Stand Up and Praise God

Nehemiah 9:5   (KJV)   5 Then the Levites, Jeshua, and Kadmiel, Bani, Hashabniah, Sherebiah, Hodijah, Shebaniah, and Pethahiah, said, Stand up and bless the Lord your God for ever and ever: and blessed be thy glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.

The leaders of the congregation of Israel, in an important time of national commitment to God found it in their hearts to lead their people in praise and adoration to God

Nehemiah 9.5 - Stand Up and Praise GodI’m grateful that I got introduced to this important facet of Christian life very early in my walk with the Lord. I enjoy it. I enjoy it when I’m alone, when we’re praying as a family, or when we’re lifting up our voices altogether as one of His particular assemblies.

It’s interesting; when asked to volunteer for specific prayer “categories,” there are those who quickly chose to lead in repentance, in thanksgiving, or in requests, but many believers still don’t feel comfortable leading in praise. It can be learned. In fact, it’s tremendously comforting and uplifting praising our great God and Father.

I remember the song “Praise the Lord” popularized by Russ Taff or the group Imperials; it’s worth recalling repeatedly:

When you’re up against a struggle that shatters all your dreams
And your hopes have been cruelly crushed by Satan’s manifested schemes
And you feel the urge within you to submit to earthly fears
Don’t let the faith you’re standing in seem to disappear

Praise the Lord, He can work through those who praise Him
Praise the Lord, for our God inhabits praise
Praise the Lord, for the chains that seems to bind you
Serve only to remind you that they drop powerless behind you
When you praise Him

Now Satan is a liar and he wants to make us think
That we are paupers when he knows himself we’re children of the King
So lift up the mighty shield of faith for the battle must be won
We know that Jesus Christ has risen so the work’s already done

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God-Glorifying Gifts

1 Peter 4:11   (KJV)   11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

We’re all gifted. Our extra-ordinarily gracious Father and God lavishes us with awesome gifts. He also enables us to use our gifts faithfully. This interplay of God’s amazing 1 Peter 4.11 - God-Glorifying Giftsgraciousness and our humble stewardship of His gifts result in the glorification of our Benefactor.

God knows, desires, and does what’s best for us. He chooses the kind of gifts we need. We gladly aceept the lot we’re given. No complains. The clay never questions the Potter. He Who knows everything, can do anything, and loves us most can be trusted with all we are.

We appreciate Him for being such a good and loving Father. We appreciate every gift He’s given us. And we show the sincerity of our delight and gratefulness through the way we care for and use His gifts. We don’t neglect them, misuse them, and abuse them. We give our best.

Although the influence of or pressure from the world is strong, our eyes are set: soli Deo gloria; we live for the glory of God alone. Sure, being rich and famous has a ring to it—a loud ring to many. Others go all out in using God’s gifts for their own aggrandizement. Not us; we understand that living for self-glorification is nothing compared to living for the honor or Him from Whom all our blessings flow—the greatest Being there is in existence.

Trials, Temptations, and Triumphs

1 Corinthians 10:13   (KJV)   13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Although there are many times when we feel like certain trials and temptations we face are very different from everyone else, more difficult compared to everyone else’s, the truth is they’re not. There may be a uniqueness of some sort, but not absolutely. We don’t 1 Corinthians 10.13 - Trials, Temptations, and Triumphsuse this as an excuse to give in to them. Besides, whatever they may be, and however differently they may appear, everytime God allows them to come, they’re opportunities for victory.

Praise God, He always leads us to victory. Part of His strategies is to give us wisdom. It’s that wisdom that causes us to be in step with Him instead of choosing to rebel against Him. He’s a loving God Who fills us with innumerable favor and immeasurable empowerment for us to take the right steps. Not every recipient of God’s blessings live uprightly, but those of us who desire to do so possess what it takes.

We don’t waste God’s precious gifts. Others may experience a tremendous amount of God’s kindness and generosity, but miss out heaven itself in the end. We’re surrounded by a great cloud of examples to follow and to avoid. We want to have faithful walk to the end. There’s an inexplicable joy and satisfaction in staying within the straight and narrow. We navigate through it with humility, always aware that even when we’re strongest, we can fall. We heed the warnings; we seek His instructions; we follow His Spirit’s leading. Trials, tests, and temptations will come; we faithfully fight, and we live as Christians—triumphant.

The Humble Heard

Psalm 10:17   (KJV)   17 Lord, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear:

The humble has their Champion. They’re not alone; God’s aware of whatever they’re going through. Others dread the thought of humility because of the potential of being abused and treated like rugs. But believers are called to this—not rugs but humility, and for us, it psalm-10-17-the-humble-heardisn’t a struggle at all. When this path of humility becomes difficult, our heavenly Father comes running with His arms extended, to embrace us into His comfort.

The temptations to fight back abound; there are so many situations when others could care less if they hurt us or not. They neither have any fear of God nor any regard for us. To them, we’re tools and pawns. Humility is definitely far from their thoughts and consideration. They take the opposite route. Some of them take it to a really dangerous extent. They raise their hearts and hands against the Lord; they affirm, support, and promote evil, serving only their interests, never others.

