With Thanksgiving to God

With Thanksgiving to God

November 22nd, 1987 @ 10:50 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    10:50 a.m.

 

And the Lord bless the multitudes of you who share this hour on radio and television.  This is the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Dallas.  The title of the message is With Thanksgiving to God.  All of you who share the hour on radio and television, get your Bible; turn to Psalm 107, Psalm 107, and we shall read this background passage for the message brought this morning.  Psalm 107:  

O give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good; His mercy endureth forever. 

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 asunder.

[Psalm 107:15-16]

He has made us free! 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]

 

A beautiful paean of praise to God for His wonderful goodnesses to us. 

One of the most traumatic and moving of all the scenes in American history came to pass on the fifth day of April in 1621.  There stood a little band of fifty-one Pilgrims on the shore of Plymouth Bay, in what is today Massachusetts.  They had endured a terrible winter.  One hundred two of them had come to the new land, the New World, on the Mayflower.  And January and February of that year of 1621, one half – fifty-one of the band had died.  They were buried in unmarked graves, leveled with the ground, lest the Indians see how few and weak were those who remained.  They were buried on Cole’s Hill overlooking the Plymouth Bay. 

On that fifth day of April in 1621, the [fifty-one] survivors stood and watched the Mayflower leave the shores and waters of America.  Not one of the living Pilgrims, not one of these remaining men and women of God, boarded the ship to return back to their homes in England.  They had come to find and to build a place of worship in the New World.  And despite the hardships that faced them and the burden of grief that overwhelmed them, they remained to build a new nation on the new continent called America. 

They were devout people, those Pilgrims.  They brought with them their most precious possession: this King James Version of the Bible.  It had been published just nine years before, and it was the center of their life, and their hope, and their purpose before God.  After they built their shelters, where this Bible was the center of their family devotions, they first erected their church where this Bible was preached.  And after building the church house, their next structure was a schoolhouse.  And the textbook of the school was this Bible. 

They elected William Bradford as the governor of their little Pilgrim band.  And in the fall time of 1621, God having graciously blessed the seed they had sown and given them a bountiful harvest to reap, Governor William Bradford announced a time of thanksgiving, the first Thanksgiving in the New World of America.  And in the fall time of 1621, for three days, they rejoiced in the goodness of God, the friendly Indians outnumbering the Pilgrims.  That was in keeping with what they read in this Bible.  For throughout the Book of Leviticus, the people brought peace offerings to the Lord [Leviticus 3:1-17, 7:11-21, 28-34].  I think a better translation of the word would be "thanksgiving offerings" to the Lord.  The family, their friends and neighbors – with the officiating priest, they rejoiced as they ate together in the remembrance of heaven. 

Also in this Bible, throughout the Book of Deuteronomy, they read about the Feast of Tabernacles [Deuteronomy 16:13-17].  You could call it the "Feast of Ingathering," the feast of harvest time [Exodus 23:16, 34:22].  And in the fall time, the people met by families and thanked God for His wonderful goodnesses in giving them rain from heaven and food from the field. 

Such did the apostle Paul admonish his people who love the Lord.  In the last chapter of the first Thessalonian letter, "Be ye thankful, be ye thankful, for this is the command of God concerning you" [1 Thessalonians 5:18].  And in the last chapter of the Book of Philippians, "Be anxious for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God" [Philippians 4:6]. 

So our first Pilgrim forefathers that first year proclaimed a day of thanksgiving and praised the Lord for His remembrance in the harvest.  That spirit of gratitude to God continued in the growth of the new nation.  After the terrible sacrifices of the Revolutionary War, and after the writing of the Constitution, in the first assembly of the Congress, both Houses passed a joint resolution asking the president, the new president, George Washington, to proclaim a national day of Thanksgiving.  And this is what our first president wrote in 1789:

 

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 all then unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and the protection of the people of this country. 

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

And signed, George Washington. 

 

In 1864, Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the first national, annual holiday to be the last Thursday of November of each succeeding year in which our people were to thank the Lord, as a people, as a nation, for His wonderful goodnesses to the children of men.  And thus it has continued to this day, a Thanksgiving to our Lord for His remembrance of us. 

So with pride and gratitude, we thank God for the nation they built, this country, our country. 

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! 

[from "The Lay of the Last Minstrel," Sir Walter Scott, 1805] 

 

God bless America,  

Land that I love. 

Stand beside her, and guide her 

With a light through the night from above. 

From the prairies, to the mountains, 

To the ocean white with foam 

God bless America,

My home, sweet home. 

[from "God Bless America," Irving Berlin, 1938] 

 

And with thanksgiving to God for the faith they bequeathed to us: the Book, and the gospel, and the assembly of God’s people in the church.  Those pioneer preachers pressed across the Alleghenies, into the West and ever, ever westward, and, finally, brought the message of Christ to us. 

My father, in the beginning days and years of his life, was a cowpoke on the vast ranches in West Texas.  He was converted when he was 27 years of age.  And I’m speaking now of over 72 years ago.  I can still see in memory and hear those pioneer preachers: uncouth, uneducated, unacceptable in any elegant, urban, polished pulpit of the day.  But their hearts were aflame with the love of God.  And their speech was full and moving and eloquent as they brought the message of salvation to the people who lived in the West. 

They established our churches.  They founded our Christian institutions.  And we owe a debt to them that we could never, ever repay.  We thank God for the pioneer preachers, and we thank God for the gospel they brought to our homes and our hearts and our people.  With thanksgiving to God, we call to mind and remember the courage and the noble faith by which they faced all of the hardships and trials and troubles of life.  They did it in the love and faith and persuasion of the presence and goodness of the Lord God of heaven. 

