The First and Greatest! Keeping First Things First!


It is easy to lose focus of what deserves first and greatest recognition. The incessant pressures of life demand much of our time and our full attention. Keeping first things first takes effort! No matter what our circumstance, juggling these pressures will remain a constant struggle.

My father often admonished, “Don’t put the cart before the horse!” He was encouraging me to keep first things first. With wisdom, he gently reminded me that priorities matter. Due to the frequency of his comment, I obviously needed a consistent reminder.

 

 

Don't put the cart before the horse!

 

Unfortunately I have often forgotten! Whatever I put first gives movement and power to what follows. In keeping with my father’s analogy, a cart is virtually useless without something pulling it.

The First and Greatest

Ask a dozen people what the first or greatest priority should be and one may very well receive a dozen different opinions. An “expert in the law” approached Jesus with the question,

“Teacher, which is
the greatest commandment in the Law?” 
Matthew 22:36

Every Hebrew listener, including this legal authority, prepared to hear Jesus recite the first commandment in the law, “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3) Unfortunately, his driving motivation was to test Jesus rather than to seek wisdom! Jesus used the Pharisee’s twisted intentions to teach.

Jesus replied:
“‘Love the Lord your God
with all your heart and
with all your soul and with all your mind.’
This is the first and greatest commandment.”
Matthew 22:37-38

Jesus reminded His listeners “loving God is the greatest!” It is beyond all else, the greatest in size and extent, in weight and importance, and in price or cost. But don’t miss it! It is not only the greatest, it also must first!

Only when the greatest occupies first place will the second commandment of loving others hold any value. Without loving God, loving others becomes impossible.

First

The bible is a love story. It begins in Genesis with a wedding in an immaculate garden, purposely positioned on planet earth, divinely placed in an harmoniously ordered universal. Why? To live, not only in love with each other, but to receive from and reciprocate love with God. God made it all for love! He did it all out of love! All of creation was because of love

 

When mankind sinned allowing separation between themselves and their greatest Lover, God already had a plan. In love He would offer His only Son, Jesus, as a perfect sacrifice for sin to regain relationship with humanity.

The bible also ends with a glorious wedding — the wedding of the bride, the church, and her Bridegroom, Jesus. Relationship eternally restored!

Marriage paints earth’s greatest image of loving intimacy. However, it is only a reflection of the love the Father has for us, his children. The love the Son has for His bride, the church, is insurmountably great! Nothing else supersedes the love of God! Nothing!

The only fitting response is to love Him in return. Not out of obedience to a required law, but because our hearts are etched permanently by His love and we can nothing else.

The Second

Recently, I was feeling emotionally and physically drained. Out of love for others, I was giving myself to family, ministry, and work. However, the once satisfying rhythm of my life seemed no longer fulfilling.

Off course!

I asked God to show me if and where my focus had veered off course. My daily routine of praying and spending time in the bible remained stable and consistent. Even here though the passion grew cold. I could feel it! I could sense it!

In reading this passage of scripture I realized my error.  I was putting “the second” first!

“And the second is like it:
‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'”
Matthew 22:39

One version calls loving others “equally important”. I’m not sure!

Jesus clearly says loving God isthe first and greatest! As important as loving others is, it is incomparable to loving God. There is only one first! Only one greatest!

While “first” implies preeminence in place, order and time, “greatest” recognizes no equal!

Loving God is putting the horse rightfully before the cart. It is giving love a place of movement and strength. You could give me a new Lamborghini, but if that shining piece of metal doesn’t have an engine it is powerless. Loving God is like the engine that makes all other relationships function! 

Focusing on building loving community will never create unity in the body of Christ, unless our attention is drawn first to the greatest love. Misplaced priority will leave us impotent and divided! 

In Order

The only way to fulfill the second and vitally important command of loving others is by loving God first. He must come before and take precedent over every other relationship. Our love for others will be artificial and forced unless we are heart to heart in intimate and loving relationship with God. Then, like a river flowing downstream, our love for others will automatically maintain consistent motion.

“This is how we know
that we love the children of God:
by loving God and
carrying out his commands.
In fact, this is love for God:
to keep his commands.
And his commands are not burdensome.”
1 John 5:2-3

We can easily become Pharisaic in our response to others when separated from the Father’s love. Whenever doing becomes more important than being, we will fall into that trap! I am a recent example!

In all my doing, I wasn’t resting and responding from the heart of the Father. What was amiss? My first love! The order is vitally important! To experience the life of Christ tangibly within earthly relationships, God alone must occupy first place!

Like a Bride

My husband and I have been married for over 46 years. Our relationship is exclusive to all others. The love we have for our children and grandchildren is beyond explanation. We love our siblings and extended family. Nothing can adequately quantify the deep and loving relationships we experience with many others.

However, our love for each has a protective boundary defined, “You and you alone!” Within this boundary, love thrives; without it, love pays a heavy price!

Jesus rebuked the church of Ephesus,

“Yet I hold this against you:
You have forsaken
the love you had at first.”
Revelation 2:4

That word “forsaken” in the Greek doesn’t necessarily mean to totally turn your back on, abandon or desert. Rather it carries the thought of “to send forth, yield up or depart” in any measure.

I must continually ask myself, “Do I love God like I did at first? Has another love attracted my attention?”

This call to our first and greatest love is nothing new. God’s word to His people through Jeremiah reads,

“… this is what the LORD says:
I remember the devotion of your youth,
your love as a bride,
how you followed Me in the wilderness…”
Jeremiah 2:2

The Bridegroom continues to call His bride back to her first and greatest love. Will she listen? Will I? Only then will we reach new heights, individually and corporately, having the momentum to become a bride worthy of the Bridegroom.

May we focus on keeping first things first!

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Thanksgiving – Family, Friendships and Faith

Several nations, on virtually every continent, designate a specific time each year for thanksgiving. Some mark with appreciation harvest, freedom from slavery, life itself or a new homeland. Thanksgiving for me, however, is built around three primary relationships: family, friendships, and faith.

Canadians join in Thanksgiving festivities a month before our American counterparts, but the traditions are strikingly familiar. I am thankful for this national time to reflect and be thankful.

It is surprisingly easy to become content, even apathetic, in our blessings.

While out with my grandchildren recently, they all stopped to say “thank you” when someone offered them a treat. I was glad they remembered their manners without being prompted and surprised by the response they received, “You are the first children to say thank you all day!”

Something to Learn

Appreciation doesn’t come naturally to our selfish nature. It must be taught and learned!

