Posts Tagged With: Praise

Put It On The Devil’s Bill

Perhaps you’ve heard the story about the spry Christian missionary woman who retired to Virginia. Living alone at her rural home, nestled in the foot hills of Appalachia’s Blue Ridge Mountains just outside of Roanoke, she enjoyed her golden years in fellowship with God. As a woman of deep faith, her prayers were copious; she and Jesus had many conversations, discussing everything in life. 

This vibrant widow woman made a habit of praying out loud each morning, while stationed on her front porch overlooking a beautiful mountain meadow, dappled in wildflowers. Heedless of her advancing years and petite form, she had a robust voice that reverberated through the mountains and valleys. 

To the south, the prayer warrior’s property adjoined a neighbor’s lot where an avowed atheist, a sexagenarian, had recently moved in. It didn’t take the man long to tire of the daily irritation—hearing the widow’s morning praises to the Almighty. So, he began to push against it. 

The first time it happened was on a sultry Tuesday morning that sported a commanding sunrise. Standing beside the front porch post, she began to pray. “Oh Lord, what a beautiful day you’ve given us! Thank you for revealing such splendor that You have created. I praise you Father, for you’ve provided everything I could possibly need.” 

Suddenly the atheist’s voice sounded with contrived laughter from his concealed position behind a hedge.  “Aha-ha-ha-ha—there is no God! You’re just talking to the air.”  

But the woman simply kept praying. “Lord Jesus, please grant my neighbor faith. Bless him real good. Take the blindfold off of him and let him see.”  

Further irritated, the atheist went back inside, only to return the next morning, shouting the same words, “Aha-ha-ha-ha—there is no God!”  

This went on for many days, but one morning the heathen thought he’d found a crack in the woman’s joy-filled armor.  

She had prayed, “Heavenly Father you are so very faithful. Thank you for your tender mercies. You, Lord, have always provided me with all I could possibly need, and even those secret things I wanted. Father, as usual, the bills are all paid, and You’ve given me this wonderful home and clothes. But this month is different, because I have no money left to buy groceries. I know that You, Lord, will provide somehow, just as You always have.” Her prayer continued with praises and talk of her past work and her family that was mostly all in heaven now. 

Oddly, her difficult neighbor did not shout his usual diatribe against God—he simply went back inside.  

As the sun rose the next day, the widow came out onto the porch to offer her morning praises. There, sitting on the porch were five bags full of a variety of food. Instantly, she began to thank and praise God. “Oh, holy Father, you are such an awesome God! Thank you, Lord for providing these groceries…” 

 Once again, she heard her rival taunt. 

“Ah-ha-ha-ha,” roared the neighbor, this time bursting through the hedge to stand akimbo in front of the woman.  “I bought you those groceries, Lady! You see, I told you, there is no God.” 

Without missing a beat, the woman simply continued her prayer. “Oh, this is so wonderful, Lord. I thank you for providing all of these wonderful groceries…and You even made the devil pay for them! ☺

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What an inspiration it is when we meet people of great faith like the widow woman in our story—what great power we witness in their lives. Her story came to mind as I read about the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ in Bethlehem. 

We’re all familiar with the Christmas story and all the characters involved: the inn-keeper, Mary and Joseph with the baby Jesus, the shepherds in the field watching over their flocks, heavenly angels, and later on the three wise men from the East. And we even remember ‘Herodes Magnus’, Herod the Great, infamous for the slaughter of the innocents. 

Interested in knowing more about the three wise men—the magi, I dug into a bit of a word-study. The word “magi’ is from the Greek ‘magus’, from which our word “magic” is derived. Technically these three who visited Jesus’ family were practitioners of foresight into the future, usually, the immediate future. We also know from the bible as well as from many fine historians, researchers, scholars and biblical detectives that these three wise men were astrologers…not to be confused with astronomists. This point does have its detractors. Some people reject the idea simply because they think the wise men had to have been righteous men, which is not at all necessary for God to use them in the way that He did. There are multitudinous examples in the bible of God using heathen idolaters and terrible sinners to advance His grand plan. Besides, all of us are born into sin. 

We’ll get back to these particular astrologers momentarily, as the need for a word of caution about astrology is profoundly needed here. 

Astrology is the earliest recorded type of formal, systematized idolatry—the same thing was practiced by the people who’d gathered together in biblical Shinar, aka- Babylonia, to build the Tower of Babel. Perhaps it would not be improper to call the Tower of Babel the first elevated observatory to the heavenly constellations. Could that have been the birth of astrology, some 4200 years ago? Some historians believe astrology to be only 2400 years old. I’m still digging, but I think the older date might hold true. For now, I’ll forego stating it dogmatically. 

