THANKFULNESS MAGNIFIES GOD
A. Introduction: We’re considering the fact that God is worthy of praise, no matter what is happening in our
lives. Part of our created purpose is to glorify God through continual praise to Him.
1. We aren’t talking about a musical response to God. We are talking about verbally acknowledging God
in the face of life’s challenges by proclaiming His virtues (who He is) and His works (what He does)—
despite what we see or how we feel. Ps 107:8, 15, 21, 31
a. Praise not only glorifies God, it helps as we face life’s troubles: Whoso offereth praise glorifieth
me (KJV), and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God (Ps 50:23, NIV).
b. Praise also helps us resist a natural tendency that we all have in our fallen flesh. When we
encounter a trial, it stimulates emotions (fear, worry, anger, etc.) and we begin to talk to ourselves
about what we see and how we feel.
1. Then we speculate about all the negative possibilities in our situation, which stirs up our
emotions and thoughts even more. We see, we feel, we speculate, we fixate, and even obsess.
All we can see, think, or talk about is the problem and how we feel.
2. We actually magnify the problem. When you magnify something, you make it bigger in your
eyes. Continual praise to God helps us magnify Him instead of the problem. Praise helps us
get control of our mouth and our mind and keeps us from speculating and obsessing.
2. Last week we looked at a psalm written by Israel’s great king David, a man after God’s own heart
(Acts 13:22). He wrote: I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth
…Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together (Ps 34:1-3, ESV).
a. Note another statement David made about magnifying God in another psalm: Ps 69:30—I will
praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving (KJV).
b. In this lesson, we’re going to talk more about the importance and necessity of magnifying God, not
only through praise, but through continual thanksgiving.
B. Last week we looked at something Paul the apostle wrote to Christians who were experiencing persecution
that was about to get worse. He talked about “constantly and at all times (offering) up to God a sacrifice of
praise, which is the fruit of lips that thankfully acknowledge…His Name” (Heb 13:15).
1. Paul’s readers were mainly Jewish believers in Jesus. They grew up under the Law of Moses and its
system of sacrifices and offerings. They were familiar with a thank offering.
a. A thank offering was a sacrifice made to God under the Law of Moses, with public profession of
God’s power, goodness, and mercy. Lev 7:12-14
1. In the good times, this sacrifice helped them remember God’s goodness and mercy. And, in
the bad times, it helped them be conscious of His nearness and mercy.
2. Note Paul’s point: Out of your mouth, continually and thankfully (or gratefully) acknowledge
God (His virtues and His works). Remember, Paul was writing to people facing real hardship.
b. Praise and thanksgiving can be a sacrifice (cost you something, require effort to do) because we
don’t feel like it, and it seems a ridiculous response when everything is going wrong.
2. However, continual praise and thanksgiving to God is not optional. It is His will for us: Give thanks in
all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (I Thess 5:18, ESV).
a. How can we (I) be thankful in every circumstance? We (you) can be thankful in every
circumstance because God is with you (us) and His presence is the help you (we) need.
b. Let’s go back to David who wrote the verses about praising and magnifying God continually. He
also wrote Ps 42, one of many that he wrote when he was exiled, cut off from home, family, and
friends, and longing to return to worship the Lord before His Tabernacle on Mount Zion.
1. Two times in this short psalm David wrote: Why are you cast down O my soul (my inner self)
and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise him (at the
Tabernacle), my salvation and my God (Ps 42:5; 11, ESV).
2. The Hebrew language for the last phrase (my salvation and my God) literally says: His
presence is salvation. David knew that wherever he was, God was with him, and that God with
him was all he needed. Thus, he could be continually thankful, no matter his circumstances.
A. Ps 46:1—God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will
not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the
B. Ps 139:7-10—I can never escape from your spirit! I can never get away from your
presence! If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the place of the dead, you are
there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your
hand will guide me, and your strength will support me (NLT).
3. In another letter written by Paul, he took giving thanks to God a step further—not only be thankful in
every circumstance, but be thankful for everything: Giving thanks always and for everything in the
name of our Lord Jesus (Eph 5:20, ESV).
a. How can we thank God for everything—good and bad? First, thanksgiving is an act of obedience
to God. But second, the Bible makes it clear that God is able to cause every circumstance to serve
His purposes for good, and that He can bring genuine good out of genuine bad.
b. Rom 8:28—And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who
love God and are called according to his purpose for them (NLT).
