Archive for the “Spiritual Warfare” Category

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:2 (NIV)

I love Paul’s blessings and this is one of my favorites.

One of the blogs I’ve written that has impacted me the most personally was about this verse. Back in July 2007, I wrote one of my shortest blogs. It was about grace Paul’s double-powered prayer. It’s one of those teachings that has stuck with me and comes to mind almost every time I hear the word “grace.” You can read about it here.

In my previous blog in this series on Philippians I focused on our relationship as slaves to Jesus. It is only by His grace that we can have that spirit of immediate obedience I prayed for. And that kind of obedience gives us peace. When I delay in my obedience, my stress level rises quickly. Responding – even when I only know the very next step and there are so many unanswered questions – brings peace. My obedience gives me an assurance that I’m leaving it up to God and He will provide.

While studying another letter of Paul’s during a Bible study last week the discussion turned to the topic of the power of our words and the power of blessings. Unfortunately, we agreed that none of us speak or write blessings as Paul did. Imagine how different our culture would be if we did speak in blessings.

First, the impact on the one doing the blessing would be tremendous. I am convinced that I would think differently if I were to develop the pattern of speaking blessings more frequently.

Secondly, the person receiving the blessing would…well, I’m not sure how they would feel about it. At the very least they would have had a blessing spoken over them and if you believe that your words have power in the spiritual realm, that blessing is a big thing. Beyond that their experience will vary based on their perspective of spiritual things and their experiences. When someone speaks a blessing to me, I experience an unexpected moment of joy. And it becomes something my mind goes back to throughout the day. Someone who has less experience with blessings may be confused or uncomfortable. That’s OK. A blessing spoken in an upbeat and positive way will work its way through the confusion and discomfort into the person’s spirit. God’s Word does that. If the person is alien to the Gospel, they may be taken aback by it, but it is the rare person who will take offense at it. And if someone takes offense, we can always apologize for offending them (and silently pray for them).

Thirdly, the impact on our society could be pretty exciting. I believe our words have power in the spiritual realm. I believe that speaking blessings change the spiritual atmosphere in a home, a business and a community.

Lord, teach me how to speak and write blessings as a natural part of my day. I want You to be on my mind and on my lips throughout the day. I want to bring You into the lives of those around me.

Will you join me? Let’s start a revolution of blessing. Don’t wait for someone’s birthday to bless them. Do it today!

Comments Comments Off on Let’s Start a Blessing Revolution

Ephesians 5 began a discussion about how we are to live together, not living according to the world’s standards, but living in a Godly way. Yesterday’s blog focused on the first half of the discussion. “Be imitators of God” Paul wrote (verse 1), and “Be very careful then, how you live” (verse 15). In verse 21 he begins to expand on the subject of how we are to live, dealing with very specific relationships. In Ephesians 5:21 through 6:9 Paul provides the following instructions:

  • Submit to one another – not because they deserve it or even because they’re doing the right thing, but “out of reverence for Christ” (5:21). The word translated “submit” is translated more properly in the King James Version as “submit yourself”. In other words, it is a voluntary submission – we choose to submit ourselves, to consider others as greater than ourselves. (If you’ve been following the Resting at the River’s Edge readings, you will have seen this in David’s relationship with Saul. When offered Saul’s daughter in marriage, his response was “Who am I, and what is my family in Israel that I should be the king’s son-in-law?” David exclaimed. “My father’s family is nothing!” (1 Samuel 18:18, NLT) Well, I thought as I read the passage, you’re David, the one who has killed Goliath and has done everything King Saul has asked from playing the harp to killing 10,000. But that was not David’s attitude. David continually submitted to Saul.
  • Wives, submit to your husbands. The same Greek word is used here. It is the wife’s choice to submit to her loving husband.
  • Wives respect your husbands. Showing our husbands respect is one of the ways we submit and it is one of the ways we love our husbands. That means no disparaging him when having lunch with your girlfriends! Build him up in his presence and when he is absent.
  • Husbands love your wives. Paul explains what that means – “love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25, NIV). While the wife is to treat her husband as lord, the husband is not to treat his wife as if he is her lord. (Remember, the first instruction is to submit to one another.)
  • Children, obey your parents. The word translated obey means to listen attentively and obey.
  • Children, honor your father and mother. This isn’t limited to people of a certain age. Everyone with a father and mother (and of course that’s all of us) is to honor them. In their presence and when they are absent.
  • Fathers, do not exasperate your children. God knows that men and women are different (after all, He made us that way). He knows that generally women are more nurturing and patient with children. So God, through Paul, reminds Fathers to have patience with their children and to train and instruct them with love.
  • Slaves obey your earthly masters. In our culture, that can be applied in the employee/employer relationship. Employees, obey your bosses. When you agree with their decisions and when you don’t. In their presence and when they are absent. Paul tells us to go the extra mile and “serve [our bosses/masters] wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord” (Ephesians 6:7, NIV).
  • Masters (bosses), treat your slaves (employees) well. Do not threaten them and do not show favoritism.

Well, that covers just about all relationships, and any that don’t fit into these categories fall under the first instruction to “submit to one another.”

The book of Ephesians began with the glorious prayers of Paul, reminding us of our relationship with the Father. It then gives very practical instructions about how to live together in unity. Finally, it ends with Paul’s urging us to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Ephesians 6:10, NIV). We are to put on the full armor of God – to suit up for the battle to come.

Paul reminds us that all the things he’s addressed in his letter (and we’ve talked about in this blog series) – all these relationship challenges – that’s not where are battle truly is. Those are petty squabbles that we are to work through by submitting by one another. No, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12, NIV) Battling those forces requires spiritual armor. It is our spiritual armor that protects us from attacks of the enemy.

Guest blogger Pastor Dan Caudill wrote about our armor in this blog.

