Sometimes this life can wear me out. You? I begin to feel the weight of the burdens assigned to this life: work, keeping a house, meal planning, kids, grocery shopping, bill paying, discipline, church work, the list goes on. The swirling dust of the world begins to choke me. I begin to feel defeated. I need a victory over the darkness I feel creeping in. Do you ever feel that way?
In times like this we need to worship God. There are many ways to worship God, but today I am referring to praise through singing. Now, this may bring about images of church services or jamming out in your car (I often wonder if my kids know what the radio sounds like without me singing along to it). These are good, but let’s break this wide open to understand some of the true power that can be released when we sincerely worship God. Let me tell you a true story that happened long ago. This story is found in 2 Chronicles chapter 20.
Jehoshaphat was king of Judah and was facing a huge problem; a HUGE army in fact. Jehoshaphat had gotten word that an army of multiple countries was coming his way to make war with him and the people of Judah. They were vastly outnumbered and things looked bleak. The king sought help from the Lord. He ordered a fast and gathered the people of the nation together at the temple courtyard in Jerusalem. Jehoshaphat prayed to God, (see verses 6 – 12). The final lines of the prayer: “For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (That last line is epic.)
While families stood together before the Lord, God spoke through a man named Jahaziel. He told King Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah not to be afraid of this vast army, “Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed at this great horde, for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” (v. 15). After this the people praised and worshiped God.
The time came for the men of Judah to move out toward their enemy:
“And when [Jehoshaphat] had taken counsel with the people, he appointed those who were to sing to the Lord and praise him in holy attire, as they went before the army, and say, ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever.’ And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed. For the men of Ammon and Moab rose against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, devoting them to destruction, and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they all helped to destroy one another. When Judah came to the watchtower of the wilderness, they looked toward the horde, and behold, there were dead bodies lying on the ground; none had escaped.” - 2Chronicles 20:21-24
The worshipers were placed at the head of the army to praise God! When they began to sing, God acted and caused their enemies to fight against each other. By the time the army of Judah arrived, all were dead; that massive army of multiple countries was destroyed. God had fought the battle for them just as he said he would.
Worship from a surrendered heart is undeniably powerful; God’s word provides the proof. When you praise and sing to God in sincerity it causes your heart to move nearer to God’s heart. Psalms 100:2 tells us to “Come into his presence with singing!” We gain access to God through our worship of him!
Worship is how we show our adoration for our God; it is a time of expression of his worthiness and greatness. It reminds us of our desperate need for him - worship places God back in his proper place as Lord of our life.
Ladies, I want you to remember this power the next time you begin to choke on life. Begin worshiping God with a sincere heart - knowing that your words are reaching his ears and that he is working in your life and in your heart as you praise him. He is drawing you nearer to himself as you exalt him - now that is victory!
If I told you I sing praise songs about how awesome my boys are or that I get down on my knees each night and bow down to them, would think I had lost it? I sure hope so. Yet we have become a society that does just that in a variety of other ways, not as obvious but just as destructive to you and to them.
There is a message I keep seeing being shared on Facebook about a parent’s love for their children. It says that everything the parent does is for their child and that he or she is what life is all about. What a load of trash! If you live for your child what a superficial, unsatisfying life you lead.
Are we to sacrifice for our children? Yes. Are we to love and nurture our children to the best of our ability? Of course. But never worship them. God has a special name for this, maybe you have heard it before, it’s called idol worship and he was pretty serious about it even from the beginning. Does commandment #1 ring a bell, as in, “You shall have no other god before me.”? Exodus 20:3
When we orient our lives around our children we put them in a place where only God should go. Is God okay with these little cuties taking his place on the throne of your heart? Get real. Keep yourself in check, even sincere Christ followers often fall prey to this mentality. It may be the most socially acceptable and even applauded sin in modern society.
Here is what God’s word has to say about a depraved group that he was done with, “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity…because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.” Romans 1:24-25
When we place our children higher than we ought (pedestal, stage or soapbox) or serve them as if their desires are our commands, we have bought the lie and dishonored God. We begin to move our life’s spotlight off of our Savior and onto a small creature who has no power (except for the imagined power we attribute to him or her). The exchange in the verse above has taken place. It is absurd and disturbing, like saying, “No, thank you Potter, I don’t need you, I will take this little lump of clay and worship it instead.”
What a disservice we do to our children in this. In our vain attempts to love them by praise and bending to their whims we distort their thoughts of God and cause them to become confused in their identity. We train them up to be glory-thieves, claiming the attention due the Almighty. No wonder we often raise selfish, prideful adults who think they have the power to determine who God is for themselves.
We need to love our children enough to not praise them. My goodness cheer for them in sports and drama, encourage them in working hard, tell them Good job! when they excel. BUT give the praise to the God that grants them these gifts and created them to thrive as they do. Make your children know that it is God working through them to display his greatness and that there is nothing better than being a conduit of God’s power. Teach them to look heavenward and not inward for strength and wisdom.
