I’ve been watching, waiting, observing. You have what it takes. I’m looking for a few good men and women who can make a difference in my world. Folks who seek to serve, not be served. People who will not run when the going gets tough. Instruments of righteousness who will march to the beat of a different drummer. Men who will dream big dreams, possess vibrant faith, take risks for the things in life that matter. Women who are selfless, for whom mediocrity is an abomination, and who are determined to raise their voice and be heard. Individuals who will sacrifice and, if necessary, die for Me.
I’m looking for people who walk so close to Me that we cast only one shadow. People who bend their knees in the lonesome valley. Brave souls who stand tall in the face of injustice. Soldiers who are bent but never broken, knocked down but never knocked out. Fighters who will go one more round.
Yes, I’ve been cheering for you, coaching, and pacing the sidelines. It may sound like a cliché, but your life and your future are much more important than field goals and touchdowns, balls and strikes, wins and losses. I wish it was that simple. But I have a lost world, I sent my Son, and He paid the supreme sacrifice. Now I’m sending you.
Enclosed you will find some shoes. It will take a big person to fill these shoes—a woman with unconditional love, eternal vision, unshakeable hope, and deep faith.
You have giants to face, battles to fight, and victories to win. It’s going to take someone with unshakable character. Go face your giants, and know that I’m cheering for you along with all the redeemed—My Son, the Holy Spirit, and all the heavenly hosts. There’s not a stadium big enough to seat everyone who is rooting for you, and I’m the original season ticket holder. I’ll be watching this Friday night because I’m your biggest fan.
In the grand scheme of things, the games aren’t that important. Yet for some, they are. Not for Me. People are living and dying every day who don’t even know My name. That’s important. Children are starving to death every day. That’s important. Wars are being fought, and the innocent are dying. Now that’s important.
I have plans for you—big plans! Plans to bless you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. So try on the shoes. I know they are a little big. Believe me! What I have planned for you is going to take some big shoes and a really big heart. You better get ready. It’s game time.
Well, I’ve got prayer requests to answer, bodies to heal, souls to save, wars to resolve, storms to manage, and I haven’t even had breakfast yet.
I love you. And never forget that you are My child.
Oh, one more thing. The shoes may seem big at first. But I had them custom-made just for you. So trust me, they are a perfect fit. And whether you are walking, jogging, or in an all-out sprint, fix your eyes on me, and run straight for my arms. I can’t wait to give you a big hug.
Walking by faith and enjoying the homeschooling adventure of a lifetime!
© 2017 Davis Carman
It’s never something we do on purpose. In fact, the proverbial desert place is a destination we try to steer very clear of. But sometimes, we find ourselves trudging along and suddenly realize, we’re not where we want to be. Everywhere we look, it’s dry and dusty. Desert sand whips at our backs and scorching heat leaves us thirsting for water. How on earth do we end up in places like this?
I’ve walked through places like this…a desert place, a kind of wilderness, untamed and wild. There’s confusion accompanied by tangled, messy feelings. It’s dry and empty…desolate. There’s a sense of panic and numbness that overrides the senses, causing one to wonder, “How did I get here?” Everything’s a blur, and yet, there has to be a reason for walking in this place.
While thinking about my own challenging seasons recently, I was struck by a passage of Scripture I had never read before…or at the very least, had never “known” before.
“Therefore I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her into the wilderness
and speak tenderly to her.”
In this passage, God is speaking to Israel. The people had been unfaithful, sinful in their ways. So, God graciously led them out into the wilderness, a desert place. In His loving grace, He wooed them there, away from distractions, and all things “comfortable” in order to bring them to a place of dependence upon only one thing…GOD, Himself.
There are several times throughout the bible where God leads His children out into the wilderness, away from the world, their daily lives and all of it’s idols. But when I read this verse, it became clear to me that it’s in these seasons where we can hear God more clearly. His voice becomes discernible and He turns our deep struggles into something that grows us from the inside out. And that’s when those desert places we never would have chosen to walk through then become part of our beautiful, redemptive God stories to share with others who need an encouraging word.
My own walks with God in the wilderness have always come as a result of trying to depend upon myself for far too long. He knows us so well and loves us too much to let us continue living this way. When I lose sight of the people in front of me who matter most, when trying harder to do more and be better becomes the focus and one day blends into the next, it’s pretty certain that I’m in need of some serious alone time with God.
