31 Days of Praise {Day 6} – Created for Praise

And he answered and said unto them, I tell you that, if these should hold their peace, the stones would immediately cry out. – Luke 19:40

Back when my husband and I were teaching Children’s Church, there was an object lesson we liked to use when teaching the children how to praise God. It involved filling up a long balloon with water, reading Luke 19:28-40, and then allowing one of the children to squeeze the balloon with all their might until it popped and water flowed out between their fingers.

We then explained that was how all of creation would feel if we didn’t do our part in praising God. Praise would burst forth from the cracks in the ground and all of creation itself would cry out that we aren’t doing what we were created to do.

Creation will cry out in the only ways that it can, all of creation will cry out if we keep our peace, we remain silent, we refuse to put our faith into words. There are some things that must be said, and they will be said , even if we do not say them.

God has given most of us the gift of a voice, shouldn’t we use it to praise Him?

Please visit the other ladies who are participants in the 31 Days of Ministry Online:

Amy Bayliss {Cajun Inspired} : 31 Days of Heart Matters
{A Martha Heart} : 31 Days of Prayer
Karin {Mommy Matters} : 31 Days of Intentional Parenting
Jenny {867-53oh9} : 31 Days of Social Media
Dawn {My Home Sweet Home} : 31 Days of Encouragement
Lisa Boyd : 31 Days of WordPress

*Links to all posts on this subject can be found here.

31 Days of Praise {Day 5} Deliverance

The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower. I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies. –Psalm 18:2-3

I have always been a very positive person and generally choose to see the bright side of life, rather than the bad, hence my blog’s tagline. But last year was a very difficult year for me – I lost my brother to a drug overdose in April, my step-dad of 30 years died in July, was there for my mom after she ran over herself with her car, and saw her through yet another major surgery. I wasn’t able to spend my days focusing on too much good…it actually felt like the world was closing in on me.

I lost my desire to blog, work, go to church, or even stay connected to people. I spent vast amounts of time sick and in bed because I just didn’t want to face the day, it was too much like waiting for ‘the other shoe to drop’.  My children didn’t have a summer vacation – we spent it shuffling back and forth to nursing homes, hospitals, and rehab hospitals. We didn’t even use our Kids Bowl Free coupons very often. I just didn’t want to do anything that required leaving my house.

I had officially hit rock bottom, and when a friend (who had been there) called it by the ugly name of  “depression”, I was taken aback. “Me? Depressed? It’s not possible.”  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I had let LIFE overwhelm me and I had inadvertently allowed myself to give up on the things that mattered the most – my family, my friends, and most importantly, my relationship with the Lord. I had become apathetic.

Sometimes when you’re in a miry pit, you don’t realize it until you’ve gotten so bogged down that you can’t move, and then you’re trapped. But that single comment spawned a true turning point for me because I knew in my heart that God could deliver me from those feelings. A lot of prayer has gone up since then, and though it hasn’t been easy, things have gotten better. I am sharing this because I believe there are others hurting the same way I was and I want you to know that GOD IS ABLE to deliver you too! I have to give Him all the glory and honor for what He’s done in my life – even my kids have noticed that mom is back to being more like her old self.

God will hear us no matter what the nature of the distress is. He will always be there: in trouble, adversity, need, calamity, whenever we are in turmoil. What adversity are you facing? Is it conflict in the family, financial problems, stress at work, emotional problems, spiritual battles? No matter what the distress, God is there to meet your need. God will answer us in the day of trouble.

Please visit the other ladies who are participants in the 31 Days of Ministry Online:

Amy Bayliss {Cajun Inspired} : 31 Days of Heart Matters
{A Martha Heart} : 31 Days of Prayer
Karin {Mommy Matters} : 31 Days of Intentional Parenting
Jenny {867-53oh9} : 31 Days of Social Media
Dawn {My Home Sweet Home} : 31 Days of Encouragement
Lisa Boyd : 31 Days of WordPress

*Links to all posts on this subject can be found here.

31 Days of Praise {Day 4} – Singing a New Song for 2011

I’ll be the first to admit that my thoughts are not always focused on ways I can praise God. What?! You’re not surprised about that?

As women, we sometimes tend to every other area  in our lives (husbands, children, work, home, church…the list goes on) before we make time for what’s important to us — I know that my Bible reading is sporadic, as my daily schedule is full with homeschooling, work, and just life in general.

If we are truly honest with each other, very little of our daily schedules are comprised of thoughts about God, much less how we can find ways to honor Him and offer the sacrifice of praise compared to how many hours there are in the day. We are usually good at showing our thanks, no doubt! If you’re anything like me and you happen upon a good parking spot at Wal-Mart, that’s always something to give some thanks for.

