Friday, December 14, 2012

The Greatest Gifts


The greatest gifts don’t have a price tag. But they are extremely valuable.
In the past, I would rush around at Christmas and buy gifts for everyone. Who knows what happened to most of them. A toy that may have been played with for a season or a sweater worn a few times. This year I don’t feel that pressure. I will buy some presents for family members, children who I know need clothes and toys, a token of appreciation for my children’s teachers.

The real value of a gift is the love that it symbolizes and the thought behind it. I love giving people in my life things that I know they will enjoy, that they desire or that will make them feel better. But the most valuable gifts I can give do not cost money. They cost my time, effort and my heart.
This Christmas and for the rest of my life I am determined to give those most valuable gifts. Those gifts that don’t fade or tarnish but live forever in the memory and the heart. They are priceless.

My top gift list:
Unconditional Love: The Agape love of God is the greatest love of all. It is not deserved. It is given freely just because. It is unconditional and sacrificial. Everyone wants to be loved. That is one of our greatest desires. It is God’s greatest gift (For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son). And it is the greatest gift we can give each other.

Forgiveness: Who hasn’t messed up or hurt someone? We all have. And we all want forgiveness. Again, like Agape love, we don’t deserve it. It is truly a gift. But what I have found is that when someone has wronged you, forgiveness is the gift you give that is really a blessing to you. Un-forgiveness can turn to bitterness and as the saying goes it’s like you drinking poison and expecting the person who has trespassed against you to die. The gift of forgiveness not only sets someone else free, it sets you free.

Prayer: Praying for others is a great gift. Whether they know it or not, petitioning the all powerful God on behalf of another is the best thing you can do for them because God loves them, knows what they need, wants the best for them and has the ability to work in their lives and do all things.  

Respect: We all want to be seen, heard and valued. Showing respect shows that you value.

Time: That goes with being seen, heard and valued. When you spend your time with someone, you show that you care.

A Listening Ear: Related to respect and time. Sometimes people don’t want an answer, they just want you to listen to how they feel, what’s in their heart, their dreams, disappointments and ideas. When you listen, really listen, you’re saying you are valuable.

Boundaries and Expectations: May seem counterintuitive, but I believe one of the greatest gifts that we can give our children are boundaries and expectations. Boundaries keep them safe and teach them discipline. Expectations help them soar. With adults the same can apply. An adult with no boundaries or discipline is out of control and probably not fulfilling their potential. In a relationship when we allow people to do whatever they feel with no consequences, it’s not good for them or us. Expect the best of people and expect great things of them.

Encouragement: Who doesn’t need it? We all do. A kind word. A compliment.  “I believe in you.” It can do wonders and lift spirits and give people fuel and fire. It can be a lifesaver and a lifechanger.

What’s on your list of priceless gifts?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Me Too


For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15

Have you ever said to God, “I’m only human?”
Have you ever said, I know you told me to do this or that. But that’s just too much to ask. I’m only human.

I’m in pain. That’s unreasonable and impossible. You can’t expect me to respond in this way or that. I look like a fool. People will think I’m stupid. They don’t deserve it. I’m hurt. I’m in pain.

And then has God ever spoke back to you and said, “Me too.”
Have you ever felt alone?

Jesus says, “Me too.”
Lied on? Called names?

Misunderstood?
Embarrassed?

Humiliated?
Betrayed?

Jesus says, “Me too.”
Rejected?

Jesus says, “Me too.”
Betrayed and rejected by those closest to you--family and your inner circle of friends? Left to stand alone?

“Me too.”
But Jesus, I’m only human.

Jesus says, “Me too. But I’m also God. I know you’re human. That’s why I died for you. But not only did I die. But I rose again. And right now, I’m with the Father, making intercession for you. I see you. I am with you. I love you. I will never leave you or forsake you.

