Oh, that I would decide to give thanks

by kylie j lloyd

“Thankfulness is the attitude that perfectly displaces my sinful tendency to complain and thereby release [God’s] joy and blessing into my life.” (James MacDonald, Lord Change My Attitude, p.45)

It is easy to shift from being thankful to being unthankful. For me, it only takes a moment. I’ve already caught myself saying, “I am tired of speaking in French today. I can’t even order the right thing at the restaurant. Am I ever going to see my wife and kids? It’s cold outside already? What? No appliances are provided from my friends new apartment! That’s bogus.”

But then God used a verse of a song written a few thousand years ago. Psalm 107:1, “Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness.” (cf. vs. 8, 15, 21, 31) God, like a master chef, using this verse to tenderize my heart with 3 important truths:

1) Thankfulness is a decision: “Oh, that men would give thanks…”

Notice that the psalmist did not say, “COULD”. What difference would it make if it said could? “Could” makes being thankful contingent on my ability, “I could if be thankful if my situation were better.” Would is a word used to agree or be okay or to be willing to comply. No matter my day, circumstance, or influences from people around me, I have the capability to be thankful. I have the responsibility to be thankful. I must decide to be thankful.

I remember the year after college I visited a friend in Ukraine. He took me to a small town where we popped in on a Sekret family to encourage them. I remember being greeted at the door by the Alexander and wife and their 7 children. Their home was a 1-bedroom shack that was cold and smelled musty. Immediately the husband excused himself and left the premises for about 10 minutes. When he came back, his wife excused herself and they were doing something in the kitchen for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile I was sitting on a wooden chair looking at the 7 children staring at me. Neither of us could speak each other’s language. After minutes of awkward silence Alexander and his wife entered with bread, spicy mustard, Russian sausage, cooked cabbage, and beets. They asked me to come to the table. I stood by a bed near the cramped table and Alexander prayed, I don’t remember much Ukrainian, but I do remember, “Slava Bog, doosha smachna” (meaning: Praise God for this food…) My friend told me after we left that the style of meal they made for us was equivalent to our Thanksgiving. I will never forget the spirit of thankfulness in the eyes of the Sekret family.

Why are we not more thankful? Could it be we are use to having so much? Emerson once said, “If the stars would come out only once a year, everyone would stay up all night to behold them.”

B.B. Warfield said,

“We are frequently told, indeed, that the great danger of (Christians) lies precisely in his constant contact with divine things. They may come to seem common to him, because they are customary. As the average man breathes the air and basks in the sunshine without ever a thought that it is God in His goodness who makes the sun to rise on him. Other men, oppressed by the hard conditions of life, sunk in the daily struggle for bread perhaps, distracted at any rate by the dreadful drag of the worlds work, find it hard to get time and opportunity so much as to pause and consider whether there be such a God, and religion, and salvation from the sin that compasses them about and holds them captive. The very atmosphere of your life is these things; you breathe them in at every pore; they surround you, encompass you, and press in upon you from every side. It is all in danger of becoming common to you! God forgive you, you are in danger of becoming weary of God!”

2) Thankfulness is a decision based on divine reality: “give thanks to the Lord for His goodness.”

“I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High.” (Psalm 7:17) “We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks, for Your Name is near; men tell of Your wonderful deeds.” (75:1) Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His love endures forever.” (106:1)

Giving thanks is a decision based on Divine Reality. When I consider the character of God and believe He is true and acknowledge His ways are good, my perspective of the situation is different than the worlds. If you’ve read Robinson Crusoe you see how his perspective changes as He reads about the God of the Bible. His demeanor says, “I have been on this deserted island for 28 years…but it is beautiful. I am sick of these coconuts…at least it’s food! I am all alone…but at least I don’t have to worry about traffic or lines or loud neighbors.”

3) Thankfulness is a life-changing decision: “Oh…”

“Oh” is a word that comes “from the gut.” It’s a word you say when you really want to express deep emotion. Let’s say it together, Oh!” Say it like you mean it.

