Thank God - For What?

November 1, 2016

Walter Olsen

Introduction

In light of the conditions of the world today, some may wonder what do we really have to be thankful for. We tend to be thankful when everything is going our way and most of our needs as well as wants are being satisfied. And indeed, we have very many material things for which to be thankful.

But suppose things are not going our way and we are forced to face many difficult situations of life, things that we would never choose, things that bring us great discomfort. What then!? Can we still be thankful and joyful? This is so important because we all face hard things of life, things that we would avoid if at all possible. 

King David faced many very difficult things in his life and yet he gives us a list of things we can be especially thankful for. We will look at those things momentarily, but first we must consider the conditions of a thankful heart because thanksgiving is really a matter of the heart. Thanksgiving comes out of a walk and relationship with God. If our hearts are not right with God, we cannot see the things we have the most reason to be thankful for. We will see only the things we can identify with on this earth and, when they are removed from us, we have no more to be thankful! 

True thanksgiving must begin with a regenerated heart, a heart that has seen its own sin and has turned to God for forgiveness.

Now, as to the things we should be thankful for as believers, David gives us a list of very significant things in Psalm 103. He begins by saying, “Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits” (Psa. 103:1-2).

Let’s look, then, at what believers have to be especially thankful for.
He forgiveth all thine iniquities, v. 3. There can be no greater thing to be thankful for than the forgiveness of our sins. It is our sins that separate us from God and all His attending blessings. The Bible says of God, “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity” (Habakkuk 1:13). Since we were all born in sin, sin became the greatest problem of our lives. To have never come to Christ for forgiveness of our sins affects one’s life on earth and his existence for all eternity. To die never have been forgiven of our sins means an existence apart from the blessings of God and under the eternal condemnation of God. This is a hard message to receive, but it is the word of God. The message is clear that all of the unsaved will stand before God at the white throne judgment to be judged for their works. “And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:14-15). 

The really good news is that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins! When we trust Him as our Savior, all of our sins are forgiven. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16). We can’t earn or in any way pay our way to heaven. God has done it all for us! We have only to believe the message and thus receive His forgiveness. What a wonderful truth to know and believe that God forgives all of our iniquities. Life is worth living because of such forgiveness!

He healeth all thy diseases, v. 3. God can and does heal people from their diseases. In the times of Moses, Elijah, and the apostles, God performed many healings to prove His deity, that He was indeed the Messiah. God can do whatsoever He will and no one can in any way hinder His doings. Yes, God may bring healing today in response to the prayers and faith of His people. Yet, we know that not everybody who prays for healing is healed. We must remember that God has His purpose for whatever He does. I think the overriding concern is the glory of God. Whatever He does is for His own glory and whatever we do should be for His glory. Paul exhorts, “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (I Cor. 10:31). 

It should be reckoned here that God heals in many different ways. For example, “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up all their wounds” ( Psa. 147:3). God heals in ways that no other can heal. Sometimes God uses other people to bring healing, such as the Good Samaritan who ministered to the man found robbed and wounded. 

Perhaps if we really think about it, we could enumerate many ways in which God has brought healing to our lives. It could be healing from grief and sorrow or from some great loss in our life.

He redeems thy life from destruction, v. 4. The evidences of sin controlled lives are all about us. We see lives in total destruction because people follow their own whims and know not the healing and forgiveness of God. We see the destruction brought about by such things as alcoholism, immoral lifestyles, anger, and greed. The various institutions of the day speak volumes about those who choose a life of sin.

It is a far different scenario for the believer who acknowledges his sin and turns to God for forgiveness. He not only receives forgiveness, but he receives a new heart with new desires. Yes, he still chooses sin sometimes, but if he is really saved and growing in grace, he will mostly choose to live a righteous life. He identifies with the message of Jesus, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness…” (Matt. 6:33).

Many have lived in depths of sin, but have found the grace of God is sufficient for living a life of  genuine righteousness. Consider the life of the Apostle Paul. He lived a very ungodly life, but when he turned to Christ, he was redeemed from a life of destruction. Then there is John Newton who lived a life of debauchery, but when he was confronted about his sin by the Holy Spirit, he repented and later wrote one of our favorite hymns, Amazing Grace.

Think about if for a moment, if you did not know Jesus Christ as  your personal Savior, where would you be today!? Well, who knows? Thank God if you know that He has delivered you from a life of destruction. Indeed, many today need to know the forgiving grace of God. Only then can their lives be turned from that which destroys to that which saves and blesses.

He crowneth thee with loving-kindness and tender mercies, v. 4. When God saves us, he not only saves us from the destruction and judgment of sin, but He showers upon us His loving-kindness and mercy. He, in grace, not only gives us what we do not deserve, but He withholds from us that which we rightly do deserve! 

The blessings of God for the redeemed are innumerable. Jeremiah said, “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is Thy faithfulness…The Lord is good unto them that wait for Him, to the soul that seeketh Him” (Lam. 3:22,23, 25). 

To seek the various ways in which God blesses the believer would be a never ending task. Let’s consider a few, however, that we read in the Bible. When we are saved, He gives us the presence and ministry of the Holy Spirit. In speaking of Christ, Paul reminds us, “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise” (Eph. 1:13). Every one who has trusted Christ as Savior has received the Holy Spirit. This is not just a doctrine to be believed, but a reality to be experienced in our lives. It is His presence that brings a sense of a right relationship with God and that ministers something of His love, joy, and peace.

