Monday, September 12, 2011

R&R - Relax and Rest

12-19 What can I give back to God for the blessings he's poured out on me?
   I'll lift high the cup of salvation—a toast to God!  I'll pray in the name of God; I'll complete what I promised God I'd do, and I'll do it together with his people.  When they arrive at the gates of death, God welcomes those who love him.  Oh, God, here I am, your servant, your faithful servant: set me free for your service!  I'm ready to offer the thanksgiving sacrifice and pray in the name of God.  I'll complete what I promised God I'd do, and I'll do it in company with his people, in the place of worship, in God's house, in Jerusalem, God's city.
   Hallelujah!
(Psalm 116:12-19)

This psalm opens with, "I love God because he listened to me", and ends with "I'll complete what I promised God I'd do".  In the middle, the psalmist lays out the all too soon forgotten truth that it is God that sets things right in a man's life - not man himself.  So, the psalmist's question about what he can give back is really not a question of "repaying" God for his continual deliverance, but of giving something of meaning to the one who loves him so much.  The psalmist wants to do more than present a warm "thank you" to God for his many blessings.  He wants to bless the heart of God!  Here is how he intends to do just that:

1)  I will lift high the cup of salvation!  In other words, he will put on display the grace of God in his life.  He will be a living testimony of the deliverance of God.  In so doing, he proclaims the greatness of God's love and the faithfulness of his provision.

2)  I will pray in the name of God.  That may seem like a "given" to you, but in the times this was written the nation was surrounded by all kinds of false gods.  Religions abounded, giving "choice" to man as to who deserved the "glory and honor" for what had occurred.  There were gods for the seasons, gods for fertility, gods for the weather, and gods of war.  To the psalmist - there is but ONE God - and to him he will pray!  Today, we are afforded a whole lot of "other" sources for what occurs.  We have the god of Wall Street to blame or thank for our financial status.  We have the god of media to fashion our thoughts.  You name it, we got it!  It is the intention of the psalmist's heart to have no other God before his one true God!  It should be the intention of our hearts, as well.

3)  I will complete what I promised God I would do - and I will do it alongside my brothers and sisters in the Lord.  The psalmist is concerned that his commitment to God be "lived out" in his daily life.  In the moment of truth, will we step up to what we promised God we'd do?  In our comfort, we seldom remember the promises we make in the times of distress.  The psalmist has made a promise (a vow) - committing himself to a set course of conduct.  He will follow-up on that commitment - and he will not do it alone - he has his brothers and sisters alongside.  When we are weak in our fulfillment of our vows, perhaps we'd do well to invite another to stand alongside as we take the steps toward faithfulness that we have promised!

4)  I desire to be of service to you, God.  The outcome of his soul's deliverance is that he desires to be of service to the one who has done so much in redeeming him and keeping him safe along the way.  There is nothing more rewarding to God than to see his children lifting hands in praise to him.  The heartfelt worship of our Lord stirs his heart and lifts him high in exultation.  The psalmist "connects" with God through heartfelt worship.  

We often forget the many blessings of our God.  That is one reason that I journal my studies and why I share what God does through the written word we share in this blog.  God has done much to transform a sinful soul - he deserves the honor due his name!  Man cannot "repay" God for the many blessings in his life, but he can give two things in return:  his heart and his commitment to fulfill his vows.  The heart connects him with God - the desire to fulfill the vows he has made is a direct result of his gratitude toward his Lord.  

Here are the words of the psalmist - words that suggest that he is at peace and his soul is at rest.  This is not because of what he has done, but because of the faithfulness of what God continually does!  Let this be our prayer of both meditation and praise on this day.  See if it doesn't change your perspective a little today to "relax and rest" by remembering that it is God who is in control, who delivers, and who sets all things right!

7-8 I said to myself, "Relax and rest.
      God has showered you with blessings.
      Soul, you've been rescued from death;
      Eye, you've been rescued from tears;
      And you, Foot, were kept from stumbling."