Friday, June 9, 2017

Why should we live the Glory Be!

Tobit 12: 6-7
Raphael called the two men aside privately and said to them: “Thank God! Give him the praise and the glory. Before all the living, acknowledge the many good things he has done for you, by blessing and extolling his name in song. Before all men, honor and proclaim God’s deeds, and do not be slack in praising him.
A king’s secret it is prudent to keep, but the works of God are to be declared and made known. Praise them with due honor. Do good, and evil will not find its way to you.

I am struck always by the scriptures.  Today in reading ahead to tomorrow’s daily reading (overachiever that I am I couldn’t wait) this passage sticks out to my mind and heart.  Now, over 250 times in scripture we are told to praise the Lord in one fashion or another.  In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 we are told this:

“Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

In my mind, repetition is therapy.  The Lord knows how thick headed we are so he has to repeat Himself to knock through the crust of our hardened minds and hearts.  This begs the question, why is this so important?  Does God need our praise and thanks?  Does our praise change Him?  I am no authority, but I have to think the answer to both those, and many other questions we could pose, is a resounding NO.  He is the Lord our God. He does not change, but over and over in the scripture we are told not to keep Him secret, and to offer up our praise and thanks giving.  Why? 

The first answer that came to mind here, at least for me, was obedience.  The why doesn’t really matter.  He asks us to do it, so in obedience, by Him, we should do just that.  That is the short stroke answer.  Me being me though, I wanted to attempt to look still at why.  He doesn’t ever seem to do things like a typical parent “Because I said so.”  There is always some perfectly loving reason, that in some way, benefits us. 

I’ve studied a lot of different things in my life, not enough that I would consider myself a master of anything, but enough to have an awareness.  One of the things that I’ve studied is Stoic philosophy. (Don’t judge! St. Paul had a working knowledge of it too!)  The stoics developed an understanding that where the mind goes so we go.  The foundational understanding of their philosophy was that if you could control your thoughts you could find peace and happiness.  The circumstances of our lives didn’t dictate whether we were happy as much as what we thought about them.  You may think this is an archaic thinking, but ultimately it is the foundation of a modern psychotherapy called cognitive behavior therapy or CBT. 
CBT basically states that our thoughts become our emotions which become our actions which becomes our way of life.  If we can change our thoughts on things then we can prevent negative emotion which causes negative behavior.  I generally find both the idea of the stoics and CBT to be true even when held up to the light of scripture. 

Philippians 4: 4-8 reads:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

(Especially verse 8)

Again, I am no authority, but as I read the scripture with the idea that where my mind goes, so goes my everything else, I begin to see and understand that God isn’t changed by our praise, thanksgiving, prayer, focus, or worship….but we are most definitely.  So, the whole of the scripture that asks us to do those things might be trying to tell us a little something about wholeness of mind and heart.  If we look beyond the scripture to the role models and saint of our faith we might also see the patterns of their holiness and success. 

That brings me back to the last line of Tobit’s quote at the start: Do good, and evil will never find it’s way to you. 
This doesn’t mean bad things won’t happen, but it does-I believe-mean that how you think about them won’t plant evil within you.  It’s really hard to do bad or feel bad when gratitude fills your soul and HE is worthy.

What are you thinking today?  Just some food for thought and prayer.

Here I am, Lord, send me! 

Lisa Brandel