The opening words in Psalm 149 are “Praise ye the Lord” and “Praise ye the Lord” the closing words of Psalm 150. In between, the word praise is written sixteen times. Each time it is directed to God -the One who is praiseworthy. “I will call on the LORD, who is worthy to be praised…” (2 Sa. 22:4, Ps. 18:3). The Bible is God’s instruction book to mankind. If He emphasizes that praise is important to Him, we should be at our Father’s work. We all lack in the department of praise.
The New Year is upon us. It’s a time of new beginnings and resolutions. Some will diet, quit this or that, or commit to sundry goals. Most will not follow through, and by January’s end will be thinking of next year’s resolutions. Let us resolve to whatever good we need to do, but lend more attention to the One who has given us life on this planet. Can we agree to praising God more this year?
If we want a year full of the Spirit, we need to invite God along. The quickest way is to praise Him. The Bible says in Ps. 22:3, “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.” Nobody likes to be around a bratty, snot-nosed kid! But the cute and cuddly ones get all the attention. I am not trying to put God in a box, but think on it. We certainly find ourselves around those who praise us; as opposed to those who don’t. What person does not like praise? We crave it; if we are honest.
I promise you, based on Scripture, your life will change and if you find that you have slacked off after a few weeks -get back at it. You see a nice thing with God is, we do not need to wait for the New Year: everyday is like that with God. “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 4:16).
Further commit to write a prayer of praise on New Year’s Day and refer to, and add to, it daily. Father, I praise You for this earth, my life and my very breath. I praise You for Your watch -care over me, my family and friends. I thank You for reaching into a pit of despair to save me from my sin and self. I praise you for a spouse that is dedicated to You and me. Praise You for our pastors and their families who dedicate their lives to us. The many, many blessings that are mine and if it were but one, and that You, it would be all sufficient. Praise you for Heaven where the redeemed will spend eternity. I could go on and on, but one word could sum up the rest: Jesus. Oh praise His Holy Name!
Some time ago, The Times posted the following inquiry: “What’s wrong with the world?” A prominent author, G. K. Chesterton, responded to the question with two short words.
After reading the story of Esther, you could reduce it to a simple “moral of the story.” Without trivializing the biblical record, how would you summarize the story? What if the story summarized itself. “Seeking the wealth of his people” (Esther 10:3). Ponder this for a moment. Mordecai was promoted and well-favored because he was “seeking the wealth of his people.” The adversary, Haman, sought personal promotion. He would go home and brag about “A Day in the Life of Haman” to his wife and friends. Before he realized the king wished to honor Mordecai, Haman blindly imagined himself astride the king’s horse parading through the street.
Be careful of what you seek. Paul tells us to seek “every man another’s wealth” (1 Corinthians 10:24). Do you seek opportunities to enrich the lives of others? Is your focus, today, on making someone’s day? The motive for seeking to enrich others is primarily salvation or fellowship. Paul explains, “Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved” (1 Corinthians 10:33). Once we remember this world will pass away and there is a place in heaven reserved for those who have received Christ as their Savior, we will find it easier to seek another’s profit.
What you seek boils down to what you love. In the great “Love Chapter,” love is described as that which “seeketh not her own” (1 Corinthians 13:5). The world is full of “Hamans” who “mind earthly things” and “seek their own” (Philippians 3:19; 2:21). What is wrong with the world? Humbly admit, “I am.” The world could use another Mordecai who seeks “the things which are Jesus Christ’s” (Philippians 2:21).
For what do you seek?
“Bah! Humbug!” Hopefully, that is not your response to Christmas Day. However, that was the famous catchphrase of the miserly, cold-hearted Ebenezer Scrooge. In Charles Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” Ebenezer Scrooge is known as a very wealthy man who is stingy with his money. On Christmas Eve, after the death of his business partner, three spirits visit Scrooge and show him Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future. When Scrooge sees that after his death none mourn for him, he repents and becomes a generous man. The fictional Ebenezer Scrooge had the chance to hear what people would say of him after he was dead and changed his ways as a result. In reality, none of us will be able to hear what others say about us after we are dead. If we were able to hear what others said about us after our death, maybe we would be more concerned with the legacy that we are going to leave behind and change our ways.
Deuteronomy 34 is the last chapter in the book. This chapter records the last scene of Moses’ life. God allowed Moses to climb Mt. Pisgah and see the Promised Land that the children of Israel would soon conquer. Moses had led them to this point but was not allowed to enter the land because of his sin at Kadesh. Even though Moses had made mistakes and surely had regrets, these would be overshadowed by his heroic and faithful legacy that he had made during his years of leadership. Moses played an important role as God’s chosen leader of the people of Israel. Moses had made such an impression on the people that they “wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days…” (v. 8). The Bible records that “there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face….” (v. 10). Moses left a legacy that would be remembered for generations to follow.
