Sun, Nov 22, 2015

GIVE THANKS!

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GIVE THANKS!

PSALM 107

 

            This morning we are going to take a departure from our study in Hebrews. You see, Thanksgiving is just a few days away and as this day was drawing closer the Lord put it upon my heart that many times we as Christians do not give thanks but we do complain!

            Now let me previse that with the following statement. I am not saying that you may not be going through a difficult time, a serious situation. You see, that is not the issue. Then what is the issue? Very simply, DO YOU GIVE THANKS?

            According to Noah Webster’s Dictionary from 1828, the word “thankful” is defined as:

            Grateful; impressed with a sense of kindness received, and ready to acknowledge it. The Lord’s supper is to be celebrated with a thankful remembrance of his suffering and death. Be thankful to him, and bless his name.

- Noah Webster’s Dictionary, 1828

 

I don’t think you will find it defined that way today but it does put into perspective that we are to give thanks to God. Let me share with you this article because it will show you where we are at as Americans and many times, Christians as well. This is from a few years back, November 20, 2006 but as you listen to what was written I think you will see the problem as the world looks at us Christians, we are unthankful people and we are not ashamed to let others know!

Craig Smith wrote an article for World Net Daily that probably we don’t want to hear but we do need to hear it. He does put things into perspective for us. Listen carefully to what he had to say, what he wrote because I truly believe it is an eye opener. This is what he had to say in this article,

            The other day I was reading Newsweek magazine and came across some poll data I found rather hard to believe. . . . The Newsweek poll alleges that 67 percent of Americans are unhappy with the direction the country is headed and 69 percent of the country is unhappy with the performance of the president. In essence 2/3’s of the citizenry just ain’t happy and want a change.

            So being the knuckle dragger I am, I started thinking, “What we are so unhappy about?”

            Is it that we have electricity and running water 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? Is our unhappiness the result of having air conditioning in the summer and heating in the winter? Could it be that 95.4 percent of these unhappy folks have a job? Maybe it is the ability to walk into a grocery store at any time and see more food in moments than Darfu has seen in the last year?

            Maybe it is the ability to drive from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean without having to present identification papers as we move through each state? Or possibly the hundreds of clean and safe motels we would find along the way that can provide temporary shelter? I guess having thousands of restaurants with varying cuisine from around the world is just not good enough. Or could it be that when we wreck our car, emergency workers show up and provide services to help all involved. Whether you are rich or poor they treat your wounds and even, if necessary, send a helicopter to take you to the hospital.

            Perhaps you are one of the 70 percent of Americans who own a home, you may be upset with knowing that in the unfortunate case of having a fire, a group of trained firefighters will appear in moments and use top notch equipment to extinguish the flames thus saving you, your family and your belongings. Or if, while at home watching one of your many flat screen TV’s, a burglar or prowler intrudes; an officer equipped with a gun and a bullet-proof vest will come to defend you and your family against attack or loss. This all in the backdrop of a neighborhood free of bombs or militias raping and pillaging the residents. Neighborhoods where 90 percent of teenagers own cell phones and computers.

            How about the complete religious, social and political freedoms we enjoy that are the envy of everyone in the world? Maybe that is what has 67 percent of you folks unhappy.

            Fact is, we are the largest group of ungrateful, spoiled brats the world has ever seen. No wonder the world loves the U. S. yet has a great disdain for its citizens. They see us for what we are. The most blessed people in the world who do nothing but complain about what we don’t have and what we hate about the country instead of thanking the good Lord we live here.

            I know, I know. What about the president who took us into war and has no plan to get us out? The president who has a measly 31 percent approval rating? Is this the same president who guided the nation in the dark days after 9/11? The president that cut taxes to bring an economy out of recession? Could this be the same guy who has been called every name in the book for succeeding in keeping all the spoiled brats safe from terrorist attacks? The commander in chief of an all-volunteer army that is out there defending you and me?

