Saturday, September 01, 2007

Praise Him! - In Conclusion

Making Beautiful Music


Do you praise God as you should?
Would you praise Him if you could?
Do you praise Him in your church?
Do you praise Him in a lurch?
Do you praise Him in the car?
Praise Him, praise Him where you are!

No, I’m not auditioning for a role in “Seussical”. I just do some pretty goofy things when I’m joyful. Praising God fills me with joy. It really amazing how I can be giving Him so much in worship, and the whole time, He’s filling me up!

May I make a suggestion? We touched on this thought a bit at the very beginning of this study. You should continue to practice your praising. It will soon be our full time job in heaven – to praise our Creator and His Glorious Son! (Rev. 19:1,3)

Hallelujah! If you could see me now, I’m out of my seat, spinning around with my hands in the air singing “woo hoo”. Well, not really. I’m typing. But I was doing that a few minutes ago!

How Loud Is Your Love?

In case you haven’t noticed, Psalm 150 is pretty loud. Many joyful noises are being made to praise the psalmist’s Creator. Has your relationship with Jesus grown louder over the last seven weeks?

Review Psalm 150:1-6! WOW!!! You’ve memorized the whole thing! Hallelujah!

Now, take a moment to re-evaluate your level of praise. Have we reduced our complaining? Is our fear factor less than it was? Is absolute trust in your Father becoming more of a constant in your life? Has your praise increased? If you’re not where you imagine you would be at this point, just remember that you have to practice every day to excel at anything. Don’t allow yourself to become discouraged. Keep praising!

Remember that you are God’s instrument, and in His hands you are capable of making the most beautiful music.

Recommendations for Praise

Music: Anything that makes you want to dance!
Devotions: Breakfast With Jesus by Greg Laurie

That’s Praise?

Keeping God in mind, do one or more of the following as an act of praising Him. Or come up with ideas of your own. What the Lord taught you from the experience? (Mow the lawn, Buy a few extra non-perishable items when you shop to give to a shelter, Send a note to let someone know you were thinking of them, Invite a friend to coffee or lunch, Clean up after yourself at the movies, Give someone a ride)

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Praise Him! - Psalm 150:6

Breathe

Got Breath?

Praise the LORD! Even the animals do it! How? By serving the purpose for which God created them. Bees do it by flying when they shouldn’t be able to do so. Just ask Thelma Wells. She’s one of the Women of Faith who has a thing for bees. Birds sing. Coyotes howl. Gorillas pound their chests. Even cockroaches do something. I’m not sure what it is, but they have breath. Don’t they?

It’s the same for us. We pray. We teach. We preach. We work. We serve. We encourage. You don’t need to test yourself to find your gifts. Just start serving somewhere. Eventually, God will direct you to your perfect fit in ministry. Or He may change your ministry over time. Perhaps you’ll have multiple ministries where you serve.

Does your breath praise Him? How? Do you play the flute? Do you preach the Word of God? Are you a teacher? Do you encourage others?

Our praise should destroy lies, proclaim the truth and advance the gospel message. Don’t let another moment pass while you wait. Just get up and do something while you have breath in you.

Praise Him!

As we finish looking at Psalm 150, let’s review a few passages from the book of Revelation. These are just a few verses to motivate you to praise Him!

Rev 1:6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father--to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

Rev 4:11 "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being."

Rev 5:12 In a loud voice they sang: "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!"

Rev 5:13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, forever and ever!"

Rev 7:12 saying: "Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!"

Rev 14:7 He said in a loud voice, "Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water."

Rev 19:1 After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting: "Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,

Rev 19:7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.

If you’re taking the Challenge, review Psalm 150:1-5 and memorize Psalm 150:6

Recommendations for Praise

Music: By The Tree, Katinas, Telekast
Devotions: Quiet Moments for the Heart and Soul by Emilie Barnes

That’s Praise?

Keeping God in mind, do one or more of the following as an act of praising Him. Or come up with ideas of your own. What has the Lord taught you from the experience? (Give a flower to someone who needs it, Forgive someone who has deeply hurt you, Send a note of encouragement or a small gift to a child’s teacher or leader in your church)

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Praise Him! - Psalm 150:5

Crash, Bang, Boom!

Clash of cymbals

Talk about heavy metal! Okay, maybe it’s not that heavy. This musical crash of metallic plates of brass adds punctuation to a song. Wham! Can you hear the music they make? I guess it’s more like a “crash” or a “clang” than a “wham.” Anyway, how does this speak to us on a spiritual level?

We’re supposed to be loud when we praise, so we had better be in tune. This doesn’t mean you should shout “Repent!” from the street corners in your home town. I mentioned in an earlier chapter about living out loud. This means that, everything you do, you should do for Jesus because, as a Christian, you need to bring Jesus to the world. That’s the Great Commission. Check it out in Matthew 28:16-20.

