Thursday, October 27, 2016, 6:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Total Praise.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Psalm 81 (NIV).
Sing for Joy (vv. 1-5)
Sing for joy to God our strength;
shout aloud to the God of Jacob!
Begin the music, strike the timbrel,
play the melodious harp and lyre.
Sound the ram’s horn at the New Moon,
and when the moon is full, on the day of our festival;
this is a decree for Israel,
an ordinance of the God of Jacob.
When God went out against Egypt,
he established it as a statute for Joseph.
Our God is not only our salvation, and our deliverance from all evil, but he is our strength and our song in good times and in bad times. When our human strength is gone, and we feel like we can’t go another mile, his strength keeps going, and he carries us through to the end. On this subject, one of my favorite hymns is “He Giveth More Grace,” by Annie J. Flint:
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
His love has no limit, His grace has no measure,
His power has no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.
When we get to the point to where we say, “I just can’t do this anymore,” God gives us his strength, if we will just lean on him, and rest in him, and let him empower us far beyond our natural ability to endure. He has done this many, many times in my life, so I know this is true. His strength never ends! He keeps on giving us all we need to endure, to persevere, and to continue in him and in his Word, and in testifying to his grace, which is never ending. He is not going to give us what he will not equip us to make it through.
The Burden Removed (vv. 6-7)
I heard an unknown voice say:
“I removed the burden from their shoulders;
their hands were set free from the basket.
In your distress you called and I rescued you,
I answered you out of a thundercloud;
I tested you at the waters of Meribah.
Do you know that you can be in a physical prison, and yet be free, and you can be physically free to go wherever you want, and yet be in prison? You can also be going through a great trial, and yet still have your burden lifted, or you can be care free, and everything could be going smoothly for you, and still you may have the weight of the world on your shoulders.
What it all boils down to is attitude, faith and trust in God. Do we let our circumstances control us, or do we rise above them through putting our faith in the Lord? Do our circumstances define us and what our reactions should be, or does our faith in God define us and determine our responses to our difficulties? In other words, through placing our trust in the Lord Jesus in all things, we should be at peace and rest, even if all hell is breaking loose all around us. We can be at peace in knowing that our God is fully sovereign and completely in control over all things, and that he will give us all we need to endure, to be victorious, and to be at peace even in the midst of storms.
No Foreign God (vv. 8-10)
Hear me, my people, and I will warn you—
if you would only listen to me, Israel!
You shall have no foreign god among you;
you shall not worship any god other than me.
I am the Lord your God,
who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.
Sometimes God sends storms into our lives because he wants to get our attention, because he has something he wants to teach us that we would not learn in any other way. One thing God’s people have struggled with all throughout history is a temptation or a drawing to follow after other gods. And, so, God often sent messages to his people through his prophets, and now through his written Word, warning us not to have other gods among us, and to not give them our worship. In other words, we are not to give other people or things the level of adoration, reverence, respect, devotion, passion, faithfulness, loyalty and love meant for God and for God alone.
If My People (vv. 11-16)
“But my people would not listen to me;
Israel would not submit to me.
So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts
to follow their own devices.
“If my people would only listen to me,
if Israel would only follow my ways,
how quickly I would subdue their enemies
and turn my hand against their foes!
Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him,
and their punishment would last forever.
But you would be fed with the finest of wheat;
with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”
If we want God to be our strength and our song, and if we want his protection and his deliverance from evil, and if we desire to be filled with his peace, and to have our burdens lifted from our shoulders, then we need to listen to him and do what he tells us. When we go our own stubborn way, we are only adding to our misery, and we will never be at peace.
If we want to follow God/Jesus, and to know the way in which he would have us go, then we need to obey what we already know. So many people are praying for God’s leading, and to know his will for their lives, while they are holding on to known sin in their lives, and they are not willing to let those things go. That won’t work! If we want God to work in our lives, then we need to work with him, i.e. we need to cooperate with his work of grace in our lives in conforming us to the image of Christ. Then, he will be our strength, and he will lift our burdens, and we will know perfect peace.
Total Praise / Richard Smallwood
…Your peace You give me in time of the storm
You are the source of my strength
You are the strength of my life
I lift my hands in total praise to You…