More Action Praise

“Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in His mighty heaven!
Praise Him for His mighty works; praise His unequalled greatness!
Praise Him with a blast of the ram’s horn; praise Him with the lyre and harp!
Praise Him with the tambourine and dancing; praise Him with strings and flutes!
Praise Him with a clash of cymbals; praise Him with loud clanging cymbals.
Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord!
Praise the Lord!”
Psalm 150:1-6 NLT

Well, here we are, looking at the last Psalm in the Book of Psalms. Another Psalm following on from the action praise-theme in Psalm 149. But the Psalmist is getting carried away with the thoughts of adding more and more noise to his praise. You see, we cannot be quiet when it comes to praising God. We can’t whisper our praises. And the Psalmist knew that. And so he started to add some more instruments to his praise-band. So in addition to the tambourine and harp, we now have a lyre, stringed instruments, a ram’s horn, flutes and not just any old cymbals – these are clashing cymbals with loud clanging gizmos attached to them. Within me is the thought that I want to get to play the loud clanging cymbals in the praise band – but don’t tell anyone! But in case there is anyone who feels they will miss out, those who don’t get to play an instrument – they can sing their praises (assuming they are still breathing of course). 

Just this morning, as the new day was breaking over the woods in my corner of Scotland, I paused. I listened to the noises around me. The distant traffic a constant reminder of our 21st Century world, but closer by was the bird song. And the wind gently murmuring through the tree tops. And within me was the deep impression that there was a lot of praising going on – I just wasn’t hearing it with my earth-bound senses. And the creation around me was shouting it out.

But why should I, a 21st Century pilgrim, praise God? My musings took me to Romans 8:29-30, “For God knew His people in advance, and He chose them to become like His Son, so that His Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And having chosen them, He called them to come to Him. And having called them, He gave them right standing with Himself. And having given them right standing, He gave them His glory.” And I looked at verse 30, and personalised it, like this, “And having chosen [me], He called [me] to come to Him. And having called [me], He gave [me] right standing with Himself. And having given [me] right standing, He gave [me] His glory.” Why should I praise God? Why should I not praise God? Not only has God chosen me, He has made me righteous before Him. Jesus is now my older brother. And God has given me His glory. Truly, I will praise God as long as I have breath.

Action Praise

Praise the Lord! 
Sing to the Lord a new song. 
Sing his praises in the assembly of the faithful. 
Praise his name with dancing, 
accompanied by tambourine and harp. 
Let the praises of God be in their mouths,
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭149:1, 3, 6a‬ ‭NLT‬‬

In yesterday’s Psalm, Psalm 148, the Psalmist wrote about all the wonderful God-things he could think about, and he experienced a “wow” moment that translated him into a different dimension. A praise-zone so wonderful that he had to share it with his readers, encouraging them to “Praise the Lord” too.

The theme continues in today’s Psalm but with the exhortation to be more physically expressive. So the Psalmist encourages the writing of a “new song”. He suggests that praises to God should be sung amongst “the assembly of the faithful”, a congregation of God’s people. But before we develop a picture in our minds of rows and rows of elderly and pew-bound men and women holding hymn books and singing with bored expressions on their faces, the Psalmist advises how praises should be – with dancing, tambourines and harps. Now what a picture that would be! Hymn books thrown aside. New songs abounding. The congregation bouncing up and down the aisles, the percussive sounds of tambourines and harps all but drowning out the dirge-like sounds exuding from an organ, tucked away in the background somewhere. Praises expressed in the way they should be – in total abandonment to our wonderful Heavenly Father. He deserves our praises, offered from every ounce, every fibre, of our beings, for what He has done for us. One day I suspect that we will find Heaven to be a bit like that. No pew-bound-ness there. Read Revelation 5.

But after our quick glimpse into Heaven, here we are, back on planet Earth, trudging along on our life-pilgrimage. Lifting our tired limbs step by step, tramping along through the highways and byways of 21st century society. And we wonder about this environment of praise. It’s unusual to find praise expressed in such total abandonment in any of our Western denominational churches, though we might find it on the terraces at a football match. It is beyond me to understand how people can express exuberant praise honouring their football team, who are kicking around a bag filled with wind, when they can’t offer up the same praise to their Creator, who created the bag materials and provided the wind. But, apart from that digression, there is something within me that is bursting to join a praising throng of God’s people, as the Psalmist described. Abandoning the pre-conditioned reticence that seems to blight most people in my generation, and being able to enter into the “wow”-zone of God’s presence. Why? Because our Heavenly Father is worthy of all the praises we can muster, and then some. We cannot praise Him enough for all that He has done for us. But one day we will get that opportunity, those of us who have embraced God and His Son, Jesus, committing our lives to them in an eternal act of repentance and commitment. 

I’ve just had a mischievous thought – why don’t I go out and buy a tambourine. And then take it to church on Sunday. Hmmm…

Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens!
Praise him from the skies!
Let every created thing give praise to the Lord,
for he issued his command, and they came into being.
He set them in place forever and ever.
His decree will never be revoked.
Psalm 148:1, 5-6 NLT

In this Psalm, the word “Praise” appears 13 times. The Psalmist runs through many of God’s attributes, encouraging us to respond as he did, with a heart full of praise. He starts by looking up into the skies. There he “sees” angels and God’s “armies of heaven”. He continues with his observations of the celestial bodies, our sun, moon, and the stars we can see. His gaze starts to fall, with a view of the clouds then replaced by his thoughts about created beings, formed at God’s command. By His spoken and irrevocable word. The Psalmist continues with what he sees around him. The inhabitants of the seas, the weather systems, the habitat and occupants of the lands, the society and the people who live within it. All in all, the Psalmist did a pretty good job in describing his world in just a few short verses. But above all, he exhorted his fellow countrymen to “Praise the Lord”.

