VIDEO Reasons to Praise

Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing praises to His name, for it is pleasant. Psalm 135:3

The United States Presidential Medal of Freedom was established by President John F. Kennedy in 1963. It is awarded by Presidents of the United States to persons who have made “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” The award is accompanied by the President’s recitation of the recipient’s accomplishments and good works.

Awards are never given for no reason. They are always given in recognition of something that has been done or contributed by the recipient. And the same is true when we give thanks or praise to God. In the Old Testament, God’s actions and attributes are mentioned as reasons for praising Him: “Praise the Lord! For He has delivered the life of the poor from the hand of evildoers” (Jeremiah 20:13). There is, of course, no end to the actions and attributes of God that are worthy of praise.

In your own prayers, develop the habit of thanking God for what He has done for you—your own personal reasons for praising Him.

Let earth and Heaven combine, angels and men agree, to praise in songs divine the incarnate Deity.
Charles Wesley, “They Shall Call His Name Immanuel”


Psalm 135 • Your Name, O Lord, endures forever

Mighty Warrior

The Lord is with you, mighty warrior Judges 6:12

Diet Eman was an ordinary, shy young woman in the Netherlands—in love, working, and enjoying time with family and friends—when the Germans invaded in 1940. As Diet (pronounced Deet) later wrote, “When there is danger on your doorstep, you want to act almost like an ostrich burying its head in the sand.” Yet Diet felt God calling her to resist the German oppressors, which included risking her life to find hiding places for Jews and other pursued people. This unassuming young woman became a warrior for God.

We find many stories in the Bible similar to Diet’s, stories of God using seemingly unlikely characters to serve Him. For instance, when the angel of the Lord approached Gideon, he proclaimed, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior” (Judges 6:12). Yet Gideon seemed anything but mighty. He’d been secretly threshing wheat away from the prying eyes of the Midianites, who oppressively controlled Israel at the time (vv. 1–6, 11). He was from the weakest clan of Israel (Manasseh) and the “least” in his family (v. 15). He didn’t feel up to God’s calling and even requested several signs. Yet God used him to defeat the cruel Midianites (see ch. 7).

God saw Gideon as “mighty.” And just as God was with and equipped Gideon, so He’s with us, His “dearly loved children” (Ephesians 5:1)—supplying all we need to live for and serve Him in little and big ways.

By:  Alyson Kieda

Reflect & Pray

Who are some other Bible characters God used despite their weakness to accomplish much for Him? How has God moved you outside your comfort zone to serve Him?

God, I’m so thankful You don’t see me as I see myself. Help me to see myself as Your dearly loved child capable of doing big and small things in service to You.

A Sacrifice of Thanksgiving

The best way to begin cultivating a thankful heart is by using words

Psalm 50

At first glance, the words sacrifice and thanksgiving seem unrelated, but today’s reading combines them in one phrase. Sacrifice brings to mind images of costly service, whereas thanksgiving conveys a joyous celebration of overflowing abundance and blessings. 

Most of us wouldn’t consider our words a sacrifice, since they don’t cost much to say. But it matters to God when we offer prayers and songs of praise to acknowledge His blessings. What He sees as especially valuable is a godly life given wholly to Him—this is not about perfection but about a heart surrendered to His will and purpose. 

Tithing is another expression of thankfulness that is costly. Since the Lord is the source of all provision and wealth, our grateful response should be to give Him a portion of what He has given us. Generosity is a good barometer of the authenticity of our gratitude. 

Offering thanks to God begins with words, but like children who grow in appreciation as they mature, we should be growing in expressions of gratitude to the Lord. Give Him your whole life as a sacrifice of thanksgiving—you’ll experience amazing benefits because you can never outgive God.

I Am Christ’s Friend

Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. (John 15:15)

Some things in Scripture are harder to understand and believe than others. Christ, the sovereign Creator of all things, the offended Judge who declared the penalty for sin to be death, the One who willingly died to pay that penalty and redeem us from bondage to sin, now calls us His friends. Certainly we would like to consider Him our friend; but are we really His friends? If He were telling someone about His friends, would He include us? Somehow this seems too much—too good to be true; but He insists it is.

Actually, Christ said, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you” (John 15:16). We are His friends by conscious choice on His part, even though He knows more about our inward nature than we will admit to ourselves. He has demonstrated His friendship by the greatest act of love imaginable, when He voluntarily died to save us from our sins. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (v. 13). Furthermore, for His friends He promises, “Whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you” (v. 16).

His love for us surpasses human love. “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love” (v. 9) “that your joy might be full” (v. 11). He has “ordained” us as friends so that we “should go and bring forth fruit, and that [our] fruit should remain” (v. 16). What joy!

There should be a response on our part to His friendship. Almost as a self-evident fact, He states, “Ye are my friends, if you do whatsoever I command you” (v. 14), among other things, “that ye love one another” (v. 17). How can we do less? JDM

Praise For Boldness

I will give You thanks with all my heart; I will sing Your praise before the heavenly beings. I will bow down toward Your holy temple and give thanks to Your name for Your constant love and faithfulness. You have exalted Your name and Your promise above everything else. On the day I called, You answered me; You increased strength within me. All the kings on earth will give You thanks, Lord, when they hear what You have promised. They will sing of the Lords ways, for the Lord’s glory is great (Psalm 138 vv. 1-5).

