November 23, 2016
Psalm 116:8, 12-16, 19
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
I am taking a one-blog break in the series From Egypt To Canaan because tomorrow is Thanksgiving. The holiday has origins going back to 1621 when the Pilgrims celebrated a three-day feast celebrating the bountiful harvest God had given them. One hundred and sixty-two years later, on October 3rd, 1783, President George Washington issued a proclamation:
…I do recommend and assign Thursday the 26th day of November next to be
devoted by the People of these States to the service of that great and glorious
Being, who is the beneficent Author of all the good that was, that is, or that
will be. That we may then all unite in rendering unto him our sincere and
humble thanks, for his kind care and protection of the People of this Country….
And so tomorrow (and each year on the fourth Thursday of November) we celebrate the National holiday of Thanksgiving. But how do we celebrate? Is it by family and friends gathering, overeating, and watching football on TV? Do we even take the time and effort to give God thanks for all His blessings? I suggest verses 8, 12 through 16, and 19 of Psalm 116 as an outline of how we as Christians should honor God tomorrow and in the Thanksgivings to come:
…You have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my
feet from falling….What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits
toward me? I will take up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name
of the LORD. I will pay my vows to the LORD now in the presence of
all His people. Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His
saints. O LORD, truly I am Your servant…You have loosed my bonds.
I will offer to You the sacrifice of thanksgiving….Praise the LORD!
• First of all, call to mind the great blessings which God has bestowed upon us! A three-part outline is found in verse 8:
✞ “…You have delivered my soul from death….” While physical death is still an experience for most of us in this fallen world, we are saved from eternal spiritual death in hell by the sacrifice on the cross of Jesus Christ on our behalf! (See John 3:16-18; 5:24; Colossians 1:13).
✞ “…You have delivered…my eyes from tears….” Tears are a part of this earthly life (see John 16:20, 21). But they need never to be tears of utter despair! (See I Thessalonians 4:13). As it says in Psalm 30:5, “…weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”
✞ “…You have delivered…my feet from falling….” Habakkuk faced the devastation of the Babylonian captivity. Much of what was relied upon for daily life would be destroyed! (See Habakkuk 3:17). But in spite of all the upheaval and destruction, the prophet was able to proclaim:
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.
Deer are nimble and sure-footed! The true believer will not stumble and
fall even when traversing challenging times in their lives!
• So what shall we do to properly thank God? (See Psalm 116:12). And take note – it is deeds that are emphasized, and not just words of thanksgiving!
✞ Psalm 116:13 – “I will take up the cup of salvation…” But this is directed to those who already believe! However, salvation is a life-long process that is worked out in faithful obedience to Jesus Christ! (See Hebrews 12:1, 2).
✞ Psalm 116:13 – “I will…call upon the name of the LORD.” The name of the LORD represents the total person of God! To call upon Him honors Him! (See Psalm 116:2; Jeremiah 33:3; I Corinthians 1:2; I Peter 1:17).
✞ Psalm 116:14 – “I will pay my vows to the LORD now in the presence of all His people.” God is thanked and glorified when we keep our promises and commitments to Him! (See Psalm 50:14; Ecclesiastes 5:5 – modified in the New Testament by Matthew 5:33-37; James 5:12).
✞ Psalm 116:15 – “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.” If the death of His saints is precious to God, how much more is their life? Jesus has promised us life both eternal and abundant! (See John 10:10).
✞ Psalm 116:16 – “O LORD, truly I am Your servant….” The term means ‘bondslave’. And in such ‘bondage’ we find our greatest freedom! (See John 8:31-36; Romans 6:16-23).
✞ Psalm 116:16 – “…You have loosed my bonds….” We often find ourselves in bondage to sin – sometimes to destructive habits and addictions. (see John 8:34). But “…if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36).
✞ Psalm 116:19 – “Praise the LORD!” Finally, one of the best ways to thank God is to praise Him! As it says in Hebrews 13:15, “Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”
Tomorrow (and every day) put into practice what is written above, and you will have a great Thanksgiving!