Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Tuesday's with Jesus #73

#73 "When 'Thank You' Just Isn't Enough"
November 21, 2006
"Therefore, I urge you brothers [and sisters], in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God - this is your spiritual [reasonable] act of worship." (Romans 12: 1)
Have you ever gotten an answer to prayer that was so awesome, so miraculous, and so amazing that the words "Thank you, Lord" just weren't enough? You can say those words a hundred times and yet they just seem so empty in the light of the great blessing that God has given you. This has happened to me in the past and the not so distant past, as a matter of fact. I yelled, "Thank You, Jesus!" over and over again. Even fell on my knees and lifted my hands to the Lord in thanksgiving. But it still just didn't seem to be enough. 
When David received answers to his cries for help, he wrote poetry and songs. Old Testament saints offered fellowship offerings to the Lord as an expression of thankfulness. But how should we, followers of Christ in the year 2006, offer our thanksgiving to God Almighty for the things He has done in our lives? For those awesome, unbelievable answers to our prayers?
You and I have nothing that God needs. Everything that we have has come from His hand. He is the giver of every good and perfect gift. (James 1: 17) He has given us our lives. He doesn't need our money. He is the one who gives us the ability to produce wealth (Deut. 8: 18). He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. (Psalm 50:10) All of the silver and gold belongs to Him. (Haggai 2:8) He doesn't need our gifts, our talents, our money or our abilities...He is the one who gave them to us in the first place. We have nothing to give Him. Or do we???
I think that Romans, Chapter 12, verse 1 gives us the answer. I really do. What can we give? Ourselves! Plain and simple...ourselves. The apostle Paul spent the first 11 chapters of Romans to exhort people on God's tremendous mercy and compassion. In light of Paul's closely reasoned and finely argued exposition of the mercies of God, he comes to chapter 12 and says, "Therefore". This word shows the transition. He is saying.."Because of God's mercy. Because of God's compassion. Because of all God has done for you, this is what you should do"....Here comes the desirable response for believers. "Offer your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing [devoted, consecrated] to God-this is your reasonable, acceptable act of worship." In light of all of His mercies, blessings and answers to your prayers...offer yourself to Him.
The Message version of the Bible says it in such a cool way...
"So here's what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life?your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life?and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him." Bible teacher, Martha Kilpatrick is quoted as saying, "Thanksgiving to God is an exuberant response to giving me HIS everything...by giving Him MY everything."  A believer's offering of his total life as a sacrifice to God is sacred service. And it is the desirable response to our blessings and the way that we can respond when the words "thank you" just aren't enough.
And what does this offering of ourselves mean? God showed me a few scriptures that helped me understand. Offering myself means that I "fear the Lord and walk in His ways." (Ps. 128) It means that I "act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with my God." (Micah 6:8) It means that I offer myself to Him each day, an empty vessel, presented to my God for His use in any way that He calls me to be, on any given day. It means that I include Him in every thought and conversation and decision and circumstance. I don't just rattle off some morning prayers and go on my own way. God is all about relationship. He wants to be involved in the minutest details of your life. Include Him. Talk to Him. Ask Him. Seek Him. Serve Him. Obey Him. This is what a living sacrifice to Him looks like. The branch connected to the Vine. So close and intimate in relationship with Him, that you can be used at any given moment for His purposes. A cracked pot in the hands of the Potter, but a pot that can be shaped as seems best to Him (Jeremiah 18: 4). Moldable, pliable, not hard and unyielding. A vessel ready to have the Spirit of God poured into it, to be used for His holy and eternal purposes. That's what we can give in response to God when "thank you" just doesn't seem to be enough.
John F. Kennedy once said, "As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them." Are you truly thankful to God today? I challenged my Bible study group this past weekend to find things to be thankful for and truly thank God for them. Even in the midst of life's hard circumstances, we all have things to be grateful for. Things that we should never take for granted. Things that would never be possible without God's intervention in our lives. Things like eternal life and forgiveness and grace and God's presence...things that we can never lose. I take that challenge with you today, friend, even deeper. Don't just SAY "Thank you". Show your gratitude to the Lord with your life. The offering of all you are - of everything - good and bad - perfect and imperfect - to God so that God can take it and do what He wills with it. Seems to me that it is our reasonable, acceptable service and offering to the Lord when the words, "Thank You" just aren't enough.
Entering His gates with thanksgiving,
Donna Schultz
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