Bible study for Nov. 25: A Prayer of Thanksgiving

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Psalm 138:1-8
VICTOR S. LYONS, PASTOR
SECOND MEMORIAL BAPTIST CHURCH, PERRY

Why are you thankful to God this year?

A third of the psalms, the hymns in the Hebrew hymnbook, are classified in the category of praise or thanksgiving. Psalm 138 is a primer example.

Other scriptures highlight thanksgiving to God. Among the final exhortations of Paul in his early letter to the Thessalonians, he writes, “Give thanks in everything for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (2 Thessalonians 5:18).

In 2 Timothy 3:2 among a list of the worst of the worst, Paul lists the ungrateful. Our world is filled with these latter day lovers of self and lovers of money who display all the characteristics of a person who never appreciates the help that they receive.

Ingratitude is a grave sin. As Christians, we are to cultivate a heart of gratitude, first to God and then to others who have helped and are helping us on life’s journey.

Thank God for His love and truth.
Psalm 138:1-2

Verses 1-2 highlight the Psalmist’s efforts as he gives thanks, sings God’s praise, bows down, and this – with all his heart! This he does for all in heaven and on earth. There is no shame for him in acknowledging publicly his devotion to the Lord.

The Psalmist has experienced the love of God. God’s love surpasses that of a mother or father, that of a husband or wife, or that of a friend. Have you experienced God’s love?

The Psalmist has also experienced God’s truth, the truth of how things really work in the world, the truth of sin and forgiveness, and the truth that we all have a purpose designed by God for our existence.

I am amazed at the fake representations of life that can be seen on so-called reality television shows. The relationships portrayed and the situations staged in no way reveal the way things work in the real world. Bad behavior and unsavory attitudes are nothing to be glorified and less to be imitated. Producers and sponsors insist that this is where the money is and that the public has an insatiable appetite for this type of material.

Christian producers of film and music are stepping up to the plate, and are beginning to hit home runs against these so-called experts. If some in Hollywood discovered the Bible in the 1950s perhaps many around the world will discover genuine Christian faith in this century.  

We cannot fail to remind ourselves of Billy Graham and the Graham Association when they launched Worldwide Pictures with the production of The Hiding Place.

How are evangelical Christians portrayed today?

While we represent 25% of the American public, we are the most underrepresented minority on television. And when we are finally represented, it is in a stereotypical way where the main characteristics are ignorance and bigotry.

Thank God that He provides all we need.
Psalm 138:3-6

There are many today who live off of others – parents, grandparents, friends, colleagues, and government and/or private agencies. They have never learned to ask God for guidance and help. In some circles, paying one’s way is almost dead. There is nothing wrong in receiving help when we need it. However, stealing and begging are not God’s way. There is a more excellent way in Christ.

Verse 6 states: He knows the haughty from a distance. While affirming the humble, God is aware of and takes note of those who have an unhealthy pride, first harmful to themselves and then to those under their influence who might imitate that same attitude.

Thank God that He keeps us and protects us.
Psalm 138:7-8

Placed within a context exposed to danger and hostility, the Palmist is acutely aware of God’s hand which preserves his life. Indeed, God desires the Psalmist complete his mission. God’s eternal love is highlighted with a plea that God never abandon His work. The Psalmist says, “Please, Lord, don’t give up on me!”  The Gadarene man filled with demons lost his family and friends and all hope. But then Jesus came into his life.

Live it Out

A thankful heart is to be preferred above an ungrateful heart or a bitter heart.

A fake worldview is to be replaced by one that sees God’s handiwork and understands what is real and what is false.

We should cultivate a thankful heart by recognizing what God and others have done for us.

We should help others to cultivate a healthy view of life and a grateful heart.

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