“I know about pain. I went through the cross. I did it because I loved you, even when you weren’t loving me. While you were yet in sin, I died for you so that you could know me and be with me eternally.  The cross wasn’t fun. It was excruciatingly painful. But I went through it. The pain has a purpose and on the other side of the pain is resurrection power and transformation.”
Then Jesus whispers to you, “You’ll get through this. I was human.”  He stretches out his nail scarred hands and shows you his wounds. “I know how you feel. Really. “

Power scriptures:

“But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

“But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.”  Isaiah 53:5

“And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. “ Galatians 6:9

 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Road Runner


Don't you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 1 Corinthians 9:24 (New Living Translation)

Have you ever seen the cartoon Road Runner? In episode after episode Wile E. Coyote tries to trap and destroy the Road Runner. The Road Runner is just going along minding his own business. Doing his thing. The Coyote has elaborate plots and schemes(often aided by the Acme Corporation) to blow up, trap and destroy the road runner. But every time, the trap ends up blowing up in the coyote's face. The Road Runner goes on about his merry way, speeding by with a "beep, beep!", oblivious to the trap that was set before him.

That's how it is with us. Our Enemy, that wily Devil who goes about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour, has set a trap for us. He wants to steal, kill and destroy and he's willing to use whatever tools are at his disposal to catch us, delay us, deny us, destroy us and keep us from our divine destiny in Christ. He will use people, circumstances and situations to deceive, discourage and disqualify us from running our race.

But like the Road Runner, we don't have to worry. No weapon formed against us will prosper. It doesn't mean that the fiery darts and arrows won't hurt us, discourage us or even delay us. But we already have the victory through Christ Jesus.

The attack and plan of the Enemy will blow up in his face and we'll be going right along like the Road Runner. Say"Beep, beep" , get out of my way. I'm on the road fulfilling my purpose going to my divine destiny and keep it moving. Don't give up. Stay in the race. Keep the course that God has given you.You've already got the victory if you don't quit.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Deliverance in the Storm

"A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm." Mark 4: 37-39


My son's class recently read a novel called "Hatchet" about a boy who survived a plane crash. In the novel, the boy is aboard a small aircraft on his way to visit his father in Canada. The pilot of the plane has a heart attack and the plane lands in a lake in the Canadian wilderness. The boy survives and learns to live off the land. He makes himself a shelter, learns how to start a fire, hunt and store his food.

Spoiler Alert: Toward the end of the novel, a violent tornado comes through and tears apart everything that the boy has assembled. But what the tornado also does is bring the crashed plane to the surface of the lake. When the plane re-surfaces, the boy is able to get back in the plane (which includes the dead pilot's body) and get the survival kit out which includes an emergency transmitter. The emergency transmitter sends a signal out that leads to the boy's rescue.

The boy had become comfortable surviving in his situation and at first glance, the storm seemd like a catastrophe, but it set up the situation for his deliverance.

Storms, like Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Katrina, can be violent and destructive. Storms are scary. Storms disrupt and dismantle. Storms are uncomfortable. But storms are inevitable--in the natural and in the spiritual. 

Storms in our lives can be painful and uncomfortable. Deadly and destructive. We can have stormy situations in our relationships, finances, careers and health. Divorce, disease, addictions, accidents, disasters, bad choices and undeserved actions of others that deeply hurt us can cause the winds to whip, lightning to flash and flood waters to rise in our lives.

The saying goes that either you're going through a storm, coming out of a storm or about to enter a storm.

But remember that you're "going through" the storm, not staying in it. Storms don't last forever. And there's a purpose for your storm. Your deliverance is in your storm. There's rescue from your situation in your storm. There's a miracle in your storm. And there's a lesson in your storm.

In the storm, you learn to depend on God, not yourself. In the storm, you learn to trust God. In the storm you discover that the Lord is your refuge and your strength, a very present help in the time of trouble. We learn lessons in the storms. We learn to depend on God. We learn to trust God. We access what is important. We take refuge in God. The storms of life can destroy us and leave us destitute or give us an opportunity to refocus, reinforce and rebuild even stronger.

God may be using your storm to uproot and bring to the surface some dead stuff that you need to go back to explore so that you can get what you need to not only survive but be rescued, delivered and set free. You're surviving and making it and you've learned a lot of lessons in the wilderness, just like the boy in the book. But the time may have come when God is saying, "You've been in the wilderness, a place of solitude. You've learned some lessons. But now it's time to come out. You've got places to go and things to do and if I didn't send this storm and disrupt some things and get you out of your comfort zone, you would never reach your destination/destiny."

In the storms of life, God reveals his power to us in new ways. You may feel like the disciples in the boat during the storm, saying "Jesus, don't you even care." But Jesus is right with you, in your storm and he can speak "Peace, be still" and your inner storm will cease and he will give you peace, even if the storm outside is still raging.

