Get Ready! We Have Something to Celebrate!

Get Ready! We Have Something to Celebrate!

Our granddaughter’s recent wedding reminded me not to wait for the big life events, but to celebrate the everyday moments as well. As family and friends, we all gathered to share their happiness at an outdoor ceremony under the vast prairie skies.

Our East India friends miss how their culture celebrates every occasion with feasts. Any measure of success becomes reason enough for them to congratulate and acknowledge God’s goodness. The birth of a baby, a new car, the purchase of a home, a promotion and many other successes present a worthy excuse to rejoice together.

Here in North America, marked by competition and comparison, we often withhold such back-slapping, hand-shaking applause of others. What would happen if we set aside our largely self-centered independence and showed admiration for each other, celebrating their accomplishments?

I often advise those I mentor to celebrate every win! Whether almost imperceptibly tiny or massive, a win is a win worth acknowledging. Celebrating confirms we are making progress and inspires us to keep moving ahead. Above all, our wonderful Lord, who brings us success, is most worthy of celebrating.

“Come, let’s shout praises to God, raise the roof for the Rock who saved us! Let’s march into his presence singing praises, lifting the rafters with our hymns!
Psalm 95:2 MSG

Celebrate Others

Let’s applaud the efforts of others even before we see the positive results.

While very young we learn to hide our hurts and mask disappointments. We are unaware of the load people carry under the surface — how many applications they have submitted before they landed a position, how many sleepless nights with a new baby or waiting for a teenager to return home, or how many failures it took to achieve even a minor success.

Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”
Luke 15:23-24

The Father in this story represents God and we are like His lost sons and daughters returning to Him. He saw the son’s return as an opportunity to celebrate with great liberty. The Father didn’t care how many mistakes his child made in the past. He made provision for everyone to share His joy!

May we see each other with the same grace and compassion, looking past weary faces and the stains of life. One act of kindness can turn someone’s day around. Let’s celebrate in tangible ways by

  • complimenting the person filling our tank with fuel
  • tipping the server with cash in hand, acknowledging something well done
  • telling our young children and aging parents how much we appreciate them
  • writing a note of encouragement to someone who has made a difference in our lives

There are hundreds of ways to celebrate those around us. It usually only takes a moment and a few sincerely spoken words. We always have something to celebrate.

Preparation

The greatest celebration on earth pales compared to what is occurring in Heaven.

Celebrate with me! … Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.” Luke 15:7

Reports from literally every nation around the world are declaring an increased spiritual hunger and receptivity to confess and repent of sin, turn to Jesus Christ and profess Him as Lord of their lives. The tumultuous times of recent years have only propelled God’s desire to reach the nations.

Can you feel the jubilation of Heaven or imagine the thunderous celebration every time someone gives their life to Jesus Christ? Our hearts are being tuned to the sound of this glorious celebration as sinners find their way to a Savior.

Armies can’t stop Him; borders can’t keep Him out. The mighty Name of Jesus resounds in streets and villages globally as He rescues and redeems. Oh, may the sound of jubilation resonate within us as we join Heaven’s joyous throng. Oh, my beautiful friends, we have something to celebrate.

 “Hallelujah!
Praise God in his holy house of worship,
    praise him under the open skies;
Praise him for his acts of power,
    praise him for his magnificent greatness;
Praise with a blast on the trumpet,
    praise by strumming soft strings;
Praise him with castanets and dance,
    praise him with banjo and flute;
Praise him with cymbals and a big bass drum,
    praise him with fiddles and mandolin.
Let every living, breathing creature praise God!
    Hallelujah!”

Psalm 150 MSG

Indeed, it is true! We have Someone and something to celebrate!

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5 Unbeatable Exchanges Nobody Wants to Miss

5 Unbeatable Exchanges Nobody Wants to Miss

We can find far more than five unbeatable exchanges that nobody wants to miss — divine exchanges which bring immeasurable benefits. Today as I focus on these few (life, peace, beauty, joy, and praise) may we also discover the many other exchanges available to every believer.

Often things that once worked perfectly, begin to malfunction over time. Some companies even offer trade in discounts to exchange newer, upgraded products for older models. Usually, it’s a limited time offer to urge customers to purchase the latest, fastest, gadgets.

Our children, like everyone else’s, quickly grew out of their clothes as too much leg began to show beneath the hem of pants and tummies protruded from under shirt lines. Shoes also became too tight and developed holes. I smile as I remember how the new purchases seemed to make them stand taller and how they proudly showed off their new-found ability to run faster.

