The Most Important Purpose of Praise

 

Yesterday morning I woke up feeling like I wanted to pull the covers over my head. I’m usually excited about going to church but I hadn’t had a good night’s sleep and every part of my body shouted, “Stay in bed! You’re tired! You deserve to rest.” You see, I had wrestled with some thoughts and my energy was sapped. “Ugh!” So what did I do? I got my butt out of bed and made up my mind that I needed to go, just as I was. Isn’t that how God desires us to come to Him? In a conversation with a friend and mentor today, I got further insight. I was thinking I needed to praise God to make myself feel better, but she reminded me that we as believers have kingdom work to do and that starts with PRAISE!!!!

In Nehemiah 12, we see just how important praise and worship was in temple worship. After returning from Babylonian captivity, certain men in Jerusalem were put in charge of songs of thanksgiving and praise. Others were brought in from neighboring villages to joyfully celebrate the dedication of the rebuilt wall around the city. Other people were assigned various duties in the temple to support the priests. Much to my surprise, choirs existed back then, giving thanks with musical instruments. The word “choir” literally means “thanks.” Above all, everybody–men, women and children–rejoiced! They were so loud they could be heard far away! In addition, everyone brought tithes and offerings into the storehouses for temple support.

Wow! Praise and worship is absolutely essential to create an atmosphere where God shows up and reveals Himself. The Psalms reminds of our call to worship the One True and Living God:

Psalm 100:4 reads “I will enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart; I will enter His courts with praise. I will say this is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice for He has made me glad!”

Psalm 27:4 reads “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my lie, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.”

Passionate pursuit of God creates an atmosphere for God to show up! Teach us, Father, to chase after You–to hunger and thirst for you. When Jesus was on the cross and said, “I thirst,” He was crying out for Your Presence. Let passion be born out of our praise and thanksgiving and let the Spirit of God fall on us today! Thy Kingdom come! Thy will be done! LET US GET TO WORK!

Next week is our last lesson in Nehemiah. Read chapter 13 and discover the man of God’s final actions. You’ll be surprised!

As always,

Patricia

 

Why I’ve Chosen to Live in the City

“Mommo, Nicholas won’t stay in the tent with me!” My seven-year-old grandson Christian was at his wit’s end. He had found a place to build a tent and had invited his younger brother Nicholas to spend some time with him. The problem was that Nicholas, only five, got distracted and was soon headed to play with his race car. Sound familiar?

In Nehemiah 11, the people of God returned to Jerusalem, the holy city, and rebuilt its walls, under the direction of Nehemiah, a great leader. However, many people settled in the “suburbs,” not in the holy city, similar to people living outside Atlanta, such as Norcross, Lawrenceville, or Dacula.

Very few chose to live in Jerusalem. Many were fearful of living in a hated city, even though its walls had been secured again. They understood that Jerusalem was likely to be attacked by enemies and preferred the comforts of the “suburbs.” They chose to take their chances and dwell in unprotected areas to pursue their own desires. Others did not want to sacrifice their own agendas. Nehemiah knew that if more people made the holy city their dwelling place, others would be encouraged to follow.

Scripture reassures us of the benefits of making the Most High God our dwelling place today. Here are three examples:

Psalm 27:5-6 “For in the day of trouble he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the Lord.”

Psalm 91:1 “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”

Psalm 91:9 “If you make the Most High your dwelling–even the Lord, who is my refuge–then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.”

You might ask, “How do I make God my dwelling place?” Accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior is the beginning. After that, you must spend time in his Word and practice his presence throughout the day. Talk to him, sing, meditate, clap, dance, listen, etc. The more you do this, the more real he becomes to you. Our circumstances may not change but our praise and worship will affect our perspective!

Continue reading Nehemiah 12 and find out how the Jews celebrated in the city.

As always,

Patricia

A Fresh Revelation of God’s Love Is Coming

 

One of my grandsons often asks me if I still love him whenever he feels he’s disappointed me. My natural tendency in the past was to withdraw from God when I felt I had disappointed Him. Even today, I have to remind myself to go to His Word for the Truth when my attitude stinks. It’s very easy to look at our faults and mistakes and feel unworthy of God’s love, but the truth is God’s love is unconditional. He does not condemn us. He desires that we run to Him, press into His presence and admit our need. Oh, how great is His love toward us!

At the end of Nehemiah 9, God’s people realize they’ve fallen short of the Law of Moses. They call out with these words: “Now therefore, our God, the great, the mighty, and awesome God, who keeps covenant and mercy; do not let all the trouble seem small before You….” In Chapter 10 some gather together and make a covenant (a promise to God) to faithfully obey the law. But guess what! They fail Him over and over again.

What about us? The enemy of our soul, Satan, desires to keep us under condemnation. He wants us to question God’s love for us. Contrary to the lies of the enemy, here are reminders of God’s everlasting love:

Ps. 6:9

     “The Lord has heard my cry for mercy; the Lord accepts my prayer. All my enemies will be ashamed and dismayed; they will turn back in sudden disgrace.”

Ps. 105:8-10

     “He remembers His covenant forever, the word He commands for a thousand generations, the covenant He made with Abraham, the oath He swore to Isaac. He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree, to Israel as an everlasting covenant.”

John 3:16-17

     For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Only one person, the Lord Jesus Christ, fulfilled the requirements of the Law. The Bible says in Romans 6:23, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Jesus paid it all!

Because of Christ, we have full access to the Father. He invites us to come and sit at His feet and be loved. Let us draw near to God, for God is Love and His love is everlasting. Wrap your arms around us, Father. Let us pour our hearts out to you and shower you with our affections. As we do so, we find unconditional love in You. Abba Father! Help us to live in Your presence and daily gain a fresh revelation of Your love!

NEXT WEEK’S ASSIGNMENT: Read and study Nehemiah 11 and focus on the importance of the people finding DWELLING PLACES.

Be encouraged! As always,

     Patricia