Give Thanks

On this Thanksgiving Day I am drawn to 1 Chronicles 16:41: “With them were  . . . those chosen and designated by name to give thanks to the Lord, ‘for His love endures forever.’” Let me set the scene for you.  The Ark of the Covenant, the one element of the tabernacle that was God’s special seat, had been captured by Israel’s enemy, the Philistines.  David set out to bring the Ark home, and the people and their king were ecstatic. They celebrated the return of the Ark with sacrifices, offerings, praise, and joyful thanks. David crafted a beautiful Psalm of Thanks, which I encourage you to read in its entirety (1 Chronicles 16:7-36).

After the Ark was securely in its place in the tabernacle, David chose a group of priests to minister daily before the Lord, “To present burnt offerings . . . morning and evening, in accordance with . . .the Law” (v. 40). That was a crucial position in the spiritual life of the nation. But look again at verse 41.  Do you see that there were specific priests who were “chosen…to give thanks to the Lord”?  Their sole responsibility was to express gratitude to the Lord who was again dwelling among His people. They led the Israelites in exclamations of thanks with trumpets and cymbals and sacred songs. Theirs was a sacred responsibility.

Did you know that you and I are chosen by God to be His royal priests?  Peter said, “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light” (1 Pet 2:9). Jesus has provided the sacrifice, so the only priestly duty that is left is thanksgiving.  We have been chosen to lead our families, churches, communities, and nations in gratitude to the God who created us, sustains us, provides for us, and, most importantly, saved us.  We have been chosen to be thankful people. In the days of King David, the Ark was the assurance of God’s presence with His people, and they were grateful for His return. Today we have God’s presence in the indwelling Holy Spirit – and no one can take Him away. He will always be with us. And one day we will forever be with Him. Now that, Beloved, is something to be thankful for.

Hebrews: Perfection

I’ve known many pastors in my life and my  25+ year career as a church administrator – some of whom I had more confidence in than others. But none of them were perfect. Yet, the Law of God demands perfection, so how can these imperfect men help me to reach perfection? They can’t – and they will tell you that themselves.

The author of Hebrews said, “If perfection could have been obtained through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the law was given to the people), why was there still need for another priest to come—one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron?” (Hebrews 7:11). The perfect law was given to imperfect people and they were instructed in it by imperfect priests. How then, could they ever meet the law’s demands? Enter Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and the other person worthy of both a crown and a mitre.

The author pointed to Jesus’ lineage as a descendant of Judah, the royal line, but what of his priestly role? He said, like Melchizedek, Jesus is “one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to His ancestry, but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life” (7:16). What does that mean? Indestructible at its root means unable to be dissolved, disunited, overthrown. It means Jesus’s life, ministry, and mission would never be diminished or rendered vain because of His personal moral power. And because His position as priest was not something He inherited, but something He always was – the perfect mediator of the perfect law and the only one who had the power to make imperfect people perfect before God.

Many priests served and retired or died, and the law was never satisfied through any of them. But hear this: “Because Jesus lives forever, He has a permanent priesthood. Therefore He is able to save completely [forever, to the uttermost] those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them” (7:24-25). He alone can guarantee our salvation because He alone is “holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, [and] exalted above the heavens” (v. 27).

Beloved, you will never pull off perfect obedience, but you can put your faith in one who has. You can trust in the indestructible life of the Lord Jesus Christ, your priest and king to make you perfect.

Thankful People

The Philistines had captured the Ark of the Covenant, the one element of the Tabernacle that was God’s special dwelling place. David set out to bring the Ark home, and the people and their king were ecstatic with joy and gratitude. They celebrated with sacrifices and offerings to the LORD and joyful thanks. 1 Chronicles 16:41 says, “With them were Heman and Jeduthun and the rest of those chosen and designated by name to give thanks to the LORD, ‘for His love endures forever.’” Did you catch that these priests were “chosen…to give thanks to the LORD”? Their sole responsibility was to lead the Israelites in songs and expressions of gratitude to the LORD who was again dwelling among His people.

You and I are chosen by God to be His royal priests. We are chosen to give thanks. We have been given the special calling of leading our families, churches, communities, and nation in gratitude to the God who created us, sustains us, provides for us, and, most importantly of all, saved and redeemed us and made us His dwelling place through His Holy Spirit. You and I are God’s priests , chosen to led the way in thanksgiving. Yes, even in 2020. Especially in 2020. As long as there’s breath in your body Beloved, you have a reason to give thanks.

Chosen for Thanksgiving

“With them were Heman and Jeduthun and the rest of those chosen and designated by name to give thanks to the Lord, ‘for His love endures forever.’” 1 Chronicles 16:41

Today is Thanksgiving – and, prompted by the Spirit of God, I began to research the word “thank” in Scripture.  There are more than 130 verses in the Bible that speak of thanks, thanksgiving, thankfulness, etc.  Jesus often spoke to His Father saying “I give thanks…” Paul’s letters are filled with thanks, and I am convinced that his grateful heart was one of the biggest contributors to his joyfulness in spite of his circumstances.  And Paul had some mighty unpleasant, difficult, life-threatening circumstances.  But I believe Paul could be grateful because he knew who he was, and more importantly, he knew whose he was.

At least twice in his letters, Paul identified himself as “called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God” (Romans 1:1), and “called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God” (1 Corinthians 1:1).  The word “called,” in its root meaning is “chosen.”  Paul knew that he had been chosen, and the One who chose him was Christ Jesus.  Did you know that you are also “chosen”?  I discovered at least seven verses in the New Testament that express exactly that.  My favorite is 1 Peter 2:9 which says: “Buy you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness and into His wonderful light” (emphasis added).  You and I are also chosen and called by the same Savior who called Paul.  We have been chosen to be God’s unique and special people – not by anything was are or have or do – but only by the mercy and grace of Him who chose us.

I am especially drawn today to our key verse – 1 Chronicles 16:14.  Let me set the scene for you.  The Ark of the Covenant, the one element of the Tabernacle that was God’s special dwelling place, had been captured by Israel’s enemy, the Philistines.  David set out to bring the Ark home, and the people and their king were ecstatic with joy and gratitude. David, the Psalmist and musician, crafted a beautiful Psalm of Thanks, which I encourage you to read in 1 Chronicles 16.  They celebrated with sacrifices and offering and much joyful thanks.  Now look again at our key verse.  Do you see that there were specific priests who were “chosen…to give thanks to the Lord”?  Their sole responsibility was to express gratitude to the Lord who was again dwelling among His people.  They led the Israelites in songs and exclamations of thanks.

You and I are chosen by God to be His royal priests.  We are chosen by the Lord to give thanks.  We have been given the special calling of leading our families, churches, communities and nation in gratitude to the Lord, the God who created us, sustains us, provides for us, and, most importantly of all, the One who saved and redeemed us.  We are God’s priests in this age, chosen to be thankful people.   Oh, hear the words of John in Revelation 17:14: “But the Lamb will overcome them because He is LORD of lords and KING of kings – and with Him will be His called, chosen and faithful followers.” Now that’s something to be thankful for!

 Holy Father, You have called me out of darkness and chosen me to be your royal priest.  Thank you for your wonderful mercy and grace.  You are the giver of “every good and perfect gift” (James 1:17), and I am forever grateful.  Amen.