Moses said, “I will proclaim the name of the LORD. Oh, praise the greatness of our God!” (Deut. 32:3)
Isaiah said, “Oh, look upon us, we pray, for we are all Your people.” (64:9)
David sang, “Oh, how I love Your law! I meditate on it all day long.” Psalm 119:97
Job said, “Oh, how I wish that God would speak,” (11:5)
Elisha prayed, “Oh, my lord, what shall we do?” the servant asked.” (2 Kings 6:15)

I desire Psalm 107:1 and Psalm 105:1 be my prayer,“Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples” Oh, that I be thankful for Your Word. Oh, that I be thankful for my salvation. Oh, that I be  thankful for Your provisions. And make it known to all how good You are.

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breaking news

Have you ever received any breaking news? The kind of news that startles you for a moment and your life is never the same. Maybe you received news that your lover has just broken off the relationship, your father passed away suddenly, you failed the test, you are pregnant, you lost your job, or you watch a tragedy unfold on the breaking news today.

This is not the kind of news we want to hear, but inevitably we will all here some bad breaking news. How do you normal respond to bad news? Brace yourself; I have some more bad news for you. Ready? You are going to die. 100% of people who are born into this world will one day die. Do you know where will you go when you die? The answer to this question might be even worse news to you. The thought of death and the perplexity of an afterlife cause many to be fearful or anxious.

Not all breaking news is bad news. I have some wonderful breaking news for you: the gospel. What is the gospel, you ask? The gospel is good news. It is earth shattering, life-altering breaking news. When I am confronted with the gospel I see myself for who I really am and the way I respond to the gospel can have eternal ramifications.

The Gospel is the center of Christianity. Without a right understanding and application of the gospel you do not have a true picture of Christianity. The gospel is what makes Christianity distinct and exclusive from other faith-based systems. The gospel to Christianity is like a wrench to a mechanic or a flower to a florist. The mechanic does not sit around and ponder, “What is this wrench used for?” Nor does a florist wonder, “What is a bouquet of roses?” Without the gospel one does not understand the core of Christianity.

How good a grip do you have on the gospel? What is the good news that Christians blaa-blaa-blaa about? What is so good about good news anyway? We do know what the gospel is not, or at least what the gospel is not alone.

  • The gospel is not Jesus alone.
  • The gospel is not Jesus death, burial and resurrection alone.
  • The gospel is not a belief in Jesus alone.
  • The gospel is not being forgiven of my sins alone.
  • The gospel is not God loves you alone.
  • The gospel is not God has a special plan for you alone.
  • The gospel is not changing my life to be a better [loving] person alone.

The gospel is a belief that the Bible is absolutely true: God is a loving creator, and man has sinfully disobeyed God, therefore Jesus graciously and sacrificially died for man that they might respond to Christ’s forgiven and have a means to become right before God. The gospel is not only something I believe in for a moment that will change my life eternally, but its also the means for me to live righteously all throughout my life.

How do I know this is the gospel? How do I know this gospel is true? How do I know this gospel is for me? Could it be as simple as Bible tells me so? YES. It comes down to whether I believe God wrote a book and that this book is Truth.

How can I know that the Bible is absolute truth and authoritative? Is the Bible reliable? Other than the Bible we have three sources of so-called reliable truth. The first source of truth we have is tradition. Tradition tells us what has be true passed down from generation to generation. Some say tradition is not reliable because traditions change or generations might distort the truth to another generation. A second source of truth is reason. Reason uses mans thinking to proven or make understandable what is true. Does everybody agree on what is true? Reason often leads to skepticism and more questions rather than understanding truth. A third source of truth is experience. Some measure truth by what I can seems or feels right. What we know from experience is the experience is not a good measurement for truth. Tradition, reason, and experiences fail us more often then not. What is your standard of authority? Is it reliable? Are you sure?

