Pour Out Our Praise

Shout for joy to God, all the earth;
    sing the glory of his name;
give to him glorious praise!
Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you.
All the earth worships you
and sings praises to you;
they sing praises to your name.” – Psalm 66:1-4

In my head this week has been the song we often sing during worship, “Great are You Lord.” The lyrics are pretty simple:

You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, you restore
Every heart that is broken

Great are You Lord, It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise, Pour out our praise
It’s Your breath in our lungs so we pour out our praise to You only

And all the earth will shout Your praise
Our hearts will cry, These bones will sing
Great are You, Lord

Life can get so confusing and painful when we look at all that is happening within this country and all around the world. I find it helpful to find my peace, life, and hope in God. In Psalm 66 we hear about the praise we should offer to God because of His great deeds. We know that God has a plan in his workings and we trust His goodness and direction. In the song, we sing about God bringing light into the darkness; often in the darkest moments is when God shines the brightest. Trusting in the unseen can be a hard thing to do. We want to see the answers, we want to hear the answers, but often that doesn’t happen. We should long for the day when Christ will return and rid this world of brokenness and pain.  We also give praise because God is the reason for our life, He gives the very breath in our lungs, and with that breathe we breathe out words of praise and thankfulness to God. For, all these reasons and many more God deserves our praise, thankfulness, and full attention. Let’s pour out our praise for God, and also remember those who are going through moments where it’s hard to praise.

Listening and Doing

“When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes…’Go inquire of the Lord for me and the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the Lord’s anger that burns against us because our fathers have not obeyed the words of this book; they have acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.’” 2 Kings 22: 11,13

“The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the Lord – to follow the Lord and keep his commands, regulations, and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book. Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.” 2 Kings 23:3

“Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” James 1:22

This never happens in the Warner household, but on occasion I hear stories of children who do not listen to their parents. Sometimes parents will repeat themselves over and over and over and over again, yet still children will not respond and follow their parents’ instructions. Of course I’m kidding; this situation may have even played out Wednesday morning in our house. What usually happens next is the parent gets upset with the child and maybe even punishes the child. Let’s say for example this child loses the use of an Ipad for two days (just hypothetically speaking of course). The child gets upset and usually the final conversation ends with “If you had just listened the first time you would not be getting punished, right now.”

The situation was similar for the people of Judah during the time of Second Kings. This is during the time of the divided Kingdom and Judah is constantly running into issues for falling away from the Lord and not listening to His Words. Similar to the situation in Judges that was written about last week.

During the reign of King Josiah, there is construction going on at the Temple, in Judah. The workers find the Book of the Law, which apparently had been lost. King Josiah has the Law read out loud to him and he immediately realizes that the nation has not been following and keeping the Lord’s instructions. In chapter twenty three he gathers the nation and has the whole Law read to the people. When hearing the Law, King Josiah and all the people pledge to follow the Law completely, to listen and follow what it says.

James in our section for this week is going to lay out a very simple instruction, yet we know how hard it can really be. James says, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” This could almost be a direct quote to the previously mentioned child, but in reality it’s a command from God to His people. I get frustrated when my kids do not listen to me, but in the same way I know I can frustrate God when I act in a way that goes against His Word.

Some of what the Bible says: Be quick to listen, slow to speak; get rid of all moral filth, and evil; keep tight rein on your tongue; be humble; love your enemies; be in fellowship with believers; care for the poor and weak; flee sexual immorality; meditate on His Word. That’s just a small list of all that God wants from us. Are we ignoring God and not doing what His Word says? That is a challenge we all face. Let’s be obedient to God’s Word, and like the nation of Judah, pledge to follow His instruction. The challenge is great, but that it is why we are a fellowship of believers, helping to encourage, and strengthen each other to become more like Christ in following our heavenly Father.

Starting Anew

“Once again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord…” Judges 3:12

“Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord Almighty.” Malachi 3:7

“Come near to God and He will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:8

If you have children, they are probably all back to school this week. It is the start of a new school year. There are new teachers, new friends, new classes, and maybe even a new school. I can remember before my first day of school there would be new clothes and shoes purchased for the coming school year. It is a fresh and new start; last year is over and we’re on to a new year.

The Israelites in the Old Testament often found themselves starting anew after a time of not following God and His commands. This pattern is seen frequently in the Book of Judges. The Israelites do well for a certain time period, then they begin to fall away. Because of their failures God brings in a foreign nation to punish the nation, the people cry out for help, and then God sends a Judge to free the people from the rule of the foreign nation. At that point the people turn back to God and start following Him again. And the same circle repeats itself over and over in Judges.

Life is full of high and lows. The excitement over the first day of school quickly fades as the homework and assignments start rolling in. The job that seemed perfect at first soon becomes something you may dread. The excitement of life comes and goes and maybe you find yourself in a situation today that leaves you empty and wanting more. What happened to the excitement you once had? Often times it’s a falling away from what God has asks us to do.

So, while the children are starting a new school year, what new start do you need to have with God?