Joyful Thanks Living - Bible study
part 2 of 10
Worship Pleasing to God
The book of Psalms is the hymnbook of the Bible. Many of the hymns we sing at Good Shepherd’s are based on the Psalms. Our liturgy uses many phrases directly from the Psalms. Even our prayers are often taken from the Psalms.
Psalm 50 was written by Asaph, a director of music at the Jerusalem temple. This Psalm condemns worshiping God in an empty way (just going through the motions).
7 “Hear, O my people, and I will speak, O Israel, and I will testify against you: I am God, your God. 8I do not rebuke you for your sacrifices or your burnt offerings, which are ever before me.
9 I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens,
10 for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills.
11 I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine.
12 If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it. 13Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats?
14 Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High,
15 and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”
Our Creator Owns Everything
God is the Creator of the universe. God owns everything, since he made everything. That is why God says in verses 10 and 11 that all the cattle, birds, and creatures are his. In verse 12 God says that everything in the world is his.
Our Creator Has No Needs
Reread verses 9-13. God is the only self-sufficient being. God needs nothing. The apostle Paul says, “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else.” (Acts 17:24-25)
Going Through the Motions
“All the offerings Israel gave to the Lord already belonged to him. … They wanted to go through the motions of worship and to be thought of as religious, but they did not want to take to heart the admonitions and teachings of God’s Word, which they hated. … Their offerings were not real thank offerings because they were not offered with thankful hearts. Their vows were not real vows because they had no intentions of correcting their sinful lives. They were not calling on God in the humble recognition that they were the needy ones; they were treating God as if he were the needy one who owed them a favor for their service to him. They were not honoring God by their worship but trying to make a business deal with him. Such worship deserved God’s judgment and would surely receive it.” (People’s Bible pages 206-207)
God Is the Giver
“God is always the giver, never the receiver. True worship by God's people, therefore, must consist of praise and thanks to him. How completely the Old Testament matches the New Testament in spite of how differently God arranged things under these two covenants! In Old Testament times, the sacrifices and the forms of worship were strictly commanded in the Law of Moses. Nothing like that is found in the New Testament. …But there are important similarities. It is also clearly and unmistakably stated in the Old Testament that a strict observance of all the prescribed rules of worship have no value in God's eyes, unless a worshiper's heart is involved in his worship and that person recognizes that worship is an expression of faith and thanks to God for the promised Messiah, in whom everything is embodied and whom the entire Old Testament worship forms foreshadow and picture (Colossians 2: 16, 17; Hebrews 8: 5; 10: 1). This psalm teaches the same as the entire Old Testament (Deuteronomy 6:4,5; Hosea 6:6; Micah 6:6-8; Isaiah 1:11-18).” (Carl Zorn, The Psalms, pages 225-226)
What about Us?
“But how do the words of this psalm apply to us Christians, God's people of the New Covenant, his New Testament Israel? What is proper worship for us? What does our God teach us about this? We are to worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:23,24). We who make diligent use of God's Word and the sacraments and the worship practices connected with them will not be censured by God. God always sees and knows what we are doing, and it is his good and gracious will that we do this (1 Thessalonians 2: 13; Luke 10:16; Hebrews 10:25; James 1:21; Acts 2:42; Colossians 3:16; Galatians 6: 6).”
“But by no means let us suppose-and this is what our lying old Adam wants us to think-that we are performing a service to God or are doing something for him, and that he must reward us for such service! The eternal and almighty God, who has at his complete disposal everything in heaven and on earth, and whom angels and archangels worship and adore-do you suppose he needs the things we give him?” (Carl Zorn, The Psalms, page 226)
Because We Love God
“We should beware of thinking that God owes us anything for our worship. We should not serve God just to get something for ourselves. Many people worship God as a way to financial prosperity or peace of mind. We are to serve God because we love him, not because we love ourselves.”
(People’s Bible page 209)
He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.”
“True sacrifices, offered in faith and thankfulness, would please and honor God. Although they would not earn anything, such sacrifices would yield the blessings the Lord promised to his people: forgiveness of sins.“ (People’s Bible page 208)
God Doesn’t Need Our Offerings
“This psalm has many obvious applications to our stewardship and worship. We should beware of giving our offerings to certain needs with the feeling that God needs us to do his work. God did not need Israel’s offerings, and he obviously doesn’t need ours either. He already owns the whole world. He has thousands of angels who could deliver his Word for him.” (People’s Bible pages 208-209)
An Invitation to Us
“God invites us to join in the work of missions, not because he needs us but because he wants to give us the privilege of working with him. When the Israelites did not take the gospel to the nations, Paul’s work went on without them. If we throw away our chances, the work will go on without us, and only we will be the poorer for it. God’s kingdom will come, and his will shall be done—either with us or without us.” (People’s Bible page 209)
Strength From God
“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13) The Holy Spirit works in our hearts to strengthen our faith and to teach us faithful worship. The Holy Spirit works through the gospel, which is in the Bible and in the sacraments. This is why it it so vital that we attend worship services to hear the gospel message, that we read our Bibles and think about what God tells us there, that we regularly take Holy Communion, and that we recall our baptism.
Let Us Pray:
Heavenly Father, You are my Creator. You sent Jesus to die for my sins, so that I can have eternal life. Fill me with joy over what my Savior did for me. May I also joyfully worship you with my time and offerings.
For additional study read: “The People’s Bible – Psalms 1-72” pages 203-209. (Psalm 50)
Brug, J. F. (2002). Psalms : Psalms 1-72. The People's Bible. Northwestern Publishing House.
Zorn, Carl Manthey (2005). The Psalms – A Devotional Commentary. Northwestern Publishing House.
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