Everything That Breathes

Hallelujah!
Praise God in his sanctuary.
Praise him in his mighty expanse.
Praise him for his powerful acts;
praise him for his abundant greatness.

Praise him with trumpet blast;
praise him with harp and lyre.
Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and flute.
Praise him with resounding cymbals;
praise him with clashing cymbals.

Let everything that breathes praise the Lord.
Hallelujah!

Psalm 150

I love reading the Psalms. When I was younger, I did not appreciate them as much. I did not really enjoy them as much as reading the parts of the Bible that talked about miracles and battles and heroes of the faith. But as I grew older, I began to connect with the emotions that characterize many of the different Psalms — joy and sadness, triumph and defeat, determination and desperation, and running through it all a sense of awe and thankfulness for the grace and mercy of God. This collection of ancient poems and song lyrics speaks to every part of the human experience and it is comforting to know that the emotions you feel or the struggles you face are normal.

The book ends ends on a joyous note with the simple psalm listed above. It reminds us that we should always be engaged in worship. It is why we were created, and no one is exempt from the command. When you read through the book, the writers of the various Psalms demonstrate how it is possible to praise the Lord regardless of your circumstances, so we really have no excuse!

Let’s take a look at why worship is so important:

1. It is deeply ingrained in who you are.

Hammers are made for hammering. Computers are made for computing. People are made for worship. It’s a part of your design. If you are not worshiping, you are not performing one of your primary tasks! Is it any wonder that so many feel empty and unfulfilled when they are neglecting one of their most basic functions?

2. It ensures that you maintain perspective.

When we worship, we begin to realize the immensity and majesty of our Creator and the smallness of our individual part in his creation. It helps us find our place, our purpose, and it reminds us that God is so much bigger than all of those big, scary, hairy problems that we face.

3. It inoculates us against negative thinking and speech.

It is very difficult to praise your Creator with one breath and then turn around and bite the head off of a family member or co-worker. Worship elevates the mind and lifts you above petty conflicts, jealousies, and hurt feelings. When we worship negative thoughts and emotions can’t find purchase in our souls.

4. It unites us with each other and with the rest of creation.

When we participate in worship, we are just singing along with the sun, moon, stars, oceans, mountains, plants, animals and creepy crawlies. They all proclaim God’s glory. And when we worship, we are joining believers all around the world, from many different nations and cultures. It unites us despite our differences, and unity is something that is needed now more than ever!

This is by no means an exhaustive list and we could find many more reasons for or benefits derived from worship. It’s better than multi-vitamins, diet, exercise or any self-help regimen ever devised to get you on the right track. The great part is that we don’t have to wait until Sunday to get started. You can worship right now, wherever you are!

I encourage you to make some time today to engage in worship. Whether it’s during your commute or in your office, blaring through your stereo system or straight to your brain with headphones, during your quiet time or dancing around while you do your chores, there is no better activity to set the tone of your day!

PRAYER: Father, we stand in awe of Your majesty and power. We are overwhelmed by the splendor of Your creation and the never-ending grace and mercy that You constantly display. Your praise will forever be on our lips. Amen!

I Will…

(Psalm 145: 1-7, NLT)

I will exalt you, my God and King,
    and praise your name forever and ever.
I will praise you every day;
    yes, I will praise you forever.
Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!
    No one can measure his greatness.

Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts;
    let them proclaim your power.
I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor
    and your wonderful miracles.
Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue;
    I will proclaim your greatness.
Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness;
    they will sing with joy about your righteousness.

There is great power in the words that we speak to ourselves.  As silly as it can seem, there is a lot of effectiveness in taking time to speak affirmations to yourself and being intentional in your thoughts.  How you talk to yourself can affect your entire day, and furthermore…your entire life.  This is why we have to be purposeful with our thoughts.

As many of you know, I am an educator, and a big part of our lesson framework is using what we call “I will” statements to preface each lesson.  We used to use “I can” statements, but this year we modified it to “I will.”  It doesn’t seem like a very significant change really, but even just that one word changes the entire feel of the lesson.  The children used to end each lesson with an “I can” and that wasn’t always the case with each child.  Some of them couldn’t.  So now, they begin with a mindful, intentional statement that begins with “I will.”  It’s almost like a promise to oneself.

