Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Psalm 116: Responding to God's Benefits

KEY TEXT: Psalms 116:12-14, 17-18 What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord, I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people... I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord. I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.

KEY THOT: The psalmist asks: "What shall I render to the Lord for all his benefits to me?" God has been good to us--how shall we repay his kindness towards us? The answer is three-fold: (1) PRAISE: "lift up the cup of salvation" and "offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving" (v.13a, 17a); (2) PRAYER: "call on the name of the Lord" (v.13b, 17b); (3) SERVICE: "pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people" (v.14,18).

Our salvation is a gift of God for which we did not do anything to earn it except to believe and receive it. So, how shall we respond to God's love and kindness? While God does not expect us to do anything to earn our salvation, nevertheless He does seek for something from us: our worship. In John 4:23 Jesus said to the woman at the well: "But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.

So the first way we can respond to God for His benefits to us is to worship God in spirit and truth. Worship is something we owe to God alone. The First Commandment says, "You shall have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3). So while we are not saved by doing something for God, we are saved in order to do something to God: viz., to please Him by offering to Him alone our worship. And we express this worship of the only God through our praise, our prayer and our service. 

When we offer the Lord our praise of thanksgiving, we are not doing Him a favour. We are simply protecting ourselves from the sin of ingratitude. Ingratitude is a great and grievous sin, for it takes God's cup of salvation for granted and treat it as something worthless. Giving of thanks is the will of God for us: "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:18). 

The second way we can render to God for his benefits is to "call upon his name". God wants us to call upon Him when we face life's challenges. He invites us to pray to him, so that we can be free from worrying and anxiety: "do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God" (Philippians 4:6). Instead of becoming anxious when we encounter a work or life challenge, we should immediately make this anxiety a matter of prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. In so doing, we invite God to intervene to show us his salvation. God wants us to call upon Him so that we can experience His grace and power.

The third way we can render to God for his benefits is to "pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of his people". A vow is a promise we made to God to do something for His glory, whether in the family, in church or out in the marketplace. Worship is not just a vertical experience--it often leads to a commitment to serve His people in order to lift up His name. When Isaiah has an encounter with God in worship, he heard God's voice asking, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" and his immediate response is: "Here am I! Send me!" (Isaiah 6:8). If we have promised to do something for God's glory among His people, we must fulfill our vows as a response to God's salvation.

Ultimately, worship is rendering to God our praise, prayer and service as a response to His grace and free gift of salvation. God does not expect us to work for our salvation but He does expect us to offer the fruits of our lips and our lives to exalt His name as a proper response to His salvation.

Father God, thank You for Your salvation. May we always offer to You our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, bringing our requests before You and fulfilling our promises we made to You. In Jesus' name. Amen.

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