Psalm 50

The Mighty One, God, the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to the place where it sets. From Zion, perfect in beauty, God shines forth. Our God comes and will not be silent; a fire devours before him, and around him a tempest rages. He summons the heavens above, and the earth, that he may judge his people: “Gather to me my consecrated ones, who made a covenant with me by sacrifice.” And the heavens proclaim his righteousness, for God himself is judge.

“Hear, O my people, and I will speak, O Israel, and I will testify against you: I am God, your God. I do not rebuke you for your sacrifices or your burnt offerings, which are ever before me. I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it. Do I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats? Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High, and call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”

But to the wicked, God says: “What right have you to recite my laws or take my covenant on your lips? You hate my instruction and cast my words behind you. When you see a thief, you join with him; you throw in your lot with adulterers. You use your mouth for evil and harness your tongue to deceit. You speak continually against your brother and slander your own mother’s son. These things you have done and I kept silent; you thought I was altogether like you. But I will rebuke you and accuse you to your face.

“Consider this, you who forget God, or I will tear you to pieces, with none to rescue: He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.”

“Be fearful of nothing, pray about everything, and be thankful for anything.” That’s a friend’s paraphrase of Philippians 4:6 and it’s advice I always turn to when things are getting scary. If Romans 8:28 is true and God is working everything together for our good, then we really don’t have anything to be afraid of by following His will for our lives. By submitting everything to prayer we stay in touch and receive the guidance we need along the way. By giving thanks for anything we receive, no matter how small, we demonstrate our gratitude to the Giver of every good and perfect gift, and train ourselves to be more aware of the numerous times He intercedes on our behalf every day.

In the Psalm the Lord asks, “Do you think I need these things I ask you to sacrifice to me? Do I eat the meat or drink the blood?” Of course He doesn’t. They were commanded to offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving every time He blessed them so they could see how much He gave them, not because He had need of anything. That way they’d have the faith to ask for His help when they really needed it.

Let’s face it, if you have someone in your life who is always ready to help, who even gives gifts spontaneously just because it pleases him to do so, won’t you likely turn to him for help when you really need it? No one gives you more than the Lord, and if you train yourself to look for His gifts and thank Him for every one, you’ll find two good things happening. First you’ll be amazed at how much He does for you, and second you’ll find that your faith to ask in expectation of receiving grows by leaps and bounds. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll even have enough faith to believe this promise from the Lord.

I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. (Mark 11:23-24)