In His Praise — June 4, 2023

I rejoiced with those that said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.”

Psalm 122:1

A common topic of discussion among churches nowadays is the subject of church growth. Churches, of all denominations, are experiencing a continued decline in attendance. We ponder the reasons for this decline. Do we let other obligations and attractions fill our schedule until  we do not have time for church? Is it lack of dedication? Or is it that social media has brought the church service right into our homes? We no longer have to get dressed and go out, we can watch the weekly sermon sitting on our couch in our pajamas. Or, does the devil have such a downward pull on the world that we are blinded to the importance of attending a worship service? The answer is probably all of these and more.

But church attendance is important. Here are just a few benefits we gain from being an active member of a church:

  1. When we join with like-minded believers in worship, our faith is strengthened. Through hearing and studying God’s Word, praying, singing, and praising the Lord, we grow.
  1. Fellowship with others is important to our emotional well-being. A supportive church family is vital in helping us through difficult times in our lives. Even if we are not experiencing problems, it is nice to feel loved and needed.
  1. We can encourage others. Praying for and with another is a blessing to all involved. Hebrews 10:24 says we are “to spur” or encourage each other on to love and do good.
  1. Being an active part of a church gives us more outlets for service and opportunities to witness to others.
  1. Lastly, and most importantly, we should attend church because it is the body of Christ. As a child of God we should desire to be an active part of His family.

In Hebrews 10:25 Paul admonishes his fellow Christians  to “not give up meeting together”. We too should heed this reminder and share it with the world..

In His Praise — May 28, 2023

“Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and  filled the whole house… All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit…”
Acts 2:2 and 4

Wind can be strong and powerful as in a tornado or hurricane! These winds can cause great destruction and even death. Wind can also be soft and refreshing like a cool breeze on a hot day. Winds scatter seeds across the land, give lift to our kites, power sailboats and turn windmills. 

Throughout the Bible wind is mentioned. God sent a strong wind to dry the earth after the great flood, Genesis 8:1. God used wind to part the Red Sea and make a dry path for the Israelites to cross over, Exodus 14:21. In the New Testament we read about Jesus calming the winds with His words or presence, Matthew 6:23-26 and John 6:16-21. In the second chapter of Acts we read about the Day of Pentecost and how a great wind was heard as the Holy Spirit filled each of the disciples.

What an exciting time this must have been! A new feeling and experience was taking over the hearts and minds of Jesus’ disciples. They were empowered to preach and witness as never before! Scripture records that about 3000 people were added to the number of those accepting Christ on that day!

This is an amazing story to read and think about; and those that witnessed it firsthand had to have been changed forever. The good news is that the same Holy Spirit that came to the disciples on Pentecost Day still comes to us when we accept Christ as our Savior. Jesus’ promise to send a comforter, counselor and helper, John 14 and 15, has been fulfilled. The Holy Spirit lives within us to guide, comfort, help us in our weakness and even intercede for us as we pray, Romans 8:26-27. 

Thank you, Lord for your Holy Spirit! What a wonderful gift from our loving Father!

In His Praise — May 21, 2023

“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…”

Isaiah 49:16

We are forgetful people. Our finite brains can not retain all that we have seen or heard. We quickly forget names of people we are introduced to, we can not recall details about events we have attended and we sometimes have difficulty remembering passwords, codes and etc.

Some people are better than others about pulling up such information from their brains. Some have learned techniques that help them remember, and there are also medications that claim to improve memory. But, the truth is, we all have lapses of memory from time to time. After all, we are only human, right?

But, thankfully, God is not like us! What a joy to know that God never forgets us! In Isaiah we read that we are “engraved”, or as the Living Bible says  “tattooed”, on the palms of His hands!  Just like a tattoo lasts forever and does not fade away, so is God’s love for His children. His love will never end.

The Bible teaches us that  before we were even formed, God knew us. Jesus speaks in John 10 about knowing His sheep and callingthemby name.  This great God that has  named the stars   and created the world loves us enough that He remembers each person and knows each one by name. What a wonderful and marvelous God we serve!

It is even more wonderful to know that He remembered us when we were still sinners and sent Jesus to redeem us. When Jesus died on the cross, He took on all the sins of all the people of the world. When we accept this salvation, God not only remembers us  by writing our name in His Book of Life, but we are also included in those that are “engraved on the palms of His hands”.

Thank you, Lord Jesus for salvation; and thank you Mighty God for never forgetting us!

We can never worship and praise you enough!

In His Praise — May 14, 2023

“…a women that fears the Lord is to be praised.”

Proverbs 31:30b

Women are special people. Eve, the first woman, was created by God for a specific purpose. That was to be a mate for Adam and she was a perfect partner for Adam, until she listened to the wrong one — Satan.

We can read about many remarkable women in the Bible, such as Esther, Ruth, Sarah, and Mary, just to name a few. Throughout history we have read and heard of many others like Marie Curie, Helen Keller, Amelia Earhart, and Princess Diana, who used their abilities and/or status for the good of others. The work and contributions these women made to the world is notable and worthy of recognition. 

But in our verse today we are reminded that the most important characteristic for a woman (or man) to have is to “fear the Lord”. This fear translates as a respectful reverence for our Lord, an attitude of worship toward Him and a desire to serve Him. God doesn’t care if we are wealthy or if we have great status in the world. He loves us all the same and can and will honor all that give Him first place in their hearts and lives.

In His Praise — May 7, 2023

“Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done.”