Be thankful in all circumstances,
for this is God’s will for you
who belong to Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Paul commands his readers to “be thankful” not just when we feel like it, but “in all circumstances”. We are not always thankful for our circumstances, but it is possible to be thankful in our circumstances. Yet I have witnessed faith grow so deeply secure in many whose peace and joy were tangibly evident in all circumstances. In their lives. expressions of continual thanks seem to flow freely even for all circumstances.

No matter how heavy, or how overwhelming life becomes, God is bigger! It is helpful to train our focus not on present situations, but rather on the One who

knows far more than we know,
loves beyond measure,
and cares above all others.

I applaud parents who instill in their children the value of gratitude. Our Heavenly Father also smiles upon those whose hearts overflow with appreciation.

Family

With a broad grin, my husband often says in reference to our five sons, “I wouldn’t take a million dollars for any one of them, but wouldn’t give you a plug nickel for one more!” It is his way of declaring the blessing he recognizes within the gift of family.

When we were married, we both considered two children to be the ideal number. God had a better plan! Presently, our family is 23 strong!

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,
declares the Lord.

For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts
than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:8-9

The joy of family is hardly measurable. The loss of a family member through death, or absence through separation, is the most painful experience we will each endure. Holidays are difficult for those feeling the weight of such a burden. Searching for thankfulness takes concentrated effort in the midst of such brokenness and pain.

Yet even then, as we focus on eternal reality, fragments of gratitude radiate through grief bringing strength to sullen days.

Friends

Second only to family, friends fill my thankful list. My husband and I made what seemed like a radical move out of our comfortable home and familiar community about a decade ago. We cannot image what life would be like without the many friendships that have been nurtured since that time.

Rather than leaving friends behind, our circle of friendships has widened, then widened again with overwhelming surplus. God has enriched our lives surrounding us with many loyal and true friends.

“Every good gift and
every perfect gift is from above,
coming down from the Father of lights,
with whom there is no variation
or shadow due to change.”
James 1:17

Genuine friendship is a gift from God! No amount of material wealth can replace the good and perfect gift of friendship.

The ability to simply “do life” together with others is something truly to be grateful for. Laughing and crying! Supporting and encouraging! Sharing and caring! Loving and lasting! Friendships fill our lives with colour and vibrancy.

Faith

Faith may be listed last, but it is actually first!

Give thanks to the Lord,
for he is good;

his love endures forever.”
1 Chronicles 16:34

Thankfulness begins with God! To finish well, we must start here, with an attitude of gratitude towards God. Void of thanksgiving, our faith inevitably slides into the realm of delusion and confusion.

“Yes, they knew God,
but they wouldn’t worship him as God
or even give him thanks.
And they began to think up
foolish ideas of what God was like.
As a result,
their minds became dark and confused.”
Romans 1:21

It is surprisingly easy to know God and yet neglect to appreciate Him — not just for what He does, but for Who He is.

Is the darkness and confusion woven in any culture visible evidence of hearts hardened against the worship and thanksgiving of God? Perhaps!

Remember

Even in writing today, I am reminded of so much more to be thankful for. Is it possible to cultivate a continuous level of thankfulness crowning every day with gratitude?

Here are a few practical ways to create a lifestyle of thanksgiving:

  • Use a journal! One of my daughter-in-laws has a thankfulness journal. Each day begins by writing something she is thankful for.

  • Several of my friends recharge their appreciation by doing a 100 Day Challenge. Each day for 100 days they share with others something they are thankful for.
  • Express it! Tell the people in your lives what you appreciate about them. Weave it into your family and friendship times until it is naturally spoken and expressed. Say “thank you” often and regularly.
  • Pray! Has prayer become a list of “I wants”? Expand you time with God to include more!

“Devote yourselves to prayer,
being watchful and thankful.”
Colossians 4:2

  • Look for “silver linings!” Even the most difficult situations have some kind of positive aspect. Is it the compassion others show in times of pain, the generosity that surfaces at points of need, or humility that flourishes in seasons of struggle? Be thankful!
  • Focus on others! When life’s challenges press hard, focus on helping someone else in need. Changing perspective by improving the life of someone else, will often stir thanksgiving within ourselves.
  • Notice the little things! Looking with child like simplicity often helps us see the beauty and wonder around us with new appreciation. Choosing to look at even the smallest of blessings can generate multiple reasons for thankfulness.

Just Do It!

Enough reading! It is time to do it! Starting a pattern of gratefulness will reap abundant blessing today while creating a pattern of thankfulness that will flow to subsequent generations.  Now is the best time to begin a new chapter of appreciation right where we are.

Start a fresh movement of thankfulness! Be the person others can emulate in their journey toward thanksgiving!

Lingering Long – Joshua, The Making of a True Lingerer

A young man named Joshua learned how to linger early in life. But how did this attribute develop? What is the making of a true lingerer — one whose heart is in constant pursuit of God.

Whether it is a good book, pleasant conversation with close friends, or beautiful surroundings, most of us have experienced that same longing to linger, a reluctance to leave. We cling to each moment, not to overstay our welcome, but rather desiring to engage fully in the experience.

Rest in the Lord and wait for His Presence

“The LORD would speak to Moses face to face,
as one speaks to a friend.
Then Moses would return to the camp,
but his young aide Joshua son of Nun
did not leave the tent.”
Exodus 33:11

Here is a perfect example! Duty called Moses to “return to the camp”, while Joshua lingered in the Presence of the LORD.

The Beginnings

Of course, this wasn’t the beginning of Joshua’s God experience. He was among those who witnessed the miraculous intervention of God bringing an entire nation out from the midst of Egypt

“with a mighty hand and outstretched arm
Psalm 136:12

The awesome deeds of God continued in the desert, turning bitter water into sweet, providing daily provision, and defeating Israel’s strong military enemies.

After the desert comes rest

This is where we first meet up with young Joshua.

“Moses said to Joshua,
‘Choose some of our men
and go out to fight the Amalekites.
Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill
with the staff of God in my hands.’ ”
Exodus 17:9

Later on we would get more details about the Amalekites and their guerrilla tactics. At first they picked off the weak and stragglers of the camp; now they form a serious frontal attack on the nation. An impressive foe to be sure! Joshua takes up strategic position on the field, while Moses assumes a safer spot on the hill!

Together, the battle was won! No one lingers on a battlefield! Get in! Do the job! Get out!

Taking a moment to linger over a sunrise

Next Meeting

Our next meeting with Joshua is quite different. God instructs Moses. The camp is directed to stay away from even the foot of Mount Sinai, or they will die.