Did you stop to read the scriptures? If not, I urge you to do so. Go ahead. I’ll wait right here.

Not only are we given the assignment to make disciples and baptize, verse 20 says that the disciples should also be “teaching them to obey everything I commanded you”. How can we as disciples teach others to obey Christ’s teachings when we don’t at least try to obey those teachings, ourselves? If someone sees you stealing or lying or cheating or behaving in an ungodly way, that reflects directly on God.

No, we’re not perfect. Yes, we are forgiven. We must share our testimony with others so they know just how imperfect and forgiven we are! BUT… If we really love God and serve Him, we will at least try to obey what He has commanded. We will, at times, fail. We are human. But when we allow the Holy Spirit to work through us, we will be amazed at what “we” can do.

Maybe it is that heavy, after all.

Resounding cymbals

Well, what else can we say about cymbals? Not a whole lot. So let’s concentrate on the word resounding. Take a minute to look the word up in the dictionary. I’m sure that it’s sitting right next to you if you’ve spent any time at all studying with me. Either that or you have a “favorites” bookmark to dictionary.com.

What did you learn? Maybe you didn’t really need the dictionary for this one. Resound – re-sound – to sound again? – echo. Is that pretty close to what you found when you looked up the word?

I suppose that means that, after our initial “clash”, we need to keep making noise. How does the song go? “I will not be silent. I will not be quiet anymore…” How do you rate in this area? Have you allowed the troubles of this world to silence you? Or are you continuing to echo your loud praises? Are you allowing the Holy Spirit to echo throughout your life?

If you’re taking the Challenge, review Psalm 150:1-4 and memorize Psalm 150:5

Recommendations for Praise

Music: DC Talk, Kutless
Devotions: Extreme Devotion: Voice of the Martyrs

That’s praise?

Keeping God in mind, do one or more of the following as an act of praising Him. Or come up with ideas of your own. What has the Lord taught you from the experience? (Hold open a door for someone, Give up your seat to someone, Help a friend paint, Introduce yourself to a neighbor, Volunteer to read at a library or hospital, Babysit for someone who needs it)

Friday, June 01, 2007

Praise Him! - Psalm 150:4

Put On Your Boogie Shoes

Tambourine Man

Let me reiterate harmony as we discussed in the last chapter. Now, let’s add another facet: the rhythm section. If you want to throw a band into chaos, bring in an out-of-sync percussion instrument. A bad beat will knock the greatest of bands out of whack because it sets the pace. The beat is the backbone that all of the other instruments and voices look to for direction.

Look up a few of these scriptures involving tambourines. They are such joyful instruments. Many of these verses involve singing, dancing and other musical devices. (Exodus 15:20-21, 1 Samuel 10:5, 1 Samuel 18:6, Job 21:12, Psalm 149:3)

The Bible also tells us that instruments alone are not enough. Respect for God is a must! Read Isaiah 5:11-12. It clearly states that, even though they play the instruments at the right parties, these men are indulging their own desires of the flesh. They don’t respect what the Lord has done. This tells me that there’s no point in having a party complete with music if you can’t keep God where He belongs – in the forefront of your heart and mind.

Gotta Dance

The Treasury of David at the crosswalk.com website says that “…this form of worship set forth the most jubilant and exultant of worship. The hands and the feet were both employed, and the entire body moved in sympathy with the members… If men are dull in the worship of the Lord our God they are not acting consistently with the character of their religion.”

I am sorry that I didn’t get out of my seat and dance on that Sunday morning, Kirk. If I had it to do over again, I’d like to think that I’d jump right up and join you, but I’m not so sure. Perhaps one day, we’ll get another chance to find out.

Dancing expresses joy and passion. It is a way to celebrate. Don’t let the scowl of others stop you. David didn’t let Michal stop him from praising God. Remember the movie Footloose? Kevin Bacon’s character, Ren, moves to an uptight little town that has outlawed parties and dancing. The town preacher says that dancing is improper. When Ren stands before the town to ask them to allow the High School seniors to have a dance, he quotes Ecclesiastes 3:4 and 2 Samuel 6:16. Look them up for yourself.

While you’re at it, here is another scripture for you to check out: Psalm 30:11-12. What do you think of that? Does it make you feel like dancing? When was the last time you danced the night away with Jesus?

Pulling Strings

We’ve talked about the harp and lyre already. Since Psalm 150 mentions strings as well, the writer is probably referring to other stringed instruments like the lute and the guitar although neither of these instruments is actually mentioned in scripture.

