Born 2 Praise 2 Ministries

Find Your Peace and Purpose In Jesus Christ!

Day 21  "31 Days of Praise"

 (Go Here for Day 22-31)

You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. Verse 16


Yesterday we meditated on the “open hand of God”, the free gift of forgiveness that sets us free from guilt, shame, and yes, here it is, an old fashioned term, but true, eternal damnation!


That is why confessing our need for Christ, and making Him not only our Savior, but also the Lord of our lives is so important.


As human people we are searching for satisfaction, or fulfillment on many levels.    I think we all desire loving relationships, valuable connections within family and friends.  I think we all desire health in body, mind and emotions.  We all need adequate income to supply our basic needs.  These are the common denominators among our species.


The stumbling block comes when we have achieved or even exceeded the basic common denominators and are left wanting, unfulfilled, unhappy.   The other stumbling block comes when we can’t seem to achieve these things no matter how hard we try.   What is missing?  Where do I go next?  Is that all there is?


Maybe that last question is THE QUESTION….Is this life all that there is?


Desire is a broad word.  It is a heavy word.  It can be as light as a fleeting wish, or as consuming as an aching frustration.   I sometimes wonder if the human mind and heart are  designed to process such a wide gulf of desire.  I believe that on our own, it is difficult, even impossible, for the long term.  From my own experience, the going is much better with God in the mix.


Trust me, I will never say, “Just come to Jesus and everything will be all right.”  However, I will always say, “Come to Jesus and He will transform your heart to understand.”


Perhaps I am too philosophical today.   It is much easier to not think so hard.  But, God’s Word makes me think.  And when I start to think, and pray for His instruction, it makes me so very aware of how much deeper I need to go.  I am tired of being a surface feeder/dweller!


For me, early in my life, desire meant having a great career in the music industry.  It was my dream, formed in part by the reactions and encouragement of others.  It became my obsession that took me into pathways of good and bad, healthy and harmful, success and failure. 

Oh, the grace of God in protecting me and rescuing me from myself at times, even when He was at the bottom of my list!  How about you?


“You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore.”   Psalm 16:11 

This life is fleeting, it is temporary.  We want to make the best of it.  We want it to count.  Just think on how fast the last 10 years went by!  What can we do with the next 10?

The desires of our hearts change as we age, and when we measure them in the temporal sense, the human sense.   Moving beyond the day to day life of 5 senses to “the great beyond” is my key desire now. 

Of course, I still have goals, dreams, and plans underway for the earthly life still ahead of me, as God deems to provide.    But, the ultimate desire which transforms my thinking is to be fully confident of my relationship with God through His Son, Jesus Christ.  He satisfies my heart, and guides my path, and guarantees my future.


At the end of the day, (oh, I hate trite sayings), but truly, when I lay my head down to sleep, I can honestly rejoice and celebrate the God moments I experienced.     If I should die before I wake, I am confident that I will run into the loving arms of my God for eternity. 

 I know that I have made an impact on someone else who is walking this journey of life.    I have been feeding my desire to know God, and He will continue to be faithful in helping me through whatever comes tomorrow.


My Unchanging God,  I bless Your Name today.  I bow before You, Your eternal knowledge and wisdom.  I submit to Your plan for my life and Your perfect will, whatever it may be.  It is my desire to honor You, to bring glory to You, to celebrate the story of my life which You are writing.  Let me be a blank page for You today.  You satisfy my desires completely.  Halleluia.  Amen.

Day 20  -  January 20,  2012

You open your hand, and satisfy the desire of every living thing. Verse 16


The open hand of God paints a beautiful picture of grace and blessing.  He is the Author of Life, the Creator and the Sustainer of life.  His favor or pleasure is all over us!


There is a sweet song by Keith Green, from the 1970s when the Jesus movement sparked quite a revival of sorts in America.   I remember my sister, Diane and I, softly singing it at the bedside of my dying sister, Julie.  It says so much.   In fact, it says it all.


O Lord, You’re beautiful, Your face is all I seek, For when Your eyes are on this child, Your grace abounds to me.”


Those simple words hold so much comfort, assurance and peace.  We are always on His mind, always in His heart.   Hear the words of scripture concerning His open hand towards us:


Psalm  63:3   You lovingkindness is better than life!


Jeremiah 29:11  “ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.”


Psalm 139:17  How precious are your thoughts about me, O God, How vast is the sum of them!


Psalm 37:4  Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart.


Isaiah 55:12  You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace.


Malachi 4:2 But for you who revere My name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in His wings.


Lamentations 3:23 Great is His faithfulness, His mercies begin afresh each morning.


1 John 3:1  How great is the love the Father has lavished on us,  that we should be called the children of God.


Psalm 41:12  As for me, You uphold me in my integrity, and You set me in Your presence forever.


That ought to get your heart rejoicing!

Yes, indeed, the LORD opens His hand daily and pours out blessings and forgiveness to overflowing, reminding us that He is For us.

  Acclaim Him today in everything.   He is in it, working all things together for good, helping us to endure and to flourish in joy.  Our God is always near.  Knowing that satisfies my soul.


Lord, God, Mighty King,  I thank you today that Your hand of grace is always open to me, even when I know I don’t deserve it.  But, because Christ removed my guilt, and paid my sin debt on the cross, I have been made new.  Today, I pray, please help me to walk in that newness of life.  I am thankful for a fresh start and a clean slate once more.   How wonderful to be in Your hand.  Amen.

Day 19 -  January 19, 2012

The eyes of all wait on you; and you give them their food  in due season. Verse 15


So, today you may wonder why I am on this verse again.  Well, with only 6 verses to go and 13 days left in our “31 Days of Praise” for this month of January 2012, I am in a pickle!  Or am I?


I had to chuckle at my lack of planning….but, then, perhaps this is how God planned it without any help from me at all!   It is worth stretching this out and resting on these verses that depict God’s benevolence and provision.   So, let me share some personal experience of my God of the 11th hour with you.  I’m sure you have some stories of your own.


The 1990’s were the decade of great joy, great sorrow, great struggle and great victory for me and my family.  There are too many stories to tell, but in a nut shell, these years brought me and my husband and my father a growing business, a growing family, a new home, my dad’s debilitating stroke, loss of said business, loss of said home, loss of my sister to cancer, our son born with heart defect, three heart surgeries in 16 months, one miscarriage, tax problems, fire sale, move in with mom and dad.


Now for the great stuff, again, too much to cover  here ,  but in a nutshell, Gracious God, 3 beautiful sons, incredibly strong marriage, physical needs met, super loving church family, awesome prayer sessions, miraculous provisions, reconciliation and peace, strength beyond my wildest imaginings, witness to those unsaved, giving and receiving mercy, compassion, 11th hour sale of business, bills paid, and move to Pittsburgh from LA on Christmas morning 1997.

 
There was lots of waiting on the Lord during those years.  We don’t know how things will turn out when your dad who is key man in the business is sidelined by a massive stroke at age 62.  With no speech and total paralysis on the right side, we limped along without him for 6 years.  Dad had been the master machinist, and though he had taught my husband well in the manufacture of aircraft and aerospace fittings and thumbscrews, the loss was irreversible.


Over time, the ripple effect took place and we knew we had no desire to press on.  I was in the office part time, with our first born in a porta-crib. Our office manager was a gem, a priceless diamond to us!  The rest of my time was spent helping mom with dad’s care, groceries, etc.  John and our two shop employees kept things  going.

  Things were further complicated and stressful with my sister’s cancer diagnosis and death.  Then our son, Ethan, was born and a new journey was set in motion.   Sometimes I would collapse crying out, “God, what did I do to deserve this?”


So typical, isn’t it?   We think that it is all about us…..why is MY life so hard, when do I GET a break?  How did all MY hard work result in this?   I want to RUN far away.


I write through tears now as I look back and remember the tender mercies of God.   His grace was sufficient, and His strength was perfection when I was weak.  His compassion calmed my fears, and I learned to totally submit to His desire to care for me and those I love.


Are you at the end of your rope today?  Do you feel like your back is against the wall and you have no solutions?  Stand still and see the salvation of God!  Cry out to Him and He will hear you!   We can never even imagine the surprising and creative ways God can move on behalf of His dear ones, those who call Him Savior and Lord.


I told you I could write a book, but for today let me wrap this up. It was summer 1997.  Business had slowed to a near standstill.  No more employees, very little work.   John and I were exhausted, ignorant of what to do, had no experts to consult, and no money to do that anyway. 

We decided to start a fire sale.  What if we sold off inventory like crazy?  We could hopefully raise enough capital to close up shop by year’s end with some shred of self –respect and honor our debts.


Email wasn’t a common tool yet, but we had a fax machine.  I designed a “Blow Out Inventory Sale” flyer and, starting with letter “A” in our rolodex of customers, I began to fax one at a time.  It was late August.    I had hardly reached the end of the “A”s when we got a phone call from a customer we had not done business with in years.   He wanted to know what was going on.  (I guess aerospace manufacturers didn’t usually do Blow Out Inventory Sales!)


Well, his suspicion was correct.  We had a business in trouble.  Long story short, this sweet and savvy businessman, more like a kindly cowboy/farmer from central California,  wanted to expand his operation, so he came to check out all our equipment, inventory and customer base. 

  One month later, we had drawn up the agreement, sold for the price we wanted, and literally had an old fashioned “hand shake” deal as we handed over the keys for him to start the move to his facility. 

Mom and Dad had the bulk of the money, we had our portion, and after enjoying Christmas Eve with them and my other 3 sisters, John and I boarded a flight to his hometown of Pittsburgh on Christmas Morning 1997 with 3 kids, nine suitcases and a Labrador retriever named Flash.


What do you really need to thrive in this life?  Here is my list: His mercies which are new every morning.  Confidence in His timing.  Trust in the everlasting love of a your Savior who is also your Lord. 

