Be a Prays-er

Prays-er” is a word used by Cindy Jacobs in the book Possessing the Gates of the Enemy. The uniqueness of this word Cindy created has given me much to think about. Most of us will say that we are pray-ers who talk to God asking for His help in situations in our own lives and in the lives of others. However, if I say I am a “prays-er” I am describing myself as a person who praises the Lord while I am praying. As a praiser, or prays-er, I choose to praise Him because of who He is, not because of what He does for me. I praise Him because He is the Creator of all things and the One who has given me life. I praise Him because He is my Savior, Lord, Healer, Deliverer, Defender, Provider, Protector, etc. He is loving, gracious, merciful and kind. God is good! He is worthy of my praise! Psalm 29:2 says, “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due His name; worship the LORD in the splendor of His holiness.” I want to fulfill this scripture by being a prays-er.

Psalms is probably the best book of the Bible for references to praise. (My Reader, you may want to do more research on your own regarding praise scriptures as I cannot begin to be inclusive in what I share. I just want to create within you a desire to become a prays-er.) Psalm 145:3 is a good starting point for praise. “Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom.” Psalm 100:4 instructs us, “Enter gates His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name.” Psalm 150:2 NLT says, “Praise Him for His mighty works; praise His unequaled greatness!” David and the other writers of the Psalms were definitely prays-ers!

As a leader of the Israelites, Moses sets an example of the importance of praise when he personally declares in Exodus 15:2, “The LORD is my strength and my defense; He has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise Him, my father’s God, and I will exalt Him.” Moses refers to the Israelites as well as himself when he says in Deuteronomy 10:21, “He alone is your God, the only one who is worthy of your praise, the one who has done these mighty miracles that you have seen with your own eyes.” Flipping a few more pages of our Bibles, we find other references to praise.
I
Chronicles 16:9 instructs, “Sing to Him, sing praise to Him; tell of all His wonderful acts.” Reading a little further in this chapter, I Chronicles 16:25 says, “For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; He is to be feared above all gods.” None of these people limited their conversations with God to requests. They praised God for who He was. They were prays-ers!

Being a pray-er, requires more of us than asking God to help us and meet the needs of those around us. Paul says in Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Petitions are a part of prayer but so is praise. When we praise the Lord for who He is, we will worry less because we will become more aware of His character and nature. When we praise the Lord for who He is, our faith is built up and we have the confidence to thank Him for what He is going to do. Praise is a powerful part of prayer! Be a pray-er and a prays-er!

Since there are scriptural references to praise in both the Old and New Testaments, praise is not restricted to a particular time period. In Isaiah 43:21, the Lord declares, “the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim My praise.” This is amazing! One of the reasons God created us is so that we can become prays-ers! Moving into the New Testament. we read I Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light.” Praise is pertinent for us today! God desires our praise – He wants us to be prays-ers!

Acts 16:25-26 tells us, “But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened.” The combined power of prayer and praise resulted in freedom from the bondage of prison. The same wonder-working power of God is available to us. Paul and Silas are an awesome example of prays-ers!

Praise is mentioned in the apocalyptic books of Daniel and Revelation. Daniel 2:20 says, “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are His.” John says in Revelation 5:11-12, “Then I looked, and I heard the voices of many angels and living creatures and elders encircling the throne, and their number was myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands. In a loud voice they were saying: ‘Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!’” It is interesting that the angels also praise the Lord. One of my favorites scriptures is Philippians 2:9-11, “God highly exalted Him (Jesus), and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” This indicates to me that I will be a prays-er not only while I am alive on earth but throughout all eternity! What a privilege!

I am a pray-er, a person who prays (talks to God), but I am also a prays-er, a person who praises (lifts God up and honors Him for who He is). I acknowledge with the prophet in Isaiah 25:1, “LORD, you are my God; I will exalt You and praise Your name, for in perfect faithfulness You have done wonderful things, things planned long ago.” I personally declare Psalm 104:33, “I will sing to the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.” and Psalm 145:1-2, I will exalt You, my God the King; I will praise Your name for ever and ever. Every day I will praise You and extol Your name for ever and ever.”

My Reader, will you be a person who praises the Lord in addition to being a person who prays to God? I encourage you with the words of Hebrews 13:15, “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that openly profess His name.” Be a prays-er!