You may be wondering where I’m going here.  How does this pertain to our spiritual lives at all?

Most of the time, we know our own capabilities…or at least we think we do.  We know what we can do, and that’s how we operate in our daily lives…pushing all of the things that we know we can do until later.  Essentially, we are spiritual procrastinators!  We are busy, we are distracted, and though we may be taking time out each day to love on God a little, are we being intentional in how we approach our relationships with Him?

We need to change the way that we think and talk to ourselves.  Instead of “I can” exalt the Lord, “I can” praise Him every day, “I can” meditate on His splendor, or “I can” proclaim His greatness – we should be following David’s example of a purpose-driven life of prayer and thanksgiving by saying I will, I will, I will, I will…and then doing it…right now…because we really aren’t promised a later!

Such a seemingly simple change to make, but it can alter your prayer life and your relationship with God in a mighty way.  We should be ever growing and always changing for the better as we walk with the Lord, becoming more passionate and driven as the years go by.  However, sometimes we get bogged down, that inner fire diminishes to nothing more than a tiny glowing ember, and we are simply moving from moment to moment – grace to grace.  It happens.  That’s just what life does to us sometimes, because of sin and imperfection, but this is the exact point in our lives when we have to decide to make a change and rekindle the flame.

So say to yourself today, and every day:

 I will exalt you, my God and King,
    and praise your name forever and ever.
I will praise you every day;
    yes, I will praise you forever.

 I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor
    and your wonderful miracles.

 I will proclaim your greatness.

Make these promises, and keep them.  Be forward thinking and intentional.  When you say to God, I will, I think you’ll find that a great sense of commitment will set in, and you will become more engaged with our Heavenly Father than ever before.

Prayer:  Heavenly Father, I love You so much, but sometimes my actions do not always show that to You.  I pray that You will help me to be more committed and mindful in my prayer life, so that I am always maturing and growing closer to You.  Instead of thinking about what I can do, help me to proclaim what I will do.  Amen.

I Just Had to Tell Ya!

Psalm 66- “Shout for joy to God, all the earth; sing the glory of His name; give to him glorious praise! Say to God, ‘How awesome are Your deeds! So great is Your power… all the earth worships You’… Come and see what God has done: He is awesome in His deeds toward… man… Who rules by His might forever, Whose eyes keep watch on the nations… Bless our God, … let the sounds of His praise be heard… We went through fire and through water; yet You have brought us out to a place of abundance… Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what He has done for my soul. I cried to Him with my mouth, and high praise was on my tongue… Truly God has listened; He has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, because He has not rejected my prayer or removed His steadfast love from me!”

 

“What He has done for my soul…”

Those words penetrated my heart when I read them aloud this morning. Immediately the intense and unconditional love with which He pursued me relentlessly became vivid once again in every corner of my mind. Too often I let the concerns and obligations of this life drown out the most incredible truth I know. But, oh, how refreshing to be reminded of it!

No doubt, the greatest gift He gave my soul was salvation. To offer me something I in no way could ever earn or deserve… simply because He loved me and wanted to have a relationship with me… absolutely amazing! To pay off the incredible debt that I owed, to justify me without cause, and forgive every selfish trait in me… marvelous beyond words!

Still, He didn’t stop there! He is awesome in His deeds toward us! He daily loads us down with benefits and adds no sorrow, no guilt, no baggage to it! Favor, promotion, friends, family, laughter, hugs, blessing upon blessing, simply because He loves us!

Throughout this life we face many obstacles; fear, betrayal, loss, grief, frustration, loneliness… but the moment we cast it all on Him, He takes it away and replaces it with His peace and joy! And still the gifts keep coming! He instills within us this deep, pulsating expectancy that we can’t even fully comprehend, let alone explain. Still, it puts an extra skip in our step and allows us the ability to walk through even the most troubling of times with an assurance that we’ll be more than okay! We went through fire and through water; yet You have brought us OUT to a place of abundance!