He'll take us by the hand and we'll walk on water. There's a miracle in the midst of the storm. We'll do the impossible as long as we keep our eyes on him.


Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Purse Foundation: Helping educate young people about domestic violence





Her friend’s murder gave her the strength to escape abuse and inspired her to help others be free
 


By Erika Lee
 
Nova and I met in college when she tried out for a dance team of which I was a member. On the day of try outs, I was responsible for recording everyone who was auditioning for the team.  I remember recording Nova. Watching her dance was breathtaking. Nova had a style about her that was unique.

Needless to say, she made one of the finest dance teams on the campus at Illinois State University. The dance team was like a family. We spent several hours every week with each other practicing for events. I remember when Nova and I went shopping for pajamas for our dance team’s fashion show. Nova and I had to model in kiddy pajamas. The skit was about us being kids who did not want to go to sleep.  In the skit, you could see the mom putting us to bed and as she walked out the room, the music came on and Nova and I jumped on our beds, laughed and danced.  As the mother returned to find us awake and out of our beds, she waved a belt in front of us.  We quickly jumped back in our beds to avoid the punishment. 

 Quite often, this memory of Nova replays over and over in my head.  When I reflect upon my own childhood, I remember life with no real worries or burdens.  I also think about how Nova’s son Noah will never experience having his mother come in his room and hug him or hear her say goodnight. 

 Nova and her daughter Ava were found shot to death in her apartment. Her son Noah was found asleep in a chair covered with blood stains from possibly trying to awake his mother and infant sister. Nova’s ex-boyfriend was arrested for the murders and is currently awaiting trial.

The shocking news of Nova’s death made me reflect upon the relationship I was in. No one intends to be in an abusive relationship, but I was in denial that I was even in one.  I did not realize that walls were being created to keep me held in bondage and at the mercy of my abuser. My relationship with my abuser was physically, emotionally, and verbally abusive. I thought I had met the one. He was charming, attentive, and caring. After much time had been invested in the relationship, those qualities I thought he possessed, no longer existed. He turned into someone I didn’t know, someone he never showed me—his true self.

 I had mistaken him choosing my clothes for me, as his way of caring about me. I had mistaken him telling me that certain people were not my friends as his way of looking out for my best interest. I had mistaken him keeping me away from all the activities I was involved in as his way of showing me that he loved spending time with me. I had mistaken him asking me to leave my job as his way to be a provider for me. I had mistaken him constantly calling me when I was away from the house, as his way of making sure no one had harmed me.  I did not know the red flags or warning signs of a possible abusive person or relationship.  I had never seen an abusive relationship growing up and never thought it would be something I would ever encounter....

To read the entire story, click on the photo to read The Well Magazine.



 To order a print copy of The Well Magazine, click here.

 

Top At the Well Postings for October 2012

Here are the top At the Well postings for the month of October. None of them were actually written in October (as a matter of fact, none of them were written this year and one is a listing of top postings for last December) so I guess people are finding their way to At the Well through Google or other search engines. Whatever the case, I hope that if you didn't read these posts the first time that you enjoy them now or if you did read them, you find something of value again.


Miss California (May 28, 2009)








My Heavenly Home (June 18, 2010)







Top At the Well Postings for December 2011

Monday, October 22, 2012

This is the Day

This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
 Psalm 118:24


This is the day the Lord has made. I will-- I make a choice-- to rejoice and be glad in it.

Whatever the circumstance, whatever the challenge, the fact remains that this is the day the Lord has made. He saw it in eternity and no matter what the circumstance, challenge, triumph, tragedy or ordinary regularity, He is in control.

He is sovereign.

He knows the plans He has for me--plans for a future and a hope.

He sees me.

He loves me.

He's not asleep on the job, but He watches over me.

Surely goodness and mercy are following me.

So why wouldn't I rejoice?

He saved me.

He delivered me.

He loves me.

He takes care of me.

This is His day. Nothing in it will take Him by surprise and with Him I can do all things because He strengthens me.

It's not by might or by my power but by His Spirit.

In my weakness, He is strong.

And He will fulfill the plans He has for me.

Why wouldn't I make a choice to rejoice? No matter what the circumstance, no matter what the challenge. I can have joy. Because while "happiness" may depend on what's "happening", my joy is in Jesus and He is the same.

Yesterday. Today. Forever.

