Jesus Christ is Lord of All

Monday, May 14, 2012

Thank Offerings Honor Him and Prepare the Way for His Salvation

Dear Father,
     Thank You for Your great love for Yourself. Thank You for Your deep desire for Your own honor and glory. Thank You that for Your own Name's sake You show us Your salvation. Please teach us that as we thank You, we are throwing off the disbelief of our flesh and walking in the faith that results in Your salvation. As we thank You, we honor You and grow in our longing for Your honor above our own. Please increase our faith.
In Jesus Christ's Name,

22 “Consider this, you who forget God,
or I will tear you to pieces, with none to rescue: 
He who sacrifices thank offerings honors Me,
and he prepares the way
so that I may show him the salvation of God. Ps 50:23

     God's purpose in this letter is to inspire us to sacrifice thank offerings to Him. Thank offerings (תּוֹדָה) are expressions of our praise, adoration, and thanks towards God. We have been lax in our thanking of Him or we have reserved our thank offerings for special occasions. God's message to us is that our sacrificing of thank offerings must be an enduring, continual, and faithful practice and way of life as we follow Christ. For in the very act of thanking Him, we are throwing off the old self with its disbelief and darkened perspective towards the heavenly Kingdom and putting on the new self which is filled with a heart of faith. It is this very faith that accompanies thanksgiving that results in the salvation of God in all areas of our life. Of utmost importance, our thanking of Him uproots our lack of longing for His honor and instills within us the long-awaited zeal for His honor. Our thank offerings bring glory and honor to Him as we behold His ongoing deliverance and salvation. 

16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thess 5

Refusal to Thank Him is Disbelief

     Before our eyes were opened to behold the glory of salvation and His righteousness, our thinking was futile and our foolish hearts were darkened. We were on a path that led to destruction. We could not comprehend the Truth and were falling along this path to our eternal destruction with no hope of salvation. We could not comprehend His sovereignty and power to dictate the events of the lives of men. We could not believe that He loved us to the point of giving up His own Son so that we may live. We could not comprehend that in Christ we would be "blessed in the heavenly realms with every Spiritual blessings in Christ" (Eph 1:3). We did not realize that "He who did not spare His own Son but graciously gave Him up for us" would "graciously give us all things" according to His perfect grace, wisdom, and purpose (Rom 8:32). Because we had not known or experienced the splendor of salvation or the majesty of His glory and honor, we could not thank Him. In the deadness of our hearts towards Him, we were unable to thank Him. 

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Rom 1
     Our refusal to thank Him was not without effect. There were certain life-bringing results of our thankfulness and gratitude which could not be experienced through any other way. Thus, our refusal to thank Him left us with little to honor and glory in except the fallen world and the fallen self. The depth of our minds and hearts which were formed and designed to adore the One True God were cut off from life and hope as we denied His worth. We resorted to idolatry by clinging to the idols which were not worthy of thanks or adoration. 

8 “Those who cling to worthless idols
forfeit the grace that could be theirs.
9 But I, with a song of thanksgiving,
will sacrifice to You.
What I have vowed I will make good.
Salvation comes from the Lord.” Jonah 2:8-9

    In our clinging to our idols we forfeited the "grace of God that brings salvation" which "teaches us that denying ungodliness and worldliness and worldly lusts we should live soberly, righteously, and Godly in the present age" (Titus 2:11-12). In our failure to thank Him, we forfeited His grace and salvation. We gave up the power to "tame the tongue" (James 3:8) and to exhibit self-control. Our ungratefulness was characterized by our obscenity in character, our foolish talk, and coarse joking.

4 Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. Eph 5 

      Even for us who claim to know Him, our failure to thank Him resulted in our temporary disbelief in His great and precious promises. We became anxious and concerned with all sorts of "civilian affairs" and forgot that our purpose was to please our "commanding Officer" (2 Tim 2:4). We temporarily exalted the trials of the world above the great salvation of our God. We yielded to the deceptive aura of power that the evil spirits associate with our trials. We were led to believe that these trials and troubles held sway over our lives and kept us in bondage. During these times, we were unable to thank Him. We were deceived to desire our own honor and glory above the glory and honor of our God. And this has been the most bitter deception. For we have learned that it was the death to the longing of the honor of self and the restoring of the longing for God's honor that would have brought complete satisfaction and delight to our souls. Even as we tried to thank Him in our souls, we felt resistance...a deep and soul draining resistance. We had almost given in to the "spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient" (Eph 2:2). Our minds and hearts were sunk into the heart of the carnal earth. But in His restorative power, He would soon lift our eyes to His glorious throne. He would soon lift our eyes from the grave. We would soon thank Him. We would soon adore and praise Him. HE WOULD ENABLE US TO BELIEVE AND SO THANK HIM. He imparts His grace and instills true faith in us so that we may not perish but rather love the truth and so believe unto salvation.

