Wednesday, February 5, 2014

"Blessing His Heart"

     A friend and I recently discussed David's command to "enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise" (Psalm 100:4).  He admitted that warm emotions and spiritual sensations do not always accompany his approach to God.   "Sometimes," Glen, "I'm just doing it because the Bible tells me to."   I concurred, based on my own experience, and then suggested that our feelings and sensations are not the primary issue concerning praise and thanksgiving.  "We affirm and praise God first and foremost for what it does in Him rather than in us."

    "The prayer of the upright is His delight" (Proverbs 15:8).
    "I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify Him with thanksgiving" (Psalm 69:30).

      I once heard a preacher say, "When I'm feeling down and hurting, I praise the Lord and it makes it better!"  The statement seemed trite because it implied that praise serves as a panacea for our ills.  It may be true that offerings of praise and thanksgiving do sometimes instill in us a sense of peace whereby our sorrows abate.  This is not, however, the reason we affirm and express gratitude to our Heavenly Father.  We rather do so to honor Him - "whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" - and to please Him by our expression of trusting adoration and gratitude - "the Lord taketh pleasure in His people" (I Corinthians 10:31; Psalm 149:4). 

     The salvation of the Lord Jesus Christ begins the holy process of turning us inside out, as it were.  Whereas our physical birth constitutes our hearts in self-centeredness, the new birth provides a new heart inhabited by the Holy Spirit, and thus filled with God's character of unselfishness.  "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit which is given unto us" (Romans 5:5).  This initiates a lifelong change of perspective whereby the Lord seeks to install the blessing of others as paramount in our hearts and minds.  Such internal transformation begins in our relationship with Him.  The Holy Spirit makes possible a growing experience of fulfilling the first command, repeated in both Old Testament and New: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength" (Mark 12:30).  The primary sensibility of the Christian heart thus involves the glory and pleasure of God.  Again, we affirm and praise God for what it does in Him rather than in us.

    Certainly, this working of the Holy Spirit in our hearts blesses us as well.  When the Apostle Paul and Silas "prayed and sang praises to God," an earthquake destroyed the prison in which they were held (Acts 16:25-26).  The hope of miraculous deliverance, however, did not serve as the reason for their grateful offering.   Our brethren of old praised and thanked the Lord because He met with them in the hour of their challenge, just as He meets with us as we trust and submit ourselves to Him.  They expressed their hearts for the purpose of blessing His heart.  Those who recognize this sublime purpose give little attention to how they feel as they praise and give thanks.  Because it's not the reason they do so.

"Charity... seeketh not her own."
(I Corinthians 13:5)
"Whoso offereth praise glorifieth Me."
(Psalm 50:23).

Weekly Memory Verse
    "O LORD, Thou art my God; I will exalt Thee, I will praise Thy name; for Thou hast done wonderful things; Thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth."
(Isaiah 25:1)

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