            Make no mistake about it. The troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have volunteered to serve, and in many cases have died for your freedom. There is currently no draft in this country. They didn’t have to go. They are able to refuse to go and end up with either a “general” discharge, an “other than honorable” discharge or, worst case scenario, a “dishonorable” discharge after a few days in the brig.

            So why then the flat out discontentment in the minds of 69 percent of Americans? Say what you want but I blame the media. If it bleeds it leads and they specialize in bad news. Everybody will watch a car crash with blood and guts. How many will watch kids selling lemonade at the corner? The media knows this and media outlets are for-profit corporations. They offer what sells. Just ask why they are going to allow a murderer like O. J. Simpson to write a book and do a TV special about how he didn’t kill his wife but if he did . . . insane!

            Stop buying the negative venom you are fed everyday by the media. Shut off the TV, burn Newsweek, and use the New York Times for the bottom of your bird cage. Then start being grateful for all we have as a country. There is exponentially more good than bad.

            I close with one of my favorite quotes from B. C. Forbes in 1953:

            “What have Americans to be thankful for? More than any other people on the earth, we enjoy complete religious freedom, political freedom, social freedom. Our liberties are sacredly safeguarded by the Constitution of the United States, ‘the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.’ Yes, we Americans of today have been bequeathed a noble heritage. Let us pray that we may hand it down unsullied to our children and theirs.”

            I suggest this Thanksgiving we sit back and count our blessings for all we have. If we don’t, what we have will be taken away. Then we will have to explain to future generations why we squandered such blessing and abundance. If we are not careful this generation will be known as the “greediest and most ungrateful generation.” A far cry from the proud Americans of the “greatest generation” who left us an untarnished legacy.

- Craig R. Smith, World Net Daily, November 20, 2006

 

            I am sorry to say many Christians are no different than the unsaved when it comes to complaining, when it comes to being thankful. I mean, really, what do we have to be thankful for? Just a little sarcasm there. But we do complain and we complain a lot. I see it on Facebook many times and I am telling you, if I was not a Christian and I read what some post, I would not want what they have. They complain, they have no hope, life is miserable and it is always bad!

            “But Pastor Joe, you don’t know what is going on. We are losing our religious freedom in this country! We are going into an economic collapse! The Church is compromising its faith and allowing all kinds of immorality, wickedness and doctrines of demons into it! There is murders, rape, violence, robbery, all kinds of evil in this country and this world. You did hear about ISIS Pastor Joe, didn’t you? And my health, well I have a bunion that is the size of . . . well, it is big! And you want me to be thankful? No way. How can I?”

            Okay, we may not put it like that but I bet that is what it sounds like many times when we are speaking, we are very ungrateful, unthankful. One writer put it like this,

How many of you know a complainer? You know, someone who just never seems to be happy with anything. I know several, and have several in my family. However, just because we know complainers does not mean that we have to become complainers.

As Christians, we are told that God’s will is for us to give thanks in every situation. This is difficult at times. Think about the most difficult time of your life. It seemed difficult to give thanks to God, didn’t it? However, as Christians God has given us more to be thankful about than we often think about.

First, those of us who are Christians are adopted as children of God. This is great news! This privilege is not for those who do not know Jesus, but for those who do know Him. This, by itself, is reason enough to be forever thankful to God. However, we have even more to be thankful for.

Second, those of us who are Christians have been granted an opportunity to be free from sin. This is yet another opportunity that has not been granted to the world. Those who do not know God do not know how to be free from sin, since this freedom is granted by the grace of God through the person of Jesus Christ.

Last but not least, those of us who are Christians know the God that made us. The world does not know Him, but we have come to know Him.

Although this list is not all-inclusive (that would take a long time to create), any of the above three reasons would be ample to be forever thankful. Since these things are true, those of us who are Christians have no reason to be unthankful.

- http://www.candidapologetics.com/devotionals/christians-have-no-reason-to-be-unthankful

 

            That is what we will be looking at this morning, giving thanks to God because if we are not then we have lost the focus in our life and we are being driven by everything that is happening instead of rejoicing in the Lord and being led by Him!