This is His day so I can rejoice and be glad in the fact that He will never change. He promised me that He would never leave me nor forsake me. and He is not a man that He should lie.

He is God. He is all powerful. He speaks and things come into existence. He speaks and there is healing. He is the Creator.

The Savior.

The Deliverer.

This is His day and I will rejoice and be glad in it.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Life Well Lived

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
 
Two years ago, a dear sister in Christ, Virginia Higgins, lost her battle to breast cancer. I really can't say that Virginia or Jenny as she was known to her friends and family "lost" because she was more than a conqueror through Christ. And I can't say that she is "lost" because we know where she is because we know her faith was in Christ Jesus. So she is in her heavenly home. But it really was our "loss" here on earth because although Jenny lived only 45 years, she lived well. She made an impact. Her presence, wisdom, kindness and praise are sorely missed by all who knew her. 
 
I will always remember her smiling face, her encouraging words, her praise and love for God and her love for her daughter. She did not have "success" as far as fame or fortune, but she had something much more important--significance. She lived a life that made a difference. She made an impact on people's lives in the here and now and for eternity. She was a wonderful mother, sister, daughter and friend. She was one of my special sisters. One of my parents special daughters in the ministry.
 
Jenny fought the fight against breast cancer valiantly. But she was a casualty of a disease that takes the lives of thousands of women every year and is the second leading cause of cancer death in women.
 
In 2012, the American Cancer Society estimates:
     
  • About 226,870 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.
  • About 63,300 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS) will be diagnosed (CIS is non-invasive and is the earliest form of breast cancer).
  • About 39,510 women will die from breast cancer
Death rates from breast cancer have been declining since about 1990, with larger decreases in women younger than 50. These decreases are believed to be the result of earlier detection through screening and increased awareness, as well as improved treatment. Make sure you check your breast regularly and schedule your mammogram. Early detection saves lives.

In honor of Jenny and National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I am reposting a post I wrote about Jenny not long after her passing and also a video of her testimony.



 
“A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children…” 
Proverbs 13:22
I read the posting on Facebook. It was a posting from the daughter of a friend. My friend, Jenny, passed away this fall. Her daughter commented on how she could still hear her mother’s words and even found herself saying her mother’s very words sometimes.

“Never stoop to their level,” is one of the lessons she could hear her mother saying.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Freedom from Domestic Violence

One mother's mission to teach and save others from her tragedy
 
By Monica Fountain
 
 
I’ve had a 3 years of confusion, frustration, and exhaustion. But along with that have come many blessings received and given. It seems like just yesterday I was calling you to tell you that I was on my way to come do your hair and help get the kids ready. As usual I had a last minute change in schedule but when I tried to call you back I got no answer.  Being the persistent mom that I am, I decided that I was coming anyway, maybe you were just out at the store.—a letter from Yolan  Henry to her daughter, written on the anniversary of her death.
 
Yolan Henry will never forget the day her daughter died-- January 24, 2009. She doesn’t talk about it every day. But it is always there.
Sitting in a suburban coffee shop, tears well up in her eyes as she describes her daughter, Nova, her shining star.
“I try to put it aside so that I’m not thinking about her every single day but I can’t help it,” Henry said. “I just loved her. That was my daughter.”
 I’ll see you later, Mom
 Opening the door to your house changed my life forever in the worse way! I try not to see that door but it’s always there. I just know that God opened his door as well and took you and Ava to live with him.
 
Noah knows this too. That’s what I’ve told him.  I’m sorry that you had to encounter such a demon that couldn’t understand your light that shone so bright, that’s why your Name was NOVA (SUPERNOVA: THE BRIGHTEST SHINING STAR!)…and Ava…I guess she was just here for a short while to come and get you cause God saw your pain and struggles, and he said NO MORE.
 Her name said it all. Nova. Supernova. A star. She was beautiful. She loved to dance. She loved to have fun. She was a mother who loved her children. She was her mother’s firstborn child.
Henry was a teenage mother. She found out she was pregnant her last semester of her senior year in high school.
“I just had to have her and let my life go on from there,” she said. “Nova was very fun loving. She loved music. She loved to dance. When she was a baby she always would just get up and dance for me and make me laugh.”
Life went on. Henry got married and had a son and another daughter. Her marriage ended after 25 years. Henry said her marriage relationship was abusive. She thought because they didn’t fight in front of the children that they didn’t see it, hear it or were affected by it.
Now that her daughter is gone, a fatal victim of domestic violence, she thinks different.