If you take a moment to look up Psalm 45:8, you’ll see that the strings are also happy instruments. They contribute to the overall sound of a band, and they are quite capable of commanding attention on their own. Have you ever been to a concert where there wasn’t a guitar solo? In fact, last Sunday, our Pastor coaxed one of the members of our congregation to get up and play a few measures of “Smoke On The Water” with our praise band. That was different.

Speaking of guitar solos, if you love the guitar, you must check out the movie Crossroads with Ralph Macchio and Jami Gertz. The guitar-playing throughout the movie is wonderful, but there is one scene near the end of the film where Ralph’s character is “cutting heads” with another guitarist (played by rocker Steve Vai) to save his soul. The solo (actually played by Vai in real life) is AMAZING! Mozart on electric guitar – you haven’t lived until you’ve heard it!!!

Flute

The flute is a wind instrument. What a simple phrase to put on paper, but the implications are so personal. Wind instruments are so named because they are played with the musician’s breath. There is an intimate relationship between musician and instrument because the person must blow into the device. Sharing breath is not something to be taken lightly. Consider how personal a kiss is.

Flute in the Bible are associated with merry-making, laments, call to worship, and passion. Here are some verses for you to check out: Jeremiah 48:36, Daniel 3:5, 1 Corinthians 14:7. Can you almost hear the light, fluttery music as you read?

If you’re taking the Challenge, review Psalm 150:1-3 and memorize Psalm 150:4

Recommendations for Praise

Music: Hillsongs, Tammy Trent
Devotions: The Finishing Touch by Charles Swindoll

That’s praise?

Keeping God in mind, do one or more of the following as an act of praising Him. Or come up with ideas of your own. What has the Lord taught you from the experience? (Walk your dog, Learn to play an instrument, Make something, Do your job as if Jesus were your boss, Dance, Go for a walk with your family)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Praise Him! - Psalm 150:3

Strike Up The Band

Tea And Trumpets

Trumpets are musical instruments that were used in the temple service. Only the priest was permitted to sound the trumpet loudly to call the people together for religious assemblies. The trumpet was also used in battle. Trumpets led the way when the ark was returning to Jerusalem. They notified God it was time to knock down the walls of Jericho. They were used to celebrate. Trumpets called out to God to fill the temple. They cry out to God. They accompany sacrifice. Just as you use breath to play the trumpet, we should use our breath to praise God. How many ways can you think of the praise the Lord using your breath?

Let’s take a look at several of the references made to trumpets in the Bible. Look up the following scriptures. Trumpets have seen some action! (Numbers 10:8-10, Joshua 6:1-20, Judges 7:1-22)

The Bible tells us in these passages that the Israelite priests were to blow the trumpets. The Bible also says that when the Israelites went to war on their own soil, they should sound the trumpet and God would remember them and rescue them from their enemies. Trumpets were to be sounded to signify rejoicing at feasts. Trumpets preceded the ark when Joshua fought the battle of Jericho. Gideon defeated the Midianites with 300 men, trumpets and empty jars!

For more scriptures on trumpets, look up the word “trumpet” in a concordance or find a Bible software program that lets you search the Word for a word.

Let’s move on to more personal application. Are you loudly calling others to worship like the trumpet? I’m not saying that you have to have a voice like Ethel Merman. But to borrow a phrase from Steven Curtis Chapman, are you “living out loud”? Do people see a difference in you?

I get chills when Barbossa says in Pirates of the Caribbean: “So what now, Jack Sparrow? Are we to be two immortals locked in an epic battle until Judgment Day and trumpets sound?” Check out the references to trumpets in the book of Revelation. There are twelve to be exact. Pay particular attention to the final reference found in Revelation 11:15. I have included it below.

The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:

"The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever."

That phrase brings tears to my eyes. I can almost hear a multitude of voices loudly proclaiming that Jesus’ reign on earth has begun. This is our future, not some work of fiction. We have a lot to look forward to.

Lyre, Lyre, Harps On Fire!

What is a lyre, anyway? Look it up in the dictionary. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to see a picture.

The harp and lyre were both played with the fingers. We should use our fingers to praise Him. How would you do so? Playing in the praise band at church? Helping someone tie their shoes? Signing your name to that tithe check?

Which instrument better describes you? Are you more like the harp? Soothing and mellow? Or are you more bold and flamboyant like the lyre?

The harp was David’s instrument. It was soothing and brought relief. See 1 Samuel 16:16-23. David played the harp to calm King Saul when the evil spirit from God came upon him. The harp was also used to thank and praise the Lord. This is referenced in several places including 1 Chronicles 25:3 and Psalm 43:4.

The lyre is a bolder instrument. The Bible tells us that it has ten strings (Psalm 33:2) and mentions that it is used to praise God (Psalm 71:22). In fact, the lyre is mentioned twelve times in the Bible and only one of those references does not include the harp.

