Dear radio friends,
We study in our broadcast today a passage that lends itself to thanksgiving. We read in Psalm 135:5, 6, “For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods. Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did he in heaven, and in earth, in the seas, and all deep places.”
Once again in this past year God has filled our houses with plenty. None of us has been found wanting. We have asked God to supply us with our daily bread and we have been given so much more. So much, in fact, that we hardly know what daily bread is anymore. We have a hard time distinguishing between needs and desires. God has opened His mighty hand wide and we have been given comforts and luxuries that few others in this world enjoy as we do. Perhaps we have even become so greedy that we begin to live outside of our means, buying things that are absolutely unnecessary. Or, what is worse, using the abundance God has given us to satisfy our sinful lusts.
Surely, it is so easy for us who live in a country of affluence and wealth to take the many gifts God has given us for granted. We forget that God has given, and that God can also take them away in a moment. We begin to place our trust in uncertain riches. We begin to live for money and what it can buy. We forget the truth about our possessions: God supplies us with everything we have. God supplies our tables each new season with food in abundance. God gives us shelter and clothing to care for our needs. This is what we wish to recognize in this thanksgiving season of the year.
Today acknowledge that it is God who is the Giver of every good and perfect gift. That is our purpose in our broadcast today. It is time that we sit up and take notice: God deserves all the credit for what we have and receive in our lives. All that we are, all that we possess, belongs to God! Today we lift up our voices in praise to Him and give Him thanks for all things—for the food we receive from Him as well as our very health and strength. Today we acknowledge that God is alone deserving of our thanks. And we are reminded that what we have He has been pleased to give us.
I. The Fact
The truth placed before our hearts in Psalm 135: 5, 6 is this: God sovereignly controls all things. He directs and governs them in order to accomplish His good pleasure. It is for this truth of Scripture that we give God thanks today. All creatures are in His hand and He directs them exactly in the way that pleases Him. This is true, of course, because it is God who has created all things! All things in heaven and earth were made by the Word of God. He called forth the heaven where He sits enthroned. He called forth the earth and skies, the sea and dry land. He formed by that Word of His power all creatures great and small, wise and wonderful, bright and beautiful.
We sing of that don’t we? Because all things are the creatures of God’s hand, it only follows that these creatures are also governed, moved, directed by that same almighty hand of God. Not only did God create all things but He continues to uphold and guide them too.
This blessed truth of Scripture revealed in our text and in this Psalm is known as God’s providence. God guides what has happened and still happens in heaven to do His will and good pleasure. The angels are His. They are ministering servants that He sends forth to do His will. Even the fall of Satan and his angels and all that they do in this world are in the hands of God. He directs even the evil spirits to perform what He pleases. This is the truth we learn of in our text. God directs the earth and all creatures found in it as well. Read verse 7: “He causeth the vapours to ascend from the ends of the earth; he maketh lightnings for the rain; he bringeth the wind out of his treasuries.”
In the following verse the psalmist calls our attention to the wonders, that is, the plagues that were performed in Egypt. The winds, the weather, the rivers of water obey the will of God. He directs the winds to blow whither they will. God sends lightning, hail, darkness upon the face of the earth. Likewise, God governs the animals, as the ten plagues on Egypt reveal: the frogs, flies, lice, locusts, disease upon the cattle.
But God’s control does not cease there either. His control extends over the hearts and actions of men. What we learn in Proverbs 16:9 is true: “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.” Or again, in Jeremiah 10:23: “O Lord, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.” Psalm 135 speaks of that too. God smote the firstborn children of Egypt. God smote the kings of the earth out of His love and care for His people Israel. The point of the Psalmist here is that nothing escapes the rule and control of God. This is what makes Him God and God alone! This is what separates Him from the heathen idols of men’s hands who have no power to accomplish anything. Our God not only directs the heavens and the earth but He directs the seas and the deep places of the earth. Not only does God have power over the seas to hold them in their places so they do not overflow the earth. Not only does God control the waves that smash ships in pieces. Not only do the winds and waves obey Him. But God controls those things that take place in the depths of the seas. There is a whole world down there of which modern man is just becoming aware. Even in those places where man has never been, God is there and He controls each creature to perform His will and good pleasure.
