October 10, 2014
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
Before we know it, Thanksgiving will be upon us! If this last year is any indication, the next seven weeks will fly by! Do you know why time passes so quickly as we get older? Well, you pick up speed and things go by a lot faster – when you are going downhill!!!
Seriously, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love the food, the smells, and even the football! But it is the family gathering – with friends included – that means so much to me. I remember as a little boy on our Connecticut dairy farm, sitting at our huge dining room table with Mom, Pop, three Norton boys, and at least two or three family friends. I still have the table, and – from an adult perspective – I wonder how eight people could comfortably fit around it! It seemed a lot bigger when I was only three to four feet tall!
As a Christian, the name of the holiday has taken on new meaning for me – Thanksgiving! The Apostle Paul instructs us in Ephesians 5:20 and I Thessalonians 5:17:
…giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our
Lord Jesus Christ…in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in
Christ Jesus for you.
“…giving thanks always for all things…[and] in everything….” That about covers every situation in which we might find ourselves, doesn’t it? And why is it that we can accomplish such thanksgiving? Because – as it is written in Romans 8:28, “…we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” And what is God’s purpose for the called – those who have put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ? Romans 8:29 has the answer: “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” God’s purpose is to conform us to the image of Jesus Christ! Now that takes a lot of work and it is a life-long process!
We have a lot of rough edges to grind off by means of the emery wheel of what our Heavenly Father allows to touch us. That process of conformation is very painful at times, and some of what God allows us to experience may also seem never-ending. But if we will accept by faith that our Father is doing a good work in us – however uncomfortable it may be – then we can indeed thank Him “…for all things…[and] in everything….”
Now we finally get to our featured scripture, Psalm 116:12 through 15:
What shall I render to the LORD for all His benefits toward me? I will take
up the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. I will pay my
vows to the LORD now in the presence of all His people. Precious in the
sight of the LORD is the death of His saints.
How are we to thank God? “I will take up the cup of salvation….” The New King James Version rightly adds the word, up. The NIV translates it this way: “I will lift up the cup of salvation…” Two ideas are presented here that are of utmost importance:
• First, The cup of salvation is right in front of us! God has done whatever is necessary to present that cup of salvation to all humanity! Jesus paid for all sin of all people for all time! We are just to reach out with ‘the empty hand of faith’ and receive what He so freely offers to us!
And we do not have to go searching for this cup of salvation! It is right in plain sight if we will just look with perceiving eyes! Paul put it this way in Romans 10:6 through 9:
…the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, “Do not say in your heart,
‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down from above)
or, “‘Who will descend into the deep?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the
dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, even in your mouth
and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you
confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God
has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
• Second, we are to lift up the cup of salvation, with the idea of drinking fully from that cup! And the fulness God provides from drinking deeply of His cup of salvation is incredible!
We will further explore Drinking The Cup Of Salvation in next Monday’s blog.