find what is missing in their soul. All the while, the answer is right before them, for the Lord is good and He has led them to the place where He can feed their dying souls.

Questions for discussion/reflection:

How have you experienced God’s redemption power this week?

Where did you face the adversary this week? What did you do?

Are you in the midst of a wilderness wandering?

As Christ followers, we are to be Forever Thankful because God has shown us His goodness, grace and redemption power.

This is the opening psalm in the 5th Book of Psalms. It is a psalm of thanksgiving-wisdom, meant to remind Israel to affirm the goodness and love of God for His people.

As Christ followers, we are called to be Forever Thankful for all that God has done for us, in us and through us. He loved when we were yet enemies; included us in His family through faith in His Son and has saved us from the enemy.

So, as Christ followers, where do we go from here? How does this work with our faith going forward? First, remember that God has an eternal nature towards those who believe and place their trust in Him. We are not to be a flash in the pan Christ follower, but rather, we are on a lifelong journey to Christlikeness and maturity in Christ. Second, remember that God is CHOICE – there is nothing better out there the world or anyone else can offer. Everything is a distant second to what God has to offer. Thirdly, God’s mercy and grace are meant to last a lifetime for His faithful people. God does not give for a short period of time and then “pull the carpet from under our feet.” His eternal nature says He wants you with Him in eternity.

Finally, you have been redeemed. God has saved you from the hand of the enemy that seeks to destroy you. He has redeemed you from a wilderness that cannot provide what your soul needs to thrive. The enemy planned on keeping you in darkness, wandering aimlessly in the wilderness until your soul died and you approached the gates of death. Instead, God acted as your kinsman, or your clansman, and saved you, sending His word and healing you. He has led you to the place where He can fill your dying soul. Now, you are the redeemed of the Lord – and it is time to say so!!

We do all things for the glory of God through Christ our Lord.

Amen and amen.

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