These two instruments are as different as they are similar. Sounds kind of like the body of Christ. Some of us are bold and outspoken. Others are more quiet and meek. The Bible calls both instruments “melodious” in Psalm 81:2. To me, this means that there is a place for both the bold and the meek in worshiping God. The instruments can work independently, but the music is sweeter when several devices work together.

Why Music?

Our faith, love and devotion are music to God’s ears. It is not necessary to have a soprano singing voice or the ability to play a musical instrument to participate in praise. Do we praise with music because it is a way we can help draw others into participating in without them having to risk standing out?

The use of instruments in Psalm 15 to declare how we should praise the Lord illustrates a good point. Besides being taken at face value, it produces a powerful metaphor. To make the beautiful music, we must be in harmony with each other. Have you ever heard a band play when they weren’t in tune with each other? Have you experienced several musicians playing different songs all at once? It’s confusing and unpleasant. We, as believers, must be in sync with each other. We can’t be playing our own tunes, we must be following Christ. That is how we make beautiful music and stay in harmony with each other.

John 17:23 and Romans 15:5-6 speaks of unity within the body of Christ. I encourage you to make this a point of prayer everyday. Ask God to unify the members of the body of Christ so that we would better glorify Him by not being at odds with each other.

If you’re taking the Challenge, review Psalm 150:1-2 and memorize Psalm 150:3

Recommendations for Praise

Music: Nicole Nordeman, Jeremy Camp
Devotions: Day By Day with Billy Graham

That’s praise?

Keeping God in mind, do one or more of the following as an act of praising Him. Or come up with ideas of your own. What has the Lord taught you from the experience? (Bring donuts to work, Write a letter for someone who can’t, Help a child color or paint a picture, Apologize for something you’ve done that you are sorry for, Let someone with fewer items go ahead of you in the store checkout line, If you borrow a car, fill it with gas)

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Triumph! (An Interactive Devotional For Palm Sunday Through Easter)

Here is a list of daily readings and activities that correspond with what is written in the Bible about where Jesus was and what He was doing during His last week on earth before the crucifixion. Read these passages, meditate on them, let them bring you to a new level of your relationship with Jesus.


Palm Sunday

Jesus enters Jerusalem – Matt 21:1-11; Mk. 11:1-11; Lk. 19:28-44; Jn. 12:12-19

Jesus predicts His death – Jn. 12:20-36

The Jews don’t believe – Jn. 12:37-50

Journaling/Activities:

Compare the different Gospel Accounts of today’s events. What details are different? What stands out? What is the same? What does this tell you?

-or-

Write a diary entry based upon today’s events as if you were an eye witness.

-or-

Make a list of questions you would ask if you were to interview one of the participants or witnesses of today’s events. In your prayer time, ask God these questions.


Monday

Jesus in the temple – Matt.21:12-17; Mk. 11:12-19; Lk. 19:45-48

Jesus curses the fig tree – Matt. 21:18-22; Mk. 11:20-26


Journaling/Activities:

Compare the different Gospel Accounts of today’s events. What details are different? What stands out? What is the same? What does this tell you?

-or-

Write a diary entry based upon today’s events as if you were an eye witness.

-or-

Make a list of questions you would ask if you were to interview one of the participants or witnesses of today’s events. In your prayer time, ask God these questions.


Tuesday

Jesus’ authority is questioned – Matt. 21:23-27; Mk. 11:27-33; Lk. 20:1-8

Jesus teaches in the temple – Matt 21:28-23:39; Mk. 12:1-12; Lk.20:9-21:38

More teaching – Matt. 24:1-26:5; Mk. 12:13-13:37

Jesus anointed – Matt. 26:6-13; Mk. 14:1-9

Journaling/Activities:

Compare the different Gospel Accounts of today’s events. What details are different? What stands out? What is the same? What does this tell you?

-or-

Write a diary entry based upon today’s events as if you were an eye witness.

-or-

Make a list of questions you would ask if you were to interview one of the participants or witnesses of today’s events. In your prayer time, ask God these questions.


Wednesday

Judas arranges to betray Jesus. Matt 26:14-16, Mk. 14:10-11, Lk. 22:1-6

Journaling/Activities:

Compare the different Gospel Accounts of today’s events. What details are different? What stands out? What is the same? What does this tell you?

-or-

Write a diary entry based upon today’s events as if you were an eye witness.

-or-

Make a list of questions you would ask if you were to interview one of the participants or witnesses of today’s events. In your prayer time, ask God these questions.