And it keeps getting better! He LISTENS to me!! Every cry I’ve muttered and every praise I’ve exclaimed; He’s heard every word. He even listens to the worries and wishes only my heart can make. Can you soak that in for just a second? As much as I loathe having to admit this, I’ll say it. I’ve had to really work on paying attention to people when they speak to me. If the conversation interests me or captures my sympathy, I’m all in. But, if the former isn’t quite happening, my brain will dart off onto some other forlorn path way off in neverland, and I’m left trying to figure out if I should laugh or nod, say “Oh no!,” or respond in some other way. I get so ashamed because I really DO care about people and how they’re feeling, and I can’t understand how I so quickly misplace my attention. I’ve tried to justify it by reminding myself of all that I have going on, but that doesn’t make it acceptable. And when I think of all God is involved in- it humbles me and thrills my heart to know He never loses interest in what I say to Him. (Even the whiny, nothingness that sometimes -oftentimes- escapes my lips!) He offers my soul a 24/7 place of rest and security!

How could I think on all of this (and it’s still such a small fraction of what He has done for me!) and not exalt His name? He has not rejected me or removed His steadfast love from me! God is so good to me! He’s good to you! He loves us! And He is constantly looking for opportunities to exhibit that love. May I never overlook one of them! He puts so much thought into me…

My soul is forever grateful.

And I just had to tell ya!

 
Prayer: Dear Lord, I just want to thank You for the love You have for me. I want to praise You for all the good things You have done. It’s unfathomable how deep and sincere Your love is for Your children. You love us all like we’re the only one! May I never fail to bless Your name for this wonderful, peaceful life You’ve given to me. Thank You for being a constant source of strength and contentment. You are a good God! Worthy of all our praise! May we never lose our wonder! In Your precious and holy name I pray. Amen.

Praise! Every Day!

(Psalm 145:1-4 KJV) 1 I will extol thee, my God, O king; and I will bless thy name for ever and ever. 2 Every day will I bless thee; and I will praise thy name for ever and ever. 3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable. 4 One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts.

For years, I have heard preachers say, “There is power in praise!” I’ve said it several times myself. You know what? It’s true! Praise accomplishes more in a moment than worry does in a lifetime!

In reading this portion of Scripture, I was impacted by three observations:

  • Praise builds momentum! Notice how the words of the Psalmist seem to build in intensity. I will extol… I will bless… Every day I will bless… I will praise thy name for ever… GREAT is the Lord… Greatly to be praise… His greatness is unsearchable! Once you get started praising, it just keeps building! However, the same is true of negativity. Once you start down the road of complaining, it sends shockwaves of pain throughout the spirit. Like a toothache, it controls every thought, and blocks the acknowledgement of anything good.
  • The reasons for praise are never-ending! Did you notice the word “unsearchable?” It doesn’t imply that we should not search to discover His greatness. It just means that we will never uncover it all! Imagine that! We serve a God whose greatness is indescribable!
  • Generations partner together to reveal His works. The body of Christ is at its best when the lines of generational preferences are blended to create a beautiful atmosphere of unity, in which the glory of God is witnessed! The church is always weakened when generations cannot agree on matters of the spirit.

Recently, Donna and I took our granddaughters on an overnight camp out. These two sisters couldn’t be anymore different. Both are beautiful in their own way, and they both approach things from their own perspective. Their actions manifest differently; each responding to activities based upon their age and personality. In watching them play together, I noticed how they made room for each others preferences. When they approached the activities with the primary objective of having fun, things worked out fine. But, when they wanted their own way–disregarding the needs of the other–their “fun level” suffered!

As the older sibling, Jovie has a responsibility to set an example for Harper. And, Harper has a responsibility to accept her guidance. When they “work” together at “playing,” life is much happier and more productive.

God is good. It is a good thing when we train ourselves to praise. Our mind can be taught to give priority to the positive things that flow into our lives through the hands of the Lord. Let’s start today! Whatever is on your schedule, face it with the realization that God is good, He is great, and He is fighting for us!


PRAYER: Father, I am so grateful for Your goodness. You have blessed me in so many ways! Help me to train my mind to consider the favor that I experience each day of my life and to declare it to every generation! Amen.

