Archive for the ‘Praise’ Category

Not for the reason we think (Ezekiel 20; Psalm 66-67)

September 17, 2014

“But I acted for the sake of my name, that it should not be profaned in the sight of the nations among whom they lived, in whose sight I made myself known to them in bringing them out of the land of Egypt,” Ezekiel 20: 9

Sometimes it seems as if his prayer was in demanding of God instead of asking of the God who had given grace.  He was confident in his prayer and he was praying things that people would love to amen, but it was all wrong.

The previous scenario could be descriptive of many pastors and many parishioners in our world today.  Sometimes I think it could even, shamefully, be me.

In context, it was certainly the people of Israel who were enduring the wrath of God. In their minds, “God was unfair because they deserved to be blessed.”  Here in chapter 20 Ezekiel reviews Israel’s history.  It is clear, from the very beginning it was not for the reason they thought that God had blessed them.  They, as are we, were daily imperfect in their lives.

We clearly see, it was for God’s fame that He worked miracles on behalf of His people.  All God asked on behalf of His people was for them to obey Him (20:13), but time and time again they refused to do this.

Think it through:

Why are you and I where we are in the blessings of God?  There can be only one answer, “for His glory.”

Why are you and I often in battle in life?  Again, there can only be one answer, “God wants to be king over our lives, Vs: 33. As long we live in entitlement we will face great struggle.

Our response:

Lord, I am what I am only because of your grace.  This day I want to walk as a trophy of your grace.  You are my boss and I am your servant.  Please use me for your glory.  Help me to give you the highest praise as I walk among men (I Timothy 1:17).

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“Getting Something For Nothing,” Psalm 64-65; Ezekiel 19

September 16, 2014

“Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion, and to you shall vows be performed.” Psalm 65:1

“I did it again.”  This was my first thought as I woke up this morning.  Each day, I serve a God who blesses me more than I deserve.  Each day I want to end my day by praising Him for who He is and for His abundant grace in my life.  But from time to time I blow it by going to sleep without even saying thank you for what God has done for me.

Psalm 65 is David’s praise for the abundant provision of rain.  This chapter is small in length but deep in praise.

Think it through:

1.  Do you and I have any reason’s to praise the Lord?

“Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts.”  

If you are a Christ follower, you have been given something for nothing.  Jesus went to the cross, purchased your redemption at a great cost, and rose from the dead so that we might be given eternal life.

“Yes, you and I have been given something for nothing.”

2.  Do you and I spend time considering the impact of our blessings?

David reminds us of two things:  First, we are blessed to be in fellowship with God.  Each day, we serve a God who guides, protects, gives peace, and empowers us to do great things.  Secondly, we are blessed with the favor of God.  As the world plunges deeper and deeper into darkness, you and I have the joy of walking in the light.

“We have the light of life,”  John 8:12

God’s preferred response:

Daily we should spend time with God reading His Word so we can be reminded of all we have received freely from Him.

Daily we should spend time with God reading His Word so we can make full use of all He has given us.

Each day, it should be our goal for our last words of each day to be, “I praise you for (You fill in the blank).”

How could we not? (Isaiah 43; Rev. 13)

June 11, 2014

“The people whom I formed for myself that they might proclaim my praise.”  Isaiah 43:21

It is something that we would never imagine that would happen, but it does!  It happens every day and honestly we never really think it is happening, until God has to send us to the spiritual woodshed to awaken us and to realign us!!!

What is the is the issue?  Let’s look at God’s people in Isaiah 43.  Here are a people who are not living in obedience to God (42:18-25).  Here are a people who have been blessed with so many things but they are living without even the thought of giving praise to His name!!!

Consider God’s case (Vs: 26)

Think it through:

I.  In God’s love He had made Israel a great people, Vs: 1-13

They only became a people because of His grace, Vs: 1-2.  They faced hard times, but it was God who saw them through.  God was still seeing them through hard times, Vs: 3-5.  This is God’s commitment to all who call on His name, Vs: 6-13

II.  In God’s love He is now disciplining Israel for her failure to praise Him, Vs: 14-22

God is disciplining the people with the intention of their redirection and their redemption.  This is the God who brought them through the Red Sea but was now going to do something greater in their lives.  But still yet they would not come to Him and praise Him.

This should be a great illustration and warning in our lives!  We must be a people who are aware of what God has done for us.  We must be a people who genuinely give praise to whom praise is due.

How could we not give praise to the one who is redeeming all who come to Him through Jesus.  “I am he who blots out your transgressions for my own sake. And I will remember your sin no more.”