Purging closets and cupboards comes easier to me than loosening my grip on other things which I know I should get rid of — even when those things no longer serve a useful purpose.

An exchange means changes. With changes come challenges we would often rather avoid. But God offers everyone five unbeatable exchanges nobody wants to miss.

The Greatest Exchange

The most beautiful and powerful exchange comes when we surrender our old, temporary life for a new, eternal life in Christ. This divine exchange occurs not outside, but inside us — in the spirit — as we accept Christ’s payment for our sins through His sacrificial death on the cross.

No one dares to claim full understanding of such an exchange. We only receive it by faith. Jesus did for us what we could never do — bridging the gap of separation between us and God and bringing us into relationship with Him.

You were dead because of your sins and because your sinful nature was not yet cut away. Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins.
Colossians 2:13

What a wonderful exchange … death for life … separation from God to being united with Him! Nothing compares to the freedom and joy found in this magnificent exchange.

 “For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”
Colossians 3:3

Labor for Peace

Although we are all unique, we each feel the weight of responsibilities and concerns. But Jesus welcomes us to exchange our burdens for His perfect peace and rest.

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me. For I am meek and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

Another version puts it this way: “Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Too often, life feels “heavy or ill-fitting.” These never come from God. Sickness, death, and pain were never God’s plan for us. But because we live in a fallen world, rampant with evil, we face trials. God stands with open arms, offering to carry the full weight for us. He teaches us His “unforced rhythms of grace” to walk through even the most difficult times.

Three Exchanges in One

Hundreds of years before Jesus walked the earth, Isaiah promised the unbeatable exchanges Jesus would one day bring.

“… to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.”
Isaiah 61:3

Will we sometimes feel like our lives have disintegrated into ashes scattered by the wind? Sadly, yes. Will we face the heaviness of grief and mourning? Undoubtedly. Will we experience seasons of hopelessness and despair? Perhaps.

However, as we draw near to Jesus He promises to bring beauty from the ashes. Even in the midst of mourning, He pours healing oil into our wounded hearts. And out of the dust of despair, He can and will bring forth songs of praise — not for the circumstances, but for His Presence bringing us through those circumstances.

Jesus doesn’t stop there. Twice in verse seven of the same chapter, Isaiah tells us that Jesus will give us “a double portion” for any trouble we have experienced as we choose to place our weakness into His strength.

Unbeatable Exchanges

Even as I write, I sense the heaviness of what some of you are experiencing today. So, I write with tears of compassion. I feel the heart of God welcoming you to His divine exchange, surrendering your loss for great and eternal gain.

Please join in this simple prayer, accepting His divine exchange.

Lord Jesus, I am tired and worn out — tired of pretending I’m strong and have life together. My heart hurts and my emotions feel as scrambled as my thoughts. I give you my broken life and welcome Your whole one. I long for an intimate relationship with You as my loving Father God. Take my sins and failures, Lord. I believe You died for me. I receive the unbeatable exchange of life and fellowship in Christ. The burdens and pressures have become too much for me to carry, Lord. So, I lay them at Your feet. Teach me the “unforced rhythms” of walking in Your grace. I give you the heaviness of my heart — the burned ashes of dead hopes, the mourning over lost dreams, and the heavy spirit of despair. Today, Lord, I receive Your unbeatable exchanges of life, peace, beauty, joy, and praise. Only You can transform my life into something that will ultimately bring You glory and praise. And in that transformation, I know You will give me life eternal and immeasurable good.
Amen.

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The Power of Praise Verses

The Power of Praise Verses

We don’t need to look at recent statistics to recognize the power of praise. Instinctively, we know that words deeply matter. Words of acknowledgement and praise build a person up; while words of criticism and judgment tear one apart. We have all felt the soothing effects of one, as well as the sting of the other.

While shopping, I encountered a weary mother not-to-gently plunking her just-as-weary toddler into a seat while muttering harsh words. I cringed as my heart went out to both the mother and the child. Even though the words weren’t directed towards me, they had a lingering effect on my soul.

I was reminded again of the power of words and, specifically, the power of praise. It requires deliberate intention to turn those trying moments into something positive and uplifting. Reversing the effect of negativity comes with effort — serious effort.

If that is how negative words make us feel, how does it make God feel when the words of our mouths cut instead of mend, destroy instead of rebuild, or wound instead of heal?

