Editor’s note: This devotion was written to accompany CTA’s new line of products designed to encourage and honor your church’s musicians, “Expressions of Praise.” Use it devotionally with them this week. If you use it with other groups of volunteers or staff, you will need to adapt it slightly.
It happens every year. Once a year. You can ignore it if you want to, but that won’t stop it from happening. It’s your birthday! Every year, one particular date on the calendar marks the day you were born.
So how do you acknowledge this anniversary of your birth? Some of you want to be surrounded by family and friends and celebrate with cake, decorations, hats, and noise makers. Others of you want a quiet day to relax with just a few people. Still others of you may want to celebrate by not celebrating at all!
Whatever your approach to your birthday, it still comes around, year by year. I hope you acknowledge it in one way or another. The rest of us want to thank God for you and for the gift you are to us!
Getting to the Heart
Much like birthday celebrations, genuine worship takes many forms – and always has. We read in the Old Testament that when the Ark of the Covenant was brought to Jerusalem, King David “danced before the LORD with all his might.” (2 Samuel 6:14 kjv). In Luke 1, we read Mary’s quiet song of praise to God for choosing her to be the mother of the Savior. From dancing with abandon to singing a simple hymn, God’s people praise him in different ways.
From Psalm 150, we can learn lots about praise and worship. Listen! (Read Psalm 150.)
First the Psalmist tells us where to praise God: in his house and indeed, everywhere else! Next, we learn why we praise the Lord: for his power – his creative power and his redemptive power in Jesus. How should we praise God? With music and dancing! Who should praise the Lord? Everyone!
God’s people praise him in many ways, but quite often music accompanies our praise. That’s where you come in. It’s what you do for us and with us. You use your musical gifts in worship, and by doing so, you enhance worship among us. Not everyone in the pews can read music or sing on pitch. But all of us are thankful for your dedication and willingness to serve us with the gifts of music God has given you.
Sometimes, though, our sinful selves turn the Bible’s exhortations to praise God into an occasion for selfishness and negativity. In some churches, that sounds like this:
- “Why doesn’t the hand bell choir have a more substantial role in worship? Everyone says we are the most talented group in the music ministry.”
- “Those in leadership just don’t understand that the old ways of worship mean nothing to people my age. They should invest more time and money to build and equip our praise band.”
- “Just because she has been in choir forever doesn’t mean she should get the solo every time. She’s practically tone deaf!”
Do you hear it? Me. Me. Me. Instead of giving God the glory, we look for ways to honor ourselves, to get our own way. We want the recognition. We want the praise. But that’s not what we are called to do. Instead, we are called to praise the LORD. It’s God’s call to us, but we fail. All of us do. And more often than we’d like to admit.
But take a second look at verse 2. (Re-read Psalm 150:2.) This verse encourages us to praise the LORD for his power and greatness. God’s greatest act of power, his most magnificent show of greatness, is seen in a very unexpected place. It is seen most fully in a person, in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus became a true human being, born sinless in a sinful world. He lived the perfect life you and I could never live. He suffered and died the death that was rightly yours and mine.
But then he rose again, victorious over sin and death. He opened the door to life for us – real life, eternal life, life now and forever! Now, by faith in Jesus, we have an authentic relationship with our Creator. Now, we have a share in Jesus’ victory over sin and death. What power! What greatness! Praise the Lord!
So now, as the forgiven children of God, it is our privilege to live in the freedom that Christ won for us. Now, we get to use our gifts – especially the gift of music – to share God’s power and greatness with others. We can help others praise the LORD on Sunday morning and every other day of the week besides! Through the music we make with our voices, hands, our very breath itself, we praise the Lord and lead others to do the same.
Taking it Home
Next time you or someone around you celebrates a birthday, take a moment to reflect. Surprise parties, pony rides, and clowns may or may not be your idea of a good time. But use the occasion to remember that just as everyone has a birthday, so too, all of us are called to praise the Lord.
Dancing in the street? Quietly singing a hymn? Playing hand bells? Rocking the guitar? Belting sweet harmonies? Whatever your approach . . . (Read Psalm 150:6.)
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