Living in His grip is the best place to be.   He gives us our food in due season, and though the seasons may be rough, He is faithful.


Lord, You are more than enough for me.  Amen.

 

Day 18 -  January 18 2012

The eyes of all wait upon you and you give them their meat in due season.  Verse 15


This translation of yesterday’s verse is a bit different, but the intent is the same.  We know that God is the Giver of all good things.   The wild beasts rely on His provision every moment of every day.  We who are the children of God, born of water and the spirit, are also privileged to rely on His absolute care and provision for all our needs.
Why do I say “privileged”?   Before the foundations of the world, scripture says, God chose us in Christ, to be His adopted ones, and to live through faith in Him.   Ephesians 1:4   That is pretty awesome.  We have been on God’s mind for a very long time!


 In the Book of Acts 17:28 the author states a fundamental truth of the Kingdom of God:  “For it is in Him we live, and move, and have our being….we are His offspring.”    We were formed by Him and are continually sustained by Him.  I don’t think you can find a better way to express our constant dependence on God. 

He is the original fountain of life and continues to be our Nourishing Father.  Without Him, there is thirst, an empty, longing heart, restlessness.  I know a few restless hearts who have still not “tried Jesus”.  Do you?


Remember, Jesus said, “I am the True Vine, you are the branches; apart from Me you can do nothing.”  John 15:5   A healthy branch produces fruit and grows abundantly because it is vibrantly attached to the main source of life.  The illustration is clear, even as is the instruction that you will reap what you sow.  Where do we invest our lives?


While some may view spiritual exercises as obligations, or necessary duties to reserve a spot in heaven and win God’s approval, Jesus made it clear that He is the Source of Life more abundant than we can imagine!   He nearly begs us “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  Matthew 11:28   “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.”  John 14:6   "Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God." Deut. 8:3 quoted by Jesus in both Matthew 4:4 and Luke 4:4!  Interesting….coincidence?


 What a privilege it is to pull up a chair and dig in at His banqueting table every day and grab some extra snacks throughout the day, too.   The abundant life comes from the peace, hope and assurance that only Christ can give.

Oh, I promise you, I’ve walked through the fire and I could write a book about the “God of the 11th Hour” showing up to meet our temporal needs.  I just praise God He wrote the Book to prove it, so I knew it, before things heated up!

Our God is trustworthy, halleluia!

Sweet Jesus, Lord of my heart, I worship You, the God of my salvation, the God who supplies my daily bread, the God who never lets me go!  Thank you for walking with me each day and whispering Your Holy Word into my mind to keep me on course and in perfect peace with You.  You provide for my body, mind and soul.   You are my refuge and protector in every storm of life.   You are more than enough for me.  Amen.

Day 17 -  31 Days of Praise

The eyes of all look hopefully to you and you give them their food in due season. Vs 15

David continues to illustrate the ways in which God demonstrates His supreme goodness and compassion to all of creation.  This verse and the next speak so deeply of both the practical physical requirements to sustain life, and also the spiritual requirements to produce abundant life.


There is the sense of expectation, anticipation and patience in these words.  When we consider nature, I am reminded of Jesus words about the lilies of the field and the birds of the air in Matthew 6 and Luke 12.  He was encouraging his listeners that God knows our needs and will provide for them.


What a picture of trust to comfort us.  Animals depend completely on God, as it were.  They do not plant or harvest.  They do not build barns to store up food.  The young look to their parents for nourishment and protection.   Does it amaze you that animals survive the winter?  Or that among the endless variety of sea creatures each has its supply, some of it almost microscopic?


Among the members of the animal kingdom, they seek their food according to the instincts God gave them, and then take what the God of nature has provided for them in the time and way He has appointed, and are content with it.


Well, certainly there are times of abundance and times of lack based upon drought or floods.  It is the activity of man that has put many in jeopardy.
But, when David wrote this psalm, he observed a world much more wild, untamed and less abused and altered.  

Still, he illustrates for us a Nourishing Father God who is completely aware of the comings and goings of his creation.  He rules over the cycles of lives and seasons, and meets the needs of all, in His time, in His way.


Father, thank you for this picture of Your love.  Though we may question the times when we witness disaster or loss of life, you assure us that not a sparrow falls to the ground without your supervision, and that we are worth more than an infinite number of sparrows!  It is a comfort to know that our lives are in your loving and capable hands.  Amen.

Day 16  -  31 Days of Praise

The LORD upholds all that fall, and raises up all those that be bowed down. Verse 14


David has expounded to this point in his psalm on the glorious majesty of God.  He has pointed out that His kingdom will reign forever and that every generation shall offer Him praise for His mighty works. 

David serves a God of power and strength who reigns in perfect justice.  He vows to continually worship God with energy and exuberance and make his praise glorious and large unto his glorious King.


Now, in verses 14 through 16 we will meditate on how personally and compassionately this King reigns.  He is no dictator or despot.  In fact, David now portrays the Lord as supremely benevolent and kind.  God is the Sustainer of all He has created, especially mankind, the jewel of creation made in the image of God.


Further meditation on verse 14 reminds us that the greatest work of compassion, love and provision is God’s marvelous grace to those who have made Him Lord of their lives.


While we have already considered the reference pertaining to falling or bowing under the burdens of life, let us not forget the grace and forgiveness that Jesus ministers to us again and again when we fall into sin! 

The grace of God upholds and restores us when temptations have won the day.  Guilt and shame can weigh us down to a place where we are no longer able to lift our heads again to receive the favor of God.


Yet, repenting and confessing our sin before Him ushers in His provision of grace once more.  Grace so amazing, grace so divine!   All that fall, all that are bowed down will be forgiven all transgressions and renewed with all strength according to His great compassion, mercy and love.  

ALL is a very big word, and though I may not appreciate people speaking in absolutes in my daily exchanges, I am overjoyed and grateful for the absolutes God defines for us:

 
Nothing can ever separate us from the love of God.  Romans 8:38    There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.   Romans 8:1     You  have been set free from sin and become slaves to righteousness.  Romans 6:18   Sin shall not be your master because you are not under law, but under grace. Romans 6:14    If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.   Romans 1:9  


Dear saint of the Most High God, you are deeply loved and highly favored.  In our weakness we will sometimes fail, and fall.  But our God is slow to anger, rich in compassion, full of mercy and forgiveness to those who confess and turn from sin. 

As we lean on Him for our strength, we can experience the freedom that comes from absolute trust in His everlasting love.  He is lifting us up, holding us up, and never keeps a record of wrongs.  As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us! 

Halleluia!     Repent and turn from your sin. Be released to serve Him afresh today!

 
God of all compassion and mercy, I extol You, my King, my God!  You are abounding in grace, a never ending source of mercy.  Thank you for lifting me up and giving me strength each day to stand in Your grace and serve You.  I offer up my life to nobody else but You, Lord.  Amen.

Day 15    -  31 Days of Praise

The LORD upholds all that fall, and raises up all those that be bowed down. Verse 14


To those who are in Christ as members of His kingdom, and blessed with all the privileges and blessings of that kingdom, this verse holds tremendous promise, comfort and hope.


For, who among us can say that since we came to Christ life has been smooth sailing with a prominent absence of strife, challenges, burdens and grief?    What planet are we living on?  It ain’t a perfect world!


I say that often in our home as our 3 sons, all on the brink of manhood, are finding that life is sometimes hard, it isn’t always fair, and under our roof, their personal agendas may be usurped by those in authority over them…. mom and dad.

 

Likewise, though, they have assurance that mom and dad will be there to guide and support them through hardships, brainstorm solutions, be their supply, and sometimes even help them clean up their messes.


It is a great comfort to know that the LORD is a loving parent to each of us.  Fallen is the state in which we all arrived on this planet.  Justified is the state into which we are born again through the redemption Christ purchased for us with His own blood.   Sanctified is the state of our being as we journey through life, growing in faith, listening to the instruction of the Holy Spirit, and finding strength in Christ to overcome everything life can dish out at us.

   
Why?  It is a fact that nothing can separate us from the love of God.  It is a promise of God that we are more than conquerors through Christ who loved us.  It is the truth that if God is for us, who can be against?  Paul wrote all these things to the Romans before he ever visited them.  

Of course he had been stoned, jailed, shipwrecked and whipped during his years of ministry.   He knew firsthand the cost of following Christ, and daring to be different in a culture full of idolatry and a narcissistic emperor.  Add to that, the Jewish leadership that wanted to remove the threat to their authority.


 It is clear that men, women and children were martyred for their faith in Christ.  Yet, they willingly declared their allegiance to their Savior, their Creator, and blessed the Lord even while becoming human torches at the hands of Rome. 

How can this be?   Is it possible to go through a fiery trial, like cancer, stroke, bankruptcy, betrayal or imprisonment with joy in the Lord?


It was always a stumbling block to me when in his second letter to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul wrote,
“This light temporary nature of our suffering is producing for us glory without limits for eternity, greater than we can imagine.”  2 Cor 4:17  

Then in Romans 8:18, Paul wrote to encourage the church, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”  What a hard pill to swallow!


Yet, I can now attest to the fact that it takes a bit of hard-knock life experience to discover that faith can grow to into  a place that shares Paul’s attitude.   Going through the unexpected harsher realities of life will either crush you, or cause you to rise up and trust in the God who has promised to uphold you and lift you up and give you victory.


SO for today, I encourage you with these words:

The promise of Christ is that He will supply you the strength you need so that you will not be crushed by the burdens of life.  Though you may feel bowed down, stooped over under the weight of pressures and conflicts, and demands which seem set on your destruction, do not fear.  Take heart.


