365 Days of Praise - Beyond Ourselves

Light in the Darkness

03/19/2020

Our nation and world are going through a difficult and what some would call a dark time physically, emotionally, and financially. What should we do in times like this? Turn to God, whom James 1:17 describes as the FATHER OF LIGHTS. The prince of darkness, Satan, would love nothing more than for us to stumble in fear. But James points to our hope.  “Every good thing is given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the FATHER OF LIGHTS, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” Regarding this verse, Charles Ryrie notes, “God is the source of all light – physical, intellectual, moral, and spiritual – and He does not change.”* Rather than stumble in fear, walk by the FATHER OF LIGHTS’ illumination one day at a time.

Father of Lights, illumine our spirit with the Light of Your Spirit so we live as children of Light and spread Your Light to others.  

Who is For You in the Game of Life

03/18/2020

“Which team are you for?” “Which candidate are you for?” We often talk about who we’re for. But have you ever thought about who is for you?  It’s a good question. Who is for you? Are you blessed to have a friend or family member who is there for you? But, what if you don’t, and you daily fight the loneliness and sadness of getting through each day on your own? God has an important message for us in Romans 8:31. “What then shall we say to these things? If God is FOR US, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over FOR US ALL…” GOD is FOR YOU. Not only is He not against us, the fact that He’s FOR US is amazing! Say it out loud. “God is for me. He is for me.” God is in the game of our life…saving our souls. Rescuing us. Making a place for us in heaven. Righting our wrongs. Extending grace. Wiping away our tears. Interceding for us. Guarding us. How much is He for us? A tiny bit? A big amount? The Father and Son are so for us they rescued our souls from Satan’s dominion by Jesus switching places with us on the cross. The next time we’re tempted to feel sorry for ourselves or Satan whispers, “you’re doing life all alone,” answer back loud and clear, “Wrong! God is with me and FOR ME.” Then, in genuine gratitude, thank the Heavenly Father and Son.

Heavenly Father, Precious Savior, thank You for being FOR US. We praise You, thank You, and pray our lives reflect our gratitude.

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A Perfect Storm

03/17/2020

Schools are closing. College students are returning home to study online. Moms, dads, grandparents are working from home. Or, not working and worried about how they’ll make ends meet. Close quarters. High emotions. Worries about tomorrow. Some not feeling well or down right sick. The perfect storm for cross words, eruptions, blame, and emotional distancing. How can we wisely relate to one another? With forgiveness. We can pattern ourselves after Jesus who comes to us in the storm. We can pattern ourselves after our Heavenly Father who forgives us even though we miss the mark with Him. First John 1:9 states, If we confess our sins, He (God) is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” That is wonderful news. It’s also an example for us to follow. He tells us, “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another just as God in Christ has forgiven you,” Ephesians 4:32. Just as. In other words we repent and tell God we’re sorry when we mess up. We extend mercy and forgive others. We show grace even when it’s not returned. We choose love. How can we do this? We can’t. It is only possible when we receive Christ into our life, our storm, and asked Him to fill us, take control of us, and live His life through us. A storm is the perfect opportunity for those closest to us to see Jesus – maybe for the first time or in a new way.

Lord Jesus, thank You that You come to us in the storms of life. Thank You that You forgive us when we miss the mark. Thank You for showing us how to forgive others. Fill us. Live Your life through us so others see and believe in You.

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Self-Quarantined? Distancing? Consider This

03/16/2020

Are you self-quarantined or social distancing because of the corona virus? If so, this is a good time for us to consider how we might use our time wisely. Ecclesiastes 3:1 reminds us that there is an appointed time for everything. Which of the following verses might spur us to a positive action such as plant a garden so we have vegetables to share with neighbors, write a note or call someone with the sole purpose of building them up, weep over our nation’s moral decline, embrace loved ones even if not physically, sort things we no longer need to take to a homeless shelter, practice silence during which time we hide God’s Word in our hearts, meditatively listen to God and others, journal our prayers, or focus on being loving rather than judgmental toward others?

There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven—

A time to give birth and a time to die;
A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.
A time to kill and a time to heal;
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance.
A time to throw stones and a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace and a time to shun embracing.
A time to search and a time to give up as lost;
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate;
A time for war and a time for peace.

Which might we do?

Heavenly Father, how might You want us to use this time of crisis in our world? May we wisely follow Your promptings. 

