End with Praise

Psalm 150:6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!

We have finally arrived at the end of our journey through Psalms.  We have looked at so many different emotions that the writers experienced and expressed.  If there is one common theme that most of the Psalms come back to, it is praise.  Most of the posts through this journey could have been about it.  The psalmist praised God in the good times and praised Him in the hard times.  No matter how the Psalm started, most ended with praise.  It is appropriate that we end our journey with praise.

Praise the Lord!  Everyone and everything, praise Him.  Praise is appropriate at all times.  Both in good times and bad times.  Both in struggles and successes.  We are to praise God in everything.  Praise Him at the beginning of the day and at the end of the day and do not forget about the middle of the day!  Praising God demonstrates our trust in Him.  It is saying that no matter where we find ourselves, we realize God is in control.  God is greater than any problem we might be facing.

I urge you to start your prayers with praise and end them with also praising God.  It is impossible to praise God too much.  God desires our worship.  God wants us to praise Him.  Do it and keep doing it.

Praise God!  We end with the words of a song known as the Doxology:

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heav’nly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!

Praise God the Father who’s the source;
Praise God the Son who is the course;
Praise God the Spirit who’s the flow;
Praise God, our portion here below!

Dear Jesus, I just praise You.  I praise You for who You are.  I praise You for what You can  and will do.  I praise You for dying for me.  I praise You for saving me.  I praise You for where I am in life and the plan You have for me.  I praise You for desiring me to praise You.  You are so amazing and mighty and awesome, mere words cannot describe how great You really are  Praise God! Amen.

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The Afflicted

Psalm 149:4 For the LORD takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the afflicted ones with salvation.

Christian singer, Crystal Lewis is famous for singing a sound called Beauty for Ashes.  The song talks about how God gives us beauty for affliction.  Afflicted people used to cover themselves in ashes to show their affliction.  Here are the lyrics to the song:

He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear
Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair

He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear
Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair

When sorrow seems to surround you
When suffering hangs heavy o’er your head
Know that tomorrow brings wholeness and healing
God knows your need, just believe what He said

He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear
Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair

When what you’ve done keeps you from moving on
When fear wants to make itself at home in your heart
Know that forgiveness brings wholeness and healing
God knows your need just believe what He said

He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear
Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair

I once was lost but God has found me
Though I was bound I’ve been set free
I’ve been made righteous in His sight
A display of His splendor all can see

I once was lost but God has found me
Though I was bound I’ve been set free
I’ve been made righteous in His sight
A display of His splendor all can see

He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear
Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair

He gives beauty for ashes
Strength for fear
Gladness for mourning
Peace for despair

When I read this verse, this song came to mind.  God takes our weaknesses, our affliction and turns them to beauty.  He wipes away the tears and scars and replaces them with beauty, with good things.  When we go to heaven all the bad things will go away and God will replace it with a beauty beyond imagination.  An everlasting beauty.  It will be a beauty that will not go age nor get old.  It will be just as beautiful for all of eternity.

God likes to take our bad things and replace with good things.  He takes our lack of righteousness and replaces it with Jesus complete righteousness.  God specializes at transforming us.

Dear God, thank you for replacing my ashes with beauty.  Only You can do that O God.  I do not deserve it.  Thank you, oh so much!  Amen.

Let Everyone Praise God

Psalm 148:11-13
11 Kings of the earth and all peoples; Princes and all judges of the earth; 12 Both young men and virgins; Old men and children. 13 Let them praise the name of the LORD, For His name alone is exalted; His glory is above earth and heaven.

Let everyone praise God!  Both the royalty and the regular people.  Both the young and the old.  Let us all praise our great God!  His name and His name alone are worthy of being praised and exalted.  He is greater than all of His creation!  Let everyone praise God!

Are you going through good times?  Then praise God.  Are you going through hard times?  Then praise God.  No matter what is going on, both during good times and bad times, we are to praise God.  Praising God in the bad times, shows that we trust Him.  It show that we are relying on Him to see us through.  Praise in God, during the good times shows that we are grateful to God for providing.  God is God during all times.  He deserves are praises no matter how life is going.  He is that good!