“Then the LORD said to Moses,
Come up to the LORD,
you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu,
and seventy of the elders of Israel …
but Moses alone is to approach the LORD …”
Exodus 24:1,2

Count them! Out of approximately 2,000,000 people, 74 are invited to meet with God. And they do — face to face! Most people think it was only Moses who saw and talked with God. Actually, this whole group of prestigious leaders received special invitation.

“Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu,
and the seventy elders of Israel went up
and saw the God of Israel
But God did not raise his hand
against these leaders of the Israelites;
they saw God, and they ate and drank.”
Exodus 24:9-11

Linger on the mountain with God

A feast on the mountain! Eating and drinking with God! Who wouldn’t want to be included in this group?  Wouldn’t that change your perspective of God forever? Maybe not! These very leaders would, within days, be involved in mass rebellion, forming a golden calf to worship, then declaring with their own mouths

“These are your gods, Israel,
who brought you up out of Egypt.”
Exodus 32:4

They witnessed God’s miraculous intervention, saw Him in His glory, and tasted of His goodness. Refusing to linger, they left the mountain, and God, quickly following after the delusions of men.

Except for one!

The Uninvited

Have you ever attended an important function uninvited? Honestly, I have been too embarrassed to try. Without an invitation from the host, I have graciously declined several occasions.

What if the host is God — the LORD of all? This invitation was specific, “Moses alone is to approach the LORD”.

“Then Moses set out with Joshua, his aide,
and Moses went up on the mountain of God.
He said to the elders,
Wait here for us until we come back to you…”
Exodus 24:13,14

The leaders were instructed to wait, to linger; they didn’t. Moses was instructed to proceed alone; he didn’t.

Alone but never alone!

Was Moses falling to the old temptation of fear, like he had at the burning bush? Then afraid to approach Israel on his own, he had Aaron join him. Was he again afraid to go alone? There is no preempt to Joshua’s presence.

Uninvited!
Not included in the list of dignitaries!
Not chosen!
A silent, unnoticed witness!
A humble and faithful servant!

Joshua’s humility and servant heart to his master not only gained him access to see the LORD, eat and drink in His Presence, but then to go higher … higher up the mountain.

Lingering Begins

One taste of the Presence of God was not enough. Joshua was never content to boast of his mountain experience, or lounge in yesterday’s glory. What began on the mountain marked Joshua’s life from this point forward.

Waiting and resting!

Every opportunity Joshua had in the Presence of God became one of lingering.

“The LORD would speak to Moses face to face,
as one speaks to a friend.
Then Moses would return to the camp,
but his young aide Joshua son of Nun
did not leave the tent.”
Exodus 33:11

Right here my heart grieves! What draws each of us so easily and quickly away? What duty is so pressing? Why are other pleasures so enthralling? Not just for the young, but also for the mature!

Linger to Lead

It is no surprise that when God summoned Moses to step down from leadership, Joshua was ready as successor.

“The LORD said to Moses,
“Now the day of your death is near.
Call Joshua and present yourselves at the tent of meeting,
where I will commission him.”
So Moses and Joshua came
and presented themselves at the tent of meeting.”
Deuteronomy 31:14

The tent of meeting! The place where Joshua lingered long, refusing to leave God’s Presence, became the very ground of His commissioning into greater service.

How many commissioning moments have been missed because those God would have chosen have failed to linger? How few commissioned are so captivated by the Presence of God they seek nothing else?

It is in His Presence that every promotion, elevation and advancement begins. Here we are transformed, equipped and ordained. Here our hearts remain subtle and wills flexible to the moving of The Spirit and the promptings of God.

Oh that we would all become lingerers, learning from Joshua’s example. That we would inhabit the Presence of God, coming more often and staying longer. What an example to emulate!

Welcome the Presence of God

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Further Reading:

A Hero – “If You Need Someone Strong, I’m The One!”

Leadership 101 – Take it from the Eagles

 

 

A Good Appetite is a Sign of Health – Blessed is the One Psalms 1

Most people prefer either sweet or salty food. Combine sweet with a good dash of chocolate and you will discover the pinnacle of my personal food preference. A good appetite is a sure sign of physical health; an unceasing appetite for the word of God and His presence are attributes of good spiritual health as well.

While reading Psalms 1, I began to evaluate how “healthy” my appetite presently is.

“Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
and who meditates on his law day and night.”
Psalm 1:1-3

The Progression

The progression, or rather digression, within these verses is quite obvious:

  • walk in step
  • stand in the way
  • sit in the company

Allow me to form this progression more fully. If I’m not careful, I can find myself walking “in step” with others down the “chocolate-covered-delicacy” aisle in the grocery store (which of course I could find in a power outage blindfolded)! Although temptation is building, there is no serious problem yet.

It is when I actually stop and “stand” in front of those mouth-watering goodies, that I begin to feel compelled by some indefinable inner force to reach for my chosen “yummies”. Temptation has reached a whole new level!

I convince myself to plunk those goodies into the shopping cart, pay the price and stash them into the pantry for “company”. But what happens next is predictable!  You and I both know that inevitably I will end up sitting “in the company” of those sweet treats, devouring their scrumptious, though unhealthy, goodness.

The cycle is complete! I have stepped, stood and sat. The process is repetitively familiar especially at moments of fatigue and stress!

Danger Zone

Unfortunately, a far more serious cycle is the rhythm I notice in these verses!

“…does not walk in step with the wicked…”

Generally, I’m not overly tempted to “walk in step with the wicked.” In my work place, I meet face to face people being charged with serious crimes. I am reminded of the historic events of World War II where inconceivable wickedness was unleashed in unprecedented measures. Walking the soil of Cambodia, where unspeakable atrocities were openly committed, was a life-changing experience for me.

My main temptation is neither to “walk in” or even skirt around such serious issues. Blatant wickedness should and must cause everything in me to rise up and say, “Enough!”

“…or stand in the way that sinners take…”

Now “sinner” is far more inclusive!

 “for all have sinned and
fall short of the glory of God”
Romans 3:23

Like it or not, I am one of “all”. Paul puts it so well,

“I do not understand what I do.
For what I want to do I do not do,
but what I hate I do.”
Romans 7:15

Tolerance toward our own or other’s sinful bahaviour, is actually a form of “standing”. In fact, this word “stand” literally means to “delay or hold back from doing something.” Christ has made the way; we can immediately turn to Him, repent and begin moving forward. There is no place for sin in our spiritual shopping cart!

Personal Pitfall

There have been individuals and groups throughout history who have been so entirely consumed with evil that only a thunderclap of the hand of God is sufficient to turn them from it. Disdain for such wickedness has a way of mellowing to tolerance, and finally to blind consent.

