Posts Tagged praise

Trusting Heart

Psalm 28: 6 – 7                  God’s Word

Thank the Lord! He has heard my prayer for mercy! The Lord is my strength and my shield. My heart trusted him, so I received help. My heart is triumphant; I give thanks to him with my song.

These two verses capture David’s relationship with God. Praise in on David’s lips. Our Lord heard his prayer and answered from His mountain. David doesn’t stop with praise though, he declares the greatness of the Lord, extolling His strength and protection. God is a shield about us and He is our strength. If you are tired or feeling weak, no need to worry. The Lord supplies us with strength, giving us His own might to fuel our days.

I really love the part about trust. Day after day as I read these psalms, I see David writing about trust. Trust was an integral part of his bond with Yahweh. It was an important tie between them. David tells us in this psalm that the reason he received the help he needed was because he first trusted God. David vocalized his trust. It isn’t just something he thinks about. It isn’t restricted to a hopeful heart. He boldly declares to all the world that his trust is in the Lord. There is a secret in there for those who have ears to hear. The bold declaration precedes the help. David followed the answered prayer with thanksgiving and song.

You might not have liked David if you knew him. He was over the top in love with God and from what I can see from his writings, he really didn’t care who knew it. He danced before the Lord without a care for what anyone would think. I would have probably thought he was a bit of a freak but now that I have the benefit of history, I can see that his outrageous proclamations of love and trust were the recipe for success. Now, I want to be more like David. I want to lose my inhibitions and boldly declare that my God is the king and the love of my life. I want to stop hedging in my exaltation of his greatness. You might not enjoy being around me either because if my Christmas wish comes true, I am going to be a lot more like David.

Praise Bombs

Psalm 18: 48 – 49                Passion

He rescues me from my enemies;
he lifts me up high and keeps me out of reach,
far from the grasp of my violent foe.

49 This is why I thank God with high praises!
I will sing my song to the highest God,
so all among the nations will hear me.

David certainly accomplished his goal. People from all nations, nations which didn’t even exist when he was living, have heard his songs of praise. His songs have spiritually fed generations of believers. That is really something.

The relationship between Yahweh and David was one of continual blessing. God blessed and delivered David. He routinely saved him from dangerous and aggressive enemies. David, in turn, famously lavished the Lord with high praise. Their relationship was one of giving and I imagine David is in heaven now with his lyre singing love songs to our Lord and God. What a beautiful picture.

The Lord has redeemed David forever and David is forever a king in the court of the Most High King. But then . . . cannot the same be said of us. We have been bought with a price, the price of an unblemished lamb who willingly shed its blood for us. We have been redeemed and our lives returned to glory status. The standing we were ordained to have in the beginning, before the fall of humanity, has been restored to us. Our enemies are but a footstool and all our needs have been met. We, then, are in a proper situation to continuously offer up thanksgiving and praise.

I do not find, however, that our culture is one of giving and praise, even to our God. Therefore, we are not being trained to be thankful and to articulate that thankfulness. We are not given to praise naturally or by cultural indoctrination, so we must admonish ourselves. We must purposefully set aside time to praise our Lord. We must intend, or purpose in our hearts, that praising the Father is a value to us. Then, we have to apply the necessary planning to our intent so that praise actually manifests. What am I saying? That we have to make a deliberate plan to praise our Father and then follow through with the appropriate action. As I have said, we are not being routinely taught and encouraged in this and it is not a natural flow from most of our cultures, so we have to make a decision that we wish to give the Father something in return for all of His great kindness and then do something about it. We cannot wait for the time to be right or even to “feel like it.” We must decide and then do it.

He, our Father, lives in our praises. He breathes them like you do air. He loves us but also longs for us to love Him in return. Wouldn’t it be great if, as a group of believers, we all started loving on Him more than we used to? How would it be if we all gave Him more praise in 2019 than we did in 2018. I know I have much more thanksgiving in my heart than I have spoken aloud. He has been good to me. I presume He has been good to you to. Let us purpose in our hearts that we are going to increase the praise in His throne room. Let’s bombard the throne room of grace with praise. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

But . . ..

Psalm 13: 6               Tree of Life

But I trust in Your lovingkindness, my heart rejoices in Your salvation. I will sing to Adonai, because He has been good to me.

How could I choose any verse other than this one after yesterday’s passage? The first part of the psalm details David’s fear, worry and sorrow but as is so often the case, he does not allow himself to languish in anxiety.

The most important word in today’s verse may well be “but.” David tells of all the trouble. He momentarily dwells in the angst, BUT, he says, there is something else which speaks in the darkness. A light which casts out even the darkest shadow. Despite the circumstances, despite the fear and emotional trauma, God is seated on His throne and is well and able to cast His saving radiance on even our deepest gloom.

