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Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Sing it out!

Have you ever noticed how hard it is sometimes to "get into" worship?  You know what I mean - the songs don't enthuse you, the effort of singing with lifted hands seems a little too challenging, or the distractions present seem to keep you focused on anything other than Jesus.  The way we "feel" at the moment determines how much we really enter into worship, doesn't it?  The things we are dealing with emotionally and intellectually fill our minds and occupy "space" otherwise available to focus on Jesus.  This is not an uncommon phenomena in our Christian circles today.  There are so many distracting and competing forces for our attention, sometimes Jesus doesn't get more than our second-best.

It is wonderful to be grateful and to sing your praises, Lord Most High! It is wonderful each morning to tell about your love and at night to announce how faithful you are. I enjoy praising your name to the music of harps, because everything you do makes me happy, and I sing joyful songs. (Psalm 92:1-4 CEV)

Our psalmist nails it on the head as he begins this psalm - it IS wonderful to BE grateful and to sing your praises.  The emphasis on IS and BE are mine.  I called out these two words because they say much about the "beginning point" of praise and worship.  We somehow equate worship with singing songs and raising our hands.  Yet, if we examine this again, we see our psalmist reminds us of the importance of a heart BEING engaged in worship.  IS and BE are really the same words, just a different "tense".  To BE is to give space to or to allow something to occupy that moment in time.  So, our psalmist is reminding us of the desired direction of our heart's focus - toward gratitude and this leads to an expression of praise.

Almost without thinking, and we could easily miss this if we just gloss over the words, he moves us into the idea of beginning each day with a sense of gratefulness.  How we express this gratefulness becomes evident in how we express God's love in our lives.  To express God's love, we have to first experience it.  Then we have to turn that experience into a practice.  Yep, we have to practice the experience of God's love.  We can go to an amusement park, ride a roller-coaster one time, then say we have experienced an amusement park.  If we go back there on a season pass, riding that roller-coaster over and over again, becoming so familiar with every up, down, twist, and turn, we will then move from having experienced to having practiced until full acquaintance has occurred.   As we speak about this amusement park experience, there is a deep sense of awe and enjoyment we display - simply because it has become more than a casual thing for us.

Gratefulness stems first from a heart "wowed" by God.  Then, as time goes on, more and more of God's grace is poured into our lives.  God's grace should never grow old to us.  It needs to be experienced more than once!  As it is experienced over and over again, we get familiar with each up, down, twist, and turn!  In time, we develop an acquaintance with grace which is more than just a passing experience, but which becomes a deeply rooted and appreciated awareness of the presence and love of God for us.

I can honestly say I have never been disappointed by how God moves in my life.  I CAN say I have been frustrated with his timing on occasion!  I think we all can admit to that one!  We want him to move now - we need to wait a little longer - learning in the waiting a lesson which would not have been learned apart from the wait.  This frustrates us - but it shouldn't! Even in the wait, God has grace in mind.  If we can latch onto just that much truth, we will begin to be grateful even in the midst of waiting.  

The morning hours are my time alone with God.  Why?  They are my best time.  I want to give him my best - before the sun even rises, I am in the Word and he is getting his Word into me.  Then, as he does so, I am teaching back what he has been teaching me.  It is a circle and you are in that circle, my friends.  We never experience the presence of God alone - there are always others in that circle.  God's grace and love are not meant to be experienced in a silo.  They are meant to be poured out in praise and honor to his name.  Just sayin!