January 2 – Daily Devotion – Psalm 103:2

Psalm 103:2

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.

The proper response to divine favours received is a personal commitment to bless the LORD. Thankfulness leads the beneficiary to worship the Giver, who is the LORD. In the previous verse, the psalmist has already exhorted his soul twice to bless the LORD; and now a third time he says, “Bless the Lord.”  The repetition denotes the earnestness of his desire to express His gratitude. Besides, he stirs up his soul to employ itself in grateful worship of the LORD. The worship of the Lord must rise from the inner man. It is a soul-work. Jesus reprimanded those who engaged in lip-worship. Citing Isaiah, He said, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me” (Matt. 15:8; Cf. Is. 29:13; Ezek. 33:31). No worship exists when the heart is not sincerely and earnestly employed in praising the LORD.

In Deuteronomy 8:10-14 the LORD warned Israel against forgetting His benefits – “When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the LORD thy God for the good land which he hath given thee. Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God …”

Recollecting and recognising the LORD’s help, guidance, rebuke, promises, spiritual blessings, physical provisions, strength, hope, etc. will provide genuine impetuses for the worship of His name. Grateful emotions make the soul to yearn to bless the LORD. Recognition of the Lord’s blessings in his life caused a psalmist to cry out, “What shall I render unto the LORD for all his benefits toward me? I will take the cup of salvation, and call upon the name of the LORD. I will pay my vows unto the LORD now in the presence of all his people” (Ps. 116:12-14).

In order to mould oneself to be a better worshipper of the LORD, one should awaken his memory of the benefits he received from the LORD. Our memory is like a large storehouse. Recollection will bring to present awareness those things stored up in the memory, producing powerful passions of gratitude and worship in our hearts.

January 1 Daily Devotion – Psalm 103:1

Psalm 103:1

Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.

This is the first line of a psalm of praise, which glorifies the Lord for all His gracious blessings upon His servant, David. The object of praise in this psalm is the LORD; and that is clearly set forth right at the beginning of the verse, when it says, “Bless the LORD.” The LORD is worthy of our praise at all times. As Psalms 145:3 tells us, “Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised” (Cf. Ps. 48:1; 96:4; 147:5).

What does it mean to say “Bless the LORD”? When the LORD “blesses” us, He mercifully bestows upon us His goodness. But when we “bless” God, we add nothing to Him, for He lacks nothing, and needs nothing from us. Our blessing the LORD is a grateful acknowledgement that He is the source of all our blessings. When we joyfully recognise and exclaim that the LORD had done great things for us and praise Him for His blessings, we bless the LORD. Each of His children must say, “I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Ps. 34:1; Cf. Deut. 8:10; 1Chr.29:20; Neh. 9:5; Ps. 16:7; 26:12; 34:1; 103:1-2,20,22; 104:1; 115:18; 134:2; 135:19-20).

The psalmist’s commitment to worship and praise the LORD is revealed in his self-exhortation, “Bless the Lord, O my soul.” Furthermore, he summoned all his powers and passions to praise the LORD, saying, “And all that is within me, bless his holy name.” A genuine worshipper would employ his heart, his mind, his emotions and all his strength to render praises to the LORD.

Twice, in this verse, the psalmist urged himself to bless the LORD. Such reiteration would help the believer to avoid slothfulness or negligence that would prevent him from worshipping the LORD wholeheartedly. He fortified his self-exhortation to bless the LORD by citing another solemn reason for the worship of the LORD, namely, the fact that the LORD is holy. So He said, “Bless His holy name.”

It is most reasonable that we bless the LORD, for He is Holy. Before the LORD, who is holy we must bow in humble and solemn prostration. Like the Seraphims, the angelic hosts that surround the heavenly throne, we must worship the Lord saying, “Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory” (Is. 6:3). Psalms 99:5 also teaches us, “Exalt ye the LORD our God, and worship at his footstool; for he is holy.”

Practical Suggestions For Family Worship

My desire and prayer is that this article will provide all readers with practical advice on conducting family worship daily.family worship

I am absolutely convinced that family worship is invaluable. My spiritual life was tremendously moulded, nurtured and strengthened through family devotions that my parents conducted every day in the morning and in the evening. Being convinced of the blessings of family worship, I have constantly strived to maintain family worship in my own family since my marriage. I can sincerely and assuredly say that the morning family worship is the principal thing in our home. As the head of my family, my greatest priority is to lead my wife and children in early morning worship of God, and I believe that is the best contribution in nurturing my family and guiding everyone into the Lord’s blessings.

In a world of terrible moral corruption and religious deterioration, having daily family worship is the best protection against the sins that are rampant in our society. It is also the best aid in nurturing the fear of God in our children’s heart. May our families seek the Lord that we may escape the corruption and tragedies that are predicted concerning those who do not seek the Lord – “Pour out thy fury upon the heathen that know thee not, and upon the families that call not on thy name” (Jeremiah 10:25). O, may we not be weary of calling upon the Lord!

Preparation for Family Worship

Family worship requires some planning and preparation.

  • Decide on the best time that your family can come together to worship the Lord. It will require some effort and even sacrifice during certain periods. (Plan to meet at least once a day. Certainly, it is most desirable to have it in the morning and in the evening. It can be just before your breakfast or evening meal – whatever time that is most appropriate for your family.)
  • Be prepared to spend about 20 minutes for family worship.
  • Have your hymnals or songbooks ready. (It is good to have a copy for everyone.)
  • Have your Bibles ready, if necessary, a devotional book too. (Devotions can be found at www. gethsemanebpc.com/resources/daily-devotion.)
  • Wake up early and refresh yourselves so that you call everyone to gather for worship. If you are unwell and therefore unable to lead in the family worship, assign your wife or one of your older children to take the lead.
  • If an unpleasant situation has occurred or if you have lost your temper before your family worship time, make every effort to quickly resolve the matter in your own heart. Pray in your heart for peace, gentleness and the right spirit to sit with all in the family and worship the Lord. In such circumstances, if you acknowledge your sins and seek peace, family worship will become a very meaningful spiritual exercise.family devotion 2

Programme for Family Worship

Determine what you should do when your family meets for worship. Once decided, as much as possible, keep to your plan. In this way, you can avoid disorderliness and wasting of time.

