Psalm 117

            God’s faithfulness never ends.  Let that statement from the psalmist sink in and ruminate on it for a bit.  What does it mean?  How does it work itself out?  Is God faithful to me?  As a pastor, I can tell you that one of the most difficult things that I see people encounter is wondering if God can really do things in their lives like he does in other people’s lives.  Sometimes we have all the faith in the world for other people – that God will forgive, heal, help, and show up in their lives – but when it comes to me personally, it becomes an entirely different thing.  We wonder if anything can really change.
 
            God is good for his promises.  He will accomplish all that he has said he will do.  It certainly might seem like he is taking his time and is terribly slow in moving on our behalf.  Yet, it shall be done on earth as it is in heaven.  God does not just work in other countries with mass conversions; he does not only grow his church in other geographical locales; and, he does not limit himself to establishing his kingdom in receptive areas.  God can and does work everywhere and will show up in your life and your church, just like he has been doing for ages in all places in all times.
 
            Perhaps the most appropriate response is to praise God for what he is going to do.  That is, don’t just wait for him to do something astounding.  Look for it and give thanks ahead of time for the incredible work of saving, healing, teaching, growing, and transforming that God will do in Christ through the power of his Holy Spirit.  It isn’t just for others; it is for you, my friend.  How will you trust him today?
 

 

            Faithful God, I praise you for what you will do in my life this season.  Thanks for the answers to prayer that will come.  I give you gratitude for the people you will deliver from sin, darkness, addiction, disease, and suffering and the new spirit you will give to me and many others in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Psalm 97


             In the wake of Ascension Day we are to be overwhelmed with the tremendous majesty of King Jesus.  Today’s psalm portrays the Lord as a very big God whose presence alone impacts the world in cataclysmic glory. God is large and in charge.  Nothing moves God; but God moves mountains.  This is no wimpy deity who needs his creatures to sustain him and his memory.  But all God’s creation is dependent upon him for life, sustenance, and flourishing.
             It is such a view of God that deeply impacts humanity.  When people catch just a glimpse of God’s glory it causes pagans to be ashamed of their useless idol worship, and brings forth humble celebration from the penitent.  The sheer dearth of these dual responses to God in today’s Western world ought to clue us to the reality that we are not seeing God for who he really is:  the great and glorious king who is so immense and so concerned for justice that just a snort of his nostrils could lay complete waste to the earth.
The conclusion to the matter is to “Love the LORD and hate evil!….  You are the LORD’s people!  So celebrate and praise the only God.”  Today is a day to make a simple choice to celebrate and praise God in some simple ways:  
Ø  Acknowledge Him in both the big and in the small things of life;
Ø  Include God’s message of grace in your everyday conversations – we don’t have to be preachy, just real;
Ø  Praise Him in public as well as in private;
Ø  Pray simple heartfelt prayers to Him whether it is eloquent or not because He just wants to hear the voice He has given us;
Ø  Be generous toward others through forgiveness and actual physical help;
Ø  Study His word because it honors Him to do so;
Ø  Express gratitude with a predetermined mindset to find things that God has put in your life to be thankful for;
Ø  Count your blessings today and again tomorrow so that it eventually becomes a spiritual habit; and,
Ø  Sing with the joyful noise God gives you.
Mighty God, you are worthy of all the praise, honor, and glory I can give you.  May my life be a simple offering to you, so that your kingdom comes not only in my own life but impacts the lives of others; through Jesus, my King.  Amen.

Psalm 148

            Praise to the Lord is the recognition that God deserves praise from everyone, and the way to do that is to bow, yield, and submit to him.  “Praise the Lord” is the Hebrew word “hallelujah.”  Hallelujah literally means “to raise the hands.”
 
            We are told ten times in fourteen verses of Psalm 148 to praise the Lord, to raise our hands.  It is a symbol of submission and joy.  To have open hands lifted toward heaven is to convey to God that we will obey him and live for him in everything.  Praising the Lord, lifting the hands, is not only to occur in church; praising the Lord is to happen everywhere.  We are to lift our arms in reverent submission at our workplaces when we land a client or have a good day, as well as when we are overwhelmed and cranky people demean us.  It is always open season on praising the Lord, and it is not limited to a certain set of good circumstances.
 