King David has a full-hearted faith that he expresses uniquely and creatively. In these deeply satisfying verses, David praises the Lord before the gods of the pagans!

Dr. Elton Trueblood, in his book Alternative to Futility, said some time ago— The basic defect of the Protestant churches lies not in their divided condition but in their insipidity. They show so little imagination. The same kind of dull and lifeless service is repeated endlessly, whatever the occasion. We are in a time of crisis when we need a dynamic fellowship to turn the world upside down. What we are offered is a stereotype. A man, having become convinced that we are in a race with catastrophe, may seek the very bread of life, but in practice he is forced to sing sentimental songs with words he does not mean, listen to some comforting platitudes, and finally shake the minister’s hand at the door, because there is no other way to escape! In short, this kind of church illustrates Professor Whitehead’s dictum perfectly. “It is in full decay because it lacks the element of adventure.”

We need adventurous fellowship. Like David, we need to take our stand boldly before the gods, ” declaring our faith and singing praise to the Lord!

Personal Prayer

I long to praise you, Lord, wholeheartedly, courageously, and creatively. As I bow before you, inspire me with songs of praise and worship.

The Language of Music

Vow

A solemn promise or assertion by which a person binds himself to an act, service, or condition.

The Breastplate

May Your priests be clothed with righteousness, and may Your godly people shout for joy.—Psalm 132:9

The second piece of armor with which we are to defend ourselves against the tactics of the Devil is the breastplate of righteousness.

A soldier’s breastplate generally extended from the base of the neck to the upper part of the thighs so it would cover many important parts of the body, in particular the heart. Some commentators think that the word breastplate suggests that this piece of equipment covered only the front of the chest and thus gave no protection for the back. They deduce from this that a Christian should face the Devil and never turn his back on him, or else he will expose a part that is unguarded. It is an interesting idea, but it must not be given too much credence, for the soldier’s breastplate often covered his back as well as his front.

What spiritual lesson can we draw from the “breastplate of righteousness”? Most commentators believe that because the soldier’s breastplate primarily covered his heart, the spiritual application of this is that in Christ we have all the protection we need against negative or desolating feelings—the heart being seen as the focal point of the emotions.

What an exciting thought: by putting on the breastplate of righteousness, we have the spiritual resources to deal with all those debilitating feelings that tend to bring us down into despair—unworthiness, inadequacy, fear, and so on. When I mentioned this to a friend who asked me what I thought the breastplate of righteousness was for, he said: “It sounds too good to be true.” I replied: “It’s too good not to be true.”

Prayer

Gracious Lord and Master, how can I sufficiently thank You for providing a defense against this most difficult of problems—emotional distress. Show me how to apply Your truth to this part of my personality. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Further Study

Mt 15:10-20; Mk 7:21; Pr 4:23; 28:9

What comes out of the heart?

How are we to guard our hearts?

The Most Exalted Calling

Proverbs 11:30

Truly the profession of a soul-winner is the most exalted one spiritually, and therefore one which is surrounded by the greatest temptations. The higher the peak we climb, the greater our danger of wounds and bruises if we fall; and the higher the spiritual summit to which we aspire, the more awful our spiritual loss and disgrace should we prove untrue.

A soul-winner must be devoted to the salvation of souls. There must be something more than a mere enthusiasm which can shout through a hearty meeting and work like a slave by fits and starts when the Spirit’s power is wonderfully manifest. There must be a devotion for souls.

Jesus Christ’s pattern, described in the words, “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me,” (John 4:34 KJV) is of a kind that will sacrifice time, rest, strength, human affections and even life itself. It is of a kind that has so completely achieved the mastery over self and pride in every form that it is willing not to hang back by reason of its unfitness. But, in the midst of others who excel in natural gifts and powers, it is willing to go forward and even have the appearance of foolishness if only it may have a share in giving forth the saving message.

Oh to remember to what a perilous height we shall have to climb if we are to tread in the footsteps of Jesus, the world’s Savior. But if, having already become engaged in this great war, we do not yet see things in this light, what shall we do? First let us remember God will not suddenly make us fit for this work without any effort of our own. Just as for any earthly undertaking a man has to put forth his own determination, and study, labor and strain himself into fitness for it, so must we for this heavenly warfare. We must labor to bring our souls into sympathy—first with the awful need of the dying world, and second with the spirit, character, and message of Him whom we are trying to represent to those who know Him not.

For this purpose let us shut our ears to the earth, and listen to the despairing cries of the lost. Let us accustom our eyes to look into the darkness of the abyss of despair till earth’s sights grow strange to us. Then let us kneel at Calvary’s cross and look into the suffering face of Him who hangs there, until the burning unquenchable love of that Man of Sorrows flows into and fills our soul. Then indeed we shall need no spur to urge us forth to the most desperate needs for the world’s salvation.

Catherine Bannister, The Practice of Sanctification