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News for Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Sunday School Lesson — Bible Studies for Life
May 11: Hope Expressed
By Alec Cort
5/6/2014
senior pastor, Bethel, Greenbrier

Focal Passage: Psalm 138:1-8

One of my favorite Christian songs is titled “Give Thanks” by Don Moen. Every churchgoer has likely heard it. “Give thanks with a grateful heart…Give thanks to the Holy One … Give thanks because He’s given Jesus Christ His Son … And now let the weak say I am strong … Let the poor say I am rich … because of what the Lord has done for us … Give thanks.” 

Beautifully written this song is a reflection of David’s praise of God in Psalm 138:1-3. The Hebrew verb “I will give thanks” is related to the noun translated “thanksgiving sacrifice” (Leviticus 7:15). Mosaic law required three fellowship offerings and the thanksgiving offering was the one thanking God for providing an unexpected blessing. Jesus certainly fits that description. During Jesus’ earthly ministry very few of Jesus’ own people recognized who He was (John 1:11) and the Gentiles didn’t even know they could be saved. This “unexpected blessing” of salvation in Christ (John 14:6) is the one thing Christians are most thankful for. Every time we worship, serve others in His name, and live obediently, we make our thanksgiving offering for all He has done. 

The following verses in Psalm 138:4-6 remind me of another great song by Horatio Spafford. In the aftermath of tremendous loss he wrote that famous hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul.” The hymn reflects upon the fact that Christ has regarded my helpless estate and has shed His own blood for my soul. When we learn that God promises eternal life to all those who will trust Christ we realize that, through the blood of Jesus, God has provided a way out from under sin and death. David believed that even rich and powerful kings, when they come to understand what has been promised, will thank God with humility. The haughty or proud will not be so thankful. Some don’t even acknowledge God’s existence (Psalm 14:1).

In Luke 18:10-14 Jesus tells a story about a tax collector and Pharisee. The Pharisee was proud of his own righteousness while the tax collector bowed low and asked forgiveness for his sins. God takes notice of the humble sinner over the self-righteous religious leader. The humble will receive favor but the arrogant will be punished (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5). One of the greatest revelations any person can have is to recognize who God is in light of who we are. This realization will keep us humble lest we should become self important and seek to master our own destiny rather than give it over to Christ. 

Finally, Psalm 138:7-8 reminds me of a Christian song written more recently by Kristian Stanfill. The song titled “One Thing Remains” reminds us that Jesus’ love never gives up and never runs out on us. In these verses David is saying that the Lord will follow through with what He started. He will save us from danger, fulfill His purpose for us, and never abandon us. I wish every married person had the same assurance of loyalty from their spouse as we have in Christ. Would that every child could count on their parents to never leave them and follow through with raising them well. But men do fail. Men do give up. David says the Lord will never give up. He will not abandon the work of His hands. 

I conclude with a word from the Apostle Paul, “In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:4-6).

— Cort is senior pastor of Bethel Baptist Church, Greenbrier.

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