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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When Clueless

Luke 23:35   (KJV)   35 And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.

Both the people and the leaders expected Jesus to save Himself as an unambiguous proof of Him being the Christ. They were amiss. God’s chosen Messiah came not to save Luke 23.35 - When CluelessHimself, but to seek and to save the seemingly helpless and hopeless lost. He did it not by saving Himself from death on the cross, but by the exact opposite—not saving Himself, by giving His life—shedding His most precious blood—as a ransom payment for our sins.

God said, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). He often does things in ways that transcends our expectations and baffles our imaginations. But they always astonishingly yield the best results. It’s because of this that the saying “Let go and let God” isn’t just a good cliché to us; it’s our lifestyle.

Our only wise God and Savior, we humble ourselves before you. Please open our eyes, our hearts, and our understanding to the wonders of Your ways. Help us to never doubt You, but to always trust Who You are and how You do things. We won’t come to a point when we’ll understand all Your purposes in every turn of events, but we can always trust You in all of them. You have repeatedly shown us Your inexhaustible creativity. You have assured us of Your unquestionable and unending love. We depend on You and act on those things You’ve plainly revealed to us; we depend on You as well even in times when we don’t have a clue as to what’s going on.

 

Favor in All

Nehemiah 2:5   (KJV)   5 And I said unto the king, If it please the king, and if thy servant have found favour in thy sight, that thou wouldest send me unto Judah, unto the city of my fathers’ sepulchres, that I may build it.

For Nehemiah, the king’s pleasure mattered; him being pleasing to the king mattered; and the city of his fathers mattered.

8x10 LandscapeGod is concerned most about our eternal destiny, investments, and existence. And that’s absolutely appropriate because heavenly things are incalculably more valuable than any temporal matter. But the wonderful thing about our Lord is that His love and concern for us covers every area of our lives. He’s concerned about our attitudes not just toward Him but toward other people. He’s concerned about our relationship with others. He’s concerned about our heart of worship, our way of worship, and also our places of worship—including the bricks and concrete parts of it.

Our loving God and Father, you’ve created us; You have given us everything for life and godliness; You’ve given us everything for our enjoyment. We appreciate all of them. Help us Lord not to get our priorities wrongly. We set You far and high apart from everything else as our Lord and King Who sits on the throne of our hearts. We pray that we won’t be lured into having anything else ever coming close to occupying that position.

We also pray that we will appreciate and enjoy all your other blessings although they’re not as important as the Blesser and eternal things. You’ve given us loved ones, friends, and acquaintances, our church family, our church building, our houses, cars, clothes, food and drink. Thank You for all of them. To us, they are expressions of who You are—your generosity, and Your love.

God’s Reach; God’s Touch

Zechariah 12:1   (KJV)   12 The burden of the word of the Lord for Israel, saith the Lord, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him.

Our Lord’s reach touches the farthest and the closest of His creation.

Zechariah 12.1 - God's Reach, God's TouchWhen He tells us not to worry, it’s because there’s really no reason to. God is the Sovereign ruler of everything and everyone. Even when things and people are spinning out of control, He’s still in total control.

We have free will. We may not completely understand His ways. We may not comprehend how He works all things for the good of those who love Him and those who are the called according to His purpose—both our good times and bad times. We may not understand how the devil is allowed to roam around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour, how the devil seems to be influencing the vast majority of people, and yet at all times, God is victoriously utilizing all of the devil’s schemes and works to end up serving His purposes. When people saw defeat on the cross, He was triumphantly parading His vanquished enemies in the open.

We still don’t know the ultimate limits of our universe. We still don’t fully know the most detailed outworking of our body parts. We still don’t accurately and consistently predict weather and earthquakes, but we know our God—little but enough knowledge to be sure that in all of them, we can rest confidently in Him—His awesome power, and His unending love. The universe is incalculably huge. It takes a lot of work to keep them in order and working well. But it’s nothing that He can’t handle. Amidst all of that macrocosmic management, we’re still in the very center of His heart and sight.

Worst Late Ever

Luke 13:25   (KJV)   25 When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:

Luke 13.25 - The Worst LateThere will be those who won’t be saved not because they don’t recognize the Savior but because they procrastinated and lost the biggest opportunity in their lives.

Punctuality begets big blessings. We can’t even calculate all the advantages and benefits we enjoy of being on time. We may get away with procrastination, but it does add unimaginable amount of stress when we always have to cram to beat a certain deadline. Often, we still end up late.

Salvation is something we don’t want to procrastinate on. Being late on this is one of the biggest if not the biggest mistake and regret any person can experience. Living in the Lord is the best life there is–here and in eternity.

Others don’t know what they’re missing. We do because we’ve experienced both. God is good–He’s the best. Why wait until we have very little time to enjoy the best and most blessed life? Worse, why wait until it’s too late?

Listen Intently

Luke 8:18   (KJV)   18 Take heed therefore how ye hear: for whosoever hath, to him shall be given; and whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.

Our precious Lord wants us to be as productive as we can be. He doesn’t want our time Luke 8.18 - Listen Intentlyand our lives wasted. He cares even for the way we listen. He wants us to gain more knowledge, more understanding, and more wisdom.

We’re sincere in the way we listen to our Lord. He has graciously given us His Word so we would know our way, so we would know truth, so we can see, so we can really live. We pay sincere and careful attention to His Word. The more we do, the more He gives us wisdom.

It can be tempting to read the Scriptures and pray out of obligation—just to go through the motions. I pray you don’t get me wrong. I believe and understand the need to spend time with the Lord. But we don’t take them lightly and superficially. Not heeding how we hear is to lessen the understanding we already have. We don’t understand the divine mechanics regarding this, but we know what He says happens.

He speaks, we listen. As His sheep, we know His voice. He always guides and leads us to the right path. He wants to commune with us more than we commune with Him. He’s never too busy for us; we don’t have to wait to make an appointment with Him. And He wants to pour out more of His Word and His wisdom to us. So we sincerely seek; we intently listen, and we keep growing.

Giving and Receiving?

Luke 6:38   (KJV)   38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.

Clearly, giving and receiving, sowing and reaping are Scriptural principles. To remind ourselves again: our giving is motivated by love. We don’t give so we can receive. The Luke 6.38 - Giving and Receivingsowing part though? We don’t want to be hypocritical ever, but the truth though is: when farmers sow, it’s for the purpose of harvesting. I guess it’s not wrong to believe or anticipate harvest as long as love is our underlying motive in all we do.

Although this principle is often associated with material things, it goes way beyond that. This is true with other very important factors in Christian life. Because we believe it, it’s much easier to obey our precious Lord, even in His commands that the world sees as very unfair.

We sow love; we reap love. That’s right. That’s why we can love our enemies; that’s why we can do good even to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, pray for those who hurt us. As we sow love, and blessing, good deeds, prayer, mercy, etc., we can expect to receive them in “harvest” measures. Remember, what we harvest is multiplied times greater than the seeds we sow.

Through this, our uniqueness shines brighter. We get to show our difference as children of the most High Who loves even the most rebellious among us.