ISAIAH 61:1-4

ISAIAH 61:1-4

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me and has anointed me to
Preach the good news to the poor. .
Bind up the brokenhearted,
Proclaim freedom for the captives,
Proclaim release from darkness for the prisoners,
Comfort all who mourn
Provide for those who grieve in Zion to bestow on them
The oil of gladness for mourning
And a garment of praise for a spirit of heaviness

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Harnessing the Power of the Human Spirit

The human spirit is such a powerful force. Finding a way to harness that power is much like discovering how to make an internal combustion engine and unlease the power of gasoline. David did just that with his heartfelt Psalms. He wrote openly and honestly about his desperation and distress (See Psalm 77, this blog) but he also learned how to progress beyond that despair.

Psalm 63 is a good example of that progression:

Psalm 63
O God, you are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you,
my body longs for you,
in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
I have seen you in the sanctuary a
and beheld your power and your glory.
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.
On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.

He begins with a lament colored by the situation in which he finds himself, in the Desert of Judah. "I thirst for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land."

He then remembers what God has been to him in the past, "I have ... beheld your power and your glory."

Next he recognizes what God is to him in the present and makes a commitment to praise God, "Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you."

Finally he can lift himself above the present circumstances and declare, "I will praise you as long as I live."

He also commits to a physical action to praise God "and in your name I will lift up my hands."

This progression of lament, praise, and physical response to God can be seen through the book of Psalms in varying patterns. David was called "A man after God's own heart" in spite of grievious sin. He also had to pay a consequence for that sin: He was not allowed to build the Temple.

This ability to raise above circumstances through prayer and praise served David well. He also was able to recognize his errors, accept responsibilty and carry his grief to God. We see his repentance clearly in Psalm 51. It is often said that the major difference between David and Saul was David's ability to accept responsibility and to repent for his mistakes.

David knew the secret to harnassing the power of his human spirit. He took his trouble to God; he acknowledged God's past intervention in his life and then was able to praise God, usually in a physical way. With praise for God on his lips, David could then reaffirm his faith that God would continue to direct his paths.

David often speaks of praising God with a "new song." I particularly like Psalm 149:1-9:

Praise ye the Lord.
Sing unto the Lord a new song
And his praise in the congregation of sants
let Israel rejoice in him that made him
let the children of Zion be joyful in their King
Let them praise his name in the ance
Let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp
For the Lord taketh pleasure in his people
he will beautify the meek with salvation
let the saints be joyful in glory
Let them sing aloud upon their beds.

So for this week, let us follow David's pattern. When the stresses of life hit:

Let God know, loud and clear your feelings on the matter
Then move to thinking about what God has done for you
And Praise him for that
Choose a physical method of praise:
lift your hands
clap your hands
dance (no one is watching)
Then acknowledge God's presence in your present situation
Allow His presence, His Spirit to flood your spirit
His peace will come!

Proverbs 20:27
The spirit of a man is the candle of the Lord,
Searching all the inner depths of his heart
Psalm 18:28
For Thou wilt light my candle
The Lord my God will enlighten my darkness

So often we use our human spirit for anger, stubborness, rebellion. It takes a concerted effort to harness that power in praise. BUT...marvelous things happen when we do.

Be exuberant in Praise
Bask in His presence
Live Joyfully in spite of it all!


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