thankful for: gifted scientists using their God given smarts to create medicines and treatments to restore our health.

psalm95 6 7aRead Psalm 95:6-7

Today’s Lectionary reading takes us back to Psalm 95 from Day 19 devotional.  I guess if they have us reading it twice I one week, it must be an important passage for this season of the church year.

 

On Day 19 we looked at vs 1-3, today we are going to focus on vs 6 – 7.

I love that we are repeating this passage of Scripture; often I need to hear something multiple times in different ways for it to really sink in.  Can you relate?

I will read or hear something and think, “that is good, I need to remember that…” and then it’s on to the next thing…

  • It seems these days that my mind is going in a thousand directions, my plate is full and I am still trying to add new things to it.  The daily pause required for these Lectionary readings slows me down enough to get some perspective on what I should focus on rather than allow my time and attentions to be pulled in haphazard directions.
  • Something about the daily commitment to take time repeatedly day after day to pause is shifting how I look at my time and priorities.  Could it be that the repeating of this Psalm is and its message holds a similar lesson?

Worship is essential to us and our relationship with God.  Repeating the lessons of Psalm 95 may create a bit of space for focus on the importance of praise and worship in the midst of we are juggling, dealing with and going through… both joys and struggles.

Psalm 95 acts as an introduction to group of Psalms (95-100), or literally Songs, devoted to worship and praise.

They act as reminder us as believers to reorient our thinking and daily activities toward the vital act of worship.

Worship is how we honor God, and worship always changes us.

While vs 1-3 seem to depict a football stadium shout for joy- kind of all in worship – all together as a community- these next verses turn to a more private and imitate time of worship with our Lord.

It reminds me of cheering for my sports team… all of us moms wearing the school colors, cheering encouragement, pride and excitement over all the boys, loud and proud with unabashed praise! Contrasted with the more tender and personal moments with our son at home afterward where we were  able to praise him on his individual performance and share the joy of watching him play and use his God given athletic gifts.  Excitement, gratitude, praise… expressed in two different ways.

(Please don’t read any sense of “worship” of our son, but rather an image that contrasts the posture and situation of our interactions with God hinted at in Psalm 95)

Psalm 95:1- 3 claims with utter joy and unwavering conviction!  Our God is the BEST God!  And everyone joins in this cheer and song!

  • Verses 4-5 turn to more specific places we can see How great our God is and praise and worship Him in the individual ways.  He is the BEST, and look at why…look at all He has done and who He is!
  • In verses 6-7  the song of worship shifts into the quiet reverent, posture of kneeling before our LORD God, head bowed, focused only on Him.  In an intimate relationship with God, all else fades to the background as we come humbly, heads bowed, hearts overflowing with praise Him for being our personal Shepherd, grateful we get to be His sheep, that He loves to shepherd us.

The relationship between a shepherd and his sheep was personal and important, for without the Shepherd, the sheep would die.   We are like sheep; we cannot take care of ourselves and are desperately in need of our Shepherd.

Not only do we shout sing and cheer for our Great GOD, all together in a huge crowd…

We are also to come before Him, privately, personally… as “the Maker of me” “the One who He cares for, loves, gathers to Himself.”

…and from this place on our knees, we lift our heads to look into His eyes and see His Love for us shining in them, the pleasure and joy that we bring to him on His face as he receives our words of praise and thanksgiving.  God Delights in our praises!

Have you ever been there?  Received the gift of praise and thanksgiving for something you have offered to another?  It is an amazing feeling!  Being seen, known and appreciated for our gifts given to bless another is life affirming.

Recently, I got a note from a client who eloquently expressed joy and gratitude for the way I had helped her, walked with her, dare I say “shepherded” her through some tough times.  It was a joy and blessing to read.  My heart was full, tears brimming from my eyes… “this is why I do what I do! “I get to make a difference in her life.”  I am using who God created me to be, to be a blessing and the feeling is wonderful!    