Dear God, help us all to praise You, like Your great name deserves.  May I not only do it in the bad times, but also in the good times.  Help me to be thankful no matter what season of life I am in.  Help me to trust You to see me through as well.  You are faithful and You are true.  Nothing You ever promised has failed to come true.  I can trust You, Oh God.  I will praise You.  I will lift Your Holy Name on high.  No one else is worthy.  Only You alone.  Praise Jesus!  Amen.

God’s Favor

Psalm 147:11 The LORD favors those who fear Him, Those who wait for His lovingkindness.

Do you want to have God’s favor upon you?  Of course, right?  Who does not?  This verse tells us whom God favors.  He favors those who fear Him and those who wait patiently, with faith, upon Him.  God wants us to fear Him, to respect who He is.  He is the Almighty.  The great and powerful creator of all.  There is no one greater than Him.  He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.  He can do whatever He wants to do.  He deserves our respect.  He deserves us to fear Him, to be in awe of Him.  Sometimes we have a view of God which is too lightly.  We forget how mighty He is.  As Mr Beaver said about Aslan, in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, “Of course He is not safe, but He is good.”

God also wants us to wait patiently upon Him.  He has some great things planned for our lives, on His timing and not ours.  We must wait upon Him, believing that He will take care of us.  As we wait, we must demonstrate our faith in Him.  God promises that He will take care of us and He will.  For God always keeps His promises.

Thank you, Oh God, for being who You are.  Thank you for how big and mighty You are.  Help us to fear You, to be in awe of You.  Help us also to wait patiently upon You, knowing You will see us through.  Thank you for keeping Your promises.  Amen.

Who God Is

Psalm 146:5-9
5 How blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, Whose hope is in the LORD his God, 6 Who made heaven and earth, The sea and all that is in them; Who keeps faith forever; 7 Who executes justice for the oppressed; Who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free. 8 The LORD opens the eyes of the blind; The LORD raises up those who are bowed down; The LORD loves the righteous; 9 The LORD protects the strangers; He supports the fatherless and the widow, But He thwarts the way of the wicked.

Yesterday we looked at what God is.  We saw God is graceful and merciful, that He is slow to anger, and that God is love.  And because of that love, He is kind and good to us.  Today we will see who God is.  He is the creator, who made all things.  He is the Holy judge, protector of the oppressed.  He is the provider to those in need.  He is the freer of the prisoner, the lifter of the lowly.  He is the great Physician, giving sight to the blind.  He supports the orphan and the widow and keeps them safe from the wicked.  Great is our God!

God created all things.  He made the heavens and the earth.  He made everything in the earth, both in the sea and on dry land.  God is our creator, we are His creation.  As a result of this fact, He gets to set the rules.  We, as His creation, need to follow them.  He is the potter, we are but His clay.  He shapes and forms us.  We need to see Him as our Creator.

He is the Holy Judge.  He brings justice to the wicked and mercy and grace to the oppressed.  Sometimes it seems that the wicked triumph, but they do not.  God knows their end, in fact the Psalmist says He laughs at them (Psalm 37).  God’s will for us to take care of the oppressed; the widows, orphans, and strangers.  This is what He does and what He desires for us to do.  There is a special place in God’s heart for these people.  He told the people of Israel constantly to take care of them.  He is telling us to do the same.  We are to take care of those in need and provide for them as we can.  We need to see God as our Holy Judge.

God is our great Physician.  He brings healing to the suffering.  Jesus restored the sight of many blind people, during His time on earth.  Any illness or disease can be healed by God.  None is too powerful  We need to see Him as our great Physician.

God is the lifter of the lowly.  He helps the humble.  He helps those whose hearts are bowed down to Him.  He gives us dignity and a place in His family.  In order to get saved, we need to humble ourselves and receive Jesus as our Savior.  If we try to save ourselves, we are not being humble and lowly before God.  For we cannot save ourselves, no matter how hard we try.  Jesus came and paid the price for our sins.  We are saved based on having faith in what He did.  He is our only hope.  He is the lifter of our heads, when we bow and ask Him to save us.  We need to see God as our lifter.