As we yield to the Spirit’s leading through the word of God, He gives a sense of His direction and purpose for life. We are not left alone to live our life on a hit and miss basis. 

He satisfies thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s, v. 5. Whatever else may be meant by this promise, it suggests that God cares for the believer in all stages of his life. Yes, He provides for our food and all the necessities of life as we trust Him. Jesus said to the disciples, “Therefore take no thought, saying, what shall we eat? Or what shall we drink? Or, wherewithal shall we be clothed?… for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things” (Matt. 6:31-32). Jesus knows our need better than we do ourselves!

Life changes for all of us and God is there to encourage and provide. Even when things take a turn for the worse, God sees and knows. Believers are never left without God’s care and provision.

We should note, though, that we need to know that we have trusted Christ as Savior. It’s when we have established a relationship with Him that we begin to know His provision for us. The point is, salvation is more than knowing about God, it is knowing Him. It is when we know Him as Savior that we begin to know Him as our sufficiency for all things.

He executeth righteousness and judgment for all that are oppressed, v. 6. It is frequently noted in reading the Bible that God is very interested and concerned for people who are oppressed, people who are at the mercy of others, people who are made to suffer at the hands of others. God said of His people when they were held captive in Egypt, “…I have surely seen the affliction of My people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrow; And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey…” (Ex. 3:7-8).

The encouragement for us is that God knows when His people suffer unjustly. His will is to deliver us from bondage and to usher us into the land of His special blessing. Of course, He did that when he died on the cross for us. We were in bondage to sin and have been delivered from  certain judgment into eternal and glorious blessing.

On a very practical side, God knows today when His people suffer. Millions of Christians are being persecuted around the world and, in His way, and His time, He will most certainly deliver them. We may wish for a quicker deliverance, but we just have to keep trusting Him for His perfect timing.  It helps to remember God’s word to Paul in the midst of his sufferings, “…My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness…” (II Cor. 12:9). Paul’s response was, “…most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (II Cor:12:9).

It is not easy to suffer unjustly at the hands of others, but does not the presence of God in our lives, and the knowledge of His word bring needed comfort? The suffering will end and the glorious deliverance will begin! I know, it is easy to sit in a nice office and write this; it is another thing to be thrust into the midst of suffering. Still, to know Him is to know the only hope in the midst of suffering.

He is  merciful, and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy, v. 8. Yes, God is holy, and all unconfessed sin will be judged. But God is also so merciful and gracious to us! He gives us ample time to repent and to come into the generosity of His grace. We are all, as believers, indebted to His goodness to us. It should be noted that those who refuse to repent never know of His mercy and grace. The best they can know is the general evidence of His grace in the world about them. That indeed is significant, but it is only when we come to Christ in faith that we begin to comprehend His mercy to us. It is then that we appreciate that, “He hath not dealt with us after our sins; nor rewarded us according to our iniquities” (Psa. 103:10).

Conclusion

We have so much to thank God for, not only at this season of Thanksgiving, but for all of time and eternity. As believers, we can say, “For as the heaven is high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward them that fear Him” (Psa. 103:11). We should be able to say with David, “Bless the Lord, all His works in all places of His dominion: bless the Lord, O my soul” (Psa. 103:22).

 If you are a believer, you rejoice in this truth. If not, why not come to Him today for the forgiveness of your sins? It will change your life for the better for all of time and eternity! More than that, it means the difference between eternal life and death!

We were saddened to hear of the death of our friend, Ralph Erickson, of Inver Grove Heights, MN. He was a faithful member of First Calvary Baptist Church in So. St. Paul when I was the pastor there. We extend our sympathy to Marge and her family.

October started with an all-church picnic at Kovaciks surrounded by beautifully colored trees. We also attended a family reunion where the oldest attendee, at 98, still remembered our names! 

October in Wisconsin means cutting the grass for the final time (hopefully) for the summer. In the middle of October we attended the “Understanding the Times” seminar in Eden Prairie. 

I had the privilege of filling the pulpit at Community Bible Church in Spring Valley on October 16th and 23rd   and at Bible Baptist Church in East Bethel, MM on October. 30th. BJ and I work with AWANA each week and I lead the Bible study and prayer time with all the leaders

Did you hear on the news about the bank robbery in our little town of Woodville?! Too close!

It should be obvious to all that we are living in very troublesome times. Even a casual reading of the Bible will indicate the increasing departure from Biblical truth and the rush to a one world government, a one world economy, and a one world religion. This push, of course, will find its fulfillment in the time of what the Bible calls the tribulation. It will be a time of unprecedented trouble and turmoil. Both the Old and New Testaments speak of this time. But there is good news! As believers, we can rejoice in our personal relationship with the Lord Jesus and the promises of His word. How precious are the words of the Apostle Paul, “Be careful [anxious] for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).  It doesn’t get better than that! 

Do you sense a lack of peace in your heart today? Remember the words of Jesus, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (Jn. 14:27).

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My prayer is that the The Sonshine would be a blessing and encouragement to believers and a witness to the truth of Jesus Christ and His desire for all to come to Him for salvation. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (II Pet. 3:9).

Let us remember the words of scripture, “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth way” (James 4:14). We have no promise of another day to live. If you have never looked to the Lord Jesus for salvation, there is no better time. “…Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (II Cor. 6:2). 

Remember, salvation is always a personal choice! “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:13).