James calls it like it is,

“Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.”
James 3:10

Psalm 103:1

Awareness

Awareness forms the starting point for change. We may easily fall into the trap James speaks about. Rather than becoming discouraged, let’s turn awareness into the motivation to bring personal change.

When we honestly evaluate where we are positioned on the scale between “praise and cursing,” it can actually help us develop better patterns of relating to each other (or even in our self-talk).

The next positive step imagines where, how, or who we eventually want to become. Let’s ask God for a clear vision of who He intends us to be.

Then, let’s ask Him for the first steps to propel us toward that destination.

Even moving through these few steps usually offers enough hope for us to create change in how we think and respond verbally to people or situations. The hardest path, even a path of sacrifice, will reap the greatest and most amazing rewards.

Main Focus

Through focused praise, we can turn discouragement and fatigue around. God doesn’t need our praise. We have a built in need to worship Him, however. Praise focused on Him changes our perspective, because praise turns the direction of focus off of ourselves and our circumstances and on to Him and His consistent character.

No matter how difficult our situation becomes, God remains the same — always worthy of our praise. As we turn our hearts toward Him in praise and adoration, something internally shifts within us despite external circumstances. It welcomes peace and opens the door to hope.

Again and again, I have experienced this power of praise to lift and transform my thinking and heart attitude.

“Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.”
Isaiah 25:1

Isaiah 25:1

Power of Praise

As we develop a habit of praising God, the power of praise infuses all our interactions and conversations. An internal shift overrides former patterns — not instantaneously, but through practice. And through it, God makes it easier for us to discover increasing reasons for praise within the movements of our day.

The power of praise works faithfully within us, as consistently at it works in those around us. The negative critical voices begin to filter through the lens of praising God in His majesty and glory.

“Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
Philippians 4:8

Get Started

God gives us ample verses to help us refocus and turn cursing into praise. Our words contain power and exercise authority in both the natural and the spiritual realms. When we speak the following verses (and many others like them) out loud, we reinforce the message of truth they contain.

May we all learn to consistently speak words that build others up, change internal narratives, bless those who might be listening, and give glory to the One worthy of praise.

Psalm 150:6
Revelation 5:13
Psalm 34:1
Psalm 105:1-2
1 Chronicles 29:13
Psalm 71:8
Psalm 91:1-2
Psalm 35:28
Psalm 92:1

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Give Praise to the Lord

Give Praise to the Lord

Expectation begins to rise when we choose to give praise to the Lord. For every difficulty we face, we have even more reasons to praise God. Many people, including myself, have learned how to spiritually press through humanly insurmountable roadblocks. Some things we continue to contend for in prayer. At other times, we have witnessed doors open before us and bridges form under our feet. Where there previously had been no way through, God made a way.

This isn’t an unusual phenomenon known only by a choice few. Every Christian who consistently prays, seeks God’s direction, and waits for His answers experiences His hand at work in inexplainable ways. Some might mistake it for coincidence. People of faith know their God!

“In that day you will say: ‘Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done.’ “
Isaiah12:4

In this single verse, the writer encourages us toward action. After looking more closely, I notice the four calls to action: say, praise, proclaim, and make known. Each action rests upon “what he (God) has done.”

May we pause our busy lives for just a moment to consider what God has done within our families, communities, and faith centers.

You Will Say

Whatever we look for, we will find. If we look for good in someone or something, we will discover it. Our attitude either negatively or positively colors our world more than we might realize.

Yesterday, my husband and I shared a bit of what God has been doing in our lives. As we spoke of God’s goodness, those listening were encouraged. Soon others shared what they also see God doing recently. A few shared about things they continue to pray for with faith.

“The goodness of God is infinitely more wonderful
than we will ever be able to comprehend.”
– A.W. Tozer

Through Holy Spirit direction, biblical authors encourage us to press beyond silent, heart-felt gratitude to verbalize our praise.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods, His love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, His love endures forever.”
Psalm 136:1-3

When hearts overflow, praise naturally comes forward. “You will say,” Isaiah wrote. As we speak, thanksgiving and praise activates both within and around us.

Praise

Often the frequent use of a word causes us to overlook the significance of its meaning. “Praise,” or in Hebrew yadah, means to acknowledge, to praise, to give thanks, to confess, or to cast. It represents the act of acknowledging what is right about God through praise and thanksgiving. Yadah’s heavenward recognition is sometimes structured within corporate worship. Often, yadah flows as personal expression.

Someone once said, “Give praise where praise is due!” Good advice, I think.