What we know for certain is that in Old Testament times, kings from every nation, with the exception of Israel, would not go into battle before checking their fortune in the stars—they hoped for the heavenly luminaries to portend victory in their conquests. All across the known world people idolized the sun, moon and stars, and presaged their futures from them, encouraged through the subtlety of Satan’s agents of darkness. The spiritual realm is quite real, so, of course, there’s real supernatural power there. Two sources of supernatural power, that’s all there are—God, and the fallen angels, led by the Prince of Darkness.  

Today, people think reading their horoscope is harmless fun. But be advised, God forbids it and warns of the dangers associated with astrology, also called horoscope. It’s probable that by looking to astrological signs we inadvertently give demons permission to attack our minds—to oppress, depress and deceive us. An apt name for it would be “horrorscope”, yikes! 

The spiritual realm is just as real, if not more so, than the material world of matter, time and energy to which our earthly bodies are confined. But often in scripture, the veil between these two worlds has been pulled back so that a finite person could see spiritual things, places and beings. Prophets received knowledge of future events from God and His messengers. The heavenly angels heralded the birth of Messiah in spectacular audio-visual fashion. Evidently, fallen angels or demons are also, in a limited capacity, able to see some future events.  

Now, let’s get back to our original topic. 

We know that Jesus’ mother and earthly father, Joseph were not among the aristocracy of their day. In fact, Mary and Joseph were considered poor, as evidenced by their offering of two young pigeons for the sacrifice instead of a lamb: recorded in Luke 2: 24. (See Leviticus 12:7-8 to see God’s directives concerning this sacrifice.) 

The gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh that the three magi gave to Jesus and His family were all extremely valuable commodities. It is my belief that God was providing for the material things Jesus’ family would need. God always provides for all His children, so certainly He’d provide for His only begotten Son.

We just never know when God may cause the devil himself to foot the bill.  

Categories: Christian Living, Devotional, The unexpected, Uncategorized, Wisdom & Discernment | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Party Time

praise

In New Orleans, Mardi Gras is lauded as a celebration that stands above all others. The fervor with which preparations are made and the energy that is put into such wanton partying certainly nears being unrivaled. But since when does drunkenness, debauchery, or simply an excuse to cast modesty to the wind deserve such acclaim?

 

Yes there are religious observances that are wed with this festival, both Christian as well as those enamored with various cults and Satanism. Christ does not hold hands with the devil, and neither do his servants. A true Christian is set apart as holy unto God and does not mingle with blatantly evil revelry.

 

It’s not that Christians do not party—they do, only their celebrations look much different than what is done throughout this heathen celebration.

 

In Christ Jesus is found the apex of joy and unsurpassable satiation of the heart, of the soul and spirit. The entire being: from the physical body, to the mind, and into the spirit washes satisfaction—a saturation of contentment flowing from God’s throne.

 

Rife with all good things, Christian celebrations always burst forth with praises, singing, shouting and dancing in joyous revelry in response to the richness of the abundant and eternal life our Savior affords. And as with most festive occasions there’s usually a lot of good food involved.

 

Magnify the mighty name of Jesus! Let His deeds be known!

 

Recount the blessings from His hands, and go tell it on the mountain, over the hills and everywhere. Such good news of God’s amazing grace is cause for His acclaim, His glory, and for our celebration of the Lord’s exalted position.

 

Free yourself to celebrate the gift of salvation, and shout your faith from the rooftops. Let us parade down the streets with signs extolling our God’s holy virtues, His love and provision of every good and perfect gift.

 

Cause the Father of lights to rise and clap. Bring a smile to the face of Almighty God by celebrating His wisdom, His justice—His holiness and purity.

 

Let’s lift our voices to sing songs of thanks and praise. Let’s do so in the public arena, in our homes and schools, and in our government buildings. Nowhere is God absent, and there’s no place that His presence does not fill. For this reason all places are right places to acknowledge and proclaim His goodness.

 

I just want to celebrate! (As a teenager that was one of my favorite songs by the group Rare Earth.)  Never has that been truer for me than it is today, as I ruminate upon our glorious God and Savior Jesus Christ.

Let’s toast to His love, as we perpetuate that same love around the world.

