Enthroned

Psalm 102: 12 – 22

But you, Lord, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations. You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favor to her; the appointed time has come. For her stones are dear to your servants; her very dust moves them to pity. The nations will fear the name of the Lord, all the kings of the earth will revere your glory. For the Lord will rebuild Zion and appear in his glory. He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea. Let this be written for a future generation, that a people not yet created may praise the Lord: “The Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he viewed the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death.” So the name of the Lord will be declared in Zion and his praise in Jerusalem when the peoples and the kingdoms assemble to worship the Lord.

This is a large selection of text today, but hopefully it reveals a central truth and comfort. You might be interested to know that the title of today’s psalm is, “A prayer of an afflicted person who has grown weak and pours out a lament before the Lord.” What a title! However, this segment of the psalm does not sound like it is written by a person in despair and that is the key lesson. From despair, we lift our heads and see God’s glory.

The author may have wondered, like many other saints, “Where is God?” In times of trouble, it may seem God has abandoned us. However, as the psalmist indicates, our God is still on the throne and He reigns. He will save Zion, and your town, and rain down upon it His compassion and favor. Though the author was afflicted and had grown weak, yet he says of God, “He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea.” Then he tells us that this is recorded for a future generation, i.e. for us, that we might have courage and confidence in our time of need.

We are not abandoned, and God is not ignoring our plight. He attends to the prayer of the destitute, the needy. We will not ignore our cry for help. God will save us. He is with us and we will yet praise His name as we assemble to worship His name. His love surrounds and keeps us. He is Lord Protector and Father. Let us leave a testimony for a future generation too, that our Father lifted us and showed us His favor in our time of need.

Glory to God! Let the earth sing. Praises be to Yahweh; Father, Lord and Savior. Come Lord Jesus, show us your grace; shower us in your mercy and favor. Lift our heads that we might praise you with a joyful voice. Let the world see the beauty of your countenance as you touch and bless through your presence, your glorious, shining presence with your people. Amen.

Shout Happily

Psalm 100      GW

Shout happily to the Lord, all the earth.

Serve the Lord cheerfully.
Come into his presence with a joyful song.

Realize that the Lord alone is God.
He made us, and we are his.
We are his people and the sheep in his care.

Enter his gates with a song of thanksgiving.
Come into his courtyards with a song of praise.
Give thanks to him; praise his name.

The Lord is good.
His mercy endures forever.
His faithfulness endures throughout every generation.

Here is an admonition to praise God, sing to Him, serve Him, and thank Him. My question is, “Why?”  Why does this author exhort us to enter into the gates with thanksgiving and the courtyards with a song of praise?

This song is an expression of His joy and thanksgiving for who God is. He had a revelation in his spirit or an experience which caused his heart to move to praise. Finally, at the end of the song he resorts to reasoning. God is worthy of praise because He is good, merciful and faithful to every generation.

Sometimes we need to convince our minds that God is worthy of praise, but I like the notion that we do not need to be persuaded to praise the Lord. We might praise Him just because He is. It sounds like that is the psalmist’s sentiment. Praise the Lord because He is God. He is the Lord and He alone is the great shepherd and our maker. Praise the Lord and glory in that praise. Enter into His presence with joy which erupts in gratitude and praise. Praise the Lord with a happy shout!

Seas Roar; Rivers Clap

Psalm 98: 7 – 9

Let the sea, everything in it, the world, and those who live in it roar like thunder. Let the rivers clap their hands and the mountains sing joyfully in the Lord’s presence.

Do you ever wonder what happened the day the Lord died? I mean, if he is the life (John 14: 6) what happened to the world when the life died? And then, did the earth rejoice when he came back to life? Did the animals feel something happening in the earth? Did they hide in their burrows when Jesus died? What about the grass? Did it begin to wither and die?

I have a creation theory which may be a bit different from others you’ve heard. This began forming in mind in the sixth grade, so I’ve had a bit of time to think about it. Scientists have been on the hunt for the smallest particle in the natural universe. Everything they find is made of something else, but what? Electrons? Protons? Quarks? What is a quark composed of?

Well, ultimately, I believe that answer is, “God.” This actually goes along with the big bang theory and you will see why. Genesis 1: 3 is where we find the well-known language, “Let there be light.” It’s not until verse 16 that God made the sun, moon and stars, so what was the light that He released? John 8: 12 records Jesus saying, “I am the light of the world.” So that makes me think that he was the light in verse three. We know that Jesus was with God at the foundation of the world, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men,” (John 1: 1- 4.) And there is the reference, again, to him being both the life and the light.

