Praise GodJanuary 3-7
Praise God For Our Strength
Sing aloud to God our strength; shout for joy to the God of Jacob! – Psalm 81:1 (ESV)
The stirring words uttered by Patrick Henry in an address to the House of Burgesses, Virginia, in March, 1775 are worth re-reading: “They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be next week or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, and the brave. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged!” (The Bible Friend).
We have not fought our battles alone. The psalmist was challenging the nation of Israel to give God praise for all He had done for them. The strength and support of the nation were reason enough for them to rejoice. All of their power came from Him. The word rendered sing aloud means to rejoice. “Shout of joy” indicates a noise indicating joy, as distinguished from a noise of mourning or lamentation.
The world has plenty of reasons to mourn last year. However, as the body of Christ and the Second family, we have plenty of reasons to praise God this year. One of those reasons is we have not fought alone. Another reason is the strength He has given us. Can you list some other reasons we can praise God for this past year?
Praise God for the list of things you wrote that make Him praiseworthy. Thank Him for the strength He sustained you with this past year. Thank Him for not leaving you alone.
Praise God For His Word
For it is a statute for Israel, a rule of the God of Jacob. – Psalm 81:4 (ESV)
Nicky Gumbel, in his book Questions of Life talks about a visit to the doctor, he writes “Suppose I go to the doctor and say, ‘Doctor, I have a number of problems: I have a problem of fungus growing under my toenails, I have piles, my eyes itch, I need a flu jab; I have very bad backaches and I have tennis elbow.’ Then, having got through my list of complaints, I look at my watch and say, ‘Goodness me, time is getting on. Well, I must be off. Thanks very much for listening.’ The doctor might want to say, ‘Hang on a second. Why don’t you listen to me?’”
In Psalm 81:4 the psalmist reminds the nation of Israel that they have God’s Word and should continue to listen to what God has to say. The specific reference is to the command for observing the Passover festival. It could be traced back to the time when they were in Egypt. The obligation to observe it was thus enhanced by the fact that it was one of the direct commands of God in that strange and foreign land. God’s Word and God’s promises stand the test of time and remain true.
God’s Word has remained the guiding source of our teaching and direction here at Second. Nothing that happened in 2021 caught God off guard or changed the trustworthiness of His Word. How did you experience the timelessness of God’s Word in 2021? Do you have a craving to hear from the Word of God? Do you hunger to learn His truths? Do you have a plan to regularly or systematically study the Bible this year?
Praise God for giving us the Bible to guide and feed us spiritually on a daily basis.
Praise God For Carrying Our Burdens
“I relieved your shoulder of the burden; your hands were freed from the basket. – Psalm 81:6 (ESV)
“I compare the troubles which we have to undergo in the course of the year to a great bundle of sticks, far too large for us to lift. But God does not require us to carry the whole at once. He mercifully unties the bundle and gives us first one stick, which we are to carry today, and then another, which we are to carry tomorrow, and so on. This we might easily manage if we would only take the burden appointed for us each day; but we choose to increase our troubles by carrying yesterday’s stick over again today, and adding tomorrow’s burden to our load before we are required to bear it.”—John Newton
God is speaking now in Psalm 81:6. He is reminding Israel of the “burden” they had while in Egypt. The reference is undoubtedly to their burdens in making bricks, and carrying them to the place where they were to be used, and perhaps also to the fact that they were required to carry stone in building houses and towns for the Egyptians. The meaning is that he had saved them from these physical burdens. However, God also delivered them from the emotional and spiritual burdens they experienced while in bondage in Egypt.
We all carried a variety of burdens this past year. And all of our burdens were made lighter when we allowed God to carry them for us. Can you recall some of the burdens you carried yourself instead of allowing God to carry them this past year? What are some of the burdens God carried for you?
Praise Jesus for His invitation and promise is Matthew 11:29-30, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Praise God For Hearing Us
In distress you called, and I delivered you; I answered you in the secret place of thunder; I tested you at the waters of Meribah. Selah – Psalm 81:7 (ESV)
At the end of a revival service, the evangelist invited people to come forward if they wanted someone to pray for them. About midway through the line of people stood an imposing, intimidating-looking man. When the minister asked about his prayer request, the burly guy said, “Reverend, I need you to pray for my hearing.” The evangelist quickly placed his hands over the man’s ears and prayed fervently for restored hearing. When the minister finished praying, he looked the man squarely in the eyes and shouted above the choir’s strong singing, “How’s your hearing now?” The man loudly replied, “I don’t know yet, Preacher. My hearing ain’t until next Wednesday at the courthouse.”
There is nothing wrong with God’s hearing. God reminds His people in Psalm 81:7 they have reason to praise Him because He has heard them. The nation of Israel had cried out to God during their captivity in Egypt and during their wandering in the wilderness. The “place of thunder” is a reference to Mt. Sinai. God delivered them and answered their prayers at Sinai, when He gave them His law; when He recognized them as His people; when He entered into a covenant with them.
Our church has been greatly blessed with answered prayers this year. Sometimes God thundered His answer and sometimes God whispered the answers. When have you most sensed God speaking to you? What prayers do you recall God answering for you this year?
Praise God for specific answered prayer requests. Thank Him for always hearing you.
Praise God For Blessing Us
But he would feed you with the finest of the wheat, and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.” – Psalm 81:16 (ESV)
In an Associated Press story, Levent Yueksel’s and wife Sherri Kane’s 32-seat Dardanelles restaurant in Philadelphia, Pa., was profiled, not for its food but for its attitude: According to a sign in the window, the restaurant refuses to serve “negative people”. Say Yueksel and Kane, that includes people who smoke, who are rude, who demand their food in a hurry, or who want the music turned down. The owners say they insist on respect “for the people who feed you.” (Newark Star Ledger)
A generation of Israelites missed out on God’s best because they had a negative attitude and failed to trust God. The meaning in Psalm 81:16 is if Israel had been obedient to God, he would have blessed them with abundance – with the richest and most coveted productions of the field. They would have had the finest wheat and the best honey. But they missed out on God’s blessings because of their lack of faith.
God has not spared His best for our church this past year. But God has even greater blessings in store for us. How would God describe your attitude this past year? Have you been humble and grateful or a complainer? What are some examples of “honey” you received from God this year?
Praise God for giving you His best. Thank God for the hope we have of His eternal best in heaven.