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Our church has several small groups who meet on a weekly basis during term time. Some of the groups spend each week discussing the previous Sunday's sermon. Every so often I have the privilege of writing these reflections for the group discussion.
We are starting a study on the Psalms on Sunday and I thought I'd share my thought here:
Psalms ~ Songs for the Seasons
“Thanksgiving and Praise”
“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?” Ps 8:3 (NKJV)
The psalms conjure up powerful images of beauty, strong and deeply felt emotions, fortresses, grace and many other themes.
One-hundred-and-fifty Psalms made there way into the pages of the Bible. Real life struggles and fears are spelled out. Raw honesty laid bare. Your heart and spirit swell when you read these praises to God. They are there to encourage, uplift, and guide us and to testify to God’s goodness and His grace. It encourages us to praise Him because of who He is and what He’s done. These poetic songs beckon us to fall to our knees and confess our sins and rejoice in that we are forgiven.
The Psalms are divided into different types of Psalms, but today we focus on the Praise & Thanksgiving Psalms.
These Psalms focus on praising and thanking God for specific things done, or they focus on the confidence in Him that it will be done. It glorifies the Name of God, boasts of His greatness and praises His character and His mighty acts.
The Praise & Thanksgiving Psalms are the ‘mourning turned into dancing’; The ‘rain after the dry desert’ experiences. These Psalms praise God for the ‘Wow’ moments, which take our breath away. They express what we feel when we stand in awe of a God who created the universe; or the intense emotion when we come face to face with our sin and know we are forgiven.
GETTING TO KNOW YOU
1. What is your favourite Psalm? Why is this your favourite?
2. If you are comfortable with it, share a short story of something God did for which you are thankful and for which you can praise Him.
Ephesians 5:19-20 “19When you meet together, sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, as you praise the Lord with all your heart. 20Always use the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to thank God the Father for everything. (CEV)
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “16 Rejoice always, 17pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus”. (NIV)
Psalm 34: 1-3 “1I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. 2My soul shall make its boast I the Lord; The humble shall hear of it and be glad. 3Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.” (NKJV)
The Bible continually calls us to thank God and praise Him. We allow ourselves to get side-tracked with being busy, self-focussed, stuck in our circumstances or chasing after our own desires and we don’t make time for praising and thanking Him, or sometimes we allow ourselves to ‘enjoy’ wallowing in self-pity.
Did you complain today? Or gossip? How about yesterday or the day before?
Take the next minute or so and think back over the last week.
Now make a mental list - Two columns
Column one: Times I thanked or praised God privately or publicly (even when I did not FEEL like it);
Column two: Times I was ungrateful, complained or overlooked (took for granted) a God given blessing.
How do these columns compare?
Share with the group what you potentially gain by NOT giving thanks.
What happens during those times when you feel down or otherwise negative and still CHOOSE to praise God?
Psalm 34:17-19 “17 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. 18 The LORD is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. 19 The righteous person may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all;”
TAKING IT HOME
This week, focus on choosing to thank and praise God every time you feel down, upset, worried, scared, annoyed, angry etc. and make a mental note (or even write it down for the next time we meet) of how you feel after.
Write your own Psalm of thanksgiving and praise to God – maybe share it with the group next time we meet.
GROUP PRAYER TIME
Instead of praying, let each member read a psalm of praise or thanksgiving as a prayer.
What are your thoughts?