Psalm 34:1-3 (NLT)
I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. I will boast only in the Lord; let all who are helpless take heart. Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness; let us exalt his name together.
Praising the Lord at all times is a constant challenge. To maintain a stance of constantly and consistently showering God with praise is just not human nature. People tend to focus on the things they are not content with rather than remaining thankful for all the things going “right” in their life. We are creatures of comfort and most definitely of habit. Both areas of our life can be remedied once it is determined in our heart and our head what it is that is our primary goal in life. Our purpose defines our direction. Those without such knowledge will surely perish as the Word of God suggests as stagnancy takes over a once prosperous place. Our life is designed with a purpose and a plan that contains a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) This is secured by the heart that seeks Him wholly. (Jeremiah 29:13) To have one you must do the other. This is not a power play by God who is almighty. He is the Sovereign God. Humanity struggles with this part of God’s Character because we live in a democratic society. Most people exist on a culture of negotiation. They have the ability to make choices even within a confined environment because their mind is liberated. It is a mindset to give up our freedom to exalt our power in life and submit our being to the Living God. He does not exert His Power to subdue us but waits patiently for us to choose to return to Him. So before you get mad at God for not doing His Part, it may be a good idea to see where your heart and mind reside. My hands are subject to these two things which make religion fruitless. Religiosity makes our hands do what the Word says to make things right with God. It just doesn’t work that way. God seeks a relationship with His People so He decides to allow us an opportunity to meet His Son, Jesus and step back into right standing. This is in no way a religious stance but a heartfelt commitment that changes the way we think therefore impacting the way we live. To do anything outside of our love for God and commitment to His Son in love is worthless. The Lord doesn’t want it. We can give nothing to the Lord but in accepting His Gift of Salvation can live in the Realm of Hope singing His Praise every day.
What if my life is not praiseworthy? Oh friend, your life is definitely praiseworthy. Stop for a minute. Did you feel that breath move from outside through your body and back out again? That is life which means you have purpose and a chance to connect with the Eternity hidden in our heart. (Ecclesiastes 3:11) What’s wrong with your life? I have been through a lot in the course of my life and there is not too many things I cannot identify with. I have done a lot of things and been many places. The enemy has offered temptations and again and again I have failed and fallen. I do not glorify these things in my life. I do not write about them. I do not like to tell others the sordid details because the real climax is when Jesus Christ changed everything. The day that I was filled to the top with His Spirit. The day that I realized that God’s Love for me is constant and unchanging. This is the reason that as I have walked through life my praise has gained momentum. Each time a challenge resulted in my love for the Lord to grow our relationship to intensify has been totally worth it. I will praise the Lord at all times is my motto but like everyone else I still struggle just like you some days. My goal in each day is to speak the praises of God constantly.
Psalm 42:1-6 (NLT)
As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him? Day and night I have only tears for food, while my enemies continually taunt me, saying, “Where is this God of yours?” My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration! Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God!
Are you discouraged? Even Christians have down days. The key is not to stay down but choose to get back up. Your circumstances may not change overnight especially if a test of endurance. It happens because God loves us and knows we must endure with faith, hope and love to the end to be saved. He is helping us get there victoriously. As David remembers how it “used to be”, his heart is heavy. He misses the joy and peace that belonged to him in the celebration and exaltation of His God. It says in Psalm 42:1, as the deer longs for streams of water…I thirst for you God. Do you hunger and thirst for the Lord today? Are you calling out to Him but still feel empty and alone? Have you tried praising Him? Just acknowledging who He is will change your current situation if nothing more than inviting the Holy Spirit in to help with weakness and renew strength! For weeks I was in a hospital room with a very sick kid with only strangers for company as his immunity would not allow visitors outside of caregivers. I stayed in that little room alone in silence for days as he fought for his life in the bed right beside me. Sleeping on a foldout couch built for utilitarian purpose rather than comfort only added to the sleep deprivation along with the midnight army of nurses monitoring his care. Isolation set in. I felt so alone. The stress of the situation finally broke me so I walked outside into the sunlight. It was breathtaking and miraculous all at once. Stretching out on a bench and closing my eyes, I had a long talk with the Lord. I just began to praise Him for the things around me until my heart finally broke and I could praise for right where we were and everything we were going through. I was outside for about ten minutes until my heartstrings pulled me back up to the fourth floor. Stepping into the room, it felt bigger. The space was filled with peace. I could feel hope rising up again that this too would pass. Looking at the six-foot plus kid in the bed curled up, I could thank the Lord for right where we were not only for the past miracles but the ones that were coming. Praise changes us. It invites God to come closer because it exemplifies our trust. Praise must be given from our heart and believed in our head to make a difference or it is nothing more than flattery.