Praise God that He leads us into places where His Word can be stirred up in our hearts and we can once again see our very real need for Him in ALL things.
Praise God that He never leaves us nor forsakes us. He loves us too much for that.
And praise God for turning the hard places He allows us to walk through, even those places He brings woos us to, into testimonies of true redemption!
When you are going through the hardest time in your life the last thing that you want to do is praise. I can relate ….
I sat in the pew at a new church for weeks. I was desperate for the Word and a safe place to warm the bench while I started to heal from church hurt and other things that had been going on. So I sat.
While worship service went on I sat and looked around. I wanted to join in with the singing and praises but my heart was too broken and heavy. I was worn out just trying to get to church on Sunday morning. My burdens were weighing me down and no matter how I tried I could not lift my hands or sing.
So I sat.
Until one Sunday the worship leader said something that started to shake the chains off my heart and voice. “Your victory is in your praise. The size of your praise will determine the size of your blessing.”
I was desperate for breakthrough in my circumstance so I took a chance. I stood up. Lifted my hands and began to mouth the words. After the first song I was able to whisper the words. By the third, the tears were flowing and I was crying out to the Lord. By the end of the service that burden was lifted off my shoulders.
Do you know that praise confuses the enemy?
Don’t allow the devil to steal your praise. It is what focuses your heart on God and helps to bring you peace and victory. When you are praising the Lord you are not worried about the devil or your circumstances. You are solely focused on the One that loves you and will see you through. (If you aren’t then you aren’t doing it right)
The devil doesn’t understand praise. He doesn’t understand how you can praise when your world is falling apart. He doesn’t understand why you would thank God for all the hard times you’ve been walking through. That’s a good thing.
We want to confound and confuse the devil. That’s one way to resist him. And when we resist him he has to flee.
There’s a story in Joshua about a group of people that found a great victory through praise in obedience to God.
So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city. Joshua 6:20 ESV
I’m not sure what you are dealing with sweet mama, but I do know that you will begin to walk in victory when you start to praise. Praise God for His goodness. Praise Him for all that you need Him to be right now. Don’t stop praising until you feel at peace.
“From the rising of the sun to the going down of it…
the name of the Lord is to be praised!”
Ps. 113:3 AMPC
Are we obedient to praise the Lord?
The writer of the book of Hebrews says we are to “offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name…the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.” (Heb. 13:15 NLT, NKJV)
First, do we know what praise means? The combined words in Hebrew mean to extend the hands to revere or worship, make confession, give thanks or glory, bless God in adoration, to celebrate in music, to sing forth praises, and so on. The combined Greek words mean thanks offering, to celebrate God by singing religious songs, to give glory, honor, or applaud, and so on.
But sometimes, I don’t feel like praising, you say.
Yeah. I get it. When your heart is aching, when the world comes crashing down on your shoulders, when storms hit and there isn’t much you can do, it’s difficult to still praise the Lord.
There are some trials and sufferings for which we question giving thanks, but we trust God in those circumstances, relying on Him to remedy them and thanking Him for His working. And that’s when we need to praise Him the most!
So, what usually happens to our thanksgiving and praise when peace disintegrates into chaos, when a husband loses his job and finances are cut off, when a child is in a car wreck, when the repo man stands knocking at the door, when buying Christmas presents is a vague recollection, when pain strikes the chest and there is no insurance, when the roof overhead is in jeopardy of being taken away, or when the cupboard holds no more than the cup?
How lavish, then, is our praise of the Creator?
Our grateful praise and thanks to God is to be fruitful continually, offering “thanks at all times for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Eph. 5:20 Received Greek Text) David said, “From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised.” (Ps. 113:3 NIV)
David says those “who seek Jehovah shall praise Him.” (Ps. 22:26 Masoretic Text) If we seek the Lord, are we praising Him? And Paul instructs us, “No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:18 TLB) God’s will!
If it is the will of God for us to be thankful in all circumstances, then how disobedient are we?
Paul said he was “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” (2 Cor. 6:10 NKJV) That is called a sacrifice of praise, for it costs us the sacrifice of our feelings in difficult situations, praising even when we do not feel like it.
