I would encourage you today to start each day with praise to the Lord. It’s just a great way to remember who is worthy of our heart’s affection and our mind’s attention. There are a variety of ways in which we can praise the Lord, but do you ever sing a song to Him? I know you do when you worship corporately together on Sunday mornings, but I mean by yourself? There have been times when I have been singing my heart our to the Lord in my car and I have gotten some strange looks from the other lane, but it was worth it! The 105th Psalm says “Oh give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name; Make known His deeds among the people! Sing to Him, sing psalms to Him; talk of all His wondrous works! Maybe you should try that today! It’s not the quality of your voice that matters; it’s the praise from your heart that He wants to hear.
I’ll never forget the moment in Israel when I was asked to step to the front of St. Anne’s Cathedral in Jerusalem and sing the Lord’s Prayer. When I started singing, it was as if the entire place knew I was singing a prayer, so the few hundred people milling about the cathedral just stopped their walking and waited for me to finish. A holy hush filled the room as we stood in silence. Then, to my right and to my surprise, this man from another country stepped onto the stair beside me and began to sing, “I need thee every hour” in his own language. To my astonishment, when he got to the chorus, all the people in the room began to sing that chorus in their own language. It was a holy moment for sure and it reminded me again of the universal power of the Good News of God’s grace. No matter who you are or where you are from, we all need the love of Jesus.
Psalm 105 is a wonderful chapter of praise to the Lord. In it, the writer encourages us to sing to the Lord. But he also tells us to talk of His wondrous works. How often do you do that? You know, the true worshiping servant of God is one who has a growing and intimate relationship with our Savior. How many deep relationships have you ever been involved in which you didn’t ever speak about that person to anyone? When you love someone, you talk about them openly and proudly. You tell of the qualities you like about them…things they did with you…things they said to you. Life with someone you deeply love is exciting and adventurous. And so it should be in our relationship with Jesus. When we are consumed with Jesus, we end up witnessing for Him as the natural outflow of a lifestyle of loving Him.
As many of you know, Caiaphas was the Jewish High priest at the time of Jesus’ arrest. After his arrest, Jesus was taken there, endured an unfair trial, and then thrown into a dungeon below the house. *You can still go today to see the pit in which Jesus spent that fateful night*. While I was there this last time, my guide pointed out a dark spot on the wall. He told me those were ancient blood stains and that the DNA from those bloodstains matches the DNA found on the Shroud of Turin. Whether or not all that is true, I don’t know. But this I do know…I sensed an overwhelming rush of compassion and passion for my Lord at that moment. It brought to mind the words from that great song…”You paid much too high a price for me. “ I pray today that you will take a moment and consider the pain and the shame Christ endured on our behalf. He is so worthy of a lifestyle of worship.
About this time every year we celebrate President’s Day. It’s a time when we honor our nation’s chosen leaders, both present and past. Leadership is influence, and influence comes when we live in such a way that we inspire others to follow us. I love what Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “Our chief want is someone to inspire us to be what we know we could be.” How long has it been since you inspired someone to grow closer to Jesus and to become a passionate worshiper of Him? Do others see a passion for Christ in how you live your life? Are you influencing others to draw near to the Lord and to follow your example? That’s what great leaders like Ronald Reagan and Abraham Lincoln did. They inspired. Perhaps we should aim to do the same. But let’s aim even higher and point others to the greatest leader there is…Jesus.