In Psalm 42, the Psalmist is crying out for revival. We read of a soul thirsting for God—the desire to drink deeply—and a memory of past gatherings for worship. When we look around the world, it always appears to be in need for a revival. Today, as we are experiencing life behind closed doors in isolation to heed warnings to social distance so as to help contain a pandemic, Christians are not gathering together for worship. Church buildings have closed their doors. Families are home on Sundays.
Though many churches have begun online worship, this pandemic surely can open our eyes to what spiritually is a struggle for many—even those who profess to be Christian and previously attended church weekly before this pandemic. The struggle is living before God. The Psalmist writes of singing God’s praises, and of “living before His face” which is described as his “saving grace.” Though God is ever present, we often times are not living in His presence. There is a difference. To be living before God is to acknowledge His presence, to live as He is present, to recognize Him throughout your day.
The Psalmist wants a great revival—he wants for people to draw back to God and praise Him for He alone is due praise. The Psalmist recollects a time when people gathered together to sing to God. He clings to the hope He has in God and understands that even when there is darkness all around, even when the world is so in need of a revival, that He could live in the presence of God. He could still sing praises. Why? Because God is his saving grace. Despite his flaws, despite his shortcomings, that God lifted him up through grace to save him, to allow him in His presence, to give him a taste of His goodness. The Psalmist never deserved it; you never deserve it. Yet He offers us this saving grace freely. Today may seem dark and gloomy. Today you may be sinking into despair. Keep hoping and waiting on God. Sing His praises. I pray you are living before His face. I pray He is your saving grace.
“So then, my soul, why would you be depressed? Why would you sink into despair? Just keep hoping and waiting on God, your Savior. For no matter what, I will still sing with praise, for living before his face is my saving grace!” – Psalm 42:5 [TPT]
When you think of uncontained, what do you imagine? I think back to the unrestrained flood waters after the torrential downpours of Hurricane Sandy. I picture the uncontrolled water shooting out from the burst pipe during the one frigid winter I forgot the turn off the outside water line. I remember the uncontained pool water when my dog decided to put too much pressure on the side of the pool, causing a huge burst of water to pour out into the yard.
The Bible says in Psalm 33 that as we trust God, we rejoice with an uncontained joy. Imagine that—an uncontained joy. That seems like something that is not seen much inside or outside the church walls. We have become a closed off people. We do not worship freely, but instead we stand still as to not draw any attention toward us. Instead of focusing on the One we are worshiping, we want to make sure we do not look strange. Rather than glorify God through the achievements and victories, we forget to give God any credit. We keep that praise from Him because it is not the in thing to say.
I know that I have witnessed young people who just let themselves go before Jesus. They lift up their hands; they dance like they truly have seen the face of God. This is probably as close as we get to David dancing without the “proper attire.” Today, check your joy meter. Is your joy contained? Are you even feeling the joy? What is stopping you from rejoicing in the Lord with your everything?
“As we trust, we rejoice with an uncontained joyflowing from Yahweh!” – Psalm 33:21 [TPT]
I love music and I love to sing. The problem is no one really enjoys hearing the sweet melodies I sing. I haven’t figured out how to sing in the right keys. Even so, God loves to hear me sing. He loves to hear you sing too!
The Psalms reference singing and praising God often. In Psalm 28:7, the Psalmist writes that his “heart is filled with joy,” so much joy that he “burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” In Psalm 30:12, the Psalmist talks about giving thanks forever—singing praises and not being silent.
How often do you burst out in songs for God? How often do you praise Him and thank Him for what He is doing in your life? He alone deserves all honor, glory, and praise. Often we are quick to thank someone who hands us a cup of coffee, but we don’t thank God for that same cup of coffee, or for something so much greater than that one, temporary cup of coffee. Today, I pray your heart is filled with joy that overflows and you burst out in songs of thanksgiving.
“The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust Him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.” – Psalm 28:7 [NLT]
“That I might sing praises to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give You thanks forever!” – Psalm 30:12 [NLT]
I am not too keen on waking up early for the Cross Country season. As I get older, I appreciate extra sleep. Even so, I love the drives to school for practice. I especially enjoy the moment alone when I’m driving the back road and witnessing all of the beauty around me. God never ceases to amaze me.
This morning, as I drove home, I looked before me and praised God for the beautiful farmland. I rejoiced in the amazing sunrise I was experiencing as I sang along to a praise song on the radio. Before I knew it, I was even more amazed. Three deer were prancing along. I slowed down the van as they crossed the road. They continued to leap through the corn field, and then they crossed the road again. For a moment, everything around me stopped. All the noise. All the busyness. All eyes focused on God’s creation doing the simplest of things—leaping along through the corn field.
