The battle of life is violently raging around me. It is relentless in its intentional pursuit. Day and night, the frightful and haunting sounds from the battlefield creep in to overwhelm my heart, mind and soul. It gives me no rest. Various enemies, clad with their weapons of warfare, seem to be coming at me from every imaginable angle. From without and within, and often with little warning, they seek to disable, discourage and even destroy.
Who are those enemies that are coming after me?
All too often, in the midst of this waging battle, it seems as though I am just waiting to hit that proverbial wall with an almighty, hard-hitting Splat!
I love what the Psalmist David says about his enemy pursuing him and the proverbial wall that he encountered. “For by You, O Lord, I can run against the troop, by my God I can leap over a wall.” (verse 29) Love the picture that comes to my mind when I read those words.
This Psalm was written on the day that David was delivered from his number one enemy, King Saul. The King relentlessly pursued David, with just one intention – to kill him. Saul’s jealousy was the driving force behind his evil intent to destroy David. And with an unrelenting jealous rage, Saul put everything else in his kingdom life on hold, just so he could go after David. That’s what the enemy does!
David describes his enemy: “. . . my strong enemy. . . those who hated me. For they were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity.” (Verses 17-18)
David’s enemy was very real. David had come face to face with his enemy and the battle between them pursued. David had to run for his very life. And he kept on running. He had to do everything possible to escape from the evil king who sought after him. David spent time hiding out in the caves, hoping not to be found by the King and his men. So many times, David faced that proverbial wall, hoping he wouldn’t go splat against it. David did what he knew he had to do, in order to keep himself safe.
What David found in the midst of his battle with King Saul, greatly encourages me in the midst of my own battles of life. Let’s read that last part of verse 18 – “But the Lord was my support.”
I love these words of David. I so often have echoed them from my own lips to the listening ears of God. “In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried out to my God; He heard my voice from the temple, and my cry came before Him, even to His ears.” (verse 6)
Ah, how good it is to know that we are never alone in the midst of our battles. We all can cry out to God from the battlefield. He will hear us. David cried out to God in the midst of his distress. And David found that God was there with him, right there in the midst of the battle. God wasn’t sitting on the sidelines, cheering him on. God was present, on the battlefield. Right there, with David, making known to him the way that he should go. God gave David all the resources he needed to face the enemy troops. God never once allowed David to go splat against the wall that was put up in front, behind and all around him. Nope, God enabled David to leap over that wall. God strengthened David for the battle of his life.
Here’s what God did for David:
Wow! God did all that for David! Imagine what God can do for you. For me. On the battlefield. In the midst of our battles of life.
My reader, God promises to be with us. He will be present in the midst of our battles. He will be our support. He will give us strength. He will bring us to the place of victory. He will be our solid Rock!
How do we get that kind of help from God?
It starts with a cry. It starts with us acknowledging our need for God. We need His help. Cry out to Him. Call on His name. Invite Him to the battlefield. Let Him gird you with His strength. Take on His helmet of salvation, adorn the garments of praise in the midst of battle. Watch God fight for you, as He holds you tight with His mighty right hand. He will strike each and every enemy. He will be the One who destroys them all. He will bring victory over all the evil within and without. He will not cause your feet to slip, nor to stumble; rather, He will lift you up, to high places, where you will stand strong. You will stand undefeated. The Lord your God will support you!
It’s no wonder that in that moment after the battle was won, that David wanted nothing more than to stand in the presence of His God and sing his victory song aloud:
“I will love You, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; My God, my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, so shall I be saved from my enemies. . . The Lord lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let the God of my salvation be exalted.” Psalm 18:1-3 and 46. (NKJV)
“Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty firmament! Praise Him for His mighty acts; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness! . . . Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!” Psalm 150:1-2 and 6 (NKJV)
The Psalmist David is one of my many favorite Bible characters. I love to study his life and times; learning all I can, and hopefully taking to heart some of the lessons that his life teaches. David was known as a “man after God’s own heart” and his relationship with God is something to admire and seek to imitate. While his life was far from perfect (that’s why I can relate to him!) and his relationship with God wasn’t perfect either (so glad that God doesn’t require that of us!), David set his heart on this one thing, and that to seek after His God with all of his heart. I love that. That’s the kind of life example that I desire to follow. There is something though that really impresses me about David. It stands out to me every time I read about David or hear a sermon about him. Throughout his lifetime, David had a heart that wasn’t afraid to burst forth in bold praise to his great God. David chose to praise God!