David knew that God’s lovingkindness trumps all. It even trumps our unworthiness, poor prayers, lack of prayers, heathen attitudes and every other failure. David was able to trust the Lord because he understood love. David had an enviable revelation that love compels God. It will not let Him rest. The Lord’s salvation reaches into the darkness giving us every reason to rejoice. He saves us from every situation, every worry, every fear. David would not allow himself to meditate on the problems. He shifted gears into trust and rejoicing. This was a purposeful act, one which ultimately catapulted him into song. Yes, there are problems out there. Sure, challenges arise but shall we focus our attention on them or remind ourselves that God’s lovingkindness is trustworthy? Shall we fix our eyes on the circumstances or on Jesus? These are not rhetorical questions. We must, like David, make a definitive decision. How shall we color the fabric of our lives, with the music of praise or with despair? Lift up your eyes, my beloved. See the great and glorious there upon your own horizon. Love is beckoning even as it answers your most deep-seeded worries. Let your heart be light for you Father, your real Father, has healing, love and joy in His wings.

Joyful Song

Psalm 9: 1 – 2

I will give you thanks, O Lord, with all my heart. I will tell about all the miracles you have done. I will find joy and be glad about you.

What part of these verses do you like best? It’s all good, isn’t it. I was stopped by the part about telling of all His miracles.

This is another psalm of David. Are you beginning to hear and recognize his voice? Clearly David is passionate about his Lord and God. This passage is interesting to me because David declares what he will do. He isn’t asking the Father for anything. This is a celebration of Yahweh.
David was not without his problems and enemies and he did get around to one petition later in the psalm but it is almost a side statement. He wants to Lord to show him grace so that he can go on celebrating the greatness of God.

I look forward to meeting David in person. I want to tell him how much his words inspired and encouraged me. Here, at the bottom of my strength, with little to give I find David pouring out his heart to the Father and being grateful. Can we say, there is always breath enough to praise our God and speak thanksgiving? If there is breath for only one sentiment, should it be an entreaty or thanksgiving?

I quickly fall into whining and begging but David knew the Lord better than I do. He did his share of whining too, but he didn’t reside there. He lived in praise. Do you think David got the answer he wanted to every single prayer he offered? I don’t think so. None the less, his songs are not sorrowful. They are songs of praise, songs which celebrate the goodness of our God. David writes, “I will find joy and be glad about you.” That is a decision, an exercise of David’s will. That seems worth meditating on.

Impassioned Cry

Psalm 7: 1 – 2

O Lord my God, in You I have taken refuge; save me from all those who pursue me, and deliver me, or he will tear my soul like a lion, dragging me away, while there is none to deliver.

This psalm is headed with, “A Shiggaion of David, which he sang to the Lord concerning Cush, a Benjamite.” I find these words as important as the song itself. A Shiggaion is a particular type of song or poem. Easton’s Bible Dictionary defines it as, “a lyrical poem composed under strong mental emotion; a song of impassioned imagination accompanied with suitable music; a dithyrambic ode.” Ah, but what is a dithyramb? A google search led me to this definition, “a Greek choral song or chant of vehement or wild character and of usually irregular form, originally in honor of Dionysus or Bacchus. Any poem or other composition having similar characteristics, as an impassioned or exalted theme or irregular form. Any wildly enthusiastic speech or writing.” This begins to show more clearly the characteristic of Psalm 7. The Strong’s concordance has this to say about Shiggaion, “perhaps a wild passionate song with rapid changes of rhythm.”

When we read the words of David having been translated into Greek and then to English, we certainly lose a great deal of his passion. The English language is not known for its ability to convey strong emotion anyway. Apparently, this psalm was wildly passionate and yet the words read as dry as week old bread. Can we put ourselves in David’s shoes and touch his passion?

David knew his only refuge was the Lord. His enemy was so powerful and venomous that David was not only fearful for his bodily survival but more so for his immortal soul. Can you imagine being that threatened, scared that your enemy would, with the force of a lion, rend your soul?

Let me take you a bit further. We learn from the definition of Shiggaion and dithyramb that this would have been a wildly impassioned lyric with similar accompanying rhythm. The melody might well have been irregular, perhaps even discordant. Now add dance movements to this concoction. Everything David was and everything he felt got poured into this song to the Lord. It was an expression of his body, soul and spirit. He emptied out his heart to the Lord as expressively as a human being can. His spirit wailed within him and he gave vent to that strong emotion.

It will be impossible for us to appreciate the poetic rhythm in the translated version. We would need to read it in the original language to see the meter. However, we can, perhaps, reach into our own souls and feel the anguish David felt and sought to express. His song cried out from within him, seeking the solace that he knew he could only find in God. He laid out his problems to his father, lord and benefactor and called on God to save him. Then as he so often did, he praised the lord. Seek the Lord, petition the help you need, praise the Lord; this is the formula we learn from David. Let your trust have the last word. Here is how the Passion translation records the last verse, “But I will give all my thanks to you, Lord, for you make everything right in the end. I will sing my highest praise to the God of the Highest Place!”