The promises of God are everlasting.  This world is not our home.  Yet, while we abide in it we remember that He has called us to “cast our anxieties upon Him, for He cares for us.” 1 Peter 5:7


Even Paul had a “thorn in his flesh”,  some kind of affliction that was a great bother and concern to him.  He pleaded with the Lord to remove it from him, to which the Lord replied,
 “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is strongest when you are weak.”    2 Corinthians 12:9 

Resting in the confidence that He has us covered in every circumstance is the place where we find peace.   That’s a promise I cling to.


Jesus, Your Name is Power, Your Name is Peace, Your Name is the Name above all others, Jesus Your Name is Life.   Amen.

Day 14

Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. Verse 13  American King James
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made. Verse 13 NIV
This is one of those interesting verses where different translations will include or exclude all or part of a verse.  You may have heard of some fancy classifications that scholars use to identify where a particular ancient document was found : of course we have the Hebrew scriptures, and also the Vulgate, Syriac, Septuagint, Ethiopic and Arabic.  There are others, too.
The amazing and divine aspect of these ancient writings is how overwhelmingly precise and exact they are given the far-flung regions of the world where they were recorded.
The Hebrew scriptures do not include that extra line about keeping His promises that appears in the New International Version and all the others!   As I researched, I came to discover that on the pages of the Hebrew scriptures, the extra line was added down at the end of the Psalm.  Mmmmmm.  I don’t know why exactly, but remember, this is an acrostic poem, and perhaps that created the difference.  You can most certainly entertain all the details with some scholarly research if you would  like to go deeper.
At the essence, however, is the truth, that while earthly kings and rulers will come and go, governments will be overthrown, corruption may overcome those that stay, but God’s Kingdom is eternally and forever Pure, Holy, Trustworthy, Just and All Powerful throughout all generations.  What a delight and a comfort to submit to such a mighty “potentate”, One of such power and authority that His rule and reign is forever, perfect and full of lovingkindness to all He has made.  My life is full of “God” stories.  My list grows almost daily of how the Lord guides my path, blesses our family, shows us mercy and gives us His assignments.    He teaches us, corrects us, forgives, strengthens and directs us.  He is a personal God, involved with His creation, that we might declare His authority and faithfulness to all.  We trust Him because He has proven to be trustworthy.  I hope you are also able to declare with me, “The Lord is with me, who can be against.”  
Most Holy Lord, You alone are worthy of my praise.  Great are You, Lord.  Perfect in Your wisdom and power, Merciful in Your justice and Constant in Your care of those Who find shelter in Your kingdom.  I am grateful for the grace to be called one of your own, Lord, and trust in your love forever. Amen.

Day 13  -  January 13, 2012

They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom, and talk of your power; Verse 11
To make known to the sons of men his mighty acts, and the glorious majesty of his kingdom. Verse 12


When we come into relationship with the Lord, a huge change happens in the spiritual realm and within us.   Digging into the Scriptures we begin to understand more of the glorious majesty of His kingdom and our place in it. 

In fact, I just spent all of 2011 studying and posting weekly about what it means to be a Citizen of the Kingdom and Reigning in Christ.
Off the top of my head though, here are some scriptures that help us see how critical it is to understand the kingdom, to declare His might to others so that all may enjoy his glorious eternal kingdom forever.


First, we have heard John 3:16  For God so loved the world that he sent his only Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.


The sacrifice of Jesus’ life as a ransom to set us all free from our sin is the central focus of Christianity.  Without His sacrifice, we will never have heaven.  We would never have the blessing of God, because our sinful nature, even a teeny bit selfish or rebellious, keeps us out of relationship with Perfect Holy God.  We can never earn His favor and or forgiveness.

 
 But, because God so loved His creation, Jesus, the Perfect Sacrificial Lamb of God, was provided to pay the price and take the punishment we deserve. Their is a serious cost to sin.


The angels rejoice when one sinner repents and accepts Christ’s free gift of forgiveness which He attained for us on the cross.  Remember the parable Jesus told?  When the shepherd has lost one sheep, he will leave the 99 and go search until he finds the one which was lost!   There are other parables about laying aside everything in order to search for and find the ONE thing that matters…..the treasure, which is Christ!


The place of eternal “lost-ness” is Hell.  God is doing everything possible to engage us so we will choose Him and choose Heaven.  Are we listening?


I pray, friends, that we rejoice to overflowing and praise Mighty God for the simple formula:  recognize we are imperfect people called sinners,  repent of our sin and turn away from  repeating it, accept Jesus as your Savior,  then make Jesus Lord in your life to teach you more of His kingdom.   Love Him and obey Him and be blessed to super abundance.

God, Our Father, You are Perfect and have made the perfect plan of salvation available so that not one should be lost.  It MUST BE so important, or you would never have required that we go forth and spread the Good News.  

We celebrate the Good News that a relationship with Jesus saves us from eternal death, and because He has risen, we rise again to new life, to become a new creation here on Earth, and are destined to reign with Him forever in Heaven.  Praise be to You, O Lord of Love.  Amen.

Day 12  31 Days of Praise

They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom, and talk of your power;  Verse 11

It is hard to contain your excitement when something wonderful happens.  You just can’t stop talking about it. 

I remember when man first walked on the moon back on July 20, 1969.  I was just 14 when Neil Armstrong uttered those famous words, “One small step for man, and one giant leap for mankind.”  What an understatement!   Profound and poetic, yet I wonder if he knew how prophetic.


Euphoria, patriotism and authentic pride filled every man, woman and child as we watched this historic event unfold before our eyes right in our own living rooms.  It may seem inconsequential today, over 40 years and many space projects later.  But, the impact of those NASA beginnings is still before us, in fact, in the palm of our hand.

 Literally, nearly every bit of information and telecommunications technology and computer function we take for granted today were developed in connection with the space program.

 
 At that time, we could only imagine the kind of kingdom and power that had begun.  We used to dream of being able to talk remotely, yet face to face, like the astronauts.  Hah!  That’s old news now, with Skype and iPads. 

But, when Apollo 11 landed in 1969, it was miraculous that Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins watched Commander Armstrong dancing on the moon and filmed it for all of us to see instantly!


Technology was only one part of this kingdom:  Mylar, liquid nutrition, air purification, plastics, shatterproof glass, nuclear power and incredibly powerful fuels, to name just a few, spawned other industries for consumer use over the years.


The medical field has also been greatly advanced by technologies developed for man’s exploration of space.  So much good, so many blessings belong to the modern world because of what was done in the past.


God’s kingdom is the same.  But, it is better. We know that as grand and brilliant as life is, it is temporary.  We are passing through.  We are born to live, love, create, serve….and we are born to know Our Savior Who will one day call us home to His kingdom.  What He accomplished for us in the past, has guaranteed our future.


He is Creator, Author of Life, Source of all knowledge and wisdom.   Beyond the immense and endless marvels of space seen through the Hubble telescope, and more amazing than the endless variety and intricacy of life on this planet , there is a Redeemer who has gone ahead to prepare a place for us, that where He is, we may be also.   John 14:2-3


Hosanna to the King!  Blessed is He Who comes in the name of the LORD.  Hosanna in the highest!    We praise and bless You, Our Redeemer, Our Holy God.  You have assured as that as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is Your love towards those who honor You.    We honor You, LORD.  We lift You up.  We proclaim Your kingdom and Your power.  Amen!


“Be still, and know that I AM GOD.    I will be exalted among the nations.  I will be exalted in all the earth.”  Ps: 46:10

Day 11  January 11, 2012  Verse 10

All your works shall praise you, O LORD; and your saints shall bless you Verse 10


We have seen these words used more than once already by David in the first half of his psalm, but he sure doesn’t tire of using them!


To praise means to lift up for high admiration and exuberant thankful acknowledgement of greatness.


To bless, in this usage,  means to bow and to kneel before in adoration and reverent awe.  Have you knelt before the King lately?  In some of our church denominations we never kneel.  Yet, it is amazing how our posture impacts our praise.  Try it at home if you never have.


As often as you or I casually say these words to God Almighty,  I pray we will be more deliberate and thoughtful as a result of this study. 

  Remember that what we say to Him is called a sacrifice of praise.   We let go of our agenda and make all the time which may be required to let our words of worship lift Him up.  May they truly rise up within our hearts and overflow our lips.  Entering into praise brings the peace and presence of God in a powerful way.  We receive a blessing as we bless the Lord.


May our hearts swell with such love that we have no words at all, but only groanings and utterances of our spirits before Him who is the Self-Existent One, the Everlasting God,  Holy , Mighty, Awesome Yahweh, LORD God.


There is a whole lot of praising going on in this verse.   We can see that His works encompass two separate activities.

First, the creation He spoke into existence, and second,  the work of His merciful grace.  That means us,  we who are made new creations as the redeemed in Christ.  So both creation at large, and sinners saved by grace do bless and praise the LORD.  The LORD gets the praise and the glory because His works are noteworthy.


Consider:  Does not the famous Mona Lisa elicit praise for Da Vinci’s skill?  And  beautiful  buildings such as Fallingwater earn praise for  their creator, Frank Lloyd Wright?  Is it not the parents who deserve compliments for the sensibilities and character of well-mannered children we encounter?


In the same way, the heavens declare the glory of God, all His creation is shouting for joy.  The displays of nature point to the One who created it and elicit praise from human hearts, if not from the creatures themselves!  Who is to say if the rooster is crowing praise to God for the new day?


Further, we are the work of God’s manifold grace towards us through Jesus.  By receiving that grace, we are now saints of God, citizens of His kingdom.  We praise the King  for His righteousness and goodness, and we praise His life saving plan by which we may share everything as heirs in Jesus Christ.  What a Savior!

LORD, Jehovah, the One Who was, Who is, and Who is to come,

We offer You praise. We bless Your name and humbly ask for Your strength to brightly reflect Your glory! Amen. 