This is not a moment of pride, but a moment of hearing, “well done good and faithful servant” from the One who has gifted me and called me to be serving in this way.  I believe that enjoying praise from another is part of our divine design, the fingerprint of God, where we get a glimpse of what He must feel when we take time to say WOW, Thank you, God! You are amazing…in all these specific ways…

I think Gods heart must be filled with joy because he commands us to praise Him…So it must mean something to Him.

  • God doesn’t need us to worship Him, he is All Sufficient, but he wants our praise
  • He commands to worship Him.
  • And as much as He might enjoy and delight in our worship, I think worshipping God is really for our benefit.

We come to Him and acknowledge, praise, give thanks, name in detail, remember, rehearse, and rejoice in  ALL He has given us, done for us, His love for us and lots of other little and big things that make each day valuable and meaningful.

We rise from a time of worshiping Him changed.  Our eyes radiant from the Joy reflected on His face as He receives our praise.  Hearts full and emboldened to live well, live gratefully and engage in the world more fully.

This is why I think we need to learn so much about worship and am grateful for the double dose of these specific verses and teachings this week.

Worship, praise, Thanksgiving are not our first thought, they are often drowned out by the pressures of life, and relegated to specific times of prayer, church, study.  We miss so much…

What if we went about our days with an attitude of worship, praise thanksgiving, the shout it out loud kind, and the quiet reverent whispers of praise by a sheep held close by the Shepherd?  That would change us.

That would change our thoughts, our actions, our lives, our relationships, and I would suggest… the world.

Taking it from our hearts to our hearts to our hands:

  • What can you praise God specifically for – right now?  Take some time to do so.
  • Pick 3 areas of your life family, faith, health, work, hobbies, dreams and at the 3 meal times today make a concerted effort to praise Him for everything you can think of in that area of your life.  I think we will be amazed at how much we have to praise and thank Him for.
  • Take some time to share a feeling of gratitude with someone who has blessed you.  Give them some praise and thanksgiving for using their gifts, talents, time to be a blessing to you.
  • When you mind turns to negative or despairing thoughts, willfully find something to be thankful for.  This won’t change the problem or even chase away the despair, but it will keep them from overwhelming you. And it will shift your mind and heart set to the One who can help in every time of need.
  • Comment or post some of your thankfulness in the comments or on the FB page.

Digging Deeper:

Read Psalm 95 – Psalm 100

  • Make a written list of what the Psalmist is Singing his Praise about.
  • Mark them each in your bible (I underline or circle the word w/ a colored pen)
  • then look at the text as a whole chapter or page and see how much there is to be thankful for.

 

Notice that David doesn’t deny or hide his fears, problems or worries… In fact he brings them right to God along with  his praise!  David’s life is about his relationship with God, so he brings it all…thoughts, feelings, questions, worries, praises, petitions… all to God

How can you translate this mindset into your day and life?

Every emotion we have is contained in the book of Psalms and it is considered a book of worship! I love this about the Psalms!   So I want to suggest even bringing our struggles, disappointments, anger, fear… every emotion we have into our conversation and communing with God is an act of worship.

As you read, watch how David does this repeatedly in the Psalms.

He includes everything in his heart, mind and life and no matter what he is going through. And he always returns to the final conclusion:  ‘You are the BEST God!  and I will praise and worship you!”

Why don’t we try to do this as well?  Bring all of your thoughts feeling to God throughout the day, as an act of worship.  Tell Him… He is your best friend, a wise and gentle Shepherd… (and He knows what you are feeling anyway!

Be aware how this act of worship will change you, and grow your intimacy with God.

 

Daily Lectionary Readings: 

Jeremiah 7:23-28; Psalm 95:1-2.6-7. 8-9; Luke 11:14-23

If you want to read through the New Testament during Lent (about 1/2 hour a day)

Read on Day 23:  Acts 12-17

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