It didn’t matter whether David was tending his father’s sheep in the field, relaxing at home with his family, facing the giant that no one else wanted to fight, singing before King Saul, running for his life from someone who wanted to kill him, fighting the enemy on the battlefield, encouraging his soldiers as they returned tired from war, feasting at the fully loaded banqueting table, or pursing his kingly duties from the regal palace. One would often find David offering up his praise to God. David chose to praise God!
The Book of Psalms is full of David’s songs of praise to His mighty God. Psalm 150 is just one example; one reminder of a heart full of praise to a worthy and holy God. There are so many ways to praise God – quietly in our hearts, loudly with our voice lifted high, upon any instrument of choice, in a solitary place or in a crowd. We can praise God. There are many reasons to praise God – for who He is, for what He has done, for victories won, for good news received, for answers to prayer, for His creation round about us, for any reason at all. We can praise God. There are different places where we can burst forth in praise – in the sanctuary, in our homes, in our workplace, out in the middle of God’s creation, from a hospital bed, in a jail cell, from any place we go. We can praise God.
But, this is the part of David’s example of praise that gets me; David chose to praise God! Praise for David was an intentional choice! It didn’t matter where he was, he chose to praise God. It didn’t matter what he was doing, he chose to praise God. It didn’t matter who he was with, he chose to praise God. Good time, bad time, joyful or sad time, in time of peace or war, David chose to praise God.
I must choose to praise God too!
Praise comes easy when things are going great, right? Well, for me it does. Praise is good when God blesses me with abundant things. Praise is an outstanding way to thank God for His answers to prayer. Praise is great when I gather with fellow believers and together in one spirit we lift up our praise to God in worship of Him. But what about when things aren’t so good?
I must choose to praise God! In every situation of life, I choose whether to praise or not.
But, do you see what I’m saying? Praising God is our daily choice. It is a moment by moment, all throughout the day kind of choice. Praise should never be influenced by those around us, but it should be instrumentally instructed by the contents of our heart. Praise should never be dependent upon our current circumstances being good, or right, or even fair. Praise is not based on our feelings at the moment. We can feel perfectly lousy, and still choose to open our heart, lift up our voice and burst forth with praise to the God who loves and cares about us.
Praising God is a choice! It is our privilege! It is our way to acknowledge that our great God is present with us (never to leave us nor forsake us!) in the midst of our circumstances. Praising God is a means of giving thanks for all the great things God has done for us, has given to us, and has answered on our behalf. Praising God is boldly declaring His faithfulness, His greatness, His power, His majesty to the world around us. It is an honor to lift up our heart, our voice, our hands, our very being in praise and worship to a God whose heart we seek after.
“Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord!”
I choose to praise God today!
(This is the last day of a challenge between student and teacher. Rules of the challenge are found in the posting entitled: “A Challenge Has Been Presented Using the Book of Psalms.”)
Today’s Verse: “Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; Sing praises on the harp to our God.” Psalms 147:7 (NKJV)
I Give Thanks For: The Honor of Giving Thanks to God!
This 28 days of Thanksgiving challenge ends as of today – on America’s Thanksgiving Day of celebration. I have certainly enjoyed doing this challenge with my student. We both have learned a lot about each other, about giving thanks, and about our great God.
So, does my thankful heart stop here with this challenge? No way! It’s only grown larger. And my praise has grown a little louder. I’ve learned that there is so much to thank God for, because He has showered me with so many, many blessings. I haven’t even begun to complete the list of praise items. I could never really thank Him enough for it all. His goodness towards me abounds, for God is good. All the time, He is good. And my praise, well, I just want to keep it going all the time too.
