A Full-Spirit Workout
In the same way your body needs regular exercise to stay fit, so your spirit needs exercise to stay fit. Psalm 145 provides us with a full-spirit praise workout!
I’ve been able to pick up workout again for a few months now. I do spinning, which is a great cardio training, and also something called BodyPump which is an hour long strength and cardio workout on music. I love it! And I immediately feel the difference. I feel better and stronger, I sleep better, work better and don’t get tired as quickly.
The Psalm I’m discussing in this blog gives us a beautiful full-spirit praise workout. It's got everything! A warm-up, strength training, cardio training and it promotes a healthy diet! Are you ready to get fit? Let's go!
Psalm 145:1-3 (NLT)
1 I will exalt you, my God and King,
and praise your name forever and ever.
2 I will praise you every day;
yes, I will praise you forever.
3 Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise!
No one can measure his greatness.
The opening of this psalm is a bit of a kick-start to what it is all about: praise. It is a psalm full of praise to God and reasons to praise God.
I believe that praising and worshiping God is the very purpose for our existence. You and I were made to worship our Creator. And so, when we stand there with our hands lifted high to heaven singing “hallelujah” something comes alive in us. Our spirit says: YES. This is it. This right here is why you exist.
Strength exercise – praise God for what He's done
Psalm 145:4-7 (NLT)
4 Let each generation tell its children of your mighty acts;
let them proclaim your power.
5 I will meditate on your majestic, glorious splendor
and your wonderful miracles.
6 Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue;
I will proclaim your greatness.
7 Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness;
they will sing with joy about your righteousness.
Our faith grows stronger when we praise God for all the marvelous things that He has done – because it helps us realize that we know a God that is eternal. Eternity is a difficult concept to grab. We are so bound by the limitations of time, that it is hard to understand that the God we worship has always been and forever will be. When we worship Him at this moment in history for who He is and what He has done in all of history – not just our history – and what He will do in the future, we connect to His eternity.
Worshiping an eternal God
In Revelation 1:8 Jesus says this about Himself: “I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.” The One we worship has no beginning and has no end.
All things exist through Him – He is the beginning and end of all things. Of course, the alpha was the first letter in the Greek alphabet and the omega the last letter. Jesus is the beginning and the end – because He has no beginning nor an end.
Interestingly, this song is an acrostic – meaning that every sentence starts with a new letter from the Hebrew alphabet, starting with aleph, the first letter, and ending with tav, the last letter. This is more than just poetic art – I think it connects to the idea that we worship an eternal God who is the Beginning and the End of all things.
Healthy spirit tip #1: Praising God for what He did yesterday, builds strength for your faith today.
God is eternal. Faithful He has been, faithful He will be. This helps us to see our lives today in a much broader context. If God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, that means that He is in control.
Our strength comes from Him
The Psalms keep on reminding the people of Israel of their salvation out of slavery in Egypt. This miracle of God is the foundation for their identity as a people and their relationship with God. Even though, in the time of David, the exodus was already 500 years ago!
In the same way, as Christians, we never stop praising God for the salvation that we have experienced in Christ Jesus. Here we are, in the year 2019, singing about what Jesus has done for us in the first century as if it was yesterday. Praising Jesus for what He has done for us is a constant reminder that our strength comes from Him.
Romans 8:11 (NLT)
The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.
Healthy spirit tip #2: Praise Jesus for the cross and resurrection – this is where our strength comes from.
Cardio exercise - praise God for who He is
Cardio exercise mainly trains the heart muscles to endure longer. This is the type of exercise that really makes you sweat and breathe heavily. The heart muscle is only the most important muscle in our body, so any healthy exercise program includes cardio exercise.
In the same way, we have to train our heart – meaning our innermost being – to endure. A well-trained heart is able endure much more opposition, disappointment and struggle than an untrained heart. And so, we are going to look at a spiritual cardio exercise – praising God for who He is.
Psalm 145:8-9 & 13b-20 (NLT)
8 The Lord is merciful and compassionate,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
9 The Lord is good to everyone.
He showers compassion on all his creation.
13b The Lord always keeps his promises;
he is gracious in all he does.
14 The Lord helps the fallen
and lifts those bent beneath their loads.
15 The eyes of all look to you in hope;
you give them their food as they need it.