            With that said, let’s look at Psalm 107 this morning as it is a Psalm of thankfulness and as we go through these verses we will look at five specific things we should be thankful for and that trumps everything else that causes us to be unthankful. Thus, my prayer as we go through the Scriptures this morning is that we would leave here with hearts full of thankfulness and that is seen by others. That they would want what we have, the joy of the Lord no matter what may come our way!

 

PSALM 107

VERSES 1-7

            The first point we are going to be looking at here is that we are to GIVE THANKS FOR THE SALVATION OF GOD! It all begins here, the reason we are so thankful is that Almighty God loves us so much that He paid the debt for our sin that we could never pay! And notice this group of people that He brings deliverance to. He gathers them from all over the world, from the east and west, north and south!

            Not only that but here are a group of people who are barren, they are walking aimlessly through life with no direction. They are hungry, they are thirsty not necessarily for physical food, but the bread of life, the water that God gives that will cause us to never thirst again!

            And notice what they do, they cried out to the Lord and He delivered them! Paul tells us in Romans 10:9-13, that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For ‘whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

            You must call upon the Lord, you must repent of your sin, you must ask Jesus to be Lord and Savior of your life and as Paul said, whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

            Now please understand that this is not a works salvation because we can never work our way into heaven. If we could then God would owe us heaven but the Bible says that God is a debtor to no man and if God owed us heaven we would boast about getting in!

            This gift of grace that God has given to us is so simple that a child could understand it and it is so deep that men have been trying to digest it, get a hold of the totality of what God has done for us!

            That is what Paul was praying for in regards to the church in Ephesus back in Ephesians 3:14-21, For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height - to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

            Paul is praying for them to grow in the Lord and to understand the richness of God’s love towards them. In verse 17 of Ephesians chapter 3 Paul speaks of them being rooted in the love of God. This word speaks of life as we sink our roots deep into Jesus Christ. Being in Christ gives us nourishment and stability in our lives.

Then Paul speaks of them being grounded in the love of God. This word is an architectural term that refers to the foundations in which we build. Warren W. Wiersbe in his commentary on Ephesians tells of a story about a building program that he was involved in. He says, “In my second building program, we had to spend several thousand dollars taking soil tests because we were building over an old lake bed. For weeks, the men were laying out and pouring the footings. One day I complained to the architect, and he replied, ‘Pastor, the most important part of this building is the foundation. If you don’t go deep, you can’t go high.’”

            If you don’t have a solid foundation and vital nourishment, then there is no way you can see the love of God as you go through trials and tribulations. That is why when the world looks at trials they say, “How can a God of love do this to me?”

First of all we need to realize that sin has brought these things upon us, sometimes our own sin and sometimes it is just the sin that is in this world but God will use it for His glory. God does love us and He wants us to grow deeper in Him and thus, He allows these things to occur in our lives. It is because He will use these to draw people to Himself. Don’t be superficial with your relationship with Him. Be rooted and grounded in Him!

            Now Paul gets to the meat of his prayer you might say. He wants them to grasp the richness and the vastness of Christ’s love for them and for us. You see, it is more than just mentally understanding this love; it is laying hold of this truth for yourself, taking hold of it and applying it to your own life.

            It is one thing to say to someone that you love them but it is another thing to show that you love them. That is what Christ has done for us. He not only tells us that He loves us but He shows us that He loves us by what He has done for us – paying in full the penalty for our sins!

            Now as we read about the love of God and how it is manifested, notice that God’s love is four-dimensional! Thus, when I read this I see a picture of the cross because in the cross is a picture of God’s amazing love for sinful man! His love for us pointed in four directions.

 

1. WIDTH: The width speaks of the world, that God’s love is wide enough to include every person if they would receive Him as their Lord and Savior. In John 3:16-17 Jesus said, For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. His arms are outstretched for all!

