One dreadful day, many years ago, a large sailboat capsized on Lake Michigan. It was near the shore, and the life guard on duty, Edward Spencer, jumped into the lake and rescued all seventeen people who were on board. Finally, he fell exhausted on the shore and was taken to a hospital to recover. As he was carried into the emergency room, he kept asking, “Did I do my best?”
Years later, Dr. R.A. Torrey, an evangelist, was telling this story in a revival in Los Angeles. Suddenly, a man electrified the audience. He stood up and shouted, “Dr. Torrey, Edward Spencer is here.”
Shaken, Dr. Torrey asked, “Would you please come to the platform?” Slowly, the white-haired Spencer made his way to the platform as the people applauded wildly.
Dr. Torrey looked at him with grateful eyes and asked, “Is there anything that stands out in your mind in the saving of those seventeen people?”
“Only one thing, Dr. Torrey,” he replied. “Of the seventeen, not one of them thanked me.”
“Ingratitude is the mother of every vice,” is a famous French saying. And the Spanish add, “The earth produces nothing worse than an ungrateful man.”
Why is it so difficult to say, “Thanks?” Is it pride? Is it self-centeredness – the attitude that I don’t need you or anyone else? Is it because we are weak and want to appear strong? Is it a false impression of our own value?
How interesting that the last verse of the Psalms reads, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.”
Prayer: Lord, give us an alert mind to recognize the many gifts we receive each day. Give us grateful hearts. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 150:6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
THE SOUND OF THE TRUMPETS
An old Jewish legend claims that each day in heaven begins with the ringing sound that comes from a trumpet.
After Lucifer, once the son of the morning, had fallen from heaven, he was asked, “What do you miss most?” After a moment’s thought, he said, “The trumpets that sound in the morning.” The legend continues that the reason the trumpet sounded was to call people together to thank God for His love and mercy, grace and goodness.
Sadly, the “trumpet of thanksgiving” is absent from the lives of far too many Christians. The sounds of glory and gratitude have been replaced with groans of gloom and grief, greed and godless living.
But we are urged in Psalm 150: to “Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet.” Trumpets were used in Jewish ceremonies to remind worshipers of the greatness, glory, and goodness of God and to praise and thank Him.
Perhaps it would be a good idea if each church had a trumpet player to begin each worship service. Perhaps the sound of a well-played trumpet might remind us to “bow down” before our Creator and give Him thanks for His many blessings – the ones we are aware of and those who fall on us unannounced and unrecognized.
Giving thanks is an important part of life – especially in the life of a Christian. All that we have or will have, all that we are or will become is not accidental. Everything in our lives comes from the grace of God. And not to thank Him is to insult Him. In ourselves, we have no worth. We only have worth in, through and by God’s grace.
Prayer: God, give us grateful hearts – hearts filled with gratitude for Your love, grace, mercy, salvation, and hope! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 150:3 Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet.
A REASON TO SING
Robert Lowry, a pastor in New York City, was going through a difficult time during an epidemic. Many who were suffering would die in a matter of hours. Day after day he stood beside the graves of those who had died and tried to give hope to their loved ones. On one occasion, however, his faith was deeply challenged, and he cried out to God, “Shall we meet again? Really? Can a gracious God do this to good people? We are parting at the river of death. Will we ever meet again at the river of life?” He took his doubt seriously and began to read his Bible on his knees. Finally, he found God’s answer, went to his organ, sat down and wrote the words and music to the great old hymn, “Yes, we’ll gather at the river that flows by the throne of God.”
The Steds were enjoying a beautiful day of sun and sand on the Long Island Sound. Suddenly, they heard a cry for help. With no thought for his safety, Mr. Sted ran into the water to rescue the boy – but failed. Mrs. Sted’s heart was broken when she returned to her empty home.
She fell on her knees and began to pray. God heard and helped her and gave her hope. She sat at her piano and wrote the beautiful hymn, “‘Tis so Sweet to Trust in Jesus.”
Mr. and Mrs. Clifford Bicker, missionaries to Peru, were waiting to board a ship that would take them home for a vacation. Just before boarding the ship, Mr. Bicker was killed in an accident. To comfort his wife, and now fatherless children, Dr. Oswald Smith wrote the poem, “God Understands and Cares.”
Said the Psalmist, “Sing for joy on beds of pain.” He understands and cares!
Prayer: How grateful we are Lord for the assurance of Your presence and peace, even when life seems senseless. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 149:5b Sing for joy on beds of pain.
“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” is a very familiar saying. If we think about that saying for just a moment, it seems to suggest that there are two parts to beauty: the ones trying to make themselves beautiful and the ones who judge the outcome.
The latest information on the amount of money that is spent on beauty enhancing items is staggering:
Total cost of products worldwide: $426 billion.
Total cost in America: $33.3 billion.