Genesis 29:32-35 (NLT)
So Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “The Lord has noticed my misery, and now my husband will love me.” She soon became pregnant again and gave birth to another son. She named him Simeon, for she said, “The Lord heard that I was unloved and has given me another son.” Then she became pregnant a third time and gave birth to another son. He was named Levi, for she said, “Surely this time my husband will feel affection for me, since I have given him three sons!” Once again Leah became pregnant and gave birth to another son. She named him Judah, for she said, “Now I will praise the Lord!” And then she stopped having children.
Leah the unwanted wife of Jacob endured a long journey to find her praise. It is recounted in the birth of her four sons. Jacob was tricked into marrying Leah. Imagine how it must have felt to be looked at on your wedding day with disappointment. She was hurt and rejected. Rather than being celebrated by her spouse, she was tolerated. Her presence endured out of responsibility rather than embraced by a lover. With the birth of her first child, she was hopeful that her husband would love her in the son she had given him. It is apparent that didn’t work in the naming of her second son when she responded “I was unloved”. With the birth of Levi, she was convinced that now Jacob would love her and have affection for her. When Judah was born it was to a changed mother who said, “NOW I will praise the Lord!” She stopped having children. Could it be that Leah finally decided to put her faith and trust in the Lord and accept His Love as more than enough! It never says anywhere that Jacob’s heart changed for Leah simply that her heart did.
Life is hard. Love has grown cold on this planet and sin is rampant. This is not going to change until Jesus comes back. You will go through trials and tests. There will be challenging situations and difficult circumstances but those who choose to praise will be changed with the struggles of life. A change in perspective not only enables us to stand but gives us victory.
Judges 20:17-18 (NLT)
Israel had 400,000 experienced soldiers armed with swords, not counting Benjamin’s warriors. Before the battle the Israelites went to Bethel and asked God, “Which tribe should go first to attack the people of Benjamin?” The Lord answered, “Judah is to go first.”
Judges 1:1-2 (NLT)
After the death of Joshua, the Israelites asked the Lord, “Which tribe should go first to attack the Canaanites?” The Lord answered, “Judah, for I have given them victory over the land.”
Every day is a battle. You and I both know that the more we seek the Lord, to do good, and do His Will following His Way the more intense the fight. But look at this hint the Lord has left us when it comes to the battlefields of life. “Judah is to go first.” Why? “I have given them victory over the land.” Praise paves the way from victory to victory. The battle is won. Praise signifies acceptance of a win. It tells the enemy that you are confident in God and the One you call Lord. If the Word of God for your life is go, go with praise leading the way. If He is telling you to stay, do so surrounded in praise. Your victory in the Lord is secure. No one and no thing is a greater or higher power than God’s Sovereignty. His Presence is our refuge that keeps us in battle and wins every war. Praise ushers Him into our life. Why would we not buffer our changes with God? He is mighty. He is awesome. He is Ruler of the Universe. His Love belongs to us. Are you filling your life with praise? If you believe God’s Word for your life enough to do His Will all the while expressing thankfulness and confidence in Him, you will win every battle and be victorious now…and forever.
Psalm 63:1-8 (NLT)
O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. I have seen you in your sanctuary and gazed upon your power and glory. Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise you! I will praise you as long as I live, lifting up my hands to you in prayer. You satisfy me more than the richest feast. I will praise you with songs of joy. I lie awake thinking of you, meditating on you through the night. Because you are my helper, I sing for joy in the shadow of your wings. I cling to you; your strong right hand holds me securely.
You cannot draw water from a well that is dry. You will not earnestly search for anything that is not worth finding. My soul thirst for you, God is the cry of one who has drank from the Well that will never run dry. My whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land is the boast of one who has tasted and seen that the Lord is good! His Unfailing Love is better than life but only those who live in a relationship with Jesus will know the ecstasy that intimacy affords. I will praise you is a commitment to the process of passion in our growing intimacy with God. It is the desire to know Him on the most confidant level in a friendship stronger than life. When we wrap our life up in praising and worshipping Him no matter where we are or what we are going through making our heart and head agree that He is God, our God and He is good enough to stop complaining and grumbling and to begin thanking Him, acknowledging Him and exalting Him over our life even the problems – it is in such a place we win. Today I will send Judah first, before I try to figure it all out or solve all my problems, I will praise God for the answer, solution and satisfaction that is coming by faith and confident hope in His Great Love.
Psalm 103:1-5 (NLT)
Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!