 

2. LENGTH: God’s love is long enough to last through all of eternity, it will never end, it will last forever! It is as Paul said in I Corinthians 13:4-8a, Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails . . .

 

3. DEPTH: God’s love is so deep that it can reach down to the worst sinner and rescue him, save him. Remember the thief on the cross next to Jesus, a murderer, many would look at that man today and say that he could never be saved and yet he cried out to Jesus to forgive him and Jesus said to this man, Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise. Luke 23:43. Folks, thank God that His love is so deep that it can save sinners; it can save you and me! Paul said in Romans 5:8, But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

 

4. HEIGHT: God’s love is high enough to take us to heaven, we won’t fall short for He will bring us to the very throne of God. And please understand it is not because we are so good, but because He is so good and loves us that much. Again, as Jesus said in Luke 23:43, Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.

We can never fully understand the richness of God’s love for us but every time we look to the cross we do get a glimpse of it. It is as Paul tells us in Romans 5:5, Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

            Now how should we respond to that love that God extends to us? Well here in Psalm 107 we see that they did not say, “Let the redeemed of the LORD complain and criticize!”

Now you may be thinking, “Hey Pastor Joe, you don’t know what I am going through. It is not easy, things are mess!” Is God good? Absolutely and it is not based upon what He does for us or what we are going through! That is part of His nature, His goodness. And yes God does bless us exceedingly abundantly above all that we can ask or think, but that is not why He is good. Like I have said, it is part of His nature; there is no darkness in Him at all!

            Now if you really think about it, no matter what you are going through now, God has saved you from the pit of hell, restored your fellowship with Him, and thus, you should not keep silent of His goodness that is extended to all. The world is not ashamed to speak their foolishness and we should not be ashamed to speak the truth! Let the redeemed of the LORD say so!

            Now if you ever begin to lose sight of God’s love for you, if you are not able to comprehend it like you should because of the things you are going through, then go to the cross for there we can clearly see His great love for us as His arms are opened wide to receive all who would come to Him! His love is eternal! It is so deep that there is no one that can be beyond His grasp! And His love is able to take us to heaven! May we comprehend the love of God for us!

            Thus, may we GIVE THANKS FOR THE SALVATION OF GOD!

 

VERSES 8-14

            The second point we are going to be looking at is that we are to GIVE THANKS FOR THE SATISFACTION WE FIND IN GOD! As you look at people today they are not satisfied. They are dissatisfied with work, their marriage, their boyfriend or girlfriend, the amount of money they make, the way they look, their health, their children, this and that and let’s face it, people are just not satisfied, there is always something just out of their reach!

According to a survey Americans are the most unhappy people in the world. Do you realize that since 1994 the usage for Anti-depressants has increased 400 percent! In a nation that has so much, American’s are not satisfied, not at all. Let me share this with you and this article is from June of 2013. We are told,

            Even though the U. S. economy appears to be on the mend, two thirds of American adults are unhappy these days, with minorities being the most miserable of the bunch, according to a new poll.

            The polling company Harris Interactive surveyed online 2,345 U. S. adults between April 10-15, asking them questions to calculate their overall level of happiness.

            According to the findings of the poll, only a third of Americans can qualify as “very happy.” Among the most discontented group are minorities, recent college graduates and people with disabilities. . . .

            “Our happiness index offers insight into what’s on the minds of Americans today and is a reflection of the state of affairs in our country,” Regina Corso, senior vice president of the Harris Poll, said in a statement. “While the attitudes on the economy may be improving, we’re seeing that this is not translating into an improvement in overall happiness.”

- http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2334471/Two-thirds-Americans-say-theyre-unhappy--Hispanics-college-grads-disabled-discontented-survey-says.html

 

            How sad that is and the reason people are so dissatisfied in life is that they are basing their satisfaction in things that are in a constant state of flux, they are constantly changing! The car you just bought is not what you thought it would be and now you have car payments for the next five years that use to equal what our mortgage rates were!