Total cost per person in America: $15,000.
Some might say, “What a complete waste.” Someone else would probably say, “They should have spent much more.” And a third might say, “It didn’t make any difference no matter what they spent, so what’s the reason for spending the money to look better? Why the effort?”
But the Psalmist said, “He crowns, and beautifies, the humble with salvation.”
God can take a heart that is stained and soiled with sin and cleanse it from all impurities and make it beautiful. “Wash me,” cried one Psalmist, “and I will be whiter than snow.”
God can take the damage caused by sin, and the marks left from discouragement and depression and erase their marks, remove every tear and bring hope to our eyes, erase lines of guilt and put the joy of salvation on our faces. Jesus made an important promise when He said, “My peace I give unto you – not as the world gives peace” through false promises, and praise.
God can take a sin-scarred life and fill it with His glory and radiance. “Set me free from my prison,” said the Psalmist. And we respond, “Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me!”
Prayer: Only You, Father, can save us from sin, ourselves and the insanity of this world. Come quickly and help us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 149:4b He crowns, and beautifies, the humble with salvation.
The word “delight” is often a disarming word. Why? What might delight me would not delight you. It’s a word that is in one sense personal, but in another way, universal. It always implies that something has happened to bring joy or satisfaction to another. Or, when used in the Bible, it brings great pleasure to God.
The Psalmist wrote: “The Lord takes great delight in His people.” Not all people or certain people or educated people or even wise people. He only takes delight in His people. Notice, also, that it is more than mere delight, it is a great delight.
So the question we must ask ourselves is this: “Who are His people?” Does God have favorites? Are there some people whom God loves more than others? Can anything be done to become one of His people that bring Him great delight? How can we get into that “inner circle” who are recognized as “His people?”
When this verse was written, however, “His people” were those who were in a covenant relationship with Him. The verses that precede this verse describe people who, in particular, are praising the Lord. They are singing and dancing and making music by playing harps and tambourines – all signs of joyful worship to their God.
However, today we know that we are “saved by faith” through the New Covenant that He established through His Son. Faith in Christ is the first step if we want to become one of “His” people and enter into his Kingdom. To do so, we must accept His Son as our Savior.
Worship signifies humility – bowing down before God our Creator and Lord. Only humble people are willing to accept Christ and worship the Lord. His people are humble people.
Prayer: Lord, true worship means that we bow down before You – and only You – in humility and surrender. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 149:4a The Lord takes great delight in His people.
SINGING A NEW SONG
It is not possible to overestimate the significance of the Psalms. In them, we find the ideals of a God-filled life that reflect humility, worship, dependence and service. In them, we find descriptions of men whose lives were in constant communion with God. We also find lives that reflect deep sorrow for sin and the search for holiness and perfection. We discover what walking in darkness is like – without fear gripping our hearts and controlling our minds because we see “faith at work.” We are confronted with the results of sin and the benefits of repentance, restoration, and righteousness. We see minds once tortured by guilt and shame restored to sanity by the grace and mercy of God as a result of His love. We see the beauty of God’s love in comparison to the tragedy of evil and wickedness. We see deep serenity following the storms of fear and danger.
More than any other book in the Bible, we see the tragic effects of sin in first-person stories. We also see what God can do for those who fall before Him and ask for His forgiveness. We see the roller-coaster of life ending in smooth seas of God’s peace for those who submit to and worship Him.
In the wisdom of God, His Spirit inspired the writers of the Psalms to take the experiences of men, who were as human as we are and give us a compass for life. The Psalms provide us with spiritual insight, wisdom, knowledge, and courage to deal with every issue of life.
We read in Psalm 149 that we are to “sing a new song.”
How is this possible when life is falling apart? Can there be any new songs?
Yes! “His mercies never cease!” New day! New Mercies! New songs!
Prayer: Father, make us aware of the unending mercies we receive every day. Fill our hearts with new songs of joy. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 149:1 Praise the Lord! Sing a new song to the Lord!
WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Names are, in fact, a commodity. They have “value” attached to them and can either be “traded” for a favor or used as a “warning.” A name distinguishes one person from another and gives a certain distinctiveness or uniqueness to individuals. Some pay particular attention to their name to make certain that it implies integrity and truth, honesty and hard work, power and influence.
Most of us, from time to time, have been asked by others if they could “use our name” as a reference or as a way of introducing themselves. They assume that our names imply a degree of “significance” for one reason or another.
So, they reason, if they are associated with us in one way or another, it will make a difference in what they want to achieve.
But, human names are all limited. They only have worth in certain areas and for a certain amount of time. If people do not know us or have never heard of us, we make no difference in the scheme of things.
There is an unusual statement made about a name in Psalm 148:13 – “His name alone is exalted.”
