Monday, April 28, 2014

Acknowledging our real strength (Psalm 121:1-2)

SCRIPTURE: Psalm 121:1-2 (TM) – larger reading Psalm 121
I look up to the mountains; does my strength come from mountains? No, my strength comes from God, who made heaven, and earth, and mountains.

In a speech made in 1863, Abraham Lincoln said, "We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us."

How often in the course of our day do we forget who we are and where we have come from? Too often we push to the back burner the reality that none of this stuff in life really came from our hands. We are not self-made no matter what we might think.

Even further along this line of thinking is the fact that our strength and abilities are also a gift from God. Oh, we might have worked hard, got an education, honed our skills, developed our muscle… but everything that we are and everything we have comes from God and unto God it shall return.

There is some truth to be discovered in the old story that goes something like this: A newly appointed pastor went to visit the home of a congregation member. Upon arriving there the minister discovered his host was an avid gardener, and was only too delighted to show his pastor around the garden, a magnificent sea of greens, purples, blues, whites, yellows and pinks. Wanting to set the relationship off on a strong, positive note, the pastor said, “Praise God for the beauty of his handiwork”.
But his host replied in a somewhat offended tone, “Now pastor, don’t go giving all the credit to God. You should have seen this garden when the Almighty had it to himself!”
God does expect a return on His investment in us, but He also expects the praise and glory for having the wisdom in depositing those riches into our hands. My comment when people praise me for something is usually: “I’m amazed what God does with what He has to work with!” Let’s acknowledge that we are nothing without God and whatever strength we might think we have won’t get us very far in this world without God taking our meager offering and doing something might with it. To God be the glory!

Help us at all times and in all ways to give you, O God, the praise and the glory for all that you are doing in us and often in spite of us.

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