To read more click on the photo and read the full article in The Well Magazine Summer 2012

 
 
 
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Friday, September 14, 2012

Drug Free: My Journey to Freedom


By Berneita Barnes
 
On January 9, 1990, I entered treatment. I had finally come face to face with the fact that I was a drug addict.
 
I had three children and no place to call home. I had been living in abandoned buildings. I had no job, no prospects and no education.

At my lowest point, I begged, borrowed and stole just to fulfill the yearning and urges that came with using cocaine. Begging, borrowing or stealing weren’t enough on some days to fulfill the need to get high. When there was nothing left in the house to sell, I sold myself.

 My father took me to the place in Chicago where I would be questioned and examined and finally taken to another place where I would spend the next six months of my life reshaping and finally learning who Berneita really was.
 
To read more, click on the photo and read the full article in The Well Magazine Summer 2012
 
 
 
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The Well Magazine Summer 2012
Encouragement. Enlightenment. Edification. Inspiration. The Well magazine is dedicated to to encouraging, enlightening, edifying and inspiring others through the power of God’s Word and sharing our stories.

Friday, September 7, 2012

From the Editor: Free


Free.

Free. It’s such a beautiful word. It is the opposite of bondage. Not under the control of someone or something. Liberty.

Wars are fought for freedom. There is a longing deep inside of us to be free.

God wants us to be free.

God wants us to be free in Him. Free from fear. Free from addictions. Free from the circumstances that keep us bound and not living up to our full potential and purpose. Free in our minds. Free in our bodies from disease and bad health. Free in our relationships. Free in our finances. But most important free from sin.

For years, I’ve been a prisoner of fear. I have been a prisoner of the fear of failure, others expectations, opinions and approval.

I believe fear is one of our greatest enemies and greatest obstacles. As President Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously said when the nation prepared to face its enemies in World War II, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.”
 
Want to read more? Click on the photo to read The Well magazine.

 
 
 

 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Day 21: What I Learned from 21 Days of Praise


Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord. Psalm 150:6

1. Sometimes you have to praise him by yourself. Corporate praise is wonderful, but not always available. You have to get in your spirit even if nobody else gives God praise that I am going to praise him, even if it's by myself. As a matter of fact, some of the best praise services may be in your house by yourself as you listen to gospel music and clean or in the shower as you start to sing and reflect on the goodness of God.

2. You are never really by yourself. Just like Elijah thought he was the only one who had not bowed to Baal, God had some other prophets out there who were faithful to him too. You may think that you are by yourself but others are on the same page. Sometimes you just might not see or hear them, but at the right time they make their presence known.

3. Praise and Prayer go hand in hand. Praise should be a part of our prayers. It's easy for our praise to become prayers. When we start to say who God is and think about what He's done, we can't help but start to thank Him and talk to him.

4. Consistency is key. Developing the discipline of praise takes consistently doing it. Making a conscious decision to make prayer and praise a part of your daily life is a decision and investment that has heavenly dividends.

5.  "Anyhow" Praise. God is worthy, whatever our circumstances. He is worthy of praise just because He is. Praise him "anyhow." Even when things are not going your way, God deserves your praise.

6. Praise is the passport to God's presence and power. "Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name." Psalm 100:4

7. Praise sets us free and releases others too. When Paul and Silas were in prison, they gave God an "anyhow" praise (see #5). Although they were in chains, beaten and facing persecution and possibly death, they were praying and singing praises to God (see #3). They knew that whatever happened they were going to be alright and that God is good and worthy to be praised.

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. Acts 16:25-26

Someone may be watching you going through and they still see you praising God, being consistent not only with the praise of your mouth but with the living sacrifice of your daily walk with Christ (see #4) and because of your praise, not only will you be set free but others will be unchained.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Day 20: O Magnify the Lord with Me

Psalm 34

King James Version (KJV)

34 I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

2 My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad

3 O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.

4 I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

5 They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.

6 This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.

7 The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.

8 O taste and see that the Lord is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

9 O fear the Lord, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.

10 The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.

11 Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the Lord.

Day 19: The Passport of Praise

"Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name." Psalm 100: 4

Praise is our passport into God's presence.

My passport has stamps of the various countries that I have traveled. Spain, Mexico, Great Britain. Argentina. In order to enter a country legally you have to have a passport or some type of documentation saying that you can go there.