So here is my theory, I believe when God made the earth, he did so by releasing a part of Himself. We see that Jesus was an integral part of the creation process. Perhaps when God said, “Let there be light” He was releasing that part of Himself which is Jesus into the universe and earth. There wasn’t a sun and moon, so it wasn’t that kind of light that he released. What if it was energy, the force of life, that God released. Now, if this is, in fact, a part of Him, one can easily imagine a BIG bang. There is room to think about what that might have looked like and a great opportunity for God to reveal the truth of it to someone. Imagine God releasing a part of Himself.

Now if we are on the trail of creation revelation here, that would mean that everything you see, touch, feel or perceive is made from the most basic, but most essential element of all, God’s living energy. God made everything from the only thing that existed at the time, Himself. Isn’t that amazing? That would mean that even the grass and trees get their life from Him. Well, that really isn’t that large a leap. Intuitively it seems to make sense. And when He formed the animals, did they have a sense of Him? Animals have an inner knowing of things. You can see it when storms approach. Did they recognize that something was amiss the day Jesus died? And did they leap for joy when he arose?

It would be something to see the sea teaming with life and praising God with such exhalation that the sea roars. One gets the sense that the mountains would bow down before our Lord. The Lord’s presence is reason for celebration, not for what He will do but just His presence. In His presence is fullness of joy; joy so profound and prolific that even seas will leap, and rivers clap their hands.

Connected

Psalm 96: 1 – 2

Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, bless His name; Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.

I wrote to you last week about praise. This song is titled “A call to Worship.” I think this is worth some thought. As you read further in this psalm the author also says to take an offering to the Lord. This made me think of how we can partner with the Lord in devotional unity against the viral situation we are facing but also unified towards and in one another.

We are living in a historical moment, no doubt. I have asked myself this question, “When I look back at this time, what will my own legacy be? What will be said of me?” I have answered that I want to grow, spiritually especially, and have looked after myself physically with a good diet and exercise. When hardship strikes, one of the ways we can fight back is to become better versions of ourselves. Make a silver lining. Romans 8: 28 promises that God will help us do just that. If we will give Him our lemons, He will make lemonade.

So, what are we going to do during this time of challenge? Hopefully we will never have to experience a time like this again but there will be other challenges in our lives. How do we respond to them? Do we grow or crumble? Can I come out stronger on the other side?
Here is the other question this psalm brings to my mind? Does praying, praising, worshipping or giving offerings to the Lord stimulate Him to action? That is what this psalm seems to suggest. I do not believe that our Father is sitting on His hands. Further, I do not believe there is anything I can do, or need do, to cause our Father to feel compassion. He is the embodiment of compassion. So, why this psalm?

There is something which happens when we praise, worship and make an offering? We are not moving God to action; we are activating our hearts. That is what is so important, in fact, it is vitally important. God’s heart is crying out for people who will connect with Him. We are His hands in the earth. We are His feet. If we fully understood this “partnership” we would be amazed at the power Yahweh has put in our hands. With a prayer you can “put ten thousand to flight,” (Leviticus 26: 8 KJV). Jehovah God has put weapons, or tools, if you prefer, in our hands. I wrote last week (Monday, April 6, 2020) that praise is one of the biggest guns we have (please forgive my weapon analogy but it works in my heart. Translate it to tools for yourself if you prefer). I wanted to disclose in that Word of the Day the strongest of all weapons but didn’t because I did not want to veer from the point of that message. However, I find my greatest tool in the time of great stress is an offering. I pull out my checkbook and give to a ministry. This is not a time I give to the Red Cross or any other worthy charity. I give into the hands of God. For some of you prayer is your biggest hammer. Others are able to release themselves into this partnering with God through praise. My worship and weapon is a check to an anointed ministry which feeds me. It puts power in my hands but more importantly it releases my faith. I feel that I am connecting with my Lord and that I am striking a blow against the enemy. I don’t give hoping something will happen. I give knowing I am impacting the world around me.

So, I think the psalm does make sense. We need to connect with our Father during this time. We might connect with Him more strongly than ever before. Our hearts certainly need it and our world needs it. Perhaps you dedicate yourself to prayer. Maybe it is worship. Some of you will feel empowered and connected with Dad by writing out a big check. Whatever it is, I hope you will make this sheltered time a point in your personal history which you will remember as a time of personal growth. Maybe you will start doing push-ups and can say it began in the midst of a crisis. I hope, and pray, that whatever transformative strides you make during this time, spiritual growth will be among them, because we need you. As this psalm says, “Bless His name.”

Praise The Lord

Psalm 95: 1 – 7       NIV

Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.  Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song. For the Lord is the great God, the great King above all gods. In his hand are the depths of the earth, and the mountain peaks belong to him. The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if only you would hear his voice.

This passage is good in every translation, enjoy reading it in several. I could easily write on this passage for a week. What jumps out at you? How about that our God is still the rock of our salvation. He will save us in this and every other situation.

