Empty handed or full of praise?

Posted on Mar 26, 2017 in Lesson of the Week

Empty handed or full of praise?
My study this morning is from Psalm 66.
Worship: Empty handed or full of praise?
1Shout for joy to God, all the earth;
2sing the glory of his name;
give to him glorious praise!
3Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you.
4All the earth worships you
and sings praises to you;
they sing praises to your name.” Selah

5Come and see what God has done:
he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man.
6He turned the sea into dry land;
they passed through the river on foot.
There did we rejoice in him,
7who rules by his might forever,
whose eyes keep watch on the nations—
let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah
8Bless our God, O peoples;
let the sound of his praise be heard,
9who has kept our soul among the living
and has not let our feet slip.
10For you, O God, have tested us;
you have tried us as silver is tried.
11You brought us into the net;
you laid a crushing burden on our backs;
12you let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and through water;
yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.
13I will come into your house with burnt offerings;
I will perform my vows to you,
14that which my lips uttered
and my mouth promised when I was in trouble.
15I will offer to you burnt offerings of fattened animals,
with the smoke of the sacrifice of rams;
I will make an offering of bulls and goats. Selah
16Come and hear, all you who fear God,
and I will tell what he has done for my soul.
17I cried to him with my mouth,
and high praise was on
a my tongue.b
18If I had cherished iniquity in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened.
19But truly God has listened;
he has attended to the voice of my prayer.
20Blessed be God,
because he has not rejected my prayer
or removed his steadfast love from me!
 
I am going to focus on a couple of things and may the Spirit of God prompt us and train us in these truths so we may fear God and walk in His ways. 
 
As I was reading this, 2 verses stood out to me- verse 18 because it is an old memory verse and verses 13-14 for other reasons I will discuss here. 
 
First of all, this psalm and with all of scripture, the focus of our relationship with God is a community concept. I know that as Western believers, we often read scripture through our own individualistic lenses. However, this was never God’s intention. Yes, we are individuals as God created us, but if we are saved into the Kingdom of God (here on earth, but not in full completion until Yeshua returns), we are to live knowing that we are a community of believers around the world and what we do affects our relationship with God and others in His kingdom. With this said, we see the psalmist in verses 13-14 has a genuine concern to keep his vows he made before God. This is why it is important for us to be extremely careful about making vows. In fact, our vows should only be to God and with the idea that without Him we cannot do whatever it is we vow. Yeshua said in Matthew 5:36-37to let your yes be yes and your no be no, as all else is from the evil one. In the context, he was addressing their manipulation of the scriptures to make vows by other things of God as to not say his name, or to get out of it if they were not willing to keep it; i.e. they were trying to manipulate God and His Word. To fear our God, it is important to make sure all our words reflect Him working in us and not speak of ourselves. 
 
We now see the psalmist taking his vow very seriously and he approaches God, not empty-handed, but coming to worship Him. Unfortunately, I hear many today saying that we are different in our salvation from the Old Testament believers, because we have Jesus and don’t need that antiquated sacrificial system. This means that God’s salvation in the Old Testament was dependant upon man and the New Testament was upon Jesus. This creates many problems of which I will not cover in this blog. If you go to my teachings from my website- only1way.net, I explain in many teachings that there is one God, one law, one salvation and one Kingdom of God that was revealed to us over time, but that is consistent throughout Scripture. This way of looking at scripture keeps us from creating theology (thoughts or studies about God that are not true). Okay moving on to the psalmist and his approach to God. He knows he can’t empty-handed and He knows whom He approaches, so he comes with all honor and praise for His Creator. He knows how important to honor what He has spoken because obviously God knows everything. 
 
DO WE COME WITH ALL HONOR AND PRAISE, PREPARING OUR HEARTS EACH DAY, OR DO WE COME EMPTY-HANDED, WANTING TO SIMPLY RECEIVE BUT NOT GIVE TO OUR KING? 
 
Vs. 18– we still see this proper understanding and reverence as he approaches God. 
“If I had cherished”- (the word in Hebrew is ra’ah) and means to see in its most basic sense. However, the word carries a deeper meaning of gazing or considering something. Therefore, we have to be careful to notice or see things, but we must then make a choice to take or not take a second glance that may lead us into sin. 
“If I had cherished iniquity”- the word for iniquity in Hebrew means to pant or to exhaust yourself with no results, or what Solomon in Ecclesiastes described as “all is vanity, a chasing after the wind.” In other words, when we are doing the things that oppose God, we cannot expect to be blessed. 
The Septuagint translates the verse this way, “If I was contemplating injustice in my heart, let the LORD not listen. 
 
We serve a God of justice. He will do what is right and just, as it is His nature. If we claim to serve Him, we should expect Him to act according to His nature and not listen if we cherish the things that are of this world and that oppose who He is and who we are to be as His followers. 
 
DO WE APPROACH GOD FIRST BY LOOKING AT OUR LIVES TO SEE IF WE ARE LIVING IN RIGHTEOUSNESS AND JUSTICE, OR DO WE WANT GOD TO BLESS US ANYWAY, FOCUSING ONLY UPON HIS CHARACTER OF GRACE, YET IGNORING ALL OF HIS CHARACTER THAT SHOULD BE REFLECTED IN US? 
DO WE WANT TO CREATE A GOD AFTER OUR IMAGE OR DO WE WANT TO BE IMAGE-BEARERS FOR HIM? 
 
May God bless you as you seek Him with your whole heart. 
 

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