He Inspires Us to Thank Him With His Wonderful Deeds For Men (Psalm 107)

     He has shown us His unlimited grace and love in the form of His "wonderful deeds for men" (Ps 107) so that we may be taught to thank Him for His unfailing love. For we had no hope of thanking Him on our own. 

     Many were captive under the hand of the evil one. They were scattered in places where they were alone, hungry, and thirsty. They had no good Shepherd, but followed the hired hands who did not lead them by still waters and green pastures. They were following the desires of their hearts with no lasting peace. They looked for Truth but found none. Their souls ebbed away in the sin that they could not escape. These people CRIED TO THE LORD IN THEIR TROUBLE. God's wonderful act was to deliver them from their distress and to lead them by a straight way to a city where they could settle. This city was the Kingdom of God and the boundary lines of His righteous Law. He satisfied their thirst with His living Water and their hunger with His Bread of Life. 

      Others sat in darkness and the deepest gloom. These were prisoners suffering in iron chains. Our prison walls and chains were the states of darkness that accompanied our disbelief in the Truth. For "the sting of death is sin and the power of sin is the law" (I Cor 15:56). Our inability to keep the law held us in bondage to the wrath of God and the prison of Spiritual isolation and weakness. Our dead souls were incapable of the faith needed to see His glory. We had rebelled against the very Words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High. For this reason God subjected them to bitter labor. These people CRIED TO THE LORD IN THEIR TROUBLE and He saved them from their distress, brought them out of darkness, and the deepest gloom, and broke away their chains. He breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron. The Son had set them free and they were free indeed (John 8:36).

     We had been fools in our rebellious ways and even all of our afflictions fell short of the just payment for our sin. As we wasted away in sin, we loathed even the idols that we had sought before for pleasure. As the gates of hades drew near, we CRIED TO THE LORD IN OUR TROUBLE. And He saved us from our distress. He sent forth His Word to heal and clean us. His Word has brought forth life to our dead hearts. His Words have become Spirit and Life to us. He rescued us from the looming gates of death. 

      We had gone out as merchants among the peoples of the world. Even before we had known His salvation, we saw His works. He beheld His authority to "fell the lofty trees" and to "bring low the tall tree" (Is 10:33). We acknowledged that we were powerless to control the events of our lives. We saw that by His exalted right Hand the world came into existence and by His Hand nations and kingdoms  werebrought to nothing. Great fear and dread came upon us as we realized His awesome authority and His just wrath towards evil-doers. In our danger, our courage melted away. WE CRIED TO THE LORD IN OUR TROUBLE and He delivered us. He set still the storms of our life by granting us His Presence as our resting and dwelling place. Christ has become the abode and the solid Rock on which we stand. 

Thank Offerings Exhibit Faith that Results in His Salvation

       As we have experienced His deliverance from our distress, we overflowed with thankfulness and gratitude for His unfailing love. Each distress that we encounter is yet another arena for Him to reveal His deliverance to us. Each distress is only considered troubling to our hearts, minds, and bodies because we have yet to learn the "secret of being content in any and every circumstance" (Phil 4:12) and that "He who promised is faithful" (Heb 10:23). The description of the types of salvation in Psalm 107 that God bestows to His people applies to our initial belief in the Gospel and to our ongoing progress in the faith. For we know that we are daily faced with burden-upon-burden and temptations that come like arrows. In light of our belief in His goodness, His unfailing love, and His ability to save we thank Him. As we read Psalm 107 and similar descriptions of His wonderful deeds for men, we know and believe that He will bring deliverance. It is not as though it were always His will to relieve our physical distress or trial, but we know that He promises to bring rest to our souls. Rest for our souls in knowing Jesus Christ is the salvation for which we cry to Him. 

15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Col 3 

     For there is a healing of the soul that far transcends the physical healing of a disease. There is the freeing of the will to obey that far overrules the oppression we feel from the yokes of men. There is a desire for His honor that He instills that conquers our hearts for Him and shatters the inner turmoil that had resulted from our self-protective efforts. And those who have learned the secret of Spiritual contentment are the most blessed among us. "Godliness with contentment is great gain" (I Tim 6:6). 

