Sunday, November 27, 2011

 

A Psalm of Thanksgiving, Psalm 138

Here are the notes from my lesson for G.A.P. (Graduates and Professionals) at Thomas Road Baptist Church. This lesson was presented on November 27, 2011. I hope it is a blessing to you! Please feel free to leave a comment or contact me if you have any questions.

A Psalm of Thanks

Psalm 138

Introduction

Season of Thanksgiving

We just celebrated Thanksgiving, so many of us are still full of good food and fond memories of friends and family

Did we take time to actually be thankful?

There is a lack of thanks in our world today

Gratitude seems to be in small demand

Think of Black Friday

Lots of arguments over “stuff”

Shots were fired

People were injured

Many were offended

People were pursuing possessions and were not thankfulf

Our passage today deals with the issue of thanks

In fact, Psalm 138 is a Psalm (or Hymn) of Thanksgiving

This passage can be broken down into three sections in which David offers us insights into why we should be thankful

Before we look at my notes, however, let’s read the passage and ask the question: “Why does David offer thanks with his whole heart?”

Proper perspective prepares us to give proper praise

Psalm 138:1-3

In these verses, David reminds us that we can give thanks to God because of God’s unchanging and enduring character

First, v. 1 admonishes us to give thanks (which means something like “to confess” or “to make known” or “to give praise”) with all of our hearts

“Giving thanks" Old Testament style has little to do with an internal feeling of gratitude, but it carries the idea of giving God a note of thanks. The best way to do that (according to David) is to tell others what God has done, i.e., to proclaim the good news of God's gracious actions to the assembly of believers, to the surrounding neighborhood, and even to the world

To “thank God with all my heart” implies a full throated, uninhibited, even expansive act of confession or expression of God’s gracious actions—it is not a short note of thanks

Then, David begins to give us some things about God for which we can give thanks

He describes for us aspects of God’s character for which we can be truly thankful

1. There is no god like the God of the Bible (v. 1)

The Triune God is not a part of his creation, nor is his subsistence dependent on it. He is above all things, and by him all things exist. In fact, Paul tells us in Colossians 1:17 that Jesus holds all things together and is the author of creation

In other words, there is nothing outside of God's authority

To praise the Lord "before the gods" (verse 1) is to exalt the Lord above lesser gods or rulers. Giving thanks to God with our whole heart has an effect on our system of loyalties. When we praise the Lord with all we have, other things competing for our trust and worship seem to lose their power

On the other hand, David may be saying something like “I will be a testimony to God by saying thanks to God in the hearing of those who believe otherwise.”

2. God's lovingkindness and truth are made available (v. 2a; cf. Psalm 26:3; 40:10-11; 57:3)

Jeremiah (Lamentations 3:22-23) reminds us that God's lovingkindness is new every morning

The Psalmist reminds us on numerous occasions that God is patient and longsuffering, showing mercy and faithful love to many generations (cf. Psalm 86:15)

His love is such that he gave us what he treasures most: Jesus, his only Son (John 3:16ff)

His lovingkindness not only gave us life, but it also provides us with all we need to live this life and to obey his ways. His mercy is amazing!

His truth is convicting. God does not lie.

He reveals truth inside humans, but he also makes truth known in nature itself. Even God's very attributes are observable in nature around us. (Romans 1:20)

God has made Truth known, and he is the very essence of Truth. All truth points to him, and he alone knows all truth.

His truth and lovingkindness lead to salvation

3. God has given us a Word that will never fail. He has magnified, valued, advanced, enlarged, even exalted his Word above his own name (v. 2b)

If the name of God is the name above all names, then his Word must be the Word above all words

He has revealed himself in Jesus who is the Logos, the Word of God in flesh, the exact representation of the image and character of God himself (John 1:1-4; Hebrews 1:1-3)

The Word God has provided for us is active, alive, and powerful (Hebrews 4:12-16). It can bring knowledge, life, and salvation.

God has given us his Word, and his Word will not fail!

4. God is faithful to answer prayer (v. 3)

When we call on God, he is faithful to respond. And his response emboldens us and gives us courage (1 John 5:13-15)

Conversation with God leads to conversion of our souls. His response to our requests shows his presence, his love, and his great kindness towards us. He hears when we call, and he responds (1 John 3:21-22)

Songs of thanksgiving such as this sometimes refer to a specific action of God for which the psalmist is thankful (cf. Psalm 30:6-12), but here the psalmist's language is comprehensive, strong and simple: “On the day I called, you answered me" (verse 3).