God is our provider.  He takes care of His children.  We need to learn to be content and trust in His provision.  He will provide.  This has been tested so many times throughout history and God continues to provide for His children.  We need to see God as our provider.

We need to know God for who He is.  He is our creator.  He is our protector and Holy Judge.  He is our great Physician.  He is our lifter and He is our provider.

Oh God, help me to know You for who You really are.  You are so many things, Oh God.  How great are You!?  You are so amazing.  Help me to trust You and rely on You.  I need You, Oh God, Oh how I need You!  Amen.

What God is

Psalm 145:8-9
8 The LORD is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in lovingkindness. 9 The LORD is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works.

David is laying out just some of the characteristics of God.  The more you get to know God and the closer you walk with Him, you realize that this list grows.  The characteristics of God are kind of like a diamond in the sense that just like when you turn and twist a diamond, you see something different.  The more we experience God, we get to see Him in a different way, expanding our view of Him.

David first says God is gracious and merciful.  The easy to remember the difference between mercy and grace is that mercy is deserved favor and grace is undeserved favor.  God in His generosity gives both to us.  We are saved by His grace.  That means we do not deserve to be saved.  We do nothing to earn salvation.  It is an undeserved gift of Almighty God, based all on what Jesus has done for us.

Next, he says that God is slow to anger.  God is patient with us.  This is evident when He does not immediately punish us when we disobey.  God allows us a chance to repent and turn from doing wrong before He punishes us.

Great is the lovingkindess of God and He is good to all.  These fit in with the ones we talked about before.  God is gracious and merciful and slow to anger because of  His lovingkindness for us.  In 1 John 4:16, John says it simply, “God is love”.  We could easily say God is gracious because He is love.  God is merciful because He is love.  God is slow to anger because He is love.  The face that God is love, is a key to knowing who God is.  It helps the Bible make more sense when you view it through the lens that God is love.  God made the World, because of His love.  God made a way to be forgiven because He is love.  That is an important aspect of who God is.

Dear God, I thank you for all of these characteristics.  I thank you for Your grace and mercy.  I thank you that You are slow to anger.  I thank you for Your lovingkindness and that You are good to all.  I thank you for Your love.  You are so, so great, Lord.  Help me to learn Your characteristics so I can be more like You and I can teach them to my kids.  I need so much help in all of these.  Help me Lord, I pray.  Amen.

Life is Brief

Psalm 144:3-4
3 O LORD, what is man, that You take knowledge of him? Or the son of man, that You think of him? 4 Man is like a mere breath; His days are like a passing shadow.

I want you to think about how many people have lived over the course of time.  Everyone one fits in one of two categories, alive and dead.  We all start in the first category and end up in the second.  We live then for a brief while and then we die.  Death comes quickly.  We really do not live that long compared to eternity.  Our lives are short, a mere breath.  We all have only so many days to do life.

The question is, what are we doing in those few days?  How many of those days do we waste?  God gives us those days to serve Him and others.  We need to be about His business.  First of course, we need to make sure that we have a personal relationship with God and His Son, Jesus.  If we fail to do that, our short lives will have been a failure.  Once we have accepted Jesus as our Savior, we need to get about serving Jesus and others.  Jesus was server in His few days.  In fact, in the last day before He was crucified, He took the time to wash the feet of His disciples.  He served others up to His last moment.  If Jesus did that we need to do that as well.

Your days go by quickly, do waste them.  Live them to the fullest by serving God and others.

Dear God, help me not to waste my short life.  Help me to serve You and others, with a loving spirit.  Thank you for the few days that I have in my life.  Thank you for knowing me and every other person who ever lived.  Thank you for loving me and everyone else.  Thank you most for sending Jesus, that we believe in Him, we can live with You for eternity.  Amen.