1 Chronicles 16:8

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow…” These familiar words are sung in many churches each week. Singing them may be so routine for us that we do not even think about the meaning behind them.

We are blessed everyday. It is easy to remember to thank God for the big blessings like salvation and eternal life; and we are all grateful when we feel good and we have strength and energy to do the things we need to do. But what about all the other gifts that God lovingly bestows upon us? Do we remember to thank Him for letting us enjoy time with family and friends, a warm, sunny day on the lake, or just time to relax and unwind? Some people enjoy working in their gardens, others like reading, still others are happiest when they are traveling and seeing new places. 

The ability to do all of these things and more is a gift from God. He is a good God that wants to bless us in every aspect of our lives. Let us remember to always say thank you to the One from whom all blessings flow.

In His Praise — April 30, 2023

“The Lord bless you and keep you; The Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

Numbers 6:24-26

Life can become chaotic. We have jobs to do, meetings to attend, families to care for and obligations to meet. It’s easy to become tired, overwhelmed, even “burned out”,  not only in our professional lives, but also in our church activities and responsibilities. When this happens we suffer emotionally and spiritually; and, our families and those closest to us suffer too. The stress of overwork can cause us to lose sight of  God’s calling and then we miss out on the blessings that He has for us.

Our joy in serving the Lord may seem to disappear, but this is not what the Lord wants for us. We are reminded over and over in scripture that God has good things for us. Jeremiah 29:11, Psalms 16:11, Romans 8:6, Matthew 11:28-30 and Isaiah 41:10-13 are just a few of the verses that attest to this.

So when we begin to feel overwhelmed in our duties, don’t lose sight of the God that loves us and wants only the best for us. Look to Him for help, guidance and rest. He is always there to bless us, keep us, shine His graciousness on us and give us peace.

In His Praise — April 23, 2023

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.”

Psalm 23:4

Psalm 23 is a very well-known scripture. Many can repeat it from memory. It reminds us of God’s shepherd-like care for His children. These verses are often read to help  encourage us, to comfort us and to strengthen us in our walk with Him.

What a sweet blessing to be a child of God! He cares for us, He provides for us, He protects us and He guides us throughout life. And when the end of life on earth comes He  will walk with us into eternity. As a Christian we have no reason to fear for we know that our Lord is by our side all the time.

The Lord desires to give this peace and care to everyone. God loves you and wants to be by your side too. When you repent of your sins and confess Jesus as your Savior you will  receive salvation. (Romans 10:9) Then the peace and love of the Lord will flow through your life forever, and He will by your side always.

In His Praise — April 16, 2023

“…give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 5:18b

Most of us are not happy when bad things happen to us or to someone we care about. Life is full of ups and downs, good and bad and our first response is not always to praise  or thank God. Instead, we may become angry, we might pout or we may even try to “fix” the situation on our own.

But God’s Word gives us some perfect advice. In Psalm 46:10 God tells us “Be still and know that I am God.”  Verse 11 continues to reassure us that the Lord Almighty is with us. So first of all, we have to “settle down” and acknowledge that God is still in control. Such wonderful peace can be found when we just release everything to God, who loves us dearly. 

Secondly, when we get closer  to God,  He will get closer to us (James 4:8). He inhabits our praise, Psalm 22:3.  Through prayer and worship, not only will we gain peace, but we will feel His presence with us in renewed strength and the confidence that we are not alone.

Thirdly, Jesus says clearly that in this world there will be trouble, but  He also says , “TAKE HEART FOR I HAVE OVERCOME THE WORLD!” What a glorious promise! Satan may try to get us down and out, but Jesus our Savior , has already defeated him. Through His salvation we will have the victory!

So when troubles come, let us give thanks to God, not for the problems,  but for His love and power that will see us through. Let us pray and draw near to God so that He can fill us with joy and turn our troubles into blessings.

In His Praise — April 9, 2023

“I am the Living One; I was dead and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys to Death and Hades.”

Revelation 1:18

Praise the Lord! Jesus rose from the dead and  is alive forever more! 

Thank you, Lord, for dying for our sins and making a way for our salvation.

Thank you for conquering death and the grave, so that we do not have to fear dying.

Thank you for your resurrection which gives us a path to eternal life with you.

Hallelujah! What a Savior is this Jesus!

In His Praise — April 2, 2023

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord.” 

Psalm 150:6

Today we celebrate what we call Palm Sunday. It marks Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem. The beginning of Holy Week, when all the events that led up to His crucification began to unfold.

Typically we think of Palm Sunday as a joyous time. John 12:12-15 describes this scene with people shouting praises to Jesus. They honored Him by laying palm branches in His path. It must have been a joyous time, full of excitement and hope.

But, the joy and excitement did not last as the crowds quickly changed their minds and hearts against Jesus when they realized that He was not the military victor that they wanted. In  just a few short days, Jesus was betrayed, arrested, beaten, given a mock trial and then crucified. The joyous crowd had turned into an angry mob.

There is another scene involving palm branches described in the Bible. It is in Revelation 7:9. This scene does end in joy; and the worship of the Lord does last forever. Here we are told about a great multitude of people from every nation. They are dressed in white robes and are holding palm branches. They shout praises to God and to the Lamb and they lead the angels and others in worship — forever! 

How wonderful that everlasting time will be! Until then, the psalmist reminds us that as long as we have breath, we should be praising the Lord. As we enter this Holy Week and beyond, let us always worship and praise the Lamb that was slain for our sins.