Thankful (Part 1): Thankful for God’s Word

Thankful

Seven times a day I praise You, because of Your righteous ordinances” (Psalm 119:164).

We have many different reasons to praise God and give thanks to Him. In the passage above, the psalmist mentioned God’s “righteous ordinances” as a reason to praise Him. He was referring to the word that God revealed to man (the entire psalm is dedicated to His word). Not only is this something for which we should be thankful, but it also reveals to us many other reasons for us to give thanks to God. So we will consider it in the first part of this series.

The Gift of God’s Word

The knowledge and wisdom of God is beyond human comprehension. Paul described it in this way: “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” (Romans 11:33). In other words, we cannot gain this knowledge and wisdom on our own. The psalmist expressed the understanding that we cannot attain the complete knowledge of God: “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it” (Psalm 139:6). God said, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9).

Acknowledging that God’s ways and thoughts are infinitely higher than our own, it is tempting for us to demand answers from God beyond what He has revealed. Job did this in his frustration and distress over his miserable circumstances: “Oh that I had one to hear me! Behold, here is my signature; let the Almighty answer me! And the indictment which my adversary has written” (Job 31:35). He wanted answers from God, but God does not reveal everything in His mind to us. Moses told the people of Israel, “The secret things belong to the Lord our God…” (Deuteronomy 29:29).

Yet we do have what God has chosen to reveal to us. Moses continued, “…but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29). Paul told Timothy, “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Through the inspired word of God, the Lord has given us everything we need to be trained in the ways of righteousness and be equipped to do every good work. In this revelation we have “the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:16) which reveals the truth (John 17:17) and leads us to eternal life (John 6:63, 68).

We Must Accept God’s Word

After telling the parable of the sower, Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Luke 8:8). God was willing to reveal His will to us in His word, but we must be willing to listen to it in order for it to do us any good. James said we must be “quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger” and “in humility receive the word implanted which is able to save your souls” (James 1:19, 21).

However, not all who hear the word of God will accept it. On the day of Pentecost, those who were “pierced to the heart” received the word and obeyed it (Acts 2:36-41). In contrast, at the defense of Stephen, the ones who were “cut to the heart” (KJV) rejected the truth and stoned Stephen to death (Acts 7:51-58). Both groups listened well enough for the word to enter their heart and impact them, but their reactions were very different from one another.

When we hear the word of God, we need to have the same attitude of the brethren in Thessalonica. In his letter to them, Paul wrote, “For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:13). As we have already discussed, the Scriptures are a gift from God; therefore, we must accept them as being from God and not from men. However, we do need to examine what we are being taught to be sure that we are receiving the truth. It is possible for one to twist the word of God and lead others astray (cf. Galatians 1:6-9; 2 Peter 3:16). This is why the Bereans were commended for their noble-mindedness. When Paul came and preached to them, “they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). They did not just blindly accept Paul (even though he was teaching them the truth), they made sure he was teaching the truth by comparing his message with the Scriptures. Only then did they accept it. This needs to be how we come to accept the truth as well.

We Must Appreciate God’s Word

We will appreciate God’s word if we recognize the value of it. The psalmist described the word of God as being “more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb” (Psalm 19:10). Why is the word of God so valuable? The psalmist explained that it is valuable because of what it contains – God’s perfect law, sure testimony, right precepts, pure commandments, undefiled basis for godly fear, and His true judgments (Psalm 19:7-9). In those verses, the psalmist also showed the value of God’s word for what it does – restores the soul, makes wise the simple, rejoices the heart, enlightens the eyes, endures forever, and is righteous altogether (Psalm 19:7-9). These are the reasons why the psalmist described the word of God as being “more desirable than gold.

We can also appreciate the word of God because it contains “everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). There is nothing that is lacking from the Scriptures that we need in order to make it through this life and please the Lord. We do not need to go to any other source to understand these things.

The word of God also contains the words that lead to eternal life. When many of Jesus’ disciples left Him, He asked His apostles if they would also leave. Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life” (John 6:68). The life that we gain through the word of God is life for our souls and goes beyond life here on the earth. We cannot put a price on our soul. This is why Jesus asked, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26). Our soul is valuable; therefore, the message that shows us how to save our soul is also valuable.

Paul also explained to the brethren in Thessalonica of the need to love the truth. He said that those who do not “receive the love of the truth” cannot “be saved” (2 Thessalonians 2:10). If we do not appreciate the truth of God’s word, we will reject it. If we reject it, we will miss out on all of the benefits and blessings that come from following it – including eternal life.

We Must Demonstrate Gratitude

We need to recognize the gift of God’s word, be willing to listen to it, and value it. Yet if we are going to truly be thankful, we must show our gratitude for it. How can we do this? Here are a few ways:

  1. Praise God and thank Him for His word – Near the end of Psalm 119, after thoroughly describing the word of God, the psalmist praised God for this revelation: “Let my lips utter praise, for You teach me Your statutes. Let my tongue sing of Your word, for all Your commandments are righteousness” (Psalm 119:171-172). Earlier in that psalm, he said, “At midnight I shall rise to give thanks to You because of Your righteous ordinances” (Psalm 119:62). We ought to regularly thank God and praise Him for the gift of His word.
  2. Spend time reading and studying His word – Paul told Timothy, “Be diligent [study, KJV] to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). The psalmist wrote, “I have chosen the faithful way; I have placed Your ordinances before me” (Psalm 119:30). We need to regularly, even daily, have the word of God before us.
  3. Spend time meditating upon His word – The psalmist said, “O how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day” (Psalm 119:97). He also wrote, “My eyes anticipate the night watches, that I may meditate upon Your word” (Psalm 119:148). Regularly reading and studying the Bible is important, but it is also important that we have the word in our hearts and our minds so we can dwell on it at other times as well.
  4. Receive it with a view toward obedience – God did not give us His word simply so we could obtain an academic knowledge of it; He expects us to obey it. After James said we are to “receive the word implanted,” he wrote, “But prove yourselves doers of the word and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:21-22). If we are not practicing what the word of God teaches, we are deceiving ourselves and are not pleasing the Lord.

Without demonstrating gratitude, it is difficult to make the claim that we have truly embraced and appreciated this gift that God has bestowed upon us.

Conclusion

God has given us the gift of His word so we can know about Him, His will, and His plan for us. By giving us His word, He has also shown us what we are to do to please Him. Let us show gratitude for this by receiving His word, valuing it for what it is, and shaping our lives by it.


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