Praise You, oh Lord my God, for your goodness endures forever!
(This is a challenge between student and teacher. Rules of the challenge are found in the posting entitled: “A Challenge Has Been Presented Using the Book of Psalms.”)
Today’s Verse: “Surely the righteous shall give thanks to Your name; the upright shall dwell in Your presence.” Psalms 140:13 (NKJV)
I Give Thanks For: God’s Abundant Blessings!
As I sit down to write this blog on the day before our Thanksgiving celebration, I think it only appropriate to give thanks today for God’s abundant blessings. For they truly are abundant! And He is so worthy of all praise for showering me with those blessings!
The student, with whom I am doing this 28 day challenge, and I decided to make this our combined item to give thanks for on this particular day. The student suggested that we sit down with a piece of paper and pencil. Across the top of the paper write these words: God’s Abundant Blessings to Me! Then set a timer for 10 minutes, and in that time write down as many blessings that we can think of that God has given us. The student and I would like to challenge our listeners, our readers, our fellow bloggers to do the same and just see how many blessings we can list. Are you up for that challenge?
Our results: Student listed 102, Teacher listed 127 How about you? How many blessings from God can you name off in just 10 minutes? (If you do this little 10 minute challenge, could you write a comment to me and share how many blessings you listed. My student and I are curious if others will do it and what their results were. It will be fun for other bloggers to read your comments as well.)
Doing this fun little challenge, brought to my mind an old favorite hymn that I have sung oh so many times over the years. Count Your Blessings is the name of the hymn. Are you familiar with it? It’s a great hymn and an amazing reminder of how great our God really is. The hymn reminds us that no matter what our circumstances may be, we can find God’s blessings there. It also tells us that if we name our blessings, one by one, it will surprise us what God has done for us. That is what this challenge has been all about. Praising God for all His abundant blessings!
And should you want to burst forth in song or just have a good read – here’s the words to that precious hymn:
When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, ev’ry doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by. (Refrain)
When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings, money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high. (Refrain)
So, amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end. (Refrain)
(This is a challenge between student and teacher. Rules of the challenge are found in the posting entitled: “A Challenge Has Been Presented in the Book of Psalms.”)
Today’s Verse: “Oh, give thanks to the God of heaven, for His mercy endures forever!” Psalms 136:26 (NKJV)
I Give Thanks For: Home Awaiting in Heaven!
Yesterday, a very dear friend of mine, met Jesus face to face! What a blessed day for her! Her short, yet viciously painful battle with cancer was done. It was her time to meet her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This special lady was my good friend, my sister in the Lord, one of my ministry prayer partners and financial donors. She was a part of my ladies bible study group. Oh, I can still picture her, sitting with us around my dining room table. Always a smile on her face, always chewing a piece of gum, and always ready to learn from God’s Word together with the other ladies in the group. She was filled with laughter and always made us laugh over something that was funny to her. Her laugh was contagious! Whenever she opened her mouth to share, the whole room listened, cause it was usually something really good, something worth listening to, something to consider. When she said she would pray for you, there was no doubt that she did just that. She always came back and wanted to know the answers to her prayers that she offered up for you. And her hugs – I will always remember her hugs – they were genuinely sincerely and warm to the heart. She was one very special lady in my life. I am going to miss her greatly!!
My friend’s passing reminded me once again that all those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, all of us have a home waiting for us in Heaven. My friend went home yesterday! Her journey in this life was done. She no longer has cancer! Her pain, gone. Her days of suffering, gone. Her crying, gone. Her struggle to walk, gone. There is none of that in her new home in heaven. She now dwells in the land of perfect peace and rest, with her Savior Jesus. She got a big, warm, and sincere hug from Him as He welcomed her home!
