The focus and theme for this week's Scripture is PRAISE. When our faith is shaped by Jesus, we live a life that continually PRAISES God.
So what is PRAISE? PRAISE is the love that we give to God simply because of WHO God is. In their book, Will You Worship, Ray Jones and Dino Senesi define PRAISE as our first act of worship (followed by Adoration, Confession, Listening, and Obedience). Page 46
Consider these verses that tells us about PRAISE:
Isaiah 43:21 - The people whom I formed for Myself, will declare My praise.
2 Chronicles 16:9 - For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His.
In short, these verses tell us that we were created to PRAISE God and that God is looking for people who have hearts that belong to Him.
In Luke 1:46-66, Mary PRAISES the Lord in what is often referred to as The Magnificat* (see below). As you read this passage throughout this week, I want to encourage you to think about a few questions.
1. How does Mary describe God? What are the names and adjectives that Mary ascribes to God? Who is God that Mary offers to God her PRAISE?
2. What has God done and what is God doing that Mary lifts up PRAISE?
-As you consider these questions, how does Mary's PRAISE lead you into PRAISE of God? Spend time this week giving PRAISE to God for WHO God is and for WHAT God has done/is doing.
Take note that Mary's song of PRAISE mirrors Hannah's prayer in 1 Samuel 2:1-10. Read Hannah's prayer and consider the similarities between Hannah's prayer and Mary's PRAISE.
Also take note that Mary is not the only one to offer PRAISE in this week's passage. Zechariah also offers PRAISE in Luke 1:64. The first thing Zechariah does when the Lord opens his mouth is PRAISE God.
One final thought: Origen in the third century writes that our PRAISE does not add anything to the Lord. God is what God is. However, PRAISE reshapes and forms our souls into the image of Christ. In other words, PRAISING God makes the image of Christ larger or more dominant in our souls.
May the Lord bless you this week as you PRAISE God along with Mary and Zechariah!
*Magnificat. The song of praise (so called from the opening word of the Latin text) which the Blessed Virgin Mary sang when her cousin Elizabeth greeted her as the mother of the Lord (Lk. 1:39-55). From an early date it has been the canticle of Vespers in the Western Church; it is included in the Evensong in the Book of Common Prayer. In the Greek Church it forms part of the Morning Office. Some scholars argue that Luke originally attributed it to Elizabeth and not to the Blessed Virgin Mary. - The Concise Oxford Dictionary of The Christian Church