An older teenager came to his father one day, and said, "Dad, you know, God is supposed to be a helper for these who are helpless, and He is supposed to champion the poor, but I don’t see it.  This man here, who has a place to stay in the station and all of the years of his life, he’s supposed to be one of the best men in the community.  He’s supposed to honor God with his life and with his home and with his family and with his firstfruits but I don’t see it; he’s the poorest among us, and how he lives, I don’t understand.  And I don’t see it, Dad, I just don’t.  There are not any troubles that have not come unto him.  All of the vicissitudes and fortunes of life that devastate, characterize him.  He has troubles, and he lives in devastation.  Godly man, Christian man, loves-the-Lord man, but there are no troubles that he doesn’t have.  Wind blows, tears his farmhouse down; one of his horses struck by the lightning.  There are no sorrows and no lack that he hasn’t experienced.  And I don’t understand it, Dad.  He’s supposed to be a Christian, and God’s supposed to take care of him, but I don’t see God taking care of him any better than he does anybody else, and seemingly, to me, he’s worse off than anybody we know." 

And the father replied to his boy, and said, "Son, you’re not old enough to remember.  But when I knew the old man, he was a drunkard, and his family was in want.  They went hungry and cold in the wintertime; they suffered.  But son, the old man was converted, he was saved.  And immediately he became a new man in Christ Jesus.  They haven’t this world’s goods, as you see some possess.  But Christ is in their home, and the children have been reared in the love and nurture of the Lord, and the blessings of heaven are upon them.  And by the way, son, have you talked to the old man?  Does he complain?  Does he find fault, or does he bless God for the remembrances of heaven that enrich his house and his home?" 

And the boy thought and said, "Well, Dad, I just hadn’t thought of it like that.  No, I’ve never heard him complain.  And I’ve never heard him find fault with God.  All I’ve ever heard from him was the blessings that the Lord had bestowed upon him, and how thankful he was for heaven’s remembrance."  

And the father said to the boy, "Son, that is the blessing and gift of heaven.  All of us are subject to the vicissitudes and fortunes of an ill wind, the disappointments and hurts of life, all of us.  All of us are subject to the passing vicissitudes of time and fortune.  We get old and older.  Inevitably, the day will come when we linger and die, and there are disappointments that dog the day of our pilgrimage.  We don’t escape them, no matter who we are.  And there’s no place in this earth in which we can hide and thus escape the vicissitudes and fortunes of life.  That is a common denominator and inheritance of all mankind.  But the difference lies in your heart and in your life: to have God as your refuge and strength, and to have Jesus as your partner, and to walk with Him through the valley of the shadow, and to have Him to be your friend and companion.  There’s nothing like the blessing of the presence of God known to the human heart." 

And the boy replied, "Dad, I had never thought of it like that.  That old man is rich, and God is blessing his family.  And Dad, we’ll not forget that the great and marvelous and precious blessings for which we are thankful, are these that come from His bountiful hands." 

And let that be our spirit and our heart and our response, our attitude toward all the vicissitudes and fortunes of life.  Am I well?  Lord, thank You for the gift.  Am I not well?  Then Lord, thank You for the comforting presence of the great and blessed Physician.  Am I disappointed?  Do I halt?  Do I have problems that seemingly are insoluble?  Then Lord, thank You for being close by.  "Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me" [Psalm 23:4].  Strength is mine because of Your love and grace.  And dear God, how could I thank Thee for that better life that is yet to come, given to us freely in Christ Jesus [1 Corinthians 2:9]; may be poor toward men, but rich toward God.  Living in a hovel here, but having a mansion over there [John 14:2-3]; sometimes, sadly alone in a pilgrimage in this life, but someday to accompany angels in the throng that worship and sing the praises of God in heaven.  Oh, how good God is to those who love Him! 

And that is our invitation to your heart today.  To give your life to the Savior, to open your heart and house and home to Him, and to let God be your friend and sojourner and fellow companion, to have God as your strength and help, to give your heart and life in faith and trust to Him, make that decision now.  And in a moment when we sing our hymn of appeal, "Pastor, this is God’s day for me, and here I stand."

Now together, may we pray?  Our Lord, at this Thanksgiving season, with how many words could we multiply the depths of our gratitude to Thee.  O God, what would I give for my eyes?  If a man were to offer to me millions of dollars for my eyes, I wouldn’t take it.  I am rich having my eyes.  Lord, what would I give for my health?  I am rich in God’s strength bestowed upon me.  Lord, Lord, I can walk, I can use my hands, I have my mind, I can think.  Great God in heaven, how indebted I am to Thee!  And Lord, what a fellowship, what a heavenly divine companionship with these dear people here.  When I’m alone, there is Jesus my Lord; when I come to church, here are God’s sainted people singing the praises of the Lord, reading out of His blessed Word promises that never fail.  And then when that day comes, heaven’s door is open by those nail-pierced hands of our wonderful Savior.  And there He stands inviting us into the glory of the life that is yet to come.  O God, in how many abounding ways are we grateful and thankful to Thee this Lord’s day!  And our Savior, we ask that a like heart, overflowing with thanksgiving to God, be in the souls and lives of all in divine presence.  And our Lord, for those who have never accepted Thee as Savior, that today be that day of salvation; for these who seek a church home in the fellowship of God’s sainted people, that they find a family loving them and Thee here with us; and that God’s will this day may be done in every heart.  God bless this appeal, in Thy precious and saving name, amen. 

Now while we stand and sing our song, to give your heart to the Lord, to come into the fellowship of the church, to answer the call of the Spirit in your heart, on the first note of the first stanza, come, while we sing our song of appeal.