Tag Archives: praise

June 18; Reason to Praise

I Kings 1:1, 22:36-40; 2 Chronicles 19:1-11, 20:1-30; Psalms 46-48

When Jehoshaphat and the people praised God, amazing things happened. They were up against a formidable foe and didn’t know what to do except give it to God. And that’s exactly what needed to happen.

Sometimes we may find ourselves at a place where we don’t know what to do, either. I think we can take a lesson from Jehoshaphat: Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.

The psalms are full of reasons to praise God in every and all circumstances.

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. (Psalm 46:1)

For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise. (Psalm 47:7)

Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise. (Psalm 48:1a)

We have reason to praise just for the very fact that God is Who He says He is, that He is on the throne, He is good, our helper, our strength, our Savior. He alone deserves our praise.

April 11; Ebenezer (Not Scrooge)

I Samuel 6-9

Do you remember what it was like the day you gave your heart to Jesus? Do you remember the relief, and that overwhelming sense of love? Can you recall the purity in your relationship with God, that precious gift of salvation that Jesus died to give you?

For some of us, that day has been decades ago. Some of us were saved as children, and our encounter with Jesus Christ kept us from living ungodly lifestyles. Some of us were saved later in life, and realize the pain that comes from living life without God. Either way, the choice to surrender to Jesus was a decision that changed our lives. Do you remember it?

Israel had won a victory over their enemy, and the Ark of God was finally home. They were saved, and God’s Presence was among them once again. Samuel didn’t want them to ever forget what God had done for them.

So he built an Ebenezer. He set up a stone to mark the spot, a reminder for generations to come about the salvation of the Lord. “Thus far has the Lord helped us,” he said in chapter 7.

It wasn’t something to worship. It was to remind them why they worshiped.

I sometimes wear a cross around my neck. I guess that could be an Ebenezer in that it reminds me what Jesus did for me on a cross. My nephew’s wife has a tattoo on her wrist that says, “Agape,” to remind her how God’s love changed her life.

An Ebenezer is a tangible reminder of God’s blessings, a way to go back and appreciate what God has done. What is that for me? Even now, as I sit here thinking about this passage, I find it hard to remember the day Jesus saved me. I don’t often think about that moment when my sins were washed away, when my Savior wrapped me up in His righteousness.

But maybe I should. Samuel thought it was important. God must think it’s important or He wouldn’t have inspired this passage to be included in His Word. So let me encourage all of us to consider putting up an Ebenezer to remind us what God has done for us, what He has saved us from, and how He has helped us get this far.

When was the last time you sang Robert Robinson’s hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing?” It’s been a while for me, so I looked up the lyrics. So powerful! Look at the second verse:

Here I raise my Ebenezer;

Here by Thy great help I’ve come.

And I hope, by Thy good pleasure

Safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger

Wandering from the fold of God.

He, to rescue me from danger

Interposed His precious blood.

All four verses are so amazing. I hope you’ll take time to read then. It might take a bit of effort to understand the outdated phrases from the 1700’s, but it’s so worth it.

Let’s not forget what Jesus did and what He saved us from. Let’s raise our Ebenezer and praise His Name.

Psalms 96-101; Joy Unspeakable

Have you ever experienced joy to the point you thought your heart would burst? The day you looked into the eyes of the love of your life and said, “I do”? Holding your newborn baby in your arms for the first time? Taking that dandelion from chubby fingers, stretched out to present you with their treasure? Receiving an “all clear” from your doctor? Watching a sunset?

What do you do with that joy? These psalms tell me that praising God is the steam value on a pressure cooker. Praise is a natural expression of heart-filling joy. If you read these psalms you’ll see dozens of reasons to praise God.

96:4 For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise…

97:1 The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad; let the distant shores rejoice.