 

Day 10  -  January 10, 2012 Further Meditations on Verse 9

The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works. Verse 9


As I continue to meditate on this verse of Psalm 145, I couldn’t help but think someone reading this, or someone you may know, doesn’t believe it.   Searching the scriptures, doing some quick phrase searches, here is a list of the number of times these phrases occur….at least in my really quick not-exhaustive search:


Give thanks to the Lord for he is good…… 9
His mercy endures forever……44
His love endures forever….44
The Lord is good …..477
…to those who fear Him…..74
God is faithful….91


Scattered throughout the 66 books of the Bible, written by the hands of several different scribes in different generations, even hundreds of years apart, are the same declarations that David also cried out from the depths of his soul throughout his psalms, and here in Psalm 145. Could all these people be wrong?  What secret do they know?

Still come the questions from those who do not know Him, or refuse to.  If one would look for the context of each of these verses, and read the circumstances recorded during each phase of Israel’s history when these declarations were written, the soul would be overwhelming encouraged and convinced of the Truth: God is good, faithful, on the scene, and always loving and full of mercy.  Gotta open the Book!  Gotta listen to those who have witnessed His activity!


A defense attorney goes to great lengths to research precedents already set and judgments laid down which relate to his current client’s situation in order to build his case.   Hard evidence, credible witnesses and excellent research win the day and it becomes a life changing, freedom producing moment when the jury declares the defendant, “Not guilty.”


God presents the evidence of His presence, His power, and His desire to forgive and prosper those who follow His ways in His written Word, the Bible.  Many witnesses have recorded His mighty deeds. 

Some may say, “Ah, He is a dictator.  He is a tyrant.” It's His way or no way.  Well, yes and no.

 
He gave us the freedom to choose about 3,000 years ago.  “I have set before you life and death, blessings or curses.  Choose life that you and your children may live.”  Deuteronomy 3:19


The covenant God is good, offers protection and guidance, strength and wisdom to those who choose Him.  When one refuses a relationship with Him, one cannot expect Him to show up on demand.  But, the compassionate, good and merciful God often still does.  He is always presenting the opportunity to choose Him.

Now, that is goodness.  That is love.  That is some mercy we don’t deserve.


The Father draws us to Jesus to understand the height and depth, the width and breadth of Love.  For some people,  it takes hitting bottom, losing everything, and having no choice but to look up.  Just like the inmate I worshiped with on Sunday at prison, he decided after trying everything else, he should try God’s ways.  

 

He has received forgiveness.  He has been declared "Not guilty!"  Now, he is a new creation, he has a new mind in Christ. He is joyful and passionate about his relationship with his Savior.


 “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”  1 John 1:9    Now, that is some tender mercy.  We need only take action.

For others, everything in the natural world may seem great.  Success, family, friends...yet there is an emptiness, a sense that something is still missing.  

There is a cliche that still rings true...every human heart has a God shaped hole in it.  Until it is filled with the Creator's presence,  the creation is incomplete, and in the depths of his soul, he knows it.


 “Whoever covers over his sins (denies them) does not prosper.  Whoever confesses and abandons them receives compassion.”   Proverbs 28:13,(written by King Solomon, David’s son.)  God wants that none should be lost to eternal hell and separation from His goodness, love and peace.  Eternal life is on the line and abundant life for the here and now. 

Oh, the stubborn heart of man!  No wonder Jesus said, "He who has ears to hear, let him hear!"  Mark 4:9  Let him open his heart to understand. Come to Jesus, receive forgiveness, become a new creation and live the life He designed you for.


Lord, we praise You for Your absolute goodness, compassion and mercy.  Thank you for the written record of Your hand in history.  Thank you for Jesus who paid the price for my sin on the cross, and gave me access to You and the life You have designed for me here, and for eternity.  Holy God, I give You my heart.  Amen.

Day  9   -  January 9, 2012

The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works. Verse 9


From the hand of the Creator came life full of beauty, holiness and perfection in the Garden.  There was no decay or blight, no hardship or pain until sin changed everything. 

Yet, even as Adam and Eve were fearfully hiding themselves from God ‘s anger, God compassionately clothed them in skins of garden animals.  The cost of Adam's sin was death.

Did you notice?  From the outset, the innocent paid the price for the guilty.  The lives of innocent animals were sacrificed to cover their nakedness. The Most High God foreshadowed His amazing redemptive plan that Jesus would be provided as the One Perfect Sacrifice for the forgiveness of sin.


God who is Perfect Justice, however, did remove man from the Garden, and cursed the ground he would work to scratch out his existence.   Harsh as that may seem, it was for man’s good and man was blessed with abundance as he loved and obeyed the Living God, and suffered the consequences of rebellion 

Life continues to be challenging.  It requires work and a steadfast heart.  Evil is our constant enemy.  But, don't you think it makes us hunger after the perfection God originally planned?  Doesn't it make us long for the kingdom for which we were designed?


Still, in the struggle we are shown the mercy and graciousness of God in glimpses of His perfection.  There is beauty in the sweetness of loving relationships and in the myriad glories of nature and the human spirit: a lovely rose bud, a child’s laughter, a spider intricately spinning its web, the variety of teeming ocean life and lush rain forests, music and art, random acts of kindness,  soaring mountains and deepest nights of a thousand sparkling stars. 

Do we not gasp at the ever changing displays of God’s perfect order and beauty in the universe? God is good.  He delights in His creation.  He shows favor and mercy to those who long for Him.


Before the Father revealed Himself through His Son Jesus, Moses had prayed to the God he knew as a thundering voice in a burning bush of fire on a smoking, trembling Mt. Sinai.  God had shown Himself as a pillar of fire and a pillar of cloud, and spoke intimately with Moses who deeply pleased Him.


Yet, even as deep as their relationship was, it is interesting that Moses still wanted to know more of His God.  Could He possibly see the true essence of God?


So Moses prayed one day, “Please, show me Thy glory.”  And the Lord answered, “I will make all My goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.  Ex 33:19   Wow!  Glory to God for He is Goodness! So sing!

 
Christ Himself is the goodness of God.  “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”  John 14:9
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  John 1:14


Great God,  How we praise You for Your goodness and mercy!   You do not give us what we truly deserve.   With reverent awe we bow humbly before You and rejoice that You lift us up and make us to stand firmly upon the Rock: Jesus, full of truth and grace.    Amen
.

Day 8   -   January 8, 2012

The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy.   Verse 8


If you had any confusion over why we give praise and thanks to God, here it is, clearly set before us by David who knew personally the goodness of God.  What a King we serve!


I went to prison today.  As I ministered in music and shared Psalm 145 with the inmates, I asked if anyone would like to do as David did:  tell, speak, shout out, exclaim why they were thankful to God and energetically giving Him praise.   I mean, there was some extremely great energy in there today!
At least 17 guys in two services stood up to say basically the same thing: I am so thankful that God loves me, even though I’ve made mistakes.  I’m thanking Him for bringing me here, stopping me in my tracks, cuz I should’ve been dead.  He has given me a second chance to get to know Him and follow Him.   I know God is with me and I am a better man because of Him.  I know He’s watching over my family and I will be a better father and husband because the Lord is in my heart.


I could barely control my tears to witness the bold humility of men who have truly embraced their Savior!   The reality of it was thick.  I am so privileged to worship with them once a month.  They get it.  I once was blind, but now I see.  He has rescued my life from the pit of destruction. 

Shout halleluia!


Oh, that we may never take for granted the great kindness of Our Lord or diminish the value of His Holy Spirit at work!


One young man got up and shared a rap tune he wrote teaching others of the goodness of God, the change in his own life and issuing a warning not to ignore the Savior of the World.  It was so awesome!


Another older man said he was so grateful that after all these years, after trying all sorts of paths to get along in life, and many incarcerations, he decided to give God a try!  Now, he is a testimony to his grown children, and he never stops talking about how happy  he is in the Lord. He said, “as long as I focus on serving others, I know I will be on God’s side.”    Good insight for us all.


Gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, rich in mercy.  Jesus personified these four attributes of God.   With compassion He looked upon those who came to Him for healing of all kinds of diseases of the body, mind and heart.  He still does.


Holy Lord, You are worthy of our praise.  Great is Your compassion and Your mercies are new every morning.  How blessed we are to get a fresh start with You every single day.  We thank You, O Lord Jesus Christ! Amen.

Day 7  -  January 7, 2012

 

“They shall abundantly utter the memory of your great goodness, and shall sing of your righteousness.” Verse 7

Abundant.:  Insanely full and huge.  Bubbling and boiling over.  It is intense and beyond comprehension. 

Gushing with force like the Old Faithful Geyser and the fiery explosion of Mt. Vesuvius all at the same time!   God’s greatness is intense. .

Our praise therefore must be intense:  Fervent and flaming, vehement, zealous and affectionate.  Now that’s a list of vocabulary words! 

Our praise must be full of life and vigorous, and our hearts and tongues engaged in devoted, deliberate joyful praise.  Why?

What honor or worth is there in lifeless praise?  Is the “Man of the Year” honored if at the banquet his name is never mentioned?  Is he acknowledged if his accomplishments are never listed?  Ah, is he rewarded if everyone sits at table texting or net surfing on their cell phones while a brief and boring speech is given?

What honor is there if not a sound is uttered when that game winning touchdown is scored?

Hah!  A roar of ecstatic appreciation and excitement enough to burst a blood vessel is the norm! High fives, hugs and shouts of joy result.   Newspaper headlines, 5, 6, 7 and 11 o’clock news reports.  Interviews with players and coaches and endless reviews of the critical plays of the game.  Intensity, short-term.

God is intense, long-term and forever!   Our praises must aspire to measure up to the worthiness of that intensity, that abundance, that goodness.   We cannot exceed the Truth. Our praise can never be too “over the top”.

Let it pour out!  Let it gush and let it be fluent and fiery.  Pile it on.  Build it up, get lost in it, because lifeless praise is no praise at all.  