So where can we find truth? I believe that God authored His Word and spoke these words to called men who recorded them in what we know as the Bible. I also believe since God is perfect and holy, the Bible is infallible and authoritative [2 Timothy 3:16; Psalm 18:30]. Therefore, the overall plan of salvation for sinful men that God lays out through His Word is absolutely true.

In the letter to the Romans the apostle Paul writes about the Gospel. He gives a concise and clear explanation of God’s purposes in Christ. He writes this letter to people who would consider themselves Christians, but Paul wants to make sure they really do understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” [Romans 1:16]

If Paul were alive today he would share the gospel with his mailman, garbage man, X-Box buddies, bowling league, and bullies at work or school. We know this because he was unashamed of the gospel in his time when Christians were killed for their faith. He was beaten, bullied and put into jail, but this did not stop him from sharing the gospel with the prison guards. The gospel was life to Paul.

What is the Gospel according to the Bible?

First, I am responsible to God. I am responsible to God because He is my Creator and Sustainer. Without God I would not be breathing. Since He is Creator He has say so over His creation. He did not just create you and leave you alone. He created you for fellowship with Him. You cannot have fellowship with a God who is far off playing Parcheesi in another planetary system. The God of the Bible says He is with us and He has made His presence know quite plainly.

ROMANS 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

God is visible through His creation. When I look at Mount Everest, the Grand Canyon, the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, and the myriads of stars in the summer sky I am left to ponder: Could not have been created by mere chance? Could there be a greater power behind this? God says we are without excuse. It is as if He has written in the clouds, “Look around you, I am with you.” Since God is your Creator, He owns you. On that basis alone you are obligated to obey Him. Yet that is not always what happens, which brings us to the next point.

Second, I have rebelled against God. Rather than obeying our Creator and thanking Him we spit in His face and in a sense tell Him by our words and actions we do not think He is doing a good job running this world. Therefore we sin against 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.

Have you ever blamed you messes on someone else? That is exactly what we do to God. We say to God, “If you really loved me and if you were really good, my life would not be like this!” Thus we pretend to be God and create our own truth system that makes us feel good. When we replace God we think we are wise, but God says this is foolish. You cannot play pretend god for long because God is jealous and wants to be our King and True Vine. Those who do not praise God will be rejected from His kingdom and cut off as dead branches.

Since, God is Creator, He has the right to judge His creation [cf. Romans 2:1-5]. My sin condemns me to death and eternal separation from my God. This is bad news. Do you see how bad your sin really is? Sin is life altering. Yet in the shadow of this bad news there is breaking news that shines as a beacon of light to our rescue.

Third, I can be redeemed by the blood of God’s Son who died and resurrected for the sins of humanity. What is God’s solution to our sin problem? God took action. Since God is a good and loving Creator He made a way for His creation to be forgiven—by faith in the work of Jesus Christ.

ROMANS 3:21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.

God sends Christ to earth as visible a message: “My creation, you are not okay. You are not as good as you think you are. In fact, you are wicked. You need Me. You need My help. I have come to the rescue. Repent of your sin and follow Christ.” Now this is good news!

Fourth, I must respond to the gospel. My response is to turn from my sin and believe Christ. It’s an all-in-Jesus-is-my-King choice. There is no turning back. When we give our life over to God we are saying to God I no longer want to be enslaved to sin, but now I want to be a slave of righteousness [cf .Romans 6-8]. God draws me to the message of the gospel in His grace and I must respond in faith. Salvation is not based on how good I am, can be, or wish to be, but solely on the work of Christ. “Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness [Romans 4:4-5].

You now have come face to face with the breaking news of the gospel. The gospel is indeed life-altering and earth shaking. Your response to the gospel is a matter of life and death eternally. In review the gospel is: God is a loving creator, and man has sinfully disobeyed God, therefore Jesus graciously and sacrificially died for man that they might respond to Christ’s forgiven and have a means to become right before God.