When we set our hearts in God’s heart each day, we can revel in God’s love and peace always.
a message of gratitude 1 Chronicles 13:7-11
When I lived in Greenville, Michigan I started a Beer and Bible Study for men. My goal wasn’t to just share my knowledge of God with them, but I wanted to the help them crack the gold leaf on their bibles so they could search through the pages and get to know God on a more personal level.
As I was looking for a passage to preach on this week, I discovered that there were sections in my bible that just automatically open – places I tend to frequent. There is still some unchartered territory that I haven’t ever preached on. One such book is Chronicles, actually it’s two books but could easily be one.
Chronicles is a considered a historical book that literally chronicles the kings and players in Israel’s story. Todays reading focuses on the time in King David’s reign when the Ark of God has been returned to the tabernacle after having been lost in battle. It is a reason to celebrate, and to worship God! So David commemorates the event with liturgy, a song of praise.
Read: 1 Chronicles 16:7-11
“Give thanks to the Lord. Call upon God’s name. And make God’s deeds know among all people.”
These are three great imperatives that I believe shape our own worship of God.
The first is ‘give thanks to God.’ While it sounds almost like a commandment, this exhortation is our reminder of where our focus of gratitude belongs. On the Lord and all that God has done for us. I want you to take a moment and think about something your grateful for today. How does it make you feel? And how do you show it?
I asked this question at an assisted living facility and nearly everyone said the same thing. The first thing they do when they wake up is to pray thanking God that they woke up. We often overlook the obvious, like breathing, gravity, and good art.
I am grateful for the gift of life that is Colleen and for the love which she was created from 15 years ago. I am grateful God has chosen to make our home a holy space for people to worship in God’s presence. I am grateful to have my voice and the ears who are willing to hear what I have to say.
I met a man who, since childhood, has recited an ancient tribal prayer that had been passed down through his Locanda ancestors. He begins each day saying, “Spirit, I thank you for my first breath, and for the knowledge that every breath I take after this is my responsibility to reveal your truth through me.” What a powerful way to start your day, centered in gratitude for the gifts you’ve been given and accepting the responsibility to use them
More than just being grateful, giving thanks to God is a great way to check in with God on a daily basis. Our God is relational and loves to connect with us. We have all the time in the world for binge watching, hanging out with friends, or zoning out on Instagram. But when God wants to share some of our time we balk.
We should be grateful that God wants to be with us. God wants to have a relationship with us. The incarnation is a powerful reminder so that God was willing to become one with us through Jesus, so we could have a face to relate to. I’m grateful for that!
Social scientist have proven that living in gratitude builds better relationships, improves physical, mental and emotional health, and builds confidence and self-esteem. It actually helps us sleep better, and who doesn’t want that?
If living in gratefulness can have that affect on your life, imagine the transformation that can happen when you call upon God’s name – the second imperative in this verse.
Although he wasn’t always good at it, David made it his goal to make God his number one priority. He called on the Lord constantly. He sought God’s council. Pleaded for God’s help in matters big and small. As a result, David dwelt in the rich presence of God’s glory.
His story is similar to Abraham, Isaac, Samuel, Jeremiah, Jesus, Paul, and so many other saints who have experienced the transformative power of God’s glory simply by calling out to God. It could be a morning prayer, or just an ongoing conversation you have with God while driving to work. Another thing I am grateful for is the car phone…because I can talk out loud to God without looking crazy to the other drivers.
I don’t think it matters how you do it, or what you say, God just wants to hear from you. I have found that when I speak my problems out loud, I am able to deal with them better than if I stuffed them deep inside me. When I speak them out loud with God, I am inviting God to help me through them. God wants to help you through those tough situations or difficult challenges you might be facing.
As C.S. Lewis said, “Prayer doesn’t change God. It changes me.”
Just as it is with gratitude, we need to give God a call at least once a day. Not only does it help turn the ritual of prayer into a relational conversation but it keeps us aligned with God’s will. Even if we falter from time to time.
Calling on the name of God keeps the connection between your heart and God’s heart moving in one continuous flow. When our hearts are connected to God, we find our inner peace; we receive a deeper understanding of who we are and the relations we have with God and others; and we develop a more accepting and loving spirit. We become a living testimony of God’s grace and love. The third imperative in this verse.
I don’t know if it’s because of where we live, or the time in which we live in, but it seems to me there is a greater and growing reticence among Christian people to share their faith in public. It’s almost as if we’re embarrassed of our faith, or by what God has done for us.
Just yesterday, while meeting someone for my KNOWvember challenge, the person opened up about his faith, and his failures in it. When I asked him why he felt comfortable sharing those things with me, he said, “because you’re a minister, non-believer can’t understand.” All the more reason to let the world know that God is worth knowing.
Imagine a world where people felt free to talk about God and share their faith – without shame, or fear of judgment. We have no problem spewing our political beliefs, or our opinion on a movie or celebrity. But when it comes to sharing our beliefs in God or our Christian faith we just clam up. It’s not easy to share something as personal as faith, but how else will people come to know God’s glory, or find the love God has for them?
Today also marks the 50th anniversary of the first episode of Sesame Street. For 50 years they have been proclaiming God’s will in the most creative, and unintentional ways. Sounds crazy, but watch an episode and you will see the ways they teach us to love and care for each other. Wasn’t that Jesus’s message?
If a big yellow bird can teach us how to be hospitable, kind, gracious and joyful, then so can you. If Oscar the grouch can teach us how to lament or be more accepting of who we are, then we can teach others as well. You see, talking about God doesn’t mean reciting bible verses to win a dogmatic argument.
King David did it with poetry and song. Jesus did it in the way he loved and forgave others. For Paul it was preaching and in his letter writing. To borrow from St. Francis, preach the gospel –use words only when necessary. How could you proclaim the good news without saying a word?
The prophet Micah said, “What does God want from us but to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly.”
John Piper teaches us that, “God calls us to enjoy continual consciousness of Divine greatness and beauty and worth.” This takes a daily, conscious effort to set our mind’s attention and our heart’s affection on God.
When we set our minds in God’s mind, we can do the will of God without fear or trepidation. When we set our hearts in God’s heart each day, we can revel in God’s love and peace always. When we testify to God’s great glory, our life and every life around us, can’t help but be transformed and rejoice.
So to borrow from David’s psalm, I leave you with this challenge: “Seek the Lord and God’s strength. And seek God’s presence always.” For there is no better way to worship God.