Tag Archives: Praise

Psalms 102:8-104:4

I don’t know if I’ll ever get over the kindness of the Lord. A friend once asked me how I viewed God, in light of my father’s death at the time. She said sometimes people imagine God like their human father. I did not see God that way.

Praise the Lord, my soul;
    all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, my soul,
    and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
    and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
    and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
    so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

The Lord works righteousness
    and justice for all the oppressed.

He made known his ways to Moses,
    his deeds to the people of Israel:
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
    slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
    nor will he harbor his anger forever;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

13 As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children—
18 with those who keep his covenant
    and remember to obey his precepts.

19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
    and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Praise the Lord, you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his bidding,
    who obey his word.
21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
    you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the Lord, all his works
    everywhere in his dominion.

Praise the Lord, my soul. (Psalm 103, NIV)

How many times have I read this psalm? I have no idea. But I don’t want the familiarity of it to ever diminish the truth of the amazing love and grace of God. No, I don’t think I will ever get over the kindness of the Lord.

Courtney (66books365)

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Psalms 40-42

I waited patiently for the Lord;
    he turned to me and heard my cry.
He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
    out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock
    and gave me a firm place to stand.
He put a new song in my mouth,
    a hymn of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear the Lord
    and put their trust in him. (Psalm 40:1-3, NIV)

Yesterday’s reading emphasized, for me, that our only hope is the Lord. The verses today put my thoughts to deliverance and blessing–a blessing that is born from hardship. Not only that, but how through situations likened to pit, muck and mire, the Lord’s deliverance magnifies his glory for all to see.

I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly;
    I do not seal my lips, Lord,
    as you know.
10 I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
    I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help.
I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness
    from the great assembly. (Psalm 40:9-10, NIV)

I’ve usually been one to want a way out of a hardship, and not a way through it. I am not alone in a hardship–there are others who either walk alongside or who walk away. Those who stay–do they know they are blessed?

Blessed are those who have regard for the weak;
    the Lord delivers them in times of trouble.
The Lord protects and preserves them—
    they are counted among the blessed in the land—
    he does not give them over to the desire of their foes.
The Lord sustains them on their sickbed
    and restores them from their bed of illness. (Psalm 41:1-3, NIV)

I haven’t always looked for the blessing from or the honor due to God in a trial. In fact, I may have been more preoccupied with the details of the pit and the muck and mire. Certain events this year have caused me to look at life differently. One being, on a lighter note, a self-imposed (inflicted!) challenge (75 Hard) that I had to restart several times. I ended up getting a copy of the book (originally I was just going off the checklist), which was key in reframing the purpose of the challenge: to develop mental toughness. In what could be a long story, God used the purpose of mental toughness and paired it with my walk with him in a situation where I not only needed his guidance and kindness, but also needed the mental toughness to step into conflict with maturity and composure.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
    Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
    for I will yet praise him,
    my Savior and my God. (Psalm 42:11, NIV)

Life really does have a lot of conflict, hardship and trial. Lord, I want to handle the “little” situations in a way that honors you. These little things prepare me for the bigger things. Again I ask, “How do I want to show up in the world?” The answer unchanged: like I am the Lord’s.

Lord, you know I’ve made a lot of excuses. I’ve whined and complained. I’ve avoided hard situations out of my own fear and discomfort. All of these things have kept me dull, weak and ineffective. Thank you for being with me the other day when I picked up the phone. Thank you for putting scripture in my mind to hold my focus. Thank you for putting a new song in my heart.

Courtney (66books365)

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Psalms 22:1-24:6

Fourteen generations between David and Jesus. Each time I read over psalm 22, I saw more and more of Jesus.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish? (Psalm 22:1, NIV)

Many other books of the Bible read like a recounting, a history, a letter, or a conversation. But something about the psalms feels like a heart’s cry in anguish or in praise. Sometimes they feel vulnerable and exposed. Sometimes strong and confident.