I have learned to praise God no matter what. When my eyes spill over with the tears of heartache, when chaos invades my world, when I feel pulled apart by schedules, do I still claim His peace and praise Him? Yes, indeedy! For “I will praise the Lord no matter what happens. I will constantly speak of His glories and grace.” (Ps. 34:1 TLB) Amen!
If we constantly boo-hoo our circumstances more than praising God, we magnify our circumstances above God’s character and power. We are to “magnify Him with thanksgiving.” (Ps. 69:30b NKJV)
Therefore, do we still raise our hands in praise and worship when in painful despair?
The disciple John said it most succinctly, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30 NKJV)
Are you being obedient to praise the Lord and increase Him in your life?
I’ll never forget the day I learned what praise really means.
It was a day in a hospital room, where my Mom tried teaching me. I didn’t know that this would be her last attempt to show me true praise. We were supposed to be in my home celebrating the 4th of July, but we weren’t. To say that I wasn’t happy about being in a hospital room is putting it lightly. I was anything but happy and I definitely didn’t want to praise Jesus for being there.
Yet, my Mother knew more than I did; so, she asked me to read her Bible to her. “What do you want me to read, Mom?” Her reply (wasn’t what I expected) “I’m reading Job, Rebecca. Can you find my book mark and begin where I left off?”
At that moment, I had an internal conversation that went something like this: “JOB? Really? I don’t want to read that. It’s so sad. Here you are, Mom, in the hospital AGAIN and you want to read JOB?”
I’m sure she could read my thoughts by the expression on my face. But, I read the words about a man who had everything and lost it all. He lost more than any human could ever imagine losing and yet his faith carried him through.
His faith gave him the strength and ability to praise God with ashes on his head, a wife at his side belittling him, and friends wagging their fingers in his face.
And there, in the hospital bed for what seemed like the thousandth time lay my Mother, who leaned into God and gave Him praise by listening to her daughter read His Word.
That memory came to my mind last year when it seemed like my whole world was falling apart. A financial whirlwind blew into a catastrophe and on top of that, I had a back problem that landed me on my floor in spasms for four hours.
Those four hours were the longest and shortest of my life.
They were filled with pain I never imagined.
As the pain coursed through my back and down into my foot, I cried out for help “Jesus, please help me.” Over and over again.
TRULY Praise Him
I finally learned about praise in a way I never imagined.
TRUE heart praise for the one who knew pain beyond anything I could imagine.
I learned that Praising Jesus is knowing that nothing in this world is worth anything if Jesus is not in the middle of it and that nothing in this world deserves praise – other than my Heavenly Father.
He alone is worthy.
It’s easy to have the wrong idea about what praise is, but once you know the beauty of true praise, YOU KNOW a joy that is truly indescribable and is only found where the human heart does not want to go until it knows the beauty of laying it all down.
Praise…. just praise HIM.
I’ve taken easily-distracted to a whole new level. If it was an Olympic sport, hands down I went for the gold this year…or was that last year?
I failed to get the Christmas letter out in time, truth be told, I never actually wrote it. Here we are at that wonderful time of the year where all the guilt of the year’s past failures are supposed to absolve themselves with a list of future good intentions and ideas. The list that will give me a sort of guilt-free pass for the next 30 days. I pray that no one notices when I fail to keep up with it.
What I really need is grace, because the list is long and the days are short. Going from being easily-distracted to being easily-discouraged is not a giant leap for me. This is primarily due to genetics. I am but woman.
In the midst of the Christmas celebrations, leave it to Facebook and its “memories” feature to remind me of my miscarriage eight years ago. I proceeded to recall the subsequent two miscarriages, followed by recalling the former three. If you’re counting, that’s six deposits in heaven. Six lives that I never got to see to fruition. For the cherry on top, my biological clock is well on its way to ticking its last tock and the realization that my womb is officially closing is setting in. My emotions were in full swing. The obvious sadness set in, followed by the hope that one day I will meet them.
Quick question: Why do we look at the mom with “a lot” of kids, as defined by our preconceived definitions, and pour out our pity? Why not speak out a blessing? Likewise, why look at the mom with one or two and claim she has it so easy? I can assure you it wasn’t “easy” losing six babies.
Why are women so hard on each other and themselves?
