By Aisha Cox
Lectionary reading for 3/12/2022: Psalm 27; Psalm 118:26-29; Matthew 23:37-39
Selected passage for reflection: Psalm 11:26-29
Psalm 118:26-29 NLT
Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord. We bless you from the house of the Lord. The Lord is God, shining upon us. Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords on the altar. You are my God, and I will praise you! You are my God, and I will exalt you! Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.
You know the worship songs we sing at church that talk about the power of praise? How often do we live out the songs we sing when we are not at church? Are we intentionally choosing a posture of praise? The Psalmist in this passage is modeling that exact posture for us. Psalm 118 is the last of what is known as the Egyptian Hallel (Psalms 113-118). Hallel in Hebrew literally means praise. The Psalmist wrote praises of God that were sung in community during the Passover and other Jewish festivals.
Many times we think of praise as something to do only when something good happens to us. We got the opportunity we were praying for. We closed on a home in the midst of an extremely competitive market. We reached out to someone we admire for coffee and made an authentic deep connection. God you are so good! Praise oozes from our lips when we are experiencing the mountain top experiences of life. But what happens when we are in a valley season? How do we offer praise when our circumstances are less than ideal, heartbreak is our reality, and we are blindsided by grief? The secret is that we don’t limit our praise to merely good things happening to us. Just like the psalmist, we can offer praise simply to the One who is good.
This helps us differentiate between happiness and joy. The source of happiness is temporary and based on external circumstances. Joy on the other hand, is a long lasting state of being rooted in the unchanging character of God. The book of Psalms teaches us that God inhabits the praises of His people (Ps 22:3) and in His presence there is fullness of joy (Ps 16:11). We can lay down our circumstances to God at the altar of prayer and receive the fullness of joy that comes with His presence.
Imagine the last entry of your gratitude journal being composed into a worship song for your community. This psalm was written to reflect on God’s steadfast love and redemptive deliverance from Egypt. Praise for the one who comes in the name of the Lord is referencing a king who comes in God‘s authority, which is a foreshadow of Jesus' triumphant entry in Jerusalem. God so loved us that he sent Jesus to the earth to pay the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. It was love that led Jesus to the cross to lay down his life for us. This love is unconditional, unending, and unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. Jesus is the greatest evidence of God‘s love. As we pause to remember and reflect on God‘s faithful covenantal love, how could we not burst out in praise?
Intentionally start your day with a posture of praise while you reflect on God’s love for you. How have you experienced God’s love this week? We often give those we love nicknames and there are many names of God listed in the Bible. What is your name for Him in this season?
God, I praise you simply for who you are. You are a good Father who loves me unconditionally. I thank you that nothing can separate me from your love and that there is nothing I can do to make you love me any less. Help me to have a posture of praise that is rooted in your goodness and your faithful love.
About the Author
Aisha Cox is a Leader, Mentor, and Pastor. She serves as the Prayer Pastor and Teaching Pastor at Ascent Community Church in Louisville, CO. She is passionate about helping people grow in their intimacy with God and develop soul care practices. She is the founder of the movement Authentically Arise which creates authentic spaces for women to arise into their God-given identity, purpose, and build community along the journey. www.authenticallyarise.com