The Common Doxology is familiar to most of us. We sing it often because our hearts are thankful for God’s blessings.
Daniel G. Baumler
At the end of the Bible study, the pastor suggests, “Let’s close by singing “The Doxology.” How many of you are humming it already?
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise him, all creatures here below;
Praise him above, ye heav’nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost (Christian Worship 334).
In Christian circles it’s considered to be one of the world’s most famous hymns. Many of you know it by heart. Some of you instantly break out into four-part harmony when you sing it. You’ve likely sung it more than any other hymn in your life. Why? Because God is worthy of such praise.
It’s not an overstatement to say that we owe everything to our true and triune God. We owe our existence to him. We owe our salvation to him. We owe our faith to him. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost indeed!
Look at the hymn again. As you consider your great and gracious God and all the blessings that come from him, have you ever pondered the flow of those blessings?
The flow of blessings behind a pepperoni pizza
Consider a pepperoni pizza. I know it’s a strange illustration for Thanksgiving. We think of turkey with all the trimmings, but just follow the flow. Consider what goes into one pepperoni pizza and all the people involved. First to come to mind is the tomato farmer who grows the tomatoes for the tomato sauce. Then think of the crust and the wheat farmer who grows the wheat for the pizza dough. Cheese? Yes, the dairy farmer provides the milk for the cheese. What about the pig farmer who provides the meat for the pepperoni? Some like bland pizza, but others want a little spice. The savory taste to the sauce and the pepperoni comes from the herbs and spices another farmer provides. Your takeout pizza comes in a box. The tree farmer provides the material for that cardboard box. Are you overcome by the flow yet?
We can go on and consider the factories, the distribution centers, the delivery trucks, the local pizza restaurant, and all the workers behind each and every one of these steps. Think of all that flows into those things just to have your pepperoni pizza. We haven’t even begun to talk about the flow of weather the farmer needs for you to enjoy your pizza. Yet you can go to Little Caesar’s® and your $6 Hot-N-Ready® is right there to purchase. Every time, it’s right there.
Now consider your favorite grocery store or your favorite restaurant. Walk into your pantry. Open your fridge. There it is. The flow of blessings is everywhere! It’s mind-boggling to ponder all that goes into just one pizza. It’s absolutely overwhelming to think of the billions of mouths that are fed every day with a variety of food beyond pizza. More than anything, it’s humbling, because we are so undeserving.
The flow of blessings in the desert
Before the children of Israel came to the land flowing with milk and honey, blessings from God flowed to them in the desert. Every morning, other than the Sabbath, manna was there. In the evenings, the wind brought quail. When water was scarce, it flowed from a rock. The Israelites were never without.
Yet in spite of the flow, God’s people had the audacity to whine and complain. “They spoke against God and against Moses, and said, ‘Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!’ ” (Numbers 21:5). What? They did have bread, the manna, every day. They did have water, from a rock, on more than one occasion. No wonder then that “the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died” (Numbers 21:6).
How easy it is to feel all self-righteous and think the children of Israel got what they deserved. You wouldn’t whine and complain like that, would you?
Would you? While the blessings flow, how many of us grouse because we don’t know what to eat for supper? It always seems to be the same grub. While the blessings flow, how many of us can’t believe the store is out of the item we wanted? How dare they! We ask, “Where’s the manager?” While the blessings flow, how many of us get on the phone to put the customer service rep in his place because someone processed our order wrong? Never mind letting our light shine or being the salt of the earth. Someone’s got to know how angry we are.
Honestly, venomous snakes don’t seem enough punishment for our ridiculous whining and complaining. Paul knew what he was saying in Ephesians when he observed “we were by nature deserving of wrath” (2:3).
The flow of blessings from our Savior
But that venomous snake story didn’t end with just a bunch of dead whiners. Something else flowed that day, greater than any manna or quail or water. Grace, mercy, and forgiveness flowed. The children of Israel repented. “The LORD said to Moses, ‘Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.’ So, Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived” (Numbers 21:8,9).
How many times have you heard it flow from God’s heart through the pastor’s lips: “Grace, mercy, and peace are yours in abundance from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ”? Those blessings flow because, “just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him” (John 3:14,15). Immediately after those two verses flows John 3:16. You know it as well as the Common Doxology, right?
Set the pepperoni pizza aside and consider the blessings that flow every time we go to church. Isn’t the greater wonder the inexhaustible flow of grace from Christ when we worship? Ponder that flow for a moment. When we confess our sins, absolution for those sins freely flows. We hear the saving news of Christ crucified and Christ risen, and the peace of God which surpasses all understanding freely flows. We come forward to receive the body and blood of our Savior together with the bread and the wine, and forgiveness freely flows. Notice the emphasis on freely? Through faith in Jesus, all these blessings are ours. Every time we come, every time we repent, every time we hear, every time we receive, those blessings are there. God’s saving love is there. Not one of us is ever without.
If you think about the flow of blessings, you can understand why the cornucopia is a symbol or picture of Thanksgiving. There is also a reason the cross stands on or above our altars. The flow is always there.
Sing it: “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”
Daniel Baumler is pastor at Christ our Redeemer, El Paso, Texas.
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Author: Daniel G. Baumler
Volume 105, Number 11
Issue: November 2018
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