Thursday

The Last Supper – Matt. 26:17-30; Mk. 14:12-26; Lk.22:7-38; Jn. 13:1-38 (also Jn. 14:1-16:33)

Jesus predicts Peter’s denial – Matt. 26:31-35; Mk. 14:27-31; Lk. 22:31-38

Jesus prays – Matt. 26:36-46; Mk. 14:32-42; Lk. 22:39-46; Jn. 16:1-26

Jesus’ arrest and trial – Matt 26:47-68; Mk. 14:43-65; Lk. 22:47-53, 63-65; Jn. 18:1-14,19-24

Peter disowns Jesus – Matt. 26:69-75; Mk. 14:65-72; Lk. 22:54-62; Jn. 18: 15-18, 25-27

Journaling/Activities:

Thursday: Enjoy a “Passover” meal. Read the story of the Passover in Exodus and the Gospel accounts of The Last Supper.


Friday

Judas’ fate – Matt. 27:1-10

Jesus’ arrest and trial (cont.) – Matt. 27:11-31; Mk. 15:1-20; Lk. 22:66-23:25; Jn. 18:28-19:16

The crucifixion – Matt: 27:32-56; Mk. 15:21-41; Lk. 23:26-49; Jn. 19:17-37
take special note of Matt. 27:51-53.

Jesus’ burial – Matt: 27:57-61; Mk. 17:42-47; Lk. 23:50-56; Jn. 19:38-42

Journaling/Activities:

Compare the different Gospel Accounts of today’s events. What details are different? What stands out? What is the same? What does this tell you?

-or-

Write a diary entry based upon today’s events as if you were an eye witness.

-or-

Make a list of questions you would ask if you were to interview one of the participants or witnesses of today’s events. In your prayer time, ask God these questions.


Saturday – why is scripture so quiet about Saturday?

Matt. 27:62-66

Journaling/Activities:

Saturday: If you were one of Jesus’ disciples, how would you feel right now? Would you question Jesus’ deity? Would you feel that you wasted your time with him? Would you be angry?


Easter Sunday

The resurrection – Matt. 28:1-20; Mk. 16:1-11; Lk. 24:1-12; Jn. 20-1-25

On the road to Emmaus – Lk. 24:13-35

Jesus appears to the disciples - Lk. 24:36-49

Journaling/Activities:

Compare the different Gospel Accounts of today’s events. What details are different? What stands out? What is the same? What does this tell you?

-or-

Write a diary entry based upon today’s events as if you were an eye witness.

-or-

Make a list of questions you would ask if you were to interview one of the participants or witnesses of today’s events. In your prayer time, ask God these questions.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Praise Him! - Psalm 150:2

The Great And Powerful God!

God isn’t a fake like the Wizard of Oz! He really is the great and powerful God!

He’s Got the Power

Power is strength, force, effectiveness, control, authority, among other things. Look up the word “power” in the dictionary for a greater picture of what is encompassed in such a small word. Note any additional insight into the word “power” in the margin.

The Bible is full of stories depicting God’s acts of power. Some of these include creation, redemption, and grace. Read the following encounters, then take a few minutes to record your thoughts and observations about God’s power. (Exodus 14:21-22, Acts 9:1-22, I Kings 18:22-38, Luke 1:26-45, John 11:41-44)

Can you wrap your mind around this concept? Take your time. Each of these examples can be overwhelming - like contemplating the size of the universe. The power of God can part the sea to reveal dry ground. The power of God can bring a terrorist to his knees before Christ and make him a mighty evangelist. The power of God burns so hot that it can consume a waterlogged piece of meat with fire and disintegrate it. The power of God can create life all by itself. The power of God can raise a man (or woman) from the dead.

Do you have a healthy grasp of this, now? If not, take a moment to really absorb the vastness of God’s power. Are you ready? I’m about to yank that rug out from under you. The power of God lives in you! Do you know that? As a Christian, Jesus gave you the Holy Spirit to live in your heart and be your teacher, comforter, counselor, etc. The Holy Spirit is God. Therefore, God lives in you. Re-read the paragraph above. That is the power that dwells inside of you. Perhaps you should take a few minutes to pray and thank God for giving you such an incredible gift.

God fills us with His power so we can be His ambassadors here on earth. The presence of His power allows Him to work mighty acts in us and through us. Can you think of any mighty acts He’s worked in or through you, lately? Write them down so you don’t forget that He is alive and active in you.

Aladdin’s genie can’t hold a match to your Daddy and mine! Our God has phenomenal cosmic power! And, as we discussed in the last chapter, His living space isn’t bad, either.

Now, let’s take a look at another aspect of God’s character.

He’s Grrrrrrrreat!

