Thursday, November 8, 2012

Exclaimed in Thanksgiving!

Hallelujah is a shout of joy, praise, or gratitude.  When I heard a little girl we'd been praying for was finally in remission with her battle against leukemia, my first word was indeed "Hallelujah!!"  Sometimes we shout because of something wonderful done in the life of another, like when we hear of this little one's "win", and at other times, it is almost a moment of relief because we saw God intervene before total destruction overtook someone.  The reason behind the word being spoken can vary, but the intent is always the same - to proclaim just how blessed we are!

Hallelujah!  Blessed man, blessed woman, who fear God, who cherish and relish his commandments, their children robust on the earth, and the homes of the upright—how blessed!  Their houses brim with wealth and a generosity that never runs dry.  Sunrise breaks through the darkness for good people—
God’s grace and mercy and justice!  The good person is generous and lends lavishly; no shuffling or stumbling around for this one, but a sterling and solid and lasting reputation.  Unfazed by rumor and gossip, heart ready, trusting in God, spirit firm, unperturbed, ever blessed, relaxed among enemies, they lavish gifts on the poor—a generosity that goes on, and on, and on.  An honored life! A beautiful life!  (Psalm 112:1-9 MSG)

Our psalmist proclaims how beautiful life is for those who fear God, cherish and relish his commands.  To cherish is to care for in such a way so as to nurture.  Think of it as taking God's commands so close to our hearts that we allow them to be "nurtured" until they come to a place of full growth (maturity) in us.  To relish is to appreciate them as enjoyable - even when they are hard for us.  The man or woman of God who takes these commands of his as their own will allow them to affect their hearts deeply and will allow their work to be fully accomplished.  In turn, they become so pleasurable, even the "hard ones" become something we seek more of in our lives!

Then he lists some definite "results" of taking God's commands to heart - allowing them to come to full maturity in us:

- Children robust on the earth.  This may not be the case of our "physical" offspring, but it definitely applies to our "spiritual" offspring.  Some have no physical offspring, but their lives, richly graced with God's presence, produce offspring of a spiritual nature.  

- Homes blessed, brimming with wealth and a generosity that never runs dry.  I don't think our psalmist was saying all believers will be millionaires, or rich philanthropists who will endow institutions with their "excess" wealth.  In fact, I think there is very little "blessing" in wealth of a physical nature.  Sure, it buys us things, but it cannot buy us family, sincere relationships, or a fulfilled heart.  The richness our psalmist refers to here is that of a heart looking beyond its own wants and seeing the needs of another, then being moved to meet the need.

- Sunrise breaks through the darkness.  Nothing is more welcomed for one in dark times than a little breaking of light into the space where the darkness once dwelt.  Our psalmist refers to this "light" as bringing God's grace, mercy and justice.  Guilt and shame are never more powerful than God's grace and mercy.  No wonder he says "sunrise" breaks THROUGH the darkness!  Grace, mercy, and justice are like razor sharp rays of light into the darkest places of the soul of one enveloped in the strong hold of guilt, shame, or fear.  

- Lending freely and generous in all ways.  To this he adds, "no shuffling or stumbling around about this one" - it comes as an outcome of being enveloped in God's grace, impacted my his mercy, and the intensity of thanksgiving (gratefulness) this produces.  There is a desire to give what has been freely given - without measure.  One truly impacted by grace finds it a thing to share, not hold up or squirrel away as only for them alone!

- A sterling, solid, and lasting reputation.  Not fazed by rumors or gossip.  It never says we won't be the objects of someone's gossip or rumors - it only assures us we will be unfazed by it!  Why?  God's grace "re-orders" our reputation - where we once were worthy of a "bad" reputation, we are now changed (made anew) and no longer "under" the influence of that rep.  It may take a while for our head to catch up with this truth, but when God changes us at the heart level, the reputation of our past is gone!  Our head may need a while to be convinced - but it doesn't make it any less true!  When we realize the steadfastness of the reputation God gives by his grace, we can stand strong and assured.

- Heart ready, trusting in God.  Remembering our heart is mostly what we think of as our emotions, it is interesting he combines our heart with our trusting.  Where our emotions go, so go we!  Trust is based on truth - the more of God's truth we get into us, allowing it to affect our heart, the more reliable our emotions will be!  Yet, our emotions are never our best guide in life - we still need ready and firm spirits.  Spirits connected to his - integrated as one person.  It is this integration of spirit which gives us the ability to respond with ready hearts and willing spirits.

- Relaxed among enemies.  Wow!  If you have ever been face-to-face with your enemies, you know full-well what anxiousness this can produce.  Your heart-rate almost goes up right now just thinking about what it is like to be in their presence, doesn't it?  It is not a place of comfort, yet our psalmist tells us those who are touched by the grace of God are able to be "relaxed" among their enemies.  No tension, no anxiety - freedom.  Why?  Simply because we have already set them free!  We don't hold onto their hurt, but release it to God and then hold his grace out to them.  It drives them crazy to get this response from us!  Try it!  You will find it much more powerful than any amount of bitterness, anger, or resentment you could muster toward them!

Yep, a blessed life indeed.  Just sayin!

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