God’s character is a solid foundation for our thanks and our praise

Proper perspective prepares us to give proper praise

Psalm 138:4-6

In these verses, David reminds us that we can give thanks to God because God of how God relates to the systems of the world

Simply stated, God is the ultimate authority with which all rulers must primarily deal, and as such he will demand worship and praise

God subverts the systems of the world and turns them on their heads

He will ultimately make all rulers to acknowledge his authority and rule (Philippians 2:9-11)

As the rulers of this world hear God’s Word and see God’s glory (see John 1:1-4; 14; 16-18), they will respond with praise and thanks to God for his gracious actions and steadfast love and loyalty

God befriends the humble, but he is an enemy to the proud (v. 6; 1 Peter 5:5-7)

We can be grateful that even though our God is so exalted, he finds it desirable to dwell with those who are humble and lowly

He is not at home with those who think too highly of themselves, but he chooses to dwell with those who humble themselves to him

Proper perspective prepares us to give proper praise

Psalm 138:7-8

In these verses, David reminds us that we can give thanks to God because of his presence and deliverance

God will be with us in trouble (v. 7)

There is no obstacle or problem that can separate us from God (Romans 8:28-39). His love for us is never ending and his reach cannot be blocked

No matter the circumstances in your life, God is faithful and will be your closest friend. He will walk with you in the midst of your problems and provide what you need to live a life of godliness even in hard circumstances (Psalm 23)

He does not always deliver us from trouble, but he never abandons us in it. Like the three Hebrew children in the fiery furnace, God is with us in the midst of trials, troubles, or problems. He bears them with us, he walks with us, he gives us his joy in spite of trouble, and he never fails

God will complete the task he has begun (v. 8; Phil. 1:6)

He will not forsake the works of his hands

He will accomplish all those things that pertain to life and salvation

He will not fail

He is constant, kind, considerate

He will finish what he starts and will bring to pass all that he has promised (Isaiah 66:9)

His Word is true and he is faithful to complete it

Not a single stray mark of his Scripture will fail to happen (Matthew 5:18)

If God speaks it or if God begins it, it will be done in his time and by his unfailing hand

There is nothing too difficult for God, and he is worthy of my praise (Jeremiah 32:26-27)

Proper perspective prepares us to give proper praise

Application

I know Thanksgiving is over, but the need to give thanks or to offer God praise is a present tense need

This week, take time to express your gratitude for God

Start with the material in this lesson—look at God’s character, God’s relationship to the world systems, and God’s presence and deliverance and find room to say “thank you” to God

Check your perspective to see if it is proper for praise

Express your gratitude to God out loud to others

Tell others what God has done for you

Express your gratitude to God in service to others

Show your gratitude for loving and serving others as God has loved and served you

Proper perspective prepares us to give proper praise

Thanks for reading!


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Saturday, November 19, 2011

 

Recording of "Confidence in Christ and the Sin Unto Death: When should a Believer not Pray?" 1 John 5:13-21

With thanks to Elke Speliopoulos, here is a personal recording of the paper I read at the 2011 Evangelical Theological Society meeting in San Franscisco, CA. When I get the chance, I'll attach a copy of the paper and the "color coded passages" to which I refer in the lecture. Thanks for listening!

Confidence in Christ and the Sin Unto Death: When should a Believer not Pray

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

 

What's Playing Today?

As I'm working on my paper for the Evangelical Theological Society ("Confidence in Christ and the Sin unto Death: When should a Believer not Pray?" 1 John 5:13-21), I am enjoying some of my favorite tunes on my computer.

1. Jennifer Knapp, "A Diamond in the Rough"--very visceral and moody, I thoroughly enjoy the lyrics and her wonderful voice

2. U2, "No Line on the Horizon" and "How to Dismantle an Atom Bomb"--c'mon, it's U2, need I explain this one?

3. Bob Dylan, "The Essential Bob Dylan," "Slow Train Coming," and "Saved"--this one should shock no one who knows me. I'm jamming right now to "You Gotta Serve Somebody." I may listen to the Grateful Dead version later (yeah, nothing like the Dead's eclectic style on a crazy Dylan tune about serving God or Satan, right? grin).

Okay, that's enough of an update for now. You may return to your regularly scheduled 'net surfin'!

Thanks for reading!

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