            We are to raise our hands and praise the Lord when our neighbors care about us and look out for us, as well as when they make noise and irritate us with their less than kept up yards and houses.  Yielding to God’s purposes for our lives is not dependent upon whether we have good neighbors or not.  We are to praise the Lord and raise our hands when our marriages are life-giving and thriving, as well as when our relationship with our spouse is dry, dull, and going nowhere.  It is always open season on praising the Lord and reflecting his image through love.  We are to praise the Lord over our kids, not only when they do what is right but we are to raise our hands with hallelujah when they are complete stinkers and drive us nuts.  We are to use our hands to praise and enact obedience, not refuse to praise and use them for violence through finger pointing, fist pumping, and even hitting.  Let both our mouths and hands work in concert together to praise the Lord!
 

 

            Praise the Lord!  Praise Father, Son, and Spirit!  Today I join with all creation to praise the name of Jesus.  His name alone is exalted.  He has raised me to new life.  Thank you, gracious Lord Jesus.  May you be lifted high today in and through my life.  Amen.

Praise the Lord

 
 
We are made to praise the Lord.  It is in our spiritual DNA to give adoration, praise, and honor to God.  Praise is not just meant for the times when our circumstances are going well; it is also for the despondent times, the times of difficulty, and the situations which are downright hard.  It is always open season on praising the Lord, no matter what is going on in and around us.  Praise can help to re-orient our lives around God instead of remaining stuck in being dis-oriented.  Whether in good times or bad, we are to praise the Lord. 
 
            Everything and everyone is to praise the Lord (Psalm 148).  Because God has created and continues to impact every nook and cranny of his creation, the entire universe, every creature, and all humanity have the common task to praise the Lord.  The outer reaches of the universe, everything out there which we cannot even see, are to praise the Lord.  The earth and everything in it is to praise the Lord.  The forces of nature are to praise the Lord.  The landscape, the flora and fauna, animals and humans are, together with all creation, to praise the Lord.  Young people, old people, men and women no matter who they are or where they come from are to praise the Lord.  The proper purpose of everything and everyone that exists is to give adoration and praise to God.
 
            Praise to the Lord is the recognition that God deserves praise from everyone, and the way to do that is to bow, yield, and submit to him.  “Praise the Lord” is the Hebrew “hallelujah.”  Hallelujah literally means “to raise the hands.”  Raising the hands is not just for Pentecostals! It is a symbol of submission and joy.  To have open hands lifted toward heaven is to convey to God that we will obey him and live for him in everything.  Praising the Lord, lifting the hands, is not only to occur in church; praising the Lord is to happen everywhere.  We are to lift our arms in reverent submission at our workplaces when we land a client or have a good day, as well as when we are overwhelmed and cranky people demean us.  It is always open season on praising the Lord, and it is not limited to a certain set of good circumstances.
 
            We are to raise our hands and praise the Lord when our neighbors care about us and look out for us, as well as when they make noise and irritate us with their less than kept up yards and houses.  Yielding to God’s purposes for our lives is not dependent upon whether we have good neighbors or not.  We are to praise the Lord and raise our hands when our marriages are life-giving and thriving, as well as when our relationship with our spouse is dry, dull, and going nowhere.  It is always open season on praising the Lord and reflecting his image through love.  We are to praise the Lord over our kids, not only when they do what is right but we are to raise our hands with hallelujah when they are complete stinkers and drive us nuts.  We are to use our hands to praise and enact obedience, not refuse to praise and use them for violence through finger pointing, fist shaking, and even hitting.
 
            In adversity we praise the Lord because it gives us a chance to put our faith into action.  In times when someone is being insensitive and callous, it provides the opportunity to praise the Lord and love them because God loves us.  It is very difficult to see God with your head down and your shoulders slumped; raise your hands, lift up your head and praise the Lord!
 
At all times, and in all places, in every circumstance and with each situation we are to raise our hands in hallelujah to Jesus for saving us from our misguided ways and bringing us back into fellowship with God.  Sometimes we go through experiences that leave us feeling alone, as if no one else has ever known such pain.  At other times we encounter such sentiments of joy that we wonder if there are people who have ever known such elation.  And then there are the typical, ordinary, mundane times of the daily grind, the living of each day almost on auto-pilot – going through the motions without much thought to what we are doing or where we are going.
 
            No matter our current situation, every day and every situation is a summons to praise the Lord.  God’s claim upon our lives ought to lead us toward raising the hands to him.  The person who truly praises God is marked by three things:  a deep humility, understanding that they are not God; expressive gratitude, recognizing God’s actions and living in patience; and, unity, a sense of common purpose with all humanity and all creation to praise the Lord. 
 

 

            There is to be a seamless transition from praising God in church settings to praising him in all other environments.  Our adoration of God is to be consistent across the entire spectrum of our lives.  By God’s grace our Sunday worship will train us to carry our adoration of Christ into daily praise.  May it be so, to the glory of God.