We are children of the Most High God, bought with the precious blood of Jesus, called to live a life of love in all relationships. I love how Paul combines spiritual truths and practical advice in this letter to people who were suffering for their faith.

Let’s go live that life. Let’s pray for one another the kind of prayers Paul prayed. Let’s love one another as Jesus loves us. Let’s stay strong as we purposefully put on our full armor every day. Let’s not get so caught up in life that we don’t live it as God would have us live. Enjoy God! Enjoy life!

Comments Comments Off on Practical Advice for Living Together – in a Godly Way

There are many illustrations in the Bible about how we are soldiers for the Lord, a part of His army. And while it’s true that our battle isn’t against flesh and blood, but against powers of darkness, there are lessons we can learn from earthly battlefields. A friend recently pointed me toward a Facebook page for the military unit her son is a part of.

The world is a different place these days. I didn’t know that military units have their own Facebook pages! I was quite surprised to learn that, but in today’s world, Facebook is the way the world communicates and it can be a wonderful tool for staying in touch. In a recent post, the captain of the unit included as part of his update information about what’s called an “After Action Report” or AAR. “If done properly,” the Captain wrote, “the After Action Reports are not for the thin-skinned, but it is a big part of how we get better, and why our Army is so strong.” He then shared some of the points from a recent evaluation. As I read the update, I was struck at the value the process and his advice has for us as Christians seeking to serve our King. Hence, our lessons from the battlefield.

Let me say here that I am NOT in any way meaning to devalue what the men and women in our military are doing. Their battlefield is much more stressful and much more dangerous than any I’m in. Rather, it’s my desire to honor them as I take from their lessons and seek to learn from them.

Lesson 1: Evaluate to Improve

Our first lesson comes from the activity itself – we can’t improve what we don’t evaluate. In the Facebook post, the Captain wrote this: “days seem to be endless, yet gone in a flash….It’s been a slow blur.”

Well, I’m not on the battlefield, but I know sometimes – lots of times, actually – my life feels like that. Will this day never end? And then “How can it possibly be Friday again?” Days seem endless, yet they’re gone in a flash.

If we don’t purposefully step back and evaluate our lives, we’ll find that more and more days have gone by without making steps toward improvement, steps toward growth, steps toward becoming the person God wants us to be.

One of the times we do that is during communion. Paul wrote this about communion:

27Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.
1 Corinthians 11:27-29 (NIV)

God wants us to examine ourselves, to watch our behavior, to not take what Jesus did for us lightly.

King David knew that it’s not only self-examination that’s needed. We too easily deceive ourselves. King David asked the Lord to examine him:

23Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24Point out anything in me that offends you,
and lead me along the path of everlasting life.
Psalm 139:23-24 (NLT)

If we’re to become more like Christ, we must examine ourselves and ask God to examine us.

Lesson 2: Stay Sharp

The Captain wrote this in his After Action Report: “How do we keep Soldiers and Leaders focused? How do we keep them from becoming complacent? Although we haven’t been doing this a long time, Soldiers get tired.  How do we prevent the “Groundhog Day” mentality from setting in, where every day or mission looks like the one before?  Or the dangerous mindset that occurs prior to a mission when Soldiers think that nothing has happened, so therefore nothing will happen.  This is when I worry about Soldiers taking shortcuts and being complacent.  Complacency kills, bottom line.”

It’s not so different in our spiritual life. No matter how long we’ve been a Christian, we can still fall. Scripture warns us:

8Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8 (NLT)

We’re to stay alert. Satan prowls around looking for who is most vulnerable, easiest to attack and kill. Even Jesus wasn’t immune to attacks by Satan. In the desert, satan tempted Him three times. Jesus successfully defeated satan each time, and then Scripture says this:

When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time.
Luke 4:13 (NIV)

Satan is looking for an opportune time to attack us. Our responsibility is to stay sharp.

Lesson 3: Exceed the Expectations of Your Commander

Our military isn’t focused on just doing their job. They’re focused on exceeding the expectations of their commanding officers.

Do we have the same commitment to our Commanding Officer? Do we have the same commitment to our King?

Paul encouraged the Ephesians:

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received.
Ephesians 4:1

And to the Philippians he wrote:

Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. 
Philippians 1:27

Is our focus on living a life worthy of the One who gave His life for us? Is our focus on living a life that is worthy of the One who created the universe? Is our focus on living a life that is worthy of the One who lives us so, the One who is jealous for us and whose love is fierce and strong?

Lesson 4: Allocate Resources Properly

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12 (NIV)

Numbering our days aright means first remembering each morning that our time belongs to God. To squander it is to squander God’s resources. At breakfast last week my husband said “everything we have is stewardship” Are we using what we have in the way God wants us to use it? Phil was talking about cars and money. It also applies to time. Time, money, cars, talent, our home and food – they’re all included as part of the resources we’re to allocate properly. Lord, help us get better at it!

Four Lessons from the battlefield:

Lesson 1: Evaluate to Improve
Lesson 2: Stay Sharp
Lesson 3: Exceed the Expectations of Your Commander
Lesson 4: Allocate Resources Properly

They’re lessons meant to keep our troops sharp, focused, the best. They’re lessons we would do well to implement in our lives and our walk with the Lord.

Comments Comments Off on 4 Lessons from the Battlefield

“Then war broke out in heaven, Michael and his angels going forth to battle with the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they were defeated and there was no room found for them in heaven any longer.”
Revelation 12:7-8 (AMP)

This blog post, titled The War Over Reality, by Francis Frangipane caught my attention this morning. It has been adapted from his book The Three Battlegrounds, available at Arrow Publishing’s online Bookstore.

While its message feels especially appropriate during this Christmas season, I know it is a life message appropriate for the whole year. Jumping off the phrase “there was no room for them in heaven” (Revelation 12:8, AMP), Frangipane writes about spiritual warfare in a unique way.