I was reminded this morning of the great promise written in Isaiah, the promise that “the lame will leap like a deer.” God heals. God restores. God alone qualifies us. He is our strength. Praise Him and Him alone. Continue to press forward and tread on the heights He places before you. Leap like a deer today!
“The Sovereign LORD is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to tread on the heights.” – Habakkuk 3:19a [NIV]
“The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy! Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland.” – Isaiah 35:6 [NLT]
The song of Moses and Miriam is great. The Israelites were in awe over what the Lord did to lead them out of Egyptian slavery. This song was sung by Moses and the Israelites as an offering of praise and a declaration of the greatness of God.
The song is a holy song, one to honor God and lift up His great name. Verse 2 speaks of the Lord as one’s strength and song. In this verse, the Israelites declare that God is their strength and their song. The strength is easy to understand. We are weak; He is strong. They couldn’t escape the slavery of the Egyptians; however, God could lead them to freedom by His strength.
But what about the song? How is God our song? God is only your song is He is on your lips. This means you are forever praising Him. You are forever signing His praises and pointing to Him. Has He been your strength and your song? Have you praised His great name today?
“The LORD is my strength and my song; He has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise Him–my father’s God, and I will exalt Him!” – Exodus 15:2 [NLT]
Sometimes the day does not start out “right.” Many people call this “waking up on the wrong side of the bed.” We have all heard the phrase, “I wish I could just go back to bed and start the day over.” But once God blesses us with a morning, we have to live out the day until a next one comes (God willing). For me, this morning did not start right. Poor Max had some ear issues. Then I started working while still at home and I found more issues. My drive into the office wasn’t filled with the usual praise and worship session. Instead, there was silent contemplation.
I continued along with my day, but I didn’t have the same “bounce in my step.” All of the sudden, while running an errand, I drove right into a traffic jam caused by a road construction. A complete stand still. The cars were not moving. As I sat waiting for a hint of movement ahead, I was singing along to the worship music on the radio. As I sang, I focused on the lyrics. In the midst of day that did not start well, traffic had stopped to bless me with this special moment to praise the Lord—something I did not do during the morning drive.
Yes, the construction did not happen simply for me to have this jam session Jesus encounter. Even so, it was just what I needed. Each day is a new day. What a blessing! When a day seems to not start out the way you intended, do not count the day over. There’s no need to go back to bed and have a do-over. Instead, shift your eyes to God, realign yourself with Him, and meditate on His Word. Lift Your voice to Him. Thank Him. Praise His great name! As you are doing what you were made to do, you will live more expectantly, more joyful, more excited to share His love with a world desperate for Him.
“Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the LORD, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” – Psalm 100:2-3 [ESV]
“Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory. It was I who created them.” – Isaiah 43:7 [NLT]
I’ve been having a lot of shoulder pain for the past few months. It started to be very bothersome and interrupt my activities of daily living. Someone who knows a thing or two about shoulders has told me I have a weak shoulder. Yes, a weak shoulder. I never thought it could be possible—that I could have a weak shoulder—as I am always active. The problem is the particular area doesn’t do the work as other muscles and it has become too weak to support itself.
So now I am in a lot of pain and lately I find myself with eyes filled with tears as I try to sleep. I find myself having to do exercises to work out the weak area. This therapy is painful. This therapy can be draining or overwhelming. This therapy is necessary.
As God chips away at us, helping to mold us into we are meant to be, we might feel some pain. Change requires loss. We grieve. We drag our feet. We don’t understand. To move along with God and walk alongside Him doing our part, we find ourselves making adjustments to our lives to make room for Him and that can appear overwhelming. We say things like, “I have to wake up earlier so I can get my morning devotion read or it won’t get done” We find ourselves stepping out in faith in small and big ways. Turning down jobs. Traveling to unfamiliar areas. Changing direction. But just as I need this therapy to strengthen my muscle again, so we need God’s Word, His direction, His prodding. I pray today you allow yourself to be molded by our Maker, rejoicing as you trust His perfect plan. Praise Him. Trust Him. Embrace Him. Dig into His Word—not just here and there, but every day. Take it with you. Write it down. Remember it. Cherish it. Eat it. Speak it. Love it. No one who trust God like this – heart and soul – will ever regret it.
“With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: ‘God has set everything right between him and me!’ Scripture reassures us, ‘No one who trusts God like this – heart and soul – will ever regret it.’” – Romans 10:10-11 [MSG]