We are thankful for God’s Love (Psalm 136)

There was a little girl walking beside her mother in a pouring rain and loud thunderstorm. Every time the lightning flashed, her mother noticed she turned and smiled. They’d walk a little further, then lightning, and she’d turn and smile. The mother finally said, “Sweetheart, what’s going on? Why do you always turn and smile after the flash of lightning?”

“Well,” she said, “Since God is taking my picture, I want to be sure and smile for Him.”

God Is good [wait for them to respond with “All the time.”]

God Is good [wait for them to respond with “All the time.”]

God Is good [wait for them to respond with “All the time.”]

Do we believe that? Do we believe that God is good? Do we believe that God is love?

Are we thankful?

I knew of someone who was a missionary for a long time, for decades actually, yet there was no word for love in the language of the group he was working with. How do we share the gospel without a word for love?

Have you ever heard someone say, “I wouldn’t believe in a god who…” You fill in the blank. But think about the logic of that. How can we determine who God is? Last I checked I was limited by space and time. I cannot walk through a wall. I cannot go into outer space. I cannot go outside in the cold without a coat. I cannot even go without sleep that long. Can I determine other things to believe or not believe in? Suppose it was cold outside, suppose it was negative twenty-five below zero, can I say, I don’t believe in a temperature that is cold? Whether I believe in it or not, it is what it is. If it is cold, it is cold and it will sting. I hate being sick, I especially hate vomit sicknesses. I think I have a phobia of vomiting. Can I say, “I wouldn’t believe in a virus that makes me vomit?” I can say what I want, but I still may get sick. I can’t pick and choose reality. In like manner, God is who God is and I can’t change that. I can choose to not believe, but that does not change God’s existence. Really, the galaxy is big, the universe is big, so whoever created all that must be great. I believe God created it all and He is great and awesome and powerful, but I also believe God is love. So, since I cannot choose who God is, I am thankful that God is love. I am thankful for God’s love.

I am beginning a short sermon series on thankfulness.

My theme today is: Be thankful for God’s love.

Let’s start with a passage, Psalm 136. Let’s read it responsively. I want you to respond with the part: “His Love Endures Forever.” We did it a few weeks ago, let’s do it again.

Psalm 136

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever.

to him who alone does great wonders,
His love endures forever.
who by his understanding made the heavens,
His love endures forever.
who spread out the earth upon the waters,
His love endures forever.
who made the great lights—
His love endures forever.
the sun to govern the day,
His love endures forever.
the moon and stars to govern the night;
His love endures forever.

10 to him who struck down the firstborn of Egypt
His love endures forever.
11 and brought Israel out from among them
His love endures forever.
12 with a mighty hand and outstretched arm;
His love endures forever.

13 to him who divided the Red Sea[a] asunder
His love endures forever.
14 and brought Israel through the midst of it,
His love endures forever.
15 but swept Pharaoh and his army into the Red Sea;
His love endures forever.

16 to him who led his people through the wilderness;
His love endures forever.

17 to him who struck down great kings,
His love endures forever.
18 and killed mighty kings—
His love endures forever.
19 Sihon king of the Amorites
His love endures forever.
20 and Og king of Bashan—
His love endures forever.
21 and gave their land as an inheritance,
His love endures forever.
22 an inheritance to his servant Israel.
His love endures forever.

23 He remembered us in our low estate
His love endures forever.
24 and freed us from our enemies.
His love endures forever.
25 He gives food to every creature.
His love endures forever.

26 Give thanks to the God of heaven.
His love endures forever.

  1. So, be thankful that God is love.
    1. I want to focus on thankfulness, but why? Why are we to be thankful? We are to be thankful because God loves us.
    2. It is hard to be thankful when you have never known anything different. I have never known a God who is not loving and I don’t think you have either.
    3. I am more thankful for my health after being sick.
    4. I would be more grateful for food, if I really went hungry.
    5. Maybe, if you came from a different religious tradition where God was not love, then you would be really grateful committing to Christianity. Ephesians 2:8-9, we are saved by grace. God is love.
    6. God’s love never ends.
    7. The Bible teaches in 1 John 4:19 that we love God because He first loved us and gave Himself for us.
    8. Think about a minute: yes, there is evil in this world and some doubt God because of that, but understand that humans cause most of the evil. Also, if you read the rest of the Bible we can read that God is going to fix it. Also, if you read the beginning of the Bible we can find out that evil is from our own free will. Actually, once again, we cause most of the evil.
    9. Continue thinking, knowing that the Bible teaches that God is omnipotent, omniscience and omnipresent if He was not love what would things be like? What could they be like? God could pick on all of us, all the time. This could go on for eternity.
    10. Right now, we face hardship, but knowing that God is love means that He will use it for the good and we know there is eternity without hardship and suffering.
    11. God is love, we see the Scripting encouraging us to be thankful.
  2. Applications
    1. Be encouraged. When bad things happen, set your minds on things above (Col. 3), set your mind on God’s love. Be encouraged that God is not making us earn our way to Heaven. Be encouraged that God is not making us earn His love.
    2. Be thankful: think about all that God provides. Go home and make a list: food, clothing, shelter, SALVATION
    3. Share: Don’t keep God’s love to yourself.

Swindoll shares:

Shortly after World War II came to a close, Europe began picking up the pieces. Much of the old country had been ravaged by war and was in ruins. Perhaps the saddest sight of all was that of little orphaned children starving in the streets of those war-torn cities.

Early one chilly morning an American soldier was making his way back to the barracks in London. As he turned the corner in his jeep, he spotted a little lad with his nose pressed to the window of a pastry shop. Inside, the cook was kneading dough for a fresh batch of doughnuts. The hungry boy stared in silence, watching every move. The soldier pulled his jeep to the curb, stopped, got out, and walked quietly over to where the little fellow was standing. Through the steamed-up window, he could see the mouth-watering morsels being pulled from the oven, piping hot. The boy salivated and released a slight groan as he watched the cook place them onto the glass-enclosed counter ever so carefully.

The soldier’s heart went out to the nameless orphan as he stood beside him.

“Son . . . would you like some of those?”
The boy was startled, “Oh, yeah . . . I would!”

The American stepped inside and bought a dozen, put them in a bag, and walked back to where the lad was standing in the foggy cold of the London morning. The soldier smiled, held out the bag, and said simply: “Here you are.” As he turned to walk away, he felt a tug on his coat.

He looked back and heard the child ask quietly: “Mister . . . are you God?”

We are never more like God than when we give. “God so loved the world, that He gave” (John 3:16).

Let me encourage you, in spite of the high cost of giving and the small number of servant-models you may see around you, to determine to be different. God tells us He “loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7), and He promises us that the one “who is generous will be blessed” (Proverbs 22:9). Let’s believe Him!

Deep down inside most Christians I know is a deep-seated desire to release instead of keep . . . to give instead of grab. It is worth whatever it takes to let that start happening. Moms, dads, singles, kids, teachers, preachers, businessmen, professionals, blue-collar workers, students—it is worth it!

Become a giver . . . and watch God open the hearts of others to Himself. We are never more godlike than when we give.[1]

 

Close:

Let’s read Phil. 2:5-11:

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

 

God’s love is most evident in Jesus dying on the cross for us.

 

We remember Jesus’ sacrifice as we take communion.

 

Let’s pray, sing and then take communion:

Pray

The Power of Your Love

Lord’s Prayer with Communion

Communion

[1] Excerpted from Improving Your Serve: The Art of Unselfish Living, Copyright © 1981 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.

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