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Friday, August 24, 2012

Perspectives on Praise

Have you ever stopped to consider your words of praise?  Sometimes I think we become so familiar with saying something like "Bless God!" or "Thank You Jesus!" that we almost speak them without any really thought behind them!  Well, consider how we might feel when all we hear from someone is, "I love you" or "You are so special to me", but then never really see the love or "special" connection displayed.  The words become hollow when spoken so frequently without any really action behind them, don't they?  The same could be true of our worship!

Blessed are you, God of Israel, our father from of old and forever. To you, O God, belong the greatness and the might, the glory, the victory, the majesty, the splendor; Yes! Everything in heaven, everything on earth; the kingdom all yours! You've raised yourself high over all.  Riches and glory come from you,       you're ruler over all; You hold strength and power in the palm of your hand       to build up and strengthen all.  And here we are, O God, our God, giving thanks to you, praising your splendid Name.  (I Chronicles 29:10-13 The Message)

Our passage today is taken from the end of David's life.  He is turning over the reins, so to speak.  His son Solomon will assume the throne of Israel.  His task of building the Temple of God will become Solomon's to fulfill.  He has paved the way through his military might for Israel to live in peace in the land and to be about the task of settling in.  Now, as he is about to exit this world, he speaks publicly of his God's greatness.  He calls to attention the characteristics of God for which he has seen much evidence in his time as leader in the land:

- God's greatness and might.  David does not want Israel (or us) to lose sight of the fact God's works are indeed noteworthy, but his presence is more noteworthy than all his works!  We can see the display of his might, but we sense the awesomeness of his greatness!  Look around and see the hills, trees, birds, and even the caterpillar.  All created by his hand - all display his greatness.  His might is what makes him stand above all others.  His ability to accomplish what he says is David's focus.  He promised Israel a land flowing with milk and honey - he accomplished this.  He promised a nation as vast as the grains of sand on the seashore - he accomplished this in the action of his Son on the cross.  Truly God's greatness AND his might go hand in hand.  One is the display of his creativity and the other is the display of his ability!

- God is worthy of glory.  What David wants us to see is the very fact of God's greatness and might set him apart from any other god on this earth.  Nothing and no one can fulfill what he has done.  David wants us to proclaim the renown of God!  To be able to do this, we have to see him as he is - we cannot have a second hand knowledge of him.  When we have first hand knowledge of his greatness and might, it is a natural response to observe God is indeed "set apart" from other gods!

- Victory, majesty and splendor are his.  No opponent stands a chance in his path.  This should cause us to shout!  What opponent stands in your way?  It could be a habit, a person, or a circumstance beyond your control.  David's reminder to us - God is bigger, more powerful, and all-consuming.  Nothing stands in his way.  When we think of majesty, we think of the distinction which comes with a person in a place of authority.  David reminds us of the importance of God being in his right place in our lives - the place of authority.  As long as he is, we know with assurance no opponent will stand in our way.

- God builds up and strengthens.  Some think this "Christian" experience is some kind of "crutch" for a bunch of weakling individuals.  I am not so sure they have ever walked in my shoes!  In fact, I am far from weak!  The greatest struggles I have is to NOT rely upon my own strength and allow his strength to come through in my life!  The problem with my own strength is observed in its destructive power, not in its creative power.  As a matter of fact, as long as I use my own strength, I only seem to run others down, run myself down, and basically steamroll my way through life.  In Christ's power, my "self" takes on the right perspective.  

I wonder if we really think about the words of honor and respect we "hurl" God's way on occasion?  Are they intentional?  Or are they spoken by 'rote' and merely words to "fill space".  My thoughts over the past many weeks have been on the idea of being intentional in my speech.  Words are indeed "cheap" when they are spoken to only fill space - when them come from a deep well within, they just might carry a bit more refreshing and enjoyment!  Just sayin...