Advertisements

Gladiolas of Gladness

It is summertime and I love the beauty of fresh flowers. Gladiolas are a blossom I remember my mother planting. These bulbs need to be placed in the ground each spring and dug up in the fall, so they do take extra effort and special handling. Gladiolus are often referred to by the nickname of glads. In The Broken Way, Ann Voskamp tells of sharing gladness with people by taking them bouquets of glads.

The gladiolus is a flowering plant in the iris family. It is sometimes called the sword lily. When I think about a sword, I am reminded of the sword of the Spirit. Ephesians 6:17 says, Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” A spear of gladiolus flowers is a beautiful sword just as the Word of God is a beautiful sword of the Spirit.

Let me share some verses of gladness from God’s Word as well as some images of the floral glads. While you read the following scriptures, I want you to imagine yourself receiving a bouquet of glads filled with gladness.

You (the Lord) have put gladness in my heart
Psalm 4:7 NASV

This is the day the LORD has made.
We will rejoice and be
glad in it.
Psalm 118:24 NLT

Don’t be afraid, my people. Be glad now and rejoice,
for the LORD has done great things.
Joel 2:21 NLT

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be
glad all our days.
Psalm 90:14 NIV

For the LORD your God is living among you.
He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with
gladness.
With His love, He will calm all your fears.
He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.
Zephaniah 3:17 NLT

Let us rejoice and be glad and give Him glory!
For the wedding of the Lamb has come,
and His bride has made herself ready.
Revelation 19:7 NIV

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest secure,
Psalm 16:9 NIV

Joyfully,
Cheryl

*Click on images to find the credit for appropriate images.

A Doxology for Easter

praying-hands-3

Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
Aas we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
[For Yours is the kingdom
and the power and the glory forever.
Amen.]

Matthew 6:9-13

lent Sunday we will celebrate Easter which is the climax of the Lenten season. This is also the conclusion of our expedition into the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer. As I have reminded us several times over the last six weeks, the Lord’s Prayer is really the template Jesus gave to His disciples when they asked Him how to pray – not simply a prayer to be prayed from memory. As we have explored these scriptural words together, I hope you have deepened your understanding of the words spoken by Jesus and gained insight into the character and nature of our Heavenly Father. I pray our expedition has taken you closer to Jesus as we walk with Him through His arrest, crucifixion and death this week. We have one final phrase to explore together which is very appropriate with our anticipation of celebrating His resurrection on Sunday.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’
Matthew 6:13b

Not all translations of the Bible include this part of Matthew 6:13. It is found in the Old and New King James Versions and the New American Standard Bible but not in the New International Version. Neither is it part of the Lord’s Prayer recorded in Luke 11. Some scholars have thought this phrase was added later because it is not found in the manuscripts of the two earliest Greek witnesses. However, this is probably false because it is found in the third earliest Greek witness and the majority of all further manuscripts.

This phrase is known as the doxology of the Lord’s Prayer. A doxology is defined as a liturgical formula of praise to God. On the final week of our exploration of prayer, let us unpack the meaning of the words of this doxology.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
When we see the word “for,” we need to see what it is there for. I believe these words are included because our Heavenly Father is worthy of this praise when we consider the guidelines Jesus has given us for how we are to pray in the previous verses.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
The kingdom belongs to God because of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:10 declaring that God’s kingdom is in heaven and we can ask for His kingdom to come on earth. His name is El Elyon, “The Most High.” This name denotes He is the sovereign ruler of the universe. (see post for 2/17)

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
The power belongs to and comes from God because He is El Shaddai, “The All-sufficient One”. (see post for 2/17) This gives us the authority to ask for daily bread, forgiveness, and guidance and deliverance as requested in Matthew 6:11-13a. (see posts for 3/2, 3/9 & 3/16)

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
Glory comes from the Greek word “doxa.” In the New Testament it refers to the splendor, radiance and majesty of which God is worthy. Since we have come to know God more intimately through our study of the Lord’s Prayer, it is proper that we extend our praise to Him. It is appropriate for us to refer to this concluding phrase as a doxology because we are giving doxa or glory to our Heavenly Father.