Thurl Ravenscroft passed away a while ago. “Who is that?” you might be asking. We’ll get to that in a minute. But first, do you realize that there are people who ask the same thing about God? Sadly, some who ask are Christians. How well do you know the Maker? What have you come to know about God? He’s…

Fair Loving Peaceful Judgmental
Joyful Gentle Kind Good
Faithful Powerful Controlling Awesome

How else would you describe Him? Do you have a difficult time looking Him in the eye? Or do you jump right into His lap and curl up?

How great is our Lord? He is glorious and majestic. Look up these words. Contemplate His greatness. He is greater than our wildest imaginings. Challenge to see Him as greater than we currently do.

Define “surpassing”. Dictionary.com says it means “exceptional”.

According to Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible, God’s greatness is abundant.

The Treasury of David says that, because of God’s greatness, He should be greatly praised.

By the way, Thurl Ravenscroft was the voice of Tony the Tiger.

Stand Up Straight

What Posture Should We Take To Praise Him? Some approach God on their feet. Others come before Him on their knees. Still others cannot draw near to Him unless their heads are bowed. Some close their eyes. A few weep. If any of these stances help you draw closer to Him, praise God! But the posture we need to be concerned with is our heart. To truly appreciate God’s power and greatness, we must know Him. We get to know Him through His Word and through prayer and through observing His glorious creation. Once we truly know Him, we can’t help but come humbly before Him with awe and thankfulness.

If you’re taking the Challenge, review Psalm 150:1 and memorize Psalm 150:2

Recommendations for Praise

Music: CeCe Winans
Devotions: 31 Days of Praise by Ruth Myers


That’s praise?

Keeping God in mind, do one or more of the following as an act of praising Him. Or come up with ideas of your own. What has the Lord taught you from the experience? (Go fly a kite, Play a game with your family, Turn off the TV, Watch the sun rise, Watch the sun set, Help someone move)

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Praise Him! - Psalm 150:1

Just Do It!

God deserves all of our praise. We should exalt Him alone. Our actions, word, and even thoughts should glorify Him. Do you agree? Do you give Him all of your praise? If so, way to go! If not, why?

One of my reference materials, The Treasury of David, writes that God should be our only object of adoration. If we give any honor intended for Him to another, it is treason. If we don’t honor Him, we have robbed Him.

Do you feel convicted? I certainly do. Although I don’t believe that humans are physically capable of giving God all of the praise that He deserves, to think of this in terms of “treason” and “robbery” leads me to believe that each of us is ultimately responsible for praising Him!

To what, besides God, are you giving your praise?

We are going to refocus our attention over the next few weeks. We will begin looking for God in unusual places and celebrating Him in unique ways. It is my prayer that this will draw us closer to Him and enhance our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Then we will be better equipped to send our praise where it belongs – directed toward God, the only deserving recipient of our worship!

The word “praise” appears in 293 verses of the NIV Bible. Let’s take a look at a few of those verses. Look up the following verses of scripture for a look at who has praised God and for what. (Genesis 24:27, Genesis 29:35, Exodus 18:10, Ruth 4:14, 1 Samuel 25:32, 1 Kings 1:48, 1 Kings 5:7)

And this isn’t even the tip of the iceberg! The Bible records incidents of God being praised for a variety of things. Have you praised Him lately for any of the following? (your children, safe travel, keeping you from doing evil, your redemption, wisdom in someone powerful, seeing God work mightily in someone, deliverance from bad circumstances)

We should be praising Him for everything. Yes, everything. During the writing of this study, three members of my family and a handful of co-workers passed away within a period of six months! There were certainly tears shed out of pain, but I also had to praise God for ending suffering, restoring wholeness and bringing freedom to caregivers. Even though the circumstances hurt me and others, I had to praise Him for doing what was ultimately best. Even if I didn’t agree right at the moment.

Here, There and Everywhere

Where Should I praise God? Only in church? Only on Sunday? Only when the choir does? What do you think? Where do God’s praises belong?

According to Psalm 150:1, one of the places where we should be praising God is in His sanctuary. When I hear the word “sanctuary,” I think of a church building. Before Christ, the temple was separated into areas where women were allowed, others where gentiles were permitted, still other vicinities where Jews could go, and the Holy Place was only accessible to priests! They would attend to the glowing lamps; display the bread of the presence and light incense before the Lord. Exodus 28:35 says that Aaron even had to wear bells on his robes to announce his entry into the Holy Place so he wouldn’t die.

What an awesome responsibility the priest had. And, guess what? We are His priests, now. Read Revelation 1:5b-6.

Jesus made us to be priests to serve God. Since we have access to the sanctuary as His priests, we certainly can worship Him there, but we should know that the term “sanctuary” refers to more than just a building. Look up the word. What else is meant by “sanctuary?”

