The necessity of praise to God

(To any readers still out there… thank you for reading still! I know I was gone for a long while. Life really picked up the pace the beginning of March and now it seemed to have slowed down a bit. The desire in posting this morning is not that I need to create words to form a post just because I haven’t in a while, but I was moved this morning in my time with God and thought I’d pass on what I learned.)

Psalm 81 is probably one of my top 3 favorite psalms – there is so much packed into the short 16 verses! I have come back to this Psalm so many times in the past several years and have always been humbled by what the Lord teaches me from it. This morning my meditation came from verse 1 –

“Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob!” -Psalm 81:1 

Matthew Henry says the following about this verse and the utmost necessity every believer has to be diligent in their praise of God – “Praising God is not only a good thing, which we do well to do, but it is our indispensable duty, which we are obliged to do; it is at our peril if we neglect it”

As I was thinking about the verse and his comment, I had to ask – why is it our indispensable duty? Why is it a great peril if we neglect to praise God? Here is the conclusion that I came to. If you, readers, have any other thoughts in answer to the question, feel free to comment and share!

A righteous soul who looks to God and sees Him as who He really is–in all His glory & honor & power & faithfulness–will respond in humble worship before Him. They will see their unworthiness, their changing, their failings; and they will see a perfect God – One who never changes, One who never fails in anything.

This conclusion was helpful to me to really consider the state of my soul and find questions to ask myself when it seems that praise isn’t pouring forth from my lips.

-Am I seeking the Lord with my whole heart? (Psalm 119:2)
-Have I been keeping His statutes? (Psalm 119:8)
-Do I delight in His testimonies more than in riches? (Psalm 119:14)
-Have I been meditating on His precepts and fixing my eyes on them? (Psalm 119:15)

I believe that the Lord will bless the soul that is diligent to keep His statutes. And please note, I am not saying that the Christian life is full of lists of rules that we must keep, but the more we become in awe of who God is, the more it will be our hearts’ desire to follow Him.

Praise the Lord for His tender mercies, His daily graces that bear us up, and His never-failing faithfulness!

Isaiah 1:18

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Thankfulness doesn’t just happen. Instead, it is something that must be chosen and intentionally proclaimed. In my journey of discovering all the aspects of what true joy looks like, I quickly came to realize that thankfulness is an integral part of the topic. And yet, when long days happen, the food gets burnt in the oven, and everyone seems to be irritated (even myself!), I realize that thankfulness is still just as important as the day before- when the sun was shining, the food was perfect, and everyone was in the best of moods.

So I decided that other day – that long day when sleep still seemed hours away – that if I am going to be thankful constantly and consistently, I must take intentional action and a lot of prayer. I sat down with my Bible that evening and opened to Isaiah. I started reading and every time I came across something that encouraged me – a promise, a characteristic of the Lord, a mercy of God, etc.  I wrote them all down.

And with that, the journey began. Finding many uplifting verses and phrases from the book, I decided that the next time I was downcast, I would intentionally meditate on one of the verses that I had found. The discipline to sit down and do something when the flesh seems opposed, can be hard, and yet how rewarding even a few minutes can be, when soaked in the Word of God!

“Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.” 

~ Isaiah 1:18 ~

I know that’s a very familiar passage, but even a few minutes of meditation should result in praise to the Lord! What a simple statement, and yet how marvelous! For the believer, what rejoicing and humility should ensue.

The phrasing of “white as snow” and “like wool” denotes the idea of pure, washed and clean. We, who were dead in trespasses and sins, are now as white as snow? Yes. It makes no sense apart from Christ, the spotless lamb of God. John rightly testified to this Christ – “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”. This Lamb, the spotless & pure One, makes us pure and spotless before Him by the blood that He shed for us!

Are those sins, so vile and wretched before the eyes of a holy God, now like wool? Yes. Again, it makes no sense apart from Christ. Paul wrote in Galatians 1: “… the Lord Jesus Christ who gave Himself for our sins…” (Gal. 1:4). This should result in praise and deep-seated humility. There is no reason for boasting in ourselves for this purity since it was all because of Christ that we are now clean.

And time would fail to examine the contents of Hebrews 9 & 10 where Christ is described as the Priest who offered a sacrifice for sins, once for all. The blood of bulls and goats never took away sins, they foreshadowed to One who could do that – Jesus Christ.

What are you thankful for today? 

“I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving.” -Psalm 69:30

He has dealt bountifully!

“I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.”

~ Psalm 13:6 ~

Thanksgiving Day is often the time when everyone posts their “thanksgiving lists”, but after reading the above passage and meditating on it, I realized that every day should be a day that we post our thanksgiving lists! While Psalm 13 starts out with despairing words like “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?”, it ends with the triumphant words of a man who put his gaze on God who had truly blessed him.

All believers in Christ face hard times, trials, and difficulties, but we are still encouraged to “come into his presence with thanksgiving” (Psalm 95:2a).  As followers of Jesus, we have numerous things to be thankful for, because He has dealt bountifully with us! As I was meditating on this verse this morning, I came up with a list of things that I’m thankful for, and want to share with you all.

  • “But God, being rich in mercy…” -Ephesians 2:4. I, too, was lost and dead in trespasses and sins. I, too, was a child of wrath. I, too, lived in the passions of my flesh. But God, being rich in mercy and love made me alive in Christ. This truth alone thrills my heart to think of this kind of unending mercy and extravagant love!
  • “You were ransomed… with the precious blood of Christ” -1 Peter 1:18-19. I was not ransomed with perishable things, but with the precious blood of Christ, my Savior!
  • I am now a slave of righteousness – Romans 6:20. Before salvation, my whole desire and passion was to please Satan. Enslaved and under his bondage, there was no joy in my heart. The thing Satan called “freedom,” the impulses to do whatever I desired, was actually slavery. And now I am enslaved to Christ- having true freedom by the grace He gives me to obey His Word!
  • God’s ever-hearing ear – Psalm 4:3. What a comfort and delight to the heart to know that all those prayers, tears and silent cries are heard by the Father.
  • The faithfulness of the Lord that endures forever – Psalm 117:2. When believing and relying on the Lord to answer promises and to keep His own, the faithfulness of the Lord is an ever-constant comfort. There will be no promise that God breaks, and there will be no child of His that He will ever lose.
  • Those who keep watch over my soul – Hebrews 13:17. Every Sunday I am reminded of how grateful I am for the leaders/elders that the Lord has placed over me in the Church. They are the ones who spoke to me the word of God (Hebrews 13:7) and keep watch over my soul (Hebrews 13:17).
  • The local Church – Romans 12:4-5. How thankful I am for the body of believers that the Lord has placed in my life! Praise the Lord for a local Church to gather with weekly to encourage us onto God and to worship the Lord with.

Time would fail me to write of all the ways that the Lord has dealt bountifully with me, so here are just a few. How has He dealt bountifully with you?