Have you ever tried to "give back" to God? Sometimes we just feel so inept when it comes to truly "giving back" anything to God, don't we? We somehow think God expects us to "repay" him for his graciousness in our lives. Silly us! Don't we realize there is nothing we can do to actually "repay" God? In fact, the most we can do is "bless" him!
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.
(Psalm 116:12-19 The Message)
David asks the question - then, in just as quick of a manner, he answers it! What can I give back to God for the blessings he's poured out on me?
1. I will lift high the cup of salvation - in other words, he will live a life which manifests the greatness of God's grace - revealing the "gift of salvation" to all who look upon him. Did you ever stop to think of your life as a "toast to God"? What is the purpose of a toast? Isn't it to celebrate? To David, his life is more than words - it is a "living toast" - lifted high in appreciation and honor to his God. There is nothing more honoring than a life of grace on display for all to see!
2. I'll pray in the name of God - no other name deserves our attention or our trust. Why do we pray? Isn't it because we are burdened with something we want to "unburden" ourselves from? David reminds us the only place of "unburdening" is in the presence of our God!
3. I'll complete what I promised God I'd do - yielding his own self-will and surrendering to God. In other words, David commits to live obediently - instead of doing what he'd desire. This is probably the most difficult part of this passage! It is not hard to unburden ourselves in prayer - but it is quite a different matter to actually find ourselves walking out this commitment to live obediently, isn't it? Look at the secret David gives us - he doesn't walk out this obedience alone! He does it in the company of God's people! In other words, he has others on the journey with him - holding him accountable and for which he can be equally holding them accountable! Now, get your arms around that one! We don't "walk well" when we are walking alone. We need each other - obedience is tested best when there is someone who to whom we are being accountable!
4. I am ready to offer the thanksgiving sacrifice - although we don't literally offer grain, sheep, or turtle doves anymore, we still have much to offer when entering God's presence. In fact, we have much more to offer now! We have the gift of a centered heart, a focused mind, and a dedicated spirit. We have the gift of celebration - for the grace God continuously bestows. We have the gift of worship - surrendering all we are at his feet.
5. I will complete what I promised to do - now this is probably where we all stumble a bit! Commitment is one thing - actually following through on it is quite another! When we commit - we place ourselves in a place of obligation. God's greatest honor is received when we actually fulfill what we commit to do. Perhaps this is why scripture warns against making a vow haphazardly - since vows are a commitment. God looks for us to complete what we commit to do.
Just some thoughts from the Psalms today. Not saying we all are there yet - but together, we are on this journey! See you tomorrow!