“This war in Heaven is difficult for us to comprehend. How do angels and demons, beings who do not die from wounds, wage war? With what do they do battle? And how do they conquer one another? Without exceeding the bounds of our knowledge, we can safely say this: All spiritual warfare is waged over one essential question: Who will control reality on earth, Heaven or hell?”

Christmas is pregnant with possibilities – the possibility for family dissension at annual gatherings; the possibility for personal meltdowns caused by unmet expectations or grief; the possibility of illness brought on by over-stressing our bodies, minds and spirits as we attempt to do all things and be all things to all people.

Who will control your reality? Will it be the influences of the world or the influence of God?

“We should also recognize that the ancient Greeks, in whose language the New Testament was written, had no word for ‘reality.’ To them ‘truth’ and ‘reality’ were the same essence. If we seek to experience the true work of the Holy Spirit, we should understand that the Spirit has been sent to establish the reality of God’s kingdom in the lives of Jesus’ followers. Thus, as we become one with the Spirit of Truth, and as we fully embrace the Word of Truth, we are brought into the reality of God Himself!”

Let me again encourage you to spend time with God during this busy season. Allow the Holy Spirit to bring God’s reality into your world.

And as you attend to things in your every-day, Christmas-season life – those activities and events that are routine and those that happen only during this season – take His truth – that is, reality as only Believers can know it – with you.

“We do not fall in sin as much as we are seduced by it; every sin is cloaked in some measure of deception. But as these lies are uncovered and destroyed, as our thought-processes are freed from illusions, we will discover the blamelessness, perfection, and truth of Christ in us, the hope of glory (see Colossians 1:27).”

Take Christ with you this Christmas season.

Comments Comments Off on Reality and Truth – Take Them with You This Season

9Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him in pain.” 10And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested.
1 Chronicles 4:9-10 (NKJV)

Perhaps you’ve heard of Jabez. His name literally means “he will cause pain.” That’s what his mama named him, presumably after a difficult birth. I’ve been wondering how that affected him emotionally as he was growing up. Knowing that he’d been named “he will cause pain” – and undoubtedly personalizing it to “I will cause pain” – must have been painful mantel to wear every day of every year of his life. “Of course it must be true,” our Enemy would scream into his mind, “because your mama said so…And you’ve already done so, hurting the one person you say you love more than anyone.” Our enemy can wreak havoc with our minds and emotions and ultimately our life if we listen to him.

We recently read this verse 1 Peter in our Resting at the River’s Edge reading.

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.
1 Peter 5:8 (NLT)

The enemy has been on the prowl lately. Have you heard the news reports lately?

  • “58 deaths in the Caribbean attributed to Sandy”
  • “Sandy wreaks devastation – utter devastation in New Jersey”
  • “More than a dozen deaths in US caused by Sandy”
  • “Raging fire destroys at least 80 homes”
  • “Sandy could potentially affect more than 66 million Americans”
  • “The Wrath of Sandy”

I’m an adult and I understand that I haven’t caused any of this – they’ve simply named a hurricane after me. Yet each time I hear a news report or read a headline it has jolted my brain – feeling to my brain somewhat like a hard slap in the face. So I’ve been feeling a bit of a kinship with Jabez these last few days.

And God has used the experience to experientially teach me some things that I’d already learned from reading Scripture. That’s called reinforcement. It’s not pleasant but it seals the teaching in our spirits.

Words have impact and that impact has the power to change and shape one’s reality. Just as the New Jersey shore has been impacted by the waves and its shape has been significantly changed by the erosion of the beach and the destruction of roads and bridges, one who is the subject of hurtful words is subject to the effects of those words – the erosion of their confidence and destruction of their dreams.

Scripture says “Death and life are in the power of the tongue” (Proverbs 18:21, NASB). We have the power to both destroy and give life with the words we say. Hearing repeatedly over the past few days that “Sandy” has brought devastation into millions of lives has not had a life-giving affect on me. Similarly telling a child he isn’t good for anything (or at anything) will not have a life-giving effect on him. Just like telling ourselves that we’re not good for anything or we can’t do anything right is not life-giving. Those words have the power of death.

Just as words can cause death, they can also bring life. We can pray and speak words that counter any and all words the enemy is using for destruction. Jabez’s prayer is simple and interesting. He prays “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” (1 Chronicles 4:10, KJV) Jabez very specifically speaks words of life to refute the words of death that he hears every time someone calls him by name. “Lord, bless me. Help me to do well. Keep your hand upon me. Keep me from evil. Keep me from causing any pain.”

“Jabez, would you…” a friend might have said.
“You, the one who causes pain, would you…” is what Jabez might have heard.

So he fought back – in the spiritual realm. “Lord, change my reality – make me one who does not cause pain. Bless me so that I might be a blessing to others.” You might say “Sandy, you’ve added that last phrase. It isn’t in Jabez’s prayer. He didn’t pray anything about being a blessing to others.” No, he didn’t. But the short discussion of Jabez begins with the phrase “Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers” (1 Chronicles 4:9, KJV). An honorable man (or woman) is generous (following God’s laws and His heart). It is totally within the context of the few verses to presume that Jabez’s heart’s desire was to be a blessing to others.

I am blessed – my mama named me “helper of mankind.” That’s what my name means. Yet this week I’ve been hearing about all the horrible things my namesake is doing. So I am beginning to fight back as Jabez did. When I hear or read the headlines, I am turning them around:

“58 deaths in the Caribbean attributed to Sandy”

“Lord, may I bring life to 58 people in the Caribbean. I don’t now how that might happen, but nothing is impossible with God.”

“Sandy wreaks devastation – utter devastation in New Jersey”

“Lord, may I be a blessing in some way to the state of New Jersey? Enlarge my territory so that I may give more. Enlarge my influence so that I may have a greater impact for good.”

“Raging fire destroys at least 80 homes”

“Lord, may I be a builder and not a destroyer. Lord, use me to ignite a fire of passion for You that spreads faster than the raging fire of New Jersey.”