Stand “in the way that sinners take” long enough and one becomes acclimatized to sin. How deeply does abortion, euthanasia, human trafficking burn upon my heart? Do I feel its sting as strongly now as ten or twenty years ago?

Sitting is my real problem! A personal pitfall! This term holds the context of “a dwelling place or abiding in a given location.”

“…or sit in the company of mockers…”

Mockers are those “who make what is good and holy the object of their ridicule“: “defiant, cynical, free-thinkers”; “their character is proud, self-sufficiency”. That description covers most of the culture we live in! A literal translation for the word is “pests”.

Have you ever sat down for a wonderfully prepared and planned picnic only to have pesty flies, mosquitoes and wasps show up and spoil the whole affair?

I am uncomfortable with “mockers”. Usually I make attempts to steer conversation toward a healthy path, try to insert the positive, or silently wait for opportunity to escape the situation. Unfortunately, far too often for far too long I “sit”!  Why?

I never sat in the company of revelers,
never made merry with them;
I sat alone because your hand was on me
and you had filled me with indignation.”
Jeremiah 15:17

Jeremiah had it right! He chose to sit alone rather than with negative talkers and mockers. How? His priorities and focus what set in the right place — toward God.

The Appetite Solution

The psalmist gives the solution:

Blessed is the one …
whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
and who mediates on his law
day and night…”
Psalm 1:2

My delight and desire, like my appetite, is where I find pleasure and will chose to sit.

Whatever I am hungry for, I will crave; cravings seek to be satisfied. If my “delight” is toward God, I will set His word, His desires, His perspective above my own and those of others. It will matter far more to me what He thinks than the judgments of those around me. Alone with Him will actually become the best place to be!

“Who stands fast?” Dietrich Bonhoeffer asked.
“Only the man … the responsible man,
who tries to make his whole life
an answer to the question
and call of God.”

There are many heroic men and women who have influenced generations with courage, stepping in time to a heavenly calling, standing perilously for righteousness at the cost of their lives and with steadfast voice spoke living truth. Such courage and bravery doesn’t come from walking, sitting and standing contrary to God!

The ways of the world may taste good for the moment, but the repercussions go far beyond.

The Promise

Listen to the promise within these few verses:

“That person is like a tree
planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither
— whatever they do prospers.”
Psalm 1:3

Now that is something worth chewing on! I may crave the sweet, but it is fruit that satisfies my need!

The image is of perpetual beauty and productivity. “Prosper” describes the Holy Spirit’s affect on persons making them powerful and mighty; pushing forward and breaking out; or rushing forward in battle.

A consistent appetite for the word of God by sitting with the truths of scripture, standing in His Presence, and walking along His path, reaps undeniable generational and eternal spiritual benefits.

Bravo to a healthy appetite!

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Further Reading:

The Word of God – Cutting a Straight Line!

The Bible – The Most Powerful Book in the World

 

 

 

 

Developing Wisdom – Where Can Wisdom be Found?

The list for developing wisdom might possibly include reading, encountering new experiences, extended education, befriending wise people, and even travel. There is a common notion that wisdom can be sourced through people or the world around us. Such a quest echoes Job’s words, “Where can wisdom be found?”

“But where can wisdom be found?
Where does understanding dwell?
No mortal comprehends its worth;
it cannot be found in the land of the living.”
Job 28:12

If Job is right, we may see elements of wisdom in the writings of the wise, gain increased perspective from a variety of experiences, people, cultures and study, but wisdom will not be found in the world around us.  What is more, Job believes we underestimate its core value.

Wisdom Albert Einstein

For What It’s Worth

The preceding verses of Job 28 explain in detail the depths people go to reveal earth’s “treasures” of precious metals and gems. In the darkest recesses,

“people assault the flinty rock with their hands…”
Job 28:9

I’ve never been a miner searching for gold or diamonds, but I have had my share of swinging a hammer to chisel against “flinty rock”. In one of my not-so-wise moments, I decided to make a flagstone path between one farm house and another in our yard.

My Dad showed me the proper tools and technique. Now it was up to me to search the rock piles on our farm and beyond to find the right rock, the flinty rock, that would yield to the not-so-subtle persuasion of hammer and chisel. It took persisting through summer’s heat, enduring back-breaking labour to split, haul and set each stone. All for flinty rock!

Build your home on wisdom!

I did it though — for the sake of a path!

This is an unworthy comparison to the efforts taken to uncover “precious” metals and gemstones. Am I willing to make such effort for wisdom? Will I seek wisdom with similar determination?

If I value wisdom, I will!

Why the Effort?

“The beginning of wisdom is this:
Get wisdom.
Though it cost all you have,
get understanding.”
Proverbs 4:7

If I don’t correctly assess the true value and benefit of wisdom, I will give up before finding it. Why should one make the effort?

Wise mind - wise speech!

Here’s a few valid reasons found within Proverbs 4 and 8 alone. Wisdom will

  • protect and watch over you
  • exalt and honour you, giving you a garland and a crown
  • provide “riches and honour, enduring wealth and prosperity
  • give a “rich inheritance to those who love” it

Solomon says the benefits of wisdom

“..are better than gold, even the purest gold,
my wages better than sterling silver.”
Proverbs 8:19

Where Can Wisdom be Found?

Since Job’s companions were lacking in wisdom, Job answers his own question,

God understand the way to it
and he alone knows where it dwells.”
Job 28:23

“…The fear of the Lord — that is wisdom…”
Job 28:28

Job throws in a bonus giving us both the “where” and the “how” of wisdom’s source. Is there an easier way? Another way? Any other way? Isn’t “fear of the Lord” outdated — archaic?

Wisdom - John Bunyan

Solomon, the wisest man that lived, emphatically confirms,

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
Proverbs 9:10

James acknowledges there is, in fact, a kind of “wisdom” to be gained now from the things around us. He warns that such “earthly wisdom” will eventually produce the unexpected results of bitter envy, selfish ambition, disorder and every evil practice. We don’t have to look far to see ample evidence of this principle at work.

“Such “wisdom”…is earthly, unspiritual, demonic.”
James 3:15

Billy Graham - wisdom

He, too, points our vision upward to the ultimate Source of all wisdom.

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven
is first of all pure; then peace-loving,
considerate, submissive,
full of mercy and good fruit,
impartial and sincere.”
James 3:17

This is wisdom worth taking hammer and chisel too, worth pursuing with all diligence and effort, worth seeking and holding on to at all cost. Don’t you agree?

But How do You Gain Wisdom?