1. God works all things together for good for those who love Him. This love is not an emotion.
It is an action that is expressed through our obedience to God’s moral Law (His standard of
right and wrong, according to the Bible) and our treatment of others. Matt 22:37-40
2. God works all things together for good for those who are called according to His purpose. His
purpose for us is that we become His sons and daughters through faith in Jesus, and then be
conformed to the image of Christ (grow in Christ-likeness). Rom 8:29
c. Not only can we give thanks for the good times, and God’s presence and help in the bad times, we
can actually thank Him for the trial, for the trouble—not for the trouble in and of itself, but for what
it can become in the hands of Almighty God.
1. This seems repugnant to us in the moment, but thanking Him is actually an expression of trust
in God: I trust you Lord. You see a way to use this for good and cause it to serve your
purposes. Thank you for this opportunity to exercise endurance and trust in you. Thank you
that you will get me through this until you get me out.
2. After Israel passed through the parted waters of the Red Sea and were delivered from the
Egyptian army, they had a marvelous celebration where they exuberantly praised God. But,
their praise was based on their circumstances—what they saw and felt. Ex 15:1-21
A. However, they could have praised and thanked God before He parted the Red Sea. God
and His will for them (deliverance) was the same on both sides of the sea. This trial was
an opportunity for them to exercise endurance and trust in God.
B. When you face your Red Sea with praise and thanksgiving you diminish its mental and
emotional power over you because God grows bigger in your eyes.
d. In every circumstance and situation there is always something to thank God for—the good He has
done, the good He is doing, and the good He will do.
4. Maybe your situation is so desperate that you can’t see or think of anything to be thankful for and you
can’t image any good coming out of it. And, you are so devastated by what you are facing that you just
can’t thank Him in or for the trial. Consider this thought.
a. Even if there is nothing at all to be thankful for in your life, if Jesus is your Savior and Lord, you can
thank God for that. We deserve eternal separation from God because of our sin. Do you ever
thank Him for saving you? Are you grateful for the salvation He has provided?
1. We fail to recognize the enormity of what God has already done for us. If He never does
another thing for us in this life, He’s done more than enough for us. We have more than
enough to be grateful for now and throughout eternity.
2. Almighty God has saved us from the just and right punishment for our sin—eternal separation
from Him—and given us a future and a hope in the life to come that far outshines this temporary
and very difficult life. Rom 8:18
3. We tend to undervalue (or forget to be grateful for) what He has done for us, especially in the
hard times, because deliverance from eternal separation from God and the life to come, seem
unrelated to the pressing problems we’re face now. We must keep an eternal perspective.
b. We were guilty of sin, guilty of offending God Who is holy. Yet He, motivated by love, humbled
Himself, stepped out of eternity into time, and took on a human nature so that He could die for our
sins and open the way for us to be restored to Him.
1. Rom 5:6—When we were yet in weakness—powerless to help ourselves—at the fitting time
Christ died for (in the behalf of) the ungodly (Amp).
2. I John 4:9-10—God showed how much he loved us by sending his only Son into the world so
that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love. It is not that we loved God, but
that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins (NLT).
C. Praise and thanksgiving not only help us get control of our natural human tendency to magnify the problem,
it also helps us counteract another ungodly character trait—our natural bent toward complaining.
1. The Greek word that is translated complaining (or murmuring) means to grumble. To grumble means
to mutter in discontent. To complain means to express discontent.
a. This doesn’t mean that you can’t honestly state that you are in a difficult or awful situation, or that
you have to like or pretend to like your circumstances. Grumbling or complaining is an expression
1. You can dislike circumstances without being ungrateful when you realize and acknowledge that
there is always something to be thankful for in every situation—the good that God has done, the
good He is doing, and the good He will do.
2. To be thankful means to be grateful, to express gratitude. Gratefulness means conscious of a
benefit received. When you have an attitude of gratefulness you are more conscious of what
you have rather than don’t have, and what is right in your life rather than wrong.
b. Paul wrote to Christians that they should live their lives in submission to God, with the awareness
that God is in them, working in them (which ought inspire gratefulness in you). Note the very first
specific instruction Paul gave them in light this fact: Stop complaining (murmuring).
