Praise the Lord!
Let all that I am praise the Lord.
I will praise the Lord as long as I live.
I will sing praises to my God with my dying breath.
Donâ€™t put your confidence in powerful people;
there is no help for you there.
When they breathe their last, they return to the earth,
and all their plans die with them.
But joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper,
whose hope is in the Lord their God.
He made heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them.
He keeps every promise forever. Psalm 146:1-6 (NLT)
Lectionary texts: Ruth 1:1-18, Psalm 146, Hebrews 9:11-14, Mark 12:28-34
The writer of this psalm must have had a vision for elections, economic uncertainties, relationship difficulties, illness, and any other worries in my life! Here, what I believe, are words straight from my LORD to me. And if I am uncertain, the other lectionary texts back it up.
Praise â€“ every day â€“ it’s a step of faith. There are definitely days when â€œpraiseâ€ is not inside me. Those are days when all I see are â€œthe giantsâ€ (See devotions on October 24 & 25, 2012!). But I have found that if I will put on some praise music or pull out a psalm like good ol’ #146 â€“ I find myself nodding and grudgingly (that means slower and with a more negative attitude than reluctantly) saying, â€œYes, LORD, You are worthy of my praise!â€. And if I stay with it, my steps move forward instead of wallowing in the muck. Even on the worse day of my life, God deserved praise from me. I can think of many â€œworse daysâ€ â€“ and yes, I can think of a reason to praise Him. And you know what? I can see Jesus fighting a bit of a smile that tells me He understands my conflict as He puts His arm around me and helps me move along in this day. Ruth is a story of Ruth, a woman with great loss. She is â€œbitterâ€ (Ruth 1:20-21) and if the story ended with Chapter 1, which is all Naomi can see, then the story of Ruth would have ended there too. But God didn’t leave Naomi in her bitterness. He used Ruth, not a child of Israel, to bring Naomi to her place of great praise.
God has proven Himself. If you feel uncertain about trusting God, then I really encourage you to grab a pad of paper and a pen or start a note in your iPhone and write down three things that you are praying about. And do pray about those three things for 30 days. You don’t have to have â€œfancyâ€ prayers just talk to God about those three things. Tell Him how you need an answer regarding a decision or you don’t know how you can pay your bills this month or someone you love is ill (or you are ill) and then watch. Don’t be surprise if God answers in a way you may not anticipate. He’s been known to do that. Make notes when you see an answer or maybe a leading in a direction. If it’s a decision between to options, I’ve often taken a step toward one answer and had the door slam firmly on that one so that I know it’s the other option. If it’s illness, healing is a wonderful blessing but so is â€œfavorâ€ in moving through doctor appointments and financial blessings in medications and â€œchanceâ€ meetings in waiting rooms with people who encourage us. God is faithful. And it’s awesome to see!
Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. Hebrews 9:14 (NLT)
My LORD invites the questions. Jesus asked questions. He wasn’t threatened by them. Maybe a bit frustrated at times like a parent is when a child asks â€œWhy?â€ for the third time but never angry and He won’t shut you down. Ask! I am blessed to have a job in publishing that means I read manuscripts that maybe I wouldn’t have been exposed to if I wasn’t in this job. We just released a book, Uncommon Questions by an Extraordinary Savior by Chris Bozung. I was truly blessed by it. Do you know that the New Testament contains 300+ questions from Jesus? Did He need to know some information? Well, He was God so that doesn’t seem likely. Chris suggests â€œJesus never asked a question because he needed to know the answer. Jesusâ€™ questions pierce the heart, quicken the thoughts, convict the conscience, and evoke faith.â€ So let’s not be timid in asking Him questions! Asking questions doesn’t mean lack of faith. I think it means I do have faith that here is where I will find my answers.
The passage from Mark is someone asking Jesus about the greatest commandments. Jesus says it is â€œLove the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And the second is love your neighbor as yourself.â€ The man responds that these commandments are more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices. And I can see Jesus smile and say, â€œYou are not far from the kingdom of God.â€ By asking a question, the man takes a step closer in his understanding of God and His Kingdom. Whether I know it or not, that is what I really want when I take my worries to God. I want to understand Him and how He is working in my life. And He wants to talk to me about it.
I Am a Friend of God written by Israel Houghton and Michael Gungor, sung by Phillips, Craig & Dean