Shift Gears

Psalm 30: 2      GW

O Lord my God, I cried out to you for help, and you healed me.

What do you hear when you read this? I can hear emotion and waves of relief. David’s anguish turned into relief. You almost want to take a deep breath for him.

This verse reminds me of 2 Kings 20: 5, “I’ve heard your prayer. I’ve seen your tears. Now I’m going to heal you.” Oh, I love that one. Of course, I believe we should speak words of faith. I think we should be strong in our belief. There is a time, though, to cry out to God. However, one of the things I have learned by reading David’s psalms is that although he may begin with the most forlorn language you have ever heard, he always ends his song in praise and thanksgiving. There is something powerful to be gleaned from that. Cry with all your heart. Bare your soul to the Lord (not to others), but when you are ready, when your grief and despondency have waned, shift into affirmative language about the greatness of God. What does that look like?

You may begin by telling God how sick you are, how bad you feel and how desperate you are. Keep it up, tell him everything. Just pour out until you have emptied yourself. Then, shift gears. “Father, though I feel sick, alone and like I will never fully heal, I know that you are the healer. I know that you sent your word and healed me. Father, the Word tells me that I was healed by Jesus’ stripes and Father, I thank you. Thank you for sending your beloved to earth to take all my sin, sickness and pain. Thank you, Jesus, that you bore, on your body, the stripes by which I am healed. Father, I confess before you that I am healed. Jesus has made me whole. I am not cursed but rather blessed. I am blessed coming in and blessed going out. I am blessed when I lie down and blessed when I arise. I am blessed, Father, when I inhale and when I exhale. You promised your healing power and Jesus has fulfilled every one of your promises. I may look sick, but I am healed. Father, I claim this healing blessing which you have provided for me. I declare, in Jesus’ name and by his precious blood, that the healing power of the Ezekiel river is running through every vein, capillary and vessel in my body. Every cell of my body is saturated with the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, and I declare and decree, in the name of Jesus, that I am whole. I am healed from the top of my head to the soles of my feet. And I thank you Father. Thank you for your love and for your faithfulness. Amen.”

Copy that down. Print it out. Read it out loud when you aren’t feeling your best and speak loudly. Say it until you feel the belief rising up within you and then say what you wish to see manifested. “My knee is healed, praise God.” “I shall live and not die and will proclaim the goodness of the Lord.”

Cry out to the Lord with a loud voice. Complain, moan, groan and whine, but then shift gears. Get in sync with that power which is within you and proclaim the healing in your body. End with thanksgiving and praise. You are going to feel better. I promise.

Simple

James 5: 13

Is anyone among you suffering? Then he must pray. Is anyone cheerful? He is to sing praises.

Here is a primer on the Christian life. When things aren’t going quite right, pray. When they do go well, praise. Do you think life is complicated? It has just been simplified. Just in case you didn’t think about it when you saw the verse citation, this was written by Jesus’ brother. James grew up seeing how Jesus responded to situations. In trials, he prayed. In victory he praised.

What is happening in your world right now? You need to do one of two things. Which is it?

The End

Psalm 150

Praise the LORD!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty expanse.
2 Praise Him for His mighty deeds;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness.
3 Praise Him with trumpet sound;
Praise Him with harp and lyre.
4 Praise Him with tambourine and dancing;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and flute.
5 Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with resounding cymbals.
6 Everything that has breath shall praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD!

What a fitting way to end Psalm Mondays, with praise. Praise Him in every way imaginable. Praise the Lord!

If you have never given yourself over to praise before, today is the day. Don’t let another day go by without your praise being lifted to heaven. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!

Weapons of Praise

Psalm 149: 6       TPT

God’s high and holy praises fill their mouths, for their shouted praises are their weapons of war!

This is simple. Praise is a weapon. Last Tuesday’s devotional was a reminder that we must clothe ourselves with Jesus’ victory; that his victory isn’t automatically operating in all the situations of our lives (Victory in Jesus, May 11, 2021). Instead, we must acknowledge his victory and then apply it to our circumstances. He is victorious over everything which attempts to plague us. However, it is up to us to put on his victory.

Here is one of the most powerful ways I know to clothe yourself with his victory. Put on the garments of praise. I wrote in Strong Leader (WOTD, May 10, 2021) that praise is a power tool for repairing the broken things. When we praise, we release the power of heaven to work in our lives. Praise anoints our lives with the oil of the Holy Spirit, who is our go along, our helper. He walks right beside us all the time waiting for us to give the Word so he can command his forces to work in our lives. This is so much bigger than most people know. If we understood the power of heart-felt praise, we would become praising machines. The angels of God would swirl around us because they are attracted to praise of the Father. I imagine nothing harmful would be able to get to us because of the whirlpool of angels surrounding us. What a beautiful, nay, glorious image that is.

I invite you to ponder this today. See yourself surrounded by angels bathing themselves in the glory of God which arises from loving praise. Selah!

