Praise Times Thirteen

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD! Psalm 150:6

The book of Psalms ends on a climactic note of joyful praise in Psalm 150. In only six verses, this psalm answers one question after another involving praise and worship. In fact, the word “praise” occurs thirteen times in Psalm 150. The first verse tells us what we are to do. We’re to “Praise the Lord.” In the original Hebrew, it’s literally: Hallelu Yah or Praise Yahweh.

Verse 1 also tells us where to praise: “Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in His mighty firmament!” Praise is the unifying activity that links together heaven and earth.

Verse 2 tells us why to praise God: “Praise Him for His mighty acts; praise Him according to His excellent greatness!” And verses 3-5 provide the how of praise – “with the sound of the trumpet… the lute and harp… the timbrel and dance… stringed instruments and flutes… loud cymbals… clashing cymbals.”

Verse 6 ends with the question of who should praise God: “Everything that has breath.” What joy we have as believers in Christ—praising Him today, tomorrow, and forever!

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation! / O my soul, praise Him, for He is thy health and salvation! Joachim Neander

Speaking Through Tragedy

Numbers 21:4-9

Although we never like to admit it, God will at times use hardships, such as tragedy, to shake us out of self-centeredness and other misguided attitudes. Unexpected hardship is often accompanied by a season of intense clarity. The Lord uses it to strip away distractions in order to teach us something meaningful and refocus our minds on Him.

We see this clearly in today’s passage. Here, we find the Israelites complaining. God had directed them to take the long way out of Mount Hor to avoid the Edomites. However, the people became impatient because of the lengthier journey and then began to grumble and complain about Moses and God Himself. They had turned their minds away from the Lord, who therefore needed to capture their attention once again.

It is interesting that God decided not to do so through blessing or a great miraculous sign. After all, the Israelites had seen Him move in this way time and time again. Instead, God sent poisonous snakes into the camp, causing the death of many.

What was the response of those who witnessed this? They immediately confessed their sin and asked Moses to intercede for them to the Lord. Though it was a costly lesson for their community, this act got their attention.

Speaking through tragedy is an intensely personal way in which God communicates with His people. While we cannot presume to know what He’s trying to tell others through their heartaches, we should meet our own hardships by looking for His divine purpose and instruction.

Who and What to Esteem

“Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.” (Hebrews 11:26)

We hear much today about the importance of self-esteem, with the implication that lack of self-esteem is the cause of many of the personal problems and antisocial activities of so many young people (and others as well) these days.

But this is not the biblical perspective. The problem really is too much self-esteem. The biblical command is that we should “in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves” (Philippians 2:3). The man Moses was once a prince of Egypt, probably in line to become the pharaoh, but he chose Christ and the people of God instead, “esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt” (today’s text).

Paul the apostle could have become the greatest teacher and leader in the religious/political life of his own Jewish people, but he said: “What things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:7-8). In these verses, “count” is the same word in the original Greek language as “esteem.”

Similarly, the apostle James assures us that we should “count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations”—that is, trials that test your faith—“knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience” (James 1:2-3).

Therefore, if we would truly conform to the will of God for our lives, we should be esteeming others more than cultivating self-esteem in ourselves, esteem knowing and serving Christ more than all the riches and fame of the world, and esteem it a joyful privilege when we are enabled to grow more like Him through the trials and testings He permits us to share. HMM

No Need FOR Fear

For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God. —Romans 8:38-39

Surely Bible-reading Christians should be the last persons on earth to give way to hysteria. They are redeemed from their past offenses, kept in their present circumstances by the power of an \ all powerful God, and their future is safe in His hands. God has promised to support them in the flood, protect them in the fire, feed them in famine, shield them against their enemies, hide them in His safe chambers until the indignation is past and receive them at last into eternal tabernacles.

If we are called upon to suffer, we may be perfectly sure that we shall be rewarded for every pain and blessed for every tear. Underneath will be the Everlasting Arms and within will be the deep assurance that all is well with our souls. Nothing can separate us from the love of God….

This is a big old world, and it is full of the habitations of darkness, but nowhere in its vast expanse is there one thing of which a real Christian need be afraid. Surely a fear-ridden Christian has never examined his or her defenses.

Lord, thank You for the assurance that I can face anything in my life without a trace of fear! Amen.

Striving for the Numbers

Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest… think on these things. (Philippians 4:8)

In Christian circles today, the church that can show an impressive quantitative growth is frankly envied and imitated by other ambitious churches.

Numbers, size and amounts seem to be very nearly all that matters—with a corresponding lack of emphasis on quality!

This is the age of the Laodiceans. The great goddess, Numbers, is worshiped with fervent devotion and all things religious are brought before her for examination. Her Old Testament is the financial report and her New Testament is the membership roll. To these she appeals as the test of spiritual growth and the proof of success or failure in most Christian endeavors.

A little acquaintance with the Bible should show this up for the heresy it is. To judge anything spiritual by statistics is to judge by another than scriptural judgment. Yet this is being done every day by ministers, church boards and denominational leaders. And hardly anyone seems to notice the deep and dangerous error!

He sups with you because……

He sups with you because you find the house or the heart, and you with him because he brings the provision. He could not sup with you if it were not in your heart; nor could you sup with him if he did not bring the provision with him. Fling wide, then, the portals of your soul. He will come with that love which you long to feel; he will come with that joy into which you cannot work your poor depressed spirit; he will bring the peace which now you have not. Only open the door to him, and he will dwell there forever. Oh, wondrous love, that brings such a guest to dwell in such a heart!