Our response:

Israel’s response was stay the course of corrupt living giving praise to themselves.  The price was greater than they could pay.  You and I must realize we were created for something so much better.  This day we need to weed through the things that keep us from praising His name!!!!

You and I are loved by a King!!!  How could we keep from shouting His praises!!!

Praising God with what you already have (Hebrews 13, Isaiah 6)

May 8, 2014

“Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

Hebrews 12 ends with a very strong statement concerning the holiness of God, “Our God is a consuming fire.”  Isaiah understood this as he cried out before the presence of God, “I am undone, I am an unclean man who dwells in the midst of unclean people,” Isaiah 6:5.

Question:  “How can unclean people praise God?”  Answer, “They must be purified so they can praise Him.”  Here is how we are purified.  “So Jesus suffered outside the camp in order to sanctify the people through His own blood,” Hebrews 13:12

When this purification comes, a person can now approach the throne of God with praise.

Think it through:

1.  We are to praise Him with our lips, Vs: 8-13

Because of Christ we have both a reason and the right to praise the Lord.  It is He who has saved us and it is He who has given us access to the throne of God.

2.  We are to praise Him with our lives, Vs: 1-8

In these verses we see different life situations in which we are to praise Him through the way we carry out His directions.  Take some time and write down each situation and examine how you are doing in praising Him.

Our response:

Look specifically with me at Vs: 5, “Keep your life free from the love of money, and be content with what you have…”

This morning I was personally challenged to examine my heart in the area of personal contentment with what God has placed in my possession.  I considered the possessions I have and I considered the possessions I do not have.  The truth is, “there were some things I would like to have.”  And the truth is, “I sometimes miss out on enjoying what I have because I am focusing on what I don’t have.”

Question, “How do we get beyond this?”  By spending time praising God for what we have.

Think with me about what we have in Christ:

1.  Forgiveness of sins

2.  Freedom from a lifestyle of sin

3.  Friendship with the Son of God

4. Eternity in heaven with God

5.  True purpose in life

Brothers and sisters, “any one of these alone should cause us to be content.  But when you place them all together, one is fully content with what God has placed in our hands.”

A Reason To Be Glad (Leviticus 26: Psalm 33)

April 22, 2013

“If you walk in my statues and observe my commandments and do them.”  Lev. 26:1

“For our heart is glad in him, because we trust in his holy name.”  Psalm 33:1

Question: “Do you and I have a reason to be glad today?”  The churchy answer would be yes, “We have Jesus so we can be glad.”  This is a great answer, but how personally true is this for your life and for my life?

This mornings More For Christ readings speak directly to the issue of gladness in our lives as followers of Christ.

In Leviticus 26 we discover the greatness of our God in the following way, “He has broken the bars of our yoke and made us walk erect.”  What an awesome God who has brought us from darkness to light.

In Psalm 33 we discover the greatness of our God in the following ways:

1.  As we focus on his word we discover what we have in Christ

2.  As we focus on his works we discover how much he has done for us in Christ.

3.  As we focus on his wisdom we discover the greatness of who He is.

 

In both these passages we find sufficient reason to praise our great God.  We should be glad that in good times and in bad times we have a reason to be glad because our great and awesome God will see us through.

Our thoughts for this day should be to walk in obedience to this great God.  The fact is, the only reason we would not be glad is if we are in rebellion against God.  For if we are in rebellion (Lev. 26:11-39) we face the discipline and judgment of God.

Oh how I want to be glad every day.  I leave you with the words of a wonderful praise chorus:

    “He has made me glad, He has made me glad.  I will rejoice, I will rejoice, and be glad in him.  This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in him!!!

Both Sides Of A Complaint

December 8, 2011

“But they soon forgot his works; they did not wait for his counsel. But they had a wanton craving in the wilderness, and put God to the test in the desert; he gave them what they asked, but sent a wasting disease among them.” Psalm 106 13-15

Numbers 11 begins with the following commentary, “And the people complained.” Question, “Have you ever had any experiences with complaints?”  Without a doubt you quickly thought about those circumstances where people complained against you.  This is our natural tendency.

Moses was this way, “Why have you dealt ill with your servant?  And why have I not found favor in your sight, that you lay the burden of all this people on me?” 11:11.   I confess that I am this way in many settings.

However there is another side, “What about the ones who are doing the complaining?”  As noted in Psalm 106, the people who complained had turned their hearts away from God and they were listening to the rabble (The non-Israelites who came out of Egypt with Israel).  The fact is the people who complain are in a far worse predicament than the people who are facing the complaints.

