Psalm 150 – No Question

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There is no question in my mind after reading this psalm what we are to do. This is last psalm, and the last line, verse 6, says it all: “Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord! Praise the Lord!”

This is chapter not only focuses on the “who” we praise but on the “how”. There is no question our God is worthy to be praised. Over the years, at one congregation or another, we have always been in the center of movement for change in worship styles, or “how” we worship. As I reflect on our life of ministry, I am saddened that so much time and energy was spent on this issue.

In my heart I believe there is no wrong way to praise and worship. The wrong way is to not worship. In this psalm, I picture such a joyous time of singing, dancing and playing instruments, all to glorify God. There are no frowns, and everybody is engaging in the way they feel moved. I think we as a society are too uptight (for a lack of a better word at the moment) and don’t allow our guard down, even to worship our God.

I enjoyed a story this week from a pastor counseling a woman in his church. She came to him all upset about this thing or that, all happening within the congregation. She was going to leave the church because she couldn’t believe the pastor wasn’t doing anything to control these “things”. The pastor’s wisdom here gave me goosebumps. He welcomed the woman to leave if that was her desire, but he made one request before she did so. He asked her to carry a full glass (completely full to the brim) around the church and report back to him. Believe it or not she did so, probably wondering what in the world was the point. When she met with the pastor to say her goodbyes, he asked her if when she was carrying the glass she had witnessed the “this and that” happening around her. She told him she couldn’t, she was too focused on not spilling the water. He told her that’s what it’s like when we are focusing on Jesus with our whole heart and mind. We are less likely to notice or be bothered by what someone around us may or may not be doing.

Wow!

Are we focusing on Jesus enough? Are we being drawn into our own selfish desires and not putting our trust and reliance in our God and Savior?

Think about your worship life. How can you improve it? Remember worship isn’t confined to an hour on Sunday morning. We should be living a 24/7 faith – praising God at every turn, keeping our eyes focused on him and his path for us.

Guess, what? I found a song. Let it wash over you here.

Let’s pray. Lord, thank you for the reminder today, simple as it is. Praise to you! I might not feel like dancing right n ow, but my heart is smiling and I feel a bubbling joy inside my being. May that pour out today as I get to work and to serving your kingdom. Thank you for the opportunities you give us each day. Help me not to overlook what is right before me and keep the focus on you. Guide my steps. Guard my tongue. You are an amazing God. May I worship you as you deserve. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

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Psalm 149 – Sing for Joy

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So much praising going on. It is such a delight to picture faithful ones singing and dancing and giving glory to God. Why is it that we don’t see more of that in our culture today? I’m not saying it’s not there at all, as I’m sure there are some groups and churches that go all out with dancing, praise banners and musical instruments.

What does your praise look like behind closed doors? Do you have a tambourine hidden in your closet for those moments when you go all out?

The idea is to worship our Maker with total freedom. We need to take ourselves out of this equation. It’s all about God and for God. Our worship should show God he is worthy. How do we do that? The psalmist suggests we do it in a big way, almost a spectacle, certain to get God’s attention and those around us.

What must the non-believers think? Maybe they think we’re odd or fanatical. Maybe they’ll wish they had such joy and freedom and be curious. Maybe they’ll join in because our joy is so contagious.

When I’m worshiping, I close my eyes a lot of the time. It helps me to shut out the world and be in total communion with God. With a black space behind my eyes, it is so easy to see the face of God smiling, the angels around him dancing, and the warmth of his embrace is all the more real.

What did you think of the power we as believers have been given, according to the second part of this psalm? I read it over and over to understand the meaning or intent. As you know, I’m no Bible scholar, but I do like to share my insights.

I can’t see myself using a sharp sword to execute vengeance. Can you? But I do see unbelievers in shackles of their own making. They don’t realize how they are bound for destruction. How sad for them. They are not experiencing the joy of salvation by knowing our loving God. They are stuck and locked in their own chains. Jesus has the key to freedom, if only they ask.

Who do you know living in shackles? What can you do to help them see the way out?

Let’s pray. Lord, I thank you and praise you for all that you are. I love to sing your praises. Spending time with you refreshes my soul like nothing else can. Please be with those friends and loved ones who are not following you and experiencing the joy you give. Use me to bring them closer to you. Prepare their hearts to accept freedom from the chains that bind them. Ignite the passion inside me once again to truly dance with joy. Give me the clarity that I am on the path you have chosen for me. May my face radiate with your glory today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Psalm 148 – Praise Who?

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Praise God! Everything should praise God according to this psalm. It’s not optional. But this requirement should be a no brainer. Why? Because our God is mighty and worthy of our praise. Our God is being praised by the sun and moon, the animals of the field, creatures of the ocean depths, and even the vapors high in the sky. God’s creation should give thanks and praise for its existence!

Do you ever wonder why God created you? I remember writing many journal entries over the years on that very question. Another variation would be “what is my purpose?” Having spent many Bible studies over the years talking about this, and reading Rick Warren’s book, “The Purpose Driven Life” on several occasions, I think I have a good way to sum it up. My purpose is to love and worship God and help others. That is why I was created.

