Theme: Declaring God’s Goodness to the Nations
This week’s lessons help us to properly celebrate Thanksgiving by impressing upon us the importance of continually expressing genuine thanks to the Lord for all his blessings.
Scripture: 1 Chronicles 16:8-12
The second thing he says is also in verse eight: “Call on his name.” Now this is simple, too, but our problem is we don’t do it either. What this is saying is that we should pray. And yet that’s also hard, isn’t it? We find it easy to do all sorts of things. It’s far more easy for us to get active for God and do something, such as teach a class or serve on a committee than it is to pray.
But this is not only a problem in our personal lives. It’s also a problem in many churches. One of the privileges I have as a Bible teacher is to get into various churches across the country. I suppose over the course of my ministry I’ve been in hundreds of churches, and one of the things that I have noticed is how many churches in our land really don’t have any substantial prayers at all in their services. There will be a kind of formal prayer at the beginning that takes perhaps thirty seconds, and no substantial pastoral prayer at all. That’s what’s happening to our churches. We need to recapture that. We need to actually pray and pray well as we thank God for the things he’s done.
The third thing David mentions is in the latter half of verse eight. He says that we are to “make known among the nations what he had done.” That is, if he’s been good to us we need to tell other people about it. There’s a great story in 2 Kings 6 and 7. Samaria, the capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, was under siege at the time. Nobody could go in or out, and no food could come into the city. The siege had gone on long enough that the food had all run out. Some very dreadful things were happening in the city. It was so bad that everyone was on the verge of despair.
God told the prophet that by this time tomorrow everything will be available and things that are terribly scarce now will be selling for almost nothing. Hardly anybody believed that, but that night God caused the armies that were surrounding Samaria to hear the sound of chariots and horses and armies in the night. They assumed, because the noise was so loud, that the Hittites and the Egyptians had been hired by the king of Samaria to attack them. In panic they left their campsite and fled away back to Aram, leaving everything behind. They left the food and the clothing, the silver and the gold, the horses, the chariots, the armor, and the tents.
Now all of the Jewish people were shut up in Samaria, but outside the city there were four lepers. They weren’t allowed in the city, so they were outside, and they stumbled upon the Syrian camp and they saw it was empty. So they began to eat the food and to drink the wine. They found all the silver and the gold. They thought they’d carry off as much as they could carry, and they did that and they hid it. Then they met together and said to themselves, “We’re not doing right. This is a day of good news, and we are keeping it to ourselves. Let’s go at once and report this to the royal palace.”
And so they did. Though the people in the city at first thought it was a trap by the Syrians to get Israel to come out of the city to get slaughtered, they sent a team to find out what was really happening. Eventually they discovered that the armies really were gone, and there was a time of great rejoicing.
That’s what we should be doing. We look at a deliverance like that and we say that’s a marvelous thing. But if you and I understand anything about the gospel, we know that we have been delivered from a far more dreadful siege than that. We have been captive to sin, and King Jesus has set us free. And so we have a great story to tell. If we are thankful we will tell others. To do anything else would be not only ungrateful, it would be a sin.
Why does it sometimes seem easier to get involved with a ministry or Christian service than it is to pray?
Though not everyone is called to be a missionary to make known the gospel among the nations, how can you participate in the ministry of those who do?
Reflection: How are you doing in your prayer life? Are you spending enough time with the Lord in prayer? How can our passage help shape your prayers?