Well, if all of this is true, then what makes us think that God does not control the seasons? Why would man ever begin to think that the earth and its fullness, the land and the bounties that it brings forth, are not controlled by God?
It is the time of year to contemplate that again. We come to God at the beginning of the growing season to ask Him to provide for us. The harvest has now been taken in. God has provided richly for us! We have not taken for granted, have we, that God has seen to it that again in this season of the year our needs have been provided for? God sends plenty. He causes the plants to grow and the fruit upon those plants to come to fruition. Each plant God has directed to grow and bear fruit according to His own good pleasure. God also sends drought and pestilence. He sends rain and it waters our crops. But He also can send rain in such abundance that it floods our fields and destroys everything in its way! God sends the sun to cause plants to grow, but that sun can become so hot that it scorches the earth and plants die.
God sends fires, God sends insects, God sends frost, God sends disease—all of which can and often does utterly destroy crops in the fields or vineyards or orchards. Perhaps because we live in such a large country, where one part of our country can compensate for another part when pestilence strikes, we are not so much aware of this fact. But it is true! God gives and God can just as quickly and readily take away. Again, in this season of the year the Lord has more than adequately met our earthly needs. Whom, then, do we give credit for this? To ourselves, to our great country, to technology, to man? Today we give thanks and praise to God alone! God does what pleases Him. It has pleased Him to give us the plenteous bounties that we have again received in this past year. He has given them to us. We acknowledge that in this time of year. That is what thanksgiving is all about!
It is important, as well, that we recognize that God controls everything. So many today contend, contrary to Scripture, that not everything in our lives is in the hand of God. All the bad things that befall us in this life God does not send, but Satan does, or they happen only because we bring them about. It is by cruel fate or chance that they happen, but God would never control these things. The believer, however, clings to the blessed truth of God’s providence. The believer knows that nothing happens by chance. God sends His people all things out of His great love for them. God will use all things for their advantage, even at times when He sends them troubles so burdensome they cannot imagine how they can be for their good. We as believers know that God works all things together for our good. We cling to that. The psalmist teaches us that!
God works all things after the good pleasure of His will. He is in the heavens and does what pleases Him. And that which pleases God is His counsel that He established in eternity! God in eternity has chosen and planned the best possible way to bring glory to His name through the salvation of a people unto Himself. Even now God directs the events of nature and our lives to that end.
We have for several generations now seen years of plenty. The older saints listening today remember the years of depression in the United States. Knowing this, we are not certain what next year will bring for us personally in that respect. Yes, maybe the Lord will bless our land with plenty again next year. It certainly seems as if He will. But does that mean that each one of us will necessarily enjoy that plenty? God can send sickness in our lives. God can send financial difficulties in our families. God can send fire, floods, or tornados that can take away all our possessions. But we know and believe, we cling to the fact, that it is God, after all, who sends all these things. And if God is for us, then nothing is against us. Nothing! We are held in His hands. Even if we have nothing to our name, we still have the greatest of all reasons to rejoice in Him.
Fellow believers, even if we have been given nothing in the way of material gain, or in the way of necessities in this past year, we would have reason to give God thanks. Even if we are dressed in rags and live in a little shanty or have barely enough to eat, we would have reason to give God thanks! The sad part is that the more people have, it seems, the less they give thanks to God for what they have! Sad! Whatsoever God pleases—and we know that God takes pleasure in His people—whatsoever God pleases, that does He in heaven and in earth! Our lives are in His hands.
II. The Confession
That works in our hearts in this day the confession of Psalm 135:5: “For I know that the Lord is great, and that our Lord is above all gods.” This is the very reason we give God alone thanksgiving. The Lord is great! He is great in heaven and on earth. He is great in His power, wisdom, faithfulness, and grace! He is great in His works of creation, providence, and salvation. He stands above, infinitely above, all creatures in His greatness. So great is God that there is no one to be compared to Him. It is not as if He is great and then there may be greater than He or even the greatest above Him. No creature can be compared to Jehovah. God alone is great and greatly to be praised. The attribute of God that stands on the foreground is definitely that of His power and might. No one can accomplish what God does. No creature holds sway over creation. No one other than Jehovah, the invisible God, who changes not from age to age, can control or guide the seasons. He sends the rain. He sends the sunshine. He causes the flowers to bloom. He brings forth fruit in abundance out of the ground. God does it all. He alone is great! No other being exists to which we can give praise and thanksgiving other than God Himself!