16 When you open your hand,
you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.
17 The Lord is righteous in everything he does;
he is filled with kindness.
18 The Lord is close to all who call on him,
yes, to all who call on him in truth.
19 He grants the desires of those who fear him;
he hears their cries for help and rescues them.
20 The Lord protects all those who love him,
but he destroys the wicked.
The more we get to know God, the more we get to love Him. This part of the Psalm gives us a beautiful display of God's character: He is good, righteous, compassionate, loving, faithful, gracious, kind and protecting.
Understanding these things about God and regularly bringing this to mind by singing about it and praying it out is a powerful exercise for the heart. This is where our relationship with God grows deeper and more intimate.
The closer we live in relationship with God and the more we get to know Him and love Him, the more He will be able to shape and mold our hearts to become like His.
2 Corinthians 3:18
So all of us who have had that veil removed [this is a veil of unbelief and misunderstanding who God really is] can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
Our hearts are transformed when we get closer to God. The heart shapes after what it loves and worships. That is why praising the character of God is a heart shaping exercise.
This is a principle that can also be applied to other things. Our hearts form after that which we love and adore. If you love a certain musician, tv-show, writer, politician or any other human being that is good at something – this will influence the way that you live. It shapes what you value and what you desire.
So be careful with what you adore. I want my life to be formed after the character of God and grow to be more and more like Jesus.
Healthy spirit tip #3: When you praise the character of God, your heart will start to take the shape of His.
A healthy diet – proclaiming Christ is King
Lastly, an important part of a plan to get fit is a healthy diet. Now, this is something I’m not very good at yet, I must admit, but I’m learning. The healthy diet exercise in the psalm is proclaiming the Kingship of Christ.
The Kingdom and Kingship of God is an important theme in this psalm, and of course, we get to read this part of the Old Testament through the lens of the New Testament. The Kingdom of God will become a much bigger theme in the New Testament with Jesus as the King.
Psalm 145:1, 10-13a (NLT)
1 I will exalt you, my God and King,
and praise your name forever and ever.
10 All of your works will thank you, Lord,
and your faithful followers will praise you.
11 They will speak of the glory of your kingdom;
they will give examples of your power.
12 They will tell about your mighty deeds
and about the majesty and glory of your reign.
13a For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.
You rule throughout all generations.
We are the works of God – created by Him and adopted into His family – that praise Him, follow Him and proclaim the arrival of His everlasting kingdom. Already here, in this psalm, we see that there is this understanding that the rule and reign of God is at a completely different level from human kingdoms.
The Kingdom of God is not a certain geographical location, but the heavenly reality of God’s rule and reign invading earthly reality.
Healthy spirit tip #4: By proclaiming Christ as King, you put yourself under His rule and reign
We can exercise all we want, but if our diet isn’t healthy, then we don’t get fit. In the same way, we can praise and worship and pray and read the Bible all we want, but without acknowledging that Jesus is the Lord of your life and putting Him on the throne of your life – your spirit won’t get fit either.
By worshiping Christ as King, we acknowledge that He is on the throne – not only on a global level, but also on a personal level. We say: He is the Lord of my life. My greatest desire is to live for His glory and to serve Him.
Healthy spirit tip #5: Proclaiming Christ as King builds the right expectation for the future.
Much like eating healthy to make sure that our bodies get the right nutrients, a healthy expectation and desire for the future feeds our spiritual lives. Because Christ is on the throne, your future is safe. There is a spiritual war going on, yes. And this affects us every day, yes. There are spiritual powers and authorities behind the battles that we face on a personal level as Christians and on a regional/national/global level as the church, yes. But we know who will win this war!
Romans 8:37 says that: in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us (Jesus). And so, whatever we are facing today, we need to approach the situation with the right expectation.
When we worship Christ as our King, our spirits grow stronger, because it knows that nothing is ever going to stop the Kingdom of God. Nothing is ever going to separate us from the love of Christ. No weapon formed against us will prosper, because the conquering King is fighting our battles for us. And we have been given the greatest weapon of all time: the name of Jesus.
The psalm finishes with a short cooling down. Time to hit the showers.
Psalm 145:21 (NLT)
I will praise the Lord,
and may everyone on earth bless his holy name
forever and ever.