Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty expanse.
Psalm 150 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Praise the Lord!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty expanse.
2 Praise Him for His mighty deeds;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness.
3 Praise Him with trumpet sound;
Praise Him with harp and lyre.
4 Praise Him with timbrel and dancing;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe.
5 Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with resounding cymbals.
6 Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!
I have often heard people say they don’t need to go to church to be close to God. They say they feel close to God when they are near His creation, in the woods, on a lake, by the ocean or on a mountain top. Surely it is true, God is omnipresent and in many ways it is possible to sense Him, to feel His presence in creation. In Romans 1:20, Paul says that the evidence of creation does indeed bring about an awareness of God. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. Still there is a difference between acknowledging that God exists because of creation, even appreciating and marveling at creation itself and actually praising and worshipping God. If the reason or the motive for spending time in the beauty of creation is more about personal satisfaction than it is about being closer to God, communing and fellowshipping with Him, then going to those places rather than to church is really not about God. If we are there for selfish reasons, then the god we are really worshipping is the self god we have made.
The psalmist says: Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty expanse. Praise Him for His mighty deeds; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness. There is something to be said for gathering together, with other believers, to praise and worship the Lord. In Matthew 18:20 Jesus says: "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst." Just as it is true that the omnipresent God can be experienced in the beauty and splendor of creation, so too can we experience the indwelling presence of God when we gather with other believers, in particular when we praise and worship Him, when we give thanks for who He is and what He’s done. The psalmist says: Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before Him with joyful singing. Know that the Lord Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving And His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name. For the Lord is good…(Psalm 100) Thanksgiving and praise usher us into the presence of God. Whether in the sanctuary or in His mighty expanse, all of creation, if we are there to be close to Him, thanksgiving and praise will be what brings us into His presence. The psalmist says: But you are holy, O you that inhabit the praises of Israel. (Psalm 22:3) As believers, we can make any place that we gather together a sanctuary of God. When we gather together in His name, when we offer thanksgiving and praise to Him, He is there in our midst.
The psalmist exhorts us to praise Him for His mighty deeds. This is more than praising Him for what He has done for us personally, though surely we should thank Him and praise Him for those things, for His many blessings. The psalmist continues: Praise Him according to His excellent greatness. If we will truly enter into the presence of God, we will praise Him, not for what He has done, but because of who He is. If God had never done anything for us personally, but to give us life and allow us to live in His awesome creation, He would be worthy of our praise. Yet God not only created us and gave us life, He loves us with an everlasting love. Because of His love toward us He desires fellowship with us. Romans 5:8 tells us how God demonstrates His love for us. God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. As Jesus says in John 3:16: “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” God demonstrates His love for us in the cross of Christ, more than anything else He could do for us, because of love, He made a way for us to be with Him now and forever.
Wherever you are today, whether gathering with other believers in God’s sanctuary, creating a sanctuary where you are or spending time in His mighty expanse, I along with the psalmist say: Praise Him with trumpet sound; Praise Him with harp and lyre. Praise Him with timbrel and dancing; Praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe. Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord! Praise Him, praise Him loudly and proudly. Praise Him with all that you are, with all that you have and in all that you do. Praise the Lord! Amen.