Oh yes there is, the heathen will say! We can give praise to other gods. In Israel’s day they gave praise to Baal. The nature religions of that day, and of today as well, wish to praise the sun, the moon, or the stars for what comes of our lives. The more enlightened men of our day will give such praise to no one. They loudly exclaim that all the gods of men’s minds, including the Jehovah of the Christians, are all imaginary. All gods are the result of the vivid imaginations of superstitious men. These “enlightened” men give thanks to man himself for the knowledge and technology that he believes he has developed of his own ability.
Such men are foolish. They are blind to all things spiritual, lost in the darkness of sin and unbelief. There is no God that can be compared to the God of whom the psalmist sings. Listen to the description of the gods of the wicked. Psalm 135:15-18: “The idols of the heathen are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they speak not; eyes have they, but they see not; they have ears, but they hear not; neither is there any breath in their mouths. They that make them are like unto them: so is every one that trusteth in them.” Neither is it any different when man makes of himself a god in the place of the almighty Jehovah! Man is puny and powerless. He is less than the dust in the balance when compared to Jehovah! No man can control the seasons. If God sends drought, no man can undo what God has done. Man is powerless in his vain attempts to control the hurricanes, the floods, the tornadoes that God sends in His creation. Jehovah is great! He is Lord. He alone rules in the heavens over all His creatures, great and small.
Neither ought we to overlook the personal confession contained in the words of our text. The child of God, when confronted with the plenty of this earth that God has provided for him, exclaims, I know that Jehovah is great! I know that! I do not stand at the end of this season of the year and doubt my God. I do not pretend that I have had anything to do with what I now possess. I know that God is the only God and that He alone is great! That knowledge we have is exactly the knowledge of faith. This knowledge by which the psalmist and we with him are able to make this confession is the knowledge of faith. No unbeliever will come before God in this day and give Him exclusive thanksgiving for what we have received again in this past year! When we say, “I know that Jehovah is great!” then that is a confession of faith. And it flows out of a personal knowledge of and confidence in Jesus Christ!
In fact, we look at all the things God has given us and realize that, to those who are God’s children, to those who belong to His family and household by faith, everything they receive of God’s hand is a blessing. Whether they are necessities we have been given, whether extras, or whether they are trials and troubles, we know all these things are blessings.
Christ works such knowledge in the hearts of God’s elect people! God has adopted us in the blood of Jesus Christ. We who were at one time alienated from God and lost in unbelief are reconciled to Him by means of Christ’s blood. When Christ justified us, therefore, He not only succeeded in bringing us back to God, but through His blood God adopted us as His children. Now we are in our Father’s hands, and we well know that every father who loves his children will always bless them in everything he does. Likewise God! Everything He sends His children in this valley of tears will be for their good! We have every reason in the world, therefore, to say thanks to Him! If I have but a roof up above me and a good place to sleep. If I have only a little food on my table and a pair of shoes on my feet. God has given us His love. He has given us a family and a church. We can thank God for His blessings on us! He is Jehovah—ever faithful, ever sure!
III. The Praise
Today and always we bow before the face of the true and living God of heaven and earth. We sing praises to our God because this is good and pleasant in His sight! Wholehearted thanksgiving to God we will bring!
Do you do that, beloved saints? Do you acknowledge that God has given us what we have in this past year? Do we know that all that we are we owe to God? Yes? Then thank Him and praise Him. Then Thanksgiving Day is truly a day the church ought to set aside. Even if it is but a tradition, it is a good one! Any time we can set aside to praise and thank our God for His blessings on us is good! But then the praise and thanks we bring today does not cease either, does it?
Each day anew we bring thanks. Each Lord’s Day anew we bring thanks. Our lives are a living sacrifice of thanks to our God! In other words, every day is a day of thanksgiving! When this is true, then we will use this day only as a means to increase our thanksgiving to our God! I believe that God is great! I believe that because I know that all I have He has given me!
We thank thee, Father of heaven and earth. We thank thee!