How do we get into God's presence?

Praise and thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is the ticket that gets us to the gate. When you fly to a foreign country, you have to have a ticket that allows you to get on the plane and fly to your destination.

When we start thanking God, we take off. When we start recounting all of the things he has done for us our prayers sprout wings. Our altitude and attitude get higher and higher when we think of all of the things that we have to thank God for. Thanksgiving gets us through the gate. But praise takes us to our destination.

Praise gets us to the place where we are not just thanking God for what he has done, but we extol, admire and worship him for who he is.

We say, "Thank you." We give him thanks. And we praise his name. Jehovah Jireh. My provider. Jehovah Shalom. My peace. My Deliverer. Abba. Father. The Lord God Almighty. The great "I am."

Need to get away? Take your passport and enter into his presence.

Reflection and Response:

How has giving thanks to God ushered you into praise and his presence?

How do you praise God? Singing? Observing nature? Writing?

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Day 18: Sing Praises

Church mothers at the Regina Mundi Church
 in Soweto, South Africa sing praises to God.
. Photo by John W. Fountain
I will praise the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. Psalm 146:2

Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds--his name is the LORD--and rejoice before him. Psalm 68:4

Praise the LORD. Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the saints. Psalm 149:1

Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength; we will sing and praise your might. Psalm 21:13

Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, you islands, and all who live in them. Isaiah 42:10

Praise the LORD. How good it is to sing praises to our God, how pleasant and fitting to praise him! Psalm 147:1

Sing to the LORD! Give praise to the LORD! He rescues the life of the needy from the hands of the wicked. Jeremiah 20:13

Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good; sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant. Psalm 135:3

I will give thanks to the LORD because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the LORD Most High. Psalm 7:17

For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise. Psalm 47:7

Sing to God, sing praise to his name, extol him who rides on the clouds--his name is the LORD--and rejoice before him. Psalm 68:4

I will sing a new song to you, O God; on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you, Psalm 144:9

Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. 1 Chronicles 16:9

I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations; I will sing of you among the peoples. Psalm 108:3

My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you--I, whom you have redeemed. Psalm 71:23

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. Acts 16:25-26

Reflection and Response:

What are some of your favorite praise songs?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Day 17: Praise Perspective

"O Lord, Our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens." Psalm 8:1

When we praise we get the proper perspective of who God is.

Praise is recognizing, appreciating and expressing God’s greatness. Perspective is defined as a view or vista; a mental view or outlook. It comes from the Latin word perspicere which means to look through or see clearly.

When we praise God, we see more clearly. We see who God is and we see ourselves and our situations in the proper perspective. The things that seemed so large in our human perception seem microscopically small when compared to the greatness of God.

When we praise God we start to really see who He is. Although our finite human minds cannot conceive or perceive all of his greatness, when we start to enumerate who He is, we start to see different aspects of his holiness, omnipotence, awesomeness, love and grace.

When we start seeing how big and great God is, everything else is small in comparison and we have a proper perspective on our problems, our position and our purpose.

Praising God jogs our memory and increases our ability to trust in the one who has brought us through before. We remember how God has kept us, comforted us and provided for us. The more we say what He has done the more we appreciate who He is and have confidence in what He can do.

We recognize that He is the Creator, the Maker of heaven and earth. The God we serve and praise is the almighty One who spoke and brought the universe into existence. This great God is our God. He is a personal God. Our father, Abba, Daddy God who loves me and knows me so well that he has counted the number of hairs on my head and sees my thoughts afar off. He knew me before I was me and He knit me together in my mother’s womb.

The same God who determined the number of the stars heals the brokenhearted. The same God who created the vastness of the cosmos and galaxies also created the subatomic particle of the atom. The same God who made the intricacies of my DNA is the same God who makes the rain fall, the grass grow and the seasons change. The same God made the sun and made it so that plants on earth take that light and turn into food through the miracle of photosynthesis.

And that same God who made the sun, gave His only begotten Son who was there with Him when the foundations of the earth were established. And that Son set aside His divinity, wrapped himself in humanity and shed his blood for our iniquity. What a mighty God we serve and He is worthy to be praised.

Praising God puts things in perspective.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Day 16: Anyhow Praise

"I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth." Psalm 34:1

Have you ever had to give God an "anyhow" praise? You may ask, "What's an anyhow praise?"