I had on my list of things to share with people that though this may not be the easiest time to praise God, it is certainly one of the best times, so when I saw this theme in the Psalm of the day, there was no doubt as to what to write on. Praise shakes up hell and tortures the devil. Those are reason enough for me. In my writings on Spiritual Warfare, I have written that praise is one of the biggest and strongest weapons you have. So, take out a good praise album and let the devil have it, with both barrels. If you don’t have praise music go to Amazon Music, or iTunes. I know Amazon has some you can stream for free and there are plenty of buy options at both places.

I do want to add one thing about praise that I may not have shared with you previously but that is appropriate, especially now. Praise is good for your soul. I sincerely believe that is why God coaches us to praise. I don’t believe for an instant that our Beloved is an egomaniac who needs millions of people to praise Him all day. No, the better description of Him is as a loving Father who tells us all things for our own good. So, if you believe that, then His directive for us to praise is for our good, not His own.

Praise does have a way of unblocking your own heart. It really and truly does set you free. Music and praise come from the heart, from your spirit so it gives you a better opportunity to connect with God in your heart than even praying in your known language. Song especially frees the spirit. Now, more than ever before in your entire life, you need praise. You need that sensation of feeling free, unburdened and joyful. It will absolutely be medicine for your soul. Moreover, in that space of an unburdened spirit, you will be able to commune with God more easily and more freely.

I know there are plenty of you out there who either don’t know how to praise or feel encumbered. I get it. Here is my advice. Music! But, not hymns so much. I love the old hymns too and was singing The Old Rugged Cross just last week. However, the music that moves your heart to praise even more easily is the “praise” music you can find. I strongly suggest praise compilations. They are the best of the best. This music is easy to sing to and extremely easy to learn the lyrics.  Within a refrain or two, you are able to close your eyes and just set your spirit free.

There has never been a better time to learn how to praise God. There has never been a time when the whole world needed your praise as it does today. You will find God speaking into your heart like never before and you will release pent up emotions you didn’t even know were there. And, if you are embarrassed or awkward, well, there has never been a better time than now for us to practice and become adept. Heed this advice because it is good for your heart. Praise the Lord our God. Sing a joyful song of worship to Him. Give Him the deepest part of your thoughts and emotions. Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!

Praise

Psalm 92: 1 – 4

It is good to give thanks to the LORD and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning and Your faithfulness by night, with the ten-stringed lute and with the harp, with resounding music upon the lyre. For You, O LORD, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands.

How good is your praise? When I read passages like this, I am both encouraged and disappointed. I am encouraged because I see what praise can be and I am reminded how great our God is. I am disappointed, though, that I do not routinely engage in good praise. Even though I think and speak about how great God is, I don’t find myself praising Him like I could.

So, maybe like me, you choose to take today’s verse as a dose of encouragement. We too, can praise like David did but it means loosening up, letting go of some inhibitions. I think it also takes practice. You can always sing a song written by someone else but I would encourage you to really let go and allow your own words and sentiments to tumble out. And, praise doesn’t have to be sung. Maybe you just want to tell the Lord how much you appreciate Him. Tell others too, how great He is. It is good to give thanks to the Lord.

Honoring Your Name

Psalm 86: 11 – 12                  TPT

Teach me more about you, how you work and how you move, so that I can walk onward in your truth until everything within me brings honor to your name. With all my heart and passion I will thank you my God!

I hardly know what to write about this passage. This is a prayer from David, and it sounds like it, doesn’t it? I was first attracted to the section about teaching us to move like Him, work like Him but then I am over-taken by David’s entreaty that God teach him so that everything about him brings honor to God’s name. Oh my! How short I fall of that goal. What if I made that a cry of my heart, to live my life, to follow my Lord so closely that everything within me, everything about me brings honor to my Lord? What a life that would be!

And why not? Why not set that as a goal, but it really isn’t about it being a goal or setting this before us as a goal. It is about the cry of a heart which longs to know God so precisely, so intimately that every thought, word and deed reflects an all encompassing passion for the Father.

It is a good thing to want to know how the Father works, how He moves and I have prayed that for years. Now, though, I ask myself why. I believe the answer is out of a desire for success. If we do things the way Father does then we are assured of being successful, right? Perhaps, now, I am growing up and because of that bringing honor to His name impassions my soul.

God was good to David and David trusted Him explicitly. However, it seems that David loved God for more than just what God could do for him. He knew how to trust God for daily provision. He knew how to believe God for rescue even in the most dire circumstances. Above all else, though, he loved God for who He is and he longed to honor Him and give Him praise. I want to be like David. I want to walk in truth until everything within me brings honor to His name. That is an aspiration for a life eternal.