Divine Motivation // Playing Catch-Up, Part II (119-120/365)

Be angry, and do not sin;

ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah

Offer right sacrifices,

and put your trust in the LORD.

Psalms 4:4-5

Psalm 4:4 was the reference for Ephesians 4:26-27, where it says: “Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.”

I’m reminded of that one time we were in the States, and I couldn’t remember what my Dad and I were having an argument about, or what he or we raised our voices against each other for. Feeling all self righteous, I went to the room they were sleeping in, and quoted those verses, telling my Dad I didn’t want to go to sleep angry.

Of course, that wasn’t the end of what I wanted to say… and if I recall, I remember saying something like I forgive him, and I ask for his forgiveness as well… but sadly, I’m pretty sure my tone of voice expressed more expediency than actual repentance. I was less sincere, and more like, ‘let’s get this over with’.

Pretty sure Christ didn’t forgive us that way. See, that’s the thing. At the time I wasn’t thinking about how I was forgiven, more like I was still in the mindset of doing it in observance to the Word, just so that I would still be in good standing. In other words, I forgave to be forgiven, instead of forgiving as I understood how I was forgiven. Does that make sense?

Besides, now that I see the full Psalm 4:4 verse, it also says ‘ponder in your own hearts on your beds’; I couldn’t remember how I slept that evening but I’m pretty sure it was, again, more to just get to sleep rather than being silent, in awe of how I was forgiven.

It was one of my many blunders with Dad, but I rest, and I am in silence, knowing now that (1) it’s Christ’s forgiveness and mercy upon me that allows me to truly be forgiving and merciful to others, and (2) I just wanted to throw this in there, I eventually realized how much my Dad loved me, beyond my expectations. I do miss him, and I’m not quite sure how we would be interacting again, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be so much better on the other side of eternity.

The set of verses goes on with Psalm 4:5, but the NKJV version says to ‘offer sacrifices of righteousness’. The framing of these words got me thinking, and had me including it in today’s write-up. The ESV does offer another glimpse as to what it means, and it does make more sense to say, ‘offer right sacrifices’, but is there anything else to ‘sacrifices of righteousness’?

It’s during these times that I should be recognizing the value of the cross-references in the ESV, but unfortunately I was led to a dead end, being led to other verses in the Bible that merely mentioned but did not elaborate much on ‘right sacrifices’… that is, until I checked on the cross-references on these verses, and was eventually brought to where I feared it would go – Malachi 1:7, where God rebukes the high priests for their lackluster sacrifices.

Back when we had a separate portion in our services to allow people to exhort on offering and giving, this was a favorite verse… and it was bad enough for us to berate people about their lackluster offerings, but what’s even worse is that we sort of mentioned that on the side while we told people about the rest of the verse, where it essentially says that if we make good offerings, God will do good for us.

I’m kind of glad that (1) we don’t have a separate portion dedicated to giving in our services anymore; no, nowadays we just mention it in passing that the offering basket is present for those in our physical services, and that details for online giving will be flashed accordingly. It’s also nice that (2) we don’t really mention Malachi 1:7 anymore.

No, what we mention nowadays is 2 Corinthians 9:6-8:

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

I think this is a whole lot better to share to the body of Christ. As we have been given, so we are able to give. As we have been given, so we are inspired to give – not under compulsion, not being coerced, but convinced, convicted, and deliberate in giving. And let’s not forget – cheerful. We don’t force people how to feel, and that’s why we don’t play on their conscience nor do we give people a sob story to make them want to give. If they want to give, then they give. However it plays, God loves a cheerful giver, because God Himself is a cheerful Giver.

As I said that last statement I could imagine Christ, in all the pain and anxiety and torment He went through at the cross. He may have been feeling a lot of things at the time, but let’s not forget, he was cheerful: “for the joy set before Him, He endured the cross.”

See, even in giving, we come back to the finished work of Christ. I guess where I’m going with all of this is that the motivation for our own sacrifices and offerings will always be birthed from the sacrifice of Christ, and His offering on the cross.

We give, as we have been given.

At this moment I must share, I guess this is where this remedial is going. I’m finding it quite convenient to make up for lost words by way of going through the Word daily, and discussing here, real-time, as I type – anything and everything that got me thinking as I read. I hope that’s okay with everyone who takes the time to read all this.

By the way, if you’re still reading, thanks.

O LORD, how manifold are your works!

In wisdom have you made them all;

the earth is full of your creatures.

Here is the sea, great and wide,

which teems with creatures innumerable,

living things both small and great.

There go the ships,

and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it.