We should publicly recognize the people and organizations among us who work hard. However, the grandest accolades belong to the LORD. He is worthy of all adoration, honor, glory, and praise.

Praising God doesn’t always come easily. Life’s pressures often weigh heavy on us. We worry. We fret. God knows, understands, and cares deeply for us in the midst of struggle. Perhaps, it is in these times more than any other, that the transformational power of praise really shines the brightest.

“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.”
Psalm 42:11

Amidst severe oppression, the psalmist commanded himself to give God praise. He shows us that praise is a decision of the will. As we begin to praise, we welcome God into our circumstances allowing Him to shift spiritual atmospheres within and around us. The enemy quickly loses his position.

Proclaim

The word proclaim comes from the Hebrew, qara, meaning to proclaim an announcement. When we proclaim we make a verbal declaration about something. Proclaiming resembles a flashing message on a neon sign or a broadcast over a loudspeaker. Proclaiming commands everyone to pay attention.

The more we proclaim and declare His active participation in our lives, the more we see His hand at work.

Many and varied opportunities have opened for ministry over the summer — at a Bible camp, in churches, and during a city-wide gathering. In every occasion, I have witnessed God answer prayer at a level I have not seen for many years, if at all. People have powerfully experienced the presence of Holy Spirit moving through healing, deliverance, words of knowledge, and the prophetic.

Jesus quoted these words from Isaiah,

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.”
Luke 4:18

Jesus still proclaims good news to the poor. He still proclaims freedom for prisoners. He still gives sight to the blind and sets the oppressed free. Through willing human hands and voices, He moves and speaks.

A great hunger for God is rising in our nation and in the nations around the world. God is on the move! Give praise to the Lord! Proclaim His Name!

Make Known

Isaiah combines two words for “make known.” The first word, yada, means to know, learn, perceive, discern, experience, confess, and consider. It means to be skillful at making something or someone known. I, too, easily forget even the good things God does around me.

One of the practical ways, I stir up my memory is through journaling, or keeping a record, about how I’ve seen God move in my life and in the lives of others for whom I have been praying. I want to remember! Somehow, writing things down helps to solidify them in my memory and improves my recall of them in the future.

Isaiah calls us to skillfully “make known among the nations what he has done.” At no other time in the history of mankind has this been so easy to do. Whether in person or through the internet, we have opportunity to converse with people of all nationalities. The fluid movement of people from one nation to another creates a wellspring of opportunity to make Jesus known among the nations.

In the prayer tent during a praise gathering, we had the privilege of making God known to peoples from First Nations communities and many immigrant nations. What an honor! Give praise to the Lord for what He is doing. Today, people groups from virtually every nation are being reached with the Gospel.

“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise — the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.”
Hebrews 13:15

Fruit of our Lips

As we give praise to the Lord, it becomes the fruit of our lips. Sweet, nourishing, and enjoyable!

In every season, may we each “through Jesus . . . continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise.”

Let’s take a few moments to acknowledge God’s goodness. Let the answers to prayers already received build anticipation for those yet to come. He hears our every cry and holds every prayer precious. He is not slow to come to our aid. His ways and timing are perfect.

Through prayer or songs may the atmosphere of our homes radiate with worship. May today be a “that day” moment when . . .

“In that day you will say: ‘Give praise to the LORD, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done.’ “
Isaiah 12:4

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When God Says, “No” Keep Going

When God Says, “No” Keep Going

What is your tendency when God says, “No?” You created a wonderful plan, have the resources to implement it, and all doors appear to be open. Will you trash the idea and go a different direction? Will you press on, pursuing your goal at any cost?

I have a stash of seemingly great ideas! Or at least, I think they are great. Actually, some may even be God-inspired ideas. Even godly people with fantastic God-given ideas hit roadblocks. I find the proof in the Word of God, the Bible.

King David came up with an excellent idea to build a permanent place for the Ark of God.

“After David was settled in his palace, he said to Nathan the prophet, ‘Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of the covenant of the LORD is under a tent.'”
1 Chronicles 17:1

Wow, David! Great idea! Build a place for God’s Presence. David confided with others who also thought it was a good idea.

“Nathan replied to David, ‘Whatever you have in mind, do it, for God is with you.'”
1 Chronicles 17:2

But God disagreed.

When God says, “No”

“‘Go and tell my servant David, “This is what the LORD says: You are not the one to build me a house to dwell in.”
1 Chronicles 17:4

Good plan! Wrong man!