            Maybe it is that job you longed for and now, it is not what you thought it would be. Relationships are messy and I will leave it at that. Thus, we are not satisfied with life and we need things to ease the pain, to make us feel better.

            I do have the solution for you and it will not cost you a dime. In fact the cost has already been paid for you and it is not Obama Care! It is Jesus Christ! Look at what verse 9 says here in Psalm 107, For He satisfies the longing soul, And fills the hungry soul with goodness.

            God will let you run to and fro to find satisfaction and through all that you will find yourself bound in affliction, weighed down, in darkness until you call upon the Lord. That is what we see here in verse 13, Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, And He saved them out of their distresses. In other words, they found satisfaction in the Lord!

Mick Jagger was right when he sang, “I just can’t get no, SATISFACTION!” And look at the life of Solomon, he had it all and you as you read Ecclesiastes you see that it was nothing, he was empty. You see, Solomon tried to find satisfaction and he could not find it apart from God! Solomon sought after wisdom apart from God and found emptiness. He sought after labor and found emptiness. He sought after possessions and found emptiness. He sought after others, being popular; wine, women and song, and found emptiness.

I think you get the idea. No matter what Solomon tried to fill his life with, no matter how hard he worked at it, his life without God and with the things of this world was empty. He continually came to the same conclusion, ‘Vanity of vanities,’ says the Preacher; ‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.’ Ecclesiastes 1:2.

And so Solomon continues on for almost 12 complete chapters in this search for satisfaction, contentment and he spends much of his life on this pursuit. And then he finally comes to the conclusion, he discovered what he was searching for at the end of this book of Ecclesiastes. In Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 we read, Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.

God has shown us, through the life of Solomon that if you live for this world your life will be empty, you will never be content, you will be searching and searching and trying this and trying that but to no avail! You will always be looking for just a little bit more and it will be out of your reach. You may think you have found satisfaction but that lasts a short period of time and before you know it you are after something else to fill your life with!

True satisfaction is only found in the Lord, surrendering our life to Him and then walking accordingly and being thankful for what He has given to us! Thus, may we GIVE THANKS FOR THE SATISFACTION WE FIND IN GOD!

 

VERSES 15-20

            The third point we are going to be looking at is that we are to GIVE THANKS FOR THE DELIVERANCE OF GOD! Let’s face it, sometimes we put ourselves in situations that are not good and sometimes we are walking in faith and doing what God has called us to do and sometimes we are not. The wonderful thing here is that we see God bring deliverance in this situations we face and we should be so thankful.

            I am not saying that it works out the way that we think it should, but we can rest knowing that God is doing what is best for our lives and it is out of that we can be thankful! In regards to this deliverance, one writer put it like this,

Deliverance is defined as “a rescue from bondage or danger.” Deliverance in the Bible is the acts of God whereby He rescues His people from peril. In the Old Testament, deliverance is focused primarily on God’s removal of those who are in the midst of trouble or danger. He rescues His people from their enemies (1 Samuel 17:37; 2 Kings 20:6), and from the hand of the wicked (Psalm 7:2; 17:13; 18:16-19; 59:2). He preserves them from famine (Psalm 33:19), death (Psalm22:19-21), and the grave (Psalm 56:13; 86:13; Hosea 13:14). The most striking example of deliverance is the exodus from Egypt (Exodus 3:8; 6:6; 8:10). Here is God defined as the Deliverer of Israel who rescues His people, not because they deserve to be rescued, but as an expression of His mercy and love (Psalm 51:1; 71:2; 86:13).

