Praise and Worship


Psalms 108-110 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: His goodness fills us with songs of praise

We’ve all heard the old joke, “Did you wake up grumpy this morning?”  “No, I just went ahead and let him sleep.”  So often God puts together a night owl and a morning person in marriage – challenges right from the start!  We all know that chipper morning person who jumps out of bed ready to take on the day, and then we know the night owl who considers morning totally unnecessary.  Some of us are both, and we burn the candle at both ends never getting enough sleep.  I love the morning, but I really don’t want to talk about it until I’ve had at least one stiff belt of coffee.  Regardless of our mindset about morning, we can open our eyes each day with a confidence in our hearts that only God can give just like David did.

@Psalm 108
“My heart is confident in you, O God; no wonder I can sing your praises with all my heart!  Wake up, lyre and harp!  I will wake the dawn with my song.” (1-2)  In Psalm 108, David repeated these verses from Psalm 57, and I think this passage bears repeating as well.  (See May 17@Psalms 57-59)  I must admit I’ve started some days with my joy being tested.  Negative thoughts and feelings have overwhelmed me and trying to kick-start the day is like biking uphill – it’s hard work.

David expressed the right way to start the day.  He woke up confident, not in himself but confident in the One who gave him the day, “This is the day the Lord has made.  We will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24)  We certainly had nothing to do with the making of this day, and if He found it valuable enough to give it to us, then we probably should be thankful for it.  David woke up thankful, “I will thank you, Lord, among all the people.  I will sing your praises among the nation.”(3)  And he woke up praising, “For your unfailing love is higher than the heavens.  Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.  Be exalted, O God, above the highest heavens.  May your glory shine over all the earth.”(4-5)  There’s just no room for gloom or doom when we’re focused on Him.

It’s impossible to wake up grumpy when our first thoughts are on the Lord and His goodness to us, as well as taking care of our last thoughts before we fall asleep.  I often find myself singing a song I heard a few years ago, “I woke up this morning with my mind on Jesus…I saw the sun rise and I felt the gentle breeze blow.  I woke up this morning with my mind on Jesus.” (Jordan) The best part of waking up isn’t Folgers in my cup – it’s Jesus on my mind. 

Moving Forward:  Confident, thankful, praising and with my mind on Jesus – it’s going to be a great day! 

Tomorrow @ Proverbs 23-24

Psalms 96-98 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He is great and worthy of all praise! 

@ Psalm 96
Sing a new song to the Lord!”(1)  One dimension of this verse has come to life today in our church services and worship music.  Creative young souls are writing songs filled with a heart of love for the Lord, and I enjoy their expressions, their rhythm and their passion.  Their anointed songs are new and represent their understanding of who God is as well as their experience with Him. But then, I also enjoy the old songs of the church, the hymns and gospel songs of long ago when creative young souls wrote songs filled with a heart of love for the Lord.  The new songs and the old are all wonderful testimonies of God’s presence in our lives.

However, I believe the writer is not really intending new to mean a song that is different or newly written, but more so one that is a fresh and up-to-the-minute response to God’s goodness and greatness in our lives.  It may be a newly written song or an old one, but regardless, it is a song that is fresh from our hearts to Him.  Sometimes when He displays His power and majesty in my life, it causes me to burst out with a spontaneous new song that no one has ever sung before, fresh from my heart.  It’s for His ears only and that’s probably a good thing.

When a new song is vibrant in our hearts and minds, the Psalm goes on to tell us what to do with it, “Each day proclaim the good news that He saves. Publish His glorious deeds among the nationsTell everyone about the amazing things He does.  Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!”(2-3) 

Each day

1) proclaim – publicly state or make known

2) publish – print, distribute, circulate, announce

3) tell – inform, advise, enlighten.

Share about His salvation and the amazing things He does with everyone, everywhere. How are we going to do that along with all our other responsibilities?  If the song is there, the fresh song, we will find a way!

For 40 plus years, my friends Jim and Della found a way to share their song with at least one person every day, everywhere they went.  Jim was quite the rascal before he found the Lord, and he never forgot the freedom that came to his bound-up soul the day he accepted Jesus as his Savior.  His eyes always filled with tears when he shared his 40 year-old-song because it was fresh in his heart, and he wanted everyone to experience it.  Jim and Della led hundreds of people to the Lord by sharing their song each day, one soul at a time, everywhere they went.  If the song is fresh, we will find a way to share it.

“Publish His glorious deeds among the nations.  Tell everyone about the amazing things He does.” (3)  If God has allowed us the privilege, and I do mean privilege, of going on a mission’s trip or outreach, we understand the great need, the great opportunity and the great sacrifice of sharing our song to the nations.  For most, the going and telling the nations each day is impossible, but God has appointed those to serve as our representatives, our hands and feet if you will, to go to the nations – our missionaries.

