Your sitting in a dark room with only a faint light above your head, there are no windows. It is cold and damp, you feel like you have been through a storm, you don’t know how you got there and can’t see a way out. Unexpectedly out of nowhere you hear a loud thundering voice call out to you “Brace yourself like and man; I will question you, and you shall answer me”. Your heart is pounding, the questioning begins. One question after another, questions you don’t have answers for, questions that force you to examine who your really are.
Job was in the hot seat. God questioned Job about things that surpassed his knowledge and understanding. Each question had a grand purpose, not just to put Job in his proper place but to reveal the ultimate glorious power of a sovereign God. Job may have felt like he was on trial and really I believe he was, God used these questions to draw out the ultimate truth in Job’s life, the truth that he was nothing without God, the truth that God was in full control of everything in heaven and on earth.
As I read through these questions it makes me feel small and insignificant in comparison to God. These questions help draw me into a place of worship. Reading, seeing and hearing of the magnificent wonders that God has created and controls in and above the earth leaves me in awe and wonder. Genesis records the account of how God created the world, an inspiring story on it’s own but here in Job 38-41 we are given details of the very nature of God’s hand in the mechanics of the world today. This moment in history, these questions should inspire us to worship God. Job replied to the Lord: “I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted” (42:2). God has a plan, a purpose for our lives. That plan might include suffering, trials, temptations or on the flip-side it could include joy, peace and happiness. Whatever the circumstance of life, we are called to worship God in all his glory, splendor, honor and majesty.
Leonardo da Vinci found inspiration from the study of nature. He was fascinated by the fluid motion of water as it moved over and around obstacles in its path. He observed the intricate patterns etched into the face of leaves and was intrigued with textures and colors. Today we can find inspiration in nature just as he did or we can be inspired by the words of a great speaker, a powerful song, or a beautiful piece of art. But can we find inspiration in something difficult, hard or even devastating? The tough, difficult things of life typically bring us down but sometimes we can find a spark of inspiration or hope through these times.
The story of Job is one of those life stories where someone might find inspiration. I find inspiration in his personal faith and trust in God. His story reveals the strength of a solid foundation in God, as well as revealing the weaknesses in the structure that is built upon it. Like us, Job was only human. His limited knowledge of who God is and how He works brings him to a place where he questions God’s motives and actions. I don’t think there is any doubt that Job wrestled with questions like these: Why pain and suffering? Why death? Where is God? What have I done to deserve this? Is God in really in control?
I can also find inspiration in Job’s discernment as he endured the well intentioned but misdirected arguments of his three friends. In a time where he could have easily followed the direction and counsel of his friends, he knew deep down in his own heart that they were wrong. Job was able to maintain his integrity before God and his friends as he faced his trials. Ultimately in the end Job humbly acknowledges his unworthiness, and gives honor to God’s sovereign power and control over his life.
Finding inspiration in something difficult may not be easy. God made us intelligent and emotional human beings, His plan for our lives calls us to come before him when we are angry, frustrated, scared, burdened, happy, joyful and confident. Like Job, God knows our limits and will walk with us without giving us more that we can handle.
Do you remember the show “Who wants to be a Millionaire”, the game show that has a contestant answer multiple choice questions that progressively get harder and harder? The person has “lifelines”, (phone a friend, 50:50 and Ask the Audience) an opportunity to ask for help when they are stumped on a question. When crisis hits, what is your lifeline? A lifeline can be a rope or line for life-saving or could be someone or something you depend on to provide a means of escape from a difficult situation. That something could be finances, technology or relationships, can these things help us in difficult situations?
I didn’t have to read to deep into the book of Job to understand what his lifeline was, despite losing everything His lifeline was his faith in God. Chapter 1 of Job introduces us to the beginning of a brutal journey of physical and emotional suffering and loss; while at the same time it draws us into the life of a man who exemplified the true meaning of being blameless and upright before God. I have read and heard the story of Job many times and each time I still have a difficult time understanding Job’s first response to the terrible reports of loss. “At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship” (1:20). Job was a one of a kind, “There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil”. (1:8) Today I believe that we would be hard pressed to find another “Job” among us, it is my hope and prayer that as the Lord leads and directs our lives He would help us live blameless and upright lives in His eyes.
We are called to worship in the midst of suffering. The life story of Job should be an inspiration for us to find our lifeline in Christ, not in the objects of this world. In Christ we have the “phone a friend” lifeline through prayer, we just have use it. Suffering and loss are never easy and Job’s life reflects that as well as his commitment to his Faith in God. I am encouraged by this thought today: The God that Job worshiped and served is the same loving God that we serve and worship today.
God in His wisdom and discernment gives all of us gifts and abilities that we can use to bring glory and honor to his name. In the design for my life God did not bestow on me the gift of music in any way shape or form. One thing that God did give me is the gift of three wonderful budding musicians that play a myriad of instruments and sing like life is an endless musical. Each day our home is filled with a variety of melodies and harmonies along with the occasional squeal and high pitched screech.
The Psalms, also known as the “Book of Praises” are both inspirational and instructional for our own personal and corporate worship. “Therefore [I] will praise you, Lord, among the nations; [I] will sing the praises of your name (Ps 18:49), “Be exalted in your strength, Lord; [we] will sing and praise your might” (Ps 21:13). After reading through the psalms and you don’t get the picture of praise and worship I would have to point you to one verse that sums it up pretty well, “Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises” (Ps 47:6). One of the great things I appreciate about the Psalms is how the authors bring praise to God in the difficult times and the good times. The words are written as if we could walk in their shoes; the events and circumstances in our lives may be different, but the living breathing act of worship we offer is being lifted up to the same unchanging God.