Strong Leader

Psalm 148: 13 – 14      GW

Let them praise the name of the Lord because his name is high above all others. His glory is above heaven and earth. He has given his people a strong leader, someone praiseworthy for his faithful ones, for the people of Israel, the people who are close to him. Hallelujah!

As we read this passage, we easily think of the strong leader God has given his people as Jesus. When this was written, however, Jesus had not yet come to earth. The people of the Old Testament were no less convinced that God had provided for them in the person of the coming Messiah.

What makes Jesus praiseworthy? This psalmist was full of praise for the Father and called upon all creation to praise the Lord, even the stars, and sea creatures. He called for the sun and the moon and crawling creatures to praise the Lord. What was happening inside this poet that would cause him to imagine whales and centipede would stop and praise the Lord?

While we think of Jesus as praiseworthy, how often do we give voice to those praises? Are you one of those who finds it easy to shout praises to the King? I hope you are but for the rest of us, perhaps a little practice would help. For myself, I like to get alone and sing praise songs. There are praise albums that you can purchase which not only help one to praise but which lift the spirit. They are my secret weapon. Maybe you have a tool which aids you in praising the Lord.

I want you to praise Father and Son because of what it does for you. Praise is an aid to dealing with problems, it helps alleviate stress and it feeds the soul and spirit. When we praise God, we release the joy of the kingdom and the power in praise goes to work resolving issues we didn’t know how to address. Let this be your power tool. Sing, shout and lift up praises to your strong leader. See how it changes your world.

Freak Out!

Lamentations 3: 41

We raise our heart and hands toward God in heaven.

I well remember the first time I went to a Charismatic church. I was the guest of a friend. It turned out that she and her husband attended the same church as someone I greatly respected. I wonder if she chose our seats intentionally because this man that I admired was right in my line of sight as I looked to the podium.

Imagine my horror when, during the praise and worship, my eye noticed movement and turning towards the movement saw that my “hero” had his hand raised towards heaven. I think God must have nailed my shoes to the floor because, though I was freaking out at this rock and roll church, I couldn’t move.

That church shook up my life. There were lots of people who raised their hands or swayed. There was probably even someone dancing somewhere. As much as it alarmed me, there was something there that, though I couldn’t identify it at the time, drew me. That first service mortified me, but you know what, I began driving over an hour every Sunday to attend services there. When the Associate Pastor started his own church, I went with him. To this day, he is the pastor of my heart. His ministry changed my life forever.

It is funny to remember how alarmed I was at my mentor raising his hand in church. From that initiation to becoming a founding member of the Associate Pastor’s new church is an interesting contrast. And yet, it was the most normal thing of all. I am glad my friend took me to church. Even though it challenged everything I thought I knew, I ultimately found truth and freedom, and after all, that is what we all seek. Just be warned, the truth you need may be cloaked in unusual raiment.

Exploding Heart

Psalm 145: 1

I will exalt You, my God, the King, and I will bless Your name forever and ever.

How nice. Then again, how dry, tamed and devoid of emotion. Per usual, I took the verse from the New American Standard Bible. Now, see it from one of my other favorite translations, the God’s Word Translation, “I will highly praise you, my God, the king. I will bless your name forever and ever.” That is a bit better, I would say, but when you know more context for this psalm you might still question the uninspired choice of words. This psalm is a “Song of Praise by David.” It sure does not sound like David. Now, allow me to share the Passion Translation’s rendering of this verse, “My heart explodes with praise to you! Now and forever my heart bows in worship to you, my King and my God!” There you go! That’s better. Those words sound like David.

The NASB is my preferred version, but I use many Bible translations in order to get at the fullness of meaning. Today’s verse is one of those times when the NASB needs some help. It shows our stoic, rather constrained, British Biblical heritage. David wasn’t a western thinker though. He was a man who poured out his heart to God in hundreds of songs. He praised God with his entire being, singing and dancing with abandon. I think David would make me a bit uncomfortable. I quite like the restrained nature of some church’s worship. I must ask, though, is it really worship and can it qualify for praise. I find, too, as time goes by, I find myself less satisfied with it and will even admit it feels a bit stifling. Don’t get me wrong, I am not ready to dance like David, but I do find myself wishing I could.

Many of us would criticize people who praise like David. They make us uncomfortable. We used to condemn them as “too emotional.” I have begun to question myself in this regard because we are discussing praise to an entity who describes Himself as what we would define as an emotion, Love. Maybe Yahweh is emotional. Maybe Jesus is. We seem to have made this verse over in our image. We praise God with our hands in our pockets while David danced so energetically that he danced his clothes off. I am certainly not ready for that, but I bear in mind that God called David a man after His own heart. Then I think about how David praised God and sang love songs to Him. Thus, I begin to question my style. Maybe Father would like for my face to look more like there is feeling behind my words.

David could not refrain from shouting and singing. He couldn’t hold still because his heart was bursting with his love of God. There is no way I can criticize him for that, even if I am secretly glad he isn’t standing right next to me in church. Maybe someday, I will praise like David. Maybe someday the whole church will lose its inhibitions. Then perhaps we will all shout and sing our praises to God!