I digress, this got me thinking about the job at hand. The parenting that God has entrusted me with today. The two that God said, “You are worthy to be their mom” and that one day, I pray, will rise up and call me blessed (Proverbs 31)
In verse 28, the writer tells us:
Her children rise up and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her
My former pastor encouraged us to read the Bible slowly and upon revisiting this infamous chapter something caught my eye in verse 29:
“Many women have done excellently,
but you surpass them all.”
Oh no! There’s a “fairest of them all” in the Holy Scriptures, GASP!! No wonder women are so competitive. Lord just rapture me now, I’ll take the express train to my heavenly tent (forget the mansion) in the nosebleed section of heaven. Woe is me, I am a woman of unclean lips…and bad fashion sense.
I read several commentaries on this verse. Seriously! I needed to know what I’m dealing with. In a nutshell this description of the “woman of strength and wisdom” comes to its crescendo with the testimony of those who know her best. Her children and her husband’s praise was the most meaningful. Think about the cards children make that exclaim, “You’re the best mom in the world!” We post those proudly on our fridge and keep them displayed, and although they may lose their luster, they never lose their meaning.
That praise is what this verse is speaking to.
Let us remember that, as wives and mothers, our first ministry is our home – our husband and our children. This is where we do our most important work, and we each do it ever so differently.
Which brings me back to why are women so hard on themselves? More importantly, why are we so hard on each other? I think somewhere along the way we got duped into thinking that the most important accolades come from the culture, when in fact they come from what is going on in the privacy of our own home. God knows our hearts and sees our work and will rewards us in due time. We tend to get impatient and instead seek the affirmation from the people that matter least.
Why do we judge harshly another mom’s choices whether it be in academics, discipline, or extra-curricular activities? When we see another woman in the “heat of the battle” with her child, why do we assume the worst of her? I remember once being at a store and a mom was struggling with her toddler as my girls and I came around the aisle. I could see her feeling exasperated and about to surrender to her toddler because now there was an “audience.” I very decidedly told my children, “Don’t look, you’ve done worse!” I grabbed my item and quickly made my leave as I gave her a nod of encouragement.
If I was going to make a “resolution” this year, it would be to tune my ear to the accolades and praise of my family, on being the “fairest of them all” in the only place that it matters – my home. When other women do things differently than me, because they have different kids with different needs or just a different situation, may my first instinct be to speak life into their lives and to encourage them to succeed so that they too are called blessed.
May we seek wisdom in how the Lord has equipped each of us and may He lavishly give us the strength and wisdom that we need to answer the call to our first ministry.
My husband and I are planning to go on a trip in February. For months we have been looking at the end result, the date when the trip starts; yet we can’t get to that place without a process. For this trip the process includes booking flights, planning a hotel stay, lining up a babysitter, and planning events for each day. Now the first time we planned a trip like this, I have to admit, I was living for the end result. I may have went thru the process but didn’t enjoy or see the purpose in it. This time, however, I see the point in the process. I see a glory in the process. Looking forward to and enjoying planning something together has been great. Not just going through it to get it done, but to be spending time together, enjoying and learning more about each other through the process. I’m learning to praise in the process.
Kind of like smelling the roses as we walk up the mountainside path. Yes, the sunset view at the top is the end result. . . yet there are things to enjoy and things to learn along the way.
I’ve been thinking recently about how much our walk with God needs to be the same way… Yes we might have things in mind that we view as the end or the point of our existence here… Yet what about the process. . .What process do we go through to get to the end?
God has been teaching me that praising Him during the process is just as important as praising Him for the view at the end.
I’m good at praising God for the big things… The miracles of healing, the marriages saved, the prodigal returning to Christ… Often, I even remember to praise God for the little things… the Sunday school lesson that went well, getting to church on time, and the whole house being clean at the same time… you know, those little things. ((Ok, let’s be honest having the whole house clean might be a BIG thing for us busy moms! lol 😉 ))
I have to ask myself, what am I praising Him for? The end. My answer would have to be the end result.
Do I praise Him during the process? Do I praise Him for the things I enjoy, and for the learning I’m doing on on the way?
I have to admit. I tend to be a “look at the future and get to the goal as quick as possible” type of gal. I get to the goal, and I praise Him. Yet with each “end”, there is a process I go flying through.
God is interested in that process; maybe even more than the outcome. It’s a path of enjoyment and a path of learning. And I’ve been rushing right through it!
