Last Saturday I needed to nurse my wife’s car home from Sydney to Melbourne for repairs. Under the mechanic’s instructions I couldn’t drive above 80km. Need I say more. With three kids in the back seat it was a long, long, long day.
On such a big trip all kids are going to have their “moments” and yes, I did resort to some additional screen time for my backseat passengers. But on such trips, or even shorter ones around Melbourne, here’s something I have discovered. The kids are at their best with each other when they are taking it in turns to pick a worship song.
They all have their current go-to tracks. Imogen will choose Hillsong’s beautiful new track Who You Say I Am, while Ada will do her best to remember some of the words to Chris Tomlin’s Good Good Father. Come Arli’s turn, he will belt out his finest version of Reckless Love, while I smile in the front seat realising that neither I or my youngest boy have been graced with singing voices. But in his beautiful innocence Arli gives it his all:
“And oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God. Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine. And I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give yourself away Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.”
As they were singing many times over last weekend I was struck again by the difference praise can make in our lives. Opening our mouths and declaring praise to our God changes our context. Opening our ears and minds to the sounds of worship can have a profound impact on each of us in our day to day lives.
Last week as I stood with more than 20,000 people from around Australia and the world at the Hillsong Conference I was reminded of the effect that worship has on us.
Here I was, a created being, offering a “brand-new song” to my Creator – and I was struck again by God’s perfect and beautiful design. The Scriptures remind us that God loves to receive authentic, heart-felt worship and that we have been created to express such worship.
The reality is that we are all wired to worship.
Let me encourage you to ponder that truth again today. The yearning to worship is innate in all of us. We either worship our Creator God or we worship other things – other gods or the “idols” of today’s culture, such as money, celebrity, power, sex, relationships, or even ourselves!
When my kids lean in and their minds focus on words of worship I see the work of the Spirit in their lives. Without even knowing it they are doing something good for their souls (and for their Dad’s peace of mind on a marathon road trip).
As we open our mouths in worship ….
- We are rightfully positioned
In a world where we are seduced with the me-first messages, worship positions me afresh to see God for who He is. Positioned right, everything beckons me to praise.
“O Lord, our Lord how majestic is your name in all the earth. Your glory is higher than the heavens.” [Psalm 8:1] “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it. The world and all who live in it.” [Psalm 24:1]
- We gain valuable perspective
Whether standing on the ‘mountain top’ or moving through the ‘darkest valley’ in life I have learnt that praise always gives me a new and fresh perspective. In the hardest seasons of my life I have discovered that even when my mind says I have little to praise God for, my heart can enable me to see life through a different lens.
At such times I realise that as I open my mouth in praise I see the world differently. I realise afresh that I am not alone; I am not bereft of hope. I have a God who lavishes His love and grace upon me. I have a God who is with me each and every step of my life. I have a God so worthy of praise.
I remember a comment that my former Pastor Marty McCrindle would often make: “Praise changes the atmosphere.”
Today if you are doing it tough in life can I invite you to dare praise and see what happens. Your circumstances may not change, but your attitude and perspective will change as you allow the Spirit of God to give you a ‘brand new song.’ Is it time to change the atmosphere?
- We embrace both peace and power in our lives
As we praise God we are actively co-operating with the work of the Holy Spirit, who wants us to experience more of God’s peace and power in our lives. Yes, praise brings both comfort and confidence. As we declare praise we experience ‘the peace’ that only God can bring into our lives and we step into the power that Jesus has for us in life as His followers.
- We open the door to new possibilities
In Matthew 1 where Jesus’ ancestral line is listed we read in verse 3: “Judah was the father of Perez.” Older translations say: “Judah beget Perez”. I love the picture created here. Judah in Hebrew means “praise”, Perez means “burst forth”. What a powerful reminder for all of us. Praise leads to new things bursting forth. Praise leads to breakthrough. Praise leads to new possibilities in our life.
Today, you may find yourself in the midst of battle and the Bible would remind you to stand firm and praise. The battle isn’t God’s final word. He is with you! Today, you may be yearning for breakthrough. Don’t give up. Don’t believe the ‘brand-new day’ isn’t coming. Praise opens the door to new possibilities.
Do you need to take your eyes off circumstances, challenges, hopes and dreams and refocus your eyes on your good, good Father; a God worthy of our praise – a God worthy of all we have to offer him?
Last Saturday my three kids started singing worship songs and the atmosphere in the car changed. Today where does the atmosphere in your life need to change? Are you being called to praise? Are you being called to a brand-new song?
Psalm 96 (The Message)
Sing GOD a brand-new song!
Earth and everyone in it, sing!
Sing to GOD—worship GOD!
Shout the news of his victory from sea to sea,
Take the news of his glory to the lost,
News of his wonders to one and all!
For GOD is great, and worth a thousand Hallelujahs.
His terrible beauty makes the gods look cheap;
Pagan gods are mere tatters and rags.
GOD made the heavens—
Royal splendor radiates from him,
A powerful beauty sets him apart.
Bravo, GOD, Bravo!
Everyone join in the great shout: Encore!
In awe before the beauty, in awe before the might.
Bring gifts and celebrate,
Bow before the beauty of GOD,
Then to your knees—everyone worship!
Get out the message—GOD Rules!
He put the world on a firm foundation;
He treats everyone fair and square.
Let’s hear it from Sky,
With Earth joining in,
And a huge round of applause from Sea.
Let Wilderness turn cartwheels,
Animals, come dance,
Put every tree of the forest in the choir—
An extravaganza before GOD as he comes,
As he comes to set everything right on earth,
Set everything right, treat everyone fair.