Paul draws us to a centrality that neither Job nor Solomon had the privilege of experiencing.  In writing to the Christians at Colossae, Paul says,

The Son is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn over all creation.
For in him all things were created:
things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible,
whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities;
all things have been created through him and for him.
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
Colossians 1:15-16

D.L. Moody wisdom quote

Paul persistently laboured so that everyone might know Jesus Christ, because in Him

“…are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
Colossians 2:3

Splitting flinty rock won’t expose the greatest treasure available. Wisdom is discovered, granted and given to all those who are willing to pursue the vastness, beauty, magnificence and wisdom within the invisible God, made visible through Christ. Through a vibrant relationship with Wisdom, and here alone, does one become wise.

Simple Advice

The people who now walk that little garden path will never know the hours of labour it took to transform flinty rock into usefulness. Thousands of steps have skipped, jumped and hopped along that little winding trail.

In the same way, as one looks to only earthly sources for wisdom, one is tempted to skip, jump and hop from one good read, piece of advice, speaker, preacher and scholar to another without truly gaining the depth of wisdom and understanding available.

Fortunately, many people seek wisdom; unfortunately most people search in an array of earthly and psychic realms.

Here is simple and sure advice from James,

“If any of you lacks wisdom,
you should ask God, who gives generously
to all without finding fault,
and it will be given to you.”
James 1:5

Let us confidently and boldly ask for wisdom to saturate our lives, resting in His Presence, seeking His face, knowing Him more, and somehow moment by moment becoming more like Him in wisdom.

Chesterton Quote

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Further Reading:

Is there a Wrong Way to do The Right Thing? Attitude Makes All The Difference

 

 

 

 

Expecting without Expectation

I am the blessed mother of five incredible sons. That is five pregnancies, five marked times when expectations ran high and five deliveries into reality. Knowing and unknowingly, each time I was expecting with expectation! You would think this in itself would be enough to free me from further bowing to expectations, but it hasn’t.

I carry many spoken and unspoken, known and unknown expectations. They can be the source of conflict in relationships or problems in the workplace. They rest unseen like a burr under the saddle; all is fine until pressure is applied!

Expect

To expect is to look forward to something with eagerness or to anticipate the occurrence or the coming of something or someone. Expecting can be positive!

Not only did we anticipate the births of our own children, my husband and I looked ahead to when they would be married. We with eagerness awaited the arrival of each grandchild.  Over the years, our family of two has expanded to twenty-three!

The joy of expectancy!

When my husband and I were married, we fully expected some day to have a family. We had no expectation of how large that family would become, or how blessed our lives would be through them.

Expecting can also be negative!

“He does not punish us for all our sins;
he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.”
Psalms 103:10

The guilt of sin and failure, accompanied by conviction is not unfamiliar territory for me! I know when justice should be administered, yet mercy and grace are portioned out. I fully expect to receive the penalty that already has been applied.

The cross was the greatest act of justice ever conceived. Christ bore the full weight of the penalty of sin in His death.  What I deserved, Christ took! Though I expect punishment, grace is offered. It is a grace without strings attached.

Expectation

Expectation, on the other hand, is quite different. It is the eagerness of something “self-determined” happening in the future coupled with

assumption and even presumption,
conjecture or prediction.

It is a strong belief that something should happen in a specific way! Today is the day of unparalleled, unrealistic expectations. Media continually flashes images of “super people” in front of us. You know what I mean: the new car, perfect home, six figure income, kids who always behave, the ladder of success easily climbed, never weary, always on the up-and-up…

The weight of unrealistic expectations, like heavy stones, breaks emotional bones, fractures families, and incubates discouragement.

“The hopes of the godly result in happiness,
but the expectations of the wicked come to nothing.”
Proverbs 10:28

Expectations carry a selfish slant filled with desires of self-fulfillment even when we think they don’t!

God’s Plans

Because God is inerrantly good, everything He is and does is good. What He has for us is good!

“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 hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11

Hope and desire are the fuel of living passionately! When rightly placed they release God intention to the world around us. It is God who gives us the ability to dream, and the courage to dream again when dreams seem lost.

“Surely there is a future,
And your hope will not be cut off.”
Proverbs 23:18

Expect without Expectation

Here is where I make the leap! In knowing the goodness and love of God, I form presumptions of what I think the future should be. Rather than placing my trust in Him, with childlike simplicity, I begin to weave my own ending into the story line of not only my life, but of those around me.

My prime victims are those closest to me. It is  most unloving, however, to expect the best for them, while tightly gripping the confining strings of expectation around their lives.

Strings tightly attached!

Then there is the paralyzing opposite! Because of unfulfilled, self-directed expectations, I find a reluctance within me to expect again, a hesitancy to hope, and a fear of dreaming for the impossible.

Expecting without expectation requires living with

arms flung purposefully open,
a heart tenderized and welcoming to all,
a mind flexible to God encounters and initiatives,
and a no-holds-barred
“Yes” to God!

To fully expect, requires trust!

Trust

What allows me to release expectation is, undoubtedly, a confident trust in God who is completely trustworthy.

“For God alone, O my soul,
wait in silence, for my hope is from him.”
Psalm 62:5

It is right and good to expect God to be all He said He would be. I can expect with absolute assurance that He will fulfill all He has promised. It is on this foundation that faith rests.

“Faith is the confidence that
what we hope for will actually happen;
it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”
Hebrews 11:1

Living expecting in His goodness, without expectations of predictable outcomes, is perhaps like walking a tight-rope blindfolded. Unknowing how far I have come or how far is left to go, without solid ground beneath my feet or structure to hold to, I hesitantly move forward.

God gives the assurance to let go of all expectations, while simultaneously whispering an invitation to hope. He opens the window releasing failure, disappointment and loss while allowing the breath of His Presence to enter with freshness.

When His word touches my heart, do I receive it, holding it gently, and examining it purposefully, before surrendering it wilfully at His feet? In this is the image of expecting without expectation. It is

receiving without clinging,
appreciating with owning,
possessing without controlling,
loving without manipulating,

“We Had Hoped”

“Our lives should be lived with expectancy.
Not necessarily with expectation,
because expectation tends to dictate terms…
Expectancy is the belief that God will do something.
Expectation insists He do it in just this way…”

– Mark Buchanan

(“Your God is Too Safe” – Pg 149)

Blind and deaf with expectation!

Two perplexed disciples walked the road to Emmaus when a “Stranger” joined their conversation:

“..we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel…”
Luke 24:21

Their expectation of Christ didn’t include betrayal, crucifixion, or the inexplicable empty tomb! The Source of all hope walked beside them. They neither recognized nor heard – blind and deaf by expectation! Until He broke the bread…

How oft I miss seeing The One beside me, because of expectation for a different way.