Categories: Christian Living, Current Event, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Time To Rejoice

rejoice

 

There are nearly a dozen hot button topics that have come up over the past week that I had hoped to expound. It would have drawn a lot more readers. But life kept on happening, effectively robbing me of the time I needed to plant my butt in the seat and type. But then again…

Today I want to block out all those other things bouncing around in my thinker, to relate what the Lord spoke to my heart this morning, through His word. Hold onto something now, we are entering my brain.  ☺

We hear the verse often, and most every Christian is familiar with it. I think there’s a danger in over using popular verses. When we hear them, our minds believe we’ve already received the full impact of that particular passage of scripture in the past, and so we don’t really think much about it. Opening my bible this morning, I turned to one such verse.

“This is the day that the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

I can say with confidence, I’ve read that verse lots of times over the years, and have heard it quoted even more. But let’s dig in, and see if we can draw some deeper meaning than what appears on the surface.

First, let’s list the topics that this verse includes. Certainly it speaks of God’s sovereignty: God is in control. He can do as He pleases. I’m thankful He is a good and loving God, aren’t you?

This verse also proclaims that the Lord is the Creator of time.

Trusting God through whatever the day might bring is another grand principle we need to apply to our minds, which this verse implies.

God is working out His grand plan for mankind corporately. He also has individual, personalized plans for each one of our futures. (Jer. 29:11) He is aligning circumstances and events so that His plan for you will be brought to pass. This verse shouts the topic of Divine Providence.

We should rejoice.

When we can rejoice in the Lord, regardless of what is transpiring around us, or happening to us, God is very pleased. It reveals that we are trusting the Lord, and acknowledging His sovereignty. We are showing our understanding of His providence. We are acknowledging His provision of all we need, and we are joyful over His love. So here’s the thrust of the message I received today. God led me to the book of Job to make the connection.

“He replied, “You are talking like a foolish woman. Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” In all this, Job did not sin in what he said.” Job 2:10

You should already know the story of Job, so I won’t get into that, but suffice it to say that God allowed Job to suffer horrendous tragedies in his life

Yes, it is easy to trust God in the good times of plenty and health. But what about the days when my sciatica is raging, causing terrible pain in my back? What about the days a migraine headache forces me back into bed? Can I rejoice then?

Often, I think I know what needs to be done in order for me to continue growing in holiness. I have mapped out how to best serve the Lord, and what I need to accomplish in order to minister to others. I have my days all planned out. But sometimes God interrupts my plans, with His plan. He might say, “No, Sheldon, today you need a headache.” Will I trust Him still? Will I rejoice in the fact that God knows what he’s doing, and that it’s all for my own good? Can God show love to me by allowing me to have a splitting headache? Yes! I may not enjoy the pain, but I can rest assured that God’s love for me remains intact. I can rejoice because I trust in His wisdom, which eclipses my own.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think people should shout, “Praise the Lord, I have cancer!” I’m not going to actually thank God for my pain. But I am going to thank Him that He is using my pain to shape me into the image of His holy Son, just as He has promised. I will praise Him for aligning events to coincide with, and bring about His perfect will, because His will is better than good.

Another popular verse states, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice.” Philippians 4:4

If I am going to rejoice in the Lord at all times, even during a sciatica flare up or a blasting migraine, I will need to trust God. I must accept the bad along with the good, as did Job. I must believe that in His providence He is working all things together in a way that will bring about all that is good for me. “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” Romans 8:28

Perhaps I needed to be reminded today that God is in control, and that He loves me very much. Maybe I required a refresher course in remaining joyful over my relationship with Jesus. But then, maybe God simply wanted me to write all of this out so that you would be reminded of these things. Whatever the case, the Lord is working.

Not perceiving or acknowledging God’s loving control does not hinder His plans from progressing, not in the least. But it will harm us, and steal off with our joy. Let’s lift up the mighty name of our glorious God today and rejoice in Him! Because, as we all know, God is good, all the time!

Pray with me:

Heavenly Father, we praise you that you are a holy God, and we praise you for your goodness and your sweet love. May your mighty name be forever exalted. We especially thank you for sending your Son, Jesus to pay for our sins and reconcile us unto Yourself. What an awesome plan of salvation! It is so wonderful that we have this precious relationship with you, and with Your Son, through Your Spirit within. We pray for your will to be done in each one of us, and across the earth. Teach us, oh God, to recognize your Lordship over all things, and to rejoice in the fact that you love us so much. Thank you for providing everything we need to grow in goodness and in godliness. We praise you for nurturing us along, as we become more and more like Jesus. We love you, Lord! We praise your mighty name, Hallelujah! In Jesus’ glorious name, Amen.

Categories: Growing in Faith, Ministry, Providence, Testimony, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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