God’s been laying on my heart that the little flowers He puts along mountain path, the little lessons He puts along the way, are as important as the view at the top.
When things get tough and all we want is the end result – the healing, the fixed situation, the clean house… We need to remember He is taking us through a process of growing closer to Him.
Success isn’t the end result, success is learning to lean on God more fully. And that, my friends, is reason to Praise God!
And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope: And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us. Romans 5:3-5
Let’s glory our God in the process we are walking through right now – because it’s through this that we are growing to be more like Jesus.
“The Lord inhabits the praises of his people.”
Since I first heard the “praise” theme for our devotionals this month, I haven’t stopped thinking about this quote. While it’s not exact scripture and more of a paraphrase of the rhythmic text in Psalm 22:3
“But You are holy,
Enthroned in the praises of Israel.”
I don’t know about you, but I need the Lord’s inhabiting of my life. I need His rhythms in my plans and steps. I need Him to abide with me as He promises. If the way to bring Him closer to me is by coming near to Him through praise, count me all in! I’ll be here, hands high, crying from the depths of my soul, the very inmost parts of my spirit, voice rising from the top of my lungs, “I need you more, come, Jesus, come! Inhabit my praises! Abide in me! I want You to be an atmosphere I carry through life!”
My first experience feeling the presence of God through praise was when my husband and I had a very rough season a few years ago. My pastor’s wife calls us, “the most supernatural couple she’s ever seen.” The Lord certainly healed our marriage supernaturally, inhabiting our praises. Through this season, I could’ve chosen to withdraw and especially be angry with God. Instead, my husband and I both chose to draw closer, raise hands higher and praise Him, moment by moment, praising, worshipping and thanking Him right through tears.
Since then, I’ve really learned, and chosen, to recognize and feel God’s abiding presence with me day after day. I seek for places to give Him glory, in all I do. I remember that old Bible school song,
“Praise Him, Praise Him. Praise Him in the morning, praise Him in the noon time. Praise Him, Praise Him. Praise Him when the sun goes down.”
No matter our circumstance, it is with head held high and eyes lifted up that the Lord abides with us. Mamas, our families and our children take note of these praises and can’t help but be affected by the indwelling of our sweet Lord and Savior with their mom. You know, it will rub off and get soaked deep down in their beings and some day, they’ll too recall the songs, words and praises their mom sent our Savior, just like I recall those Bible song lyrics. Through my prodigal years and all the way back around to being sold out, on fire, arms high for Jesus, He surely took note of those sweet praises of my youth and has blessed me, and my family as He dwells among us, and you, through our praises.
Here are a few practical ways I praise Him morning, noon, and night.
I don’t even get out of my bed in the morning before I talk to my Papa.
I praise Him, I thank Him and I ask Him for strength for the day before I even roll out of bed, make my coffee, walk the dogs, open the app with my Bible reading plan or even kiss my family good morning.
My day becomes an active conversation with God.
As a busy wife, mom, blogger, travel writer, homeschooler, volunteer, board vice-chair, all of the hats that I wear (and I know you wear, too)… it’s hard to set aside time to “pray without ceasing” as Paul says. But don’t we know our God knows our schedule, too? My prayers become constant and active conversation with my best friend. I speak, and expect Him to answer, and He does. In thoughts, words, through people, surroundings, and experiences. When I had the blessing of traveling to Greece last year, I learned something significant about Paul’s preaching to the Corinthians. He did it in the marketplace. His praises were raised and messages were given to the people right in the center of town, right in the midst of craziness amid the chaos of every day life of grocery shopping, trading wares, and entertainment. There was Paul, shouting out his praises to our Lord. I want to be like Paul, in a constant and unashamed state of praise.
Worshipping Him in the Minivan.
The car rides as a busy mom seems to be never ending. So, let’s use that time as just part of our day to invite him to inhabit our lives. Turn on the worship music. Singing out loud, our hope in Him affects the minds and hearts of our children and, hopefully, will stick with them as long as that Bible school song has stuck with me. I love Seeds Family Worship because their songs are simply scripture set to music. (I think personally I’ve memorized more verses this way than any other!) One time, we had VBS songs on in the car while we were transporting a construction worker! I’ll never forget the look on his tattooed face and can only pray God’s presence of our praises rubbed off on him!
Praise Him Publicly.
