The Purpose of Praise and Worship

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Reading: Psalm 103
Of David.
(Verses 1-6)
Praise the LORD, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
Praise the L
ORD, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The LORD works righteousness
and justice for all the oppressed
(NIV).

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Wild arrowhead in bloom — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
Psalm 103 begins by David calling on his soul to praise the LORD. Many see praise and worship as a purely cathartic response to the manifest goodness of God. Something good happens to us. Unexpectedly, we get a thousand-dollar check in the mail. Quite naturally our response is praise to God.

For many people, praise to God never progresses beyond this natural, cathartic level. If God does not bless, no praise is forthcoming. Our praise for the LORD becomes, or simply remains circumstance dependent. But that was not the case with David. His praise extended beyond simple catharsis. He taught his soul to praise the LORD in all circumstances. True biblical praise and worship is after all a spiritual exercise, a discipline we grow in, just as we grow in the discipline of prayer.

The LORD, the object of our praise, does not change with our circumstances. He is forever the same. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He is constant, hence our praise and worship of him should be constant, unaffected by weather conditions, world events, the gyrations of the stock market, our swings of mood or our personal situation.

Of course this constancy in praise is something the natural man simply rebels against. Our world needs to be right in order for us to praise God aright, or so we reason. The only problem with this logic is that the world has never been right since the Fall. Death, disease, war and misery have been raining down on the children of Adam, since wilful disobedience to God first took root among us. And this is one weather forecast, for all humanity, that is not about to change—not until Christ returns.

If we are waiting for a perfect world before we lift our voice in praise to God, we will never praise Him. In fact, if our eyes are on the world, or on ourselves, there will always be grounds to withhold our praise. But then, the whole purpose of praise and worship is to lift up our eyes. We desperately need to get our eyes off ourselves, off the world, and onto God our Maker. 

Response: Father God, I genuinely want to learn to praise you in all situations. You are always good, loving and worthy of praise. Along with David I declare, Praise the LORD, my soul!” Amen.

Your Turn: Have you learned to praise God even in difficult times?

He Broke my Strength

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Reading: Psalm 102
(Verses 23-28)
In the course of my life he broke my strength;
he cut short my days.
So I said:
“Do not take me away, my God, in the midst of my days;
your years go on through all generations.
In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth,
and the heavens are the work of your hands.
 They will perish, but you remain;
they will all wear out like a garment.
Like clothing you will change them
and they will be discarded.
But you remain the same,
and your years will never end.
The children of your servants will live in your presence;
their descendants will be established before you”
(NIV).

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A summer afternoon on Petrie Island — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
We like to think that we are the captains of our own destiny—the masters of our own future—and to some extent we are. We can determine our attitude and response to many situations. But eventually the truth will hit home. Our ultimate destiny is in God’s hands. We cannot determine how tall we will grow, or the color of our eyes or our skin. These are matters that are beyond our control.

God has predetermined the number of our days on this earth. Jesus said, “Even the very hairs of your head are all numbered” (Matthew 10:30). So I also expect that God knows the exact number of breaths that you and I will breathe.

In today’s reading from Psalm 102, the psalmist is coming to grips with his own mortality. He laments: In the course of my life he [the LORD] broke my strength; he cut short my days. So I said: “Do not take me away, my God, in the midst of my days; your years go on through all generations.”

The LORD is the great everlasting constant. Our days may be numbered, but God’s are not. He is the ageless One without beginning of days or end of life. Even the earth itself may wear out, but He remains. “In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. Like clothing you will change them and they will be discarded. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.” 

If even the earth will perish and wear out, what hope is there for us? But in the next breath the psalmist provides us with hope. “The children of your servants will live in your presence; their descendants will be established before you.”

Response: Father God, I want to live in your presence now and in eternity. Establish my children before you. They are gifts from your hand. You are constant and I want to live in constant praise of you. Amen.

Your Turn: Are you in control of your life or is God in control? Are you yielded to Him and ready to do His will?

Voting Has Begun

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A brief book review by Kandace Perry 

Page after page of God’s Word comes to life through David’s down to earth and Sample Coverpassionate approach. David reminds us that the Bible is “still alive; still breathing,” and it is just as applicable today as it was thousands of years ago. God is still very much alive, loving us, waiting for us, drawing us to Him.

Psalms Alive! awakens our soul, inspires our mind and warms our heart.

Take a moment to vote

Psalms Alive, has been nominated for the Book of the Month award hosted by Interviews and Reviews.

To cast your vote for Psalms Alive, click here.

