Here is an excerpt from my new book Praise Patterns. This is from Day Three, which in every chapter focuses on Jesus in the Gospel section of the New Testament. Day Three also includes a Practical Praise section with a simple idea to help you insert more praise into your day. (Day One is an overview, Day Two contains an Old Testament passage and a praise quote from a historical or contemporary Christian, and Day Four's scriptures are taken mostly from the Epistles.)
God My Savior
My bedroom window looks out toward the rugged mountains that surround Las Vegas. The red and orange layers in the mountains seem to shift as the sun moves across the sky. Between me and the mountains stands Red Rock Casino, a sleek copper building that reflects the mountains and the clouds and, best of all, the sunrise. If I wake early enough in the morning, I watch the sunrise change the skyline. The rocky mountains, the neighborhoods, the casino, the palm trees...all are touched by the light. I love to think of my Savior as the sunrise, His rays of love bringing hope and change to our world.
In the first two chapters of Luke, the praises of three people are recorded. The first is Mary's prayer of praise. Today, we'll read the other two: the joyful announcement of Zachariah (the husband of Elizabeth and father of John the Baptist), and the words of Simeon, the elderly man we met when we read Anna's story.
Because of our God's merciful compassion, the Dawn from on high will visit us to shine on those who live in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. (Zachariah's words in Luke 1:78-79)
Now Master, You can dismiss Your slave in peace, according to Your word, for my eyes have seen Your salvation. You have prepared it in the presence of all peoples—a light for revelation to the Gentiles and glory to Your people Israel. (Simeon's words from Luke 2:29-32)
These two prayers speak of Jesus as a light dawning upon the dark world. Later, Jesus called Himself the Light of the World, and even on the dark day of His death, His light dawned upon a criminal hanging next to Him:
Then one of the criminals hanging there began to yell insults at Him: “Aren't You the Messiah? Save Yourself and us!”
But the other answered, rebuking him: “Don't you even fear God, since you are undergoing the same punishment? We are punished justly, because we're getting back what we deserve for the things we did, but this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom!”
And He said to him, “I assure you: Today you will be with Me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43)
Practical Praise: Thank God for Your Mentors
Who taught you about Jesus the Savior? Who models Christlike living to you? Whose attitude of gratitude encourages you to be more grateful too? Who mentors you in practical areas? Praise God for those people today, and write one of them a short thank-you note this week.
I need to write a note to my friend Gina. We've gotten acquainted chatting on Facebook—she writes the funniest status updates and she shares prayer requests too. A few weeks ago at a church service I could see Gina and her husband in the sanctuary. While the congregation sang, Gina sat in her wheelchair, and her husband stood up, but as we began to sing “How Great Thou Art” Gina's husband helped her stand up. Even from a few rows away, I could see that though Gina's life is filled with health issues, she trusts God and makes praising Him a priority. Because I could see the song was meaningful to her, I reflected on the words a bit more than usual myself. The verse about God not sparing His son reminded me to praise my Savior. Gina didn't know that she was my mentor that day.
Praise Patterns will be available for purchase very soon.