Psalm 50: 1-2
The mighty one, God the Lord,
speaks and summons the earth
from the rising of the sun to its setting.
Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty,
God shines forth.
Having grown up in the church, I’ve had more than a passing exposure to a dozen or so pastors. I’ve observed most pastors have “tag” lines they use over and over; often to end a sermon. Pastor Scott ends his sermons with “to God and God alone be all the glory.” I’ve certainly had the opportunity to ask about the origin or special meaning of this for Scott, but I haven’t. Sometimes ignorance is license to come up with our own reason. For me, at least part of the meaning is Scott realizes he is a gifted preacher and leader. With any gift comes the risk it will be used for glory other than God’s. His closing is a subtle prayer that his gifts will be used exclusively for God’s glory. These Psalms tell us these gifts come from God. No matter how much hard work went in to building up the skills, God is the source.
My life is and has been filled with so many experiences, people, and events that were so moving and rewarding that I find myself filled with thanksgiving and awe. I often wonder how and why these came to me as I did nothing to deserve them. The answer comes clearly from Psalms: God’s gifts given freely.
God is in control. If I have a recurring faith struggle it is in how God’s control is carried out in history and our day to day lives. God created and is creating. God is with us, we are not alone. We say these words most weeks in worship and I believe them deeply. I believe in prayer, but I don’t believe God manipulates or pushes things around in real time just because we offer up a prayer. Another pastor friend counsels that “prayer changes us not God.” God gifts us; what we do with the gifts is in our hands.
Praise God for the beauty of the earth, for the warmth and brilliance of the sun, for the splendor of the night sky, for human advancement and achievements. The list goes on and on for God is the source of all good gifts. To God and God alone be all the glory from these gifts!
Gracious God, help us to use your gifts in your service and for your glory. May we work to serve our sisters and brothers before ourselves. May our work be for your purpose and glory. Amen.