How do you feel at the beginning of each of your days? Last evening I read something by William Law, an 18th century Anglican priest,that I thought was very good, and wanted to share it with you. This is from his book entitled A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life. “As the morning is to you the beginning of a new life; as God has then given you a new enjoyment of yourself, and a fresh entrance into the world: it is highly proper that your first devotions should be a praise and thanksgiving to God … Receive, therefore, every day as a resurrection from death, as a new enjoyment of life; meet every rising sun with such sentiments of God’s goodness, as if you had seen it, and all things, new created upon your account: and under the sense of so great a blessing, let your joyful heart praise and magnify so good and glorious a creator.” How contrary this is to the expression we sometimes hear, “Oh God, its morning!” It is certainly worth the thought to let Law’s words set the tone for our days.
Psalm 68:19 says, “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Saviour, who daily bears our burdens.” That is an interesting verse. We certainly understand the first part about praising our Lord. He is our great God and worthy of all our praise. But in what way do we see that He daily bears our burdens? Sometimes we feel weighed down with so many things. It sure doesn’t feel like anyone else is bearing our burdens. Maybe we are looking for the wrong thing. We want everything to be taken away, all of our burdens just to disappear. While that might be nice for a time, it is not the way the Lord works for our best good. God truly knows all that touches us, and He does care. He is always present with His wisdom, guidance, and strength. He works in the midst of our days to reveal Himself to us, to help us trust Him more completely. He does hear and respond to our prayers, and we do see the results of those prayers. He really does bear our burdens with us, and we are drawn closer to Him because of the way He chooses to work for our best good.
We enjoy watching some of the dramas or mysteries on BBC television. In one of them there was a scene of a worship service in a very ornate 15th century chapel. An elderly cleric was conducting the service. He words spoke of the joy we have in what Christ has done for us. Yet, his face was sour, and his voice utterly dry. One should not critique a drama for not presenting a good worship service. That was not the writers intent, but I had to remark how dead, and unconvincing of God’s truth such a service presented. Our worship is not a mere duty, or the repetition of a rote liturgy. It is a joyful thanksgiving of our life in Jesus Christ. Psalm 66:1 says, “Shout with joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious.” All things should be done decently and in order, but our life in Christ is the most gracious and glorious gift we have ever been given. All aspects of life should reflect this.
I have a hymnal on my desk with 600 hymns in it. There is an on-line hymnal that I use with several thousand hymns. Music plays a large part in the expression of our faith. Even if we are not good in singing, music elevates our spirit, and focuses our attention on the object of our worship, Jesus Christ. Music is present throughout the Scripture as an expression of praise. “Sing to him a new song; play skillfully, and shout for joy.” the Psalmist says. (33:3) Music has a way of reaching deeply inside of us, connecting us in a very real way to our Lord. “Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD. “(Ps.150:3-6) Keep a song to the Lord in your heart today.
Many of the Psalms are prayers against enemies, or for deliverance from trouble, but there are many, also, that are pure and beautiful praise. “Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise Him. Praise the Lord with the harp; make music to him on the ten stringed lyre.” (Ps.33:1-2) The psalmist knew that it is in praise that our eyes are turned to the Lord, and that we are drawing near to Him in trust. It is in praise that we feel the strength of the Lord. The Lord seeks the worship of HIs people, not because He needs it, but because He knows that in worship our relationship with Him is deepened. This is why we gather weekly in our churches. Not to fulfill some duty we feel we have toward God, but to know the joy of drawing near to the Throne of Grace. “In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in You.” (vs.21-22)
Paul was a man who went through a lot of difficulties in life, yet he would say, “Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”(I Thess.5:16-18) “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”(Phil.4:6) He didn’t know what the outcome of any given situation would be, but he knew that the Lord was with him constantly, and he kept his eyes always looking toward Jesus. This is not easy to do because we see the problems with our eyes, and feel the hurts in our bodies and minds, but in spite of this, our Lord has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”(Hebrews 13:5) In this knowledge we can join with the Psalmist in saying, Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the Lord!”(Psalm 150:6) And in this we can know that “the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus.”(Philippians 4:7)
If you were a Green Bay Super Bowl fan there was a lot of joyful shouting, and clamor of all kinds of music. Fans when wild with praise of their team. They had a great time, but we have something even greater to shout about. “Praise the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with tambourine and dancing, praise him with the strings and flute, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.” That sounds like quite a celebration to me. Would we say this is undignified, that it doesn’t belong in church. Well, at least David didn’t think so. These are all his words in Psalm 150. “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.”