As you enter into exuberant, joyful praise you will find yourself at a loss.  The utterance of speech will fail.  But, the utterance of the fully engaged heart and spirit will abound.   Ask the Holy Spirit to speak audibly through you the praise of the King.  Open your mouth.  He will offer the praises of a thousand tongues!

Sing of His righteousness, His absolute holiness and perfection and judgment.  Singer that I am, I eagerly enter into songs declaring God’s goodness, mercy, forgiveness and love. 

The Cross of Christ, the mysterious means by which God has ministered both justice and mercy to poor sinners, is the gift we rejoice in, His righteousness for the forgiveness of sins.  Halleluia, O Holy God.  Praise to You, Lord Jesus Christ!     Make His praise glorious with this awesome song of worship today.

Day 6  - January 6, 2012

"And men shall speak of the might of your terrible and wondrous acts: and I will declare your greatness."  Verse  6


David’s desire and vow was that every generation would continually praise and worship the Lord God as King over all creation.  He knew the importance of reverencing the God of Perfect Love and Perfect Justice.  God Almighty had displayed His power, authority and judgment over His people Israel throughout the ages. 

Force, might, earthquakes, a massive flood, drought, pestilence, wars, captivity, fire and destructive hailing brimstone; all of these were consequences of sin and disobedience.  

A righteous and holy King must at times back up His authority with action.  Yet, a remnant of rebellious Israel was always preserved, and forgiven as they repented and returned again to love and serve the Lord.  


Some will always say that a true God of love and life would never visit such terror upon His people.  Yet, it is the stubborn heart refusing to follow the instruction given for ultimate protection, health and safety that wrestles with the resulting brokenness, shame and anguish, even death. 

   The truly loving parent sets boundaries for his child for his protection, and teaches him ways that are profitable for his body, mind and spirit.   Yet, we know too well of cases when that teen becomes certain they can chart their own course, or that spouse begins to lust elsewhere, or that man relies on his own pride, or we indulge our appetites for destructive things. 

    In stubbornness and rebellion, we may make choices that reap devastating consequences which forever alter the awesome destiny God had planned.


David remembered Israel’s history.  He knew God’s terrible might had defeated Israel’s enemies, and reprimanded her idolatry.  But God’s mighty plan also put him on the throne, and forgave him his sin of adultery and murder even though the punishment required by law should have been death.  No wonder He continually praised God!


Through the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ, God the Son, we have received the cleansing and forgiveness that covers all the sin we have committed or will commit in the future.  This is an amazing gift, one for which the Giver deserves continual praise!

He is seated upon His throne and has prepared a place for each of us to reign with Him now and forever when we invite Him to be Lord of our lives.    David’s heart for God was marked by sincere repentance and gratitude.  He made a place for God in his heart.  When we do the same, He will surely fill it.

 

Lord, today I give you my heart. 

 Deuteronomy 10:21 He is your praise; he is your God, who performed for you those great and awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes.

Break me, mold me, fill me, use me for your glory. Amen.

 

Day 5  - January 5, 2012

 

 "I will speak of the glorious honor of your majesty, and of your wondrous works." Verse 5

David is emphatic.  He is even redundant.  He cannot say it often enough.  He declares, boldly and conspicuously, that he is a worshiper of the Most High God.  His heart overflows with love for his King, to the point of repeating once more his vow and promise to tell of the greatness of the Lord in all He has done.

What is the “glorious honor of your majesty”?  Another translation says  “glorious splendor of your majesty.”   David had a way with words!

Splendor illustrates to me things like the Taj Majal, or the Luray Caverns.  One was made by man, the other by natural changes in the earth.  Each is unique, one of a kind, spectacular in its form and beauty.  There is nothing else like them in this world.

The glorious splendor of the majesty of God is other-worldly:  supernatural, divine.  There is nothing that can be compared to Him:  The brightness of His glory, the express image of His person, revealed in Jesus Christ, all that is great, extraordinary, wonderful, sublime.  His perfect authority, excellency and power is over heaven and earth, men and angels.  He is altogether righteous, just and holy in all His ways.

As we meditate on these attributes of God we become undone, laid out flat, when we consider His extravagant love for us, His unbreakable covenant , and His redemptive plan for all who choose to participate. 

O, the wonder of His love, the mercy and grace in His plan, that even though it was through one man that sin and death entered the world, yet, it is by the one Man, Jesus Christ, that we are made righteous before God,  and death has no power over us anymore.   Amen. Halleluia! 

God, my Father, how majestic is your name in all the earth!  The more my heart is fixed upon who You are, the more it is filled up to overflow with praise.  I will boast of Your great love and drink deeply of it. 

Out of the abundance of my heart, my mouth will speak praise and honor and glory to You as long as I live.  For it is through You,  with You and in You that I live and move and have my being.  May it all be for your pleasure and your praise.  Amen.

Day 4    - January 4, 2012

 “One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts.”  Verse 4

It goes without saying that families share their stories.  Their common history knits them together as one.   They share Great Grandma’s recipes, have certain traditions for the holidays, and make online photo albums to document the milestones of life. 

We see Mom and Dad on their wedding day, and then holding our tiny hands as we took our first steps.  Then there are all those crazy family vacations, and that endless car trip cross country.  Memories.

 Then, looking at photos of Pap from WWII, and reading his letters to Gram, brings up a different kind of story; stories of sacrifice, courage, valor, might, and victory. 

He tells you of sheer and certain miracles, and you hang on every word.   Hearing of a Great Uncle’s escape from Poland before the Nazi invasion sends shivers down your spine, and again, the provision of God is clear.  

Dad tells how God brought us through a business failure and bankruptcy to see His glory and guide our path.  

Sharing how a brother lost his life in Haiti during the earthquake while on a mission trip in the name of Jesus  Christ eases the loss, knowing that, the soul which dies trusting in Christ receives eternity with Christ, and we will all see each other again one day. 

These are some of the ways we are connected to one another in a family.  The memories, and the stories, identify us as members of this special circle.

Our faith should be part of the stories we share through the generations.   When we have experienced the power of God we ought to tell of it.   How else will they know?  Do we live like Jesus is on the scene?

“Whom shall I send?” asks the Lord.

David made a promise to God in verse 4 that it would be done.  He mandated it.   In all his psalms he recounted the wondrous works of God throughout history, and in his story.  

It is our turn.

“….and I shall declare Your mighty acts.”  Declare means to stand out boldly, to announce, expose or make conspicuous.  In our Facebook culture we have become more conspicuous than ever!

I challenge everyone to post a conspicuous praise, and declare the Lord’s valor, might and strength for everyone else to read.  Let’s bring Psalm 145 alive in 2012.  Tell what He’s done for you!

As we praise God with bold proclamations of His personal involvement with us, we remove the abstraction of God, and reveal Him to those who have yet to meet Him.   Nobody can deny your experience of God.  They may choose not to believe it, but your passion won’t be missed.

Jesus is alive.  He reigns eternally and He is coming back again.  Until He does, we praise His works to the next generation.  Go tell it on the mountain…..or on Facebook.

Father God, 

You have made us part of Your family through the shed blood of Your Son Jesus Christ.  Thank you that we are adopted, accepted, chosen, blessed, and forgiven.  You have made us heirs with Christ of all the spiritual blessings of Your kingdom. 

O Lord, stir up your Holy Spirit within us to make Your praise glorious!  Just look at all You have done for us, and You are not yet finished.  Thank you for the way that You love us.  Amen.

Day 3  of  31 Days of Praise

Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised.  His greatness is unsearchable.”  Verse 3


Can you sense the depth of David’s fervent devotion?   He is overwhelmed by the majesty of God. It is almost as though he is experiencing exasperation over the limitations of language to express the limitlessness of an eternal God.


The LORD is Infinite in goodness, in wisdom and love, superbly artistic in creation, dazzling in brightness as even the angels cover their faces with their wings in His presence.   He is all powerful, all knowing, everywhere present at all times, with no beginning and no end.  How great He is, indeed.


Yet, God, the Almighty One, desires fellowship with us.  Incredible.   The Creator wants intimacy with His creatures.   His perfection and majesty is beyond our comprehension, yet He has revealed His heart of love, forgiveness and compassion to us, even on our worst days.


The vastness of a clear, starlit night sky, the immensity of soaring mountain ranges, the most thunderous storm and the ceaseless crashing of endlessly rolling ocean waves cannot compare to the greatness of the LORD, the beauty of the LORD.


There will never be enough praise, enough instruments and choirs, or enough concertos and symphonies composed to  adequately honor the splendor of the King.  


O, Awesome God, what exquisite joy we feel to know the Great I Am speaks to us in a still small voice and is well pleased with the simplest song of a devoted heart.   Though unworthy in and of ourselves, You have clothed us in the righteousness of Christ and given us a new song to sing.  Halleluia, great are You, Lord
.

Chris Tomlin leads us in worshiping our

Amazing God.

 

Day 2  -   January 2, 2012

“Every day will I bless you, and I will praise your name forever and ever.”  Verse 2


We are daily in His grip.  His mercies are new towards us every morning.  He neither sleeps nor slumbers.  He will never leave us or forsake us.   Can we do any less than bow before Him daily and throughout the day in sweet affection, loving devotion and grateful praise?


As if to make it very clear that it would be offensive to his King, and ludicrous as the King’s servant to even  try to measure out his acclamations of praise, David punctuates his song with “forever….and ever.”    There is not one infinitesimal ingredient in our lives which is beyond the view of God, the grace of God, the love of God.  He who has counted the number of hairs on our heads and keeps us in our comings and our goings deserves many thanks, mighty thanks, continual thanks.  Praise God!


Last evening, as my husband and I were praying for his effective visit with a troubled friend this week, the words of Psalm 34: 7 came to mind:

  “The angel of the Lord encamps around all those who fear him and He delivers them.”  I was praying protection over my husband and the defeat of spiritual darkness when these words were delivered to me by our precious God the Holy Spirit.