6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.Col 2

     Now God exhorts us to continue to thank Him because we know that He will bring about deliverance. We are not promised earthly prosperity, but we are promised to be satisfied in Him. We are promised to be brought to a place where our hearts are willing and able to praise Him for His unfailing love. We are promised to be brought to a place where His glory satisfies us and we are left with no more earthly longings. The effects of our thank offerings are many and some will be described now: 

1. Thanking God accompanies our receiving of His forgiveness for salvation. 

       Often our greatest struggle as children of God is to continue to believe and comprehend the Father's love for us in spite of our ongoing acknowledgement of the sinful flesh and to receive the forgiveness of God for past and intermittent sins of the flesh. But as we obey His command to thank Him, we cannot refuse His forgiveness. Thanking Him shows that we are accepting His favor towards us. Thanking Him shows that we are receiving the finished atoning work of Christ on the cross to satisfy the Father's justice. And we have learned that the receiving of the Father's forgiveness results in the instilling of the love and gratitude by which we are able to live in His righteous law and through which the power of sin in our lives is overwhelmed. Our thanksgiving is our expression of gratitude for His promises of Fatherhood. We are believing that He will continue to do good to us and work everything out for our good as we love Him. There is a great faith that always accompanies our thanksgiving. We cannot thank Him without faith. His very command to us to thank Him is a command to trust Him, to depend on Him, to rely on Him for our sustenance, to make His promises our anchor, to rest as a child with his/her Father...

     In this way, our thanksgiving prepares the way for His salvation. We were falling and stumbling to our eternal destruction in our wickedness, but as we thank Him, we are receiving Christ as our Lord and we find that we are bound to the firm foundation of Christ. This foundation is His Light and Truth. As we walk here, we walk before God in the Light of Life. 

Then my enemies will turn back when I call for help.
By this I will know that God is for me.
10 In God, whose Word I praise,
in the Lord, whose Word I praise—
11 in God I trust; I will not be afraid.
What can man do to me?
12 I am under vows to you, O God;
I will present my thank offerings to You.
13 For You have delivered me from death
and my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before God
in the Light of Life.Ps 56

2. Thanking God results in the peace of God guarding our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. 

     Because we trust Him, we are able to thank Him even as we are presenting our requests to Him. Our anxiety is removed. Even before our requests are granted, we are commanded to thank Him. This is faith. Thank Him before you receive what you have asked. His grace brings us faith to thank Him without seeing and without knowing because we have known HIM who is good. We have known the character of the heavenly Father and we can do nothing but trust Him.
6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4

3. Thanking God for His grace shows us the new creations of our brothers and sisters in Christ. 

13 And we also thank God continually because, when you received the Word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe. I Thess 2

      There is a great blessing for us as we thank God for His salvation and mercy towards the family of God. We are able to forgive others for any wrongs or error in character as we thank God for His grace towards them.

15 All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. 2 Cor 4

     Thanking God for His grace to others shows that we are trusting God for His ongoing sanctification of His people. We no longer accuse the family of God without hope and without dependence on the One who makes us holy. Thanking God for His grace shows that we are trusting Him for His Hand of power to bring about change and restoration in the hearts of the elect. We are not looking to the past or present heart condition of our dear family which often seems dire, but rather with joyful hope we thank Him because He has and will continue to show His grace to all of us. Because of His grace our weaknesses and strongholds continue to be removed. In view of His grace, we see the new man "made to be like God in true righteousness and holiness" (Eph 4:24). 

4 I always thank God for you because of His grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5 For in Him you have been enriched in every way—in all your speaking and in all your knowledge — 6 because our testimony about Christ was confirmed in you.I Cor 1

4. Thanking God brings Him glory through everything that we do. 

     If we were to say a single word, take a single morsel, walk a single step, or make a single gesture without regarding His glory and honor, we would be walking in the flesh. We are infants in our desire for His glory. We have not desired His glory as we ought to. We have not been zealous enough for His honor. If we do not become zealous for His honor and if we do not love for Him to be glorified and exalted, we are in danger of the flames of hell for He hates the lukewarm. As we cry out to Him to increase our longing for His exaltation, we can start to honor Him by thanking Him. He told us that "He who sacrifices thank offerings honors Me..." (Ps 50:23). He promises us that when we thank Him we are honoring Him. So if we fear God, we can trust His promise that He is honored by our offering of thanksgiving. 

30 If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.I Cor 10

4 For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, 5 because it is consecrated by the Word of God and prayer.I Tim 4

     What does it mean that He is honored? It means that our hearts are drawn to revere Him and to hold His Name as high. This is the desired state of heart for us who intend to continue in Him. There is an incredible need for us to desire for His glory. This need is so great because the desiring for His glory or lack thereof reveals the status of our soul. For this is the ultimate intention that results in our standing firm until the end. WE MUST DESIRE HIS GLORY. If we desire our own glory even slightly more than we desire His glory, we would be damned unless He intervened. We would be damned because we would not be able to choose the way of righteousness over the cravings of the flesh. We would not be able to speak of Him before men. We would not be able to hold onto the faith in the face of persecution and trial. The desire for His glory is what pleases Him and enables us to persevere unto the Day of Judgment. 

