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Strengthened Through Praise

August 2016
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Are you tired of waiting for a circumstance to change? Do you feel like you are running on empty much of the time? I know the feeling after looking for employment for years and never finding it, and now adding to it my search for affordable housing on a Social Security income for the past two plus years that has yet to show up. When weariness sets in, it’s hard to remember that in the midst of our circumstances God is still working on our behalf.

This afternoon I read a short devotion written by Joyce Meyer, one of the world’s best known practical Bible teachers and a New York Times bestselling author, in her devotional book, The Power of Being Thankful: 365 Devotions for Discovering the Strength of Gratitude (2014), that puts our focus back where it belongs–not on our circumstances but on God who is able to do all things as stated in Ephesians 3:20-21: Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Here is that devotion (on page 275):

Strengthened Through Praise

Let them praise Your great and awesome name—He is holy.
~Psalm 99:3

There is tremendous power in praise. We gain more and more strength, our faith increases, and the things that are coming to defeat us are destroyed as we praise God. Enjoying good praise and worship music is one of the tools we have available to help us live in an atmosphere of praise.

Every time we have an opportunity–even a minute or two while walking through a parking lot into a store, or waiting in line to pay for an item–take the opportunity to praise and worship God. After a while, praise becomes so natural that it flows out of us without a deliberate decision on our part. We find ourselves singing and thanking God as an automatic response to our awareness of His goodness, mercy, and grace. (Devotion for October 2, p. 275.)

Psalm 34 is an often quoted psalm written by David, the shepherd boy who became the 2nd King of Israel and experienced many difficult trials and circumstances throughout his lifetime. The very first verse states where our focus should be at all times and in all circumstances. I’m posting it in two versions–NKJV and MSG:

Psalm 34 (NKJV)

I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall make its boast in the Lord;
The humble shall hear of it and be glad.
Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together.

I sought the Lord, and He heard me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces were not ashamed.
This poor man cried out,
And the Lord heard him,

And saved him out of all his troubles.

The angel of the Lord encamps all around
Those who fear Him, and delivers them.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints!
There is no want to those who fear Him.
The young lions lack and suffer hunger;
But those who seek the Lord shall not lack
Any good thing.

Come, you children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Who is the man who desires life,
And loves many days, that he may see good?
Keep your tongue from evil,
And your lips from speaking deceit.
Depart from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it.

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
And His ears are open to their cry.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears,
And delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,
And saves such as have a contrite spirit.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
He guards all his bones;
Not one of them is broken.

Evil shall slay the wicked,
And those who hate the righteous
Shall be condemned.

The Lord redeems the soul of His servants,
And none of those who trust in Him
Shall be condemned.

heaven-earth

Psalm 34 (MSG)

I bless God every chance I get;
my lungs expand with his praise.

I live and breathe God;
if things aren’t going well,
hear this and be happy:

Join me in spreading the news;
together let’s get the word out.

God met me more than halfway,
he freed me from my anxious fears.

Look at him; give him your warmest smile.
Never hide your feelings from him.

When I was desperate, I called out,
and God got me out of a tight spot.

God’s angel sets up a circle
of protection around us while we pray.

Open your mouth and taste,
open your eyes and see—

how good God is.
Blessed are you who run to him.

Worship God if you want the best;
worship opens doors to all his goodness.

Young lions on the prowl get hungry,
but God-seekers are full of God.

Come, children, listen closely;
I’ll give you a lesson in God worship.

Who out there has a lust for life?
Can’t wait each day to come upon beauty?

Guard your tongue from profanity,
and no more lying through your teeth.

Turn your back on sin; do something good.
Embrace peace—don’t let it get away!

God keeps an eye on his friends,
his ears pick up every moan and groan.

God won’t put up with rebels;
he’ll cull them from the pack.

Is anyone crying for help?
God is listening,

ready to rescue you.

If your heart is broken,
you’ll find God right there;

if you’re kicked in the gut,
he’ll help you catch your breath.

Disciples so often get into trouble;
still, God is there every time.

He’s your bodyguard,
shielding every bone;

not even a finger gets broken.

The wicked commit slow suicide;
they waste their lives hating the good.

God pays for each slave’s freedom;
no one who runs to him loses out.

So be encouraged!!! I Thessalonians 5:16-18 also reminds us to Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” So the next time weariness starts settling in, instead of focusing on what we cannot change on our own, let’s give thanks and praise God . . . 

And let God take care of the rest . . . .

Enjoy the psalm . . .

And the song . . . .

YouTube Video: “God of Wonders” by Third Day:

Photo #1 credit here
Photo #2 credit here

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