Romans 11:33-36 – “Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor? Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.”
If you hang around church very long, you’ll hear a lot of words that end in the suffix
“ology.” This addition at the end of a word is derived from the word “logos” and means “word.” Whenever you see this, it indicates a “word about” or “study of” the word it’s attached to. For example, and perhaps best known, is the word theology which literally means “a word about God” (theos [God] + logos [word]). Similarly, Christology is “a word about Christ,” and eschatology is “a word about escha.” Just kidding; it’s the study of the end times (Greek eschatos means “last”). Many of us have heard another word with this ending during a funeral service; the eulogy is literally a “good word” about the deceased. Okay, is this an English language lesson on word structure, or is there a point to all of this?
There is a point, and it’s found in the word that describes our Scripture reading for today. The word is doxology and it means “a glory word” (doxa in Greek means “glory”). Depending on how you count them, there are about 28 doxologies in the New Testament. These are outbursts of prayer that give glory to God, sometimes at the end and sometimes in the middle of the sacred texts of our Bible. Because they express praise to God, doxologies can be the perfect ending to a worship service, a personal prayer time, or as in this case, a book called “Cost: The Price for Following Christ.” In the introduction we noted, “No one paid a higher price for us to come close to God than God himself.” So, it is appropriate for us to end our study by giving him the praise that is due him.
Today we are going to approach our reading as more of a spiritual practice than a devotional thought. Together, we are going to use this doxology as a guide for prayer, slowly considering and personalizing lines from this benediction as we consider the cost one last time. With each line from this doxology, I will suggest two or three “cost” prayers, but feel free to follow the Spirit’s leading into other prayers.
Oh, the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!
· Praise God today for his inestimable wealth.
· Consider the stars, the ocean, endless fields, mountains, campfires, smiles, and perfectly formed children. Express to God your admiration for parts of his creation that feel overwhelming to you.
· Confess to God your limitations. Tell him how much money you’re worth, how much wisdom and knowledge you have, and then acknowledge how small you are when compared to his glory.
Who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?
· Acknowledge the gift of Jesus Christ and tell him how grateful you are that he gave us his son.
· Talk to God about how valuable Jesus is to you personally.
· Confess to God the ways in which riches have been or are an obstacle for your faith.
· Make a renewed commitment to God to give more, not to repay him, but to worship him.
For from him and through him and to him are all things.
· Think of ten of your most valued possessions and give them to God, acknowledging each as a gift from him.
· Commit to God what you would like to give him in light of this study. If all things are “to him,” start by giving something of yours to him.
To him be glory forever. Amen
· Give glory to God for his riches.
· Give glory to God for entrusting some of his riches to you.
· Give glory to God for accepting offerings from you as a gift.
When I was a kid, there was a ritual that followed the taking of the offering in each service. After all the trays were passed and collected at the back of the sanctuary, the deacons would stack them and prepare to bring the gifts of the people to the front. On cue, the entire congregation would stand and sing “The Doxology” as these men carried our tithes and offerings forward where they were placed on the communion table. This was a tangible and visible way to express glory to God and give back to him at the same time. And I think this is a great way to end our journey together. Sing it or say it. But whatever you do, mean it.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts:
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Pastor Mike Baker