“David praised the Lord in the presence of the whole assembly, saying,
Praise be to you, Lord,
the God of our father Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;
you are exalted as head over all.
Wealth and honor come from you;
you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
to exalt and give strength to all.
Now, our God, we give you thanks,
and praise your glorious name.”
1 Chronicles 29:10-13
When I was young in the faith, my prayers often ran along the lines of “God, please help me with…” – and I’d fill in the blank with whatever situation I wanted changed in the moment. God was always gracious to hear me, but after a while He began to nudge me towards a different kind of prayer. As I read more of David’s Psalms and songs, I found myself shifting my prayers around. Instead of launching right into requests, I began to spend time praising God first. Making that change, focusing on Him rather than me, has enriched my worship life and blessed my heart!
“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.”
1 Peter 5:10
Strong, firm, steadfast – not descriptions I would normally use for myself in the midst of trouble. But that is how I react in my own power. God offers me a better option. To rely on Him means not only to be delivered through a storm, but to experience more of His presence, and to grow in faith. That is where true strength comes from!
“Therefore let us repent and pass from ignorance to knowledge, from foolishness to wisdom, from licentiousness to self-control, from injustice to righteousness, from godlessness to God.”
Clement of Alexandria
“Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.“
“The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
Question To Ponder: Is it natural for you to lean on and trust in God, or do you find it to be challenging?
Exercise: Take a few moments to think about your answer. On a piece of paper, jot down any areas of your life that you are still trying to take care of on your own, and why.
“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.”
My husband and I recently made the difficult decision to look for a new church. After lots of thought and prayer, we both feel sure it’s the right step to take. But we’ve been at our church home for over 20 years, and I’ve been afraid it will feel very strange to go somewhere else. I feel comforted, though, by the fact that no matter where we worship, followers of Christ share a special bond. So meeting new people in new church buildings is really just getting to know more of God’s family. And we’ll always have something in common to talk about!
“Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”
It might sound like John was boasting here by calling himself the disciple whom Jesus loved. But he was actually stating a truth he had learned in his time with Christ. John understood that he was a sinful, worldly and unworthy man. Yet not only was he fully known by Jesus, he was accepted and loved. Embracing this truth brought him into close relationship with his Lord. And this truth is available to us now as well. Are we willing to call ourselves “the disciples whom Jesus loves?”
“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completionuntil the day of Christ Jesus.”
Do you know the saying that God peels back the layers of our heart like an onion? . What if, instead of the layers of that onion, we imagined the petals of a rose? Think about it – the flower starts all closed up, the same way we begin our faith journey turned away from God. Then, as the plant receives food, water and especially light, the petals start to open up. In time, the end result is a lovely rose in full bloom. Likewise we, when fed with God’s Word and shown the light of His truth, can open up our hearts more and more to Him. As we lower our defenses, we become what He created us to be, and add beauty to the world around us
“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us;
establish the work of our hands for us—
yes, establish the work of our hands.”
Every morning that I substitute teach, I lift up a prayer for God’s favor on me to do the job well. And this week, He answered me in a big way. With a school evacuation due to a gas leak and other unexpected situations with kids, I needed an extra measure of wisdom, flexibility and compassion. Looking back over the last few days, I see that His favor hasn’t been about making my days easier, but about making me more of a light for Him when challenges arise. I’ll take it!
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Question To Ponder: What leaves you feeling afraid and terrified?
Exercise: Try writing or reciting this passage, replacing the word “them” with your answer. Then, take in what God has to say. You can be strong and courageous against any fear. Why? Because God is going with you to face it!
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”
I have a prayer ritual that may sound kind of strange. You see, we live on an ambulance route for our city’s hospital. The sirens used to startle and bother me as the vehicles drove by our house. Then one day as I watched an ambulance whiz by, I decided to pray for whoever was needing it. Since then, I’ve become more aware of things happening to others around me. And though I may not know them or all the facts, I try to take a moment to lift up the situation to God. I like to imagine others might do the same for me.