This morning, I went to pray through Psalm 34 and what a surprise!   I had forgotten.  David opens this psalm with the same words as Psalm 145 in the NIV  translation, “I will extol the Lord at all times, his praise will always be on my lips.”   

Same heart of praise, same magnificent  spirit of worship.


Interestingly as well, after posting Day 1 of this study, I spent time on my back porch just worshiping the Lord, recounting His wonderful character and meditating on His holiness which we will never truly grasp until the day we meet Him. 

 
 Suddenly, the sky offered me such a beautiful Celestial Slide Show, and a new song welled up inside of me.   I put it all together to share with you here.  The words from my heart came from Psalm 34 in verse 3:  “Magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name together.”


God is good!  He is at work, creating anew heart, a more exuberant heart of praise in each of us for His pleasure and His glory.   Guess what?  Our joy increases, too.


Lord Jesus Christ,   How You love us and draw us near.  It is my greatest desire, O Master of the Universe, to live a life of praise.    O, master my heart, Lord Jesus.

 
Thank you that you designed us for Your glorious praise because entering in truly showers us with joy inexplicable, and peace which surpasses all understanding.  

How I love to stand in Your grace!   I lift You up today, Lord.  I extol Your Mighty Name.   Amen.

Day 1  - January 1, 2012

"I will extol you, my God, O King, and I will bless your name forever and ever."  Verse 1

King David was accustomed to great honor as the leader of his people. Yet, since childhood, as a shepherd in the fields experiencing time alone with God, David knew Who held the office of True and Righteous King.  The Lord God had given him the heart of a king, courageous and full of integrity.  Trusting in his King, David killed the lions, crushed Goliath, survived Saul's murderous pursuits and defeated all his enemies.

He loved his Lord who was his strength.  Yet, personal failure and the consequences of sin marred David's life, as it often does our own.  Still, David worshiped his King from the depths of his soul, and knew the great joy of repentance that restored his relationship with his King.   No wonder we hear such passion in his songs of praise!

To extol is to lift up, shout out praise and admiration to such a high and lofty place that it is heard and seen as far as the east is from the west.  Imagine such a thunderous sound!

Far more admirable than the greatest of men, greater than Moses or Abraham, Jesus Christ is the King of the World, King of Kings, appointed by God the Father.  This great King is not a creature, but the Mighty God who reigns by His Spirit with love and grace and truth. He is worthy of extreme and lavish praise!

We esteem Him highly, and bow in adoration of His holiness and perfection.  We magnify Him, make Him large in our lives and praise the Name which has bought our salvation.  His name is of such precious value.   His name is strength, it is power, it is mercy, it is healing, it is grace.

Jesus, Your Name is LIFE!   The praise of God is as eternal as God is eternal.

Lord Jesus, today  I WILL BLESS your name, and strive to grow in personal affection for you always  I will continually bow in adoration no matter my condition or circumstance. You are worthy, O Lord of all praise, honor and glory. Thank you for the privilege of entering Your throne room of grace.   Amen. 

The PSALMS are SONGS meant to be sung.   Here's the one that's been running through my head today.

 

31 DAYS OF PRAISE - PSALM 145                      FOR JANUARY 2012

              

REFERENCES :

    AMERICAN KING JAMES VERSION

       A SPECIAL ACROSTIC RENDERING

 

Day 22    -  Verse 16

 

You open your hand, and satisfy the desire of every living thing. Verse 16

God’s nature is to give, and then give some more.  He did not withhold His own Son, but sent him to be the ransom for our sin.   Will He then hold back from us any good thing?    Romans 8:32 says that if God has already shown us His greatest mercy in providing for this priority need for salvation, won’t He also take care of the lesser needs of man?

What we have is friendship with God.  This is so amazing! Free and fearless we can enjoy a personal and intimate relationship with Love Divine.  This friendship will never end.  It is not fickle, or moody.  It is steady, firm and constant, reliable and trustworthy.   

It will forever be filled with compassion and strength.   This friendship can’t be purchased with money or good deeds.  This friendship has been forged in blood.   This grace-filled friendship in which we stand is a relationship that cannot be broken or bartered or altered in any way. 

We either choose to accept and enjoy it, or refuse to respond to it at all.

As tough as the path of life can be, I understand that sometimes it feels like quite a stretch to believe that God is on the scene working to satisfy our desires.   But, if our one true desire is friendship with Him, then nothing else can ever take His place.

Think of some of the metaphors for God’s friendship supplied to us in Jesus Christ:   He is the Fountain of Life, the Light by which we see, the Bread of Life, the True Vine, the Way, the Truth, the Life. 

He is the Door, the Gate, a Rock, a Fortress, a Strong Tower.   He is Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last.  He is the Lion of Judah, the Hound of Heaven, the Lamb of God.  He is the Living Word of God and in Haggai 2:7 He is the “desire of all nations”.

 In the depths of life’s struggles, with illness, disappointments, divorce, economic uncertainties, and all the rest, His credentials offer us comfort and strength and solutions.     Choose to make your relationship with God your one great desire, and He takes care of the rest. 

Lord, Please strengthen my desire to know You better, because You already know everything about me.  Not a word or thought escapes Your knowledge, so certainly there is no circumstance or trouble in my life that is beyond Your reach.  

Help me to trust You more and more, to cast all my cares upon You for You care for us, and I will rest in the promise that You will make a way for me.  Amen.

 

Day 23

The LORD is righteous in all his ways, and holy in all his works. Verse 17


Whenever we see all capital letters for LORD, we are reading the rendering of the proper Name of God, Yahweh, in Hebrew.  He is the Self-Existent and Eternal One, the One Who Was, Who Is and Who Is to Come.

The “Great I Am” is also the Covenant Maker, and the Covenant Keeper.  Glory to God!  We have an unbreakable contract with God Almighty, our Maker, Redeemer and Friend.


This Eternally Existent God is perfectly righteous.  Righteous means just, lawful, perfectly right, without error, and pure.   He can do no wrong.  God is love, and what a joy and comfort to know that love is His motivation towards His creation. 

Today, I want to encourage you, even as I encourage myself, to say this verse out loud, with faith and excitement.  Speak the truth, even when your feeble human mind wants to doubt it!


I have spoken with people who just don’t see how a perfectly holy and loving God could allow so much pain in the world.   I always respond, “It ain’t a perfect world!”  Not anymore.  It started out that way.  We must remember that God is the author of good.   But, when the first act of rebellion took place in the garden, everything changed.  As soon as man was deceived into thinking he knew better than the Holy One, the door was opened to the influence of Evil. 

 
Satan is the author of pain, disease, corruption, greed, selfishness, murder, envy and every other evil thing that gives birth to the trouble in this world.  Sadly, we can be affected by these things since we are living in this natural, imperfect world.  But, we are not alone in it.


Sometimes, the troubles we personally face are the result of our actions.  Actions cause reactions and have consequences.    In the moral sense, the Bible teaches we reap what we sow.  That is also pretty evident as a universal fact of life, even if you never heard God’s Word.   Just look at the trouble we suffer for  over extending our own credit card debt, or ill health due to our lifestyle choices.


None of this impacts or changes the character of God.  Even when we cannot understand a difficult circumstance or a great grief in this life, still we know Who He is, and place our hope and trust in His ability and His promise to be our supply, our strength, and our teacher.  He helps us clean up our messes when we yield to Him.

 In our times of greatest weakness, we learn to depend upon Him even more.  This hope will not disappoint.


Romans Chapter 5 tells us that because of Christ, we now have peace with God, so that means we can trust Him.  In addition to that peace, we can even “rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character, hope.   And that hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”  

 Ah, we keep in mind that His ways bring joy to our lives.  We also keep in mind that this life is temporary.  We are en route to the City of God!


Yes, He is righteous and altogether holy.  He has already provided generously for us a path for salvation and redemption, and He will always build our strong character even through circumstances not of our making.  

If you have ever walked through a valley, and come out victoriously on the other side knowing God was your helper, then you know what I’m talking about.  Can I get an “Amen” here?


Glorious LORD, How grateful I am that You are forever on the throne of Heaven and of my heart, pouring life into my spirit, and walking with me on this journey.  You are my strength when I am weak, my comfort in sorrow, my hope for each day.  I am confident in Your amazing love.  Amen. 

Day 24  Verse 18

 

The LORD is near to all them that call on him, to all that call on him in truth. Verse 18

David states this truth emphatically.  There is no

”maybe”, or “might be”, or conditional “if this or that.”

The Great Covenant Maker and Covenant Keeper,  the LORD IS NEAR to ALL who call upon Him in TRUTH.

Oh, this is a mighty truth.  But, sometimes our hearts are so dull to understand it!  Our minds are too distracted to focus on it.  We often base all our decisions and reactions on our emotional responses to the world around us.  Life speeds by and comes at us in a blur.  We can feel so overwhelmed and have no foothold against it. 

But, hold on a minute!  Are you a child of the Most High God?  Then why do you live in fear?   Why do you live in worry?  Do you know that He is Your Shelter, Your Shade, Your Rock, Your Covering, Your Helper, Your Refuge, Your Strength, Your Savior?

David’s life is such a fantastic example to us.  One of the most well-known and deeply loved stories in probably all of history is that of David’s confident defeat of Goliath.  Even today, people love to see the underdog win!   But, David’s victory was the result of his righteous, fearless confidence in the Lord, not in his own strength or skills.

With all of the armies of Israel trembling in fear at the stronger Philistine army, not a single soldier was willing to face one on one combat with the enormously strong, and insulting Goliath.  I bet he was real ugly, too!  To think that this young lad, probably only 16 or 17 would step out in righteous anger and confidence against this towering monster.