Last week, I was at a theme park with a group of seven kids and before we ate I said, “Ok, who’s praying?” Some of the kids said, “I prayed in my mind.” I said, “well, we praise Him aloud.” And that’s just what we did, holding hands, right there, in the LEGOLAND diner. We pray every time we eat out. I want my kids and those I influence and encounter to know He is worthy, at all times and in all places. I hope my simple example of prayer at the theme park can leave that mark in each mind and heart.
Whatever your way of praising Him morning, noon, and night, I pray that He comes to inhabit your lives, hearts and families more than ever before and you recognize and feel His presence through your praises. Maybe there’s some things I haven’t thought of that you do, too?
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
This is one of my all-time favorite quotes from the movie “The Princess Bride.” In this scene, the Spaniard confronts Vizzini, his Sicilian boss, about repeatedly blurting “Inconceivable!” during scenarios playing out before their very eyes (or behind them, as the case may be). Vizzini, Inigo concludes, is clearly confused concerning the meaning of the word “inconceivable.” His observation is simple, yet profound. For with it, he shines a spotlight on one of humanity’s most annoying tendencies: the habitual repetition of a common word or phrase by someone who lacks a clear understanding of its meaning.
As children, we initially learned how to speak by mimicking sounds and words and phrases. Unless we make a conscious choice to stop, think, and choose our own words, we may accidentally adopt a favorite phrase without giving any thought to what it means. Take for example this exclamation: “Praise the Lord!” Although you will find it throughout the Old Testament (most frequently in the Psalms), it is often misused in Christian circles today.
In this post, I will make the case that the expression “Praise the Lord!” does not mean what you think it means. And I will challenge each of us to think twice before saying it, in the hope that we replace it with authentic praise. Got that? Ok, let’s unpack it.
“Praise the Lord!” is a translation of the Hebrew “Hallelujah,” a compound word formed by combining the verb hallel (to boast or praise) with yah—a shortened version of the name of the LORD. It occurs twenty-four times in the Old Testament (mainly in the Psalms), and only four times in the New Testament (all in Revelation 19 as part of a hymn).
In Hebrew, the verb praise is in the imperative mood. This means Hallelujah is a command. In other words, “You praise the Lord!” or as we say here in the South, “Y’all praise the Lord!” In the same way a parent might tell a child “Clean your room!” we are instructed to “Praise the Lord!”
Throughout Scripture, the command to praise is almost always followed (or preceded) by a retelling of the Lord’s deeds (Ps. 135); a recognition of His majesty (Ps. 148); a recitation of His character (Rev. 19:1-4); or additional instructions about how, when, and where to praise Him (Ps. 150).
Stay with me here, because this is important: There is literally only one occurrence in the entire Bible where “Hallelujah” is said as an expression, and it’s not between friends.
The twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God, who was seated on the throne. And they cried: “Amen, Hallelujah!”
Rev. 19:4 (NIV)
This was knees-on-the-ground worship of the Lord right smack-dab in front of the throne. They cried, “Hallelujah!” directly to Him.
As you can see, to praise the Lord is to honor and worship Him for who He is, what He has done, and to trust His promises. We do this when we ascribe His attributes back to Him. His character. His name. In fact, this is the most meaningful praise we can offer in the midst of life’s harshest trials and tribulations.
We offer our praises in the sentences we speak; the words we write; the thoughts we think; the songs we sing; the dances we perform; the art we create; and so on—NOT through the mindless repetition of an idiom that seems like the right thing to say at the time.
Authentic praise is neither complicated nor simplistic, but it does require something from us: engagement of our minds. We must think before we blurt “Praise the Lord!” Consider the following questions: “What is it about the Lord I am wanting to honor? What has He done that compels me to praise Him? How is God making Himself known to me in this moment?” It is only after I’ve identified the reason(s) why I want to honor Him that I can offer a sacrifice of praise. Forethought is a powerful way we love God with our minds.
And he [Jesus] said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
Matthew 22:37 (ESV)
The word praise is an empty box. The only way it has any weight (meaning) is when we fill it with authentic praises. Otherwise it remains empty. Cliché. Vain. Devoid of meaning.
For example, when your son, Micah, aces his math test, you don’t praise him by saying, “Praise Micah!” That doesn’t mean anything to him. Instead, you speak truth to him about who he is and what he did.
