10 November 2012

Thanks and Praise

"Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His, And give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name."
-Psalm 30.4

I posted a few weeks back about making praise a problem for our problem, and I just wanted to elaborate a bit on it.

Have you ever told someone something really important, only for them to forget it? I'm not talking 'don't forget I put the leftovers in the fridge', I'm talking 'don't forget to turn off the oven in five minutes'.

The thing is, forgetfulness is so natural. We're human, we have a lot of stuff going on, and we have a tendency to get caught up in what is happening in front of us and forget about whatever it was.

You can't deny it. You get caught up in the last few seconds of 'Deal or no Deal', or you play just one more level of 'Angry Birds', and forget about the food in the oven until the smoke alarm goes off.

I was talking to my parents a few days ago about why we are so encouraged in the bible to give thanks and praise God for what He's done, and I was struck by something. God does not require our thankfulness. He actually doesn't need anything. Which means us taking the time to be thankful, fundamentally makes no difference to Him.

So then I wondered, why encourage us to do it?

It was then that I remembered the human tendency to forget. We wake up every morning, and in the normal human way, immediately become consumed with whatever it is we are facing that day.

It could be an exam we have at school that day, and we wake up in a cold sweat, panicked about failing if (funnily enough) we forget an equation or quote. We forget that God goes with us and ahead of us, that we aren't taking the exam alone.

It could be that on our walk to work someone in a van drives through a puddle and covers us from head to toe in muddy water and we tell them to roll over and die, forgetting about the grace and forgiveness God extended to us in the sending of His son Jesus.

It could be that halfway through a really great day, we get terrible news that somebody close has died, and we begin to question God's existence, forgetting that He said that because we are in this world we will experience trouble and difficult life situations, but that we should take comfort in Him during them, as He has overcome.

I was at a Conference a few weeks ago, and a preach was given on the feeding of the five thousand and the storm the disciples were in directly after it. The preacher shared about the fact the disciples forgot about the miracle they had just seen, even though the evidence of it accompanied them in the very boat in the storm. They had evidence there with them, that nothing was too difficult or too big for God and yet in a storm, they were afraid. They'd already forgotten about God and His capabilities!

So often we are like the disciples. We witness God doing something awesome and then the moment we face any difficulty of any kind we forget about the same God that just performed a miracle!

It's crazy! But it's also human nature. We were born with the tendency to forget.

The challenge is to remember.

In Jonah 2.9, it says '...when my life was slipping away, I remembered God, and my prayer got through...' (The Message)

In Isaiah 46.11, the people of Israel are urged to remember their long and rich history, and the God who was with them then.

In Deuteronomy 7.19 and Exodus 13.3, the Israelites are urged yet again to remember what God did for them in Egypt and how He set them free.

After the salvation of the Jews in the time of Esther (Read Esther, it's not too long!), a festival is thrown in order to help the people remember, not just those that were there but also the generations to come, all that God did for them and how He saved them.

That's why God wanted us to have this book that tells us all about Him and the people that loved and served Him over the years, so that no-one would forget and so that all would know and remember, all that He has done.

When we thank God for what He's done, we remind ourselves of who He is and what He is capable of doing for us. When we praise Him, we become part of the positive testimonial of God's nature and personality as we share our experiences with others, helping them to remember too.

Make a conscious effort to remember what God has done. It helps you maintain perspective, encourages you and encourages others, and reminds you exactly who God is and what He can do.

"Hallelujah! Thank God! Pray to him by name! Tell everyone you meet what he has done! Sing him songs, belt out hymns, translate his wonders into music! Honor his holy name with Hallelujahs, you who seek God . Live a happy life! Keep your eyes open for God , watch for his works; be alert for signs of his presence. Remember the world of wonders he has made, his miracles, and the verdicts he's rendered— O seed of Abraham, his servant, O child of Jacob, his chosen." [The Message Version]

- Psalm 105.1-6

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