Jesus leaves those of us still living in this world a very great and precious promise. It’s found in John 14:1-6:
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father’s house are many mansions; If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know. . . I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
I am so thankful today that I know Jesus as my personal Savior! Thankful that He is preparing a home in heaven for me too. Thankful, that one day, at His perfect timing, I too will go to that home in heaven. Thankful that one day I will reunite with loved ones and friends who have gone before me. Thankful that I shall spend eternity with my Savior and Lord!
I can’t wait to go HOME!
(This is a challenge between student and teacher. Rules of the challenge are found in the posting entitled: “A Challenge Has Been Presented in the Book of Psalms.”)
Today’s Verse: “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever. Oh, give thanks to the God of gods! For His mercy endures forever. Oh, give thanks to the Lord of lords! For His mercy endures forever!” Psalms 136:1-3 (NKJV)
I Give Thanks For: Sleepless Nights!
The clock says it is 1:18 am. Really? Yep, I’m wide awake!
I roll over on my side, curl my legs up underneath me, and pull the covers around me tighter. Surely, I will go back to sleep.
Nope, I’m wide awake! There is only one thing that I like to do in times like this. I roll onto my back and only for a few seconds do I stare at the ceiling. Almost immediately, prayer items start coming to my mind. I think of how good God has been to Andy and I and how He is helping us with so many things right now. My prayer contains lots of praise to Him for what He has already done to bless us. I think of all the different friends and relatives who have various needs that I can bring before the Lord. Many missionaries that I know who are serving the Lord throughout the world need my encouragement through prayer. I also pray for various churches and their pastors that I know. My ministry, my kids within that ministry, our financial donors and prayer partners. I begin to pray! I pray fervently! I pray boldly! God is right there with me, listening to me. I pause often, to listen to Him. Our sleepless night fellowship is sweet indeed!
I love those times of quiet prayer with God. In the quiet calm of our house at nighttime, its a great thing to do. I don’t dare get out of bed, or else I would begin to see too many things that need to be done, right now! And I would miss out on this precious time with God. No, I stay in the warmth of my bed, in quietness and calm, I cry out to God. That prayer time brings peace to my soul. It brings me closer to God as I feel His presence right there with me, listening to my every word. It strengthens my relationship with the people that I am praying for. So, its a good thing to do on this sleepless night.
The last time I remember looking at the clock, it read 3:47. Our dog Max, wanted to go outside to do his thing. “Hurry up little dude, its cold outside!” It isn’t long before I crawl back to bed, curl up under the covers, say goodnight to God, and fall fast asleep.
I know God heard my sleepless night prayers. And while I slept, I also know that He was working on the answers to those prayers. And for that, I am truly thankful for those sleepless nights!
(This is a challenge between student and teacher. Rules of the challenge are found in the post entitled: “A Challenge Has Been Presented Using the Book of Psalms.”)
Today’s Verse: “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord’ . . . to give thanks to the name of the Lord.” Psalms 122:1 and 4 (NKJV)
I Give Thanks For: The Church – my Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
From ever since I can remember, I have gone to church. It’s something that my family always did together. For me, its never been a drag to get me there, I always went voluntarily. I really don’t like to miss it. And over the years, I have been a member at many a church, in many different places. I just love being in the house of God, to be among His peoples.
There is something just so special when brothers and sisters in Christ gather together in Christian love to fellowship and worship God. The body of Christ lifting up their voices in praise, or coming together to serve one another. Pastors and teachers opening the Word of God and sharing God’s message that is meant to teach, inspire, convict, and challenge. There’s usually something there for all ages. Yet, I have to say that personally, I am partial to what is happening among the children. That’s our next generation, and I am passionate about making sure our children know and love Jesus.
Today I just want to give a shout out to all my brothers and sisters in Christ as you worship together in God’s house. Worship passionately! Worship loudly! Worship boldly! Lift up your voices in the most powerful praise you have within you! Our God is worthy of that kind of praise! He will be listening and He will be blessed by our corporate worship. To Him be the glory of our praise!
And as the church gathers together, may we all take to heart the words of the Apostle Paul to the Church at Colosse – (Colossians 3:12-17 NKJV)
“Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, long-suffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”