Oh, the idealism of youth, huh?  I remember spouting off in teenage righteousness about the evils of the world, politics, war, and corruption.  But, David was quite different.  He was indeed confrontational, but he knew Who would win the battle as he just stepped out with what he had….a slingshot and a sincere heart for God.

You might want to review the story and be inspired once more.  It is in the first book of Samuel, chapter 17.  David boldly went out saying, “The LORD will deliver you over to me, and I’ll cut off your head and feed your carcass to the birds! And all will know that it is not by the sword that I have won.  The battle belongs to the LORD!”

In sincerity of heart, faithful and confident, fully trusting in Who God is, we, too, can face our battles.

He is near, even dwelling within us.  His grace has removed the burden of our sins.  His blood has been sprinkled over our minds to purify our consciences and renew us to serve Him.  His sacrifice has brought us into this relationship.  We are never alone.  We come to the Lord with what we have, and He will transform it into something powerful for His glory.

Thank you, O My Lord, that I can trust in your goodness at all times.  I rejoice in your awesome and eternal presence with me today.  You are my peace, my joy, my confidence.   Amen.

 

titDay 26le

 

He will fulfill the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them. Verse 19

Boy, oh boy, all this talk about desire is really an effort, isn’t it?  Honestly, the unspiritual side of us wants to have our cake and eat it, too!   But, that very physical side of us absolutely does need to eat!  We most definitely have hungers that need to be satisfied!

Recently, I have been praying for people facing some very difficult circumstances: cancer, job loss, marriage problems, and tense times.    You know, even though we have all gone through our valleys from time to time, it’s never quite the same as what someone else may be experiencing.  And yet, God puts us in another person’s life to be an encouragement, to be a friend, to be a prayer partner.

Prayer partners are so important.  Sometimes, we just don’t know how to pray in the midst of our own situation.   At times, I know for myself, God has really spoken to me through the prayers of my prayer partner.   Something she prays out loud just pierces my heart, as they say!

Her words, spoken in faith, will just resonate for me about God’s faithfulness.  And His WORD, spoken in faith, breathes life back into my soul.  To “fear” Him, which means to truly stand in reverent awe of His power and His amazing love, is most certainly the first place to be.  In fact, I like the phrase “to be desperate for Him”.  In verse 19, I sense some desperation in David’s voice.  He had been a fugitive running for his very life!  He certainly had some big time needs.  

Maybe we feel at times like we are running for our lives.  We might be in a desperate situation.  And though we already know that our greatest need is for salvation and a right relationship with God through Jesus, we also surely have physical problems, struggles and mountains in our lives that need to be dealt with.

Verse 19 suggests an important solution:  cry out to Him.  God always beckons us to come to Him, even though He is already aware of our circumstance.  It is our act of faith and trust, communicating with Him, inviting Him into our situation,  that will release His power to bring comfort, peace and solutions.  This may sound like an over-simplification, but this really is the blueprint we’ve been given.

Matthew Chapter 7, verse 7 holds some timeless famous words of Jesus:  “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”   Persistence, never wavering trust, and patience are at work here.  We align ourselves with whatever God’s best is for us, and we have confidence that, because He is love, and He is altogether good and righteous, it will work out well for us. 

He follows up those words with the analogy of how a loving parent responds to his child.  If that child asks for bread, would the parent give him a stone?  If he asks for a fish, will he give him a snake? 

 There was a time when my husband was out of work, we were out of cash, with a pile of bills, 3 young boys and a dog and I was literally on my face daily crying out to God, “I know You have promised to be our help, our provider, our strength.  Lord, I am trusting you, but so far I am not seeing a solution to our immediate problems. “   I was desperate!

So, one day, I wiped away my tears and cleaned up the house a bit, with a heavy heart, wondering how much longer we’d be able to stay in it.  Do you know what happened?  The phone rang.

It was our pastor.  He asked if he could stop by for a minute.  He was in the neighborhood.

What?  I was sure glad I had just finished cleaning up a bit!  It could get pretty hairy with 3 boys under the age of 8 running around.    “Sure,” I said.  “Is something wrong?”

(Why does my mind go there?  But, this was a first.  I was not a “friend” of the pastor that he would just be stopping in for a visit.)

Well, no sooner did I hang up the phone and, literally, he was pulling into my driveway.  I was actually surprised he knew where we lived……..

I welcomed him in, offered him a glass of water, which he refused.  “No, thanks.  I am only here as a messenger and I’ll be on my way.  Somebody at church, who wants to remain anonymous, asked me to deliver this to you with love and prayers for your family.”

He handed me an envelope.  I was shaking.  This was way too weird.  Twilight Zone weird.  As my quivering hands struggled to open the envelope, it revealed a large stack of $20 bills, I estimated at least several hundred dollars.   A gasp of astonishment escaped before I knew it, and I could not control the tears running down my face.  I was speechless.

Pastor said, “Evidently, God spoke to someone about your need.  Be blessed.  Be encouraged.  I’ll see you Sunday.  Bye, now.”

LORD, we praise You, our faithful, Covenant God.  You are worthy of all honor and praise, because You are altogether good, wise, powerful and timely.  Nothing is too hard for You.  I am grateful that You have invited me to dwell beneath the shadow of Your wings.   I believe.   Amen.

Day 25 - Verse 18

 

The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him truth.  Verse 18

Living a life that truly reflects this verse requires some time with God and some life experience.  Oh, I may read the Word of God. I may be stunned by its beauty and poetry.  I may even be impressed by the great and wondrous works of God for His people Israel which are recorded in rich detail.  Stories of impossible battles won, and the laws of nature defied, and larger than life leaders, true heroes jump off the pages. 

Many folks who have not yet received the gift of salvation and the Holy Spirit’s presence are only able to see the Bible as a story book, even a fairy tale.  Of course, those same people usually have not read much of it.  However, a closer look would reveal more than they might imagine.

Any soap opera today pales in comparison to the triumphs and failures, loyalties and betrayals, rapes, murders, even incest, jealousy, robberies and lies recorded in the Word of God.   The Bible is full of every kind of seedy disgusting human trait and activity.  So, do you think it might have any relevance for us in 2012?

Out of the ash heap of human failures, God raised up leaders to point out a better way, and ultimately, to point to THE WAY, THE TRUTH, THE LIFE,  JESUS CHRIST, the only One who can saves.

David’s life ran the gamut from hero to fugitive, to king to adulterer and murderer.  He was far from perfect, yet God said that he was a man after His own heart.  When the prophet Nathan came to David to confront him about his sin with Bathsheba, David was still in denial about it.  As far as David was concerned, it was his secret that he had sent her husband off to die in battle and took her for himself.

Yet, God knew of David’s sin.  God knew that when sin is left to fester, without confession and repentance, it will rob a person of the fullness and joy God intends for every soul.  David’s life would never be as effective as God desired for him unless he took responsibility for his actions and asked for the forgiveness that God was ready to provide.  If you haven’t read the account, and the cool way that Nathan opened David’s eyes to his need for repentance, you can find it in the book of  2 Samuel Chapter 12.  David immediately repented, and surely was renewed and restored.  Out of that grief came his beautiful Psalm 51 which says in verse 10, “Create a pure heart in me, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.”  Whew!  That sounds like a new man!

It is hard to draw near to God when we know something deep inside is bothering us.  It feels good to get things off your chest.  Whatever things we have been hiding, well, nothing is hidden from God.  I know it.  You know it.  He knows it.  So, what are we going to do with it?

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18

You came near when I called you, and you said, "Do not fear." Lamentations 3:57

The LORD is far from the wicked but he hears the prayer of the righteous.  Proverbs 15:29

 

 

Praise God, that though we sin, and break our relationship with Him because of it, He beckons us to come to Him and lay that thing down at the foot of His cross.  Jesus offered his blood to cleanse you and me from that sin.  Don’t let it rob you of the deepest joy in knowing Him.  Don’t let it keep you from the total freedom Jesus purchased for you on Calvary.  Confess, repent, turn from it, and rise up in the glorious Resurrection power of forgiveness.  Behold, I make all things new……

 

Gracious Lord, It is no wonder we call it “Amazing Grace”.  You reach out your hand of forgiveness to us over and over again.  Help us never to insult your great love and mercy by deliberate disobedience.  May our hearts be pure, even as David’s, in recognizing our need of You.  Disicpline and disciple us, Lord, to live out Your purpose for our lives, and experience the freedom we have in You.  Amen.

Day 27  -Verse 19

Today, the Lord reminded me that I am not helpless or hopeless.  Nope.
Oh, yes, my flesh will cry out to Him and He will answer.  He has given me special standing before Him as an heir to the kingdom of God.   I am his child, and therefore a co-heir with Jesus, God the Son. 
As an heir of the kingdom of God, I have also received the good inheritance of my Father.  My inner man, or spirit being, as the Bible calls it, is eternal, and will eternally enjoy God, now and forever, after I ditch this earthly flesh and bone dwelling I presently inhabit.  He will hear my cry and answer me.  He already has!

