Blog – 8-9-17
Praise the Lord, all you nations;
extol him, all you peoples.
For great is his love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.
Praise the Lord.
Psalm 117 (NIV)
I read the verse up above this morning in my devotions. I wasn’t all that moved by it at first, to be brutally honest, until I read the footnote in my Bible. It pointed out two very interesting facts about this short, little psalm.
First, Psalm 117 is the shortest chapter in the Bible. Second, it’s right in the middle of the Bible.
As I sat and let those facts sink in and pondered them for a minute, I started to realize there was more to this psalm than I originally thought. This psalm is little, but it’s mighty!
First, this psalm is all about one thing, praising God. It starts and ends with the words “Praise the Lord.” Hmmm, maybe the shortest chapter in the Bible is actually a pretty good blueprint for our lives. It is clear that we need to be about the business of praising God.
It also points out a very important truth, God’s love and faithfulness go on forever. It doesn’t say that God’s love and faithfulness ebb and flow with the level of my love and faithfulness. It doesn’t say that God loves me more when I do good things or work harder. It doesn’t say that He loves me less when I fail Him. No. It says His love toward us is great…period. And He is faithful, even when we’re not.
So why, then, do I find myself fighting the urge to try to please Him? Why do I struggle against a mindset of striving? I know this truth. I’ve worked on this time and time again. I’ve written blogs on this, for Pete’s sake. I’ve tried with all my heart to get off the performance treadmill, and yet it takes a simple yet profound little nugget of truth like the one above to get me back on track once again. Thanks, Father, for the gentle nudges!
The second fact I found in my footnotes also seems very significant. This small but mighty chapter about praise is right smack dab in the middle of the Bible It’s exactly in the center of God’s word. That’s a pretty good picture for us to take in and makes me think again about the fact that praise needs to be smack dab in the middle of our daily lives. Every day. Not just on Sundays.
It begs me to ask myself some tough questions, such as: How can I make praising God a central theme in my day? How can I give Him glory in the way I conduct myself in the smallest, most mundane tasks? How can I worship Him with my entire life? How can I keep praise front and center in my thoughts?
I don’t have any huge theological wisdom to share with you on those questions, other than to say that when I am aware of God’s presence, when I do succeed in fixing my gaze on Him instead of me, life goes a whole lot better. Those days where I thought about God more, thanked him more, worshiped Him with abandon, and complained less, those have been my best days.
I know there is nothing in the Bible that is there by accident, including where things are placed. Why is this verse directly in the middle of God’s holy book? Why is it the smallest chapter in the entire book?
When I read and thought about this today, it made me realize once again that way too often I make faith way too complicated. I get caught up in rules and regulations, I get bogged down with shame and regret, I get overwhelmed with striving and trying to please God.
This short, simple little chapter puts things in perspective for me once again. Praise God because He loves me and He is faithful. Does it really need to get any more complicated than that?
This chapter is little but mighty.
Mighty with truth.
Mighty with hope.
Mighty with God’s love.
And I think it’s a pretty good blueprint for how to live our lives.
Hugs and love,