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Cultivating Praise

[5 minutes]
Mindsetter Moment: Think back over your life and recall a time when God showed up for you. Maybe it is an answered prayer? Or even a time when you weren’t living for God, but He still had your back? Take a minute to thank the Lord for the help and provision you have received.

[15 minutes]
Scripture reading:

Ezra 7:1 - 8:1-20
1 Corinthians 4:1-21
Psalm 30:1-12
Proverbs 20:28-30

Devotional thought
The nation of Israel was not very large in 168 BC, but it has always been well situated. Located centrally, as a land bridge connecting Africa, Asia, and Europe, it has often been seen as a desirable site for emperors and kings looking to increase their power. Around 168 BC a Syrian Emperor named Antiochus took over and began oppressing the people of Judea. He sent people to dedicate the temple in Jerusalem to the god, Zeus, and sent armies to enslave and/or murder many of the Jewish people.

Following a successful revolt by the Maccabees in 164 BC, the Jewish people regained their freedom from the Syrian occupation. Jewish sources report that four years after the temple had been claimed for pagan worship it was re-dedicated to the Lord with a special celebration which is now known as Hanukkah.

Psalms 30 is a passage that was read at the re-dedication and it is now part of the festival tradition. Many historians believe that, although portions of the Psalm were most likely written around the time of King David, it has probably been expanded upon by following generations.

It is likely that members of the Maccabean revolt (164 BC) saw this Psalm as a bit prophetic for their situation. They had felt the tentacles of “death” closing in, but God spared them. They had wept during the “night” of their oppression, but God brought joy in the “morning”.

The power of poetry lies in its timeless element. What rang true hundreds of years earlier, was also true in 164 BC, and we can draw encouragement from it right now, in the 21st century.
What applies to me?
How has this passage remained so relatable throughout the ages? We could say that it is because people don’t really change much. That is somewhat true, but there may be another reason. What if this Psalm is still relevant today because it is about a God who doesn’t change at all?

The same God who lifted the psalmist out of their depths will lift us out of the depths we find ourselves in. Maybe you find yourself in the depths of depression, or the depths of loneliness, or the depths of an illness. The psalmist writes “I called to you for help, and you healed me.”

God wants to turn our sadness into joy, but not just for the fun of it. One of our purposes as humans is to worship. Notice that the Psalmist writes, “what is gained if I am silenced…..will the dust praise you?” We will always feel like we are missing part of our true selves when we spend our lives focused on ourselves. We are designed with heavenly DNA and we live that out through worship.

[10 minutes]
Write it out: You don’t have to be a Psalmist to write down your praise. Try it out! Write something that you are thankful for. Or if you are going through something difficult, write the difficult thing followed by a few sentences of praise, in faith for what God will do.

Pray it out: Write a gratitude list of ten or more things you are thankful for. Then take some time to thank God for what he has done!

Live it out: We are made for praise! Make time for worship today.