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!

You Won’t Find Him in a Store…

Psalm 115:1-8- “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to Your name give glory, for the sake of Your steadfast love and Your faithfulness! Why should the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’ Our God is in the heavens; He does all that He pleases. Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound… Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them…”

 

My best friend went on a couple mission trips to India a few years ago. She had many stories to share upon her return, but one stood out to me, and I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. She remembered walking through the same village many times, but one night she noticed something new. A large rock had been painted orange… and people were kneeling before it, chanting and praising. One of the Indian family members she was staying with said, “They were so desperate for something to worship/serve, they made themselves a god.”

That saddens my heart more than I can say. I felt so burdened for that particular group of people for the longest time. But, then something registered with me. This kind of thing goes on around me every single day. There are certain restaurants I walk into that have tiny little statues all over their establishment. I get my nails done and see the same thing. I’ve walked into stores and paintings and carvings of many different idols were sitting there on the shelf waiting to be purchased. People all around us long for some Higher Power, but they’re just not sure how to find Him. They would settle for an inanimate, visible object, because that’s the only “real” they’ve yet to experience.

If you have been introduced to Jesus Christ, you have come in contact with the Living God. He sits high, but looks low. (Psalm 138:6) He speaks to us and for us. (John 10:27, Hebrews 1:1-2, 1 Timothy 2:5) His eyes are ever open and He is always looking out for and watching us. (2 Chronicles 16:9) When we call upon Him, He hears us. There’s not one word we utter before Him that He doesn’t listen to. (1 John 5:14-15) He is touched by every pain we feel, (Hebrews 4:15) and He holds us in the palm of His hand! (Isaiah 49:16)

Knowing that even history itself confirms that Jesus was crucified, but rose from the dead, is proof enough for me that He is alive and well! Getting to experience Him myself — undeniable! He is sovereign over all and guides my life. I didn’t have to purchase an idol that some human- as fallible as me- created with their hands. No, I have a relationship with the God that formed me! There is a definitive hope that only serving Him brings. Having confidence that cannot be explained, and trust that can’t be matched, offers a peace and security for every day the future gives you.

If you feel that “God consciousness” within you reaching out for something that brings your life contentment and purpose… look no further. Try Jesus. What would it cost you? (Less than you’d pay for that idol on the shelf, no matter how cheap!) His gift of salvation is free! You didn’t have to pay anything to know Him, but He gave everything He had to know you!

What a difference serving a living God makes!

Prayer: Jesus, I worship You today. I praise You, for You are the One, True, Living God. With all that might and power Your possess, You’re gentle and gracious, and You bestow mercy on us every day. Thank You, Lord, for Your goodness. Help me shine Your light, so those looking can see Who You are. I love You, Lord. In Your name, 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.

When Worship Seems Unreasonable

(Matthew 26:6-10 ESV) Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” 10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me.


Sometimes worship breaks out at unexpected times and in the most unusual ways. This passage of Scripture is very familiar. Countless sermons have been preached trying to make sense of it. Songs have been written to describe this extravagant act of worship and the high cost associated with it. As many times as I’ve read it, preached it, and meditated on it, I’m still intrigued by the story.

For me, the response of the disciples is one of the most unexpected aspects of the story. In the days preceding, Jesus had shared the details of His impending capture and crucifixion. I’m not sure if they didn’t believe it would actually happen, or that there would be divine intervention to change the outcome. Even more unbelievable to me, is the indignant response to an act of worship that Jesus was certainly worthy of. Why would they want to deny Him the honor He was due?

Through the years, I have observed unexpected acts of worship that seemed inappropriate and unreasonable. Many times I have watched as people broke down in tears, or erupted in loud celebrations of praise to the Lord. I’ve witnessed significant financial gifts given to the church, mission projects, and other ministries when the offering was obviously a sacrifice. These acts of worship were not meant to draw attention to the individual. Rather, it was a spontaneous outward expression of an inner emotion of gratitude. When offered from a pure heart, it is not only appropriate, but according to Jesus, “a beautiful thing.”

I like what one song lyric says about the motive behind this woman breaking open and pouring out the contents of her alabaster box. CeCe Winans wrote…

I’ve come to pour
My praise on Him
Like oil from Mary’s alabaster box
Don’t be angry if I wash his feet with my tears
And I dry them with my hair
You weren’t there the night He found me
You did not feel what I felt
When he wrapped his love all around me and
You don’t know the cost of the oil
In my alabaster box

Worship from a pure heart is always appropriate even when it seems unreasonable.


PRAYER: Father, receive the praise that I willingly give You! You, oh Lord, are worthy indeed! Amen.

%d bloggers like this: