The Power of Thanks

by Erin Bird

Wow, what a day we had this past Sunday celebrating Easter & Riverwood’s 5th birthday! We got to enjoy an amazing breakfast, be together as a church family, warmly welcome several first-time guests, and most of all, worship the Resurrected Jesus together. It doesn’t get much better than that!

While there were MANY highlights to this past Easter morning for me, one was the number of people who told me in person or via text or email how much God has used the Riverwood family in their life. It is so encouraging to know God is using our growing church family to help you (and others just like you) grow spiritually, no matter where they are in their spiritual journey. And we’ve only just begun! I am so excited for what the future holds for Riverwood, for the people we are going to touch, for the ways we are going to grow spiritually and numerically, for the changes God will bring us, and for the amazing days awaiting us as we follow Jesus by faith into the future.

Thankfulness Leads to Joy

But while many of you gushed your thanks to me for obeying God and starting Riverwood, I found myself overflowing with thanks for those who helped make the morning so special. My heart was gushing gratitude for everyone who decorated Droste Hall, made the amazing food, led us in worship through music, sacrificially led the kids back in Kids Creek, built the new wood-wall backdrop for the stage, and even sent in a video to wish the Riverwood family “happy birthday.”

And all of this thankfulness got me thinking…

There is a power to thankfulness. As many of you told me “thank you,” I found myself filled with humbled joy. And as my heart burst forth with thanksgiving for everyone who made Sunday so special, again I discovered that same humbled joy.

A grateful heart leads to joy. There is joy-filled power inside the words “thank you,” whether you are giving it or receiving it.

And so if I could give you an assignment: tell someone thank you this week. You could:

  • send a card,
  • shoot them a text,
  • give them a plate of cookies,
  • or just say a hearty in-person “thank you.”

As you do so, it will not only fill you with joy as you express your thanks, but will fill them with joy to know their efforts, time, and energy was noticed.

Cry Out for a Reason to be Thankful

by Nate Luck

From the very start, Psalm 107 offers a pretty significant reason to give thanks:

“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” (Psalm 107:1-2, ESV)

From here, the psalmist takes us into four different scenarios where God provides respite from some form of major calamity to the groups referenced in verse 3. It is how God’s assistance is garnered in these scenarios that strikes me as possibly the greatest reason of all to be thankful for “God’s enduring love.” All that we have to do to receive his enduring love is follow the example of the people in Psalm 107

“Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.” (Psalms 107:6, 13, 19, 28, ESV)

In their stubbornness, each of the four groups are pushed to the brink of disaster before they finally ask for God’s help. After reading Psalm 107 herself, my wife pointed out that people by nature are stubborn, and I have to agree. We often feel as though we have the power to take on everything that life can dish out, and we will not reach out for any type of assistance until things are so ugly that it seems that all hope is lost. It is in these times that we tend to finally succumb and cry out to God for his assistance.

It is his response in kind, where “He made the storm be still and the waves of the sea were hushed,” (Psalm 107:29) that we have a reason for giving thanks to the Lord. All that we have to do to be delivered from our distress is cry out – to accept that we are powerless over life and that only through Him can we find true salvation.

“Let them thank the LORD for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man!” (Psalm 107:8, 107:15, 107:21, 107:31)

Thankful for God’s Enduring Love

Thanks for opening up another Riverwood blog post. Today, we continue our series for the month of November, looking at thanksgiving-themed Psalms. Today, Pastor Jeff Willis looks at Psalm 136. Enjoy as he leads us to consider God’s Enduring Love.

“Give thanks to the Lord for He is good. His love endures forever.”

The most repeated verse in the Bible is a favorite of mine: “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good. His love endures forever.” It’s repeated forty-four times in the Bible! (Sometimes the wording is slightly different, and in twenty-six instances, just the last half is provided, usually because it’s being used as a refrain associated with the whole verse which was just offered.)

An example is Psalm 136, a great Psalm of Thanks and Praise to God. In it there are four times the Psalmist prays, “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good. His love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:1, 2, 3, 26; each verse uses a different name for God).