Thanks!

Note: You can vote daily until September 30th.

Time Capsules and Testimony

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Reading: Psalm 102
(Verses 18-22)
Let this be written for a future generation,
that a people not yet created may praise the L
ORD:
“The L
ORD looked down from his sanctuary on high,
from heaven he viewed the earth,
to hear the groans of the prisoners
and release those condemned to death.”
So the name of the L
ORD will be declared in Zion
and his praise in Jerusalem
when the peoples and the kingdoms
assemble to worship the L
ORD (NIV).

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Photo by David Kitz

Reflection
Time capsules are a fascinating idea. They can tell us a great deal about what people at a certain point in history considered important or indicative of that particular time. What was significant in the lives of people 100 years ago? A time capsule gives us a glimpse into that long ago period. For instance, a time capsule from 1959 might contain a hula-hoop, but the significance of that craze might well be lost on the current generation of young people.

In some respects, this reading from Psalm 102 acts as a time capsule. It is a written testimony of what the LORD has done. “The LORD looked down from his sanctuary on high, from heaven he viewed the earth,
to hear the groans of the prisoners and release those condemned to death.”
 

Generation after generation of Bible readers has read this written testimony. They know that the LORD hears the groans of prisoners and sets them free. But this testimony doesn’t end there. It doesn’t end there because the LORD has not stopped listening and acting. He continues to do these things today.

I can personally testify to being set free from the bondage of sin. I know that due to my sinful nature I was condemned to die. But Jesus suffered the punishment I deserve on my behalf. When I called out to God, He heard my cry and set me free from the death penalty I was living under. My body may perish, but through the blood shed by Jesus and the work of the Holy Spirit, I have eternal life. That’s my testimony. That’s the time capsule message I want to send to the next generation and beyond.

By the way, my testimony is not unique. Millions of people around the world can testify to the life changing power of the LORD. They all have time capsule testimonies that they want to send to a generation as yet unborn.

What about you? Do you have a testimony to God’s redeeming forgiveness and power? It might be worth your time to write it down. We overcome the attacks of the enemy by the words of our testimony. You have a story to tell. It’s a time capsule with contents far more valuable than a hula-hoop.

Response: Heavenly Father, I thank you for your intervention in my life. You have given me a story to tell—a testimony to your amazing grace. Help me to carry that testimony to a future generation—a generation that is not yet born. Amen.

Your Turn: Have you testified to the saving power of Jesus? How has the Lord changed your life?

He Keeps His Appointments

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Reading: Psalm 102      
(Verses 12-17)
But you, LORD, sit enthroned forever;
your renown endures through all generations.
You will arise and have compassion on Zion,
for it is time to show favor to her;
the appointed time has come.
For her stones are dear to your servants;
her very dust moves them to pity.
 The nations will fear the name of the L
ORD,
all the kings of the earth will revere your glory.
For the L
ORD will rebuild Zion
and appear in his glory.
He will respond to the prayer of the destitute;
he will not despise their plea
(NIV).

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River walk — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
Psalm 102 begins as a lament, but today’s reading is drawn from the mid portion of the psalm, and rather than despair and grief, this section is filled with hope and promise. Though at present we may be plagued by troubles, a turning point is coming. This is the hope we have when we truly know our God.

Despite experiencing the troubles and difficulties of an afflicted person, this is the psalmist’s personal confession: But you, LORD, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations. You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favor to her; the appointed time has come.

What about you and me? Is the LORD enthroned as the Lord of my life? Is He calling the shots? Have I stopped to listen for His voice, or do I simply plunge ahead into my day without giving any thought to His will or His plans for me?

By the way the LORD has plans for you that are nothing short of amazing. Here’s a look at the LORD’s plans according to Psalm 102: You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favor to her; the appointed time has come.

This is the promise that we all have as believers. A time is coming when the LORD will show us His favor. It is an appointed time. You can be sure that the LORD keeps His appointments. He will show up in our lives to favor us—to bestow His grace. What a magnificent promise that is!

Do I know when that appointed time will come? No, I don’t. It’s the LORD’s appointment, not mine. He will arise and show compassion on His people. My responsibility is to be numbered among His people—the faithful ones of Zion. That brings us back to considering who is enthroned as the King of our lives. Lord Jesus, this is my confession: I want you enthroned in my heart forever.

Response: Heavenly Father, reign in my life. Jesus, you are King forever. I bow my knee to you. Give me ears that hear what you are saying to me today and always. I wait with faith and expectation for you to show me your favor? Amen.

