Monday, May 8, 2023

         Sometimes we hear the expression “pay it forward.”  And we often speak of “paying it back.”  When we are overcome with gratitude, it can be easy to wonder how we can express what we feel.  Could we “pay it back?”  Should we “pay it forward instead?”  You may be surprised to know that the writer of Psalm 116 struggled with how to be grateful for what the Lord has done.  In Psalm 116:12 we read, “What shall I return to the LORD for all his goodness to me?” Have you ever asked that question?  Have you ever found yourself in utter amazement over what the Lord has done for you or given to you?  I suspect many of us have wrestled with these questions.  There is no way we could pay God back for what He gives us—grace, love, forgiveness, healing, second chances and daily provisions.  By asking this question, the writer of the Psalm makes us think.  He invites us to explore how we might answer that simple question in a difference-making way.  There could be a few answers to the question that the Psalmist raised.
            First, we can tell God we are grateful.  We can make time to express our gratitude and thanksgiving for what the Lord has done.  We can tell God that we are grateful just as we might offer thanks to a friend or family member who has blessed us in some sort of special way.  God does not need us to pay Him back; the earth is His and everything in it.  But, like any good father, He delights in hearing the gratitude of His children when they have received His rich blessings.
            Second, we can use what God has given to us to bless others.  We are not to hoard blessings or simply collect them for selfish reasons.  God blesses us so we can bless others.  God gives to us so we have resources with which to serve and honor Him by serving those around us.  We have all been given far, far more than we have any right to deserve or expect.  So, we can use this abundance of blessings to serve those around us.    
            Third, we can recognize what we have been given.  We may need to widen our eyes and ears so we can more clearly see and hear what God has done for us.  We want to pay attention to what God sends to us.  His blessings can often come through other people.  He often even chooses to bless us directly without the intervention or assistance of others.  It might be helpful to develop the habit of acknowledging three blessings every day that you can cherish and name.  Keep a list of things that you can review. 
            Fourth, speak about what God has done.  Tell others about the blessings and grace that God has given to you.  Peter wrote, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (I Peter 3:15b).  One way we can witness for the Lord is by speaking about what He has done for us and given to us.  We should not only count blessings; we should declare them and talk about them too.  Your testimony may encourage someone else in ways you could not have envisioned.
            Fifth, we can draw near to the Lord and deepen our relationship with Him.  Indeed, the Psalmist tells us how we can be grateful to the Lord in the next verse of Psalm 116.  We read, “I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.”  We return to the Lord a love for Him and an eagerness to spend time with Him.  We often desire time with those we love.  And if we love the Lord and rejoice in what He has done, we will want to draw near to Him and walk with Him in greater ways.  When we recognize His goodness, we will surrender to Him in love and loyalty, dependence and devotion.  Have a great Monday.  Remember to worship and encourage others to worship at    

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