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The Battle is the Lord’s – Training for War!

If you are fortunate, one struggle will end before another begins. Often, however, battles invade in mass. There are times when I want to raise the white flag of surrender and say, “Enough, Lord!” Battles serve a divine purpose. Ultimately every battle we face is the Lord’s while at the same time, He is training us for war.

“These are the nations the LORD left to test all those Israelites
who had not experienced any of the wars in Canaan
(he did this only to teach warfare to the descendants of the Israelites
who had not had previous battle experience.”
Judges 3:1,2

God’s intention is for us all to become mighty in battle, warriors who are thoroughly equipped and prepared for any affront. Training is developed in the battle field of experience not in the classroom of hypothesis.

We all enjoy singing the songs of victory; few relish in the throes of battle.

The Battle is the Lord’s

Whatever we are going through, whether small or great, God alone gains the victory for us. Though it is tempting to “handle” the small stuff ourselves, foundational principles are learned in the little battles of life that can be applied equally to larger attacks.

Turning our face toward God!

“This is what the LORD says:
Do not be afraid!
Don’t be discouraged by this mighty army,
for the battle is not yours, but God’s.”
2 Chronicles 20:15

Don’t wait for the marriage to fail, the diagnosis of cancer, the prodigal son to run off to a distant land, or the bank account to occupy the red zone before relying on the Lord’s help. Bring every struggle and battle to the Lord, seek His strategy, and follow His directives.

Jehoshaphat “inquired of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast“. Then all the people around also sought “help from the LORD.”

The King, as one in authority, went first. He set the precedent. Prayer and fasting don’t twist the arm of God, rather they position hearts to trust, eyes to see, ears to hear and minds to comprehend the agendas of God.

God is Big Enough

When we learn to fearlessly trust during the “little”, trusting in the “big” comes instinctively. God dwindled Gideon’s army down to where only He would receive the glory. First God released the fearful.

“Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave…
So twenty-two thousand men left…”
Judges 7:3

Fear spreads quickly! Twenty-two thousand fear-filled warriors would easily have destabilized the entire army! Once fear was weeded out, only courage remained!

Fear may help get the adrenaline pumping, but no one functions at their best when afraid. It is the solid recognition of Who God is, that solidifies fearless trust. Stepping forward in God’s authority, dominion, and power, increases strength, renews hope and builds extravagant faith.

“LORD, the God of our ancestors,
are you not the God who is in heaven?
You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations.
Power and might are in your hand,
and no one can withstand you.”
2 Chronicles 20:6

State the Problem

Don’t be afraid of calling things out! My father would say, “Call a spade a spade!” In other words, say it like it is! State the circumstance you are facing honestly and clearly. Acknowledging personal inability to overcome a battle is never a declaration of God’s inability, only ours!

When we are weak, God is strong!

“For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us.
We do not know what to do,
but our eyes are on you.”
2 Chronicles 20:12

The important part is knowing who you are with!

We’re not asking God to come and join us in our battle. We position ourselves with Him! Like a little child standing in our Father’s shadow, we are invincible with our God! We always win!

Paul put it this way:

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
Philippians 1:21

We cannot assume we know how to fight our battle! “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

Be merciful to me, my God,
for my enemies are in hot pursuit;
all day long they press their attack
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you…
in God I trust and am not afraid.”
Psalms 56:1-4

In God we trust!

Warriors Who Don’t Fight

Here comes the seeming contradiction! God allows the enemy to come close for the specific purpose of equipping and training us for battle. When we step into battle position, He fights!

“You will not have to fight this battle.
Take up your positions: stand firm
and see the deliverance the LORD will give you..”
2 Chronicles 20:17

The weapons of our warfare are not carnal!

The temptation is to pick up the weapons and run ahead of our Leader. Self-reliance and self-sufficiency must be laid down before we even begin.

We take our position in worship and adoration, standing firm on the unfailing promises of God. Our eyes are fixed on the LORD to bring victory. Positioning ourselves in Christ, we move forward.

Go out to face them
2 Chronicles 20:17

Face your battle! Even if you need to lean on others, stand and face your struggle!

The Song of Victory

Jehoshaphat was so confident of God’s victory he placed the singers in the lead! The warriors armed with physical weapons followed behind.

“What song is so powerful enemies cringe and flee at the melody?” I ask.

“His love endures forever” is the answer.

“Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD
and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness
as they went out at the head of the army,saying:
Give thanks to the LORD,
for his love endures forever,’ ”
2 Chronicles 20:21

Now that is audacity!

Songs of worship and praise disarm the enemy camp!

The song of victory buckled the knees of the enemy before the fighting began. The joyous sound of audacious faith and trust in God caused the enemy to be thrown into confusion.

The minstrels carried the tune back to the streets of Jerusalem and into the temple. When the song of thanksgiving rises, demonic kingdoms hear and tremble.

Why? The battle is not ours; the battle is the Lord’s.

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More Reading:

Intercession – Releasing The Power of The Cross Through Prayer

Beauty Instead of Ashes! Out with the Old! In with the New!

 

Hungry for More of God? Feeding our Spiritual Hunger

Hunger is the signal telling us we are running out of essential fuel! In the natural, it starts when our stomach is empty but quickly messages the brain to activation. I may be able to ignore my stomach, but it is much more difficult to ignore my thoughts. Do I as acutely sense spiritual hunger? How do I respond when I’m hungry?

Hunger is the feeling of weakness or discomfort caused by lack of food. It triggers the desire to eat or crave food. Am I hungry for more of God? Do I choose to satisfy my spiritual desire through Him or other sources.

Hungry for more!

At times after finishing a pleasant meal and feeling fully satisfied, if I catch a glimpse of some sweet delicacy impulsively I want more. How about you?

This is actually normal! God made us to always be on the lookout for more; He has designed us to never be empty.

The Hungry are Fed

Heidi Baker, missionary to Mozambique, often affirms “The hungry are always fed.” The hungry, in desperation, push to the front of the line. They will not be refused!

“The poor will eat and be satisfied;
those who seek the LORD will praise him –
may your hearts live forever.”
Psalm 22:26

Feast instead of famine!

God has allowed us to recognize natural hunger through the discomfort of painful hunger pangs. If we ignore our bodies long enough hunger actually subsides. The same is true spiritually. He has also built within us an awareness of spiritual longing and hunger.

Hunger ignored has a price tag; vital organs can be irreparably damaged. We cannot safely ignore spiritual hunger either.

Hungry?

