Tag Archives: praising God

September 15; Ups and Downs

Esther 9:18-10:3; Ezra 4:6-23; Psalm 105

The history of the Jews is a picture of life, isn’t it? In the book of Esther we see a great celebration lasting days. They had enjoyed a great victory over evil, and they were on top of the world.

But when they got busy rebuilding Jerusalem, they were stopped in their tracks. Scripture tells us the Persians “compelled them by force to stop.” (Ezra 4:23)

I find it the same in my life. I may have victory over a sin, or am able to successfully navigate a difficult situation. I may get a raise at work, or get a “thumbs up” medical report. Things in my life may be working out. I feel blessed!

Then I run into a roadblock, a temptation, a hardship, and I don’t feel blessed at all.

It’s interesting that the organizer of the chronological Bible I am using places Psalm 105 after Ezra’s account of the work-stoppage.

Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him… (vs 4)

It just reminds me that life has its ups and downs. Good times and bad. Successes and failures. There is only one constant.

God.

And I am reminded God is good all the time. God deserves praise all the time. And I can rest assured that He does all things well, all the time. May I, may we, sing His praises from hearts that are overwhelmed with WHO He is, circumstances aside. Because life will be hard some time. Life will be great sometimes, too. We will have victories, and we will blow it.

But God is the same yesterday, today, and forever! Praise Him.

September 12; Don’t Praise The Lord

Zechariah 10-14

Are you careful about what kinds of things you attribute to God’s hand? I have seen people (and have occasionally been one) who are quick to say, “Praise the Lord,” and “God has blessed me,” when their actions bring into question whether or not God really did have a hand in it at all.

Like the shepherds God refers to through Zechariah in chapter 11. They were slaughtering their flocks for personal gain, and covering up their sin with, “Praise the Lord, I am rich!”

I hope you’ll read what God thought about that.

God does bless us, doesn’t He? And I hope you are quick to praise Him when he does. But always remember, God blesses obedience. Let’s not use Him to rationalize actions that don’t really honor Him. Let’s not try to justify sin with a, “Praise God.” He deserves better than that.

Besides, He will not turn a blind eye to any sin just because we give Him praise. Rather than using praise as a cover-up, just don’t praise the Lord. He knows when your praise is real.

September 6; It Is Good To Praise The Lord

Ezra 3:1-13; Psalms 92 and 126; Daniel 10:1-11:35

It is good to praise the Lord and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night… For you make me glad by your deeds, O Lord; I sing for joy at the works of your hands…The righteous will flourish like a palm tree… proclaiming “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him. (Psalm 92)

It is good to praise God, and we on the coast of Georgia have a lot to praise Him for. We escaped Dorian when that hurricane stayed out at sea as it passed us by. We were spared, while others weren’t. We had no damage, while others lost everything – including the lives of loved ones.

Are we wrong to praise God for the outcome we experienced in light of the devastation in other parts of the world? We would be wrong NOT to praise Him.

So I will unashamedly praise God that I can drive across the causeway and go to my home, pick up a few twigs, and resume life as usual. I will praise God that my friends are safe, and their homes are just as they left them, God was merciful to us, and I want to make that known. We didn’t deserve His kindness, and that is a humbling realization.

Yet as I praise God, I will also pray that He will be merciful to those who are facing unspeakable loss from this storm. Dorian is not through with its fury. Others are battling the wind and rain right this minute. I pray that God’s hand will be evident to all who are involved even now.

I am reminded that God is worthy of praise, period. He is worthy of praise no matter what circumstances we face. His worth is not based on how easy my life is, and He isn’t less worthy of praise if my life is difficult.

Praise God. He shows His love in the morning, and His faithfulness at night. He is my joy, my strength, my peace, my everything. I’m praising God for who He is. He’s worth it.

May 23; Stop and Worship

I Kings 7:13-8:21; 2 Chronicles 4:1-5:14

The Temple was built. The Ark of God was in place in the Holy of Holies. The priests were ready and anxious to begin doing what priests were supposed to do. But something happened that brought everything to a screeching halt.

God showed up.

For forty plus years, God had revealed His Presence in a cloud while their forefathers wandered in the wilderness. They’d no doubt heard the stories. But now, right in front of them, that same cloud filled the Temple to such an extent it prohibited the priests from getting in there to make the sacrifices. All anybody could do at that point was to keep their eyes on the cloud, and praise God.

Let’s not get so caught up in living the Christian life, in serving, sacrificing, in spreading the Gospel, that we forget to stop and worship God.

