Tuesday, July 17, 2007
HIGH PRAISES FROM LOW PLACES
Why are you downcast, 0 my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.
As for me, I will always have hope...
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.
In all our troubles my joy knows no bounds.
He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.
I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.
I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. For great is your love towards me; you have delivered my soul from the depth of the grave.
(Psalm 42: 11; Psalm 71: 14; Philippians 4: 6; 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18; Acts 16: 25; 2 Corinthians 6: 10; 2 Corinthians 7: 4; Psalm 40: 3; Psalm 59: 16; Psalm 86:12 and 13 - all NIV)
As creatures of the world we share in its sorrows, strains and struggles. So often we are subject to its din and disturbance, its wars and its woes to the point where our personal lives may become clouded or cluttered with doubts and difficulties, problems and pain, sorrows and suffering. At such times there is always a choice to live under or over the circumstances, to concentrate on self or refocus on God, to worry or worship.
Worry can't change the past, but it can ruin the present and the future. It won't empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but it will empty today of its joy. Worry is the only game in which if you guess right, you don't feel any better. It's like a rocking chair that gives you something to do, but doesn't get you anywhere. It is unbelief parading in disguise, trying to interfere with God's plans.
Worship on the other hand is, as William Temple says:
to quicken the conscience with the holiness of God, to feed the mind on the truth of God, to purge the imagination by the beauty of God, to open the heart to the love of God, to devote the will to the purpose of God.
'It is never more helpful to us than when it is most difficult to offer, and it is certainly most acceptable to God when it costs us the most' (Fred Mitchell).
When we choose to worship, we and our circumstances are usually transformed. Furthermore, as we determine to do it, it may be easier for others to find God and difficult for them to forget him.
We become '...more than conquerors through him who loved us' (Romans 8: 37, NIV).
We were created for God's pleasure, to express his worthiness, to give him pleasure (Revelation 4: 9-11). We are made for worship.
To worship God must be the consuming passion of the heart, whether we express it in old ways or new ways, in silence or with shouts, in stillness or with dancing.
Graham Kendrick, Real Worship
As we praise and worship, God steps out of his mystery into our history and we move from our history into his mystery.
All too often our faith is earth-bound and we find it hard to believe that God can do anything that our minds cannot explain. It is only as we spend time worshipping God, concentrating on the nature of his Person -- especially his greatness and love -- that our faith begins to rise.
Like a plane soaring through the dark rain clouds into the fresh beauty of the sunshine, so our faith rises, stimulated by worship and by the new vision of God that worship brings, until we begin to believe that God can work in ways that may be beyond our present understanding.
Throughout the early chapters of Acts we find the constant blend of worship and wonders, praise and power... There are countless examples in the Bible and in Christian biography where a sustained time of praise prepares the way for the Lord to demonstrate his power.
David Watson, Fear No Evil
Praise releases the power of God into our lives and circumstances, because praise is faith in action. When we trust God fully, he is free to work, and he always brings victory. It may be a victory that changes circumstances, or a victory in the circumstances.
M.R. Carothers, Power in Praise
Praise clarifies your vision. The focus of your attention is drawn from the complexity of the problem to the adequacy of God's resources; from the urgency of your need to the power of the Lord to meet your need. As you praise him, you begin to remember how he has helped you on other occasions and your faith rises in expectancy. The more you praise, the smaller the mountain you are facing appears in the light of God's greatness. Almost unconsciously, you are casting your burden on the Lord (Psalm 55: 12).
...Praise lifts your eyes from the battle to the victory, for Christ is already Victor, and you have the Victor in your heart that you might have his victory in your life and in your prayer.
...Praise honours God, brings joy to the angels and strikes terror in any evil spirit which may be around. Praise clears the atmosphere, washes your spirit, multiplies your faith and clothes you with God's presence and power.
. . .If the Lord is inhabiting the praises of his people, the influence of the enemy must be driven away. Satan and his demons fear the presence and authority of Jesus. Praising Jesus puts the demon hosts to flight. Expect Satan to run from you (James 4: 7)... Praise is the Christian's heavy artillery. Praise is a strategic way to victory.
W.L. Deuwel, Touch the World through Prayer
When we magnify God, we view the circumstances around us differently. When we focus on all the greatness and goodness of God, it lifts us out of our surroundings and gives us an eternal perspective and a view into the heavenly realm. That perspective helps us to deal with our circumstances more objectively, because it shows us reality from God's perspective.
Gary Browning, Restore
Worthy of praise from every mouth, of confession from every tongue, of worship from every creature Is thy glorious name, 0 Father, Son and Holy Ghost; Who didst create the world in thy grace and by thy compassion didst save the world. To thy majesty, O God, ten thousand times ten thousand bow down and adore, Singing and praising without ceasing, and saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts; Heaven and earth are full of thy praises; Hosanna in the highest.
Gracious Father, I have made my decision: I will, by your grace, worship you and seek to glorify your name. Please make me a transformer. May I be used by your Spirit to make a difference wherever I am.
May great glory come to your name as saints unite in worship and sinners trust the Saviour. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
W. Wiersbe, Real Worship
I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able:
. . . to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
. . . to make grace abound,
. . . to help those who are being tempted,
... to save completely those who come to God through him. Therefore Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Amen.
Chapter 2 of Rowland Croucher ed., High Mountains Deep Valleys, Albatross/Lion