Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits-- who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's. -- Psalm 103: 1-5 (NIV)
The gifts have been opened and soon enough the tree will come down. It will be stored away with the memories of Christmas 2012 until next season, when we creatures of habit will go through the same patterns we always do. As the nativity fades into the background and the world prepares to say goodbye to this year I can't help but pause and wonder is that it? I say that because we tend to rush through this life as humans never pausing long enough to process, appreciate or consider the events we just experienced. Christmas should be different though. The birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ should be different. It should not be merely a tinsel-filled footnote at the end of a long year. There is power in that child in the manger. Power for our lives. Power to overcome the schemes of the devil. Power to live the victorious Christian life we hear so much about yet have such a hard time abiding in. So I asked God for a Word today for us. A Word that we need to take with us into 2013. Manna that can be re-harvested every morning in our lives and reapplied. Because when the lights come down and the Santa suit is put away, we still have to go back to our lives. Our lives where we struggle sometimes. Where we need to live with more power from God. The power to trample upon the scorpions the devil throws in our path. The same power that led the life of Jesus from
So what is the Word of the Lord today to move forward from celebrating His birth into the day to day victories He desires for us? The key verses contain the keys to carrying the power of Christmas with us all year round. The first key is to not pay lip service to praise and worship. We can get so accustomed to playing church in our culture. I remember at my old church the vast majority of folks would be late for service, cutting into what was already a rapidly reducing time of praise and worship. I remember this crystallized for me when I went to a Christian concert and essentially spent five hours in pure praise and worship. The presence of God was so thick that night. We fail to realize how limited our praise is at church due to the limited nature of the church itself. We can tend to want to get the worship part of service over with when instead we should be basking in it. How important is this?
But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of
God actually inhabits the praises of His people! We praise to usher in the presence of God into our lives and into our services! Note what the Psalmist says here though --praise the Lord oh my soul -- in my inmost being. The soul is where our feelings are housed. It is much easier to worship in our spirit but when all hell breaks loose in our life it must go far deeper than that. Worship is not meant to be background noise either. Too often we have turned praise and worship into a commercialized industry instead of offering thanks to God Almighty. Worship music blends into the background of our lives at work or even at home but we fail to stop and consider the words that we sing. The object is not to entertain us but to bless God. Singing "Majesty" while ignoring His awesome majesty in our lives strikes me as not being very worshipful. Worship Him in our inmost being -- not just on the surface. We have too many surface worshippers. Raising their hands on Sunday and powerless when the devil raises hell on Wednesday. There is no power in a divided being. There is no power in someone who merely pays lip service to the praise and worship of Christ.
Secondly, we see the reason we need to praise God -- to forget not His benefits! Let's face it, we live in a "what have you done for me lately" culture that thinks the things they are blessed with are either entitlements or are forgotten as quickly as they are received. Even those with a thankful nature are often quick to forget what has already been given them. The reality is that there is no end to the benefits from God towards us:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. -- Lamentations 3: 23 (NLT)