However, there’s a difference between ‘thanks’ and ‘praise’. Thanksgiving describes our attitude toward what God has done, while praise is offered for who God is. Praise originates in a pure heart, one full of love and born from a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Praise is an important act of Christian worship. The Bible even states we are to continually find ways to praise God! {Psalm 34:1}

So how can we make it an integral part of our daily life, especially when we are running 90 to nothing on a slow day?

Praise can be expressed in song, in verse, or in prayer. We may not always be able to pick up our Bible or go to our prayer closet, but we can always have a song in our heart! One of my absolute favorite songs {and one that is frequently in my heart} is “Come Thou Fount”:

Come, thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing thy grace; streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above. Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it, mount of thy redeeming love.

Here I raise mine Ebenezer; hither by thy help I’m come; and I hope, by thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God; he, to rescue me from danger, interposed his precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be! Let thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love; here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for thy courts above.

I challenge you to sing a new song in 2011 with me – a song of praise.

Is there a song in your heart today?

Visit other participants:

Amy Bayliss {Cajun Inspired} : 31 Days of Heart Matters
{A Martha Heart} : 31 Days of Prayer
Karin {Mommy Matters} : 31 Days of Intentional Parenting
Jenny {867-53oh9} : 31 Days of Social Media
Dawn {My Home Sweet Home} : 31 Days of Encouragement
Lisa Boyd : 31 Days of WordPress

*Links to all posts on this subject can be found here.

31 Days of Praise {Day 3} Praising in the Storms

He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him: he also will hear their cry, and will save them. – Psalm 145:19

As the rain poured heavily on the road in front of me, my windshield wipers beat a steady rhythm as I drove through the pitch black night of downtown Austin during a citywide blackout. The year was 2000, I was a single mother and had just relocated to the “big city” with my 3-year old daughter to take the job of my dreams and start a new life. Katie and I were on our way to meet my new boss and his wife for dinner at Olive Garden to celebrate our move and to better acquaint our families, but the freak power outage was not something we had planned on, nor were we prepared for it.

The glare of oncoming car headlights combined with the white-hot flashes of lightning made it difficult for me to see anything at all and I silently bemoaned the fact I hadn’t replaced the  wipers when the Wal-Mart tech told me they were worn out. Pretty sure I had already missed my turn a few roads back, I struggled mightily to make out the street names, slowing my car down to a crawl in order to read the approaching signs. It was becoming increasingly obvious that we would arrive late, if we made it at all. I didn’t own a cell phone and didn’t have a way to even contact them to let them know we were lost…this was most certainly NOT the impression I wanted to make.

Hot tears of frustration slipped down my cheeks as I gripped the steering wheel of my car. I pulled over into an empty parking lot to clear my head and attempt to calm my jittery nerves. I had to make a decision.

Temporarily forgetting that I had a tiny passenger in the backseat, I slapped my hands against the wheel and yelled out to no one in particular, “I can’t see SQUAT!” I like to think that Jesus made some intercession on my half-hearted prayer that went something like this, “Lord, I’m lost and need your help. I am in a city I don’t know and I’m scared and alone. Please help me find my way.”

My decision made, I turned around to tell Katie we were heading back to our little apartment to wait out the storm. It was then that I noticed my daughter’s tiny nose pressed to the passenger window. When I asked her what she was doing, she remained steadfast in her task of looking out of the window and simply replied, “I’m looking for SQUAT!”

Sometimes we just need to know that through our trials, there is someone in our corner. We need to know that God is listening. I was so thankful to have my ‘storm buddy’ with me – someone who was helping me find my way and cheer me on. I gave thanks to God at that moment for the gift of my daughter and began singing one of the praise songs I had learned as a child, “Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised, in the city of our God, in the mountains of His holiness. Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King

Looking back, my situation was not all that bad, but at the time, it felt hopeless until He reminded me of what was truly important. Often, we are faced with much larger problems, mountains that are so high we can’t see over them and valleys so low we can’t see how to cross them. On that night, it was something as simple as being lost in dark city with some rain coming down.

What storms in your life has God seen you through?

Visit other participants:

Amy Bayliss {Cajun Inspired} : 31 Days of Heart Matters
{A Martha Heart} : 31 Days of Prayer
Karin {Mommy Matters} : 31 Days of Intentional Parenting
Jenny {867-53oh9} : 31 Days of Social Media
Dawn {My Home Sweet Home} : 31 Days of Encouragement
Lisa Boyd : 31 Days of WordPress

*Links to all posts on this subject can be found here.

31 Days of Praise {Day 2}: What is Praise?

In order to move forward with our 31 Days of Praise series, I’m going to heed some advice from one of my all-time favorite movies, “The Sound of Music”.

