Giving back – Dec. 27th, 2018
My soul, bless the Lord, and all that is within me, bless his holy name. My soul, bless the Lord, and do not forget all his benefits.
Psalm 103:1-2 (CSB)
We frequently, perhaps not as frequently as we should be, are reminded of the blessings that God grants us. Not long ago there was a specific focus on our blessings in the United States, Thanksgiving Day. Unfortunately, that holiday in the US has degraded to a primer for the biggest shopping day of the year, gluttony, observance of sport, and B-Rated movies.
There are attempts by many to restore some of the original intent of the celebration, but for the most part, it’s pretty much over the cliff at this point.
Christmas is another holiday that has strayed so far away from it’s intended purpose. Frequently it is blamed on ‘commercialism’, however, I tend to think that there is nothing good, wholesome, and right; that doesn’t take pressure from the corruption of this world to change into something that it isn’t.
Perhaps that is why our blessings have been turned from us blessing God, to being all about what God’s done, doing, or should be doing for me.
The Psalm quoted here frames a directive to the writer’s soul, “bless the Lord”, “bless his holy name”, “bless the Lord, and do not forget all his benefits.” Note the focus here is to bless God. And a caution to not forget we are benefactors of his goodness.
Blessing and cursing come out of the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, these things should not be this way.
James 3:10 (CSB)
This is a parabolic shift from where I started, but the mouth is but the amplifier for the condition of the heart. But our need to thank God for everything is paramount to our relationship with him.
It wasn’t all about us, isn’t now and will not be in the future. It’s about God and why he’s done what he’s done and doing. His intervention in our welfare and profound and continuing, each and every day that we draw breath in our lungs.
From the Lord’s perspective, is a curse any different than an utterance that denies or simply ignores his glory and majesty?
See to it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all. Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Don’t stifle the Spirit. Don’t despise prophecies, but test all things. Hold on to what is good. Stay away from every kind of evil.
1 Thessalonians 5:15-22 (CSB)
This passage in First Thessalonians begins and end with evil at its core. “See that no one repays evil for evil”, preventing evil. “Stay away from every kind of evil”, holding on to what is good.
Sandwiched in between this are the positives that we should be focused on to keep us free from all this negativity.
“Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything”, giving thanks in everything sounds a lot like a blessing squarely directed to the Lord to me!
We get askew from our track when the world and its corruption seek to infiltrate our daily worship of the Lord. He calls us to “rejoice always”, for everything. Not disingenuously, but honestly and fervently. With only a minor application of rejoicing it would seem that our blessings toward God would be magnified greatly.
“Pray constantly”, invokes God living in us to be a part of our day not just when we stand in Church but when we are doing anything and everything.
Let’s touch again on the giving of thanks for everything. You may be asking how does God expect me to give thanks for the bad that is influencing my life?
This comes down to one question; do you believe God and his Word, or don’t you?
We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28 (CSB)
‘If’ we know this, if we believe that God means what is said here. Then approaching 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 isn’t a hard pill to swallow at all. If we believe this, then rejoicing always, praying constantly, and giving thanks for everything is a natural extension of the trust we place in God’s goodness in regard to us, and his ability to see to it that “all things work together” for our good, in accordance to his purpose.
Bad times in your household, God has a purpose for it. Relationship gone south and you don’t see a way of repairing it, God knows and has a purpose for you in this calamity. The bank is taking your home and the vehicles, and you don’t know where your next meal is coming from, God deserves the glory and blessing because we believe that “all things” are coming together just as God is provisioning to work towards our good. We may not like it one bit as it is transpiring but God’s got it, he has a plan, and he is executing on that plan this very moment. Maybe we are just a little upset that he didn’t let us in on the strategy, but brothers and sisters, this is where trust and faith in his promises comes full force.
He’s got this. Blessings be to the Lord!
Paul finishes that section of Thessalonians with this rationale for rejoicing, praying, and thanking God for everything, “for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
If we truly have given our hearts to Jesus, then this is a no brainer. If we have surrendered our will to his then this isn’t hard or difficult to accept. If we are committed to him then we can and should do this, because this is God’s will for us, in Christ Jesus.
If we can’t get on board with this then, we need to consider our hearts, and the condition of our relationship with Jesus. We need to come on up into his love and grace and turn everything over to him and trust that his promises are worthy of our faith, blessing the Lord for everything that is put in our path and bestowed on us that we otherwise might be taking for granted.
Blessings – Giving back!