Because their song is fresh and up-to-the-minute, our representatives leave family, friends and comforts to go share the good news of His salvation and good deeds with everyone, every day.  Their tools include Bibles, books and lessons that our monies publish or announce through wonderful mission’s groups like Wycliffe, Life Publishers (Book of Hope) and Light for the Lost.  Our missionaries represent new songs proclaimed, published and told to the nations every day!

If our song is new, fresh and up-to-the-minute, we can’t help but share the good news of God’s salvation and greatness with those we meet each day.  And if our song is new, fresh and up-to-the-minute, we can’t help but support our representatives who take our song to the nations.  It’s time to sing a new song!

Moving Forward:  The song is new and fresh today – I can’t help but sing!

Tomorrow @ Proverbs 17-18

John 3-4 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He is looking for those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth

It’s difficult to communicate with people when we’re not on the same page as them, so to speak.  Our focus may be different, perhaps our understanding of the thing we’re discussing is not the same or maybe attitude is an issue.  Regardless of the cause, we’re well aware when we lack agreement and harmony in a dialogue.  In John 4, Jesus gave some powerful advice to the Samaritan woman about successful communication with our Father

@ John 4
The Samaritan woman at the well approached her conversation with Jesus with many issues regarding her race, her lifestyle and her worship. Jesus introduced her to the Living Water and answered her question about the proper place to worship with a powerful key to communicating with God. “The time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship Him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.” (23-24)

Jesus put to rest the dialogue about where to worship and focused on how to worship.  It was a new time, gone were the old traditions and typical ways of Old Testament worship, and now was the time for true worship – His coming changed everything!

Through the acceptance of Jesus and His salvation, we are no longer confined to a certain place or tradition of worship, but we have access to Him anywhere, any time because He is a Spirit who is everywhere all the time.  But how do we worship Him in spirit and in truth?

True worship is not done out of obligation or tradition, but it is offered out of sincerity and a genuine desire to express love and adoration for God – this is truth.  Jesus spoke about this in Matthew 15:8 when He quoted Isaiah regarding the Pharisees, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”  Worship in truth comes from a heart so full of Him that there’s little room for anything else, when our lips express what is truly in our hearts.  At these moments of true worship we are not thinking in the back of our minds about the errands we need to run or the roast in the oven or the next appointment because our thoughts of Him have filled our hearts and minds.  It’s not as though we can fool Him.

“The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” (Psalm 51:17)  My most genuine spirit worship comes when I worship Him for who He is in relationship to who I am not.  It’s difficult to worship Him for the immensity of His greatness and goodness when there’s even an ounce of pride in any great or good in me.  “Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens.  You have done such wonderful things.  Who can compare with you, O God?” (Psalm 71:19)

When the magnitude of His greatness shakes me to my knees in humility and brokenness, my spirit, my inner man, can truly worship in spirit the God who is Spirit.  Same focus, same understanding, same attitude – on the same page, so to speak.

True worship is sincere, attentive, heart-felt and spirit-humbled communication with the Father that can take place anywhere and anytime because He is a Spirit who is everywhere all the time.  Because He has to look for it, apparently true worship isn’t something that flows easily from His children, “The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way,” (23)  Oh, that He will find in each one of us what He is looking for today! 

Moving Forward: I join with David, a true worshiper, and pray, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14) 

Tomorrow @ I Timothy 1-3

Psalms 93-95 (NLT link)

Discover His heart: He welcomes our worship as He watches over His flock

@ Psalm 95
“Come, let us sing to the Lord!  Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.  Let us come to him with thanksgiving.  Let us sing psalms of praise to him.  For the Lord is a great God, a great King above all gods.” (1-3)  When we think about God’s greatness, there’s so much praise to give Him that sometimes we just have to get rowdy with it, joyfully shouting to Him because of our salvation, because He alone changed everything for us.  When we really consider this fact, it’s hard to contain or hold our joy, so why do we so often do just that – contain our joy?  Maybe we’re just not taking the time to consider His greatness.

Just the other day I felt like I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders, and apparently I looked liked it.  A friend of mine looked at me and said something to the effect, “Phyllis, you’ve got to get your praise on.”  While the challenges I was facing that day were nothing to bring on a shout, I turned my focus from those challenges to the faithfulness of the Lord, and everything changed.

I started to thank Him for my salvation and His goodness to me.  I sang praises to Him for who He was, “a great God, a great King above all gods” with the resources of the universe at His disposal.  After all, “He holds in his hands the depths of the earth and the mightiest mountains. The sea belongs to him, for he made it.  His hands formed the dry land, too.” (4-5)  My challenges had not yet changed, but the burden of them lifted, and I felt 50 pounds lighter, something, of course, I always like to feel.