I would suggest “an order of family worship” below, but you may have a different order that suits your situation. Be alert and watchful so that whatever you plan to do, it would be God-honouring and biblical.

  • Sing a psalm or hymn. Choose one that all can sing together. If you have young children, you may choose children’s songs or short choruses or Scripture in song. If time permits, you can even teach a new hymn or song. (Allocate about 3-5 minutes.)
  • Read a portion of the Scriptures, give a brief exposition and then apply it for the benefit of your family. You may choose to read through the entire Bible or certain books of the Bible by apportioning a section of few verses each day. Or you may choose to follow the portion of the Scriptures suggested in a devotional resource that you are using. (Allocate about 10-15 minutes.) When you have more time during weekends or holidays, you can even have a serious Bible Study on a topic or a portion of the Scriptures.
  • Offer prayer to praise God for His salvation and goodness, and to pray for His forgiveness, sanctification, guidance, provision and protection. Apart from praying on behalf of the family, prayers must also be offered for your church, missionaries and others whom you know. The head of the family may ask other members of the family to pray on certain occasions. (Allocate 5-10 minutes.)

Protect Family Worship

There are many hindrances that are perilous to family worship. We must always be alert to avoid them. It is impossible to discuss all possible problems and obstacles in this article. I would just discuss a few of these possible hindrances here. Let us be watchful so that we will not succumb to these perils. Take whatever precautions needed to prevent the failure of family worship in your homes.

  • Don’t make excuses to avoid family worship. Fight off tiredness and sleepiness. Lethargy and indifference are common enemies of family worship.
  • Lead with a firm, fatherly hand and yet be gracious and tender-hearted. Require everyone to pay attention. As loving as you are, never give allowance for bad attitude and misbehaviour.
  • Don’t allow interruptions. TV shows, phone calls and all such distractions must be avoided. The worship of God requires wholeheartedness and solemnity.
  • Be careful to teach the Word accurately, aptly and affectionately. Don’t be vague when you explain the Word. It is very important that your instruction is doctrinally pure and relevant in application. Explain how a text has affected you, or your family life or church or other great men of God in history. This would help the family members to see the relevance of the Bible. Prepare early to teach. If you are incapable of expounding, obtain a good devotional guide with the help of your church leaders.
  • When the children are young, let your teaching be within their grasp. Your prayers must be simple without being shallow. Keep the length of your teaching and prayer according to the abilities of your children.
  • Inconsiderate leading of family worship can be detrimental to family worship. Don’t let family worship drag on. Be mindful of the capabilities of your young children.
  • Be mindful during worship that your attitude and words will not frustrate and provoke other family members. Even though we must rebuke and correct while applying the Word of God, we must take heed not to turn the times of worship into occasions to lash out at others and to nag at them for their mistakes. I have heard of family worship turning into a time of arguments and quarrels so much so that family members refuse to gather together.
  • From time to time, remind the family members of the significance of good attitude in family worship. Tell them that all must participate reverentially and joyfully. Remind them that your family owes God gratitude and allegiance for His mercies and faithfulness.
  • If you have lost your temper, and find yourself having no mood to participate, do not abandon worship altogether. If you have made a mistake, apologise and move on in worship. If others have made a mistake, correct them with love, and quickly move on in worship.
  • If you ever become weary of leading the family worship, encourage yourselves by recollecting the blessings of family worship. Caution yourselves against the spiritual maladies that can trouble your family if you fail in providing spiritual leadership to the family.
  • Remember to pray on your own for the protection and blessing of your family worship.

Worship Must Be Trinitarian

When we speak of worshipping God, we must always be mindful that we speak of Trinitarian worship.

That God is one, and that He is three is the ver05 Worship in the beauty of holiness REVISEDy essence of who God is. The Trinitarian doctrine of God – One God, Three Persons – is thoroughly biblical, and uniquely Christian.

The great affirmation (Shema) of Deuteronomy 6:4 – “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD” bespeaks the unity of God as One. The baptism formula, “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19), is evidence of the fact that the name of God comprises Three Persons – the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. Many more of such Scripture portions can be cited to affirm that God is triune.

The Scriptures also have ample evidence that each of the Three Persons receives the worship of His people.

“For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 3:14).

“That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him” (John 5:23).

Matthew 28:19, which mentions the Holy Spirit along with the Father and the Son, testifies to the Spirit’s rightful place in our worship. Moreover, Paul’s well known benediction in 2 Corinthians 13:14 includes the Holy Spirit also as the object of our worship – “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.”

Admittedly, we have fewer records in the Scriptures concerning the worship of the Holy Spirit. This is not surprising because in God’s design of our salvation, the Spirit is the One who awakens us to worship the Father and the Son. Jesus said, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John 16:13-14). Let us not forget that the One who awakens us from our spiritual deadness to true worship is God.

When we call on the Father, the Son or the Holy Spirit, we call on each one as the representative of the Trinity. When we say, “Our Father, which art in heaven”, we are not becoming anti-Trinitarian. He is the Father in the Trinitarian relationship within the Godhead, representing the Son and the Holy Spirit. When we call on any one of the Divine Three, by implication, we pray to all Three.

If we were to render appropriate and acceptable worship to God, our worship must be directed to the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 21, Paragraph 2, states: “Religious worship is to be given to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”