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.
According to a note in the Spirit Filled Life Bible, “forever” denotes an indefinitely long period with emphasis on the characteristics of the period rather than on it duration. I like this concept when referring to the kingdom and power and glory of God now and throughout all eternity.

As a conclusion to our in-depth search of this doxology of the Lord’s Prayer, I am reminded of the Doxology hymn sung in many mainline denominational churches. The lyrics are the last verse of the hymn Awake, My Soul, and with the Sun by Thomas Ken. Because of the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:13b, we can sing the words of Thomas Ken. Finally, my heart is filled with the words of the traditional Resurrection Sunday greeting we will be proclaiming Sunday. Through the words of these doxologies, let us give God the glory, or doxa, of which He is worthy!

For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
(words of Jesus)

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.
(words by Thomas Ken)
He is risen!”
“He is risen indeed!”
(our words)

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

A Chain Reaction

music-notes-4I keep singing Tasha Cobb’s song entitled Break Every Chain. This in turn causes me to remember a short song I wrote several years ago entitled The Paint Brush of Praise. The words I focus upon from Break Every Chain are “There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain, to break every chain, to break every chain.” The words from my song that I think about are “With the paint brush of praise, we paint the links of the chains that hold us in bondage this day.” Chains are highlighted in the words of both pieces of music.

chain-2First of all, I ask myself, “What are the chains that need to be broken?” Simply because we are of human flesh, I believe we all experience some kind of bondage or chains in our lives. Romans 3:23 states, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Personally, my chains are my sins and shortcomings that hold me back from the fulness of the Lord.

jesus-2How can I be released from these chains? The answer is found in Jesus. Tasha Cobb’s song says it is by the power in the name of Jesus while my song suggests it is through praising the Lord Jesus. Let’s see what scripture states. Jesus concludes Luke 4:18 by saying, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me … to set the oppressed free.” Then Romans 8:2 says, “through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.”

My next question is, “Why is there power in the name of Jesus to break every chain?” I find my answer in Philippians 2:9-11, “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

paint-brush-2Then I ask, “What kind of paint do I apply to the chain links and how do I apply it?” Ephesians 6:12 declares, “ For 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.” This verse tells me that I will not purchase this kind of paint in a paint store. Yet, if my paint had a color, it would be red symbolizing the blood of Jesus that was shed to make it possible for my chains to be broken. However, I need a can of praise paint because I desire to praise Jesus for being my deliverer, my chain breaker. Jeremiah 17:14 says, “Heal me, LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.” I believe healing and salvation are two results of chains being broken over our lives. I find my praise paint applied in Psalm 138:1, “I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart; before the ‘gods’ I will sing your praise.” Taking the paint brush of praise in my hand and voice, I apply the blood of Jesus to the links of the chains holding me captive. The blood of Jesus is like a solvent that dissolves sin’s hold upon my life. I am reminded of the words of the praise chorus Praise the Name of Jesus by Roy Hicks Jr., “Praise the name of Jesus, Praise the name of Jesus, He’s my Rock He’s my Fortress, He’s my Deliverer, In Him will I trust, Praise the name of Jesus.”  I especially note the phrase “He is my Deliverer.” This song proclaims that Jesus is the One who delivers me from my chains of sin.

My Reader, are you stuck in a difficult or uncomfortable situation? Do you feel like you are chained to your current circumstances? If so, get out a bucket of praise and paint the links of your chains with a paint brush of praise! Dip into God’s Word and apply some praise promises over your bondage. Remember, there is enough power in the name of Jesus to break every chain you may be experiencing. Paint and proclaim His name above and over all the difficult circumstances that may be keeping you from being your best for the Lord. There is truth in John 8:36, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

The Conductor of “Creation’s Concerto”

 

music-score-21400765966hkzi6

Sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Psalm 96:1

music-group-8016385189_df6b4e1fb1Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD.
Psalm 150:6

My Reader, last week we thought about how we could fulfill Psalm 96:1, Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.” by composing our own song that is part of a larger musical work we entitled Creation‘s Concerto. Now, if our sacred selection is to be performed by a multitude of musicians orchestrated by the Lord, we need a conductor. Our Lord is the only maestro musician worthy of this honor! He is conducting His sovereign symphony and we, as believers, are part of His eternal orchestra.