God always provides a way of escape for those who endure unjust complaints.  God always uses complaints to strength us and to show us the way for the future.  Moses would be blessed by God giving 70 elders who would help him along the journey.  I praise God for those He has placed along side of me for the purpose of strength when complainers come.

If you are being complained against, I challenge you to look, not for people who will champion your view, but for people who will strength you in looking to Christ in everything.  I also challenge you to have the right heart toward those who complain about you.

Moses set the example for us in Numbers 12, when his own brother and sister complained against him.  When God judged Moses siblings, Moses prayed for them.  We must have a heart of compassion for those who are in such a terrible place.

Finally if you are in a place where your complaints outweigh your compliments, you need help.  This day, I encourage you to come before the Lord and repent for your bitterness of heart about your state in life.  I challenge you to receive His sweet forgiveness and mercy.  I plead with you to become a student of scripture that will assist you in focusing on the right things of life:

                   “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, thing on these things.”  Phil. 4:8

Consider complaints from both sides of the picture.  When you do, your perspective will be altered for His glory.

The Song Of The Redeemed

October 3, 2011

Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation,” Isaiah 12:2.

In every generation there seems to a be a song that identifies that generation.  For example, the Beetles were the group whose songs identified the teenagers in the 1960’s.  I must be honest, I know very little about secular songs so I do not even know the secular songs that identified my teenage years, 1980’s.  However there are songs that I know well.

These songs are the songs of the Redeemed.  I grew up with Amazing Grace, Victory in Jesus, and Just as I am.  Still today those songs and many others hold a significant place in my life.  However there is one song that stands out for me above all others, it is the Song of the Redeemed.

This song has been sung in every generation. For example, Moses sang this song when God led the Children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground. “I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously… The Lord is my strength and song, and he has become my salvation,” Exodus 15:2-3.  The Psalmist wrote, “Then they believed his words; they sang his praise,” Psalm 106:12.

The song of the redeemed is a song of praise to our God for who He is and for what He has done and continues to do in our lives.  The old hymn writer said it best:

“Redeemed how I love to proclaim it, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.  Redeemed in his infinite mercy, His child forever I am.”

Question, “What is the song in your heart today?”  Maybe the song you are singing is a song of sorrow as you look at the circumstances of your life?  Maybe the song you are singing is a song of bitterness because of the hurt in your life?  Our maybe the song you are singing is a song of selfishness because you are focusing totally on your own life.  This very day, I plead with you to sing a different song.

This song will require time for you to discover the lyrics and it will require time for you to discover the beauty of the one you are singing about.  This is the desire of my heart today.  For this very reason, I am taking almost two weeks off from work to spend time with family and with the Father.

So for the next two weeks I will take a break from blogging.  I encourage you and I plead with you to pray for me during these weeks as I rest, refuel, and rejoice in the God of my Salvation.  I love each of you and I look forward to writing out of a fresh heart when I return.

Who Deserves The Credit?

August 18, 2011

Do you know of anyone who boast of their accomplishments?  If you do, chances are you do not like them.  The fact is I often struggle with wanting to take credit for good things and I often struggle with wanting to not take credit for bad things.

This morning I began a study of the book of I Corinthians.  If ever there was a church that was blessed, it was this church.  Here is what Paul said about the church, “In every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge.  So that you are lacking nothing in any spiritual gift,” 1:5,7. 

Question, “Who deserves the credit for what you have in your possession?”  I think you and I know the answer?  The fact is, all the good that we have comes to us as a gift from God.  Paul reminded the church, “The grace of God was given to you in Christ Jesus.,” 1:4.  This church needed to be reminded of God’s grace that had been given to them.

Brothers and sisters, when was the last time you told others of the grace of God that had come to you as a sinner?  When was the last time, when in a family get-together, you told your children of all of the blessings they have in Christ?  When was the last time you just spent your entire prayer time praising Him for what you have in Him?

The problem I have is that when I fail to give Him credit, I begin to take credit.  I was greatly convicted by Paul’s concluding statement in the end of chapter one. “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”  

This morning I want to encourage you to pause where you are and just say, “Thank you to Jesus.”  There is so much that happens in such moments.  First, He is glorified in you at this moment.  Second,  You are expressing humility and submission.  Third, you are being reminded that He is able to do even greater things in this moment.  Four, there is peace that comes in knowing your life is hidden in the hand of God.  Finally, the world around you will be able to see Christ.  Only in Christ is their perfection.