The Gospel of John spells it out for us:     “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”   “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
In the book of Genesis we read about the beginning as well: The Word, God and the Spirit which hovered over the deep were all there.  The Trinity was there in the beginning.   However, the Word had not yet been wrapped in flesh to be manifested to us.  When the time was right, though, God spoke to a young virgin named Mary, and asked her to be the vessel to bring salvation to the world.
 When she responded with words of faith, “Let it be done to me as you have said,” she became pregnant with the Word.  The Word was then wrapped in flesh and became known to mankind as Jesus, the Christ, the Savior of the World.
Why am I reviewing this?  The Word is Jesus.  Jesus is the Word, the Word of God.  After Jesus, the Word, purchased my righteousness with His blood, and the Father accepted that perfect offering on my behalf, and on your behalf, Jesus returned to heaven, but left us equipped to live as kingdom citizens.
He gave us power and authority by the Holy Spirit and His written Word.  Jesus is my advocate, the mediator between me and the Father. Jesus is still and always with me as I consume his Word and stand upon it daily.
Jesus has made the way for my righteousness.  He demonstrated what flesh can do when empowered by the Word.  “Man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4
Here is what I believe, it is what the Bible teaches, and it is truth that has transformed my life and gives me God’s perspective on this temporary existence:  
For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12
Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.  Ephesians 6:12
We are in a battle.  Study the Word and wield it as your sword of power. We are not hopeless or helpless or powerless.  The Word which is JESUS, the Word which is Life, the written Word which the Holy Spirit causes to burn in our hearts, and transform our minds, gives us power to defeat the Enemy.
Shut the mouth of the Enemy and renew your mind with the Word.  We have been made the righteousness of God, through our faith in Jesus. 
Speak what you know is true.  We are blessed, we are chosen, we are loved, we are equipped.  God is with us, God is for us, I am His precious child.  The Lord goes before us always.  
 Remember, like David, the battle is already won in the Lord; live it out in His strength.  Demonstrate what you believe in your heart, and He will be faithful to produce the results, according to His perfect plan. 
Almighty God, Precious Jesus,  I will never lose confidence in the goodness of my LORD. Amen.

Day 28-More on Verse 19

He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him, He will also hear their cry and will save them. Verse 19

Do we fear the Lord?  What does that look like?  My brother –in-law, facing a brain tumor, spoke with me about this.  He told me he had a hard time with the concept of putting trust in a God whom he was also supposed to be afraid of.  He said, “How can I trust in the goodness of a God who also expects me to fear Him?”

Good question.  It makes sense from a logical perspective.   Many wives and children know a man who can be both loving and fierce.   I guess there are some women like that, too.   But this verse is so full of promise, as is the command to fear the Lord, Your God.   This verse even appears to set up a reciprocal arrangement.  Like so many biblical principles, if you sow you will reap, if you show mercy you will receive mercy, if you give it will be gathered back to you tenfold and more.

So what does the word “fear” mean in the Bible?  How can we make that relevant for us today?  If we don’t experience answers to our prayers, is there something missing?

Well, from an early age I was taught that ‘fear of the Lord’ is a bit different from fear we experience with regard to danger.   Here we are referring to reverential awe and wonder at the magnificence of God, the strength and power of God, that truly is something to be feared.  But, we also reverence and appreciate the amazing love of God that moves us to feel compelled to please Him.  We never want to displease Him, not out of terror, but because of our having a great respect for not only His authority, but His WORTH.  The VALUE of His relationship to us is absolutely PRICELESS.  I found it interesting when I researched the word a bit more deeply, that it is a variation of the word Fere which means companion or mate.  Isn’t that interesting?

Shall we then be afraid of God, terrified of His power, and His justice?   Well, without the blood of Christ that has already won our pardon, yes!    In Matthew 10:28, Jesus said, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”  It has been made clear and there is no excuse.  Way back when God gave the law to Moses it was spelled out that man had been given a choice.  Most folks equate the name of Moses with the 10 Commandments.  While that is true, I really like the other words God spoke to Israel, and to us, through Moses.  In Deuteronomy Chapter 30,( oh, go read it slowly and pray for wisdom to let it penetrate your heart!) the command is to turn to the Lord, follow His ways, with your whole heart and soul….conscious decision!   In verses 9 and 10 He makes a reciprocal deal:  If you follow My laws, and Serve me, I will prosper you and take care of your enemies for you.  Doesn’t that sound pretty good?

But, here is the clincher:  Verse 19 This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live…For the Lord is your life, and He will give you many years in the land….”

 

We should be more terrified of life without God!   Paul expounds the benefits of life with God in   2Corinthians 6:16, “For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, ‘I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.’ ” He was quoting from the Old Testament prophet, Ezekiel.  

So many times, Jesus and the inspired writers of God’s Word, get to the heart of the matter:  God wants us to align ourselves with Him, enjoy the blessings and promises of His kingdom, and live a life that looks quite different to those who don’t yet have their connection with the Almighty.  So, today, ask yourself, as I am asking myself, “Does my life look different because of Jesus?  Am I walking in the power of the Holy Spirit, in His strength, with hope and confidence in spite of hardship?  Have I pondered the Word in my heart and spoken that life-giving Word as my weapon against my circumstances?

Yes, I fear the Lord.  I respect His awesome Worth.  I am in awe of how much He loves me and cares for me.  I rejoice that He gives me access to His power by His Word and the Holy Spirit.   There is no slavish dread in this relationship.  I am confident of these things:  My God is a very present help in time of trouble.  Psalm 46:1   Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil. You are with me. Psalm 23  

But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.   2 Corinthians 2:14 

Halleluia!  What a Savior!  Halleluia!  What a friend! Amen.

Day 29

 

Day 29 Verse 19

Today my husband John and I worshiped with inmates at the Allegheny Jail in Pittsburgh. 

I have shared about our last visit two weeks ago.  Today,  I just want to praise the Lord for His involvement.  What is so awesome about God’s timing and the Holy Spirit at work is how He always coordinates our efforts without our foreknowledge.

You see, John and I don’t “plan” our worship time with the inmates…not exactly.  We pray, of course, ask the Holy Spirit to lead us and then go on in to lead the services.  We follow what the Lord puts on our hearts to share.

As I led the singing, and the Spirit fired up our hearts to praise, I felt led to share a Bible story that is so familiar to church going Christians, but not at all familiar to so many inmates.  Guys from the streets, busted for drug deals, theft, assault, rape and weapons violations, understand things much differently than the rest of us.

They understand about hiding things, and trying not to get caught.   They understand about being ruled by feelings, circumstances and needs.  They understand about anger, blame and betrayal.  They also understand about making wrong choices and suffering the consequences.

  Gee, doesn’t that list look like it applies to me and to you, too?

Well, I shared about David going from hero to zero, and how he took Bathsheba for himself, and had her husband murdered in battle.  I shared how even though David’s sin was hidden, a secret between just 2 or 3 people, he knew in his heart that this thing had broken the intimacy he had with God.  He knew that he couldn’t keep it hidden from God, until he confessed and repented he would not have peace.

Then we sang a simple chorus based on David’s Psalm 51 “ Create a clean heart in me O God, wash me til I’m whiter than snow.”    Do you know the Holy Spirit melted hearts today?  And then John followed up speaking about fear of the Lord, teaching from Matthew 10:28, and asking ourselves if everything we say or do gives glory to God.  I know he didn’t read my post on yesterday’s meditation, but it was as though he had!  He continued with comments on that scripture and everyone knew Who deserves our reverent fear, awe, honor and praise.

God arrests all of us in the middle of our sin.  We may not know that being rescued is our deepest desire of our heart….until it happens.  Praise God that He answers us and saves us.  Please pray for the inmates who are drawing closer to Jesus.

Lord, You are so gracious, and you are a just judge.  Thank you for your mercy and love, and the great patience you show us.  Arrest us by the vision of your glory and the experience of your presence.   May our response be true worship always.  Amen.

Day 31

My mouth shall speak the praise of the LORD: and let all flesh bless his holy name for ever and ever. Verse 21

 

It is Day 31 of this meditation journey.  I am in awe of the things the Lord taught me.  I hope you have a deeper relationship of honor towards Him by your praise, your worship, and your declarations of Who He is, what He has done and is doing.   I pray you can trust that He IS for you and with you.

Of course, having an entertainment background, my flesh said to me, “You need a big finish!” as I close these 31 Days of Praise………Ha!  Really?  So, has my heart not yet fully understood that HIS glory is paramount?  It’s not about me.  As it turned out, events on my last day of January prevented me from having my usual study and prayer time, so I could not post.  I was forced to surrender.

My pride was arrested yesterday, January 31.  Yes, I am confessing that I had a certain pride in having accomplished the discipline of 31 days of study, meditating, praying and posting.  That may seem like an “OK” attitude to have, right?  It is honorable to keep your promises, say what you mean and mean what you say, right?   (My husband and I remind one another and our sons of that all the time.)

 Yes, but  there was something else going on deeper that was a distraction…the fact is, I had set myself up for accountability, a “do or die” situation, and at times during this 31 days, I need to confess,  I was more motivated by concern over my reputation, than love of God and His Word.  Ouch!

I know many of you can relate.  Even the concept of daily devotions and worship, even with right intentions and pure motives, can become a tool of the Devil and a stumbling block to true worship when it becomes another “thing on our to-do list”.   Can anybody hear me?

No wonder the Bible calls our worship a “sacrifice of praise”.  I know I’ve said this before, but it does require putting all else aside to focus our complete attention on God.  As David so passionately bared his heart to all of us in this Psalm 145 and all of his other psalms, we would be brought to nothing, utter despair, ruin and ultimate banishment to the fires of Hell without the overwhelming love, compassion and provision of Our Creator God, demonstrated through His Precious Son Jesus Christ, and the guidance of His Holy Spirit.  We have every reason to abandon ourselves to worship and praise our glorious God!

This morning my eye came across Hebrews 13:15 which jumped out at me in connection with this final verse of David’s psalm.  David declares that his mouth will speak the praise of God.  And here is what the writer of Hebrews says :  “Therefore, by Him(Jesus) let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”  Please READ that again SLOWLY.

The Holy Spirit pierced my heart : “Don’t let the fruit of your lips ever become lip service.”

Let those who have ears to hear listen to what the Spirit of God is saying!

  Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Psalm 150:1

O Holy God, How you love us!  How personally You walk with us!  Revive our hearts once more to love You and live lives which bring You glory and pleasure!  Thank you for always speaking to us through Your Word and by Your Spirit whispering to our hearts, even when we are stumbling around in our weaknesses.   I will speak the praise of God forever and ever.  Because of You, I live!  Amen!