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
    he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely your goodness and love will follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord
    forever. (Psalm 23, NIV)

All the generations that have passed, these enduring words still profess God’s faithfulness, a comfort to so many of us. Words to lift up in praise. Words to whisper in uncertainty.

The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
    the world, and all who live in it
;
for he founded it on the seas
    and established it on the waters.

Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?
    Who may stand in his holy place?
The one who has clean hands and a pure heart,
    who does not trust in an idol
    or swear by a false god.

They will receive blessing from the Lord
    and vindication from God their Savior.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
    who seek your face, God of Jacob. (Psalm 24, NIV, emphasis added)

Years ago, I remember a conversation with a friend about the land that was for sale behind my house. She said something that I never forgot, about it being God’s land, and he would put who he wanted there. Her words completely reframed my perspective, and still do when I encounter people: the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.

Yesterday as I swept down a portion of the driveway, I wrestled with the question, “How do I want to show up in the world?” And the answer came: like I am the Lord’s.

Courtney (66books365)

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I Chronicles 23:12-26:19

Have you or someone you know complained about the music at your church? Or are you aware of the person standing rigid next to you in the morning worship service, silently lip-synching or tapping the pew out of rhythm with the music? Many of us who only sing in the acoustics of a bathroom shower can appreciate those skilled musicians who lead us in worship. How important is music in worshiping the Lord? Scripture indicates that even before the creation of man, angels praised God with music. Lucifer, the mighty angel now called Satan who fell from heaven, was gifted with instruments and skilled in music. Ezekiel 28:13 says of him, “The workmanship of your timbrels and pipes was prepared for you on the day you were created.” And in the final days of man on this earth, according to Revelation 5:8-9, heavenly music will continue ring out: “Now when He [Jesus Christ] had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, ‘You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood…'”

Prophetic messages also emanate from vocal and instrumental worship. God spoke to the heart of the king and to the king’s armies through the harps, horns, stringed instruments, and cymbals played by skilled musicians (remember how the musicians led the Israelites in marching around and pulling down the walls of Jericho). Much of what we know about the heart of King David, himself a musician, is found in the words to the songs he composed, extolling worship and praise, expressing hardship and mourning, and celebrating victories with abandon joy. David even calmed the turbulent spirit of King Saul by playing music on a harp.

Musicians also had their own division of service in the Levitical priesthood. Levites ranging from 20 years old and up were designated for the important service of seeking the Lord. Even before the first brick of the temple was laid by Solomon, musicians were identified by their father’s household. The leaders were even mentioned by name in the Scriptures. King David, even in his old age, made musical instruments for the Levite musicians to use in leading praise and worship. He also gave instructions for when to praise which included: “to stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord, and likewise at evening; and at every presentation of burnt offering to the Lord on the Sabbaths and on the New Moons and on the set feasts,” (I Chron.23:30,31).

And then there are all the commandments to praise with song! Too many to quote, but here are just a few.

Ephesians 5:19 “Addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart…”

Colossians 3:16 “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

Psalm 95:1 “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!”

Psalm 150:1-6 “Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!”

I have a friend who is the music director at a major local denominational church. Her calling for this role is obvious in the excellence with which she serves. And I am astounded at her qualifications for this position. When I looked up the job description, I can understand even more why we should applaud anyone who is appointed to the role of church music director.

Church music directors, also called choir directors, are professional bandleaders and administrators hired by churches to lead the choir and develop the church’s music-oriented activities. Their job varies based on the structure of the church’s music department and the goals of the minister, but almost always involves scheduling and leading choir rehearsals; conducting and leading the choir in performance; recruiting and auditioning new singers and volunteers; fostering each singer’s musical growth; and appointing senior choir members to become section leaders, soloists, and assistant conductors. Music directors also choose the choir’s performance pieces, prepare special programs for holidays or special occasions, and work alongside the church organist (if they don’t play organ themselves).  A church music director should be enthusiastic and dedicated, with a positive attitude and a commitment to serving the local community. Excellent interpersonal skills are a must, as are the patience, clarity, and ease of communication necessary to teach well. Although teaching is a large part of the job, so is performance, and church music directors must possess the musicianship to consistently craft strong performances. Years of experience as a church musician or member of the church choir—as well as deep knowledge of choral repertoire and Christian scripture—are essential.