Not Good Enough

Psalm 143:2 And do not enter into judgment with Your servant, For in Your sight no man living is righteous

If you were to die today, do you think God would let you into Heaven?  If so, why?  If your answer is that you are pretty good or better than most others, then you need to think again.  In the above verse, David says that no man is righteous in God’s sight.  No man means exactly how it sounds; none, zero, zilch.  We all are not good enough to get in to Heaven.  James said if we keep the whole law and yet stumble at only one point, we are guilty of breaking all of it.  Our sin, is too much to get us into Heaven.

Then what is the answer?  Why should God let you into Heaven?  My one and only hope is Jesus.  He, being both fully man and fully God, lived a perfect life.  His is the only life, God finds righteous.  Jesus took that Holy, perfect life and died for our sins.  His death provides forgiveness for our sins, but only if we accept His sacrifice and believe in Him as our Savior.  He is the only way.  When we are saved, God see as righteous, based on Jesus’ life.  That is the only way, God will let you into Heaven.

Have you accepted Jesus as your Savior?  If not or you are not sure, take some today to do so.  Confess to Him that you are a sinner, in need of Him.  Believe that He is the only way and that He is God.  Accept Him as your Savior and Lord of your life.

Dear God, I pray for those who read this who are not saved.  I pray that You would work in their heart and lead them to You.  Draw them near to You, Oh God.  Open their hearts to You.  I pray that nothing would stop them from coming to You.  Amen.

You are Not Alone

Psalm 142:3 When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, You knew my path. In the way where I walk They have hidden a trap for me.

David was overwhelmed.  His enemies seemed to be triumphing over him.  Everyone seemed to be against him.  No matter where it seemed he turned, he found an enemy.  We find him in this Psalm, crying out to God.  Pleading with God to help him and protect him.  In the midst of all of this, he realizes that God is there with him.  God knew exactly where David was and where he was going.  David was not alone.

God knew David’s path and God knows your path.  He knows exactly what is going on with you.  He is aware of your circumstances.  He sees your struggles.  Just as David was not alone, you are not alone.  I am not alone.  God is with us.  God is in control.  No matter how bad things seem, we need to remember that God is fully in control.  There has never, ever been a situation where things spun out of God’s control.  God has never gotten flustered, because things did not go His way.  The good news you or I can find in our struggles, is we are not alone and He who is with us is in charge.  If God is for us, who can stand against us! (Romans 8:31)

Dear God, I thank you that You are in control.  I thank you that You know exactly where I am and what circumstances I find myself.  I thank you that You are Lord over those circumstances.  Help me to trust in You.  Help me to see You for who You fully are.  If you are for me, then that is enough.  Amen.

Guard My Heart

Psalm 141:4 Do not incline my heart to any evil thing, To practice deeds of wickedness With men who do iniquity; And do not let me eat of their delicacies.

Our hearts are a precious thing, which we need to protect.  In fact, David asks God to guard it.  Our hearts are easily led to evil, if we are not paying attention.  David knew that.  For even though he was called a man after God’s own heart, he still had a sinful nature just like ours.  It is a nature that pulls us away from God.  We need His help in order to guard our hearts.

Paul says in Philippians Chapter 4, the peace of God will guard our hearts and mind in Christ Jesus.  When we do not rely on God’s peace, we rely on ourselves and only screw things up.  We cannot guard our hearts ourselves, instead we need to depend on God.  God’s peace, which Paul says transcends all understanding, will protect us from self-reliance.  I heard somebody on the radio today talking about self reliance.  He said that every time you see in the Bible that a person reasoned in their own mind, trouble was coming for them.  And it is also true that when the person sought God and His wisdom, good things came to them.  We need the Spirit of God, to keep us from evil.  We need to trust in His provision and not the world’s.

Dear God, I pray as David did, asking you to protect from sin.  Guard my heart and my mind with Your awesome peace.  Help me to be not envious of the wicked, but instead help me to trust in You and be faithful to You.  You are an amazing God.  I thank you that You do not leave us alone to live life, but instead You are totally involved, helping us as we go.  Amen.