Singing about America’s Independence

The United States of America!
Independence Day – Fourth of July

This is the day that we, as Americans, celebrate the birth of our nation. Please
join me in reflecting upon the words of the first verse of the patriotic song,
My Country ‘Tis of Thee by Samuel Francis Smith. It is also known as America.
Additional comments are taken from various historical writings and records.

My country, ’tis of thee,
(“one nation under God…” from our Pledge of Allegiance)

Sweet land of liberty,
(“…with liberty and justice for all.” from our Pledge of Allegiance)

Of thee I sing;
(While singing this patriotic song, let us also sing praises to God
as stated in Psalm 117:1 NLT, “
Praise the LORD, all you nations.
Praise him, all you people of the earth
.”)

Land where my fathers died,
(“We have come to dedicate a portion of that field,
as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that
that nation might live
.” from Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address)

Land of the pilgrims’ pride,
(According to Wikipedia, a pilgrim is a traveler who comes from
afar and
is on a journey to a holy place. In American history,
the Pilgrims were early European settlers of the Plymouth Colony.)

From ev’ry mountainside
(This refers to all the landscape of our nation including the
Allegheny Mountains of the east and the Rocky Mountains of the west,)
Let freedom ring!
(Lincoln’s concluding remarks of the Gettysburg Address state,
“… that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died
in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth
of freedom — and that government of the people,
by the
people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth
.”
The freedoms of religion, speech and press are specifically
stated in the
Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments
to the United States Constitution.
)

(Click on images to find the credit for appropriate images. Other images provided by Pixabay.)

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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!

A Gift Without a Bow

Behold, children are a gift of the LORD, The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Psalm 127:3  New American Standard
Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him.
Psalm 127:3  New International Version

gift bow mf As I begin my blog today I am looking back through the window of time to the day our daughter was born.  Jill will be opening some birthday gifts of her own in a couple of days, but for now I want to cherish the gift the Lord gave me on her birth day. I recently found the following quote by Regina Brett, Life isn’t tied up with a bow but it‘s still a gift.God allowed me to give Jill the gift of life on October 18, and the life she now lives is a gift in return to me.  The day she was born, I fully embraced the scripture of Psalm 127:3 in my heart when I first embraced her in my arms.  I will not say how many years ago I received the gift of her life, but I will say that she has been and continues to be a blessing each year we have been united as mother and daughter. My first inclination is to prefer the wordgiftused for this scripture in the New American Standard translation because of the viewpoint for these comments, but I also sense a deeper meaning in the New International Version when the word heritage is used.  To me, “heritage” indicates a more inclusive meaning that is passed on to include the grandchildren we now enjoy who are our daughter’s gifts as well as ours.

 Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.
Proverbs 22:6  New King James Version
Train a child in the way appropriate for him, and when he becomes older, he will not
turn from it.
Proverbs 22:6  International Standard Version

child tree mf I can testify that the Lord has been faithful to fulfill this scripture for us in the life of our daughter. Through God’s help, Jill’s dad and I were able to raise our little girl to become a beautiful Christian lady inside and out. According to the New King James Version translation of Proverbs 22:6, the phrase I want to focus upon is “the way he should go.” As parents, we are not necessarily to raise our children according to the specific way we might desire, but we are to direct them in the way the Lord wants them to go.  This entails that we as parents seek the Lord in how to direct each of our children in the special way that will best use and develop the gifts, talents and abilities found within each of our children.  This requires the parents to seek the Lord independently and individually for each child He gives to a family as a gift.  I feel our daughter is especially good at this.  She and her husband have four children.  She sees each of her offspring as unique with their own giftings and interests. One child may need more structured activities while another may benefit from more one on one time with mom. Academics may be a forte of one child while another interacts with friends more easily. Jill recognizes and encourages each of their daughters and son in the way that is personally best. However, there is one common trait within all their children, and that is their love for each other and for the Lord.  The International Standard Version interprets this Proverb phrase as saying “the way appropriate for him.”  This is a good directive for parents to follow.  God did not create everyone with the same cookie cutter and neither should parents try to shape all of their children to look alike.

 Children are a gift from the Lord.
He gives us them to return to Him.
Lord, guide us in helping them grow in You
so they can be Your children too.
Thank you for children, thank you, Lord.
Thank you for giving us children.

 gift stars mfThe words above are the words to a short chorus of praise that the Lord inspired to write many years ago on our daughter’s birthday.  It was a birthing day gift to me.  As I look back upon the words of this chorus, I have the distinct impression that God was, and is, reminding me of the two scriptures I have elaborated upon today.  Our children are a gift from God that becomes our heritage.  Our responsibility is to help our children become the children of God He desires them to be. I may have grandchildren as part of my heritage, but God has no grandchildren – He just has children.  I thank God for the privilege He has given me to appropriately nurture creations of His own to become adults who have not departed from His way.  Yes, I sincerely and lovingly thank God for the gift of our daughter, Jill, and for the gifts she is now instilling in her own children. 

Happy Birthday, Jill!

Joyfully,
Cheryl

 Challenge for the week:  My Reader, personalize this story to fit the life of your family.

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