When Maria is asked, “But how do we sing?” by one of the children, she very simply states,

Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.

WHAT IS PRAISE?

I firmly believe it’s important to establish both what praise IS and what it is NOT. Please understand up front that my goal is to encourage you in your daily walk. I believe that the Bible is the final authority and do my best to search and prove the Scriptures. My desire is not to debate, but to use this series as a means to challenge you to have a closer walk with the Lord in the coming year. If you study what the Bible has to say on the subject of praise and come to a different conclusion than what is offered here, then it’s still been profitable and we have both learned something. I welcome your questions and comments and covet your prayers on this topic.

What Praise is NOT:

  • Praise is not about how you feel — if it were about your feelings, it would be  emotionalism — and that’s more about putting on a show than worshiping in spirit and truth. Our earthly flesh wants to be a good steward so we can say, “Look what I did for God.” and feel good about ourselves.
  • Praise is not a discipline or “work” you can do — that is something akin to “will worship” — i.e., “I prayed for 2 hours today – I’m so spiritual and I love God so much.” That is more about self than about God when you get right down to it.
  • Praise is not something you just do at a location — or at an event, or even at church. It’s not just an external manifestation of ‘going through the motions’ – there’s no specific place you must go to offer your praise to God.

What Praise IS:

  • Praise is an intelligent, purposeful act that requires recognition. That simply means that we must do it with intention because our Heavenly Father deserves our praise — after all, he created us for the specific purpose of glorifying Him.
  • Praise is offered for who God is — His character and being. He is the great I AM, the Alpha and the Omega, the mighty Creator and He alone is worthy of our praise.
  • Praise comes from a sincere heart full of love for God — our affections are set on Jesus and the perfect works He has completed in us. We are to worship and praise in ‘spirit and in truth’ — Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life and no man can come to God the Father but by Jesus.

Is it always easy to praise God? How about when you lose your job? What about the loss of a loved one? Can you still find a way to praise Him when He allows pain and suffering to enter your life? Are you able to find it within yourself to offer a sacrifice of praise when it feels like God isn’t even listening to your prayers?

If you answered “No” to any of the questions above, then my earnest petition is that you’ll continue with me in this series. As a preacher’s wife, I’ve experienced first hand every single one of the scenarios above, and then some. Listen, I know that none of us have it easy in this fallen world, but we should all be willing and able to recognize God’s providential hand in our lives and offer our praise daily to Him just for saving us, if nothing else!

I love what Amy Bayliss said:

We want to declare that 2011 will be a year for Him and His purposes.

Visit other participants:

Amy Bayliss {Cajun Inspired} : 31 Days of Heart Matters
{A Martha Heart} : 31 Days of Prayer
Karin {Mommy Matters} : 31 Days of Intentional Parenting
Jenny {867-53oh9} : 31 Days of Social Media
Dawn {My Home Sweet Home} : 31 Days of Encouragement
Lisa Boyd : 31 Days of WordPress

*Links to all posts on this subject can be found here.

31 Days of Online Ministry – Praise Edition Welcome

I love a clean slate, which is why I love the New Year so much. It’s an opportunity to do better than I did last year, a fresh start for tackling the projects on my to-do list that I didn’t quite get around to before, to change bad attitudes and habits, and to try new things.

If you’ve been blogging or reading blogs for any length of time, you’ve heard of the wildly successful 31 Days series that The Nester hosted back in October of last year. It was based on Darren Rouse’s “31 Days to Building a Better Blog” series, which originally ran in 2005.  For the month of January, I’ll be participating in a different type of 31 Days series hosted by A Woman Inspired, called “31 Days of Online Ministry“.

My topic is “31 Days of Praise”, and my heart’s desire is to be an encouragement to others by offering up a daily sacrifice of praise for the next 30 days. The Bible tells us that God inhabits the praise of his people (Psalm 22:3) — meaning He dwells in the atmosphere of that praise. I don’t know about you, but I love the sound of God inhabiting the praise I offer up to Him. Please be in prayer for the other ladies participating – pray that God would touch hearts and help us to make 2011 the year we submit our wills to Him and give ourselves to His perfect purpose.

Visit other participants:

Amy Bayliss {Cajun Inspired} : 31 Days of Heart Matters

{A Martha Heart} : 31 Days of Prayer

Karin {Mommy Matters} : 31 Days of Intentional Parenting

Jenny {867-53oh9} : 31 Days of Social Media

Dawn {My Home Sweet Home} : 31 Days of Encouragement

Lisa Boyd : 31 Days of WordPress

*Links to all posts on this subject can be found here.

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