Turn Up The Volume!

(Psalm 98:4-9 ESV) 4 Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth; break forth into joyous song and sing praises! 5 Sing praises to the LORD with the lyre, with the lyre and the sound of melody! 6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD! 7 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it! 8 Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together 9 before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.


I’m a loud mouth. My wife tells me that it’s obvious when I enter the room because of the immediate increase in volume! She’s probably right. (I blame it on the rock-n-roll music I listened to as a teenager.)

I’ll admit that I like it loud. The most enjoyable concert I’ve ever attended was the David Crowder Band. The volume was so loud that it literally shook the floor. I loved it. I’m also pretty fond of loud worship experiences at church. I understand that I’m in the minority, but I just feel much better when I am able to voice my worship with some volume.

I think that I share a kindred spirit with the Psalmist. His instructions in Psalm 98 include…

  • Make a joyful noise.
  • Break forth in JOYOUS song.
  • Sing praises!
  • Sing with the lyre.
  • With trumpets and the sound of the horn.
  • Let the seas ROAR.
  • Let the world and those who fill it ROAR as well.
  • Let the rivers CLAP THEIR HANDS.
  • Let the hills sing for joy.

Each of these actions are audible, and most of them bring the expectation of noise. However, there is a caveat.

Noise for the sake of noise is, well, just noisy. But noise for the sake of praise and worship is pleasing to the ears of the Lord.

Notice,

  • To the Lord…
  • Before the King, the Lord…
  • Before the Lord, who comes to judge…
  • Judge with righteousness and equity.

I realize that most people feel uncomfortable raising their voices and drawing attention to themselves. I get it. But, the real point of this Psalm is to encourage God’s creation to speak up concerning His goodness. It should be as natural for God’s people to praise their creator as it is for the waves to sound forth His glory.

Why don’t we all determine to use our time wisely today? The wisest thing I can think of is to use your time to praise God. Go ahead. Try it. Use your vocal chords, your hands, your feet, your arms… Bang some pans together, shake a tambourine… Put the radio on a good Christian channel and TURN UP THE VOLUME of praise.

If you’re saved and you know it say amen!
If you’re saved and you know it say amen!
If you’re saved and you know it
Then your life will surely show it.
If you’re saved and you know it say amen!

Now, don’t you feel better?


PRAYER: Praise be unto God who reigns on high! You are worthy to receive the praise of my lips. Bless Your name my Lord and my Redeemer! I feel better already. Amen.

I Can’t Relate!

(Psalm 71:15 NIV) 15 My mouth will tell of your righteous deeds, of your saving acts all day long–though I know not how to relate them all.

This is a very interesting passage of Scripture. I’ve read it many times, but something really popped off the page as I read it today. It is not uncommon to read many declarations of thanksgiving and praise in the book of Psalms. Verse 15 is no different.

He begins by using his mouth as a tool to testify about the righteous deeds of the Lord. “Righteous” in this case is a reference to everything right, appropriate, and effective. His mind is full of multiple accounts of the activity of God, and he finds expressions of praise to be the natural response.

He then acknowledges the “saving acts” and the frequency with which they come. The words “saving acts” is a reference to divine deliverance. “All day long” implies that the intervention of God is continually active, moving from one delivering act to another. Regardless of his circumstances, or the frequency of his need, the Psalmist is confident that he is in the care of a loving Father.

The statement that caught my attention however, is “though I know not how to relate to them all.” I’ll just be honest here–God has been so very good to me! He has intervened in my life in ways that I did not understand. He has caused events to line up in my favor and I wasn’t even aware of the details.

It is a common theme that runs through Scripture. God intervenes in the lives of His people in ways that make no common, or natural sense. We can spend a considerable amount of time trying to figure out the details and still come up short in understanding.

So, what should my response be when God’s blessings are more than I can comprehend? ENJOY THEM! Just receive His divine blessings with a grateful heart and spread the good news of His love. He’s a good, good Father!


PRAYER: Thank you for the special favor of Your love. Although my human mind cannot comprehend it all, be sure that my heart is full of gratitude! Amen.

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