Moses had reached the end of his life. He had been faithful to his God-given duty on earth. He had passed on his legacy to the generations to follow. The greatest legacy that Moses left behind was his spiritual legacy. The Bible says that Moses knew God “face to face.” And so we all are writing our legacy on the pages of life one day at a time. Every choice we make, every word we say, every deed towards others is forming the legacy that will be left to future generations. When the last page of the book is written, our legacy will be sealed in indelible ink. We cannot go back and change the past. That is why we must endeavor from this day forward to invest in the spiritual nurturing of those coming after us. We must endeavor to leave a legacy that is spiritual in nature. No monetary or material legacy can ever replace a spiritual legacy. Live for God. Be faithful to the end. Leave a legacy.
Do you remember your first crush? Maybe it was in elementary, or maybe even earlier. It was exciting. You thought she was SO cute. He was SO handsome! And that feeling probably lasted for a couple of weeks, before it faded off into oblivion. How about a High School sweetheart? That probably lasted a little longer, but in most cases, that too passes by the wayside. Why is that so?
In or lives, there are changes that occur in our relationships, primarily for three reasons. Our circumstances may change, we may change, or the other person may change. When that happens, we grow apart and eventually, what was once a close friendship becomes a mere acquaintance. Do you remember your high school or college friends? Depending on how long ago that’s been for you, you probably remember a few of them well, you would recognize a few of them if you heard their name, and there are probably some that you would say, “Who is that?!”
Marriage is different. Let me rephrase. Marriage is SUPPOSED to be different. Through the years, many have said, “I love him/her, I’m just not IN love with him/her anymore.” They are describing that evolution, or rather devolution, of a relationship. However, marriage is a lifelong commitment. It demands that we purposefully overcome those changes in order to not only preserve, but continue to build that relationship.
In Song of Solomon 5, we see this playing itself out in a very picturesque way. Solomon returns home to a locked door. Whether the door was locked for security purposes, or due to a marital spat is unclear. What is clear, however, is that Solomon asks his wife to open the door and she doesn’t open it before he departs, but not before he leaves a fragrant symbol of his love on the door handle for her. She regrets not opening sooner and sets out to find him.
The “police” mistake her for a criminal at that time of the night, and take her into custody. When she speaks to the “daughters of Jerusalem,” she asks them to go out and find her husband. In order to help her, they ask “Does he have any defining characteristics?” She describes him in verses 10-16. In 6:1, they ask where he went. She tells them where he was likely to have gone and they depart.
6:4 brings an abrupt change, as now we hear Solomon’s thoughts or words in the garden. He reminisces of the same compliments he paid her on their wedding night, and expresses his unique affection for her. Although he had many queens and concubines, she stood out above them all. Nothing could detract from his love for her. More than anything, he wants to be with her.
Unlike the other relationships in our lives, marriage is to be cultivated and built upon strong foundations. Each passing day can breed complacency or contempt, or admiration and adoration. Let us learn from Solomon’s example and use each day to take another step toward deeper and more fulfilling relationships.
“You just wait until your father get’s home!” This was my mother’s favorite saying after I had stepped on my tail. She knew that letting my father down was worse to me than being ‘whupped’ with a switch. And while waiting for him to come home from work, I tried to butter Mom up. “Is there anything I can do Mom? I did my homework. I cleaned my room.” This could stand as an analogy of the End Times.
God tells us the things we must do to live a life that is pleasing to Him and fulfilling to us. Simply said, if we do not follow His principles we are on an errant course! In the end (our own death or Jesus’ return), in the twinkling of an eye, before the final curtain falls or before it is too late, those without Christ are lost to eternity. If it is death, we may not have time to get right with God as it takes some instantly and unawares (“…behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” 2 Cor. 6:2). But when Jesus returns for His church, there may be some who think they can wait until then to make it “right”. Sadly, for those who do not worship His Majesty, it will be too late. They will enter the Tribulation.
When Dad got home, there was the punishment (Ga. 6:7). He, like God, was forgiving, but I had to pay for my disobedience. They, like God, had rules laid down. To obey them was to live harmoniously; to disobey equaled a troubled life. The Bible says, “Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee” (Ex. 20:12). My mother knew her Bible evidently, as she usually added, “You ain’t long for this world boy!”
We should rejoice with Psalm 147:1, “Praise ye the LORD: for it is good to sing praises unto our God; for it is pleasant; and praise is comely.” Life is so fulfilling knowing God. Someday the doubters and unbelievers will know that Father (God) knows best. He cannot be fooled. So much the better to praise Him while we are alive and redeemed (having accepted Jesus’ free pardon-Rom. 6:23). But we cannot earnestly praise something we do not believe on. For believers in Christ, praise should come easy. It is a true mark as to who a real believer is. If you are not afraid to praise God, you must be a true born-again believer. If praise is far from your lips, how can one be a believer? At this time of year, many find it easy to believe in Santa Claus, but shun the idea of a Holy God who created the Universe and all that is within. It is He that hath made us; and not we ourselves (Ps. 100:3).