Our trust is in the Lord. His silence never means cowardice or defeat. The cries of our hearts are heard loudly in the heavens. They go straight into His ears, straight into His heart. God is never clueless about or apathetic to our plight. He pays full attention. Our time of waiting is His time of masterfully orchestrating our strengthening and growth, a time of setting up every “prop”—situation or person—in place, ready for the revelation of our exaltation to greatness. So yes, humility isn’t helplessness; it isn’t a demerit; it’s a great advantage.

The Blessed Rejects

Luke 6:22   (KJV)   22 Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.

Even with experiences considered as horrible, a believer is still so blessed. To be hated; to be rejected, excluded, or ostracized; to be mocked, slandered, and ridiculed; to be vilified, insulted, and cursed—in the natural, being dealt with in such ways can be very painful. luke-6-22-the-blessed-rejectsBut even in the middle of these seemingly very hurtful treatments, we still have reasons to leap for joy. All the sufferings we undergo because of our relationship with our precious Lord Jesus, taken altogether, are nothing compared to the glorious rewards awaiting us.

What God allows, it’s for our good. We trust Him as the One in complete control of everything. Yes, there are many factors involved; free will plays a big part. But even the most rebellious of men’s choices still play within the masterful orchestration of our Divine Maestro. That’s why we enjoy acting the way He tells us to. What matters most to us is loving, trusting, and obeying Him.

We may not have luxuries in life, but we’re blessed because we have access to the inexhaustible resource of our Dad’s Kingdom. We may not afford the most exotic food in the world, but we’re blessed because He satisfies our mouths with good things so that our vigor is renewed day by day. We may have nights of weeping, but we’re blessed because joy comes in the morning. We may be rejected by people, but we’re accepted by God.

We can love our enemies, love those who hate us, do good to those who do us bad, bless those who curse us. We leave vengeance to God; we don’t have qualms about parting with our material possessions to give to those in need; we know it’s more blessed to give than to receive. We forgive those who wrong us and pray for those who maltreat us. These we do never for a show but out of the goodness of God-changed, God-surrendered, and God-trusting hearts. This is the portrait of a unique breed of people—those blessed by God.

The Son and the Children

Galatians 4:5   (KJV)   To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

God absolutely delights in having us as His children. Us being children of God is an awesome reality. We weren’t always so; before, we were slaves—slaves to the law and sin. But in His perfect timing, He sent our Lord and Savior Jesus, who Himself willingly came. galatians-4-5-the-son-and-the-childrenThe Son of God came to where the children of man are so that the children of man can become children of God. Imagine having God as our Father, and having the right to call Him Dad. We can stop imagining. This is reality.

I’m so thankful to our wise and loving Father Who made this all happen. What a demonstration of unconditional and amazing love. Jesus literally became a payment for us. That’s the Son of God—a payment—just so that we may be fully bought back from our sad slavery. Others have a hard time believing this fascinating concept. Oh how I pray that they will not only see, but experience the beauty of this reality. It’s not hard to believe that God has a unique Son. In fact He has children, a family—and growing one at that.

What a joy! Being free is superbly wonderful in itself. But being adopted as God’s own children—that’s a totally different level of blessing. So we live truly free; we don’t allow ourselves to be foolishly entangled again to the cruel chains of death brought about by ruinous sin and paralyzing fear. That’s why we’re not dependent on any substance to drown our sorrows or boost our courage. We simply take hold of Dad’s hand and walk with Him. There we find courage, strength, and comfort. We bravely face anything and everything Dad allows in our path—joyfully too, knowing that Dad only allows them because they’re for our best.

Beloved Children of God

1 John 3:2   (KJV)    2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

One of the greatest blessings in our relationship with God is us being adopted into His family as His very own children. Those of us who receive Him, who believe in His Name, He gave us this awesome right and honor of becoming His children. We have a true, living, 1-john-3-2-beloved-children-of-godloving Father-child relationship with God. This is something affirmed in us by His precious Holy Spirit. We now call Him Dad.

Because we have this saving belief, experience, and relationship with our Father, we’re assured of our eternal destiny: we will spend eternity in His presence, and our predestination will be fully realized: complete conformity to the image of our dear Lord Jesus. Right now we enjoy and celebrate our victories in growth. In this imperfect world where the prince of darkness still has widespread influence, we, though still sharing in this imperfection, though still struggling at times against temptations, though still failing and falling at times, look forward to our ultimate transformation. One day soon, we will see our precious Lord appear in the clouds, and we will be gloriously changed.

God wants us to draw ever closer to Him because He loves us truly, fully, unconditionally, and infinitely. We all turned away from him, went astray and got separated so far away from him. I can’t imagine how much we broke His heart. He did everything so He can bring us back. Through our precious Lord Jesus, we’re back. People don’t understand why we love Him; we don’t have to be forced, threatened, or coerced to pray, read His Word, fellowship with our spiritual family, and speak to others about Him. We enthusiastically and excitedly look forward to them. How can we not be? We and Dad—we love each other very much.