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Taking God at His Word
by Dr. Morris H. Chapman

Giving God Thanks
November 14, 2001

Listen to Audio
Time: 4:50

Psalm 116:12-14 (NASB) (12) What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits toward me?
(13) I shall lift up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD.
(14) I shall pay my vows to the LORD, oh may it be in the presence of all His people."

Thanksgiving. What do you think about when you hear the word Thanksgiving? Possibly, your mind connects with the year 1621 where "after the first harvest in a new world," Governor Bradford of the Plymouth Colony invited the Pilgrims to keep a day of prayer, praise, and thanksgiving. On the other hand, maybe your memory carries you back into history, in 1863, after the bloody Battle of Gettysburg. After this battle, President Abraham Lincoln urged the nation to observe a day of prayer and thanksgiving on the last Thursday of November. Traditionally, you may think about the Thanksgiving meal with family and friends. Truly, thanksgiving triggers many memories for us.

First and foremost, Thanksgiving must remind us to thank God for His many benefits. Psalm 116 is such a psalm that teaches us from God's Word how we can practically give thanks to God. Throughout this entire psalm, the writer freely uses the word "I." His use of the word "I" makes this psalm a psalm that each one of us as individuals can use to guide us in thanking God for His goodness.

But how can we give back to God for all his goodness toward us when God needs nothing? In Romans 11 verse 35, Paul asks this very question, "who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to Him again?" No one can give God anything , for verse 36 goes on to tell us that "from Him and through Him and to Him are all things." Every good gift comes from God.

We cannot give God anything in return for God's abundant goodness to us. However, we can learn, like the psalmist learned, that we can respond to God's blessings in practical ways:

We can respond by evangelizing for Psalm 116:13 teaches us, "I shall lift up the cup of salvation." Jesus teaches us in John 3:14 and 15, "as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life." You have a timely opportunity with family and friends to lift up Jesus Christ by sharing your testimony with those who do not personally know Him. Tell others about God's mercy to you and how Christ saved you. Remember, Jesus promises in John 12:32 that He will draw your family and friends to Him when He is lifted up in conversation and testimony.

Not only can we respond by evangelizing, we can respond by praying, Psalm 116:13 also teaches us to ". . . call upon the name of the LORD." In calling upon His name, thank Him for everything you possibly can think of.

Here are a few examples to get your prayer started:

Thank God for being your Redeemer;
Thank God for being your Provider;
Thank God for Jesus Christ dying for your sins;
Thank God for the presence and power of the Holy Spirit;
Thank God for memories of loved ones;
Thank God for comfort in despair;
Thank God for prayers that He has answered;
Thank God for prayers that are unanswered;
Thank God for both pain and pleasure; and
Thank God for love beyond compare.

We can also respond to God's blessings by obeying Him, Psalm 116:14 says, "I shall pay my vows to the LORD." God tells us what He expects of us through His Word. When we hear or read His Word, we often acknowledge God's expectations, but our tendency is to not put His Word into action. We exercise obedience by doing what God tells us to do. Obeying God is another expression of gratitude for His benefits in our lives.

So, as you celebrate Thanksgiving this year, respond to God's goodness in your life by taking God at His Word. Tell a family member or friend about Jesus Christ. Set aside a specific time of prayer alone or with family and friends where you thank God for all the blessings that come to mind. Finally, obey what God has told you to do through His uncompromising Word. When we respond to God's goodness by applying what He tells us in His Word, we truly glorify Him. This is what Thanksgiving is all about. May God continually bless you over and above all that you expect.

12/19/01 What Jesus Wants for Christmas
11/20/01 God's Solution for Stress
11/14/01 Giving God Thanks
10/18/01 Dealing with Distractions
09/27/01 Let Freedom Ring!
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