Refresh & Restore — Thanksgiving 2020

1 Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good,
for His steadfast love endures forever!
2 Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
whom He has redeemed from trouble
3 and gathered in from the lands,
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the south.

8 Let them thank the Lord for His steadfast love, for His wondrous works to the children of man!

Psalm 107:1-3, 8

Greetings, Sojourner, and “Happy Thanksgiving” to you and yours!

I hope that this devotion finds you in a place where you are opening up your heart in gratitude for all that God has given you and expressing that thanks to Him and sharing what you are thankful for with family, friends, and food!

Today, I am thankful for the steadfast love of God that is so much more than I deserve! The way that the Bible presents this love completely and utterly blows my mind:

  • “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
  • “…but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
  • “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved….” (Ephesians 2:4-5)

The love of God stands out in my mind – probably because it seems so foreign to me. I understand the need for His wrath. It only takes a quick look at my own sin to see why that makes sense. I also understand His righteousness. Looking at the way that He carries Himself through His Word shows that to be true. But the fact that He loves me – “a sinner, condemned, unclean”[1] – that I do not understand. However, it is because of this that I am immensely thankful!

I think the psalmist of Psalm 107 gives us context for just how thankful we should be. First and foremost, we give thanks to God because He is good. His goodness has nothing to do with what we receive from Him. It is just “who He [is]”[2], plain and simple (Luke 18:19). He would still be good if He had never shown His “steadfast love” to any of us. Thankfully, however, that love that He shows us “endures forever”!

Not only should we give thanks to God because of His goodness and love, but we should give thanks to Him because He redeems. The word “redeemed” means to buy back or to make free. So, when the psalmist says “Let the redeemed of the Lord say so”, he is calling all who have been made free from their trouble and sin to give thanks to God and let our world know what He has done. If He has “redeemed [you] from trouble”, “say so”. If He has set you free from slavery to sin, “say so”. If He has saved you, “say so” – and say thanks!

This psalm was likely sung after Israel returned home from their exile in Babylon. Their redemption and thankfulness were specific to what God had done for them. After all, it was God who “gathered” them back home from “the lands” and the four corners of the world. And, just like their thanksgiving and praise was supposed to be specific, ours should too.

Let us take a brief tour through the rest of Psalm 107 to see some examples of God redeeming His people.

Some of the redeemed (Psalm 107:4-9) spent time wandering and alone, without food or drink, enduring times of trouble and distress. God delivered them by leading them out of trouble, satisfying their thirst and filling their bellies. They thanked God for His continual love and told people what He had done for them.

Others (Psalm 107:10-16) walked paths of the darkness of the shadow of death. They found themselves imprisoned by iron bars and various afflictions. All of that turmoil is because they chose to ignore the Most High. But, because of His great love, He brought them out of the darkness – shined His light to remove the shadow of death – and burst open their prisons. They thanked God for loving them despite their ignoring Him and shared His works with those around them.

Finally, there were also those (Psalm 107:17-22) whose sinful ways had shown them to be fools. Their foolishness nearly cost them their lives. But God – through His Word – kept them from death and healed them. They thanked God for His love and Life and made sure that other fools knew about the wisdom of their God.

Each of these groups had two things in common. First, their troubles were of their own making. Their sin disrupted their lives (Romans 6:23). Second, God was their only Way out of their trouble. In each of those sections of Psalm 107 (vv. 8, 15, 21, 31), we see their response to their being redeemed: “Let them thank the Lord for His steadfast love, for His wondrous works to the children of man!” But look at what comes first every time (vv. 6, 13, 19, 28): “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress.”

That may seem to simple, but repentance almost never is. If we say that we do not enjoy the sin that we commit, we are lying. We are not tempted with chores and labors of obligation. We are tempted by those things that make our sinful hearts delight. Those wandering alone did not set out to trapse through the wilderness. No, their path began by following the desires of their hearts. Those in the darkness did not expect to find themselves in the shadow of death; they just merely played in its dusky edges until they could no longer see the light. That is why God’s love is described as steadfast – it sticks with us through thick and thin, from our foolishness to our repentance.

That is good news!

When I think of my sin, I think of my Savior. When I think of my failures, I am reminded of His strength. When I am confronted with my past, I meet Him in my present with thanksgiving.

Maybe you are still wandering and alone in the shadow of death. The same Savior that delivered Israel and every saved sinner in history is available to you. Cry out to the Him in your trouble, and He will deliver you from your distress. The way to do that is clear. Romans 10:9 tells us “…if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Call out to Him. Confess your sin to Him. Trust in Him. Let Him lead you. Repent, and say thanks.

As always, know that I love you and am praying for you. I hope that your heart is moved toward thankfulness to God today, and I want to leave you with a few verses that illustrate thankfulness. May today be a day where our gratitude to God is clear and constant. And may this be the first of many days where we give Him the thanks He is due.

4 I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in every way you were enriched in Him in all speech and all knowledge – 6 even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you – 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:4-8

21 I thank You that You have answered me
and have become my salvation.

Psalm 118:21

15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Colossians 3:15-17

1 We give thanks to you, O God;
we give thanks, for your name is near.
We recount your wondrous deeds.

Psalm 75:1

1 Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon His name;
make known His deeds among the peoples!
2 Sing to Him, sing praises to Him;
tell of all His wondrous works!
3 Glory in His holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!

Psalm 105:1-3

[1]I Stand Amazed in the Presence”, Charles Hutchinson Gabriel  

[2]Good, Good Father”, Chris Tomlin