Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness and delight; Come before His presence with joyful singing. Know and fully recognize with gratitude that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us, not we ourselves [and we are His]. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with a song of thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, bless and praise His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy and lovingkindness are everlasting, His faithfulness [endures] to all generations.
In our advanced scientific and technological age, people have made amazing discoveries in every field. Medicine, telecommunications, and computers are only a few areas in which we have seen astounding progress in a short span of years. Our advancement has been so startling that it’s easy for us to think that we are the creators and sustainers of the universe. This perception, though, is out of focus and, in the end, dangerous.
Even our ability to think, dream, and invent comes from God. Our God-given capacity to earn a living puts food on the table and provides money to pay the mortgage for the roof over our heads. In fact, everything good comes from the hand of God.
When we focus our attention too much on human abilities, we praise ourselves and forget God. From time to time, we need a refresher course, and this psalm is a good tutor. All we have, all we can do, and every creative thought ultimately originates in God. Without Him, nothing exists at all. When we realize that all the blessings we enjoy- including our amazing abilities to create, invent, and discover- come from a loving God, we respond like the psalmist: shouting for joy, singing about God’s blessings, thanking Him, praising Him, and committing ourselves to live only and always for Him.
It has seemed to me fit and proper that the gifts of God should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.
For most of us Thanksgiving Day is about families gathering around the table sharing food together. For most the tradition of turkey and pumpkin pie along with all the additional side dishes of stuffing, potatoes, gravy and such make up the meal. After stuffing ourselves with food we will retire to the family room to watch football between naps.
The first national Thanksgiving Day was declared by Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Hoping to redirect the nation’s division toward being thankful and grateful to God for all His blessing, Lincoln called the nation to a day of remembering all the good things God had done. It is appropriate that we pause in 2021 and give thanks to God for all His blessings. It is an opportunity to regroup and to redirect our focus toward how blessed we are instead of continuing to focus on everything that’s wrong. To be sure there are many things that are wrong in our world. We have experienced going on two years of a pandemic that doesn’t seem to want to release its grip. We have seen how divided we are politically, socially, and racially. We have been subjected to a multitude of complaints, unhappiness, anger, despair, isolation and depression. At every turn there seems to be another challenge and it seems that we have no capacity to handle all that life is throwing at us.
The psalmist encourages us to refocus and redirect our thinking. No, he is not telling us to pretend that everything is ok or good. He’s simply reminding us that God is the source of every need; He is the wisdom for every situation; and He has a record of caring for and blessing the children of God.
We are given instructions for how to break through the darkness that surrounds us. We are to shout joyfully to the Lord! How can we do that in the midst of calamity? We can because we recognize that He is more powerful than everything that is happening around us. He has overcome all things and has made us more than conquerors through Christ Jesus, so we shout for joy! Because we know He is ever with us, we have a song to sing, so we come into His presence with singing. No sad song of woe or gloom, but songs of gladness and praise for He has delivered us from the snare and trap of the devil. We can shout and sing for the simple reason that we just didn’t happen but that God has created us, created us in His image. Fearfully and wonderfully made we are and to know that gives us reason, even in difficult times, to sing and shout. The psalmist says that we are His(God’s) people and the sheep of His pasture and that He makes us lie down in green pastures and leads us beside still waters. Daily He anoints our heads with oil (the overflowing Holy Spirit) and as we follow Him, goodness and mercy follows us all day and every day of our lives.
We have been invited into His courts so we come with our song of thanksgiving as we remember the mercies and blessings that He has given and has yet in store for us.
The psalmist says that we are thankful because “the Lord is good; His mercy and lovingkindness are everlasting, His faithfulness [endures] to all generations.”
As we sit with family and share the day and the food and the fellowship together, let us be thankful for all the goodness of God. For families who have missing faces, let us be thankful that they are safe in the hands of God. Perhaps it might set the tone for the gathering if we were to take some time before we eat to take a turn and share at least one thing we are thankful for. I’m sure picking that one thing out of all the ways God has blessed us will be difficult.
Truly the Lord has been good to His people!
To each reader, I am thankful for you. I appreciate the fact that you take the time to read what I share. I pray that God will bountifully supply every need you have and that your soul will be lifted up and encouraged by the knowledge that God is with you and He is for you and you are loved.
Dr. John Thompson