The Spirit within us is constantly inviting us to enter the Lord’s Presence and feast in His abundant provision. There are no shortcuts to resting, waiting, worshiping, or meditating on the bible.  Junk food goes beyond chips, coke or a bit of chocolate. Time can never be regained! How we spend our minutes forms life patterns shaping our identity.

The unceasing demands of our physical bodies and fleeting attractions can be the greatest hindrance to wholesome feeding of the Spirit.

“So I say, walk by the Spirit,
and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.
For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit,
and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh.
They are in conflict with each other…”
Galatians 5:16-17

Feed the Spirit what is good!

We will either reach for what is good and truly satisfies, or what temporarily tastes and feels good. Daily we choose!

Jesus The Example

Let’s contemplate this verse?

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness…”
Matthew 4:1

There can be unrealistic expectation that faith will be a pleasant journey of “always full”. Not so! The Spirit purposefully led Jesus to a wilderness of prolonged hunger. In the place of hunger, what Adam lost in the fall Jesus began to reclaim.

After forty days of hunger the Tempter comes! His timing is usually the same for us as well. When hungry, angry, lonely and tired, halt! This is a place of vulnerability.

When hungry, angry, lonely or tired, it is time to HALT! Click To Tweet

Jesus, the Living Word, stood His ground against every assault of the evil one.

“Man shall not live on bread alone,
but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Matthew 4:4

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Bread will never satisfy our deepest hunger! Neither will lust, money, power or position! Our relentless deepest hunger is satisfied in God alone.

“The key to Christian living
is a thirst and hunger for God.”
John Piper

When we go to God for every need to be met, we too will experience supernatural provision. One of the names for God is Jehovah Jireh. It means “the LORD will provide”, or “the LORD our Provider.” Provider is who He is!

In the Lord alone is provision for all we need! Our hunger is meant to draw us to The One who provides.

In Christ Alone

In the Beatitudes, Jesus states,

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.”
Matthew 5:6

Jesus gives us a life-giving promise.  Not only is He the Lord our Provider, he is the Lord our Righteousness! Ultimate filling is complete in Him.

Our personal wilderness journeys are ultimately meant to accentuate our hunger. The hot dusty road heightens and stresses our hunger and thirst for more of Him. It is a good thing!

Without hunger pangs, we would not survive. Are you hungry?

I hear it all around me! I see it among the young and the old! People of every nationality, demographic and generation, crying, “More, Jesus! More of You!” The hunger is increasing, and it is good.

"Open wide your mouth and I will fill it."

People are turning their hearts and eyes from temporary satisfaction to ultimate fulfillment. It is beautiful! Prayer rooms are filling up!

“I am the LORD your God,
who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.”
Psalm 81:10

God journeys with us in the wilderness, bringing us through to the other side. He invites us to “open wide our mouths”. Don’t expect a crumb from our generous God! Open wide your mouth! May faith arise in each of us for more. God is anxious to satisfy our hunger; “I will fill it!”

There is no need to look elsewhere. “I will fill it!

The Sound of Hunger

The birds outside my window rouse me at three in the morning. Long before the sun breaks the darkness of night, pangs of hunger stir little nests with cries for more. One hungry little chick has an ability to awaken an entire nest. The feathered chatter shifts from nest to nest until the whole community is alive with the sound of awakening.

Let us take a lesson from these little feathered ones, we can never be too greedy for more of God; “open wide (your) mouth”.

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More Reading:

Rivers of Living Water From Within – The Holy Spirit

Flying Lead Change! Following God’s Lead!

Though I would never consider myself of a horse person, I appreciate the beauty and grace of flying lead changes. Both horse and rider must become proficient to make these smooth, clean changes of direction in perfect balance without breaking rhythm or losing forward momentum.

Flying Lead Change

In a flying lead change a horse changes leads without changing the rhythm of a canter. It is similar to skipping from one foot to the other, but on four feet instead of two!

While watching horses canter around an open meadow you would notice how beautifully and freely they naturally accomplish this. Add a rider to the mix and it becomes a little more complicated.

The grace of a flying lead change!

Both horse and rider must develop a unified rhythm, trust, freedom of gait, perfect contact, straightness, alignment and balance. The rider must become “one with” the horse, in tune with the horse’s natural rhythm and timing. The discipline is nothing short of frustrating to master, but when accomplished successfully there is an awareness of genuine power unhindered.

The beauty, elegance and power of barrel racing, pole bending, dressage or many other equestrian disciplines is often a result of graceful flying lead changes. In full  motion, the center of gravity shifts, the subtle cues of horse and rider are instinctively responded too. Nothing is lost! Everything is gained!

“What got you thinking equestrian?” you ask.

Lately, I’m having trouble “skipping” to God’s time and smoothly following His direction! Gracefully leaping through life is not an apt description of my walk with Him.

The Lord’s Lead

There is nothing wrong with the Lord’s leading, of course. However, as He calls me to change direction or adjust my focus, personal insecurity, hesitancy, and imbalance create a frustrating, out-of-step cadence within me. Like a stumbling novice I clumsily respond to His directing. I am unable to proceed beyond a slow trot.

“Where is he who set
His Holy Spirit among them,
who sent his glorious arm of power
to be at Moses’ right hand,
who divided the waters before them,
to gain for himself everlasting renown,
who led them through the depths?
Like a horse in open country,
they did not stumble;
like cattle that go down to the plain,
they were given rest by the Spirit of the LORD.
This is how you guided your people
to make for yourself a glorious name.”
Isaiah 63:11-14

Who holds the rein of my life?

What beautiful imagery! God leads His children like a horse into open country where there is perfect liberty or like cattle to peacefully rest in an open meadow.

Do I trust His lead! Trust is necessary for flying lead changes.

Trusting Fully

To trust means I need to lay down preconceived ideas of where I think I should be heading and the pace I want to get there. Personal agendas must fall!

Who really has the reins in my life? It is an easy question to ask; it is much harder to honestly evaluate my heart! As a matter of fact, I can believe I am doing quite fine, until God asks me to step into a new lead. Then reality sets in!

Trusting God to direct

Just like a horse needing blinders to avoid distraction and loss of focus, God often needs to allow circumstances to hem me in to get my full attention.

“I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands.”
Psalm 119:60

I hunger to sense the shift of His rhythm and bend in fluid motion to His every movement.

My sister owned a mature cutting horse. Countless times I toppled off the side or plunged over the neck of this amazing responsive horse. Duchess turned on a dime and stopped instantly to the slightest touch of the reins. She was sensitive; I was not! It took time to develop a trust between us that would enable fluid movement and unison.