Your Turn: Have you experienced the Lord’s favor? What did that look like?

Taken Up and Thrown Aside

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Reading: Psalm 102
A prayer of an afflicted person who has grown weak
and pours out a lament before the L
ORD.
(Verses 1-11)
Hear my prayer, LORD; let my cry for help come to you.
Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress.
Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly.
For my days vanish like smoke;
my bones burn like glowing embers.
My heart is blighted and withered like grass;
I forget to eat my food.
In my distress I groan aloud and am reduced to skin and bones.
I am like a desert owl,
like an owl among the ruins.
I lie awake; I have become like a bird alone on a roof.
All day long my enemies taunt me;
those who rail against me use my name as a curse.
For I eat ashes as my food
and mingle my drink with tears
because of your great wrath,
for you have taken me up and thrown me aside.
My days are like the evening shadow;
I wither away like grass
(NIV).

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Morning Glories in the morning sun — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
If you have watched a friend or family member wither away due to the devastating effects of cancer, then you should have no difficulty identifying with the thoughts expressed here in this psalm. An enemy (cancer) is gnawing away at their very being. A sense of hopelessness and despair can easily settle in.

This is when we need God the most, but in our distress He can seem strangely distant. Our cries seem to fall on deaf ears.

But…

But God is still there. Our faith may be shaken, but our LORD remains. Death may come knocking, but our LORD remains. Friends and family may forsake us, but Jesus remains by our side. Bad news does not take God by surprise. Though He is not the author of the bad news, our Lord knows what’s coming around the next bend in the road. He is prepared though we may not be. The Lord’s provisions are in place. Trust Him for that.

When the bottom falls out of your life, God is there to catch you. Trust Him for that. Though I may wither away like grass, I have a Savior who will receive me. Trust Him for that.

Response: Father God, when bad news comes I look to you. I call to you! Be my help when all human help and hope are gone. Lord Jesus, you are my Savior. In this—moment I trust you for that! Amen.

Your Turn: Have you received bad news recently? Have you taken it all to the Lord?

I will praise you

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I will praise Him!

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He has listened to my cry for help — photo by David Kitz

I will declare your name to my people;
    in the assembly I will praise you.
You who fear the LORD, praise him!
    All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
    Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
For he has not despised or scorned
    the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
    but has listened to his cry for help.

(Psalm 22:22-24, NIV)

Raising the Integrity Bar

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Reading: Psalm 101
(Verses 5-8)
Whoever slanders their neighbor in secret,
I will put to silence;
whoever has haughty eyes and a proud heart,
I will not tolerate.
My eyes will be on the faithful in the land,
that they may dwell with me;
the one whose walk is blameless
will minister to me.
No one who practices deceit
will dwell in my house;
no one who speaks falsely
will stand in my presence.
Every morning I will put to silence
all the wicked in the land;
I will cut off every evildoer
from the city of the L
ORD (NIV).

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Grazing cows with their calves — photo by David Kitz

Reflection
One of the roles of a king in ancient Israel was to render judgment in difficult civil cases. In fact, judges ruled Israel for about 400 years before the first king was anointed; hence the judicial role was of great significance during the early years of Israel’s kingdom period.

This reading from Psalm 101 should be viewed as King David’s commitment to his judicial role. He was determined to govern wisely, and for him that meant identifying and siding with those who do right. My eyes will be on the faithful in the land, that they may dwell with me; the one whose walk is blameless will minister to me. 

Choosing the right kind of people to associate with is of great importance. This is not about the economic strata you occupy. Typically, rich people associate only with other rich people; similarly lower class people have friends of the same social standing. But honesty and integrity cross these artificial socioeconomic lines. There are crooks and swindlers among the rich and among the poor. In the same way there are honest people of integrity at the extremes of both wealth and poverty.

David’s objective was to raise the integrity bar. He had no patience for lies or deceit. What kind of people do you enjoy hanging around with? Do they prompt you to walk with them in a blameless way, or do they drag you down in the gutter? Do they prompt you to good deeds or tempt you into a crooked path? It has often been said that we are known by the friends we choose. Are you a friend of God? James has this admonition for us: Don’t you know that if you love the world, you are God’s enemies? And if you decide to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God (James 4:4, CEV).

Response: Heavenly Father, I want to be your friend. I want to love you because you first loved me and showed that love through your son, Jesus. Help me to choose my friends wisely as I let your life and joy shine through me. Amen.

Your Turn: Do your friends encourage you in your faith? Are you letting light shine?