Tuesday, June 3, 2014

"The number one reason to praise God …"

Day #158:  Daily Bible Reading Plan - June 4th

Scripture Reading:  Psalms 66 - 68 …

Incredibly, the Psalms reveal truth that is explained in its fullness only after the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.  Written some one thousand years prior, the same Spirit of God who inspired the writers of all of Scripture inspired the writers of the Psalms to write down truth for all generations to hear, to consider and to believe.  Many of the Psalms, as with these three, speak of praising God, of shouting with joy before Him, of singing the glory of His Name!  "Make His praise glorious!!"  (66:1).

But WHY?  Certainly, because of who He is and because of what He has done.  David lists a number of things in Psalm 66.  "Come and see what God has done, how awesome His works in man's behalf" (66:5).  Then he refers to crossing the Rad Sea (verse 6) and declares that "He has preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping" (66:9).  God tested them (refined them through trials) … "we went through fire and water, BUT You brought us to a place of abundance" (66:12).  So many reason to praise God.

Someone has said that when giving testimony to what God has done, what you truly believe comes AFTER the "but".  Most people say something like, "I know God is with me, BUT I feel as though He is far away and that He has left me alone in the midst of my struggle."  What you believe comes AFTER the "but".  "I believe God loves me, BUT I think He is punishing me for what I have done."  What you believe comes AFTER the "but".  "I want to trust God and it's good to obey Him, BUT it's just too hard and I can't do it."  What you believe comes AFTER the "but."  "God says He hears my prayers, BUT He doesn't answer me when I pray."  What you believe comes AFTER the "but".

Those who know God hate sin and desire to turn from it.  David writes, "If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; BUT God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.  Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld His love from me" (66:17-20).  Isn't the love of God marvelous?!  But only those who know His promise of a Savior and who trust in Him experience the blessing of knowing we are loved.  We don't have to ride the roller coaster of emotions involved in questioning God's love every time we are tested or tried, every time we face trials or suffering of any kind.  We KNOW that God is faithful and that He IS with us!

So David writes, "I will come to Your temple with burnt offerings and fulfill my vows to You - vows my lips promised and my mouth spoke when I was in trouble" (66:13-14).  Some people "make deals" with God when they're in trouble, then quickly forget them.  God does use trials to tear people away from placing their trust in the things of the world.  It is of no value, however, to make vows you have no intention of keeping.  God wants your HEART, not just some half-hearted outward obedience.  And the only way you will give Him your heart is if you come to Him in faith, believing His promises and living to tell others.

In Psalm 67 we discover the purpose of all our praise:  "that Your ways may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations" (67:2).  God desires that the nations praise HIM!  "Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us.  God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear Him" (67:6-7).  God desires that His Name be praised for HE IS worthy!!  Think of this:  ALL of His AND our enemies will flee before Him.  There are those who have received God's favor, His grace, and there are those who are His enemies.  The prevailing idea in religious circles today that ALL religions and all the "gods" of the various religions are one and the same is a LIE from the very pit of hell itself, intended to deceive people into believing in the false gods dreamed up by the whims of men.

THIS God is God alone.  "The chariots of God are tens of thousands and thousands of thousands!" (68:17).  Yet, in all of this, the number ONE reason to praise God, for those who know Him and who draw near to Him through faith in Jesus, is this:  "Our God is a God who saves:  from the Sovereign LORD comes escape from DEATH!" (68:20).  No other God can save from death.  Why?  Because without Jesus our sins have earned us only God's just judgment.  Again, it is so very simple.  Every other religion either overlooks sin or believes we can make up for it by some religious duties or activities.  ONLY Christianity offers forgiveness to those who receive the suffering and death of Jesus on the cross as their payment for sin.  "It is by grace you have been saved, through faith!" (Ephesians 2:8).

The Psalms call GOD's people to praise Him … no one else can … or will!  Oh, they will praise "god" - whoever they believe him, her, it to be.  But they will NOT praise the Sovereign LORD who saves us from eternal death and judgment.  They refuse to humble themselves before His majesty and acknowledge that He ALONE is God!  The people of God declare, "YOU are awesome, O God, in Your sanctuary; the God of Israel gives power and strength to His people.  Praise be to God!" (68:35).

If you are one of HIS people, you WILL praise God!  You can't help yourself.  If you find praising God difficult, ask yourself, "Why?"  Do you know Him?  Have you put your trust in Him?  Do you believe He HAS SAVED you from death?  Or are you still using "but" in the wrong place?  The believer will say, "I am going through some difficult trials, BUT I know my God is with me."  "It feels like I'm alone to face the giants, BUT I know God will help me get through this."  "I don't understand what is going on in my life right now, BUT I trust God's wisdom and grace."  "I have sinned and I deserve God's punishment, BUT I know I am forgiven and that I HAVE eternal life."

I pray that YOU know the number one reason to praise God:  because He is the God who saves and who provides the only escape from death!  JESUS is the answer and even David and those who lived by faith before Jesus was even born knew that God would keep His promises and would send the Savior.  The Savior has come and all who believe in Him are NOW the people of God!  As He delivered His people in the past, so He WILL deliver US!  For He is OUR God!!

"O LORD God Almighty, Your love and goodness to Your people is without measure and Your faithfulness endures through all generations.  In this day renew Your work among us that we may stand firm in Your truth and praise You in the midst of the storm.  May Your ways be known on the earth so that all the peoples may praise only YOU, our God!  Thank You for moving MY heart to sing Your praises, now and forever.  In Jesus' name, Amen"

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