We as parents serve the purpose of being a human arrow for our children, always pointing up to our Creator and praising him. Seeing in each other the attributes the Potter has especially designed for each of us, but remembering to rejoice in the greatness of the Potter and not the clay. In a home that does this there is happiness and many reasons to celebrate.
Ladies, the next time you look at your child, see the evidence of an awesome and praise-worthy Creator. Know that the life of your son or daughter was created for the glory of God alone and there is no better purpose.
…but God is good and I will praise him anyway. I am a Christian and I live in this sinful world right along with the rest of you. I have good days and I have rotten “please don’t make me get out of bed” days. Life can feel full of blessings one day and curses the next.
Yet, once you are a heart-deep, follower of Christ these highs and lows do not determine or deter your purpose for breathing. Every day and every night is meant for praise. Praise for the gracious God who plans our steps and has written out our days – the easy breezy, the messy and the miserable (Ps. 139:16).
Things will not always go well for us, there is no such thing as karma and you don’t deserve easy living no matter how hard you work. When in doubt, take some time to talk to my good friends Noah, Moses, Aaron, Abraham, Sarah, Leah, Job, Ruth, Naomi, Daniel, Rahab, Joseph, Joshua, Esther, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Jonah, Ezekiel, Hosea, Mary, Peter, Paul, John, and Stephen. And then sit down and have a chat with my best friend, Jesus, and ask him all about his life on this planet.
True Christians are not allowed to be fair-weather followers and neither are they to be storm-soaked beggars. We praise, because that’s what were created to do. “…all things were created by him and for him.” Col. 1:6. We praise God day in, day out, in sunshine and hail, at the beach and knee deep in the swamp.
Why? I think the better question is why not?
Is God always good? Yes (Ps. 136:9). Does he promise to have you, hold you and never let you go? Yes (Heb. 13:5). Does he promise that everything he does is for your good and that you will receive a glorious eternity? Yes and yes (Rom. 8:28, Jn. 3:16). Umm…why are we complaining again? Praise seems the only logical expression when you serve a God this wonderful.
Peter said it well, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9. If you have been called out of darkness into his light, you are to declare his excellencies. That is the purpose that he called you for.
So, ladies, while we are living in this world together, let’s praise God. On the days of cute selfies, happy children, helpful husbands and clean houses. AND on the days of ugly tears, unruly homes, rude spouses, and fat clothes. Praise God. Whether it is a victory shout or a whisper of hope in the darkness - praise God!
“Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name.” Hebrews 13:15
We were late again, not unusual for our family of six. Dad found a parking space in the crowded church lot and we four kids tried to make ourselves look presentable after having slept for the last hour and a half on the drive up. Even before we made it all the way inside, we could hear one particular voice rising above the rest as the congregation sang…we smiled at each other. We knew that voice well. The sound of it may cause you to make a strange face, but the sincerity in it would make you stop.
We walked into the sanctuary, hoping the back row would be open so we could slip in. It was. When the song was over, Grandma June (who always sat in the very front) glanced back, saw us and beamed. She gathered her belongings (the hundred pound purse, her Bible and the many tissues) and proudly walked back to sit with us. The next song would begin and her voice would again loudly send forth praises to her Savior.
This scene plays in my mind as one of my favorite childhood memories. What warm feelings I have of visiting that church, of seeing Grandma June smile at us; knowing we were there to worship with her. My fondest memory of Grandma is one of sound. Her loud, off key singing was glorious. An odd thing to say, I know, but so true. If God would allow me to relive this experience once more I would love to hear her sing “How Great Thou Art” at the top of her lungs as she raised her arms to heaven and tears rolled down her cheeks.
If you have been reading my series of writings this month you have already read of Grandma June’s contagious joy and her fervent love of God’s Word. However, I cannot allow you to think you have a good picture of Grandma June in your mind unless you have been told about her legendary singing. My brother Aaron once said that what Grandma lacked in quality she made up for in volume. My Uncle John, her youngest son, recently expressed it this way, “Mom sang with great vigor, although she had problems with ‘carrying a tune.’"
“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!” Psalm 100:1 was the very verse that Grandma June often quoted regarding her singing. It doesn’t say to make a perfectly pitched tone, to harmonize, to hit the high notes or even to make a beautiful noise. It says a joyful noise. And that is what Grandma June did. She didn’t just sing with all of her heart she worshiped with all of her heart.
Here are a few brief points I want you to learn as I did from Grandma June’s example of worshiping in song:
However, don’t stay silent for long. Not singing out to God can be a display of a prideful heart or one that isn’t truly owned by him. Those who truly love God cannot help but to proclaim his greatness and worship him. Luke 19:37-40, “the whole multitude of his disciples began to rejoice and praise God with a loud voice for all the mighty works that they had seen, saying, “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.”
No stone will take my place in praising my savior; I know Grandma June would heartily agree.