Honestly, it hurts to not be chosen, overlooked for a position, or have a creative idea only to have someone else fulfill it. This brings back painful memories of being chosen last for a sports team or not at all in a group as a child. It also includes being disqualified for a desired position or facing the rejection of others as an adult.

God’s “no” meant He had something permanently better for David.

God basically said, “David, thank you for wanting to build a house for me. Actually, I’m going to build a lasting house for you.”

God loves flipping things around and turning things for the good. No matter what we attempt to do for God, He comes back with a bigger, better blessing for us. It may not be immediate, but it is guaranteed.

Solomon, David’s son, became the immediate fulfillment, but Jesus ultimately completed it.

“. . . I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for me, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. I will never take my love away from him . . .”
1 Chronicles 17:11-13

Praise

David’s response might seem difficult; he rested in God’s answer.

“Then King David went in and sat before the LORD.”
1 Chronicles 17:16

David wasted no time and energy in self-loathing or questioning. He sat, resting in God’s Presence. Praise flowed from the position of rest.

“There is no one like you, LORD, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears.”
1 Chronicles 17:20

I love this attitude! When God says, “No” to us, will we become distracted from fixed focus on Him? Or will our hearts be fully devoted to give Him praise? In the posture of adoration, David humbly received the blessing God promised.

“And now, LORD, let the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house be established forever. Do as you promised.”
1 Chronicles 17:23

Without dispute, David accepted the closed door with grace and dignity. When we are willing to receive from God both the pleasant and the difficult, we demonstrate quiet trust and confidence in Him.

Prepare

David picked the exact place to build the tabernacle. Interestingly enough, the place marked the spot of David’s greatest failure but quickest turning back to God.

Then David said, ‘The house of the LORD God is to be here, and also the altar of burnt offering for Israel.”
1 Chronicles 22:1

Insecurity might cause some people to place stumbling blocks in the path of their successors. Confident assurance, however, leads others to level the way, giving all who follow the greatest advantage and full opportunity to achieve their calling. When God says, “No,” we quickly discover internal motivations.

When we examine David’s responses, we find him to be a true gem! He

  • Appoints stonecutters, masons, carpenters, and craftsmen (1 Chronicles 22:2,15-16)
  • Provides large amounts of iron, bronze, cedar, gold, and silver (1 Chronicles 22:3-4,14)
  • Designs the specific plans (1 Chronicles 22:5)
  • Orders Solomon to carry it out (1 Chronicles 22:6)
  • Clearly declares God’s intention over Solomon’s life (1 Chronicles 22:7-11)
  • Prays a declaration of blessing and transfer over Solomon (1 Chronicles 22:11-13)
  • Appoints leaders to assist Solomon ( 1 Chronicles 22:17)

Who wouldn’t benefit from such extensive support? This list causes me to examine how I could better help others achieve their goals and reach their dreams. When we put God first and others ahead of ourselves, we discover may creative ways to motivate and encourage.

Peace

Many of us might be tempted to quit when we run into set backs — get off the road, park the bus (or car or eighteen-wheeler), and find a quiet beach somewhere to do nothing. Bad idea!

God reminded David of his successes — a fearless warrior leader, bringing peace and rest for his nation. None of it was accomplished through striving. Complacency didn’t bring it to completion either.

But now, God needed a leader of peace and rest to do the future great work of building the temple.

“But you will have a son who will be a man of peace and rest, and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side . . . I will grant Israel peace and quiet during his reign. He is the one who will build a house for my Name.”
1 Chronicles 22:9-10

God has given each of us a specific place and purpose. Sadly, I believe too many of us carry a large portion of our God-given destiny to the grave unfulfilled. How many talents and years are wasted wishing we had someone else’s call or gifts.

Freedom comes from trusting God to help us do all He has called us to do.

Promote

David did everything humanly possible to ensure Solomon’s success, not just because the idea to build a temple was a good idea, but He desired God to be glorified through it.

“Now devote your heart and soul to seeking the LORD your God. Begin to build the sanctuary of the LORD God, so that you may bring the ark of the covenant of the LORD and the sacred articles belonging to God into the temple that will be built for the Name of the LORD.”
1 Chronicles 22:19

Whose name do I promote? God’s or my own?

When God says, “No” let us confidently promote Him, remembering everything is for His glory. We can do nothing apart from Him. We accomplish everything (even the smallest things) through His grace and goodness. Every point of success results from His blessing in our lives.

David affirms his son, Solomon, and the importance of the work ahead. He calls him to give God pre-eminence in everything. Then God’s Name would be exalted.

