David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying,
Praise be to you, Lord,
the God of our father Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;
you are exalted as head over all.
Wealth and honor come from you;
you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
to exalt and give strength to all.
Now, our God, we give you thanks,
and praise your glorious name.
1 Chronicles 29:10-13
These words were written in response to all that was given – gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, precious stones – for the future building of the temple. It was a huge collection. Even more amazing is that everyone gave willingly and with integrity. A few verses after this we read:
O Lord our God, as for all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name, it comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you…. O Lord, God of our fathers Abraham, Isaac and Israel, keep this desire in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you. 1 Chronicles 29:16,18
After the life, death and resurrection of Jesus we find similar words by Paul.
Oh, the depth of the riches of wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!
Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor?
Who has ever given to God, that God should repay them?
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.
Here, Paul suggests something other than gold, silver and precious stones. In the next verse we read:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is true worship. Romans 12:1
Not only do possessions come from God, our existence is a gift from God.
For many, existence does not seem like a very nice gift. But if we get a glimpse of the existence God has planned, we will see with great joy the gift that our existence is. And there is more than existence even now. There is life.
In the first passage above, the presence of God was limited. Only designated people could be in God’s presence. Even after the elaborate temple was built, people had to GO to God and no one other than the priests could go into the holy of holies where the presence of God was so great that they tied a rope around their waist so they could be pulled out if they were struck dead in God’s presence.
In Christ Jesus, God has COME to man. His Spirit – His Life – has been given to us. It was poured out at Pentecost (Acts 2). This Life includes His power and love. This allows our existence to be more than eating and breathing; more than just surviving until we die. His Spirit in us gives us true life that will last forever and ever. At some point there will no longer be evil and sadness. There will only be true life. And that is the gift God has given and why Paul urges us to offer not only our possessions but also our bodies – everything we are – back to God. This is true worship with willingness and integrity.
This Thanksgiving, will you choose to genuinely thank the giver of life? Regardless of your circumstances. Regardless of the strained relationships. Regardless of how great or how little possessions you have been given. Will you give your existence back to God and receive eternal true life? Let Him show you real Life. Life that was banned in the Garden of Eden. Life that has come in Christ. Life that will one day be without a curse of any kind.
I suggest you read 1 Chronicles 29:10-13 or Romans 11:33-36 as your prayer before your Thanksgiving meal. A brief silence after you read will allow you to sense God’s response to your praise.
If you are giving your existence to God, find a spirit-filled, Bible-teaching church this weekend. Can’t do Sunday morning? Many churches gather on Saturday night and are casual dress. The Life God has given is meant to be experienced in community with others who have exchanged their existence for true Life. Otherwise, like a stick pulled from a fire, life will lose it’s glow.