Zephaniah 3: 14-20
Romans 13: 11-14
As my Bible notes, Psalm 96 is all about ‘exhortations to praise’. My favorite lines are in the twelfth verse: ‘Let the field be joyful…then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord…’. It makes me wonder how all the trees along the Katy Trail, or all the trees on Mount Penn in my native state of Pennsylvania, would rejoice? Would they turn the most vivid assorted colors of autumn, all at once? Would their limbs be dusted with sparkling snow? After all, they are all Christmas trees.
‘Sing unto the Lord, bless His name…’. We do that every time we sing a Christmas carol, sing a hymn or sing to a child. When we sing, we give unto the Lord praise, glory and strength. He comes to judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.
The verses from Zephaniah also instruct us to sing, be glad and rejoice because the Lord is in the midst of us. God will gather the sorrowful and will end all that makes them sad, and will…’get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame’. God will turn their captivity before their eyes.
God’s presence may surprise people, and the prophets share grave warnings for those who are complacent and unaware of His importance and presence in their daily lives. We should ask ourselves: Do our actions match our faith commitments? Are we ready for God to live among us?
In the passage from Romans, Paul tells us it is time to awake out of sleep, for ‘…now is our salvation, nearer than we believed’. Let us cast off darkness because ‘ the day is at hand’. God urges us to walk ‘…honestly, not in rioting and drunkenness…not in strife and envying. Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.’
Referring to Psalm 96, verses 12-13, draw your idea of ‘all the trees of the wood…’ rejoicing. Use crayons, colored pencils, paints, Magic Markers to make your trees as colorful and festive as possible. If you’re using a pen or pencil, cut some colorful images out of magazines or newspapers to paste on the tops of your trees. Do your trees look joyful? Do they make you want to rejoice, too?