Later that day, I knelt to thank Him for my friend and for the joy that came out of the gloom.  My heart became quiet.  I found no words to say and could only pause in His Holy presence as a peace and a rest flooded my being that nothing else, no substitute, could ever bring.  “Come, let us worship and bow down.  Let us kneel before the Lord our maker, for he is our God.  We are the people he watches over, the flock under his care.” (6-7)  Tucked there under the folds of my Shepherd’s garment, I was humbled by the knowledge that He was taking care of all my needs, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want..” (Psalm 23:1)

Whether in rowdy praise or in humble adoration, Psalm 95 calls us to worship, “Come, let us sing to the Lord!  Let us shout joyfully…Come, let us worship and bow down.”  Something to consider today. 

Moving Forward: Gettin’ my praise on today, moving forward with a song in my heart and a praise on my lips, remembering “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” 

Tomorrow @ Proverbs 16

I Chronicles 1-4 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: Because of His great love, He adopted us

I’m going to write about your family today. Oh…you didn’t know that I knew them?  Well, yes, I know a little bit about them.  In fact, today we read all about your ancestors as well as mine, many of whom were dynamic leaders and people of great faith, and a few bad apples on the old family tree too.  I mean, really, don’t we all come from Adam?

I Chronicles 1-4 records the official family history of the nation of Israel, starting with none other than Adam.  When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we are adopted or grafted into the family tree of Israel, so all the inheritance that was promised to Abraham and his family is ours as well. (Romans 11:17)

Just like with our personal family genealogies, we are able to read about our ancestors in the Bible and discover how and why we have arrived to the point where we are today.  So, dear one, I won’t be stopping by for dinner unannounced as family sometimes does, but please keep in mind that we are family and we’re all going to live together someday in one great big glorious city.  Don’t worry – it will be good!

There are so many amazing family members listed in these chapters that it would be impossible to write about all of them today, but a few stand out to me as I read them:  Enoch, who walked with God and never died, now that’s a story all on its own; Noah, the shipbuilder who trusted God in the face of ridicule; Abraham who left home and all that he knew to settle in an unfamiliar land just because he trusted God; David, the King after God’s own heart; and Jabez, our example of the man who prayed and God granted his requests.  Most of these are listed in the Hall of Faith of Hebrews 11.  What a heritage!  Also listed were dozens of faithful kings, priests and prophets – such an impressive background we have.

The next time our enemy comes around to demean and to discourage us by reminding us of our more recent family members who may not be so illustrious or to remind us of our own dismal past, we have something to declare:  We come from a long line of Royalty, we are Kings, we are Priests, we are blood-bought, (Revelations 1:6) and these are things our enemy will never be.  We will someday rule and reign and these are things that he will never do.  Because of who we are in Jesus, we really don’t have to take any of his talk!

As I think about where we come from, who we are and where we’re going, I can’t help but remember the verse that puts it all in perspective for me.  In Revelations 4:10-11, represented by the 24 elders, we learn what we the redeemed, His royal family, will do with our crowns when we stand before Him, “And they lay their crowns before the throne and say, “You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power.  For you created all things, and they exist because you created what you pleased.”   We may have a great and impressive heritage; but when it’s all said and done, it’s really all about Him.

Moving Forward: Head held high, I move forward today remembering who He is and remembering who I am because of Him.  I’ve got great genes

Tomorrow @ Psalms 93-95

Leviticus 22-24 (NLT link)

Discover His heart: He is blessed by our celebration of His goodness

As somewhat of a foodie, I am immediately attracted to any chapter in the Bible that is all about feasts.  Foodie or not, all of us have good memories of holidays, festivals and celebrations through the years, most involving visits with family and friends and consuming lots and lots of good food.  As a child, I knew it was Thanksgiving when I woke to the smell of roasting turkey and pumpkin pie, and Christmas was certainly right around the corner when I smelled cookies baking in the oven all day long.  What birthday celebration is complete without the traditional decorated cake with gooey butter cream frosting? Decorated eggs at Easter and grilled hot dogs on the Fourth! We have so many memories of delightful days spent celebrating momentous occasions. 

@ Leviticus 23
“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Give the following instructions to the people of Israel.  These are the Lord’s appointed festivals, which you are to proclaim as official days for holy assembly.’” (1-2)  The feast or festivals mentioned in Leviticus 23 played an important role each year in the life of the Israelites.  Life was difficult during those early years on the road to Canaan, and the festivals were welcomed opportunities for relaxation and celebration for the Israelites.