“Sandy could potentially affect more than 66 million Americans”

“Lord, enlarge my influence so that I may affect more than 66 million Americans for good, not for harm. It sounds like foolishness to my ears to even ask such a thing, Lord. But You tell us to ask, so I ask to be an influence for the Kingdom of God in a greater measure than I can imagine. My namesake is affecting these people for evil. Use me, Lord, to affect an even greater number for good.”

“The Wrath of Sandy”

“Lord, keep me from wrath. May my life be marked with the joy of the Lord and a consistent outward display of the love of God.”

Whew! Those are some pretty lofty prayers – prayers that even scare me; prayers that sound impossible and foolish to me. But I believe God answers prayers and I believe He encourages us to pray lofty prayers with lofty ambitions. So I, whose name means helper of mankind, choose to speak words of life to myself, to pray words of life over my life and ministry, and to believe for those words to have an impact – both in this world and in the next.

[Jesus is speaking:] Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.
John 16:24 (NASB)

What words spoken against you do you need to reverse by praying life instead death?

PS: While Storm Sandy has been trying to wreak havoc in my emotions, she is definitely wreaking havoc in the northeast United States. Please pray for the victims. If you are able to help, giving to any of the following organizations is a good thing:

Comments Comments Off on Feeling a Kinship with Jabez

19“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:19-21 (NIV)

Earthly trousseaus include things like linens and dishes and home accessories – treasures a young woman wants to take into her marriage. Yes, it’s an old fashioned idea and I don’t know anyone who does it anymore – at least not anyone in America – but it symbolizes the young bride’s hope for a beautiful life with her future prince.

Christ tells us not to worry about storing up earthly treasures, but to build up our trousseaus for our marriage to the King of Kings. What treasures would honor our future husband? What treasures should we be storing up in heaven? I read this passage a few months ago and these questions tickled in the back of my mind.

Before I share my thoughts on the question, let me approach it differently. There is a startling verse in Matthew 18:

And [Jesus] said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 
Matthew 18:3 (NIV)

We are to become like children to enter the kingdom of heaven. This is so counter-culture to us and we often skip over this verse. Becoming childlike will be the topic of some future blog. For today, I just want us to understand that God values childlikeness. When we receive Christ, we become His children:

12Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—13children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
1 John 1:12-13 (NIV)

Let me ask you, then, what treasures do parents store? They store the precious attempts by their children to do things that are beyond their ability. The indistinguishable picture gets hung on the refrigerator. The nearly dead flowers that have been clutched too tightly in chubby little hands are placed in a vase in the middle of the table. God is no different from earthly parents. Well, yes, actually, He is quite different. But you get my point – He treasures our attempts to be like Him, even when those attempts fall short. Here are some of the things that build fill up our trousseau in heaven:

  • Every act of mercy
  • Every self-sacrificial act
  • Every act of humility – giving credit to others when you could have put the spotlight on yourself, showing deference to others
  • Every stand against satan, even those in which we get beat up a bit
  • Every act of forgiveness
  • Every act of kindness
  • Every step taken by faith, especially when there was no sight

I have come to believe that these things are greater treasures in God’s eyes than the writing of a tremendous book, leading a great organization or preaching the perfect sermon – all of which receive great acclaim within the Christian community. I’m not saying writing these things aren’t treasured by God – they are, and they will carry forward into eternity. I am saying that God honors what is done in secret and what is done at great personal expense without expecting glory in return.

Lord, help us to embrace the secret, sacrificial acts that bring glory only to You.

There is one other thing that I know builds up our heavenly trousseau. Read these verses from the book of Revelation:

8And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.


3Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne. 4The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel’s hand.
Rev 5:8, 8:3-4 (NIV)

Our prayers are so valued by God that they are stored up as incense in golden bowls in heaven. Our prayers for others, for revival, for the lost are sacrificial acts of mercy and humility. They take stands against satan and represent faith that overcomes lack of sight.

This week…pray for opportunities to build up your heavenly trousseau – and then walk through those open doors.

Comments Comments Off on Building a Trousseau for Heaven’s Wedding

Christmas cookies…celebrations with friends…family dinners…special (once a year) foods…the dreaded or much anticipated fruit cake (depending on your perspective)…New Year toastings…Did I mention Christmas cookies? For the person who is learning to eat in a more healthy (and weight conscious) way, Christmas might also be known as the Season of Temptation. This week I have had such a longing for raisin cookies made using my great grandma’s recipe. They’re not your typical raisin cookies. Hers is a unique recipe that calls for coffee and lots of raisins and lots of flour. And my mom made them every year at Christmas. Earlier in our marriage I followed the tradition. I could make them now…but I’d eat them and my recent weight loss success would be undone.

I’ve weathered two Thanksgiving dinners and one Christmas party quite well. Then I got to thinking about those raisin cookies. Then came a trip over the weekend to a market with great prices on cheese and a sampling counter. That’s when the phrase “Season of Temptation” struck me.

Only one more Christmas lunch, two Christmas dinners, and one New Year’s Eve celebration. (sigh!) Oh, and the impromptu invitation to share an afternoon with friends.

A Perversion of the Christmas Season
It’s less than a week before Christmas and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to include holiday celebrations with friends and family in my healthy eating plan each week. Of course all those traditions and celebrations center around special (i.e., high fat, high calorie) foods. And my mind is becoming increasingly willing to justify bad choices. Hey, it’s only once a year – enjoy! When do you ever get to eat these things? That family member made this just for you, you have to have another serving! One taste won’t hurt! You deserve to treat yourself after the day/week you’ve had.

As I walked the aisles of the local market, I was struck by the phrase “season of temptation.” Here we are, in a season which celebrates the birth of our Savior and it has become a season of personal and societal overindulgence. How sad it must make Jesus feel sometimes!

