Praise for God’s Mercy

Read Psalm 103:6-11

“The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy” (v. 8).
A. B. Simpson wrote: “The mercy of God is an ocean divine . . .” and then urges us to “launch out into the deep.” God not only has mercy, He is Mercy. While there are times that He must reprove, when His anger is like the lightning that flashes, His mercy is as the sunshine, warm, personal, generous.
The psalmist portrays three dimensions of God’s mercy — ”as the heaven is high above the earth . . . as far as the east is from the west
. . . from everlasting to everlasting.” None of it is merited, but God’s character overflows with grace and mercy.
God’s mercy evokes heartfelt praise from His people. Right now, offer a prayer of praise to God for His mercy. “Bless the Lord, O my soul.” (Leonard L. Sankey)
“Oh, let us be lost in the mercy of God, Till the depths of His fulness we know” (A. B. Simpson).

A Prayer of Praise

Focus Text: 2 Samuel 7:18-29

Central Truth: Prayer should include praise to God for who He is.

Objective: By the end of this lesson my students should be able to identify ways in which praise may be shown to God.

Lesson Outline:

I.   Praise for the Knowledge of God (2 Sam. 7:18-21)

II.  Praise for the Greatness of God (2 Sam. 7:22-24)

III. Praise for the Character of God (2 Sam. 7:25-29)

A Desire To Worship

Read Psalm 42:1-2

“My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?” (v. 2).

The writer has apparently been prevented from attending the temple due to uncontrollable circumstances. His enforced absence has brought pain akin to the excruciating pangs of thirst. He longs to be in the house of God with the people of God. John Phillips contrasts this attitude with the “many excuses people invent for absenting themselves from the place of public worship.” It was not so with the psalmist. But the craving for the house of God perhaps is reflective of his inner soul need for the living God. Charles Spurgeon identifies the soul as “his very self, his deepest life” which had an insatiable desire for the divine presence. Deny him his Lord and “his heart heaves, his bosom palpitates, his whole frame is convulsed like one gasps for breath or pants with long running.” Spurgeon then sagely observes, “The next best thing to living in the light of the Lord's love is to be unhappy till we have it.” This desire is both learned in experience and instinctive in God's created children. Pascal, a French mathematician, physicist, and Christian philosopher penned these lines: “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God the Creator through Jesus Christ.” May our daily prayer seek His presence in heart and sanctuary. (William Snider)

*“You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they can find rest in you”* (St. Augustine).

This devotional is the Tuesday, July 11, 2017 entry of Opening the Word.

What is our reasonable service?

In "Word Focus" Glenn McClure writes:

The word for service is a religious word that means “service'' or “worship.” It is used five times in the New Testament, where it always refers to religious service, not secular. Thus, true reasonable service is literally a spiritual function (not an external function) whereby man's spirit is in communion with God's Spirit. Man's spirit is that part of his personality which reflects its closest and most intimate relationship. From such a fellowship with God, man's spirit not only reflects that Christlikeness which results from the association, but also responds in obedience to the will of Him who has justified his spirit.

Source: Studies in Romans: Adult Teacher's Insights, page 64.

Perfect Worship?

In "God's Word for Today" David Woods writes:

Psalm 145 is the last Psalm in the Psalter that cites David as its author. It is a praise Psalm, and is noted for being an acrostic. Each verse in this Psalm begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet. There is a problem with this, however. The Hebrew alphabet has twenty-two letters; this Psalm is comprised of only twenty-one verses. This Psalm is missing a verse beginning with the Hebrew letter nun. Interestingly, the Jewish transla-tors of the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament that Jesus and many of the New Testament writers quoted, added a verse to make up the missing nun. While well-intentioned, this probably should not have been done. (The KJV does not include this verse, but some newer translations do [verse 13b], with a marginal note. The English Standard Version renders this verse as: “[The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works],” but notes that these two lines are only in one Hebrew manuscript, the Septuagint, and the Syriac.) Commentators suggest the absence of one letter of the alphabet in this acrostic Psalm does not indicate a problem with God's Word, but rather was intentional. J. Vernon McGee writes: “From Psalm 145 to 150 we find that every one of them is a hallelujah Psalm. It is an increasing crescendo. Why would one verse be left out of Psalm 145? I think it speaks of the fact that our praise is imperfect.”

Source: Studies in the Psalms: Adult Teacher's Insights, page 77.

What makes a song a hymn?

In "Doctrinal Discussion" William Sillings writes:

While gospel songs are forms of praise, traditionally hymns have carried the greater weight of praise. Defining a hymn is an elusive task, but most authorities, says Ralph Martin, appeal to Augustine. Augustine claimed there were three distinctive characteristics of a hymn. 1. A hymn is praise. 2. It is designed to be sung. 3. It is directed to God. Furthermore, a hymn differs largely from a gospel song in that the gospel song tends to be more subjective. That is, it tends to concentrate on “my experience” of certain great spiritual truths. In contrast, the most remarkable characteristic of a hymn is its objectiveness. Hymns express in virtually universally applicable terms the praise of the Church to God, whereas a gospel song may describe one person's experience — which, in turn, may not have significance for someone halfway around the world.

Source: Studies in the Psalms: Adult Teacher's Insights, page 80.

What are key elements of worship?

In "Word Focus" Danny McCain writes:

First Chronicles 16 contains a psalm that is a picture of a time of worship. In this psalm, David identified the key elements of worship.
ELEMENT #1 Giving (vs. 28, 29) First, we are to give God “the glory due unto his name.” The word “due” suggests that we are in debt. …
ELEMENT #2 Remembering (vs. 12-22) Human beings are often not good at remembering. We would rather borrow trouble from tomorrow than blessings from yesterday. David reminded us that worship involves remembering. …
ELEMENT #3 Rejoicing (vs. 10, 23, 31-34) Worship is not a time for sadness. … As mentioned earlier, worship is giving; and in giving is joy. ln worship, we set aside our cares and needs and concentrate on God.

Source: Studies in the Psalms: Adult Teacher's Insights, page 52.

Worship – Why?

Read Psalm 84:1-12

“For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of wickedness” (v. 10).

Why should we worship God? For the conscientious soul, worshiping God is an act of obedience. God commands that we worship him, and therefore we obey. Obedience is a required portion of our relationship with God, but by no means should it be the entirety. Worship is not just the fulfilment of our obligation, but it is our joy! It draws us closer to the One we love. In Psalm 122 we read, “I was glad when they said unto me, let us go into the house of the Lord.”

In a human relationship, we do not find it surprising that those who are in love look forward to spending time together. My wife and I share a weekly date night, not out of obligation, but out of our desire to spend quality time together. Is that also how we view our relationship with God? As we draw near unto God in worship, we find that he draws near to us (James 4:8), and our relationship grows even closer. (Daniel Merkley)

To Jesus every day I find my heart is closer drawn;
He’s fairer than the glory of the gold and purple dawn;
He’s all my fancy pictures in its fairest dreams and more;
– W. C. Martin (Public Domain)

Do we cherish our time with God, or is it merely an obligation?

This devotional is the Tuesday, October 25, 2016 entry of Opening the Word.

Worshiping the Lord

Lesson 9 - October 30, 2016

Focus Text: Psalm 86:1-15

Central Truth: Our worship should seek to give God His rightful glory. 

Objective: By the end of this lesson my students should be able to list new ways to worship God in their lives.

Lesson Outline:

  1. Petition in Worship (Psalm 86:1-6)
  2. Humility in Worship (Psalm 86:7-10)
  3. Praise in Worship (Psalm 86:11-15)