There is a certain “exclusiveness” in this statement. Of all the names of all of the people who have ever lived, only one name is to be exalted. And that is because of who He is and what He has done. All other names are flawed or contaminated for one reason or another. His name is above and beyond reproach, worthy of worship and praise because He is holy and without fault.
All of us “fall short of the glory of God” and need a “name” that we can “use” to save us. That name? Jesus!
Prayer: Thank You, Father, for the power in Your name. It assures us of forgiveness and salvation and life eternal. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 148:13b His name alone is exalted.
WHY PRAISE THE LORD?
All of Scripture is punctuated with outbursts of “praise.” The reason? Praise rises spontaneously from an internal attitude of joy which is in the heart and life of the people of God. The Bible speaks of man being created to rejoice in God’s gifts and God’s grace and God’s goodness. Praising God should be as natural as breathing and as regular as the beating of our hearts.
Perhaps one of the significant aspects of “praising” is that it implies a close relationship with the one being praised. When we praise God, we are letting Him know that we are aware of and recognize His presence in our lives, that we are grateful for His benefits and blessings – big and small – and, that we are dependent on Him for all things. Consider this: If you give someone a gift, and they do not recognize you for it, do you feel unappreciated?
Along with praising God, however, is the duty to exalt His name. Exalt, in Scripture, means to elevate, to glorify and to recognize the place and power of the one being exalted. When we exalt God, we acknowledge His Lordship in our lives and recognize that He is above all, in all, and has control of all. As we lift Him up above all others, we naturally bow down in humility before Him.
“Let them praise the name of the Lord, for His name alone is exalted,” said the Psalmist. Strange, isn’t it, how the names of athletes and entertainers are more highly praised and exalted than God’s name. How very sad!
But the day is coming when every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!
Prayer: Lord, You are so thoughtful and generous. All that we are and have is because You care. Thank You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Let them praise the name of the Lord, for His name alone is exalted.
Some years ago, a group of Navy scientists began to work on ways to change the direction of major storms. If they were able to do this, they reasoned, they could direct them to do great damage to the enemy.
Furthermore, they thought, if they could direct the storms to disrupt the enemy, they would be able to control clouds and form high seas and waves. Also, they believed if they could create low, solid overcast clouds, they would be able to conceal troop movements.
But God used the weather to His advantage long before the military ever entertained the idea. A great story of God using the weather to accomplish His purpose is the story of Jonah.
One day the Lord said to Jonah, “Go to Nineveh.” But he refused to listen to God and decided to go to Tarshish. However, he never got there. The Lord had a plan for Jonah, and, to accomplish His plan He needed a hurricane. So, He “turned” one loose and the crew of Jonah’s ship became frightened.
Jonah looked at them and said, “It’s all my fault. Go ahead and throw me overboard.” When they did, the sea stopped raging and became calm. But, there’s more.
God then ordered a great fish to get involved in His plan. Soon, the great fish swallowed Jonah and took him for a ride. Finally, the great fish spewed him out, and he went to Nineveh. God does not put up with disobedience. If He has to, He’ll get all of nature to help Him accomplish His plan.
The Psalmist reminds us that “lightning and hail, snow and clouds, and stormy winds…do His bidding.”
Prayer: Lord, we only fool ourselves if we think we can escape from Your plan. May we be willing to follow You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 148:8 Lightning and hail, snow and clouds, and stormy winds…do His bidding.
THE WAYS OF THE WIND
An army brigade was on a field training exercise in Texas near the Davis Mountains. Without warning, the skies turned dark, and the winds began to blow. Then, a swirling tornado began to travel across the training area. As it passed through the command area, a mangled mass of canvas with a soldier wrapped in the middle of it, dropped right in front of the colonel leading the exercise.
“Soldier,” barked the officer, “what nerve you have. Coming into my area without permission or cause. Have you no respect for your leader?”
“Sir,” said the soldier, trying to free himself from the ropes and canvas, “I had nothing to do with this. I was simply trying to put my tent up when the wind came through and picked me and my tent up, and away we went. And here I am, Sir.”
“But, I didn’t see the wind, soldier,” said the officer.
“Neither did I, Sir, but I sure felt it,” came the reply.
In the Bible, “wind” is an emblem of the Holy Spirit. And in Psalm 147:18 we read, “He sends the winds, and the ice thaws.”
On one occasion, Jesus said, “The wind blows where it wants to. You can hear the sound of the wind, but you have no idea where it came from nor where it is going. So you can’t explain how people are born of the Spirit.”
Nor can we explain the work of the Spirit. He is not predictable nor do we understand Him. eHe is a gift of God who works in our lives to save us and empower us to serve.
Prayer: We thank You, Father, for Your Spirit who gives us eternal life and strengthens us in our daily walk. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Scripture for Today: Psalm 147:18b He sends the winds, and the ice thaws.