With Thanksgiving To God

Psalm

With Thanksgiving To God

November 22nd, 1987 @ 8:15 AM

Psalm 107

O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. Let the redeemed of the LORD say so, whom he hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy; And gathered them out of the lands, from the east, and from the west, from the north, and from the south. They wandered in the wilderness in a solitary way; they found no city to dwell in. Hungry and thirsty, their soul fainted in them. Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses. And he led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness. Such as sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, being bound in affliction and iron; Because they rebelled against the words of God, and contemned the counsel of the most High: Therefore he brought down their heart with labour; they fell down, and there was none to help. Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and brake their bands in sunder. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! For he hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder. Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted. Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat; and they draw near unto the gates of death. Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses. He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing. They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep. For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits’ end. Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven. Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders. He turneth rivers into a wilderness, and the watersprings into dry ground; A fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of them that dwell therein. He turneth the wilderness into a standing water, and dry ground into watersprings. And there he maketh the hungry to dwell, that they may prepare a city for habitation; And sow the fields, and plant vineyards, which may yield fruits of increase. He blesseth them also, so that they are multiplied greatly; and suffereth not their cattle to decrease. Again, they are minished and brought low through oppression, affliction, and sorrow. He poureth contempt upon princes, and causeth them to wander in the wilderness, where there is no way. Yet setteth he the poor on high from affliction, and maketh him families like a flock. The righteous shall see it, and rejoice: and all iniquity shall stop her mouth. Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD.
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WITH THANKSGIVING TO GOD

Dr. W. A. Criswell

Psalm 107

11-22-87    8:15 a.m.

 

And welcome once again to the throngs of you who share this hour on radio.  This is the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas delivering the message entitled, With Thanksgiving to God.

In the one hundred seventh Psalm, Psalm 107:

O Give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good: His mercy endureth for ever.

 Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He hath redeemed from the hand of the enemy;

[Psalm 107:1-2]

Verse 8—

 Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!

 For He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.

[Psalm 107:8-9]

Verse 15—

Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!

For He hath broken the gates of brass, and cut the bars of iron in sunder.

[Psalm 107:15-16]

 

Verse 21—

Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!

And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare His works with rejoicing.

[Psalm 107:21-22]

Verse 31—

Oh that men would praise the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men!

Let them exalt Him also in the congregation of the people, and praise Him in the assembly of the elders.

[Psalm 107:31-32]

Verse 41—

Yet setteth He the poor on high from affliction, and maketh Him families like a flock.

The righteous shall see it, and rejoice: and all iniquity shall stop her mouth.

Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the loving-kindness of the Lord.

[Psalm 107:41-43]

What a beautiful paean of praise to God our Savior!

On the fifth day of April in 1621, there occurred one of the most moving scenes in American history.  There stood at the head of Plymouth Bay in Massachusetts a little band of Pilgrims.  They numbered fifty-one.  That winter of 1621, in January and February, they had buried one-half of their number.  One hundred two Pilgrims came to the new world on the Mayflower, but that terrible first winter, one half of them died.  They were buried on Cole’s Hill overlooking the harbor.  They were buried in unmarked graves and leveled with the ground, lest the Indians see how few remained, and how weak they were.

Those fifty-one, who lived, stood on the shore of Plymouth Bay and watched the Mayflower leave.  Not one of them, not one, returned home to England.  They all stayed to build a colony and a place where they could worship God as they had been led by the Holy Spirit and had been taught in the Scriptures.

They were a devout people, those first Pilgrims in 1621.  Their most treasured possession was this Book, the King James Version of the Bible, which had been published just nine years before and brought to the new world of America.

After they had built their first shelters, where this Book was the center of their family devotions, their first structure beyond was a church house, where this Book was preached.  And after they built their church house, their next structure was a schoolhouse, where this Book was the text.  It was taught in the first school in America.

That fall of 1621, the elected governor of the little band of Pilgrims, William Bradford, announced a thanksgiving service.  And for three days they rejoiced in the harvest, outnumbered by friendly Indians who had come to be glad with them and for them.

That was according to the Bible they held in their hands.  In the Book of Leviticus, chapter after chapter, you will find described “peace offerings” [Leviticus 3:1-17, 7:11-21, 28-34].  Peace offerings were actually thanksgiving offerings.  You could translate it “thanksgiving” as well as “peace.”  The family brought friends and neighbors, and with the priests they ate on the tabernacle grounds or the temple grounds, thanking God for His wonderful gifts.

It was also, according as they read in the Book of Deuteronomy, in the fall time was the Feast of Tabernacles [Deuteronomy 16:13-17].  You could call it the Feast of Ingathering or the Feast of the Harvest.  And following the admonition of the apostle Paul in the last chapter of the first Thessalonian letter, “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God for you” [1 Thessalonians 5:18].  Or as he wrote in the last chapter of the Book of Philippians, “Be anxious for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” [Philippians 4:6].

So it was in 1621 they held a harvest of ingathering, a feast of thanksgiving.  That spirit of gratitude to God continued in the growth of the nation.  After the hardships of the Revolutionary War and after the writing of our Constitution, both houses of Congress, in 1789, passed a resolution, a joint petition, that the president of the United States, General George Washington, should proclaim a Day of Thanksgiving.  And this is what the President Washington wrote:

Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits and humbly to implore His protection and favor; and whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me to recommend to the people of the United States a day of public thanksgiving and prayer.

Now, therefore, I do recommend and assign Thursday, the twenty-sixth day of November, to be devoted by the people of these states, to the service of that great and glorious Being, who is the magnificent Author of the good that was, that is, and 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 our country. . .