In the New Testament, God is always the subject - and His people are always the object - of deliverance. The descriptions of temporal deliverance in the Old Testament serve as symbolic representations of the spiritual deliverance from sin which is available only through Christ. He offers deliverance from mankind’s greatest peril - sin, evil, death and judgment. By God’s power, believers are delivered from this present evil age (Galatians 1:4) and from the power of Satan’s reign (Colossians 1:13). All aspects of deliverance are available only through the person and work of Jesus Christ, who was Himself delivered up for us (Romans 4:25) so that we would be delivered from eternal punishment for sin. Only Jesus rescues us from the “wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

Another aspect of deliverance concerns the temporal. While believers are delivered once for all time from eternal punishment, we are also delivered from the trials of this life (2 Peter 2:9). Sometimes that deliverance is God simply walking through the trials by our side, comforting and encouraging us through them as He uses them to mature us in the faith. Paul assured the Corinthian believers that “no temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). In these cases, rescue is not immediate, but in due time, after patience has had its perfect work (James 1:2-4, 12). God makes the way of escape simultaneously with the temptation which, in His perfect will and timing, He permissively arranges or allows for His people.

- http://www.gotquestions.org/deliverance.html

 

            It is as Psalm 50:15 says, Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me. And that is what we see here in Psalm 107 verse 19, Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, And He saved them out of their distresses. May we learn to bring our requests and lay them at His feet and rest in that instead of worrying about all that could and might happen! Difficult times may come our way but the Lord is our Rock and as we place our feet upon the Rock we will not be moved!

            Thus, may we GIVE THANKS FOR THE DELIVERANCE OF GOD!

 

VERSES 21-30

            The fourth point we are going to be looking at is that we are to GIVE THANKS FOR HIS PROTECTION! Now we talked about deliverance and how we should give thanks to God for delivering us out of various situations.

            Now we are talking about something a little different here, giving thanks for God’s protection as we go through difficult times. I think the problem many times is we don’t see all that God is protecting us from and thus, we don’t thank Him.

            But I am sure we have all found ourselves in situations that we still may be wondering how we got out of that situation without being hurt. And the reality is, I believe that God is there protecting us, watching over us. Now that does not mean we will be protected in every situation we face because God has His plans and His purposes for what is best in our life.

            I do have to admit there are times that I wonder if that is what is best but that is my own reasoning and it is wrong. Almighty God knows what is best for my life because He knows all things and what He wants me to do is to trust in Him, rest in Him and be thankful!

            As we read these verses here in Psalm 107 we see that these people are being tossed in the sea by the waves. How can we apply that to our own lives? Think of the times we face and we are tossed by the storms of life as we travel upon this sea of life!

            Listen to how bad it was for them, They mount up to the heavens, They go down again to the depths; Their soul melts because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, And are at their wits’ end.Psalm 107:26-27.

            Make no mistake about it, these storms can be devastating, just as devastating as a ship being tossed up and down by the roaring sea. I think there are different storms that God uses in our life to help us to grow.

There are those storms of perfection where God is trying to draw us closer to Him, get us to trust in Him. We see Peter speak of this in I Peter 1:6-7, In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ. This is a storm of perfection!

            There are those storms of correction where God is using this to get us back on track. God wants us to go down His path and not continue down that path of sin and destruction. And He will use different storms in our life to do just that!

It is as the Lord said to the Southern Kingdom of Judah as they were going to be taken into captivity for their idolatry in Jeremiah 30:11, ‘For I am with you,’ says the LORD, ‘to save you; Though I make a full end of all nations where I have scattered you, Yet I will not make a complete end of you. But I will correct you in justice, And will not let you go altogether unpunished.’ This is a storm of correction.

            Then there are those storms of protection where God is protecting you from something. Maybe you are late and you lost your keys and you are ready to jump ship you are so angry. But did you ever think that maybe God was protecting you from some danger as He brought this storm into your life? I believe God does do that but we want to jump ship and get back on the road when God is slowing us down. This is a storm of protection.

            And lastly there are those storms of direction and I think with these storms the Lord is trying to get us to go where we would not go on our own. But you know where He is directing you and you take those steps of faith.

In Acts 20:22-24 Paul tells us, And see, now I go bound in the spirit to Jerusalem, not knowing the things that will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

            God has warned Paul what is awaiting Him in Jerusalem, He has guided Him down this path and Paul is going to walk by faith because it is the Lord who is leading Him to Jerusalem! This is a storm of direction.