These all look to you,

to give them their food in due season.

When you give it to them, they gather it up;

when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.

When you hide your face, they are dismayed;

when you take away their breath, they die

and return to their dust.

When you send forth your Spirit, they are created,

and you renew the face of the ground.

May the glory of the LORD endure forever;

may the LORD rejoice in his works,

who looks on the earth and it trembles,

who touches the mountains and they smoke!

Psalms 104:24-32

I don’t hear the word ‘manifold’ often. Though I do know it’s used in ‘Great Is Thy Faithfulness’ – that’s probably the only place I remember it from.

I just looked it up – I get the ‘mani’ part is many… and, well, ‘manifold’ is ‘many and various’, in the first definition shared in our good friend Merriam-Webster.

I was only intending to share verse 24, but I couldn’t pass up on the beauty of the rest of the psalmist’s exhortation. How many and various are His works, indeed. The majority of this Psalm elaborated on the details behind the creation of God, ranging from the hills and the forests and the valleys, and after Verse 24 it goes on to share how God created the vast ocean – one so vast that even the Leviathan (which God made as well) to not only move, but to play in it.

I took a quick breather and looked away from the screen for just a moment, and saw the plants here in the living room – and not only do I see plants, but I see rich colors, complex forms of life, intricate combinations of living cells forming entire organisms that grow on their own, needing only air, light, and water to continue to survive, and to thrive. I see soil, teeming with the same nourishment these plants need, soil where our physical bodies would return.

We can look at all this and say that out of the chaos all these beautiful things came to being on their own… but I would rather believe that we have a Creator, a God who made it all, down to the smallest of details. No way we could replicate any of it, only to appreciate it.

And as we appreciate Creation by way of acknowledging its Creator, we would eventually be led to marvel, not only at how all of it was made, but by how all of it continues to exist. Indeed, through Christ all things were made, and through Christ all things are held together. This is the same God who spoke light into the chaotic depths in the beginning of time. The same God who spoke light into the darkness spoke peace into the raging storm, and surely, surely, He speaks light into the darkness of our own lives, and peace into the storms we find ourselves in.

It’s just so nice to take in all of these words and just to know (1) that we have an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God, who is the Creator of all things seen and unseen; Creator of Time and Space who Himself is beyond Time and Space, and therefore infinite and eternal, absolutely superior to all that He has made. It’s nice to know (2) that this same God is not against us, but is for us, and this has been demonstrated and projected by no less that His only Son, Jesus Christ; Through His finished work – His birth, His death, His resurrection, and His ascension – we behold everlasting love which can only come from an everlasting God.

I went all out on that but I’m just saying that it’s nice to know we have a great God, and we have a great God who loves us greatly.

20 My son, be attentive to my words;

incline your ear to my sayings.

21 Let them not escape from your sight;

keep them within your heart.

22 For they are life to those who find them,

and healing to all their flesh.

23 Keep your heart with all vigilance,

for from it flow the springs of life.

24 Put away from you crooked speech,

and put devious talk far from you.

25 Let your eyes look directly forward,

and your gaze be straight before you.

26 Ponder the path of your feet;

then all your ways will be sure.

27 Do not swerve to the right or to the left;

turn your foot away from evil.

Proverbs 4:20-27

I wrap all of this up with this set of verses from Proverbs 4.

Today I’ve been reminded, from Psalm 104, that just as we are fearfully and wonderfully made, so is the rest of creation. It just goes to show how intricate and therefore caring our God is about how we were made, down to the smallest of details. It also reminds me of how God’s love for us has been with us ever since the beginning of time, speaking light forth before anything else… and at the cross, Christ would declare reconciliation finished, after all was said and done to Him. I don’t know, that just came up, but I thought it was a nice touch.

Today, I’ve been reminded from Psalm 4, that we do what we do, not in order for God to do to us… but rather, we do what we do out of appreciation of what God has already done for us. We love, as we are loved. We forgive, as we have been forgiven. We give, as Christ has given to us.

We would do well to keep the simple Truth in our hearts and minds. This is the simple Gospel of God’s awesome power and absolute love for us through Christ and His finished work, the power of God within us unto salvation, and to so much more.

May we be kept with all vigilance, and as we believe, may the streams of living water continue to burst out of our bellies; may hearts be as our words, saturated with life far superior than any deviance or perversity. May we be as focused as Christ was focused on us, that the joy set before us would also cause us to endure.

Finally, may we continue to fight the good fight, proclaiming no more and no less than the Gospel of Grace, that no matter where we go, we do not just bring good, but we bring Life.

God bless us all.

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