Let me be clear – I believe Christmas should be a season of celebration. It’s just that somehow it doesn’t seem that all the celebration should be so self-centered. I want to eat all those things because I want to indulge my taste buds. I’ve learned that my stomach won’t be indulged – it will just feel over-full, bloated and perhaps even a bit queasy or acidic. But my mouth will sure enjoy it while I’m eating it!

Temptations Abound
The holiday season brings with it many different kinds of temptation. Notice that I called it the “holiday season.” Christmas – the celebration of Christ’s birth doesn’t bring those temptations. Rather, our enemy seeks to continually divert our attention away from the reason for the season and onto the “holiday” nature of the season. He tempts us in various ways, encouraging us to:

  • Over eat
  • Over spend
  • Drink to excess
  • Speak too much and widen that gap between you and a family member
  • Indulge in self-pity or entertain loneliness
  • Accept too many invitations and lose the time you would spend with the Lord
  • Choose to worry instead of rest in Christ

With less than a week before Christmas, I suspect that you, like me, are in the midst of your season of temptation. I’m praying you’ll take a step back with me to (1) consider your situation and (2) make a plan. Let’s do it.

Consider Your Situation
I am encouraged when I remember that Christ understands my temptation. Scripture says that He was tempted in all things.

Read this:

1Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. 2After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

4Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Matthew 4:1-4

Matthew 4:1 says that Jesus “was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.” This was done on purpose, folks! It didn’t just happen that Jesus was praying and fasting for forty days and then satan tempted Him. Part of his “assignment” here on earth was to experience our temptations. He was tempted to satisfy His earthly, human appetites for food, drink, power and riches by using supernatural power.

Were those powers rightfully His to use? Absolutely! He was God and never stopped being God while He lived life as a man on earth. But He voluntarily chose to suspend His supernatural powers and do only as He saw the Father doing.

The second, and perhaps more important question, is “Was it part of God’s plan for Jesus to use His supernatural power to satisfy His earthly appetites at that time?” Clearly the answer is no. Jesus’ temptation was much larger than any temptation we will ever face. He was fully capable of using His supernatural power to accomplish anything at any time. Yet He chose to not satisfy His desires, but those of His Father. And His Father had bigger things in mind for Him.

The same can be true of us – I am blessed because I have the power to eat most anything I want whenever I want. I have the money to buy the food and I have the capability to eat the food. The question is, is it part of God’s plan for me to use my power in that way? The answer is no, so I face a choice – obey God confident that He has bigger things in mind for me, or indulge myself.

That’s my situation. You have a similar situation. I don’t know what your temptation is, but recognizing it and the true reality of it is the first thing necessary to overcoming that temptation. So I encourage you, friends, to think about what you are or will be tempted by this week…ideally before that temptation has an opportunity to take you by surprise. There’s more to my situation and yours, and we’ll learn about it as we begin to plan.

Make a Plan – Add the Spiritual Element
In reading about Jesus’ temptation in the desert, we see that He overcame temptation by keeping His focus on the Truth and extinguishing satan’s fiery darts with Scripture.

The truth is that God’s plan for me is to have a greater impact for eternity than I can imagine and my ability to walk in that calling is directly tied to my submission to His will. Each time Jesus was tempted, He chose to stay in God’s will – He refocused His mind from the earthly temptation to the greater will of God. When I remind myself of the link between my temptation and God’s will it reframes the picture. My ability to resist the temptation takes on a spiritual dynamic that has so much more power than my faltering willpower.

Jesus replied to satan, “It is written…” – He used God’s Word in His battles with temptation. This goes beyond reframing the battle by bringing weapons into our arsenal that we don’t have in the natural. I can repeat in my mind, “I won’t eat that piece of cake, I won’t eat that piece of cake, I won’t eat that piece of cake,” for hours on end (which I did yesterday as I sat around a table visiting with friends while a half-eaten cake sat in the middle of the table just begging to be snacked on). Or I can remind myself of these Scriptures (I’m paraphrasing to personalize them):

I have overcome the world, because the One who is in me is greater than the one who is in the world.
1 John 4:4

No temptation has seized me except what others have experienced. And God is faithful; He will not allow me to be tempted beyond what I can bear, but when I am tempted He will also provide a way out so that I can stand up under it.
1 Corinthians 10:13

Man (or woman) does not live on cake alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.
Matthew 4:4b

And God is able to make all grace abound to me, so that in all things at all times, having all that I need, I will abound in every good work. 
2 Corinthians 9:8

Which type of self-talk is more likely to lead to victory over the temptation? Obviously the scriptural one. Refocus your thoughts when tempted. Let the voice of God’s Word drown out the voice of the enemy.

Make a Plan – Practical Ideas
Don’t rely only on the spiritual element to bring victory. We live and interact in the natural world. God brings supernatural power to the battle, but we are foolish if we don’t also apply natural wisdom and practices to the battle. For example, not everyone at the gathering yesterday was sitting around the table with the half-eaten cake that was tempting me. Eventually I realized my foolishness, got up from the table and visited with others gathered in the living room. The temptation to eat more of the cake vanished almost immediately!

While each of us deal with our own temptations in different ways, here are some practical suggestions for curbing your overindulgence;

  • Identify the activities and events you will face in the coming week that will bring the most temptations with them. Identifying them in advance allows you to pray about them and develop a plan of attack. Our enemy has plans for attack. Let’s counter them with our own plans.
  • Pray about those anticipated activities and events. Pray about the people who will be there. Pray for ideas about how to escape the temptation. Remember 1 Corinthians 10:13 – with the temptation, God will provide a way of escape so that you may be able to bear it.
  • Can you avoid problematic events? Sometimes the answer is “absolutely yes.” We are not required to participate in every holiday celebration we’re invited to. We’re not required to have every minute of our schedule full – in fact, doing so makes us more vulnerable to temptation. Be sure your calendar includes time to spend with God and time to recharge your battery. Tired warriors are beaten warriors.
  • Remove yourself from activities that feed your temptation. Are you tempted to over spend? Leave the store and/or walk away from your computer Internet shopping. Do something different! Are you tempted to feel sorry for yourself? Make a plan to serve at a homeless shelter on Christmas eve or Christmas day or invite a friend to spend the day with you.
  • Is it possible to change the situation either by removing some element or adding a new element. For example, if you have required events that bring with them a temptation to drink to excess, bring your own beverage that sparkles with flavor – some sparkling water, juice or cider. Spend your time visiting with the sober crowd. Chew gum. Invite a family to take a walk around the block with you to escape the crowded house and catch up with what’s happening in their life.