There is a gospel song that was popular when I was growing up called, "Hallelujah Anyhow" by Thomas Whitfield. It was a simple song with just a few words. "Hallelujah anyhow. Anyhow. Just keep on praising him. Anyhow. Anyhow."

Sometimes you just have to give God an "anyhow" praise. Why? Because He's just worthy-- anyhow.

Anyhow. Nevertheless. At any rate. Regardless.

Anyhow praise means things may not be the way I want. I might not feel good, but I will praise God for who He is no matter what circumstance I find myself in.

Anyhow praise means we don't praise him just because of what he does. We praise him for who he is. We praise him anyhow. The doctor's report was not favorable. We didn't get the job. We got fired. Our husband left. Our wife won't act right. That child that we have prayed and prayed for just can't seem to get it together. That degree seems so far away and out of reach. Your dreams have dried up like a raisin in the sun. The one we loved so much has died and the hole in our heart seems as if it will never heal.

Hallelujah. Anyhow.

You survived when you thought you were going to lose your mind. And just when you made it through that storm here comes another on the horizon threatening to blow you away.

Hallelujah. Anyhow.

The computer has crashed. Your deadline has passed. Your life is falling apart. You feel like you're behind and others seem so far ahead that you think you'll never catch up. You think you've wasted your time. Maybe wasted your life.

Hallelujah. Anyhow.

Whatever the circumstance, praise God in it. Keep doing right. Don't give up. You feel defeated but whatever happens, you still have the victory. You have a home in glory. You have a Father who loves you. And you have a God who is able to deliver. He's able. And whether he changes the circumstances or changes you in them, He is good and you're blessed just because you're His.  (Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8)

Hallelujah. Anyhow.

Seek the Lord. He will answer and he will deliver. (I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4)

Don't tell a  lie. God is good. Start speaking the truth--the truth of the Word of God in your circumstance. You do right, even when others are doing wrong. (Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies. Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it. Psalm 34:13-14).

God has not forgotten you. He sees you and hears you. When your heart is broken, he is the closest. When your spirit is crushed, he is there to save you. In this life you're going to have some troubles. But God is able to deliver you from them all.

"The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. a righteous many may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all." Psalm 34:17-19

Wherever you are, bless him. Whatever is going on, let his praise be on your lips.Don't be afraid to give God an "anyhow" praise.

Reflection and Response:

I praise God for ...

I thank Him for...

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Day 15: The Holy Spirit

John 14:15-27

Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[c] in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

22 Then Judas (not Judas Iscariot) said, “But, Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world?”

23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Reflection and Response:

I praise God for the Holy Spirit being my...
I thank Him for...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Day 14: Jesus, The Resurrection and the Life

Jesus said to her, "I am the one who brings people back to life, and I am life itself. Those who believe in me will live even if they die. John 11:25 (God’s Word Translation, 1995)

Do you have some dead situations in your life? Some people, things or dreams that you let go of long ago. They aren’t alive anymore. Has the thing that made you smile, that gave you hope, a sense of purpose, brought you joy and made you feel fulfilled slipped away? Jesus what happened? Where were you? What were you doing when my marriage fell apart? When my child died? When I lost my job? Why didn’t you stop me before my decisions led to a catastrophe?  Why didn’t I see?  Why didn’t you get here sooner? You restored sight to the blind. Couldn’t you have kept my dream alive?
It’s dead. Lazarus. The one you loved. He’s dead. It’s been dead so long that it stinks.

Well, I’ve got some good news.

Jesus brings dead things back to life. He has that power because He is life. And if you believe in him, one day, even when your body dies, you will live again. God resurrected Jesus from the dead. And He is the resurrection because he revives, restores and redeems.

He’ll resurrect your old dream or give you a new and better one. He can do it in unexpected ways or in the fullness of time. In his perfect time. At the right time that we can’t see.  Maybe you’re in the wilderness so that he can purge some things, perfect you and let you see Him and depend on Him instead of yourself. Maybe he’s waiting so that God get sthe glory and there’s no doubt that it is only by his power that you are alive.

Jesus brings people back to life. He just asks, “Do you believe?”

Reflection and Response:

How has Jesus "resurrected" you? Is there something dead in your life that needs revival?

I praise Jesus for being the Resurrection and the Life who...
I thank him for...

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