Just like the Lord’s Prayer teaches us how to pray, so Psalm 136 teaches us how to give thanks and praise to God. It’s a little known psalm, perhaps because it’s a bit longer than most psalms and it’s focused on specific aspects of Israel’s history.

Psalm 136 begins and ends in the way that we ought to begin and end all that we do: by praising God for who He is (honoring His name and His character). In the middle we give thanks to God for what He does for us in creation, redemption, and daily provision (the three foundational ways that God relates to us). The Psalmist is modeling for us the basic ways of showing our appreciation and admiration for the Lord.

Psalm 136 in Miniature

Putting together each of the five key verses of Psalm 136 makes a wonderful Psalm of Thanks and Praise in miniature. It’s easy to memorize! Then we can pray or sing it to the Lord anytime.

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good. His love endures forever. (Verses 1-3)
Give thanks to the Lord for he creates wonders. His love endures forever. (Verses 4-9)
Give thanks to the Lord for he delivers us. His love endures forever. (Verses 10-24)
Give thanks to the Lord for he gives us food each day. His love endures forever. (Verse 25)
Give thanks to the God of the Heavens for he is good. His love endures forever. (Verse 26)

Creating your own Thanks and Praise

The Psalms are for us to pray and sing. They are also models to teach us to offer our own personal prayers and songs. Psalm 136 is perfect for this. You can do this in your private devotions or it’s even better to share it with a friend or small group, or as a family.

Each of the verses above can easily be personalized for you to offer your own expression of thanks or praise to God in the same manner as Psalm 136. The prayer starters below will help you. I have chosen a different name for God to fit each prayer, but feel free to address God by any one of His other names too.

Dear Lord God, I admire that you are ________.
Dear God, my Creator, I appreciate the beauty of your creation in _________.
Dear Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for delivering me from __________.
Dear Father, thank you for providing me with ___________.
Dear God of the Heavens, I admire that you are __________.

So I encourage you to use Psalm 136 as a guide for prayer and worship to help you give thanks and praise to God for his enduring love.

A Heart of Thanksgiving

Today, we begin a new series for the month of November here on the blog, looking at some of the thanksgiving-themed Psalms. Our hope with this blog series is that by looking at the topic of thanksgiving through the Psalms for an entire month (rather than just on a one-day holiday), you will overflow with thanksgiving toward God, which will impact the relationships around you and the joy inside of you. So join us each week here this month as we worship the Father together by letting the psalmists remind us to be filled with thanksgiving!


by Erin Bird

If you have a Bible near you, go ahead and open it to Psalm 100 and read this famous thanksgiving Psalm slowly once or twice. If you are feeling particularly lazy, here are the verses we are going to focus on today as we kick off this new series (but really, you should go read the whole Psalm – it will take you 30 seconds!)…

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.”
(Psalm 100:4-5, ESV)

We don’t know exactly who wrote Psalm 100. But whoever he (or she?) was, the author was caught up in worshipping God when they penned it. If you look back to verse 1, you see the writer telling us “to make a joyful noise to the Lord.” It seems like the psalmist was in the throes of worship of God, and is inviting readers to join in.

And in the middle of this worship, the poet requests we “enter [God’s] gates with thanksgiving.” Why?

Look at verse 5: “For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever.”

We are to be filled with thanksgiving, because God’s love and goodness never ends! This means that even in the midst of hardship, like losing a job, or losing a loved one, or worrying about bills, or worrying about the future, or worrying about college finals, we can be thankful because God’s love for us will never cease.

But here’s what happens next: As you focus on the continuous love of God, your eyes move off of your shortsighted problems onto the eternal goodness of God. Then you begin to see His goodness already in your life. Perhaps that goodness contains your family, or your friends, or your home, or your job, or the fact that you have food on your table today.

And when you see His goodness in your life, you can’t help but be thankful.

This is why we are to “Give thanks to him” (verse 4). God is faithful (verse 5) and he is with us no matter how hard it might get. And this thought should cause us to burst forth in worship with a heart of thanksgiving.

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