https://www.berklee.edu/careers/roles/

Because of these dedicated people, I can sing along with my Christian brothers and sisters, the heartstrings of my soul vibrating in tune to heavenly music. More importantly, I can experience God’s holy presence through the songs and presentations thoughtfully chosen and performed by these gifted and talented leaders. I love that music can lift my mood, speak calm to my frazzled nerves, and prepare my thoughts to focus on God’s Word. I pray, Lord, for all those who dedicate their voice, leadership, and musical abilities in leading us in thanksgiving and praise to You. Bless their efforts, honor them in their congregations, and reward their sacrifices of time and energy to serving You in Your house of worship. Thank You, Lord, for my friend and all those who use their artistic talents for You. They are a beautiful example of harmony in the body of Christ.

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2 Samuel 20:1-22:34

I have a goal planner that breaks goals down into “monthly” (big picture), “weekly,” and “daily” (habit building) activities. Sometimes I can get so focused on the daily habits that I lose sight of the big picture purpose. It takes effort for me to keep a big picture focus. And not just with goals, sometimes I can get caught up in a detail or distraction of circumstance, and then find myself off course of a kingdom focus.

Joab is in pursuit of Sheba, a man who turned against David.

19 “We are the peaceful and faithful in Israel. You are trying to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why do you want to swallow up the Lord’s inheritance?”

20 “Far be it from me!” Joab replied, “Far be it from me to swallow up or destroy! 21 That is not the case. A man named Sheba son of Bikri, from the hill country of Ephraim, has lifted up his hand against the king, against David. Hand over this one man, and I’ll withdraw from the city.” (2 Samuel 20:19-21, NIV)

Joab keeps his focus: he was after Sheba, not intent on destroying an entire community. That type of focus is a sign of discipline, self-control, and maturity. Joab kept his word and left once he obtained his goal. (Also very impressed with the “wise woman” who cut through all the distraction of an army to get to the point, avoiding mass casualties and destruction.)

During the reign of David, there was a famine for three successive years; so David sought the face of the Lord. The Lord said, “It is on account of Saul and his blood-stained house; it is because he put the Gibeonites to death.” (2 Samuel 21:1, NIV)

In the detail of the immediate (a famine), a bigger picture is revealed (the consequences of Saul’s actions as catalyst). Not only am I impressed by David seeking the Lord’s face, but I also notice that God uses immediate issues (like a famine) to bring about (bigger picture) justice. It would take a man after God’s heart to go deeper, to seek understanding, and then have the ability to take action.

But I linger longest in these verses, slowing to take in the meaning. David’s song of praise, of all that the Lord has done for him, and how David lives his life in response.

“To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
    to the blameless you show yourself blameless,
27 to the pure you show yourself pure,
    but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.
28 You save the humble,
    but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them low.
29 You, Lord, are my lamp;
    the Lord turns my darkness into light.
30 With your help I can advance against a troop;
    with my God I can scale a wall.

31 “As for God, his way is perfect:
    The Lord’s word is flawless;
    he shields all who take refuge in him.
32 For who is God besides the Lord?
    And who is the Rock except our God?
33 It is God who arms me with strength
    and keeps my way secure. (2 Samuel 22:26-33, NIV)

Lord, how often do I lose you in the details? How often do I forget to see with a kingdom focus? I pray that it would be my habit to praise you daily, to seek your face, to give you glory, and to live with discipline, self-control and maturity. May I not be moved by emotions and distractions, but instead live like the “wise woman” who keeps an end goal in mind, despite the circumstances.

Courtney (66books365)

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