Giving thanks when we worship

Posted Mar 14, 2019

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Daily Scripture

Psalm 95:1-7

Come, let’s sing out loud to the Lord! Let’s raise a joyful shout to the rock of our salvation!  Let’s come before him with thanks! Let’s shout songs of joy to him! The Lord is a great God, the great king over all other gods. The earth’s depths are in his hands; the mountain heights belong to him; the sea, which he made, is his along with the dry ground, which his own hands formed. Come, let’s worship and bow down! Let’s kneel before the Lord, our maker! He is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, the sheep in his hands.

Reflection Questions

Israel’s understanding of the one God they worshiped developed over time. At times, they adapted language from the cultures around them, as in verse 3 of today’s reading. They tended to refer to all supernatural beings, who the New Testament and most Christians call “angels,” as “gods.” But God was the great person they worshiped and thanked, the “great king over all other gods.”

  • One continual hazard of Israel’s sacrificial system was the temptation to see the sacrifices as a way to “buy off” God and win divine favor. Psalm 50:13-14 expressed the reality: God didn’t need people’s sacrifices, but valued them as an expression of gratitude for God’s gifts. How have you learned to “come before him with thanks” in your times of worship?
  • Verse 7 echoes many other psalms (including the beloved Psalm 23) in identifying us as sheep for whom God cares as a shepherd. The image may have been clearer to pastoral Israelites than to modern city dwellers. Sheep are utterly dependent on their shepherd to keep them fed, watered and safe. Left to their own devices, they tend to be helpless to ensure their own survival. How grateful are you that in a big, complex universe you are one of God’s sheep, watched over with caring and love?

Respond

Thank. Think about someone who has taught you something valuable. It may be a school teacher, a family member, someone at church. Take this opportunity to reflect on how their words and action have changed you. In your journal, write a thank you note to a teacher. Consider sending them a hand-written note or an email sharing this note.

Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank you for promising to be the “good shepherd” who cares for me, who doesn’t run away in the face of trouble but is always there. I gratefully worship and praise you. Amen.

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Lindsey Arnold Seevers

Lindsey Arnold Seevers

Lindsey is part of the Missions team at Church of the Resurrection. She received her M.A. in Religious Studies from Missouri State University. Her favorite Bible story comes from John 21, because she will never turn down a brunch invite… especially not from Jesus.

The hardest thank you note I ever wrote was to a family friend dying of cancer. 

In high school she was my camp counselor, youth group sponsor, fearless serve trip leader and second mom. Throughout college and grad school she was a mentor, a hard-truth-teller, and a warm hug whenever I needed it. When she entered hospice care and I wasn’t going to be able to visit in time, it became important to put a pen to paper to express my gratitude for her ministry of presence in my life. How can you possibly sum all of that up in a card? 

While I was writing the note as an attempt to bless my friend, what I found was that I felt blessed as well. Reflecting on the valuable lessons she taught me and the encouragement she so freely gave filled me with not only a sense of gratitude, but a sense of conviction. She had poured so much into me, and it was now my turn to give that back to the world.  

When I reflect on all the blessings in my life, all that God and the church have poured into me, I can’t help but be filled with that same sense of gratitude and conviction. Each week in worship we are given an amazing opportunity to join with others the way the Psalmist calls us to--in prayers of thanksgiving and in shouting songs of joy. It’s a chance to bask in gratitude for the gifts of God’s creation. A chance to say “thank you” to God for the teachings of Jesus and for the church community that surrounds us. And then, after it’s all said and done, it’s a chance to leave the building and take that joy and gratitude out into the world.

Thank you, God, for being a good and faithful Shepherd.

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