Why do we all go to church? People from various walks of life gather together, worship together, break bread together, share testimonies with one another and pray for one another. Most of the time, we do all these things with ‘strangers’, in the sense that we aren’t necessarily acquainted with each other outside of the church.
We all have one thing in common. We share a common Lord. A common desire to serve the Lord and hence we gather for service. But then let us ask ourselves this, how do we serve the Lord? Consider an analogy, If we can’t keep up with all the things we need to do at home, we choose to keep a maid. The maid serves us, by reducing our workload and by making our lives easier. So considering the fact that we are servants unto the Lord, what do we do to reduce God’s workload? What is it that we have done or can do to make His life easier?
Let’s look at Acts 17:25
“nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.”
Here God seems to be giving life to all mankind and breath to everything. But how do we help Him then? We are not capable of giving life or breath to anything. So this is the problem we have at hand. We are servants to the God of the universe. He lacks nothing, he has no weakness. You or I add nothing to the perfect triune God. Many of us often complain about the sloppy work of those who serve us, saying that we would have done a better job, had we been in their shoes. Think of this, we serve the Lord. There is nothing we can do to make it easy for the Lord. Any work we do is sloppy compared to the perfection with which God does everything.
In Psalm 116 this is the psalmist’s question. He seems to have been on the receiving end at all times. God gives him hope, and raises him when he is low. When death surrounds, he prays, “Deliver my soul” and God does. Now to this precious God, “What shall I render for all His benefits?” What in the world can this broken man in all his weakness give back? — cries the psalmist.
This is not a haughty man trying to pay God back because he thinks he is able to. Quite the contrary. This is a man with a broken and a contrite heart, who has tasted and seen that the Lord is good. And it doesn’t stop there.
He knows the answer to his question. He lifts up the cup of salvation and calls upon the name of the Lord. In the midst of his troubles, he calls out to the name of the Lord and God delivers him. So in reverent gratitude, he calls upon the name of the Lord again. This is the cyclic nature of praise and testimony. God actively works in the lives of His Elect and the Elect praise Him for His work. We are not just to praise Him out of a sense of duty without an affectionate heart. In fact, that is the charge that God brings against Israelites in Isaiah 1. Rather, we are called to taste and see that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8).
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When we drink of the cup during Holy communion, we figuratively lift this cup of salvation, acknowledging His mighty work in our midst. We, who were once blind and dead in sins, were bought at a costly price. Christ, on the cross, bore the Father’s punishment to buy us our salvation and to redeem us to be a people who walk according to His word and love Him with all their heart, mind and soul. In our lives, we take up the cup of salvation by acknowledging the Lord’s mighty works and by depending on the benefits of this salvation.
We should seek these benefits. The implication is NOT that we seek God only for the benefits, but that seeking God goes hand in hand with seeking the benefits. His love, his headship, his grace, his mercy, his Word, his discipline and all the other benefits are to be sought for most earnestly. We should constantly be dependent upon this God and call out to Him daily. Brothers and sisters, our God is good. Let it be that we find ourselves more and more in the shoes of this Psalmist so that, in our private prayers, we constantly acknowledge our God’s greatness and cry out
“What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord,”