“Thank you Jesus for all that you are.  Thank you for rescuing me from a life of sin.  Thank you for going to the cross.  Thank you for changing my life. Thank you for my home and family.  Thank you for calling and equipping me to be a pastor.  Thank you for calling me to Kings Baptist Church.  Thank you for preparing an eternal home for me.  Thank you for all that I have now and forever in Christ.  

Who Is Worthy?

May 16, 2011

In the early hours of the morning, one-hundred passengers on a Cathy Pacific Airbus were pleading for their lives as the pilot shared the news that the plane was going to have to make an emergency landing in Singapore.  Thankfully the passengers were able to say, “God delivered them.”

As I read this story on Foxnews.com I wondered, “If they were all praying to the same God?”  Even deeper I wondered, “Which God received the credit for their survival?”  These questions came as I found myself completing chapters 17-23 of II Samuel.  David’s life is now coming to an end.  Chapter 22 records for us David’s Psalm of praise for the one God who is worthy of praise.

“I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies,” 22:4.  David clearly understood that there was only one God worthy of praise.  David went on to write about this one true God, “He rescued me from my strong enemy, from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me.  He brought me out into a broad place, He rescued me, because he delighted in me,” 22:18, 20.  

David understood, there was only one true God who could deliver him from his strong enemy and David discovered there was only one true God who delighted in him.  Question, “Who is the God who delivered and continues to deliver you?”  Question, “Who is the God who delights in you?”

For me, the answer to both questions is, “Jesus!” I cannot praise Him enough for delivering me from the strongest of enemies called sin.  I cannot praise Him enough for delighting in me, even though there was nothing delightful in me.

Brothers and sisters, when this reality comes into your life, you will cease praising yourself, and you will cease pursuing selfish goals.  You will seek to serve the God who loves you and gave himself for you.

I want to challenge to pay attention today to all that you experience.  Look closely for God’s hand of deliverance in your day.  Look closely for God’s hand of delight in giving you all you will receive today.  He is greatly to be praised!  He alone is worthy of glory, honor, and praise.

So, if you find yourself discouraged, look to Christ.  He is the God who delight’s in you and He is the God who delivers you from all your distress.  Once again notice the words of David, ” He is a God who is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him,” 22:31.  

More Than Meets The Eye

April 29, 2011

Last night’s and this morning’s world news has been all but eclipsed by the Royal Wedding in England. I must admit that I was extremely disappointed by so much fanfare being paid to one couple when so little attention was being paid to the devastation of so many lives in our own nation.

The fact is, most of the people who have lost their lives will never get the press that the Royal Couple have received.  Please do not confuse what I have written with thoughts that I am against this young couple. I pray they see and submit to the gospel.  However my heart breaks for the mixed up priority system in our world.

This is never any more clear than in I Samuel 16.  The chapter begins with God telling Samuel to move forward and anoint the next king of Israel.  Here is what God said, “I have provided for myself a king among his sons,” 16:1.  God had ordained that one of the sons of a man by the name of Jesse the Bethlehemite would become king.

Jess had eight sons.  Seven of them pass in review before Samuel and each time the Lord said, “He is not the one.” Suddenly we ask ourselves, “where number eight?”  Surely, he would be in the processional.  But he was not in the processional.  He was still very young, a teenager, and he had much to learn.  However Samuel asks for him to be brought.

So what is the deal?  “For the Lord sees not as a man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart,” 16:7. This eight son would be the son that had a heart for God.  Outwardly, he was young, but inwardly he was far stronger than his older brothers because he had a heart for God.

Suddenly the reality of what I just wrote flows deeply into my mind.  How could such a boy have a different heart than his other seven brothers?  This, my brethren, is the very grace of God!!!  God had placed his hand of favor on David.  David would become king and in doing so he would give us a picture of a greater King who would come.

The world would not look on this greater King with favor.  The prophet Isaiah would write about him, “he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.  He was despised and rejected by men…” 53:2-3a.  However the Father would look on Him and say, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”  The very Son of God came as prophet, priest, and king.  But the word did not see Him for who He was and still today the word does not see Him for who He is.

But praise be to God that He opened the eyes of David to see. Praise God that He gave David His Spirit, “And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that Day forward,” 16:8.  These were the things that were more than meets the eye.  Only God could do this.

Today, I am so thankful that God has opened my eyes and He is opening people’s eyes around the world to who He is.  This is what makes all the difference. Take heart my brethren.  You may never make this world’s front page, but you made news in heaven because you are loved by a King!  This is truly more than meets the eye.