Psalm 111:1 Praise the Lord.
I will extol the Lord with all my heart
in the council of the upright and in the assembly.
And here we have a replay of yesterday’s message! In fact, where the NIV says “extol,” the Japanese says, “thank,” which is exactly what yesterday’s message was about. We do indeed need reminders to thank God for His goodness toward us, because otherwise we are all too prone to overlook it. We tend to look down on others who act “entitled,” not recognizing how much we do it ourselves. This particular verse talks about thanking God in the presence of like-minded people. I talked yesterday about how non-believers are surprised (and possibly offended) when we give God thanks verbally, but that doing so can lay the foundation for sharing the Gospel. However, this is talking about thanking Him where everyone around us should be doing the same thing. The sad thing is, too many churches’ “worship” services are focused on man rather than on God. That is evident in the songs they sing as well as in the messages proclaimed. “Your Best Life Now” is an abomination on the face of it, because the focus is entirely in the wrong place. In church services and in small-group gatherings, the focus needs to be on God and what He has done, and that is exactly what this verse says. We can have worship teams and special music and the like, but when the focus goes to performance, it ceases to be worship and God doesn’t receive it. It is possible to do almost anything moral as an act of worship, if that is the attitude of our heart, but if our heart is not in it, religious ritual and custom ceases to be worship. As this verse says, we are to serve God with all our heart. That is when it becomes worship in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)
Having been in church from my mother’s womb, I can “play church” with the best of them, so I’ve got to be doubly careful I’m not just going through the motions. Yesterday I was really down and discouraged. I recognized it was a spiritual attack, but I had real trouble focusing on God sufficiently to climb out of the pit. Then a sister shared how she has “come to realize what we’ve been talking about,” experiencing more joy than any time since she was baptized almost 40 years ago. It was confirmation that my labors aren’t in vain, and my heart lifted – just in time for the message! Right now I’m being called on to do a lot of different things, only some of which I actually feel like doing. I need to do each thing as unto the Lord rather than as for man, (Ephesians 6:7) so that it will be worship and not drudgery. I need to remember what the Lord spoke through me yesterday: gratitude is the antidote for selfishness, and is the path to true happiness.
Father, thank You for straightening me out, even through things You have me say. Thank You that I was able to help a fellow pastor with programs for the wake he had unexpectedly last night, in the middle of my busyness. I ask for wisdom as I do the programs this morning for the memorial service from 1pm. Help me rejoice and give you thanks and glory for the things You enable me to do, even when they aren’t on my preferred schedule. I’m going to have plenty of practice in that over the next 40 days. Help me not draw back from any of it, but serve You with my whole heart indeed, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!