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When the Toilet Paper Runs Out

03/14/2020

Concern about the coronavirus is sweeping our world – evidenced by empty shelves that were once fully stocked with toilet paper. So what are people turning to when the toilet paper runs out?  Kleenex and even newspapers. Yes, An Australian newspaper printed an extra eight pages to be used as toilet paper after coronavirus fears prompted customers to bulk buy supplies, leaving some supermarket shelves bare.* What do people turn to when they can’t control quarantines, school closings, financial crisis, illness, and death? Hopefully, we turn to God.  Psalm 46:1-2 is a good reminder. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea.” Refuge and strength. Very present help. If you haven’t yet, turn to Him when your ability to control runs out. 

Heavenly Father, thank You that at any time, day or night, You are a present help, our refuge and strength. We love You and praise You. 

*https://www.cnn.com/2020/03/05/world/coronavirus-australia-toilet-paper-scli-intl/index.html

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Are You Worried About the END

03/12/2020

Do you ever worry about the end?  True, our day comes to an end. Our weekend comes to an end. Vacations end. Time with loved ones ends. But, we need not worry because there’s one thing that never ends: God. Psalm 90:2 states, “Before the mountains were born or You gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” God has no end. He is EVERLASTING.  He will exist no matter what happens to the earth and world. If you’re feeling a sense of loss or loneliness; or if it feels like everything in our world is changing too quickly, you have a reason to praise. God is EVERLASTING.  He will never end. His presence will be with you.

Lord, You are the EVERLASTING GOD! We rejoice and rest in You. 

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When Whims Aren’t Good

03/11/2020

Can you imagine if God ruled by whim, by ever-changing emotions and laws? What if on a whim, He decided to not be forgiving? Or, decided to forgive one person, but not you? What if God’s standard of holiness changed every year? Thank goodness that is not who our God is.  Psalm 99:4 says He loves justice. He has ESTABLISHED EQUITY.  That is why the psalmist says, “Let them praise Your great and awesome name; Holy is He.” (Psalm 99:3) Yes, that is why we praise our great and awesome God. He is not a God of whim, but rather, a God of equity.

Heavenly Father, thank You that You don’t rule by whim, but rather with equity. We love and praise You!  

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I Can’t or I Can

03/10/2020

“I can’t do it!” Have you ever felt that way? Maybe you feel that way about your job, marriage or even getting to the gym and eating healthy. Maybe you know what you need to do as a parent, but don’t have the energy and stamina, so you say, “I can’t.” Perhaps you feel you “can’t” be the Christian that God desires you to be. If you feel that way, you’re not alone. I wish I had a penny for every time I’ve felt inadequate. But the wonderful thing is, Hebrews 13:20-21 assures us that God is able. “Now the God of peace, … equip you in every good thing to do His will…”  We can say along with Paul, “not that I am adequate in myself, but my adequacy comes from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5

Heavenly Father, thank You for equipping us to do everything to which You call us. Help us mindfully depend on You and walk by Your guiding Spirit. We love and praise You. 

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If You’re Down

03/09/2020

Are you down or discouraged? Do you feel the heaviness of oppression? Are you down on yourself or disappointed in someone? Do you feel betrayed? The apostle Paul, whom God used mightily, had ample opportunity to be discouraged. Lonely nights. Conflicting opinions among believers. Physical sufferings. Wrongful imprisonments. Yet, in Romans 15:5-6 he writes, “Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul got his encouragement from God. He got his encouragement from singing praises to Him. If we’re down, what can we do? Turn off the TV. Go to God in prayer. Open our Bibles. Receive His encouragement.

Heavenly Father and Lord Jesus Christ, thank You for ENCOURAGING us deep down, in our innermost beings. Help us persevere by keeping our minds on You. 

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Go for the Supreme

03/08/2020

Do you like supreme pizzas?  I do!  They have everything on them. They’re the best when it comes to pizza in my opinion. But one thing that isn’t an opinion but rather a fact is that there is a Supreme God and He is everything for which our hearts could yearn.  Genesis 1:1 explains.  “In the beginning GOD created the heavens and the earth.” GOD is Elohim and scholar Charles Ryrie explains that Elohim is a generic term for deity as well as a proper name for the true god. Its basic meaning is ‘strong one, mighty leader, supreme Deity.’ There is no one and no God more supreme than the Lord Jesus Christ whom we worship. Go to Him. Bow before Him. Call on Him in praise and worship.  Ask Him for your needs. He is all you could ever want.

Supreme God, we bow in worship and praise of You, for how You have revealed Your majesty to us, for how You’ve reached down and saved us, for how You will raise us up to be in Your presence one day, for the many ways You watch over us and protect us.  It is with unspeakable reverence we praise You!

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