            Now in all of these storms we face in life we need to understand that God is there protecting us, watching over us. And listen again to what these people do who are facing these storms. In Psalm 107:28 we are told, Then they cry out to the LORD in their trouble, And He brings them out of their distresses.

            Have you noticed the key in all of this? They cry out to God and God protects them and what a lesson for us to learn. I am not saying that every situation is going to be easy or we are not going to have any difficulties in our lives. But what are we to do when we are going through these things?

            Give it to the Lord, rest in Him and then, GIVE THANKS FOR HIS PROTECTION!

 

VERSES 31-43

            The fifth and last point that we are going to be looking at is that we are to GIVE THANKS FOR THE POWER OF GOD! I think it is easy to lose sight of this one, that God is all-powerful! I think we understand it from a theological viewpoint but do we understand it from a practical viewpoint? The reason I say that is because as I look at Christians today, as I read what they put on Facebook, they are kind of at their wits end in knowing what to do!  

            And that is the problem and God will let us go there as He waits for us to get to the end of ourselves so that we may look to Him! Have you noticed the Christian self-help books that are out there! And what about being Purpose Driven!

            As Christians we are self-driven instead of lead by God and thus, we look for ways to accomplish things and we may do them but never to the fullest that God desires of us. Notice how the Psalmist is trying to get us to focus back on the Lord and not on ourselves!

He is the creator of the heavens and earth. He holds everything together. There is nothing that He is not aware of. The bottom line, He is Almighty God! And thus, God is in control over nature and can bless a land or curse a land.

            If you remember in Ezekiel 22:30 God is looking for someone to stand in the gap so that the land will not be destroyed. Tragically there was no one. Now why in the world would God destroy a land, why would He bring turmoil through nature? Many times it is to awaken us out of our spiritual sleep, our spiritual complacency! It is a wake-up call you might say!

            I like this story because it puts into perspective for us the power of God and how it is seen through the eyes of a child. We are told,

A young boy traveling by airplane to visit his grandparents sat beside a man who happened to be a seminary professor. The boy was reading a Sunday school take-home paper when the professor thought he would have some fun with the lad. “Young man,” said the professor, “If you can tell me something God can do, I’ll give you a big, shiny apple.” The boy thought for a moment and then replied, “Mister, if you can tell me something God can’t do, I’ll give you a whole barrel of apples!”

- Today in the Word, April, 1989, p. 43

 

            I like that don’t you? It just puts it into perspective for us. Now losing sight that God is in control can bring us to the point of being depressed, discouraged, hopeless and-so-on. Now I think it is important that we get a grasp of the power of God because again, it is easy to lose sight of that fact as difficult situations come upon us.

            First of all God not only created everything from nothing but He also holds them together and is aware of all that is going on. God knows the number of hairs on our head! God knows the stars by name, He has named them.

            Now that may not seem like such a big deal but let me show you how many stars there are and I think you will get a better understanding how powerful our God is, He created them all and He knows them all by name! And keep in mind, this is still an estimation, they are not really sure how many stars there is out there in the universe! We are told,

It’s easier to count stars when they are inside galaxies, since that’s where they tend to cluster. To even begin to estimate the number of stars, then you would need to estimate the number of galaxies and come up with some sort of an average.

Some estimates peg the Milky Way’s star mass as having 100 billion “solar masses,” or 100 billion times the mass of the sun. Averaging out the types of stars within our galaxy, this would produce an answer of about 100 billion stars in the galaxy. This is subject to change, however, depending on how many stars are bigger and smaller than our own sun. Also, other estimates say the Milky Way could have 200 billion stars or more.

The number of galaxies is an astonishing number, however, as shown by some imaging experiments performed by the Hubble Space Telescope. Several times over the years, the telescope has pointed a detector at a tiny spot in the sky to count galaxies, performing the work again after the telescope was upgraded by astronauts during the shuttle era.