There is victory over temptation, friends. Jesus’ temptation in the desert teaches me two things: Jesus understands our temptation and is able to help us when we are tempted. Hebrews says it this way:

10In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering…

18Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Hebrews 2:10, 18

Comments Comments Off on Season of Temptation

16 There are six things the LORD hates,
seven that are detestable to him:
haughty eyes,

a lying tongue,
hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked schemes,

feet that are quick to rush into evil,
a false witness who pours out lies

and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.
Proverbs 6:16-19

God has used this passage more than once to keep me from doing something displeasing to Him. The first verse gets me – The Lord hates, he detests these things. When tempted to do one of them, that verse comes to mind and I think “Do I really want to do something the Lord detests?” I usually decide that I really don’t want to put myself in that camp.

Let’s look at the 7 things He detests?

Haughty eyes. Some versions translate this as “a proud look.” According to the Amplified Bible, this is a “the spirit that makes one overestimate himself and underestimate others.” Have you looked at others with disdain? If so, you are guilty of this offense. I know that I have. There is plenty in God’s Word that speaks against pride and it is pride that is at the root of this sin.

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 16:18

It is to our benefit and the Lord’s glory for us to keep our pride in check. It starts with that haughty look, that “better than thou” attitude that creeps into our thoughts and actions. Lord, give us Your thoughts about each person we meet.

A lying tongue. God detests lies. Even white lies. Even exaggerations that make us look better than we really are. What’s your resume look like? Is it honest? How did you present yourself when discussing a conversation with a third party? Did you make yourself out to be better than you really were as you presented your side? I work hard at being honest, but some situations present challenges. As I write marketing literature for our company, I am challenged to be compelling and honest. When faced with disappointing someone, the temptation is great to make up an excuse when the truth is simply that I want to do something else. Lord, give us such a love for the Truth that we detest lying as much as You do.

Hands that shed innocent blood. OK, so I haven’t been tempted to murder anyone lately, but Jesus took murder several steps further:

21“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘RacaRaca,’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.
Matthew 5:21-22

RacaRaca is a Greek word that means “worthless one.” Have you called anyone (even in your heart) a fool lately? Perhaps the person in front of you at the grocery store or the parents down the block who let their children run wild? Do you see the relationship between this and “haughty eyes.” Both have pride at their root – you know better than the one you are condemning. Lord, help us to value others and the gifts You have placed in them.

A heart that devises wicked schemes. Have you plotted the downfall of your lazy coworker, overbearing boss, church troublemaker or neighborhood gossip lately? I hope not. I’m not saying that these people shouldn’t be dealt with appropriately. They should. The key word is appropriately. Not by devising wicket schemes. Not by devising situations in which they are exposed harmfully. Allow God to bring about situations that render justice. Lord, enable us to turn all situations over to you and not harbor wickedness in our heart.

Feet that are quick to rush into evil. Is there an area in which you are quick to desire and rush into things that do not honor God? I’m convinced that some practical jokes would fall into this category. Some are harmless and funny, but our culture has an edge to it and what would have been considered hurtful in the past is now accepted by many as practical jokes. If you are a practical joker, be careful to keep your pranks on the right side of the line. Lord, help us to bring our fun side under the control of Your Holy Spirit.

A false witness who pours out lies. Isn’t this the same as a lying tongue? It would seem so, but God takes special interest to say that He detests lying about the actions of another person. Whether that person is guilty or innocent, our responsibility is to speak honestly about their actions. When we are a wronged party, that can be pretty challenging. When the person is unpopular, perhaps even because of their own actions, it’s important to speak truthfully. Our sinful nature is tempted to exaggerate the wickedness of people who have not been kind to us. Doing so is the same as being a false witness. Lord, help us to be discerning and to speak only Truth.

A man who stirs up dissension among brothers. When someone has wronged you, are you tempted to tell others about it? That’s stirring up dissension. When church isn’t going as you think it should be or the pastor makes a decision that you disagree with, are you tempted to talk to others about how wrong the Pastor is? That’s stirring up dissension. At work do you join others in complaining about the boss or decisions that management is making? That’s stirring up dissension. We live in such a society of complaining! I hate it, but confess that I am not immune to it. It is sometimes so tempting to answer the “how are you doing” with a list of complaints about life. Sometimes the Lord brings this verse to mind and I wonder what there would be to talk about if we didn’t complain about life as we know it. The Lord brings the answer – the goodness and blessings of God. It doesn’t fit into our culture, but we’re called to be counter-culture. Lord, help me to resist the urge to stir up dissension and to enter conversations where others are complaining with grace. Lord, let me bring You into all situations.

And therein lies the answer to avoiding all the sins: Bringing the Lord into all situations. Asking for His grace to live and act in His ways.

I am confident that you didn’t find yourself in all seven of these sins that the Lord detests, but I suspect you might have found temptation in some of them. I know that I do. By God’s grace, they are all less tempting than they were twenty-five years ago when I first discovered this verse. I had a boss who was asking me to lie to an auditor. I knew it was wrong but I didn’t want to lose my job. The morning after the discussion with my boss I read these verses. I knew I could not lie. Shortly thereafter I chose to quit the job and God gave me a better one. He is faithful to those who follow Him. As we mature in Him, though, the definition of sin takes on a finer edge as He continues to conform us to the image of Christ.