According to Revelation 22:13, Jesus says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” He is the composer of the first note and the last note and every note in between comprising our Creation Concerto. He also conducts this musical masterpiece of miracles from the beginning to the end. Hebrews 12:2 says we are to “fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.” To put this into musical terms, we need to keep our eyes focused upon the conductor of our lives because He is always orchestrating our song to become more perfect. Practice makes perfect! The Lord continues to compose situations in our lives so that we can grow is faith and play our song well.

The musicians of the Lord’s orchestra live lives that portray a variety of instruments. There are woodwinds, including such instruments as flutes and clarinets, that rely upon one’s hands pressing different keys to produce different sounds. Symbolically, these instruments remind me of active people performing helpful deeds for others. There are also brass instruments, such as as French horns and trumpets, where differing lip positions create the particular sound for each note. Symbolically, these instruments resemble those who preach and teach through words.  I also think about string instruments, such as violins and cellos, that can be played by either pulling a bow across the strings or by plucking the strings with one’s fingers.  Symbolically, these instruments remind me that tension can result  when a person may feel “rubbed the wrong way” or someone may know how to “pull the strings” of another individual.  Not such a harmonious sound. 

Not only is the Lord listening to and watching how we each perform our unique tune of life, but He is also building a melody of multiple musicians. You and I may wonder why we need to go through what appears to be unproductive times, but at these times God is allowing someone else to play the louder melody line. Harmony is important and our sovereign songwriter knows how to blend all life experiences together. There are times I must rest in silence because that time of quietness is ordained by God.

The Lord is conducting His concerto of creation with a complete score of all musical parts before Him. According to Romans 8:28, “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Whether the notes of my life be played fast or slow, loud or soft, with harmony or with dissonance, God’s Mighty Hand holds the conductor’s baton that I must follow for direction. He cues in each part at the time that resonates the best anthem for His audience.

My Reader, your sacred song by itself is beautiful! However, a full orchestra produces a masterpiece of musical miracles that can never be performed by a soloist. Psalm 150:6 says, “Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.” The members of the Lord’s orchestra includes every living being! When you are a member of any orchestra, sometimes you will be playing the melody, sometimes you will be playing the harmony, and sometimes you may not be playing at all. However, when your life is under the direction of the Lord, you will be contributing to His sovereign song that will be sung throughout eternity. Keep composing your own tune, but never take your eyes off the Conductor of all creation!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

Composers of “Creation’s Concerto”

 

music-score-21400765966hkzi6

Sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Psalm 96:1

music-group-8016385189_df6b4e1fb1

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

My Reader, do you know that you are the composer of a sacred song? This sacred song is commonly referred to as your life. Actually, your song is one line of a musical score being composed by you and the Master Composer, the Lord our God. Using a musical analogy, we can say that every person is created by the Lord with the intent that his or her life will be a part of a concert glorifying God. The Lord allows each of us to write our own composition under His direction and guidance. Each life is one line of Creation’s Concerto. Musical miracles and maladies are both part of the melody. I think the Psalmist may be encouraging us to write our personal part of Creation’s Concerto when he says in Psalm 96:1, “Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.”

Let’s look at some of the options we have for writing our song.

1) Do I write in a major (harmonic) or minor (dissonant) key?
There will be times for both keys within your music depending upon whether you are experiencing positive or negative situations in your life.

2) Do I use whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes, sixteenth notes etc.?Consider each note as being a word or a thought or an action of your life. Words in a casual conversation may be like quarter notes receiving one count each. Some thoughts may be fleeting like quick eighth or sixteenth notes. Other actions may take a long time and require the full count of a whole note.

3) Do I always write notes or do I also include rests?
God knows you need rest as well as action in your life. Do not be discouraged by times of rest. These times will soon be replaced by more melodic notes.

4) What are triplets?
Triplets are three notes that equally share one count or beat. These three notes remind me of the Trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

5) Is the tempo allegro (quick and lively), andante (walking tempo) or largo (very slow)?Some days go by very quickly while other days may seem never-ending. You can include various tempo changes within your song.

6) What about a ritardando (gradually getting slower) for just a few measures?
Some moments of life will gradually grow slower for a short time and then return to a more normal pace. This is the function of a retard in music.