16 And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, 17 saying:
“We give thanks to You, Lord God Almighty,
the One who is and who was,
because You have taken Your great power
and have begun to reign.
18 The nations were angry;
and Your wrath has come.
The time has come for judging the dead,
and for rewarding Your servants the prophets
and Your saints and those who reverence Your name,
both small and great —
and for destroying those who destroy the earth.” Rev 11

5. Thanking God results in generosity and obedience.

      The deep gratitude to God for His indescribable Gift of the sacrifice of Christ for the forgiveness of our sins results in our freedom from the slavery to the love of mammom. As we acknowledge that the Gift of Christ is indescribable, we are ascribing infinite priceless worth to Christ. We are acknowledging that "everything else is a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ" (Phil 3:7). Our thankfulness towards Christ results in the harvest of our righteousness that results in the giving of Christ's love towards the people of God. This giving of love is our obedience to Christ's command to love our neighbors. Our obedience and generosity of love inspires thanks in other believers. Furthermore, our perfected view of the fleeting nature of mammom allows us to freely bestow offerings, tithes, and gifts of hospitality. For "where our treasure is there our heart will be also" (Luke 12:34). When our view of the splendor and worth of our God is low, only small amounts of our earthly wealth and possessions would be directed towards the Kingdom's advance as God would direct us. But when we acknowledge more and more the worth of Christ, more and more of our earthly treasure will be directed towards Him. Indeed our every possession, big and small, is to be subjected to the control of the Spirit. The thought of this standard would seem overwhelming to many of us, but we know that as we thank Him, we will acknowledge His worth. And as we know His worth, everything else will seem worthless.10 Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for foodwill also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. 12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!2 Cor 9 

6. Thanking God increases our fear of Him.

     As we thank God for His unshakable Kingdom we are acknowledging that He is the Giver of good gifts and that "every good and perfect gift comes from above coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights who does not change like shifting shadows" (James 1:17). When we receive the desires of our hearts, our thankfulness results in our worship with reverence and awe of His goodness and love. When we receive trials and persecution, our thanksgiving moves our hearts to trust in His authority and His maintenance of the advancement of His own eternal Kingdom. We trust in His Sovereign plan. We are ascribing each event, good or "bad", to His purpose and design which we know is always good. Thanking Him for everything allows us to attribute everything to His providential love and in this way we worship Him with fear and reverence with a deep gratitude that we have escaped His consuming fire of judgement. 

28 Therefore, since we are receiving a Kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.”Heb 12

7. Thanking God increases our joy in Christ. 

     Indeed it would be difficult to maintain a heart of gloom and despair in the midst of our thanksgiving. As we thank Him, our eyes are turned to His exalted Throne and His eternal victory over the world. We are remembering our great salvation and the good which is in store for us as we eagerly await our "home of righteousness" (2 Peter 3:13). He will fill us with joy in the midst of our sorrow as we proclaim to Him: give thanks to the Lord Almighty, for the Lord is good; His love endures forever.

11 the sounds of joy and gladness, the voices of bride and bridegroom, and the voices of those who bring thank offerings to the house of the Lord, saying,
“Give thanks to the Lord Almighty,
for the Lord is good;
His love endures forever.” Jer 33

JESUS Offered the Perfect Thank Offerings

40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said,“Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 I knew that You always hear Me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that You sent Me.” John 11

       Jesus thanked His Father for always hearing Him. As we approach the Father in Him, the Father hears us as His children. Thank Him because if we believe, we will see the glory of God. Christ's faith was perfect. His thanks to His Father for listening to Him as His beloved Son was perfect. He brought perfect glory to His Father. His thanks to His Father was an epitome of His perfect faith, His perfect desire for His Father's glory, the perfect love for the Father and His brothers and sisters (us; "I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that You sent Me"), and the joy set before Him that allowed Him to endure the cross. He had poured out His Life unto death. He lived a life of sacrifice. He was the Man of sorrows who was acquainted with grief (Is 53) and yet He offered thank offerings to His Father for as long as He lived. 
17 After taking the cup, He gave thanks and said, “Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is My Body given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”Luke 22

       During the last supper, the time drew near for Christ to drink the cup of the Father's wrath. He would soon go through the worst kind of torment under the hand of His Father. He would bear the cumulative judgment for our wickedness. He would be forsaken by His Father for the very first time. All of His blood was to be poured out as a ransom for many. His Body was to be broken for us. And yet Christ believed that He Himself is the Resurrection and the Life. He knew in advance that death could have no hold over Him. He thanked God for what His followers would be able to do in remembrance of what He was to suffer and what He was to conquer. He had no doubt in His authority to lay down His Life and His authority to take It up again. As He gave thanks at the last supper, He thanked God for the finished work of the Gospel though the most difficult task awaited Him. This work which He has now finished has relieved us of the infinite wrath of the Father and brought to us His infinite love and Life in Him.

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