REPOST Today’s devotional, provided by an anonymous writer, was originally posted on December 31, 2013.
Devotional Thought for This Morning
Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! 2 Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! 3 Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! 4 Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! 5 Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
Psalm 150 gives two reasons why we praise God; we praise him because of “his mighty deeds” and “his excellent greatness.”
Let’s consider the first reason. In the Bible, a pattern of worship is often seen—when God performs some wondrous, glorious act of deliverance for his people, the only proper response seems to be fervent worship. For example, when God parts the Red Sea so the Israelites could cross and escape from Pharaoh’s army, Moses breaks out into an exuberant song of worship: “Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?” (Exodus 15:11). Another example of this pattern can be found in the birth story of Christ. When shepherds see the infant Jesus, knowing that they are witnessing the coming of the Savior, they leave the stable “glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them” (Luke 2:19). For Christians today, the ultimate act of God’s deliverance is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to save us from wickedness, suffering, and sin. This is why we praise God—because of his mighty deed of remembering us and rescuing us from all that is painful and evil in exchange for eternal life.
The second reason Psalm 150 gives for praising God is “his excellent greatness.” We have already seen that God is a completely perfect being worthy of reverent adoration and praise. In fact, it seems difficult to imagine anyone other than God receiving worship. For example, think about some people greatly esteemed in our global community. People like Nelson Mandela and Malala Yousafzai are surely heroes we might respect, but would they be worthy of worship? Such a response would strike us as bizarre, even crazy—I can certainly admire Mandela and Malala for certain acts of altruism and bravery in their lives, but I surely wouldn’t fall down and worship them and assemble praise services to venerate them for years to come! But that sort of response is exactly what God deserves: “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and praise!” (Revelation 4:11). God, and God alone, is worthy of worship.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, in new year help me to become a true and passionate worshiper of You. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Micah 7
Lunch Break Study
Read Habakkuk 3:17-8: “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the LORD, is my strength.”
Psalm 77: 1, 4, 11, 19-20: “I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. You hold my eyelids open; I am so troubled that I cannot speak. I will remember the deeds of the LORD; yes, I will remember your wonders of old. Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen. You led your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.”
Questions to Consider
- What is astounding about the faith of Habakkuk as he anticipates the coming of the Babylonians who will destroy everything in sight as part of God’s judgment against Israel?
- In light of how we usually respond to trials in life, what distinguishes the faith of this “tormented” Psalmist?
- It’s easy to praise God when one thinks about his wondrous creation, perfect character, and mighty deeds as told in the Bible. But it can be so hard to praise God when one reflects on the suffering in one’s life and the seemingly hopeless reality of pain that fills the earth. The first passage concerns this very issue: the prophet Habakkuk was living during a time where he saw so much suffering that God could stop but chose not to: “You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?” (Habakkuk 1:13). But Habakkuk eventually chooses to trust that God knows what he is doing, that God has sufficient reasons for permitting what happens in the world. Such faith and worship in the face of suffering is unbelievably difficult, but it is the path God’s people must take.
- The second passage concerns a time when the writer was undergoing a deeply difficult trial. But his heart is strengthened upon remembering how God took a hopeless situation of seeming defeat at the Red Sea into a great deliverance of freedom. Such is our hope for today. In this life, we will experience all sorts of pain and despair: we will fail, be confused, have heartbreak, suffer depression, lose loved ones, feel utterly crushed; this is what it’s like living in a fallen world. It’s supposed to be hard. But we remember that Jesus Christ has delivered us from all this! We remember that there are better days ahead, a future with the God we worship. What will ultimately deliver us from sin and suffering? Sophisticated behavioral therapy? Better science and technology? More friends? Romance? More sex and drugs? “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (Psalm 20:7).
As a new year comes, what do you look forward to? What do you dread?
Along with the times of joy and happiness we eagerly anticipate, there are also going to be times of great sadness and terrible pain. But God is with us! We worship a God who has already ensured that we will have an eternally good future with him forever. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me . . . Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever” (Psalm 23: 4, 6). With Jesus by our side, we continue on our earthly journey to the gates of the city of God. Praise the Lord!