Whether our worship comes through song, repentance, prayer, remembrance or thanksgiving our God hears and sees everything we say and do. Our worship must come from the heart and soul of who He created us to be. Like the budding musicians who squeal and screech, we too can struggle in our times of worship; there will be valleys to come out of and mountain top experiences to celebrate. Our worship, no matter where we are must be a response to God’s love for us.
How is your memory? Do you have the capacity to remember names, dates, numbers or historical events? Numbers are my nemesis, phone numbers, addresses, lock combinations, alarm codes, they all give me trouble. In addition to the cognitive confusion someone decided to mix numbers and letters together; it has been over four years since I last moved and still to this day I have trouble remembering my own postal code.
The psalmists repeatedly bring us to into a place of remembrance (approx. 45 times) as we read through the psalms. One of the powerful messages I read in regards to remembrance is this: as we reflect (remember) on what the Lord has done for us it encourages us to rejoice in His power and glory. In Psalm 66:5-6, the Psalmist recounts the awesome story of God’s provision for his people in the parting of the red sea, this is an experience that caused the people to rejoice and give thanks. David, in Psalm 13 says that his heart rejoices and sings for the good things that the Lord had done in his life. Asaph, in Psalm 77:11 remembers the Lords “miracles of long ago” and continues to write about how great God is. In each of these Psalms and others we here the voice of fellow believers rejoicing in what God has done for them, their remembrance leads them into a place of rejoicing, a place of worship.
The Dictionary of Bible Themes defines remembering as this: “The process of recalling the past, especially the presence and activity of God in the history of his people. Remembering God’s work in the past can lead to praise and rejoicing, and to hope for the future”. As I reflect on what God has done in my life and where He has brought me I am thankful, it reminds me of the power He has to lead and guide my family and I through all areas of life. Remembering and accepting what the Lord has done to help me grow, I can only wait with a feeling of anticipation for what He is going to do next.
Have you ever broken a bone in your body? If you haven’t, I can tell you from personal experience it hurts, a lot! What is the first thing we do when something like this happens? Under normal circumstances we go to the hospital. When you arrive there is a process: first, we sit in the waiting room while the person next to you says “wow, that looks like it hurts”, then we see the doctor, go for an x-ray, and most often have the injury casted then get sent home with a bottle of pain medication.
As I read through the Psalms I found many references to bones. (6:2, 22:14, 31:10, 38:3, 51:8) David is not talking about physical broken bones in these passages, they are expressions of “personal distress”, they are the feelings of a burdened heart because of the sin in his life. Much like the process described above, when in our life we experience “broken bones” we must go before our God, the great physician. Like David we must go before Him with a repentant heart asking for healing (forgiveness). When I read through David’s experiences I can feel his sense of guilt because of the sin in his life and at the same time I get a picture of his confidence for God’s grace in his life. I know that he hates the pathway of sin (119:128) that life often falls into and through that I see him turn toward God, striving to live a life holy and pleasing to Him.
Our confession, our coming before the Lord is an act of worship. As David seeks forgiveness he gives God glory and honor because of His grace and mercy. Other than the time and place in history our lives are not that much different that David’s. We face many of the same temptations and trials as he did. As believers we know today that our sins are covered by the death of Christ on the cross. As we seek to live a life pleasing to God He is waiting patiently for us to come before Him through His son with a repentant heart.
“I will give thanks because of his righteousness…” (7:17). “I will give thanks to you Lord…” (9:1). “…give thanks to him and praise his name” (100:4). “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good…” (106:1). “Give thanks to your holy name…” (106:47). “Let them give thanks to the Lord…” (107:8,15,21,31). “I rise to give you thanks” (119:62). “Give thanks to the God of heaven His love endures forever”. (136:26)
Riding on the heels of a long weekend focused around thanksgiving I had to ask myself two questions: Who did I give thanks to? Did I come humbly before my God in worship, praise and thanks for all that He has provided in my life?
The Psalms provide us with some powerful words that can help draw us into worship. David pens many of the Psalms that point to the core of worship. He reminds us that our worship, our attitude of thanksgiving needs to come from our heart and soul (the core of who we are). Psalm 103 reads: “Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits.” The benefits that David is talking about are forgiveness, healing, deliverance from death, love, and compassion. He reaches deep into his soul because he has experienced God’s goodness in his life. Our God wants the best for us; at the same time, He wants every part of us as we give Him honor and glory.
Did you forget to thank God for something this past weekend? The great thing about our God is we can come to him anytime, anywhere. As you humbly go before him follow in David’s paths in Psalm 103, go before him with all you heart and soul.
Imagine yourself sitting in the Sydney Opera House or the Royal Albert Hall in London listening to a finely tuned orchestra perform a classical score written by the likes of Beethoven, Mozart or Bach. As the orchestra plays you may hear the emotion filled sound of violin or the soft gentle flowing melody of a flute that calms the senses, then as the music continues and all the instruments play together you experience a powerful heart pounding sound that sends a shiver through your body.
As I begin to reflect on worship and read through the book of Psalms I get this picture of the orchestra in my mind. Especially in the very last Psalm, it reminds me of that moment the orchestra is playing all together. The words of Psalm 150 describe the playing of the trumpet, harp, lyre, timbrel, strings, pipe and cymbals together to give praise to God. This beautiful piece of scripture is the grand finale, the final instruction of how we are to bring praise and worship through our lives to our Heavenly Father.
The way we worship should play out like that of the orchestra playing together, it is in all parts of our life that we need to worship our God. Each one of us has the opportunity to worship and give praise to God on our own and that is critical to the development of our personal relationship with Him. It is more than just our own personal worship that God calls us to, our worship should be found in all areas of life. The Psalmist writes in verse 6 of chapter 150 “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord”. When I read these words as a living, breathing creation of a God who is always with me my life should reflect that through my daily worship and praise to Him.