97:9 For you, O Lord are the Most High over all the earth…

98:1 Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things…

But let’s be careful. The joy we receive is a result of God’s grace, His mercy and love. When we understand that, we can only respond like Ebenezer Scrooge did after spending the night hanging out with the spirits: “I don’t deserve to be so happy, I just can’t help it.”

Because true happiness, real joy comes from a right relationship through the precious blood of Jesus. Knowing your sins are forgiven, having fellowship with God can bring joy unspeakable. But let’s not make joy or happiness our goal. If we do, we are worshiping idols.

Praise God for who He is. Worship God because He deserves it. Recognize how blessed you are, and tell Him so. Let Him know how blown away you are at the thought of Him. Then experience that indescribable joy that does not come from things or circumstances. That indescribable, unspeakable joy is God Himself.

 

Psalms 56-61; Praising in the Pit

How do you pray when life seems unbearable? Or do you?

We all know David’s life was hard. I mean, he lived for years in caves, hiding from Saul who pursued him relentlessly in order to kill him. David never knew who he could trust. He was alone and tired, frustrated and discouraged. In 57:4 he describes his life like this:

I am in the midst of lions; I lie among ravenous beasts — men whose teeth are spears and arrows, whose tongues are sharp swords.

But then, in the very next verse David says these words:

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth.

Is that your experience? Or on those days when you feel like you’re lying among ravenous beasts, do you stop praying and just focus on the beasts? Do you sit in your cave and feel sorry for yourself? Do you watch other people who don’t have your problems and ask yourself, “Why me?”

Why not take a suggestion from David’s example?

When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me? (56:3-4)

O my Strength, I sing praise to you; you, O God, are my fortress, my loving God. (59:17)

For great is your love, reaching to the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the skies. (57:10)

You may be in the pit of despair, but God is worthy of praise. Praise Him! You might feel like there is no hope, but God is our hope. Praise Him! You might think you are alone, but God promises to never leave or forsake His children. Praise Him!

Praise Him just because He is, and He deserves it. Then trust Him with the details of your life.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens; let your glory be over all the earth!

Psalms 45-48; Time To Praise

I hope you’ll read these psalms today as though God is your audience. Take time to praise Him who is worth of our praise. He deserves it, and it will take your mind off yourself for a few minutes. Win. Win.

Praise God who clothes us with the beauty of His righteousness. Praise God who is our refuge, our ever present help, our river of living water, our fortress. Praise God whose love is unfailing.

Praise God the King, awesome, worthy, beautiful, seated on His Holy throne, reigning forever.

Be still. Know that He is God.

Praise Him!

 

I Chronicles 10-13; Every Good And Perfect Gift

I have always had a problem with the way David treated the water three of his men risked their lives to bring him. David said he was thirsty – maybe he said he was dying of thirst – and three soldiers sneaked into the Philistine camp to draw water from a Philistine well for their king.

You’d think David would be grateful. You’d think, if he couldn’t bring himself to drink it, he’d at least offer it to the men who had just risked their lives to get it. They were probably thirsty, too.

But, no. David pours the water on the ground. I always saw that as disrespectful toward those soldiers… until today when I read Matthew Henry who called it a “drink offering.”

Hello, Connie. Read what’s there in God’s Word. David didn’t simply pour the water out, he poured it out “before the Lord.” He gave the precious gift, that gift obtained at great risk, to God!

So often I find myself thinking I deserve someone’s kindness. I’m a Baby Boomer, after all, and we were raised to believe we deserve the best. We raised our children to believe in the “Me First” philosophy of life, and they raised their children to believe no one else matters, except “Me.” It’s ingrained in us to believe we deserve only good things.

Why didn’t David drink his fill, and reward the men who gave it to him? He was King. Who deserved it more than he? And didn’t the men deserve a little recognition for their sacrifice?

The reason David did what he did is because he was humbled at the gesture. It caused the king to take a closer look at himself. David realized that even he did not deserve it. So he turned around and offered that life-giving gift to God, with thankfulness and praise.

