Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Praise the Lord

Praise the LORD! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty firmament! Praise Him for His mighty acts; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness! Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet; Praise Him with the lute and harp! Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes! Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD! - Psalm 150

Psalms ended simply, but brilliantly with a call to praise the Lord. There is nothing really deep or profound or theological here.

It is simply a psalm about praise.

Praise the Lord
Praise him the sanctuary and in the earth.
Praise him for what he does and who he is.
Praise him with instruments and dance
Praise the Lord.

There does not look like there is much to limit our praise. My background tends to be a bit conservative and unemotional when it comes to praise. And, that is okay. But God seems like we should be excited about our praise for Him as we are when our team scores the try to win the Six Nations or goes to Chicago and beats the All-Blacks.

Praise should never be a drudgery or a bother or a task.  Praise should come from our hearts as we reflect on all the goodness of God. Maybe if we praised a bit more those we are sharing with would be excited about what we have in Christ!

Monday, 24 April 2017

He will beautify the humble

For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation. Let the saints be joyful in glory; Let them sing aloud on their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, And a two-edged sword in their hand,  - Psalm 149:4-6

God always blesses humility. The world exalts power and glory and fame and wealth and all those things. We know a person is great if they succeed and are famous for their acting skills or politics or their ability to hit or kick or carry a ball or a puck or whatever. These are often the ‘beautiful people’ of our world and are featured on stage and screen and print and on websites.

But God’s beauty standard is different. God loves His people and turns the worldly despised notion of humility into true beauty.

Those who humble themselves before God, realise their hopelessness without Him, confess their sins and call on Him for forgiveness will find salvation in Him.

We need not compete with the world and what they call important. We need to strive for godly humility and let Him give us that the beauty that comes with godly humility.

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Young and old

Kings of the earth and all peoples; Princes and all judges of the earth; Both young men and maidens; Old men and children. Let them praise the name of the LORD, For His name alone is exalted; His glory is above the earth and heaven. And He has exalted the horn of His people, The praise of all His saints— Of the children of Israel, A people near to Him. Praise the LORD! - Psalm 148:11-14

Psalm 148 is one of those psalms which is simply a song full of praise to our God for who He is. The first part is all about creation praising God, but then the psalmist turns to the importance of people praising God and He makes it clear that all people should be praising Him.

The first part of the psalm speaks of how Creation praises God by its very nature. Then He turns to how people should praise God.

Kings and all people
Princes and all judges
Young men and maidens
Old men and children

In other words ‘let everything that has breath praise the Lord.’

We teach children the importance of praising the Lord with many of our children’s’ songs. We have times of ‘praise and worship’ in many of our services. Psalm 71 speaks of our need to continue to magnify the Lord even when we are old and grey headed.

It is never the early to praise the Lord. We are never too young or too old or too rich or too poor or to unknown or two famous to the praise the Lord.Just praise the Lord.  

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Singing with thanksgiving

Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; Sing praises on the harp to our God, Who covers the heavens with clouds, Who prepares rain for the earth, Who makes grass to grow on the mountains. He gives to the beast its food, And to the young ravens that cry. He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He takes no pleasure in the legs of a man. - Psalm 147:7-10

I don’t always remember to give thanks. I can take an awful for granted. When we have it we don’t think about it.

I have breath. My heart beats. My body, even at 61 years old, mostly works. I have a wonderful family. I work with an amazing church. I have food to eat and a I have clothes to wear and I know I will sleep tonight in a clean, comfortable bed. I don’t worry about what I am going to eat tomorrow.

And I am a child of God. My eternity is secure. Jesus is my Saviour, and as we remembered just last week – He is alive.

There is a lot to be thankful for, but, there are things I still am anxious about. That is why one of the answers to anxiety for thanksgiving. It changes my focus from what I don’t have to what I do have.

O give thanks to the Lord. In everything give thanks. Giving thanks always for all things. I will enter His gates with thanksgiving on my heart.

Than thanksgiving should fill me heart with joy that my heart’s song becomes a thanksgiving song. 

Friday, 21 April 2017

Don't trust in princes

Do not put your trust in princes, Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. - Psalm 146:3

Here is a piece of advice that I think anyone can understand in these troublesome times. I don't even need to comment on current affairs. 

Saying that, I have to say that I am amazed at how many Christians seem bent on trusting ‘princes’ today. It seems like a lot of folks have pinned their hopes on having the right prime minister or president or premier in office. So many people spend more time making sure that their party is in power than in building the heavenly kingdom.

Some Christians really think that unless the right prince is in power that our existence is under threat. They think that unless the church has a friendly government power we need to march and protest and whinge and cry and complain and mock and attack and disrespect the princes in power.

It seems like we are a group would realise that we can’t expect that friendly prince to protect us. It is not the norm and God’s people can thrive no matter who is in control. When the king who ‘knew not Joseph’ took power and burdened God’s people he was frustrated because the more they afflicted them the more multiplied and grew. One of the Roman emperors was frustrated because the stronger the persecution the more the Christians loved and reached out to their enemies.

We’ve got to learn. We need to get over this. We are citizens of a heavenly kingdom. Our real leader is the Prince of Peace, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords. All human princes are pretenders to the throne. Elections are not going to determine our future or our fate – that is all up to our King.

Hallelujah, my God reigns. 

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Slow to anger

The LORD is gracious and full of compassion, Slow to anger and great in mercy. - Psalm 145:8

The Lord is gracious and He is full of compassion. He is great in mercy.

All of those are wonderful truths that we ought to pause and thank Him for.

But here I want to stop and focus on those wonderful, amazing, fantastic words – ‘the Lord is slow to anger.’

I can’t imagine what it would be like if the Lord was as quick to anger as I can be. The Lord has done a big work since I was younger, but I can still ‘lose the head’ in an instant. If the wrong thing sets me off I can just blow up. Too many times I have had to go back and apologise after a stunt like that.

If God responded to my sin the I react to the perceived wrong of others I would be in deep trouble.

The fact that God is slow to anger is a practical application of the theological truth that God is both loving and just. His justice demands a penalty for sin – His love gives every opportunity to satisfy the debt. 

I can just thank God that He is slow to anger and patient with me. May He help me to treat others the same way He treats me. 

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Like a shadow

Man is like a breath; His days are like a passing shadow. – Psalm 144.4

I recently listened to a podcast about life in a small town. It was a very discouraging podcast about broken people living in a broken. It was far from Christian – but it really pointed out the vanity of life.

The key character was a brilliant clockmaker. He also loved sundials. I had never heard of this before, but he said that sundials often had Latin mottoes about the brevity of life and used the idea of passing shadows to describe it. He mentioned a couple of them and I found a few online.

Meam vide umbram, tuam videbis vitam. (Look at my shadow and you will see your life.)
Umbra sicut hominis vita. (A person's life is like a shadow.)
Vita fugit, sicut umbra (Life passes like the shadow.)
Vita similis umbræ. (Life resembles a shadow.)

Indeed, the image of a sundial, where day by day the shadow creeps across its face and then disappears is a great picture of our lives. Once that day has passed it is gone forever. The shadows of days fly by, then weeks, then months, then years.

In fact, our lives are like that shadow. As quickly as they went the sundial face they pass away. I am stunned by how fast the sun flits across the sky. In July I will finish 62 years on this earth, but those years sometimes seem like days.

What have I done with those 62 years? I can’t do anything about that, but I can do something the time I have left. I can, by the grace of God, careful redeem the time.

Only one life, ‘twill soon be passed.