Worthy: Gratitude & Praise (1)

Our lives are filled with thoughts and questions about worth. Is it worth it to take the time and read this article? Is this old thing worth keeping? Should I buy this object now or should I find a sale? Why did God save me when I am not worthy? We ask many questions regarding worth. From these examples we see some questions are important to think about while others are much more trivial. An important question we must ask is, of what is God worthy that I must render to Him? God is worthy that every aspect of our life be directed to Him. But it is easier to direct that life to God when we know of some things God is worthy of receiving. According to the Heidelberg Catechism (L.D 32 Q.A. 86), we must do good works, “that so we may testify by the whole of our conduct our gratitude to God for His blessings, and that He may be praised by us.” We learn here that God is worthy of gratitude and praise. We must know what these expressions truly are, and how they are related to one another.

Gratitude is perhaps the most important thing of which God is worthy. This is because all our other actions, although they are all distinct, flow from our gratitude. To understand gratitude, we can think of how we express it to one another. If a friend is given a great gift which gives him joy and fills his heart with excitement, then he might give a card or gift in return to make his generous friend happy. If expressing gratitude is the recipient of a gift giving pleasure to the faithful giver then we must know how to bring pleasure to God. Remember back to creation when God said, “Let the earth bring forth grass…And the earth brought forth grass…and God saw that it was good,” (Gen. 1:11-12).  God finds pleasure when His people, like the grass, fulfill their created purpose and give Him glory. To show our gratitude to God and please Him, we must be obedient to His holy law and give Him all glory. This faithful obedience must be revealed by our actions and flow from a heart of gratitude and love for God.

Our praise too comes from an acknowledgement for what God has done. However, it is not simply because He has given us so much that God deserves praise. It is because God is God that he is worthy of praise. Often, we find things on this earth worthy of praise because of their price or uniqueness. We may praise a house for its lavish decoration and elegant construction, but how much greater is God than the greatest thing one could ever give earthly praise and admiration to? God is worthy to receive praise because He alone is worthy of the glory that praising gives. In His essence, “God is infinitely exalted above all His creation and there is none like Him” (Hoeksema, Essentials of Reformed Doctrine, L:3).

As the children of God, we have so many reasons to give God this praise of which He is worthy. As God’s children we are not only more aware of who God is and how worthy He is, but also we feel His hand upon us bestowing us with many gifts. Yet, even with all our knowledge and experience of His blessings we still have so much to learn about God. My next few articles will continue to show what God is worthy of so that we might better render unto God that which is His.

Luke Christian Potjer

The Secret to Happiness

The world is always looking for the secret to happiness. People search and spend their whole lives on the mission for something that will give them lasting, long term happiness. They look to money, sex, popularity and many other things for this sense of completion.  Christians have already known the secret though. We were given the answer long ago, and the Heidelberg Catechism, Lord’s Day 1 Q&A 2 tells us simply and beautifully.

Q: How many things are necessary for thee to know, that thou, enjoying this comfort (see Q&A 1), mayest live and die happily?

A: Three. The first, how great my sins and miseries are; the second, how I may be delivered from all my sins and miseries; the third, how I shall express my gratitude to God for such deliverance.

This question and answer at first glance seems a little odd. The secret to happiness revolves around us contemplating our sin and misery? Once you try it, though, you’ll find it’s very true. Recognizing these three things can and will drastically change your outlook on life, put your priorities back in order, and yes, give you lasting happiness by the grace of God.

The first part of the question on its own certainly will not give happiness. When we think of our sins and miseries we feel humbled, embarrassed, maybe even depressed. However, looking our sin square in the face and seeing it for the atrocity that it is, that is what makes this secret to happiness work. Salvation would not seem so miraculous if we didn’t recognize the truth of total depravity. We have to see the immense, vile load of our sin before the next portions of the answer can bring us with joy to the cross.

The second part is where we start to feel some true joy. Those horrible sins we just talked about are given a pardon! We see in this part of the answer that there is hope for us! We won’t be left alone to wallow in our misery. We lift our bowed heads and see the cross and start to feel the burden of sin fall from our shoulders. However, we can’t stop here.

The third part takes this power of joy and sets it loose, releases the happiness in terms of thanksgiving. It always appears to me as if the second portion of the answer created so much joy, we can’t keep it bottled inside any longer. We burst into anthems of thanksgiving, joy, and praise for our salvation. We have to recognize what we should do as a result of our salvation. Our church attendance, prayers, and all-around Christian lifestyles aren’t in order to gain salvation; they’re the result of intense thankfulness for our salvation.

Now, just because we know the secret to lasting happiness doesn’t mean it’s truly a secret. Going out into the world and telling others about this fountain of joy is part of what we may do to express our gratitude to God. So, this Lord’s Day (and all week) I encourage us all to not go through the motions of church going, Bible reading, praying or anything else, but to do each of these things with a conscious knowledge that we are expressing gratitude to God for an incredible, and awe-inspiring work of salvation in our lives. Then, when this life brings you down this week, and you need to rediscover your happiness, read over this question and answer, and you’ll surely find true joy.

Suzie Kuiper

Preparing My Heart with Gladness

This Saturday, as we prepare for worshiping our God tomorrow, I can’t help but think of the first verse of Psalter #348:

With joy and gladness in my soul

I hear the call to prayer;

Let us go up to God’s own house

And bow before Him there.

How glad and joyful I am that I can go to God’s house! Why am I so happy, you ask? Why is it such a good thing to go to church? How joyful can it really be to go and worship?

Let’s think about it this way. We are busy as beavers Monday through Saturday: school, work, family, friends, relationships—all of these things demand our attention and care. We are always thinking ahead to what we have to do next, or when this is going to happen, or who we are going to see here. It’s as if our minds are clocks wound up tightly and we just have to cruise on full speed ahead the whole week long. Now, it’s Saturday, and we finally have a chance to relax, slow down, and not worry about all those things! God has set aside a day for us to rest from all of the things of this world that we are always busy with because He omnisciently knows that is the best way for us. He loves us so much that He gives us a full 24 hours to dwell on Him and His words instead of being consumed by everything that takes us away from Him. Think about that for a minute. How amazing is it, that right from the beginning of creation, God set aside the Sabbath for that very reason? In His perfect plan, God gave us our Sundays for such a blessed rest—therefore, I am joyful!

Not only am I glad because I get a chance to rest, but going to the Lord’s house also means that I will be hearing the preaching, the very words of Christ spoken to me. I have much to learn yet about who God is, and every Sunday, Christ commands me to learn more about Himself. Through His mouthpiece (the minister) Christ tells me how to walk my antithetical walk; He instructs me in so many things, and for this I am so glad! How else would I gain knowledge and wisdom?

Going up to my Father’s house is a wonderful experience as it brings me comfort as well. I am reminded week after week that I am saved. I have a Father who was willing to send His only begotten son to die—for me and my abominable sins. So often our busy lives Monday through Saturday can be exhausting, often leaving us in grief and despair. How am I supposed to get through it all? What does everything even matter anymore? And then we come to church, where we hear once again that we can lay our burdens on God, and He will take care of us. There is no doubt: “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” Being reminded of this constant safekeeping makes my heart glad, so glad! It is such a joy to prepare for worship knowing that my dry and aching soul will be refreshed once again.

So, when you are traveling to your worship services tomorrow, be glad and joyful! You are going to hear your Father speak to you! You are taking a break from all the worrisome things of life! You have the opportunity to drink in the fellowship with God’s people and be refreshed once more! God loves you, cares for you, and has given you a day to enjoy and praise Him in!

“Who is so great a God as our God?” Psalm 77:13

Grace Medema