That is how we should remember David and it is a powerful lesson we can learn from his life. No matter how dire the circumstances, David always ended his impassioned, even desperate plea, with thanksgiving, praise and faith. Oh that we might be people of faith. Would that we might pour out our hearts as did David. Though many of us may fall short of David’s gift of expression, we all have the ability to fully believe in the saving power and grace of our dear Lord. Give Him praise. He is worthy indeed. Get crazy and shout out your trusting confidence in your Lord. Reach into the deepest part of your heart and find what is most passionate within and share it with your beloved God and Father.

Power in Praise

Acts 16: 25 – 26

But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened.

I am a participant in a Divine Conference Call on Thursday’s. Besides seeking God and studying His Word, we have also been taking James advice from James 1: 22 which reads, “Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” Each week we perform a practicum. One week we focused on reading our Bibles every day. Another week we concerned ourselves with praying every day, and so on. This has proved a good experiment. We find our weaknesses and our strengths. We have learned the areas where we need to press in and the areas which come easily to us. The greatest thing I have learned comes from the week we determined to praise and worship God for at least five minutes every day.

First, I found that this was the most challenging of all the practices. We endevoured to lean into the worship side of things by which I mean, specifically, worshiping God for who He is rather than for what He has done. It was not a time of thanksgiving, nor a time of prayer. It wasn’t about what God has done for us but simply glorifying Him in His grandeur and majesty. The second thing I discovered from this practice was from my own experience. I found that nothing opened me to the Spirit mentally, emotionally and spiritually than worship and praise. I heard God better that week than any other week. Although I find worshiping God harder than reading my Bible, I also found that by pressing through, I learned more about glorifying Him with my words. Singing His praises releases something in me. It takes me out of my intellectual self and I connect with simply being a child of God.

God often, I could perhaps even say always, meets me over His Word. That is where we commune daily. However, this worship of God for who He is was the hardest and yet most successful of all the weeks of our practicum. I know that when I sit down with my Bible, the Father will sit right next to me. I guarantee the Holy Spirit will teach me something I did not know before. However, as I praised God, the Spirit was released in an entirely different way. All of a sudden, I was hearing God’s voice speak so much that I could barely continue for having to write things down. I began getting ideas. The flow of the Holy Spirit was exactly like the river of living waters.

You see, in today’s passage, how praise released the power of God into Paul and Silas’ situation. It can, and will, do the same thing for us, but we need to practice. We must learn how to open our hearts and let sincere praise flow forth, honoring the God of our hearts. We need to learn to connect with the intimate love we have for the Father. From that place of intimacy, it becomes a simple matter to let words of adoration and praise flow out. I adjure you to join us in our practice of the Word of God. Practice worshiping our God. Practice lifting worship up to Him. I believe you will find a new and deeper connection with Him when you do. Will you join us? Will you put feet to your faith and let God see and hear your Christian conviction?

Filling Station

Acts 2: 4

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.

Back in the old days, we called gas stations, filling stations. You drove your car into the station and someone would come out and fill it up with gasoline. It was good. Wouldn’t it be great if we had a Holy Spirit filling station, a place where we could pull in and be topped off with the Spirit?

Yesterday, we looked at Ephesians 5, verses eighteen and nineteen. In verse eighteen, Paul tells us to “be filled” with the Spirit. His directive is a bit challenging. He writes “be filled” as if there is a filling station we can visit to fill us up with the Holy Spirit. It would have been good for us if he would have continued to write, how we should be filled. Was it so simple for the believers of that day that instruction was not needed?

Today’s passage is from the account of the Day of Pentecost. Jesus told his disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they received this promised pouring out from God. The Bible says, “When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place” (Acts 2: 1). The first thing we learn is that they obeyed the Word of the Lord. That is always a good starting point. Secondly, what were they doing? This was a Jewish feast day therefore, we might safely assume they gathered together to worship and honor the Lord. They gathered in his name. And they were filled. It seems the key to their being filled by the Spirit was obeying Jesus’ word.

Another good example comes from Acts 4: 31, “And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.” Here we find believers gathered together, praying.

God sent Peter to Joppa to the home of Cornelius, A Roman soldier. Even though Cornelius and his household were all gentiles, the Holy Spirit fell upon all of them even while Peter was still preaching (Acts 10: 44).

While I am not saying that the Holy Spirit can only fill you when you are assembled with other believers, I am saying that being in a Spirit filled environment certainly does recharge your batteries. An atmosphere of praise and worship invites the presence of the Holy Spirit. I believe the early church celebrated Christ with such enthusiasm and spoke so boldly about Christ, the anointed one, that the Holy Spirit was constantly being poured out. Praise and worship are powerful tools that many of us overlook far too often. As you immerse yourself in the Spirit you will find your faith grow stronger, your ability to hear improved and you will immerge renewed in your faith.