Do we look around us at our world, with wonder and praise for its Creator? Or do we just take for granted what we see? Do we spend our time trying to explain it all away, as a chance happening on a random planet in a vast universe? Or do we see God’s plan in it all; the Creator who wanted to make mankind in His image? Or do we, like the Psalmist, become overwhelmed by our loving Heavenly Father, responding over and over again in expressing our praises to Him? The Psalmist’s view of God was so overwhelming that all he could do was offer up a “wow” from deep within him. We too must find that “wow” moment in our own lives. It is there for the finding, and as we utter praises from our lips, we will find ourselves in a different place. In His presence. In God’s “wow”-zone. 

Like a Butterfly

“Praise the Lord! 
How good to sing praises to our God! 
How delightful and how fitting! 
He heals the broken-hearted and bandages their wounds. 
He counts the stars and calls them all by name. 
How great is our Lord! 
His power is absolute! 
His understanding is beyond comprehension!
Psalms‬ ‭147:1, 3-5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

This Psalm is a wonderful jumble of thoughts. The Psalmist’s musings flit like a butterfly between exhortations to praise God, to how marvellously wonderful His creation is and then to how He cares for His creation. And in the process, he delivers the message that our Heavenly Father, so powerful that He can create, count and name the stars, also cares for human beings like you and I. Doesn’t that give us the picture of a God so complete that He is fully omnipresent, omniscient and omnipotent? The Psalmist was right when he said that God’s “understanding is beyond comprehension”

No matter how hard we try, how many university degrees we get, how many years we spend in research, we will never even scratch the surface of what God is all about. Suffice to say that we must instead align our lives to follow Jesus. He taught us how to live. And He ultimately provided the remedy for our transgressions at Calvary. One day I firmly believe that we too will be able to see a bit more of God’s understanding; it will be mind-blowing and there will be only one possible response. “Praise the Lord!”

Praise the Lord!

“Praise the Lord! 
Praise the name of the Lord! 
Praise him, you who serve the Lord, 
Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; 
celebrate his lovely name with music. 
The Lord be praised from Zion, 
for he lives here in Jerusalem. 
Praise the Lord!”

Psalms‬ ‭135:1, 3, 21‬ ‭NLT‬‬

A Psalm of praise. It starts and ends with the phrase, “Praise the Lord!” An instruction. An invitation. And the Psalm continues to expand on the where, who and why the Lord should be praised. Because of what He has done and will do. Where? – everywhere. Who? – all who fear the Lord. Why? For He is good. Pretty well an all-encompassing situation. A cornucopia of praise. And just in case there is any doubt, the Psalmist rubbishes the man-made trinkets that some people worship.

One thing that emerges for me in this psalmistic word-explosion, this smorgasbord, of praise is the place music holds in our praise of God. Verse 3 associates the Lord’s lovely name with a celebration of music. Human beings are wired for music. The love of music and song is deeply embedded within us. It’s part of our design. It’s how God has created us. Some people have the gift of being able to make music. Minstrels there to bless their fellow humans. Gently and diligently developing Heavenly themes that permeate into our earthly lives. But just about everyone has the capacity, the ability, the desire to enjoy music. Music and song can take our praise of God to extraordinary heights, lifting us there in the process. Every fibre of our beings can be involved, taking us into the very presence of God Himself. 

The pilgrim sings his way through life, developing in his mind God-themes of words and music. Lifting his feet out of the the mud and clay, the worldly life, lightening his steps. No place in music for the worship of idols, much as our enemy, the devil, likes to be praised. Music was designed by God, for God and for our use in His praise. Let’s sing our way through this day with God-songs. Let’s find a new song in our hearts today and allow it to burst into our spirits with an explosion of praise. Elevation music for our journey to the place of music – Heaven itself.

Praise the Lord

“Praise the Lord, all you nations. 
Praise Him, all you people of the earth. 
For His unfailing love for us is powerful; 
the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever. 
Praise the Lord!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭117:1-2‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Now here’s a short Psalm. Just two verses. But it’s very clear in its content. In its exhortation, everyone is instructed to “Praise the Lord”. No exceptions. No time off for doing other things. And the Psalmist seriously lays out the reason for the praise – the powerful nature of God’s love for us, and the everlasting, eternal, nature of His faithfulness. If we look closely we can see that both His love and His faithfulness are not just passing whims, sputtering out after a while like a candle at the end of its usefulness; God’s love and faithfulness are unfailing and enduring. They go on for ever. Regardless of circumstances.

In case we miss the point of these two verses and consign them to history as being Old Testament, we have an example of God’s love and its extent laid out in the first century AD. The Apostle Paul reminded the early Roman church about the love of God. He wrote in Romans 5:8, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” And he goes on to say, “So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.” How can we ever get our minds around the fact that God loved us so much, even when He endured so much abuse from sinners, and yet He still pressed through in displaying and implementing a love for us beyond comprehension. That is truly “powerful” love. And regarding God’s faithfulness, Paul again writing to his protégé Timothy, said, “If we are unfaithful, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny who He is.” (‭‭2 Timothy‬ ‭2:13‬).

So there we have it. The loving and faithful God working through the centuries. Never changing. Never leaving us. Day after day. Problem after problem. We can see why the psalmist finished this Psalm with a “Praise the Lord!”. Let’s do the same.