 

Given under my hand . . . the third day of October, AD, 1789.

Then under Abraham Lincoln in 1864, it was established as a national, annual holiday, the last Thursday of November, a day of thanksgiving.

So it is we come to the last Thursday of this month of November in 1987 with thanksgiving to God, thanking God for our country, for our nation.

Breathes there the man, with soul so dead,

Who never to himself hath said,

This is my own, my native land!

Whose heart within him never burn’d,

As homeward his weary footsteps turned

From wandering on a foreign strand.

[“The Native Land,” from the Lay of the Last Minstrel, by Sir Walter Scott]

God bless America,

Land that I love.

Stand beside her, and guide her

Through the night with a light from above.

From the prairies, to the mountains,

To the ocean white with foam

God bless America, My home, sweet home.

[“God Bless America,” Irving Berlin, 1938]

 With thanksgiving to God for the nation they built, with thanksgiving to God for the Bible they loved and the gospel they preached.  Pressing over the Alleghenies, that pioneer preacher turned ever west, west, further west, preaching the gospel, founding churches in all of the first settlements of the New World.

My father in his early days was a cowpoke on those vast ranches in West Texas.  He was saved in a pioneer preacher’s revival when he was twenty-seven years of age.  I can so well remember, and I’m speaking of over seventy-two years ago, I can well remember those pioneer Baptist preachers, uncouth and unlettered, unacceptable as they would be today in any polished and urban pulpit, men of God, preaching the doctrines of grace, true to the faith, baptizing their converts and organizing those little assemblies into the churches of Jesus Christ our Lord.  God be praised for the Book they preached and the gospel message by which our people, our fathers were brought in the saving faith of Christ.

May I make an aside?  Can you believe that in America the day has come when by law you can’t read the Bible or pray in a public school?  What has happened to the America founded by our Pilgrim Fathers?  Great God, what has happened?  With thanksgiving to God for the courage and the faith by which they faced the trials, and troubles, and hardships, and sufferings of life; with thanksgiving to God for the trials that we know in our lives.

An older teenager came to his father and said to him, “Dad, I don’t understand and I don’t see this thing that I hear at church and from you, how that our heavenly Father watches over His children, and that He takes care of them and blesses them.  I don’t see it, Dad.  I hear the arguments that you all pronounce and proclaim and promulgate.  I hear them: what true prosperity really is and how we are really blessed more than we think for.  But I don’t see it, Dad.  I don’t see that it is any better to be a righteous man than a wicked man. It seems to me,” said this teenager talking to his father, “it seems to me that the wicked prospers just as much as that righteous man, and sometimes more so.

“Dad, take old man Monroe who lives down the creek.  He’s one of the best men and one of the best Christian men in all of these mountains.  And Dad, you look at old man Monroe.  He’s always wanted enough money to send his children to school, but he’s never had enough money, even to educate them.  I’ve heard him pray, and he prays every day for his boy, Charlie, that the boy get well; and he doesn’t, he gets worse every day.  And not only that, Dad, but last year, the lightening killed one of his horses and he only had two.  And this spring the wind blew down his barn, and his cow was drowned in a freshet.  Dad, I don’t see this thing of our heavenly Father taking care of His children.   Doesn’t seem to me they’re any better than anybody else.”

And the father replied to his boy, he said, “Son, you’re too young to remember.  But I remember when that old man Monroe was a vile and wicked man.  And what little that he made, he wasted it.  And, son, for over ten winters we fed his children.  Then, son, he was converted.  He became a Christian.  And he’s not wealthy, that’s true.  But he’s honest and upright, and he works faithfully, and he has a house, a roof under which his family now lives, and they have enough to eat and to spare.  But by the way, son, have you talked to old man Monroe since lightening struck his horse and the wind blew down his barn and the freshet drowned his cow?  Have you talked to old man Monroe?”

And the boy said, “Yes.  Yes, Dad, I have.”

“Well, son,” said his father, “how was it?  Did he curse God?  Did he damn fortune?  Was he bitter?  Did he complain?”

And the boy replied, “Dad, I hadn’t thought of it.  No.  No, he didn’t.  He was sweet and humble before the ill fortune and loss.”

And the father said, “My boy, that’s your answer.  When a man becomes a Christian, he’s changed on the inside, not the outside.  The outside is just the same.  It’s a world of famine, and pestilence, and hurt, and sorrow, and age, and disease, and sickness, and death.  But, son, when a man’s a Christian, he’s changed on the inside.  It’s a different life.  It’s a different world.  It’s a different hope.  It’s a different purpose.  It’s a different prospect.  He’s changed.”

And the boy replied, “Dad, I understand.  I understand.  I see it.”

That’s true.  To the child of God every providence is an occasion of thanksgiving to the Lord.  Praise His name.  Like Job, “The Lord gave, the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” [Job 1:21]; whether in the daytime or the nighttime, whether in the wintertime or the summertime, whether in health or in sickness, whether in life or in death, the child of God lifts up his heart in praise and thanksgiving to God.  What a wonderful way to be!  What a triumphant way to live, just praising the Lord.  That’s our thanksgiving to God.

Doug, let’s sing us a song.  And while we sing our hymn of appeal, to open your heart to the Lord Jesus, to receive Him as your Savior, to bow in His presence, to call upon His name, to live a life of trust [Romans 10:9-10], you come and join heart and hand with us and welcome.  “Pastor, this is God’s day for me, and here I stand.”  Or a family you, coming into the fellowship of our dear church, “God bless us; we want to be one numbered with you.”  Or answering any call of the Lord in your heart, while we sing this hymn of appeal, come, make it now, while we stand and while we sing.