Date: November 5, 2017
English Evening Service
messenger: Don Frank
Title: What's the Magic Word?
Bible Passage: Psalm 37:4 (ESV) Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Introduction: From the time I was just a little kid, whenever I'd ask for something, my mother and my grandmother would always use the phrase, "What's the magic word?" And of course, I was a good boy, so I'd immediately say "Please." They would then give me a big smile and usually give me what I had asked for. And I would always follow that up with the customary "Thank you." And they would respond with a "You're welcome." Just normal polite conversation, right?
But as I was reading the Bible, I noticed that people didn't use the words "Please" and "Thank you" back in Bible times. I wondered when that custom started and how. Why do we use the word "Please?" And as I did a bit of searching on the Net for the answer, I came across the answer in the book Debt: The First 5,000 Years by author and anthropologist, David Graeber. He says, "the habit of always saying 'Please' and 'Thank you' first began to take hold during the commercial revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries among the middle classes. It is the language of bureaus, shops, and offices, and over the course of the last five hundred years it has spread across the world."
So, this is a fairly recent custom. I guess 500 years ago is fairly recent compared to the age of the Bible! And as I continued thinking about these words, I began to notice that ideas and feelings that these words stand for are abundant and clear throughout the Bible! And that's what I'd like to share with you for just a short time tonight.
These three phrases in our normal daily conversations, "Please," "Thank you" and "You’re welcome" are also so connected to our relationship with God. Let’s take a quick look at each phrase and see the depth of meaning that these phrases has in our daily spiritual conversations as well.
1. Please. Let's begin with our first "magic word." The English word "Please" is short for "if you please" or "if it gives you pleasure." When we say that to a person, we are asking for something that might please the other person, not just ourselves. For example, "Would you pass me the salt, if you please?" It's not a problem for the other person, so they pass us the salt shaker. "Would you mind loaning me your dictionary for a moment, please?" And that person is quite happy to do that, so they pass us the dictionary. It makes us feel good to be polite and the other person is happy because we requested that item politely.
Now, the same holds true when we talk to God. God made us in His image and so both us can take pleasure in our relationship with each other. The Bible verse that shows this so clearly is Psalm 37:4. It read like this, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." - Delight, desire and of course that means pleasure - we find our delight, our best pleasure in God. And when we do that, then God fills our hearts with what we desire. I think this promise is saying that when God becomes our #1 priority, then He will pour His blessings into our hearts until we are completely satisfied!
And there's a flip side to this coin. God finds pleasure and joy... in us! Don't forget that since God made us in His image that God too has great emotions. When we trust Him, talk to Him and spend time with Him, He is filled with joy! Look at Zephaniah 3:7. "The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty enough to save you. He will take great delight in you. The quietness of His love will calm you down. He will sing with joy because of you." Now, that's amazing if you slowly think about it. God - takes - pleasure - in - you! God wants to be happy with us. He's going to not just delight in us, but take great delight in us! He's going to be so delighted that He's going to break into song because He's so happy with you! Our God is a "singing God!"
2. Thank You. Now, onto our next "magic word." In English, "Thank you" comes from the word "think" and it originally meant, "I will remember what you did for me." I will think about what you did for me long after this event. I'm sure it will pop into my mind again in the future. And this is especially true of something big that a friend or family member gives to us or does for us. We might even say to that person, "I'm sorry. The word 'Thank you' just doesn't seem enough for what you did for me!" I'll give you an example. Just recently, our friend, Masaru Kitajima, suddenly wanted to get together and talk over a cup of coffee. When we got to the coffee shop, he reached into his bag, pulled out an iPad and gave it to me! It was an old, second-had one, but it was still in good shape. Now, it was mine! I was so thankful that I actually started crying a bit!
And it's the same with God. Let's look at Philippians 4:6. "Don't worry about anything. Tell God about everything. Ask and pray. Give thanks to Him." Talk to God with a thankful heart about what? About everything! "God, I'm thinking about all the things you give me and do for me everyday! Thanks for bringing me here to church safely this evening. Thanks for the voice I can sing with tonight. Thanks for the Bible I can hold in my hands and read with two eyes that work so well. Thanks for the smiles I see on the faces of my fellow believers in this place!
And did you know that one day when we reach heaven, the Lord is going to say, "Well done, my good and faithful servant, you have been faithful in handing this small amount, so now I will give you more... Let's celebrate together!" This is from Jesus' parable in Matthew chapter 25. This is God looking us square in the eye and saying, "Thank you so very much!" What a marvelous and joyful scene that's going to be!
3. You're Welcome. Now finally, our last "magic word" for this evening is "You're welcome." The idea here is "you're welcome to come to me and ask this kind of request anytime you'd like." When we say "You're welcome" to most all the people we deal with, that's the feeling we have in our hearts. It was actually rewarding to me to do that favor for you. I'd like that chance again sometime soon. Let's look at what Paul says in Romans 15:7. "Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God." Paul is saying here that we should take Christ's hearty "You're welcome" and pass it along to all those around us!
And we can have that same kind of conversation with God as well. God welcomes us into His family in this life. He will then welcome us into His eternal home in the next life. Do you and I have this kind of conversation with God on a daily basis? It seems natural when we speak like that with the people around us, but let's try it with God. God says, "Please follow me." So we do. Imagine then that God says "Hey, thanks!" And of course, we respond with "You're welcome, Lord. My pleasure." And it really is our extreme pleasure. God just keeps giving and giving and giving. "God, you are welcome in my heart and my life - always.
Conclusion. Our time has passed so quickly, as usual. It's real joy to look into God's Word and find these sweet nuggets, this wonderful promises that enrich out lives so much. So now, let's be enriched with our last song about the Bible. This is a song by Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith called Thy Word. As Pastor Shun comes to lead us on guitar, let's take pleasure in praising God together as we sing.
Closing Prayer. Now let's take one of our Scripture passages, Zephaniah 3:17, and read it together. Then let's transform it into a prayer and pray it back to our God.
Zephaniah 3:7. "The Lord your God is with you. He is mighty enough to save you. He will take great delight in you. The quietness of His love will calm you down. He will sing with joy because of you."
Dear Lord, our God, we thank you for always being with us. You are the powerful, mighty God of the universe. You have shown us again and again that You have more than enough power to save us. When You think of us, You feel great joy. We thank you for singing over us with great joy. Please calm us down with the quietness of Your Love. We welcome You into our hearts always and we want to talk to You about everything ~ forever. In Jesus' sweet name we pray, Amen.