7) Do I need to include notations for forte (loud) and piano (soft) sections in my song?
All of life is not heard or spoken with the same dynamics. Think about the cries of a baby. If the baby is hungry, he will cry very loud! If he is content, you may hear a quiet cooing sound. Different messages come forth through different decibels of sound.

8) What about crescendos (gradually getting louder) and decrescendos (gradually getting softer)?
These are experienced numerous times! Words, thoughts and actions will always be increasing and decreasing during each day of your life.

4) Will there be repeat signs in my song?
Yes! The Lord allows you to repeat certain experiences, or melodies, until you learn a lesson, or get a message.  He is always teaching you throughout your musical melody and repetition can be a valuable tool.

7) Will I use bars lines and a double bar line in my composition?
Bar lines divide music into measures and I see each measure possibly representing a year of a person’s life with the notes within each measure being a day of life. The day will come when a double bar line is placed at the end of your sacred song. However, God will be the One to put that musical sign in place.

Psalm 150:6 says,Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD.” We all have breath and the Lord desires us to praise Him through the songs of our lives. So, My Reader, what does your song sound like today? I said at the beginning, that you are the composer. That is true in the sense that you control your life by choices you make. However, you are not a soloist while either writing or singing your song. Remember, the Lord is your co-composer. (Next week we will think about how the Lord is also the conductor of a sovereign symphony.)

Joyfully,
Cheryl
gold apple new

Petals of Praise

petals C mfWhile praying this morning, the Lord revealed to me how flowers and praise commingle to form a symbolic representation of the type of communication He desires to have with me.  Flowers are tangible reminders to me of the beauty of Jesus.  As my eye absorbs the natural beauty of flowers, God pricks my heart to praise Him for His spiritual beauty.  When I praise the Lord, I praise Him for who He is.  I’m not just thanking Him for something He has done for me nor am I asking Him for something.  I am only immersed in the beauty of who He is.  The beauty of a flower revives my desire to praise the Lord and to revel in His beauty.

I want to share the inspirational image from the Lord I am sensing this morning.  I envision my heart swelling with the understanding of who God truly is and I see a small rosebud of praise beginning to break through the flesh of my heart.  Initially the petals of this floral bud are tightly encased in the greenery surrounding it, but praise petals begin to unfold as words of praise erupt from my mouth.  (Luke 6:45) Instead of just words being emitted from my mouth, I see flowerets floating heavenward to the Lord.  My “praise posey” blooms fully in the presence of God.  The Lord not only receives my flower of praise, but He chooses to inhabit my personal petals of praise. (Psalms 22:3)  As He reverently receives my sacred syllables of acclamation, He is blessed. (Psalms 103:1) God not only holds my praises in His hands, but He also chooses to return the praise petals to my heart as He inhabits my praise and dwells within my innermost being.  Like a fragrant flower, I now become the aroma of Christ to those around me. (II Corinthians 2:15) God accepts my sacrifice of praise as  the essence of a blessed bouquet. (Hebrews 13:15)

Praise is a beautiful thing to God who Himself is beautiful.  He fully comprehends the beauty of personal petals of praise.  He also sees you as beautiful, my Reader. So, be full of beauty; beautiFULL.  As Julie Marie Carrier says, “BeYOUtiful”!

My Reader, please join me in offering sacrificial  “praise petals” to the Lord today. Feel free to use the following floral images and scriptural references to assist you in seeing His natural and spiritual beauty. However, do not stop with my suggestions.  Your sacrifice of praise must be composed of personal petals from your heart if it is to reach the heart of God.  The aroma of your audible adoration is more beautiful to the Lord than any fragrant flower He has ever created.

Joyfully,
Cheryl

petals C mfPraise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being,
praise his holy name.
Psalm 103:1

petals 3 mfAccept, LORD, the willing praise of my mouth,
and teach me your laws.
Psalm 119:108

petals A mf

Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.
My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD.
Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever.
Psalm 145:3&21

petals D mfSing to the LORD with grateful praise;
make music to our God on the harp.  Praise the Lord.
Psalm 167:7

petals 8 mfPraise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness
  Psalm 150:1-2