Thursday, January 15, 2009

A sacrifice of thanksgiving… (Psalm 50) 150109

“Where, where, where? Where is the cat? The cat, the cat, the cat is under a hat.” This is the words repeated almost every day, ever since my daughter gets hold of a book which teaches children about animals, preposition and pronunciation of words. She loves being asked, “where, where, where?” And she will automatically make a hand sign to indicate the question and start to look around, as if she is finding something.
Of course, she is merely learning to associate words with its meaning, she still is not exactly looking for anything. But God is looking for something. What is God looking for? He is the Mighty One (v1), He is the One who can summon the earth and heavens (v1 and 3), and He owns every beast of the forest, cattle of a thousand hills, every bird of the mountains and everything that moves in the field (v10 and 11). What does God need? What is He looking for?
This psalm is concerned with primarily true loyalty to God. And loyalty is antithetical to formalism and hypocrisy, as the Lord requires a heart of gratitude. This psalm also has prophetic characteristic. It encompasses features of theophany or declaration of God’s righteousness (v1-6), accusation or a case presented against His people (v7-15), warning or judgment (v16-21), and an invitation to repent (v22-23). We can find this kind of structure in many of the prophets (eg. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Malachi, etc…).
The case God has against His people in this psalm is their assumed godliness. It is clear that these people were very religious, for they offered sacrifices and burnt offerings continually before God (v8). God is not against their acts of religiosity, but rather their idea of God can be appeased by their bribery offerings. They had forgotten God owns the world and all it contains (v12). We have also forgotten that.
We offer to God our services, thinking that and hoping that God will bless us with double portions. We pray for an extra hour, trying to impress God of our spiritually; and we pray louder to impress our neighbor of our command of prayer language. But we have forgotten that God already knows our needs. We fast for forty days hoping that God will take pity on us and change His mind to accommodate our desires. We give credit to ourselves when God answering our prayers because we have prayed persistently, but we have forgotten that whatever happens is all in the sovereign will of God.
God is not looking for religiosity or fake spiritually or puff up godliness. He is looking for something deep. He is looking for grateful heart. He is looking people who remember God for who He is, and not what He can give to them. Surely God can give us in abundance, and He will give us in abundance because of His love for us. But He is looking for people who offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving (v14), because it honors Him (v23).
I have just gotten my driving license two days ago. I know I can pretend to be spiritual and submit the result to God and willing to accept any result giving to me; while deep within me is so anxious and hoping I can twist God’s arm to give me my driving license. But When I was waiting for my result after the test, I began to give thanks to God. I even imagine the test coming to me and tell me that I have failed. I imagine that I thank God for wanting me to polish up my driving skills before giving me the license. I think I was so silly. But I really thank God for giving me a chance and determination to learn driving. I have learned driving for so many times and I gave up half way every time. I began to thank God and sing a song of thanksgiving in my heart.
I passed my driving, not because I have fasted and prayed hard; it is because I have learned from someone to acknowledge that God is my Tester. And my Tester will know if it is His time to give me that license.
God is looking for a grateful heart. That is why Paul also said, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God (Phil 4:6, NASB).”


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