Praise & Worship

Praise Him …With My Whole Heart

It’s easy to praise God with our whole hearts when things are going great in life. It’s easy to praise Him when we see Him answer prayers or see Him at work in our lives. It’s easy to open up our mouths and belt out our praise when we are in church on Sunday and we feel the presence of God. When things are going great, we eagerly share with other all that God is doing in our lives. The joy that we feel, we want to spread and share with others.

 

But when it’s time to get up and go to work or school on Monday….the praises probably are as quick to rise up from our hearts and push past our lips. What about the times when life gets messy or God seems silent? Do we praise Him then, or grumble and complain? Maybe we praise Him with words, but it isn’t quite heartfelt. We put on a smile at church, pretend everything is ok and the praises we sing come from our lips, but the heart just doesn’t sing along. It’s difficult to praise God in the storms of life or the times there are unanswered questions. Satan tries to sneak in, steal our joy, and attempts to make us think God doesn’t hear our prayer or care about our problems. He tries to make us think that the things we do for God doesn’t matter and it doesn’t make a difference.

Psalm 9:1-2 says, “I will praise, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will shew forth all thy marvelous works. I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name. O thou most high.” God doesn’t need our praise. In Luke 19:40 Jesus said, “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.” In Psalm 66:4, the psalmist wrote, “All the earth worships you and sings praises to you; they sing praises to your name.” In Psalm 19:1, he wrote, “the heavens declare the glory of God.”

Our praise to God, is an acknowledgement of what He has done for us. The word praise means, “to say good things about” (Webster). When we praise God, we are admiring, honoring, and worshipping Him through the joyful thanksgiving and adoration of God as we celebrate His goodness to us and His grace. But how do we do that when it seems like our world is falling apart or we’ve been waiting on God and getting anxious for Him to do something?

When we praise God, even in the hard times, we demonstrate our trust in Him. A trust that knows without any doubt that God has a plan for us … and it’s a good plan, even if we can’t see the goodness in it right now. We can believe in His promise that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28) When we trust Him, we can know that God will work everything out. I know there are times when I let God know that anytime He’s ready is good for me…but I also need to remember that in the times that it’s difficult to praise God is often the times He is growing me, refining me, to make me more like Christ. Sometimes, it’s in these times, that I learn something new about God or a new facet of His love for me. And I can praise Him for that too.

In the moments that Satan attempts to fill my head and heart with doubts and when I find it hard to praise God with my whole heart, I try to focus on who He is and that alone is enough reason to praise Him. Don Moen wrote it best in a musical entitled, God For Us. Read the words below and let them speak to your heart and you’ll soon be praising God with your whole heart. (You can also listen along in the recorded performance here.)

You Can Trust Him by Don Moen

My friend, you can trust God today.
He is good and He is good all the time.
But as you focus on His goodness, don’t miss His greatness.
He is unparalleled and unprecedented.
He is the centerpiece of civilization.
He is the superlative of all excellence.
He is the sum of human greatness.
He is the source of divine grace.
His name is the only one able to save
And His blood is the only power able to cleanse.
His ears open to the sinners call
His hand is quick to lift a fallen soul
He is the eternal lover of us all … Everyone,
And you can trust Him.
He supplies mercy for the struggling soul
He sustains the tempted and the tried
He sympathizes with the wounded and broken
He strengthens the weak, and the weary
He guards and He guides the wanderer
He heals the sick and cleanses the leper
He delivers the captives and defends the helpless
and He binds up the broken hearted
He’s for you and you can trust Him
Jesus is the key to all knowledge
He is the wellspring of wisdom
He is the door way of deliverance
and He is the path way of peace
He is the roadway of righteousness
He is the highway of holiness
He is the gateway to glory
And yes you can trust Him
Jesus is enough
He’s the all sufficient King
He’s the King of Jews
He’s the King of Israel
He’s the King of Righteousness
and He’s the King of the Ages
He’s the King of Heaven
He’s the King of glory
He’s the King of kings
And he’s the Lord of lords
And yes again you can trust Him
And rejoice in this my friend
He is a sovereign King
There is no gauge to measure His limitless love
There is no barrier to block His blessings outpoured
He’s enduringly strong
And He’s entirely supreme
He’s internally steadfast
He’s immortally faithful
He’s imperially powerful
And He’s impartially merciful
He is Jesus, God’s Son and you can trust Him
I wish I could more accurately describe Him to you
But He’s indescribable
He’s incomprehensible
He’s invincible
He’s irresistible
You can’t out live Him and you can’t live without Him
The Pharisees couldn’t stand Him
But they found they couldn’t stop Him
Pilate couldn’t fault Him
Herod couldn’t kill Him
Death couldn’t conquer Him
And the grave couldn’t hold Him
My friends He’s the Alpha and Omega
The first and the last
He’s the God of the future and the God of the past
And we rise to speak His name again and again
Jesus!
Jesus!!
He is Jesus!
He is for us!
And we can trust Him!
©Hosanna! Music

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Praise & Worship

Be joy-filled. Pray Constantly. Give Thanks in All Things.