The feasts of Passover and Unleavened Bread centered around their deliverance from Egypt; the feasts of First Harvest, Harvest (Pentecost) and Trumpets were feasts of thanksgiving for God’s provision and blessing on their lives; the Day of Atonement was actually a day of fasting as offerings were given to atone for their sin as individuals and as a nation; and the feast of shelters celebrated God’s protection and guidance in the wilderness.  These feasts were observed throughout the centuries, including the time of Christ, but for most of this time period, the impact of what they were celebrating was lost because their hearts were seeking other gods and other things to worship.

Often we are so busy with all the preparation and festivities for our holidays, we, too, forget what we’re celebrating.  Certainly for a secular society, this is true, but even as Christians, we forget.  Our hearts are there, but our lives get so very busy.  If we think about it, we understand that the celebration of Jesus at Christmas and at Easter is a combination of all the Jewish feasts.  With thankful hearts we celebrate the deliverance and atonement for our sins, so grateful for the tiny babe who came and grew to become our sacrifice as well as our Shepherd who guides and protects us through our wilderness.

We, however, look forward to yet another feast, “Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him.  For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself…Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding feast of the Lamb.” (Revelations 19:7,9)  All other feasts, festivals and celebrations pale in comparison to this wedding feast when we, His Bride, join with our Savior to celebrate eternal life together.  This foodie is not going to miss this one!  I’ve already received the invitation!

I decided in my heart several years ago that I was going to spend some time every day celebrating Christmas and Easter.  While no food is involved in these daily celebrations, the joy is amazing.  Every day I thank God for sending His only Son.  He didn’t send a substitute or facsimile. He sent the only part of Him that was His Son, His Heir, knowing what the future held for Him.  Every day I thank Jesus for His willingness to come, leaving a place more glorious than I can imagine, willingness to suffer sin and humiliation for me on the cross.  And every day I thank Him for the empty tomb and the power of the risen Lord.  Sometimes I sing, sometimes I dance and sometimes I just sit and visit with Him, but regardless, it’s a great celebration.  Christmas and Easter every day! 

Moving Forward: After celebrating this morning, I think it’s time to go out and spread some Christmas cheer! 

Tomorrow @ 2 Kings 21-25

2 Kings 16-20 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He accepts our worship that is untainted by the worship of any other

One afternoon several years ago I watched an interesting exchange on the Oprah Winfrey show between Oprah and guest Shirley MacLaine regarding Shirley’s religious beliefs.  As Shirley explained her belief that anything or all things can be god if they are meaningful to you, I detected through Oprah’s nodding and verbal exchange an acceptance of this notion, an odd response from a former evangelical girl.

Through the years, we have seen a slow acceptance of these new age ideas by those who certainly should know better. For many, a belief system that is more encompassing, more accepting of different views and with fewer restrictions whether based on truth or not is more appealing than acceptance of a single God, a single Redeemer.  Israel found itself in this same position after the Assyrians settled in their land. 

@ 2 Kings 17
The invading Assyrians took captive over 20,000 Israelites from Samaria, sent them to live in Assyria and replaced them with groups of people from their own territories.  Many believe that their ulterior motive was to infiltrate the population through intermarriage in hopes that it would weaken the people’s loyalty and destroy national ties as they had done in other cultures.  This new people group became known as the Samaritans.  I’ve always understood that the Jews of Judea hated the Samaritans because of the Jewish intermarriage with the Assyrians.  They believed that it diluted the bloodline of God’s chosen people; but from this story, I realize that their hatred was based on so much more.

There was a slight glitch in the Assyrian plan when the Lord sent lions to devour the new residents.  “So a message was sent to the king of Assyria: ‘The people you have sent to live in the towns of Samaria do not know the religious customs of the God of the land.  He has sent lions among them to destroy them because they have not worshiped Him correctly.’” (26)  The king sent one of the exiled Israelite priests back to Samaria to teach the new residents how to worship God.

As corrupt as the Jewish priests had been, it was like the blind leading the blind, and the Assyrian residents continued to worship their own gods and the God of Israel.  Soon their offspring, the Samaritans, did the same.  Not good.  The new religion of the Samaritans in Israel was more encompassing, more accepting of different views and with fewer restrictions.  This sounds familiar.

God’s warning at that time is every bit as appropriate for us today as it was for Israel, “You must not worship other gods.  Do not forget the covenant I made with you, and do not worship others gods.  You must worship only the Lord your God.  He is the one who will rescue you from all your enemies.” (37-39)  While we want freedom for everyone to worship as they please, it is terribly dangerous to embrace anything that dilutes our belief in the only true and living God and the powerful redemption through His son Jesus.  I really don’t care if I’m unpopular and considered intolerant on this point, I’m not going to budge! 

Moving Forward: Call me stubborn if you want, but I won’t allow the genteel, all-accepting philosophy of this day to infiltrate my belief in my God and my Redeemer.  “For I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him against that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12KJV) 

Tomorrow @ Psalm 87-89

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