A 1995 exposure of a small spot in Ursa Major revealed about 3,000 faint galaxies. In 2003-4, using upgraded instruments, scientists looked at a smaller spot in the constellation Fornax and found 10,000 galaxies. An even more detailed investigation in Fornax in 2012, with even better instruments, showed about 5,500 galaxies.

Kornreich used a very rough estimate of 10 trillion galaxies in the universe. Multiplying that by the Milky Way’s estimated 100 billion stars results in a large number indeed: 100 octillion stars, or 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars, or a “1” with 29 zeros after it. Kornreich emphasized that number is likely a gross underestimation, as more detailed looks at the universe will show even more galaxies.

- http://www.space.com/26078-how-many-stars-are-there.html

 

            We may not know the number but God does, He created them and knows them by name and thus, why do we worry about the difficult situations we face when the creator of heaven and earth loves us and watches over us. He is all-powerful!

            Now with the elections coming up next year people are worried about who the next President will be. Don’t worry. You see, as much as we have seen that God is in control of nature, we see in these verses that He is also in control of people! You see, God raises people up and He can bring them down because He is in control, He is all powerful.

            Remember when Daniel rebuked the King of Babylon, Belshazzar. He said to the King, And you have lifted yourself up against the Lord of heaven. They have brought the vessels of His house before you, and you and your lords, your wives and your concubines, have drunk wine from them. And you have praised the gods of silver and gold, bronze and iron, wood and stone, which do not see or hear or know; and the God who holds your breath in His hand and owns all your ways, you have not glorified. Daniel 5:23.

            So we do not need to fear because God is all-powerful and there is nothing too difficult for Him to do!

Thus, may we GIVE THANKS FOR THE POWER OF GOD!

            Now as we have looked at these five points maybe you are still not convinced about them. Maybe you are having a hard time giving thanks. Look at verse 43 once again here in Psalm 107, which says, Whoever is wise will observe these things, And they will understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.

            I think this is a summation of all that the Psalmist has spoken of. If we are wise or if we listen to the Word of God and apply it to our lives, if we live what we say we believe we will rest in His love for us and we will be thankful.

            Paul said in I Thessalonians 5:16-18, Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.Notice that Paul doesn’t say to rejoice when things are going well but to rejoice always! How can we do that? Because, as Christians our joy is not based in outward circumstances but in the Lord and He never changes.

That is what Habakkuk found out as he said, Though the fig tree may not blossom, Nor fruit be on the vines; Though the labor of the olive may fail, And the fields yield no food; Though the flock may be cut off from the fold, And there be no herd in the stalls - Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. The LORD God is my strength; He will make my feet like deer’s feet, And He will make me walk on my high hills. Habakkuk 3:17-19.

            We are to pray without ceasing which simply means our lives should be in tune with God throughout the day, our lines of communication are always open to God so that He can direct us throughout the day!

            How in the world can I give thanks in everything? The only way we can is by knowing and believing that, . . . all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. The Amplified Bible puts this verse, Romans 8:28 like this, We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.

Does that mean we will always know the good that will come out of a difficult situation? No, we must learn to trust God by faith, to rest our weight fully upon Him! God is still on the throne, He is still in control, and nothing happens without His knowledge!

            And here is the key to all of this; rejoicing always, praying without ceasing, giving thanks in everything to God, it is God’s will for our lives and it is not that we have to do it, but we get to do it!

            As we prepare for Thanksgiving this week may it not be just a day we celebrate but a lifestyle we live! We have seen that we are to GIVE THANKS FOR THE SALVATION OF GOD! We are to GIVE THANKS FOR THE SATISFACTION WE FIND IN GOD! We are to GIVE THANKS FOR THE DELIVERANCE OF GOD! We are to GIVE THANKS FOR THE PROTECTION OF GOD! And we are to GIVE THANKS FOR THE POWER OF GOD!

            I will close with this. As the Psalmist said, Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! Psalm 107:8. May we give thanks to the Lord for His goodness!

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