1 Thessalonians 5 16-18

If we were created with a joy meter of some kind and everyone could see just how joy-filled we are, where would your level be? Overflowing? Maybe it needs topping off? Half full? Running on empty? Or just totally drained? Often we allow our circumstances to determine how “joy-filled” we are. It’s the logical thing to do. We get impatient and aggravated when traffic is backed up and we’re late. Something goes wrong at work and we grumble and complain. We feel we are treated unjustly at work and get hurt or angry. A friend betrays us and we are deeply hurt. Emotions are a gift that God gave us when he created us and there is nothing wrong with emotions. In Ecclesiastes 3, King Solomon wrote: “To every thing there is a season, a time to every purpose under the heaven (vs 1)” He goes on to say in verse 4, “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and time to dance.” However, sometimes our verbal response and how we act out those emotions can get us into trouble. God did not create us to go around with a fake smile when things are not good. However, as Christians, even when things seem to fall apart around us, we have something that the world does not have…the joy of Christ living in us.

The Apostle Paul wrote “Always be full of joy. Pray constantly, Give thanks in everything for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18) Regardless of our circumstances, Paul gives us three instructions:

  1. Always be full of joy. Even when life seems to be attacking us on all sides, we can be full of joy knowing that God has everything under control. The Bible is full of promises that we can claim such as: “For I know the plans I have for you’, saith the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm, plans to give you a hope and future.” (Jer. 29:11). James tells us in his book that we are to “count it all joy.” Philippians 4:4 says we should “rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say rejoice” and verse 11 says, “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.” Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Over in the Old Testament book, Habakkuk, we read, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. (Habakkuk 3:17-18) For us today, it would be like saying, “Though there is no food in the house, the electricity has been cut off, no gas in the car and the bank is coming to take the house, I will rejoice in the Lord and be joyful in God my Savior.” That would be extremely hard to do, yet I can choose to rejoice in a God that loves me and has a plan and purpose for my life and that he is busy working all things out for my good and for his glory. The joy that He gives, comes from deep within and from a peace that only God can give. Joy can co-exist with grief, hurt, and disappointment. We have joy, even in difficult times, because of our salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. We have joy because we have eternal life. We can have joy because we have surety and are eternally secure in Christ. Once we are saved, no one can pluck us out of his hand (John 10:28). And we can have joy because Christ is our fortress … our hiding place…our place of safety. And we can rejoice because God gives us strength to endure any trail.
  2. Pray constantly. Living joyful in difficult times is not easy! I think this is one reason why Paul wrote in Philippians 4:6, “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made know to God.” No matter what our circumstances are, God cares about them and he hears us when we take them to Him in prayer. In Matthew 6:25-29, Jesus teaches, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” God cares about every minute little detail of your life. When we “pray constantly,” it means that we go through life with a constant attitude of prayer, fully conscious of God and totally surrendered to him each minute of the day. From the time we wake up until our eyes close in sleep we should have an awareness that God is right there with us and he is an active participate in whatever we are facing in life….good or bad. It means that we have a constant participant in life and we should keep him in our every thought. When we do, then our actions will reflect it. Joshua 1:9 reminds us that God has promised, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
  3. Give thanks in everything. When times get tough, it can be hard to give thanks and praise God. Yet, if you look hard enough there is always something you can give God thanks for. There will always be something for which you can praise Him. If your frustrated and stuck in traffic, thank Him that you are safe and not in an accident. If you have experienced the betrayal of a friendship, give thanks for God’s forgiveness for the times you have failed Him and then look to extend that forgiveness to your friend. When money is tight, think about the times when God has provided before and thank Him for those times. If your boss is hard and unfair, thank God for giving you a job that provides for your needs….and look for ways to show Christ to your boss through your actions and dealings with him or her. And for the times when you can’t think of anything else to praise Him for, praise Him for the gift of Salvation. If the words of praise just won’t come, put some praise music on and sing along. Even if it isn’t in your heart at first, your heart will soon catch to the lyrics you sing.

What an opportunity you have to present your life as a testimony to God when the world sees you full of joy, always praying, and giving thanks in everything.

Praise & Worship

Bless the Lord, O My Soul

Psalm 103 (NKJV)

Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits: Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from destruction, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

It’s easy to praise the Lord when He seems to be answering prayers and life is good. How easy do we forget all those good things when life gets difficult or it seems God is not answering prayers? King David wrote, “Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!” In other words, David was praising God with all of his being. With every breath. With all that he was. It wasn’t “a go to church on Sunday” kind of praise where he lifted his hands when the choir and music was really good and then on Monday cussed at the other drivers on the expressway in rush hour traffic. Praising God was in every fiber of David’s being.

Additionally, David wanted to remember all that God had done for him. It’s important for us to remember God’s blessings so in the “dry times” when Satan might creep in and plant doubts in our minds about God’s unconditional love for us we can quickly bring to mind all the things God has done for us in the past and know that God is faithful and he will make a way for us, even when there seems to be no way.

David lists some of those benefits in this psalm of praise: He forgives our sins, heals our diseases, redeems us from death into eternal life and crowns us with love and tender mercies. He fills our lives with good things and renews our strength to that of our youth. These are only a few of the ways that God blesses us and just a few of the good things He gives us…but just these are enough for us to praise Him continually. Let me encourage you, dear reader, that the next time you begin to feel discouraged, stressed, or upset, just start praising…even if you don’t “feel” it at first….just start saying the words and thanking God for all the blessings He has given you in your life. It’s near impossible to both praise and be stressed or praise and be angry or praise and be discouraged. It’s just an oxymoron. Where praise exists, there can’t be discouragement, stress, or anger. Just keep praising God, dear friend, and it won’t be long before you’ll be saying with King David, “Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His Holy Name!”

Here’s a song to get you started…

Praise & Worship

Praise the Lord!

Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Psalm 150:1-6.