by Tim Savage
There is a verse in Scripture which sets out in bold relief the great besetting problem of the human race. It is Romans 1:21: ‘For even though we knew God…we did not give thanks.’ Astonishing! How can we actually know God and not give thanks? Scarcely a day passes in which we are not deluged by at least a hundred instances of God’s goodness to us. Thanksgiving ought to be the most natural of human reflexes, as spontaneous as drawing breath.
Doubtless there are a plethora of reasons why we do not feel thankful. Perhaps business is stressful and on the verge of disaster, or marriage is frustrating, or parenting is aggravating, or health is threatened and deteriorating, or school is unrewarding, or politics is divisive.
Or maybe we simply take for granted God’s goodness to us.
How important it is, then, to rehearse frequently all that God does for us. Only then will an unending torrent of thanksgiving be unleashed from our hearts. Nowhere is God’s goodness more compellingly set out than in His word. Immerse yourself in what follows, luxuriate in the story of God’s grace to you…and be thankful!
Who is like the Lord our God? Do you not know? Have you not heard? Has it not been declared to you from the beginning? Have you not understood from the foundations of the earth? It is He who is enthroned above the vault of the earth…and who stretches out the heavens like a curtain. How majestic is His name….When we consider His heavens, the work of His fingers, the moon and the stars which He has ordained, what are we that He should take thought of us?
Yet He is intimately acquainted with all our ways…even before there is a word on our tongue, behold, our Lord knows it all….He forms our inward parts….He weaves us in our mother’s womb….We are fearfully and wonderfully made! This is too wonderful! His lovingkindnesses never cease….His compassions never fail….They are new every morning. Each new day He sets life and prosperity before us. Who is like the Lord? His gentleness makes us great. He establishes our steps under us. Our feet do not slip. One day in His courts is better than a thousand outside. How blessed is the man who makes the Lord his trust.
But, sadly, we do not know the Lord. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each has turned to his own way. There is none who seeks for God, none who does good, not even one; all have turned aside. We are a sinful people, weighed down in iniquity, offspring of evildoers, sons who act corruptly, we have abandoned the Lord. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and the wages of sin is death.
But God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked…but rather that we should live, that we should receive a new heart…that our heart of stone should be removed…that we should be saved from our uncleanness, that we who walk in darkness might see a great light…namely, a child…born to us…whose name is Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life–a son who would grow up before us like a tender shoot…like a root out of parched ground…who would have no stately form or majesty…who would be despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief…one from whom men hide their face…whom we would never esteem…yet who would bear our griefs…and carry our sorrows…and be pierced through for our transgressions…crushed for our iniquities…oppressed and afflicted and yet not open his mouth…like a lamb that is led to slaughter…silent before its shearers.
This son did not regard equality with God as something to be used for his own self-aggrandizement but instead emptied himself, humbly taking the position of a slave, becoming obedient to God, even to the point of accepting a slave’s death on a cross. The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many, a good shepherd who laid down his life for his sheep. By this God demonstrates His own love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends…and we are his friends.
By his scourging we are healed. For he who knew no sin was made sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. We who were formerly alienated, hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, have now been reconciled through His death, in order that He might present us before God holy and blameless and beyond reproach. Our transgressions have been blotted out, our iniquity washed thoroughly, our sin cleansed…a new heart has been created in us, a steadfast spirit renewed, the joy of our salvation restored. This is the grace of our Lord Jesus, that though He was rich, yet for our sake He became poor, that we, through his poverty, might become rich.
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Having been justified, we have peace with God through Jesus Christ. Our consciences have been cleansed from dead works in order to worship the living God.
Arise, shine; our light has come, the glory of the Lord has risen on us. “Comfort, comfort for My people,” says our God. Christ has come that we might have life, and might have it abundantly.
See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are! He who did not spare His own son, but delivered him up for us all, how will He not also with him freely give us all things?
He will never desert us or forsake us. He is with us always, even to the end of the age. Indeed nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus…neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing. If God is for us, who can be against us?
So, then, let us be anxious for nothing…for the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall stand as a sentry, guarding our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. And since he himself was tested in what he suffered, he is able to come to the aid of those who are tested…he can sympathize with us in our weaknesses. He is an anchor for our soul, sure and steadfast. Consequently, we who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; we will mount up with wings like eagles, we will run and not get tired, we will walk and not become weary. Our feet will be like hinds’ feet; we shall walk on high places. Though we may pass through the valley of the very shadow of death, we will fear no evil, for He is with us…and his goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our lives.
His yoke is easy and his burden light…he is gentle and humble in heart…all who are weary and heavy laden can come to him and find rest. Even death has lost its sting…it has been swallowed up in victory. For our Lord Jesus is the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in him shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in him shall never die. Do you believe this? If so, do not let your hearts be troubled; believe in God; believe also in Jesus. In his father’s house are many dwelling places…he goes to prepare a place for you. And he will come again and receive you to himself; that where he is, there you may be also.
What do we have that we did not receive? What, then, shall we render to the Lord for all his benefits to us?
Let us give thanks to the Lord, for He is good. Let us give thanks in everything. Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God who leads us in triumph in Christ. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift. We give thanks to You, O Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign. It is good to give thanks to the Lord. Let us give thanks to him and bless His name. For the Lord is good. His lovingkindness is everlasting, and His faithfulness to all generations.
Now may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all. Forever. Amen.
Originally compiled and presented by Dr. Tim Savage, November 19, 1995, at Camelback Bible Church, Paradise Valley, Arizona. Reprinted and used by permission. Dr. Savage is the author of Discovering the Good Life: The Surprising Riches Available in Christ, No Ordinary Marriage, and The Church: God’s New People (all published by Crossway). Previously posted on this blog a few times around Thanksgiving.
Scripture references used:
Exodus 8:10; Isaiah 40:21-22; Psalm 8:1, 3, 5; Psalm 139:3-4, 6, 13-14; Lamentations 3:21-22; Deuteronomy 30:15; Psalm 18:31, 35-36; Psalm 84:10; Psalm 40:4; Hosea 5:4; Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:11-12; Isaiah 1:4; Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23; Ezekiel 18:23; Ezekiel 36:29; Isaiah 9:1, 6; John 3:16; Isaiah 53:2-6; Philippians 2:6-7; Mark 10:45; John 10:11; Romans 5:8; John 15:13-14; Isaiah 53:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 1:21-22; Psalm 51:1-2, 10-12; 2 Corinthians 8:9; Romans 8:1; Romans 5:1; Hebrews 9:14; Isaiah 60:1; Isaiah 40:1; John 10:10; 1 John 3:1; Romans 8:32; Hebrews 13:5; Matthew 28:20; Romans 8:38-39; Romans 8:31; Philippians 4:6-7; Hebrews 2:18; 4:15; Hebrews 6:20; Isaiah 40:31; Habakkuk 3:19; Psalm 23:4-6; Matthew 11:28-30; 1 Corinthians 15:54b-55; John 11:25-26; John 14:1-3; 1 Corinthians 4:7; Psalm 116:12; Psalm 136:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:18; 1 Corinthians 15:57; 2 Corinthians 2:14; 2 Corinthians 9:15; Revelation 11:17; Psalm 92:1; Psalm 100:4-5; 2 Corinthians 13:14