1. Phil 2:12-13—And now that I am away you must be even more careful to put into action God’s
saving work in your lives, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in
you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him (NLT).
2. Phil 2:14—In everything you do, stay away from complaining and arguing, so that no one can
speak a word of blame against you (NLT).
2. Paul wrote something else about complaining that gives us insight into what it looks like to complain as
well as the serious consequences of complaining. I Cor 10:1-11
a. Paul referred to the generation of people that God delivered from Egyptian slavery, and urged his
readers not to repeat their mistakes. He then listed four specific sins (moral failures) that they
committed—idolatry, fornication, tempting Christ, and complaining (murmuring). I Cor 10:8-11
b. We could do an entire lesson on what these people did, but consider a few points that will give us
some helpful insight into fallen human flesh and our natural tendency to be ungrateful.
1. Although God dramatically delivered them from Egypt, the journey back to their ancestral land
(present day Israel), was very difficult. They had to travel through a desert wilderness and face
all the challenges of such a terrain, because that’s life in a fallen, sin cursed earth.
2. These challenging circumstances gave Israel many opportunities to exercise endurance
(patience) and trust God for help and provision. And God did not fail them.
3. The Old Testament books of Exodus and Numbers give us a historical record of their journey. These
were real people with real human tendencies to see, feel fear, talk to themselves, speculate about motives
and end result, and accuse others of wronging them. Consider several examples.
a. Ex 16:1-3—Two months out of Egypt, they murmured (complained) against Moses and his brother
Aaron: We wish God would have killed us in Egypt. At least we had bread. Why did you bring
us out to kill us? Moses informed them that they were actually complaining against God since He
was the one who brought them out and was guiding them (Ex 16:8).
b. Although the Lord provided them with manna (bread from Heaven) and quail at that time, it wasn’t
long before they were complaining about no water. They murmured against and complained to
Moses: You brought us out here to kill us, our families, and our livestock with thirst. Ex 17:1-3
c. Num 21:4 reports that as they journeyed, the people “became impatient (depressed, much
discouraged) because of the way” (Amp). They began to murmur against God and Moses. “Why
have your brought us out of Egypt to die here in the wilderness?” they complained. There is
nothing to eat here and nothing to drink. And we hate this wretched manna (Num 21:5, NLT).
1. Instead of being grateful for what God had already done (delivered them from Egyptian slavery,
provided food and drink) and what He promised to do (settled them in their homeland), they
focused only on what they saw and felt in the moment—we’re hot, hungry, thirsty, and tired.
2. These led them to speculate and draw wrong conclusions (God and Moses brought us out to kill
us), lash out at people (Moses and Aaron) and forget God’s promises about the end result—a
future and a hope in a beautify land.
A. Their complaining blinded them to what they actually had in the moment. They actually
belittled what they had: God visibly present as a column of fire by night and a cloud by
day; provision (livestock) brought from Egypt and daily bread (manna) from God.
B. Moses described what they did as tempting God: “Is the Lord going to take care of us or
not?” (Ex 17:7, NLT).
d. God did not expect them to deny the harshness of their circumstances. But He did expect them to
recognize that there was more to the story and to trust Him. They had a future and a hope because
He was their God, and He would get them through the wilderness until He got them out.
D. Conclusion: We’ve all done (and often still do) what Israel did. It doesn’t seem nearly as bad when we do
it because we believe that we have good reason to think, talk, and act the way we do.
1. But God tells us to do all things without complaining. This doesn’t mean that you can’t talk about
problems or that you can’t truly dislike your situation. But you must be aware of this tendency in our
fallen flesh to let our emotions and mouth go and make complaining feel right in the moment.
2. Remember what Paul told Christians who were facing persecution: Offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving
to God continually (Heb 13:15). Not only will you honor God, it will help you keep your focus on the
way things really are—God with you and for you, God who will get you through until He gets you out.
3. Israel had plenty to thank God for in the wilderness—despite how things looked and felt. And so do we.
In the good times and the bad times we have to make a conscious effort to be thankful, to express
gratefulness for what God has done, is doing, and will do in our lives. Always be thankful (Col 3:15,
NLT). Magnify God through continual thankfulness. More next week!