Blessings, friends. May God continue to conform you to the wonderful, truthful image of Christ who is full of grace and mercy.

Comments Comments Off on 7 Things the Lord Hates

Yesterday’s blog looked at the situation Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, found himself – a “vast army” had come from across the sea and were almost upon his country to wage war. He stood little chance of defeating the army on his own, and when he heard the news he was “alarmed” and “resolved to inquire of the Lord.” Yesterday’s lesson was that Jehoshaphat quickly moved from being alarmed to seeking the Lord. We’re going to pick up the story there and look at three things today:

  • How Jehoshaphat went about seeking the Lord
  • What he did when he transitioned from seeking the Lord to taking action
  • What the outcome was

Let’s start by reading the passage that describes Jehoshaphat seeking the Lord.

Jehoshaphat Seeks the Lord

3Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. 4The people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.

5Then Jehoshaphat stood up in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem at the temple of the LORD in the front of the new courtyard 6and said:

“O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not the God who is in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. Power and might are in your hand, and no one can withstand you. 7O our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? 8They have lived in it and have built in it a sanctuary for your Name, saying, 9‘If calamity comes upon us, whether the sword of judgment, or plague or famine, we will stand in your presence before this temple that bears your Name and will cry out to you in our distress, and you will hear us and save us.’

10“But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them. 11See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance. 12O our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.”

13All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the LORD.

14Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly.

15He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. 16Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. 17You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.’”

18Jehoshaphat bowed with his face to the ground, and all the people of Judah and Jerusalem fell down in worship before the LORD. 19Then some Levites from the Kohathites and Korahites stood up and praised the LORD, the God of Israel, with very loud voice.
2 Chronicles 20:3-19

In seeking the Lord, Jehoshaphat did seven things. We can learn from this process an approach to seeking the Lord when we are alarmed. Let’s look at what Jehoshaphat did:

  1. He brought others into the process – he didn’t seek the Lord alone (verses 3-5)
  2. He humbled himself with fasting (verse 3)
  3. He acknowledged God as sovereign over all (verses 6-7)
  4. He admitted his weakness to God (verse 12)
  5. He demonstrated faith (verses 9, 12 and 18)
  6. He waited (verse 13)
  7. He worshipped (verses 18-19)

While there’s no “magic formula” to seeking God, Jehoshaphat’s approach is a good one because it brings us into a right relationship with God through humbling ourselves and admitting our weaknesses, demonstrating faith, properly exalting God and waiting upon Him. We would do well to emulate Jehoshaphat when we face seemingly insurmountable battles in our lives.

In response to Jehoshaphat, “the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel” and he prophecied a wonderful promise from God – that the people would not have to fight the battle. I find the prophecy fascinating in that God tells the people “you won’t have to fight, but take up your battle positions and stand firm.” At first it caused me to wonder why they had to take up their battle positions and stand firm if God was going to fight their battle for them. Why did they have to go out to face the enemy if they didn’t have to fight that enemy? I’m sure the Israelites were wondering this, and God doesn’t answer the question, He simply reassures them that He will be with them. Let’s tuck this question in the back of our mind and read on to learn what happens.

Jehoshaphat Leads the Israelites into the Battle

20Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the LORD your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” 21After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the LORD and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:

“Give thanks to the LORD,
for his love endures forever.”

2 Chronicles 20:20-21

After seeking the Lord, Jehoshaphat did three key things as he prepared to step into the battle.

  1. He encouraged the soldiers. He builds up their faith. We can do that to ourselves. Psalm 42 provides just one example of King David encouraging himself. “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God…” (verse 5a).
  2. He got advice of others – “after consulting the people” he made decisions. Proverbs 15:22 tells us that “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” King Jehoshaphat wasn’t afraid or too superior to ask for advice.
  3. He led with worship. There are many reasons to lead with worship. Here are just a few:
  • It continually builds our faith.
  • It glorifies God.
  • It demonstrates the source of our victory.
  • It stirs God to action.

Well, Jehoshaphat and the Israelites are headed into the battle the Lord has promised them they will not have to fight. How will God keep His promise? Let’s finish the story and find out.

Victory, God’s Way

22As they began to sing and praise, the LORD set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 23The men of Ammon and Moab rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

24When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped. 25So Jehoshaphat and his men went to carry off their plunder, and they found among them a great amount of equipment and clothing and also articles of value—more than they could take away. There was so much plunder that it took three days to collect it. 26On the fourth day they assembled in the Valley of Beracah, where they praised the LORD. This is why it is called the Valley of Beracah to this day.

27Then, led by Jehoshaphat, all the men of Judah and Jerusalem returned joyfully to Jerusalem, for the LORD had given them cause to rejoice over their enemies. 28They entered Jerusalem and went to the temple of the LORD with harps and lutes and trumpets.

29The fear of God came upon all the kingdoms of the countries when they heard how the LORD had fought against the enemies of Israel. 30And the kingdom of Jehoshaphat was at peace, for his God had given him rest on every side.
2 Chronicles 20:22-30

Doesn’t it just make you want to shout? Hallelujah! “As [the Israelites] began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against [their enemies].” That’s my kind of God! Let’s look at the results of those ambushes:

  • The “vast army” was a desert of dead bodies.
  • The plunder – so much of it that it “took three days to collect”– went to God’s people
  • Praise and worship – the people returned joyfully and went into the temple and had a praise party! One of the greatest lessons in all of this is that what starts in worship ends in worship! The people entered the battle in worship. They ended it in worship.
  • The fear of God came upon all Judah’s other potential enemies
  • There was peace

That’s a God-sized result!

