Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all his benefits. Psalm 103:2 ESV
How many times have you and I have read that? Sung it without thinking? Taken it for granted? Yet the writer of songs tells us not to forget the benefits of belonging to God.
The advantages of being rescued from darkness and brought into the marvelous light of Good News have never been more obvious to us. As calls to prayer begin in the neighborhood before dawn and echo through dusk, W and I remind our hearts to turn to God. Here are some things we celebrate as we pray:
- Our faith brings us into partnership with God. The One who sent his Son to redeem us willingly becomes part of the lives he has paid for. We don't walk alone. And God is happy that each of us is not like other people: he could have made copies of the "perfect" person if he would have wanted us all alike. Instead, he chooses to make and remake each person day by day ... and loves each one: you as you, me as me.
- Our faith is hopeful. We know that the price Jesus paid is enough. We don't have to slave away with rituals, hoping to do enough to win salvation. We are certain that God has us covered. After all, he knew the cost of reconciling us to himself - and paid it in full.
- Our faith covers the present and the future. Great opportunities and hellish hardships come to each human. Sometimes there seem to be few answers or we don't feel like we can meet the good (or bad) of the day, but nothing takes God by surprise. Have you ever looked back in amazement at the unexpected resolution to an "impossible something?" I sure have. When there seemed no way forward, God brought me through to the other side.
- Our faith demands of us only what we can do with God's help. W and I are in language school and tied up with obligations most days. Our minds are weary and our bodies never seem to catch up. Living day by day, we know God is at work. As we meet other Christ-followers, we see how their paths and ours intersect with the world around us. In this day, this obligation, or this opportunity, God is leading you and me for his purposes. What we do today is enough.
- Our faith is a Story worth sharing. We are redeemed for a purpose. God has placed you and me in our communities because others need to hear how much he loves them. How he looks after them. How he longs to conform each person until we are truly his. What joy! What comfort! What peace! he provides. These benefits are utterly unlike - and far above - any other offer that might seek to seduce us away from him.
What benefits can you celebrate today?
*Do not trust in these deceptive words: “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.” Amend your ways and your doings. Jeremiah 7:4-5 ESV
*Thus said the Lord of hosts: “Truly, one who touches you touches the apple of my eye.” Zechariah 2:8 ESV
*If God is for us, who is against us? Romans 8:31 ESV
*The whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14 ESV
Moravian Prayer: Lord, your command to us seems so simple, and yet it can be so hard to follow through. Help us to see ourselves and you in each other, so we might extend the love that we have for ourselves to all those around us.
God, as we go throughout our days, may we feel and know your protective power. May you heal our pre-existing wounds and shield us from those things that continue to try to harm us. Amen.
From C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain:
This signature on each soul may be a product of heredity and environment, but that only means that heredity and environment are among the instruments whereby God creates a soul.
I am considering not how, but why, He makes each soul unique. If He had no use for all these differences, I do not see why He should have created more souls than one. Be sure that the ins and outs of your individuality are no mystery to Him; and one day they will no longer be a mystery to you.
The mould in which a key is made would be a strange thing, if you had never seen a key: and the key itself a strange thing if you had never seen a lock. Your soul has a curious shape because it is a hollow made to fit a particular swelling in the infinite contours of the Divine substance, or a key to unlock one of the doors in the house with many mansions.
For it is not humanity in the abstract that is to be saved, but you—you, the individual reader, John Stubbs or Janet Smith. Blessed and fortunate creature, your eyes shall behold Him and not another’s. All that you are, sins apart, is destined, if you will let God have His good way, to utter satisfaction. ...
God will look to every soul like its first love because He is its first love. Your place in heaven will seem to be made for you and you alone, because you were made for it—made for it stitch by stitch as a glove is made for a hand.