Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Lift Your Spirits!

Dear Friends,

One of my favorite high-tech devices is the Bluetooth Mobile Phone Headset. That’s the device that people wear in their ear to be able to instantly answer their mobile phone and engage in a loud conversation when they’re in back of you in the line at Starbucks. I should quickly say that I don’t use one of those wireless headsets myself. I’m just not important enough to need to be immediately available to my people. Okay...the truth is I don’t even have “people.”

But the cool thing about wireless headset technology is that it has allowed me to now be in public without frightening others. I’m now able to walk down the street without mothers clutching their small children to them in fear. People no longer quietly edge away from me when I’m in line at the bank and I can now even go into retail stores without a clerk quickly slipping behind the counter to stand near the red emergency button.

Because sometimes I engage in what others might describe as “bizarre behavior.” I’ll be in my yard in the early morning hours singing praise songs. I’ll be walking down the street and praying quietly to myself or softly singing a worship song out loud. I’ll think of something and under my breath be praising or thanking the Lord. And so now, thanks to the popularity of those wireless headsets, people no longer look at me as if I could be psychotically dangerous. They just assume I’m on my phone.

One time I was browsing in a thrift store and softly whistling “IN CHRIST ALONE.” A bit later, when I brought my stack of used books to the cash register, the lady asked if I was the one who was whistling. Not realizing I could be heard, I apologized and she quickly said, “No, was nice to hear someone happy!”

Seeing a cross around her neck, I knew she’d understand. So I replied, “That was a worship song and when I praise God, He always makes me happy.” That began one of those conversations where I was thankful that God had brought me into an uncrowded store and into a quiet conversation with this volunteer who was going through a difficult time in her life.

We can find ourselves living in a constant state of brokenness from our past, commingled with too much dysfunction in our present. Where stress and anxiety clutter our mind and prevent us from finding any joy in our day. Where we’re struggling with our present circumstances. Where we might even find ourselves mired in what King David called the “pit of despair.” Psalm 40:1-2 NLT

And then we read something in our Bible that seems laughably impossible for us to do. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Rejoice always? Even in the middle of what may be lousy circumstances? Yes! And sometimes that’s indeed very difficult to do, but with God all things are possible. Those Biblical instructions or commandments that raise the bar for our behavior are not just directed toward the spiritual saints who have it all together. They’re also directed toward people like you and me.

So, how do we “rejoice always” in the middle of difficult circumstances? Not though any mind-games, psychological techniques or religious formulas. We simply praise God for what He has done for us and worship Him for who He is. King David found himself in that pit of despair and cried out to the Lord. God lifted David out of the mire, set his feet on the “rock” and put a new hymn of praise in his mouth! Psalm 40:3 NLT 

Do I get discouraged, worried and stressed at times? You bet I do. And singing praise songs to the glory of God will always bring me out of my Eeyore-like, self-centered gloom. Praise and worship takes you out of yourself and into the Presence of God. When we are filled with the awe of God, we become less full of ourselves and our self-important problems are put into perspective. 

Our praise rises up to the heavens like sweet incense and He reaches down and gently lifts us into His Presence. Praise and worship are not just what we do on Sunday morning, it’s a lifestyle. When worship is an attitude of our heart, then our lives are lived as an act of worship to Him. Praise comes to our lips, prayer flows out of our heart and in that moment, God meets us right where we already are. We rejoice. Always!

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