Stop.

And worship.

There will be time to do things for God. But sometimes – often – we need to just stop what we are doing and revel in His Presence, praise Him, adore Him, drink Him in. Sometimes I think we’re guilty of pushing the cloud aside, fanning the air so we can see what we’re “doing,” and we don’t appreciate the Presence of the One we’re “doing” things for.

God’s Presence is here. Do you see Him? Take some time to just stop. And worship Him!

Psalms 142-150; Praise and Worship

These last chapters in the book of Psalms really has me thinking about praise and worship. The psalmists say all of creation praises God.

I’m sitting in my sunroom, looking at a flowering rose bush, listening to chirping birds, hearing the wind rustling the leaves on trees, enjoying the sunlight after yesterday’s rain, and wondering how any of that translates into praising God.

The beauty of creation is doing exactly what it was created to do. The pine tree in my back yard doesn’t seem to be trying to be a live oak. And it’s branches grow upward, pointing to heaven as though lifting hands in worship.

Now I’m not suggesting the pine tree is choosing to do what God wants it to. It just can’t help itself because it’s a tree, and God is God. And I think that’s the kind of praise these psalms talk about in reference to all of God’s creation… including us.

I love that I am reading these psalms the day after my pastor preached from Mark 7, where Jesus called out the Pharisees for their insincere worship of God. They had been more concerned about their man-made traditions than about God.

My pastor reminded us that not everyone who attends church worships, not everyone who sings the songs worships, not everyone who carries a Bible and says an occasional, “Amen,” worships.

The difference between the praise and worship of my pine tree and me is, I have a choice. Worship for me involves a setting aside of the cares of my day, my plans for the week, the chip in my nail polish, or the baby in my lap, and intentionally focusing my attention on God alone.

If I am distracted, my worship becomes like unauthorized fire. If you want to know God’s take on that, read about Nadab and Abihu in Leviticus 10.

One of my concerns about modern day worship services is the tendency to replace thinking and intention with feeling. The “worship experience” turns attention away from God and toward me, my own experience. When the drummer does a solo, or the guitar player performs an impressive run, where does my attention turn? If I sing the same phrase eight times so that my heart “soars,” my attention in on my heart, on my feelings of euphoria.

Now, lest you think I think singing hymns is the only acceptable form of worship, how many times have you had your eyes on the words in the hymnal, and your mind on the roast in the oven? Distraction is distraction whether you are are praising God with a rock band or a pipe organ.

Our God is worthy of praise. Our God demands worship. I believe Scripture tells us distracted praise and worship is neither praise nor worship.

God deserves better than that.

Psalms 102-106; A Downcast Soul

The other day I wrote about unspeakable joy that is ours through our relationship with God. I thank God for that gift that is ours through the precious blood of Jesus.

But today, with some things heavy on my heart, my soul is struggling to grasp the joy. I’m sitting here thanking God for that, actually. Because sometimes I read old posts of mine and think, do my words make this Christian walk seem too care-free? Do I give the impression that I have it all together, and I never struggle? That’s not even close to the truth. I don’t want anyone to think it is.

Honestly, sometimes the cares of my world do get me down. Sometimes it’s really hard to feel the joy with a downcast soul.

So today, feeling the unrest in my soul, I read these psalms and came away with two thoughts:

  1. Is what I’m feeling God’s hand of conviction ? Is this unrest a result of sin in my life? Is it because I have taken a step out of God’s will and into my own? Is this God’s way of getting me out of Egypt? Then I need to confront that sin, repent, and obey God’s leading even if the Red Sea is up ahead. God’s been faithful in the past. I can trust Him with today. There is joy in knowing that.
  2. Have I told God my concerns and then left them in His capable hands, knowing He hears and answers prayer? There are hundreds of examples in Scripture where God answered prayer. Abraham for Lot, Elijah and the prophets of Baal, Hezekiah, Hannah, Daniel, and on and on and on. There are examples in my own life of God’s faithfulness. Why should today be any different?

So I’m going to pray, repent, tell God what’s on my heart. Then I’m going to trust the God of the universe, the Great I Am, the One who loved me enough to die for me. I’m going to stop focusing on circumstances, and focus on my Heavenly Father. I’m going to praise Him, not because of what He can do for me, but because of who He is.

I am blessed. I have the Holy Spirit right here with me. I am forgiven. I am promised eternity with Jesus Himself. And He IS my joy.

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!