I have a friend who loves to bake. She is also one of the most giving people I know. And occasionally she shows up at my door with a warm loaf of homemade bread. Let me tell you, there is nothing better.

I thank her. I give her a hug. I praise her baking skills, and recognize her generosity. I hope she knows how much her gesture (and the delicious bread) means to me.

But I never considered thanking God for it. James 1:17 tells us “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father…” Now I know this is talking about sin, and salvation, and God’s unchanging nature. But I wonder if it doesn’t speak to what David did here in I Chronicles, too.

Because the reality is everything good in my life is a direct gift from God. And I don’t deserve any of it. Not even that delicious bread. So shouldn’t I, like David, turn around and give God the praise for it all? Shouldn’t I be aware of the many ways God blesses me through the kindness of people around me?

If King David, a man after God’s own heart, was humbled at the kindness of his men, how much more should I be humbled when good things happen to me? I don’t deserve God’s blessings, but I am blessed.

I don’t believe God would have me toss that warm bread into the trash can as an offering to Him. But I wonder if cutting a slice or two and taking it to my neighbor, or giving the whole loaf to someone who is ill, or inviting someone who needs Jesus into my home to share the bread, wouldn’t be a better way of giving it back to God than enjoying the whole thing myself.

I want to pour myself out before the Lord, empty myself of self, and acknowledge that God is the giver of every good and perfect gift, even those that come out of my friend’s oven.

May God be praised.

 

 

November 1 – I Love A Parade

Matthew 20-21

Last summer, the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA Championship. To honor them, the city gave them a parade. I don’t know if you watched it on TV, but it was pretty impressive. Over a million people lined the streets of downtown to get a glimpse at their heroes. The cars carrying the players couldn’t even move because the fans, swarming the streets, were trying to get close to the players.

At the time, the Cleveland Indians baseball team had a winning record, and someone jokingly (or hopefully) posted an invitation to the World Series championship parade to be held November 3 in Cleveland. It was June. The season was just under way. The Indians hadn’t won a World Series since 1948, or appeared in the series since the 1990’s. Even though November 3 seemed so far away, I thought, why not? I laughed, then hit “accept invitation.” I was thinking this could be the year, like I’d thought every year since I was a little girl. What can I say? I’m a fan.

I read about another parade this morning in Matthew. Jesus entered Jerusalem riding on a donkey. People threw their coats in the road for Him to ride over. Others cut branches from trees and made a carpet for Him. The crowd shouted, “Hallelujah!” I think I can almost feel their excitement.

 

We know that that crowd ended up turning on Jesus only a few days later. They were celebrating Him for the wrong reasons. They wanted a King who would free them from Roman rule. They wanted Someone who would finally return them to their glory. When they heard that wasn’t happening, they rejected Him. In fact, they ended up killing Him.

Makes me realize how important it is that we follow Christ for Who He really is. I think too many people desert Him when things aren’t going their way. Like sports fans who only support a team when they win, they want God to make them feel good, secure their happiness and success, zap all their enemies. But when they realize God demands we humble ourselves and serve Him instead of being served, they bolt.

Fickle.

I know that many people are fans of the Indians (or any team) when they are playing well. Everyone wants to be on the winning side. But it’s those lean years when a team can’t buy a win, that a true fan is identified. I guess the same can be said for a true Christian. It’s that person who loves and obeys and demonstrates God’s love to others even when life isn’t fair. It’s the person who stands for the Truth of Scripture, even when it’s not politically correct. It’s the one who can say “Hallelujah” even through the tears.

I want to follow Jesus for the right reasons. He is my hero. He is my champion. He is the winner of every battle He and I face together. He alone deserves my awe, my devotion, my praise and honor. He is my Savior.

And the next time we throw a parade for Him, it will be the day He returns to take us home. We’ll meet Him in the air and follow Him to glory. Sign me up. That’s one parade I don’t want to miss.