Similarly, when your daughter, Leah, is hired as the summer camp intern, you don’t praise her by saying, “Praise Leah!” That would be weird. Instead, you speak truth to her about who she is and what she accomplished.
In the same manner, when God shows Himself faithful, you don’t praise Him by saying only, “Praise the Lord” as if that’s the end of the praise. Instead, you acknowledge who He is and what He did.
Imagine a scenario where a friend calls to share good news with you. She exclaims, “My husband got the job!” You could respond out of habit, “Praise the Lord!” But what exactly does that mean? “Yay!”? If so, you’ve used the Lord’s name in a mindless manner. If not, you’ve commanded your friend to “Praise the Lord.” Either way, you’ve tipped your proverbial hat toward Heaven with no personal investment, no acknowledgement of who the Lord is or what He has done deserving of praise. Is that what you thought you were doing? Or were you wanting to praise God for something? If so, what? Say that!
You could declare, “That’s great news! God is amazing! He’s promised to take care of us, and He is doing just what He promised. His timing is not ours, but it is perfect. He is sovereign.”
THAT, my friend, is what it means to PRAISE the Lord.
Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.
Hebrews 13:15 ESV
I hereby challenge you (and me) to fill the empty “Praise the Lord” box with authentic, pre-meditated praise from our minds and hearts. Can you imagine how transforming this practice will be in our daily lives and our relationships? It might take a while and require re-training ourselves, but authentic—not empty—praise is a worthy goal.
To help us get started with this new practice, I’ve created a free printable for you with “12 Alternatives to ‘Praise the Lord!’”
Visit LauraZielke.com/downloads to save it, and let me know what you think about this challenge.
“For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.” 1 Chronicles 16:25-26
Does your kitchen cupboard with the drinking cups look like a tribute to the plastics industry? I know mine does.
Sure, I would love to have a complete matching set of drinking glasses, but any set we buy begins to slowly dwindle as glass after glass shatters when it is dropped to the floor. It’s interesting how that happens, isn’t it?
Your child tries to fill his cup on his own, it is slippery to hold, and…well… you know the rest. Gravity does its job.
It just makes me want to praise the Lord.
I know. You need some transition for that last sentence. You see, I am a scientist. That means I look at things from a weird perspective. So during that slow-motion time as glass begins falling to the ground, I first accept the fact that these are my children, and we can’t have perfect things in our house until they are grown and gone (which I am not looking forward to). But then I begin to study that glass falling.
- How it shatters due to its molecular structure.
- The pattern the shards move in as they are propelled from the angle of impact and the force of gravity.
- The fact that we all need to put on shoes now (Homeschoolers never seem to wear shoes, do they?) until everything is swept and mopped.
But really, the forces acting on that cup are fascinating. Yet even more fascinating is the One who laid down those forces – those physical laws. He spoke things into being, and they appeared at His command. He is upholding them today.
Asaph and his men knew this when they were appointed by David to minister before the Ark.
“He appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the LORD, to extol, thank, and praise the LORD, the God of Israel.” 1 Chronicles 16:4
And they praised Him, marveling at His Creation. Extolling Him along with the heavens, earth, and all the animals living on the earth.
How did they know He is worthy?
Because He made everything and keeps it. Asaph went on to say in verse 30, “Tremble before him, all the earth! The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.”
As we observe the world around us, we are more aware of the vastness and complexity of the universe God spoke into being.
[Now, here’s the science-y person in me coming out…] Science helps us to marvel and praise God along with Asaph. With the telescope, we begin to understand that this huge planet and the entirety of people are nothing but a grain of sand on an immense field of universe. BUT…with the microscope we learn that this grain has entire tribes and populations within it. You see, we think we see our world as insignificant in light of the heavenlies that the telescope reveals. But we are reminded that it IS NOT insignificant, thanks to the microscope and its discoveries of the vastness of creatures and particles held within a tiny drop of water.
He creates, He fills up, and He upholds. The world is firmly established, it is sustained by its Creator, and He is worthy of our praise!
Just look around. You only have to look at the plastic cups in your kitchen to be reminded of the elegant design and natural laws of our world.
Read through all of Asaph’s praise in 1 Chronicles 16. Pray those words with me as you marvel at our God. Indeed, He is worthy.
Praise the Lord for glass breaking! Praise Him for His wondrous works!