When God says, “No,” let us each remember that His closed door for us might be the wide open door someone else is waiting for. We prefer when He throws opens those doors wide and gives us the go-ahead signal. But today, David’s example helps us to keep on going, doing what we can, when we can, how we can.

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Give Praise to the Lord, Proclaim His Name

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. ” These 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 in 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!”

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

Beauty for Ashes

“Instead of” are powerful words repeated throughout scripture. As we end one year and prepare to enter a new one, may the truth of these words resonate.

  “to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair…
Isaiah 61:3

As Jesus began his earthly ministry, He read from the scroll previewing this portion. Then he sat down and declared these incredible words,

 “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Luke 4:21

Today

From that day on everything changed! The waves may still roll, but Christ is present! He is with us!

God is willing and able to grant an excellent exchange for whatever burden we are carrying.

Shame, disgrace, humiliation
foolish mistakes, failures, or fear,
death of dreams, hopes
or a loved one….

Instead Of

His presence guarantees not only comfort and provision in the midst of struggle, but much more:

  “beauty instead of ashes,
joy instead of mourning,
praise instead of a spirit of despair…

Even a child recognizes a good trade when they see one! However, there is one condition! God is asking us to give Him our ashes, mourning and despair. Are we willing to let them go?

Broken

When I yielded my life to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, I had only brokenness to offer Him. My track record had produced failure and disappointment in multiplied measure. Suicidal thoughts and depression had left me a broken shell, without hope.

But Christ came! Everything changed —some pieces radically and instantly, others slowly and progressively.

He continues to invite me to yield to Him things He never intends me to carry. His offer to replace them with something incredible still stands.

Wasteland to Beauty

Thorn bushes are rough and dangerous; their pointed barbs sink deep. Jesus bore such a painful crown pressed firmly in His brow.

Thorns

Applauded one hour and disdained the next, His beauty and deity were unrecognizable to most earthly eyes.

Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the LORD’s renown,
for an everlasting sign…
Isaiah 55:13

Junipers in the Middle East are tall willowy bushes growing in desert places. Travelers often find shelter under their bending boughs. The myrtle bares intensely aromatic white blossoms delicately edged in the colour of royalty, purple.

Myrtle

Jesus surrendered His true Kingship and bore the crown of thorns. In so doing, he now gives us ability to be overcomers in our thoughts. He grants us peace instead of the harsh reruns that plague our minds with

words cruelly spoken,
images that cut through innocence,
or paralyzing pain of loss.

Jesus traded an authentic crown for a mocking one. Today, he invites us to exchange every unnecessary weight for the authentic beauty He offers. It is a good trade!

Garbage Can

A few months ago, a friend was struggling to personally receive God’s “instead of.” All her short life, she had been juggled from house to house – unwanted and undervalued.

We set a garbage can in the middle of the room and began to toss crumpled bits of paper into it. Each piece represented an image, thought or message that had been embedded into her belief system shaping how she now saw herself.  When the mark was missed, we walked over and picked up the wad of paper and made sure it landed deep into the metal bucket.

Garbage

I had several wads of my own to toss!

Once tossed, we gave each painful wound into the hands of the only One who can fully erase their weight.

as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
Psalm 103:12

Once the trade is made, no dumpster diving!

It is not just our stuff that God is perfectly able to trade. God wants to release us from everything anyone else has done against us. God’s “instead of” applies equally to both!

Eternal Glory

God is a master of transformation – a divine recycling! Out with the old and in with the new!

Though once my mind was racked with dark thoughts of death, now I help others find the light of hope. This is not unusual! God delights in taking what was once our greatest infliction and turning it into a powerful tool of redemption.

Those once bound by chains of chemical addiction now show others the way through the tangle to beautifully fulfilled lives. People once tormented in a variety of ways now lead others into places of health and wholeness. As a matter of fact, your place of greatest struggle is probably the very area God has destined to use you to bring freedom for others and glory to Him.

“For our light and momentary troubles
are achieving for us an eternal glory
that far outweighs them all.”
2 Corinthians 4:17

We cannot always fully see what God is working out. His “instead of” is always greater and better than the troubles we are trading in.

Whatever we are going through is working! It is working for His glory! It is working the best in us and for us! God will receive the glory and renown He is worthy of, as we are willing to exchange what we are holding on to.

Before this year ends, trade it in! I am excited to see what new thing God has for each of us through Christ!

__________

Additional Resources!

Another read: Do it Again Lord! Renew! Restore! Revive!