Margaret Gunter, who is with the Alabama Commission on Higher Education, has worked hard to stop the proliferation of “diploma mills” in our state. You may recall that Margaret wrote an excellent article on the subject for the Report last year. Fortunately, a great deal of progress has been made by ACHE since that time. Margaret sent in a devotion and asked that I share it with our readers this month. I gladly do so.
When our children were in kindergarten, they memorized Psalm 100. Having been raised in church, I often draw on scripture to get God’s comfort, assurance, love and peace during difficult times. Today’s challenging world certainly presents many occasions of needing God to reassure me of His immense love during dark days. I only wish I had memorized more verses. So, I was delighted our son and daughter were adding to their Sunday School lessons with a Christian education and learning an entire chapter.
Recently, I was reflecting on our 10-year-old daughter’s kindergarten work and remembered the 100th Psalm assignment. Reaching for my King James Version, I hastily scanned the opening verse, “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.” The chapter goes on to say: “Serve the Lord with gladness; come before His presence with singing. Know ye that the Lord He is God: it is He that hath made us and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture. Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations.”
Like a bolt of lightning flashing across the sky, these words flashed across my mind and captured my attention. This is a Psalm of praise. It’s not just something to read and memorize as part of a five-yr.-old child’s assignment. It’s a foundation for an intimate relationship with the creator of the universe. It’s what He longs to hear from us. Our acknowledgement that He is, “I Am” of Moses toward the children of Israel, Immanuel throughout the Old Testament, Redeemer and Savior in the gospels. The words sound out praise that was timely during the life of King David and praise due to our Lord and Savior today. These words from the Bible spoke to me in a whole new way. Praise be to God, regardless of what is going on the world. Praise be to God, regardless of what is going on in my life.
The Bible is always my go-to book in time of my need. But, what about the first phase of the ACTS (adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication) prayer. The first step in approaching God’s throne through fellowship is adoration of the King of kings and the Lord of lords. Shouldn’t that be emphasized in my thought life throughout the day? Not just praying, “Lord, help me” or searching scripture for verses to satisfy my needs. My God needs me to adore Him, to worship Him, to praise Him – all the time. Not just in good times, but as Job found out in Job 1:21 all the time. He is the Lion of Judah with authority unlimited and the Lamb of God with tenderness toward all.
I would implore each of you to read several Psalms out loud daily. Pick out those offering praise to our Heavenly Father. Evangelist Billy Graham for years has included in his daily Bible study five Psalms and a Proverb. In the early church, congregations sang psalms, lifting their voices united in praise to God. Start with Psalm 100 and as you offer up the words toward Heaven, feel yourself being drawn into the presence of the one who gives, “peace that passeth all understanding.” Like me, take a fresh look at praising God in every situation. May the Doxology not be just a ritualistic chorus, but heartfelt meaning to the words, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise Him all creatures here below. Praise Him above ye heavenly host. Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.”
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