Remember that question you tucked away until the story was further developed? The question about why the people had to go out to the battle if God was going to win it for them? Scripture doesn’t answer the question outright, but I believe that it was largely to increase their faith. God’s instruction to the Israelites in verse 17 was “see the deliverance the LORD will give you.” God wanted them to see with their own eyes and be a part of the action to build their faith. Could God have accomplished the same thing while the Israelites slept? Absolutely. Do you think the impact would have been the same? I don’t. I think the Isarelites needed to encourage themselves in the Lord, and they needed to put their faith into action by suiting up and marching out toward the battle. They needed the practice of holding on to the promise of God. And perhaps, just perhaps, God wanted to “wow” them – to see the looks on their faces and the rejoicing in their hearts when they looked upon the battle God had won for them.

I know I need those things. I need God to increase my faith sometimes, and the way that happens is by allowing me to be put in situations that cause me alarm and force me to push past the alarm and run into God’s arms – situations where I am required to demonstrate my faith by taking steps toward an enemy (or a challenge) that only God can defeat (or accomplish).

I love that about God! He wants to help me grow and He wants to delight me in the process. That’s the purpose for the battles in our lives. I encourage you, as I did in yesterday’s blog, to choose the supernatural response when facing your battles – “resolve to inquire of the Lord.” If you follow a pattern similar to Jehoshaphat, I’m confident that you’ll “see the deliverance the Lord will give you.”

Friends, I pray God’s richest blessings for you – and that includes situations that might initially cause you alarm, but allow you to see Him in greater glory!

Comments Comments Off on Choosing the Supernatural Response (Part 2 of 2)

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

A couple of weeks ago the phrase “Summer of Praise” came to my mind. As the pastor preached on a totally different topic, I got more and more excited about the possibilities of making that phrase a reality.

Imagine – a whole summer dedicated to praise! It makes me smile just thinking about it. Imagine how powerfully your spirit could be impacted by such an emphasis of praise! I get excited thinking about the change that will occur. I have every confidence that no matter what happens in the world and in my life over this summer, if I continue in praise my spirit will be renewed and I will become a stronger woman of faith and joy.

I know what you’re thinking…how naïve that woman is!

  • First, by proclaiming it a “Summer of Praise” she is almost guaranteeing that the enemy will attack her.
  • Secondly, life happens to everyone – does she really believe she can praise through it?
  • Thirdly, she might be excited about the Summer of Praise now, but how is she going to react when she’s tired, hungry or just plain out of sorts?

You’re probably right. But I am taking a step of faith. One that says “I believe that with God’s help I can live differently in the summer of 2011. I may experience setbacks, but my God is able to keep me on track.” And as I’ve already written, I am excited about the person I’ll be in late September – a stronger, more positive Sandy who has seen God change my perspective in the midst of whatever the summer brings.

Friends, I encourage you to join with me in this Summer of Praise. If you’re not as confident as I am that you will be changed, consider it a Summer of Praise “experiment.” Commit to extra-ordinarily praising God this summer and see what He will do. I am confident He’ll change your heart and your perspective, and that will change your life!

So how will I observe the Summer of Praise? What will I do differently? What might you do differently during your Summer of Praise? I’m planning both public and private “praise events” as well as planning some changes in my lifestyle. These events and activities will allow me to focus on the Most Important thing instead of the most urgent things in my life. Here are some ideas for making the summer of 2011 a Summer of Praise:

Public Praise Events

  • Contact a local nursing home and ask if you can lead a “Hymn Sing” one evening for the residents. You’ll probably receive a great response – nursing home residents love to sing the old hymns. Invite a friend or two to join you.
  • Ask your church to have a “worship night” some summer evening.
  • Hold a worship night at your home, worshiping to CDs. You can do this by yourself (think of it as a date with God) or as a family (make it a Family Worship Night) or invite your friends (how about a “Ladies’ Praise” or “Men’s Mighty Praise” night?)
  • Many communities have outdoor summer music concerts and sometimes worship teams participate. Check out your community schedule and join them some evening.
  • Turn one of your small group meetings into a time of worship & praise.
  • Plan a simple “Praise Party.” Everyone brings a psalm of praise or favorite praise song and serve special “feast” food.

Private Praise Events & Lifestyle Activities

  • Add singing a worship or praise song to your devotional time.
  • Sing a praise song as your prayer before meals.
  • Take “praise breaks” during the day. Muslims pray five times a day. I am challenged by this. Could I possibly set five times each day when I’ll take a five minute praise break? How about 8am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm and 8pm? I’m not legalistic about such things, but I’m going to shoot for those times. Even as I write this (because I haven’t done it yet), I wonder how it will change my day and life? I’m excited about the possibility. During your praise break, praise God (aloud if at all possible) for who He is and what He’s done, sing a song of praise or take a few minutes to write Him a note of thanksgiving.
  • Keep a gratitude and praise journal.
  • Put worship music in all your CD and tape players. (Does anyone still use tape players?)
  • Set aside a couple of times over the summer to watch worship videos on YouTube. Imagine how different you’ll feel going back to work if you did this during your lunch hour! Treat it as a date – something to look forward to and plan for.
  • Do a word study in the Bible on “praise” and/or “hope.”
  • Meditate on the hope we have in Christ.
  • Read a book or two about praise.
  • Practice the “sacrifice of praise” (Hebrews 13:15) – praising when you don’t feel like it. This is the praise that will strengthen your praise muscle more than all the other activities.

I’m not planning on doing all of these things, but many have been added to my daily plan and monthly schedule. May I encourage you to pray about making this summer your Summer of Praise? I’m praying that you will catch the vision for praise and that your life will be changed over the next 120 days.

1 Praise the LORD.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.

2 Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.

3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,

4 praise him with tambourine and dancing,
praise him with the strings and flute,

5 praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.

6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD.

Psalm 150

Comments Comments Off on Summer of Praise 2011

© copyright 2009-2013, Data Designs Publishing and Sandra J. Hovatter