I learned that a sanctuary is also a refuge, a safe place. To a believer, wherever God is found is a safe place. Since God lives in us, I guess that means everywhere we are is a sanctuary. So to comply with the instruction in verse 1 to praise Him in His sanctuary, where should we be praising God? Unscramble the letters below. (Hint: “Savoir-faire is…”)

VWEERRHEEY

There is another nuance in this verse with regard to the use of the word sanctuary. The actual transliteration of the Hebrew word for sanctuary is “qodesh.” If you look this up in the Bible Study Tools at crosswalk.com, you will find that this means apartness, holiness, sacredness, separateness. So, the psalmist was referring to God’s holiness rather than a point on the map. The sanctuary is not a place, but an aspect of God’s character.

With this in mind, what is meant by this part of Psalm 150:1 (“…Praise God in His sanctuary…”)?

When we praise Him in His sanctuary, we are acknowledging His uniqueness, His holiness, His superiority and glory. We are recognizing how wonderful and special He is. Hallelujah!

We are also instructed to praise Him in His mighty heavens. The verse means exactly what it says in this case: heaven. But I must ask myself about the use of the word “mighty.” In this instance, I feel the word alludes to the size of heaven, not necessarily its power. I believe that heaven is enormous. “Ginormous” for you Elf fans. Personally, I can’t wait to see the place!

I sometimes close my eyes and try to picture the vision of the new Jerusalem that the apostle John recorded for us in Revelation 21. Read verses 10-21 in your Bible. The New American Standard version records the measurement in verse 16 for the length, width and height of the city as 1500 miles and the measurement in verse 17 as 72 yards for the thickness of the wall. What do you imagine it to look like?

Can you imagine a city that is roughly half the length of the United States? A city! That’s huge! And that’s the place that Jesus is preparing for us. While our Savior is hard at work and waiting for our Father to tell Him it’s time to go pick up the kids (that’s us! Hurray!!!), the angels praise Him continually in His mighty heavens. Eventually, the old heaven and earth will pass away and we will praise Him in the new Jerusalem. Can you say, “Hallelujah!”

With Others and Alone

According to the Treasury of David, we are instructed to “Praise Him in the assembly of the saints. Praise Him in the silence of the heart.” I think this is pretty self-explanatory. What does Hebrews 10:25 say? Go ahead. Look it up.

For many years I told myself that my Christian walk was okay. When, in fact, it was mediocre at best. I wasn’t going to church on a regular basis. I wasn’t fellowshipping with other Christians. I had no one to hold me accountable. The only thing I can honestly say is that God Himself saved me. The only thing in my life that was right was my hunger for the Word! He gave me a voracious appetite to read the Bible.

I spent a lot of time in the Word at that time in my life. Reading the Bible eventually led me to pray. Not a lot, mind you. You see, God wanted to speak to me. That’s why He gave me a desire to read the Bible. And it wasn’t anything so dramatic as me being angry with Him that I didn’t speak to Him through prayer very often. I just didn’t recognize back then that, in order to really communicate, I should’ve been speaking to Him as well. I didn’t see what I was doing as getting to know Him. I really didn’t know why I wanted to read the Bible. It was just something I had to do.

So, I had the ‘silence of the heart’ part down cold! I was always basically a keep-to-myself kind of gal, anyway. I was a very shy child. My family tried many ways to pull me out of my shell. When company would come over, I would sing for them or “read” my favorite book Captain Kitty. I didn’t actually read the book. It had been read to me so many times, I had memorized it – including when to turn the pages! My Mom took me to McDonald’s once and told me she would only buy me a Big Mac if I sang the “two all-beef patties…” song to the cashier. Nothing worked.

I always loved to sing, so I became involved in choir throughout all of my school years. It naturally evolved into auditioning for the musical plays in high school. So I was able to come out of my shell onstage. That love of music enabled me to really engage in praise at church. The love of theater helped me to be involved in creative ministry, also a form of worship. So it didn’t require much adjustment to praise Him in church with others.

How about you? What’s your story? Think about it. How did you come to the point where you are today? Are you immersed in your church body? Could you be more involved? How? Check with the leadership at your church to see where you may be able to help.

If you’d like a challenge, I suggest you memorize Psalm 150:1

Recommendations for Praise

Music: John Elefante, Travis Cottrell
Devotions: Rise and Shine: A Devotional by Liz Curtis Higgs

That’s Praise?

Keeping God in mind, do one or more of the following as an act of praising Him. Or come up with ideas of your own. What has the Lord taught you from the experience? (Do someone else’s chore, Read to your kids before bed, Send a note of encouragement to someone, Go out of your way to help someone at work, Invite someone home for dinner, Go out with a friend

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Praise Him! Encountering God Through Psalm 150 - Introduction

I am so excited that you’ve decided to join me on this thrilling journey of praise! When you truly open your heart to praising God, your life will never be the same. I encourage you to approach each day as a gift from Him specifically to you. I challenge you to look upon each situation and circumstance and try to find His hand in it. Experience your world with the eyes of a child, full of wonder and passion and awe at what your Daddy is capable of! Hallelujah!

