Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

17 Telling Him Thanks – Part 1

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Psalms 95:1-11

1 Come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. 2 Let us come to him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to him. 3 For the Lord is a great God, a great King above all gods. 4 He holds in his hands the depths of the earth and the mightiest mountains. 5 The sea belongs to him, for he made it. His hands formed the dry land, too. 6 Come, let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker, 7 for he is our God. We are the people he watches over, the flock under his care. If only you would listen to his voice today! 8 The Lord says, “Don’t harden your hearts as Israel did at Meribah, as they did at Massah in the wilderness. 9 For there your ancestors tested and tried my patience, even though they saw everything I did. 10 For forty years I was angry with them, and I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts turn away from me. They refuse to do what I tell them.’ 11 So in my anger I took an oath: ‘They will never enter my place of rest.’”

Notice how Psalm 95 begins: “Come…” It starts with an invitation to come and thank God for who He is and what He has done. God longs for us to come into His presence. He makes it clear that it is not about laying down a bunch of rules and requirements but about a living relationship. John 4:23 tells us that God is seeking worshippers who will adore Him in spirit and in truth. This invitation to come is a personal invitation given to each one of us. What will you do with your invitation to the party of praise, its not enough just to receive it you have to respond. Will you respond to the invitation to rejoice? This invitation is a call to:

  • Rejoice

The call to worship is corporate, three times we see the phrase, “Let us…” While worship should and does have a private element, where we bear our individual heart before Him, the psalmist here reminds us that worship is designed to be congregational. Together we raise our collective voices in praise. Worship is more than just mouthing words it involves our heart, it’s our soul song that is sung simply for Him. Worship is vocal it’s not something we hold back, but our love that we let out before Him. Are you singing out to Him or keeping silent? Is He the cry of your heart? Our thanksgiving should be vibrant and vigorous, the call is for us to participate with joyful praise. How exuberant are you in your worship? So often we get the idea that the New Testament is somber and silent, yet as you read through it you find it alive with joy and wonder. As the psalmist describes the praise of God’s people it sounds more like the sounds you would find in a football stadium than a church sanctuary. Today much of our praise is timid, we seem to have traded powerful praise for that which is puny. The psalmist tells us to shout for joy, which in the Hebrew literally means to “raise a shout.” This was something that the Israelites did either before they began the battle or as they conquered the enemy and completed the conquest. This same call to shout is seen in Joshua 6:20, as the Israelites marched around the walls of their enemies at Jericho: “When the trumpets sounded, the people shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the people gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed…” There is tremendous power in praise, for praise brings God into the picture and reminds us of just how big He is and how small an enemy we face. Praise puts our problems into their place and gives us a proper perspective. Are you giving the priority to praise or the problems? Because when we allow our problems to control everything, we rarely and barely see God. This phrase is also found in 1 Samuel 4:5, where we read about the peoples response to the Ark of the Covenant being brought into the camp, “All Israel raised such a great shout that the ground shook.” They had just experienced a crushing defeat, 4000 men had been killed in battle but when the ark of God showed up the shouting went up. Even in the midst of disaster and seeming defeat we can still shout out our praise if our focus is on the Father. Look the principle of praise is a powerful principle in the Kingdom of God, it’s what caused the earth to shake and prison doors to fly open for Paul and Silas. Praised doesn’t just change our perspective it has the power to shake things up all around us. It’s a powerful weapon, but just like a sword, it has to be taken out of the scabbed. Are you sheathing your praise or showing your praise? Are you celebrating the victories by voicing His praise? Why is our praise so puny, why is our worship not the vibrant and vigorous celebration that we see in the Old Testament? Maybe it’s a cultural thing, or it could be that we’ve just gotten stuck in a rut. Maybe it’s a lack of joy in our lives. But why are we often so quick to become critical of those who do enthusiastically worship? Are we afraid we might get carried away?  We act more like Michal in 2 Samuel 6, who disdained David’s joyful enthusiasm. Verse 12 says that when David brought the ark back into Jerusalem, he did it with “rejoicing.” Verse 14 tells us that he danced before the Lord with all his “might” David didn’t dabble; he devoted himself and held nothing back. Verse 15 says that his worship was filled with “…shouts and the sound of trumpets.” But when Michal, who was Saul’s daughter, saw David leaping and dancing before the Lord, it says in verse 16 that, “She despised him in her heart.” Are you critical of those whose worship is too animated and enthusiastic for you? David’s response was to remind her that his focus was solely on the Lord as he worshipped, and in verse 21 he boldly declares, “I will celebrate before the Lord.” David didn’t care how he looked to others, look worship isn’t for the world it’s for the One who made it. Wholehearted worship isn’t concerned with how we look but how He looks. Are you self-conscious or Savior conscious? When we are fully engaged on Him in worship there isn’t room for worrying about what others think. Our real problem is one of passion. Today we are conservative in out praise because we are more concerned with looking right that with rejoicing. We are so afraid of looking foolish that we tame down our thanks. Are you shouting your joyful gratitude to the Rock of your salvation or sitting silent?  As Oswald Chambers puts it: “A joyful spirit is the nature of God in my blood.” When God penetrates and permeates our life we become so consumed with a desire to worship Him that we can’t help but break out into joyful praise. Today we criticize the Old Testament for being so somber yet it is us that are reserved in our rejoicing. Thankful worship should be God-centered. Worship is not just an emotional outburst it is deliberately directed toward Him. The focus of our worship should not be about how it makes us feel, but about the Father. The first two verses remind us that we are to “sing for joy to the Lord,” we are to “shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation,” we are to “come before Him with thanksgiving,” and to “sing psalms of praise to him.” David danced and shouted, but he did it “before the Lord.” Is your worship Christ centered or self-centered? Are you going to herald His praise or hold back?

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