Without Grumbling

Sometimes horse and rider fight for dominance. It can be a serious battle of wills. Every rider has met this challenge.

Responding with a flying lead change!

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing,”
Philippians 2:14

Time and energy can be wasted grumbling and arguing over God’s lead. Even though it may not make sense to me, a flying lead change requires that I don’t know all the answers or outcomes. Not only is a high level of trust necessary, I also must be convinced of the nature of The One who is asking me to redirect.

Often grumbling is rooted in my personal insecurity. Will I honestly acknowledge my frailty and embrace my struggle. Surrendering in childlike humility to my Heavenly Father always knows best is not an option.

Step by step I AM WORKING toward my personal flying lead change! It may not look or feel “graceful” today, but with practice and time it will! By embracing even the points of failure, I am preparing for success. I am learning much from present disappointments.

Tenacity

My father would often encourage us, “When you fall off, get right back on!”

He didn’t want his children to quit before they tasted success. I think Dad reflected the Father’s heart toward us.

“May the Lord lead your hearts
into a full understanding and expression of the love of God
and the patient endurance that comes from Christ.”
2 Thessalonians 3:5

Here is the essence of a flying lead change – understanding hearts fully expressing God’s love plus the endurance, or perseverance from Christ. What a perfect mix!

When God sees us flounder or break rhythm, He is never discouraged or disappointed with us. Gently, He invites us to try again. He picks up the pace, whispers a new direction, and welcomes us to respond.

When we begin to respond instinctively to His lead, we will rejoice together! The beauty of our flying lead change will be obvious to everyone watching.

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Testimonies of Others:

A Daughter’s Redemption! Dawn Enters a New Day!

The Prodigal Returns, Prayer Answered! Running No More!

Give Praise to the Lord, Proclaim His Name

Praise is an act of worship, whether in prayer, song, dance or declaration. In praise, I thank God for all He has done, but more importantly, I worship Him for who He is. Praise is an action! It is meant to flow naturally from a heart of gratitude and awe.

Many words are often used as synonyms in parallel with “praise. ” They  words help point to its meaning:  “bless, ” “exalt, ” “extol, ” “glorify, ” “magnify, ” “thank, ” and “confess.” To praise God is to call attention to his glory.

From Genesis to Exodus the theme of praise runs through the pages of the bible. I am reminded constantly that life is not meant to be lived in self-focus, but rather with head and heart tilted upward, and eyes fixed on Someone far greater!

Beginning young!

Did you know our core purpose is to give God praise?

“The people whom I formed for Myself
Will declare My praise..”
Isaiah 43:21

Psalms of Praise

It is no surprise to discover the Hebrew title for The Psalms is “Praises”.

Giving God glory and adoration is more than an obligation, it is a delight!

I have seen you in the sanctuary
    and beheld your power and your glory.
 Because your love is better than life,
    my lips will glorify you.
I will praise you as long as I live,
    and in your name I will lift up my hands.
I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods;
    with singing lips my mouth will praise you.”
Psalm 63:2-5

God is holy and fully good! He doesn’t need our worship! He is worthy of it!

Reasons for Praising God

It is impossible to quantify the many reasons God is most worthy of such adoration! Let me name just a few!

God is faithful to every one of His promises:
He is the One and only true God.
God is crowned with glory, honour, and splendor.
He is inerrantly good!
His word is faithful and true.
His love endures forever: His grace is beyond comprehension,
and His mercies are new each morning.
The Lord reigns in majesty and power.

People of Nation Worshiping God
He is a covenant keeping God –
our Deliverer, our Saviour,
our Rock and our Defender.
God is a Righteous Judge, a Mighty Warrior,
and Gentle Shepherd.
He is the Creator of all and Redeemer of people.

And that is just the “tip of the iceberg”!

Unchanging God

The same God that delivered Israel from bondage in Egypt and made a way through the Red Sea is with us today! He is for us, not against us! He is still Healer, Restorer, Comforter, and our Anchor of Hope.

Every anthem of praise still applies!

Give thanks to the Lord,
call upon his name,
make known his deeds among the peoples,
 proclaim that his name is exalted.
Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;
let this be made known  in all the earth.
Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

Do you notice how each one of these words are actions? Praise is not quiet nor passive acknowledgement of God’s goodness and greatness.

 

“Great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel!”

God is still great! He is still present! He is worthy of highest acclaim!

The Best Time

Often the best time to give God praise is before the breakthrough, before the healing, before the dawn breaks forth or the storm ends. As we choose to pronounce His attributes  peace, confidence and strength begins to fill us. God dwells in the midst of our praise!

Even though the fig trees have no blossoms,
    and there are no grapes on the vines;
even though the olive crop fails,
    and the fields lie empty and barren;
even though the flocks die in the fields,
    and the cattle barns are empty,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord!
    I will be joyful in the God of my salvation!”
Habakkuk 3:17-18

Habakkuk has the right idea!

In the light of a palace Solomon wrote the proverbs. In the darkness of the wilderness, fleeing from his enemies, David wrote the psalms.

I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters;
    in the assembly I will sing your praises.”
Hebrews 2:12

Yes! Worship God in your local church, but don’t limit your worship to these beautiful corporate times.

How to Praise

Some lifted up shouts of praise and singing

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth,
burst into jubilant song with music

…and the sound of singing.”
Psalm 98:4-5

Shouts of Praise!

Miriam picked up a tambourine and led women in a dance of praise rejoicing on the freedom side of the Red Sea. (On a side note, remember Miriam was well into her eighties at this time!) Miriam’s dance of worship may have been the first mentioned in bible, but it wasn’t the last. Decades later, David danced in the streets

“Wearing a linen ephod,
David was dancing before the LORD with all his might,”
2 Samuel 6:14

A man healed gave a different kind of praise:

“He jumped to his feet and began to walk.
Then he went with them into the temple courts,
walking and jumping, and praising God.”
Acts 3:8

The way your walk, the way you talk and where you chose to go, can demonstrate praise.

Children and adults alike waved palm branches is jubilant exaltation as Jesus entered Jerusalem

“They took palm branches and went out to meet him,
shouting, “Hosanna!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the king of Israel!”
John 12:13

Children praise God!

More important than the method we chose is a heart fully devoted to honour and glorify God.  Praise is one of the few things we rehearse on earth and do perfectly in heaven. Around God’s throne over seven thousand different nations, tribes and tongues will join together in one glorious anthem. Let’s be ready!

May praise be active daily as we proclaim to our world, God is worthy! Whether on your own or combining your voice with others, declare it, “God is worthy of all praise!”