Before we read through the scripture that will anchor our time together for the next few weeks, I’d like to go over the guidelines for this study.

The “Guidelines”

If you joined me in the study “Living the Blameless Life,” you’re already familiar with the guidelines. We previously called them ground rules, but, in honor of the Captain Barbossa line from my favorite movie of all time in the whole wide world, Pirates of the Caribbean, I’ve renamed them “guidelines”. If this is our first study together, please forgive my rambling and the plug for a great film. Here are the “guidelines”:

First, don’t take for granted that, just because the cover of the book says “Bible study”, it contains the whole truth. People make mistakes, so check up on me. Take what is written here and test it against the Word of God.
Second, you will get out of our time together what you are willing to put into it. So, be as generous with your time as you possibly can.
Third, don’t let this book become a crutch. I’ve allowed that to happen in the past and it can cripple you! Look some things up on your own. Use my endnotes to see what sources I’ve used and try them out for yourself.
Fourth, look at different translations of the scriptures for clarification.

So, if you’re ready to get started, I have a couple of questions to kick off our study.

What is praise?

You may praise your child by complimenting her behavior. Your boss might praise your work by giving you an award. Perhaps you praise your dog with treats and petting when he obeys you. Maybe you think of praise to describe singing in church on Sunday. What is your definition of “praise?”

I define praise as an expression of approval or admiration. It can be worship and exaltation. When I praise God, I am open and vulnerable and waiting for Him to touch me. Sometimes I lift my hands, other times I weep with my head lowered. There are also times that I dance.

How do you praise?

Are you a hand-raiser? A kneeler? A dancer? A singer? Do you pray? Or make music? Do you write songs or poetry or stories? Or maybe you have a totally different way of expressing praise – like doing your job to the best of your ability. Or maybe you clean up after yourself at the local fast food place. If you’re doing what you’re doing to honor God, you’re praising!

One of my pastors once said that we should leave a place better than we found it. He used the example of being kind to a waitress and improving her sour mood. Ever since he taught me that, I’ve wiped down the bathroom sinks after washing my hands at work. It may not seem like much, but I do it to worship the Lord. And there’s a practical bonus to doing this, it eliminates someone becoming irritable because they leaned against the sink and got water all over their work clothes. Now, I practice this everywhere: movie theaters, restaurants, church.

Ready, Set, Go

Now that we’ve established what we’re going to discuss for the next few months, let’s lay down the foundation for the rest of this study. Are you ready to study the final psalm? Get set. Go. Read Psalm 150.

What is your first reaction to Psalm 150? Does the psalm inspire you? Encourage you? Confuse you? Make you want to know more? Pull out a dictionary and look up any words that are unfamiliar to you.

At first glance, which “instrument(s)” do you think you resemble most? Why? (We will look up “lyre” in a later lesson, but you can do so now if you wish.)

It appears that praise is a pretty important activity. To punctuate the book of Psalms with such instruction on praise tells me that this is something we should all be doing. In fact, the word “praise” appears 13 times in these six, short verses. Wow! That strikes me as ironic. Perhaps the word was written once for each of the 12 tribes of Israel and once for all of the gentiles? Maybe not, but in any case, this simple song gives us the complete low-down on praise: who, what, where, when, why and how!

I absolutely love the psalms because they show an active and real relationship with God. They contain crying out and complaining and begging. They are full of declarations of love and honor and thanks. This last song of the psalmist, some believe Psalm 150 to be written by David, is full of nothing but praise! It’s as if the order of the psalms themselves is indicative of a healthy walk with the Lord. It begins with statements of fact and basic instruction and progresses through the ability to level with God honestly and finishes up with praising Him in all circumstances! What a beautiful picture this book paints for us.

Our ultimate goal should be to behave like this. No complaining. No fear. Just absolute trust in our Father with praise pouring from us simply because He is! After all, this is what we’ll be doing for all eternity, without a break or a need for one, once we arrive in heaven. So, how is your practice going?

Recommendations for Praise

Music: Sonicflood, Casting Crowns
Devotions: Daily In Christ by Neil Anderson, Praying the Names of God by Ann Spangler

That’s Praise?

Keeping God in mind, do one or more of the following as an act of praising Him. Or come up with ideas of your own. What did the Lord teach you from the experience? (Weed your garden, Take out the garbage, Prepare a meal, Drive your child to school, Vacuum your carpet, Get up early to pray)