Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord!

Psalm 150: 6

 

This is the final note of the last chorus of the great choral piece that is the Psalms. Praise is the point of it all. The word praise is defined as, “An expression of approval or admiration.” That is very mild in comparison to what the writer of this psalm had in mind, and it is equally weak in comparison to my own understanding of this idea. When we think about praising God, the first thing that comes to mind for most people is the words that we say and sing. God tells us that He delights in those verbal expressions of our understanding of who He is and of what He does. Speaking about God in public and in private is an important part of our practice of worship. Yet, these spoken utterances are not all that praising the Lord entails.

 

God desires our words and more. He wants us to be people who live our lives as a constant testimony of praise to Him. When we are at our jobs or in school, as we talk with our neighbors and care for our homes, and in our political decision making and joining in causes or crusades we are to engage with life in a manner that speaks the heart of God into our world. There is no time of day or situation that does not already belong to God and that is not a part of His economy. This idea is very sobering to me. Its application to my day causes me to look at my thoughts and responses to many people and discussions with a new sense of their importance and with a different, a Christ-centric, frame of reference for that engagement.

 

In light of the idea that praising the Lord is God’s desired definition for my life and for those of every one of His people, I am not so much a follower of Christ; rather, Christ is who and what I am. This is a wonderful and a lofty concept that I fall terribly short of actually following. So, God says to me that He knows my weakness and He understands my sin. His grace flows over it all in the blood of Christ as God calls me to repentance for that sin and to surrender to His will. Repentance and submission are also praise. The Lord is praised as I do today what sin had prevented yesterday and as I enter into the hard work of restoration of that which has been damaged by my thoughts, words and actions. God is truly delighted by the praise of His people, and He is most pleased when that praise is expressed by every aspect of our beings.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord!

Psalm 150: 6

 

With a body that is overcome by pain, praise the Lord. With cheeks stained by tears, praise the Lord. In the middle of loss and soul searing grief, praise the Lord. Every phase and each aspect of life shows me the praise worthy nature of God. There is nothing that comes along that does not point to His love, grace, compassion, might, and glory. In fact, as I gain in my knowledge of Christ through the way that He engages in life with me and with people that I know during these challenging times, I more fully understand the many ways that the Lord’s hands are involved with shaping my life for my benefit.

 

In response to Christ’s great love for me, I desire to make even the most basic elements of my day into festivals of praise for my Lord. I can use my words, and I can choose to express my thanksgivings in the sorts of songs that have filled the hearts of God’s children throughout the ages. However, it is even more striking to others and more pleasing to God when I think of all people with kindness, acceptance, and concern. Also, the Lord is delighted when I turn these thoughts into acts of humble submission to His will and to His purpose by tangibly loving others.

 

In times of triumph and joy, I can praise the Lord, and in times of defeat and bitterness, I can continue to praise the Lord. His gifts are beyond counting, and His love is complete and never ceasing. Praise is a life that is lived in honest expression of grief and of glee, for Christ goes with us in and through all that we experience and feel. Praise is expressed in trusting my Lord to take me through every experience in life with His loving arms holding me up and giving my soul security. Praise is the love song that my heart sings in response to the eternal love that Christ has pledged to me.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord!

Psalm 150: 6

 

The very last stanza of the Psalms says it all. In fact it is rendered in an even simpler form in the Hebrew bible as those translators have often chosen to state the single original text word that forms the second line as “Hallelujah”. Whichever way you say it, the intent and the meaning are unchanged. All of creation owes honor, respect, glory, and praise to God. This is true because all of creation is the handiwork of the Creator, God Almighty.

 

God is greatly pleased when people live their lives in a manner that is itself a song of praise to Him. When we choose to serve others and to love those who are hard to embrace, we are bringing honor to God who cherishes everyone. As we care for our world and preserve and protect its resources, we are singing a chorus of praise to our Lord. At times we are called upon to risk all in order to stand for what is right and that which is righteous. In these times we are living a life that is itself a psalm of praise to Christ.

 

Today is a day of thanksgiving and praise. This is a moment when all breath can be used to sing out a joyous chorus in honor of God. The life that we live is a gift from Him to us. Every step that we take lands on the holy ground of God’s creation. So, let’s make every moment of this day one that lifts up a great Hallelujah to God!