I know that may sound simple. When we live in such a complicated world, it’s hard to accept something this simple. But God had it all planned out. He created this amazing world and everything in it. Then, he wanted a relationship with what he had created. After all, he did say it was “good”.

Relationships are key, and our relationship with God should be our #1 priority. We have been blessed with many relationships, and we know they must be nurtured and fed to grow strong. The same goes for our relationship with God. He wants to hear our praise and our prayers. He longs for conversations with us.

There is one verse here that made me wonder. Verse 12 talks of who should be praising, and after a list of animals, vegetation and weather, he states young men and young women, old men and children.” Do you see who’s missing? Old women! Now I’m sure it was just an oversight, because a just a verse before it says “all people”. After all, we know how much emphasis is put on caring for widows and orphans.

So we know our God is worthy of our praise. This psalm reminds us that we are not alone in praising God. Now we just need to do it. What does your life of praise to God look like? Is it restricted to Sunday mornings? What does your grateful praise look like? We don’t all need to sing and dance. Think on that and how you are honoring God.

Let’s pray. Lord, I thank you for creating me and giving me a vision to live a life of praise to you. I love you and want my life to glorify you. Help me focus on what is important, YOU, and to give you control over the things in my life that are holding me back. Walk with me and shine through me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Psalm 147 – Absolute Power

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My oh my. The power of God is absolute indeed! This psalmist is overflowing with praise. The word pictures used are exquisite and fresh.

What verse(s) spoke to you today? If you’re not sure, think about what you are going through right now (pain, struggle, happiness, success) and read this psalm again until you see yourself.

Do we see ourselves, maybe as one who fears God, as one with children blessed by God, or living in peace? The fact that God is interacting with us is truly reason to celebrate and sing praise.

I like the weather references, too. Snow like wool, hail being hurled like stones, and frost spread like ashes. What was striking is verse 15, He sends his orders to the world—how swiftly his word flies!” God is in control, and when he speaks the universe listens.

Lately I’ve heard people referring to “well life has thrown me some curves,” or “the universe will make it right.” These are just a few examples of common thought that rock me to the core. Have heard things like this, too? I just want to shake this people and say – NO! God is in control. God gets the credit for the good. Evil lives and seeks to hurt us, not God, not the universe or “life”. Evil is real. God is real. God is stronger and will prevail.

I think verse 11 is my favorite. No, the Lord’s delight is in those who fear him, those who put their hope in his unfailing love.” Isn’t this the key? We want to delight our Lord, and here is our “how to”. In this day and age, with the age of instant gratification and search for knowledge, people want to know how. Here you go – you what to know how to please God, fear him, put your hope in him.

Sometimes it’s hard to put our faith in things we cannot see. But God is God, and while we cannot see him, he is there. Can you see the wind? Yet you feel it on your face or blowing through your hair. It’s there, but you can’t see it. God is in the wind, in the rain, the snow, the hail. He created it, it is his as our we. As these things respond to God’s word, so, too, must we. Are you listening to God? How are you responding?

Let’s pray. Father God, I give you thanks and praise for all that you are and all that you have made me to be. Help me to step outside myself and open up my heart to let you in. I want to place all my trust and hope in you and not leave anything to chance or my own ability. I’m going to need your help to be true to this and not try to take back control. Cleanse me of me and my selfishness so that I can shine with your glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

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Psalm 146 – What the Lord Does

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Praise the Lord! The final psalms are all going to begin and end with this phrase. What a powerful way to end this beautiful book of the Bible.

The Lord does many things for us. This psalm speaks to us on many levels, and it is likely we can identify with something shared here. Our psalmist states he will praise God until his dying breath. While we don’t know if this is days, months or years, it doesn’t matter, he wants to glorify God for ALL his days. Not just on those days he feels good.

How about us? Do we have this kind of praise attitude? These final psalms may be a good wake up call for us to put more praise in our lives. We aren’t to put our confidence in other humans, even smart and successful ones, but in God.

So what does the psalmist believe God is doing or has done? He made everything; keeps his promises; gives justice; feeds the hungry; frees prisoners; heals the blind, lifts up those who are burdened, loves the godly, protects the foreigners, cares for orphans and widows, and frustrates the plans of the wicked. What a list!

God is going to do this forever. Are there any items on this list that surprise you? What ones are missing–what would your list include?

It certainly is not an exhaustive list. Take a moment to resonate on just one of these. What does this “deed” say to you? If you’re like me, your heart cannot help but be overwhelmed with gratitude and praise.

We are children with an inheritance for eternity. God is living, working and doing these things in our midst now and forever. How can we not be moved?

Let’s pray. Father God I give you thanks and praise for all you do for me. I am blessed beyond measure by your goodness and grace. You are my king and I am grateful. You have rescued me and set my feet on solid ground. You have given me a mission, and I pray that you will walk beside to help me execute. May I keep my eyes on you and use the gift you have given me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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