Praise Can Be Difficult (Psalm 34:1)

Some people today have received the heart breaking news that a loved one has passed away. Others may be under the heavy burden of finances or the obligations of work. Children may be a blessing from the Lord, but as you raise them, they may make decisions that absolutely devastate your life. With life as difficult as it is, is it outlandish to think that God wants us to continually praise him?

I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth. (Psalms 34:1)

In order for praise to continually be in your mouth, you must have a biblical perspective of life. You must recognize that God wants to use situations in your life to either develop or display your faith. When you have this perspective on life, trials and blessings are recognized as instruments for God’s glory. Remember, how you see life determines how you respond to it.

To praise is to boast. True praise boasts on the goodness of God and it has two purposes: to magnify the Lord and to encourage others to do the same. It is intended to be public so that others will hear. When you praise the Lord, you not only magnify him, but you solicited others to do the same.

My soul shall make her boast in the Lord: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad. (Psalms 34:2)

Praise is not an attitude that you can just conjure up. It results from acts of trust. Throughout the Psalm, David declares the works that the Lord has done for him. Occasions of deliverance, hearing of prayers and encouragements all resulted from him trusting the Lord and because of them, praise flowed from his lips.

As you face difficult trials in your life, turn your heart to the Lord. Yield yourself to whatever he wants to accomplish and as you do, his spirit will guide your heart to the treasures that he has in store and enable you to praise him.

2 Chronicles 29:11-12

Our God, who is able to perform great and mighty acts, possesses the might to accomplish all that he desires and enables us to constantly overcome. He alone deserves grandeur, beauty, honor and excellency because all that is in the Heaven and Earth are his.

The blessings of riches and honor come from him. He reigns over all giving power and might to make great and to give all of us strength.

Our God is worthy of our praise.

Loving the God We Cannot See (1 Peter 1:8)

Love: a word used so freely today, but what does it mean? True love is the desire that a person has to meet the needs of another without expecting to receive anything in return. With that, a great question arises. Can you love someone with whom you have never met face-to-face? 

Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: (1 Peter 1:8)

The answer is simple. You can love someone that you have never seen, but only if you have had the opportunity to interact with them.

In the early 20th century, a man in America, named Charles, began to correspond with the young woman, named Minnie, who lived on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Their many letters shared the events of their lives: their likes, dislikes, problems and struggles. The letters also contained hopes, dreams and passions. All the time as the letters were shared something began to happen. Each began to be concerned for the other and desired to be with them so that they may experience life together: to share, help, care and love. They fell in love and one day, decided to marry. They never met face-to-face until the day that she came off of the ship on America’s shore. To them, it didn’t matter what the other person looked like: they knew each other and recognized the beauty that each possessed within. Several decades later, I met them and marveled at their story of love.

We too can love someone that we have never met face-to-face. Through our interactions with the Lord, we can experience him in times of trials and testing. The words that he has recorded for us speak to our hearts and encourage us in the deepest of struggles. When sorrow comes, only his words bring comfort. When others have rejected and cast us out, his words of love and the promise to always be with us draw our hearts close to him. When nobody understands or cares, he does and he tells us to cast our cares on him. (1 Peter 5:7). When we are confused and searching for direction, he sheds light on our path to brighten the way. Each of these interactions bring us into a greater understanding of the person who saved us and through it all we begin to love him. 

One day, we will embark off of the ship on eternities shore and will take part in the marriage between Jesus and his church. But until then, our hearts rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory all because we know and love this person that we have never seen.  

Praise, Honor and Glory (1 Peter 1:7)

At the seat of the new man in Christ is faith. All that man is will come from his faith. Trials are not temptations to sin, but are testing of that faith. The results of the testing of faith affect man, testify to those around them and are intended to bring praise, honor and glory to God.

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: (1 Peter 1:7)

It is not our actions that bring glory to God, but instead our faith. Abstaining, performing and working may all appear to be what is expected of men, but they are not. Each of these could have a motive other than faith. Fear, shame and pride could all motivate man to strive at achieving these and the results would be nothing more than wood, hay and stubble (1 Cor. 3:12). Many have failed because they focused on producing the by products of faith instead of yielding faith to God.

Abide in the vine and you will yield the vine’s fruit. Read his word for the purpose of knowing and experiencing him. Do this so that your heart will love him more and become devoted to him. This is what is pleasing to the Lord.

Since the scriptures say, the just shall live by faith. Are you performing or abiding? The actions may appear the same: one will bring praise, honor and glory, but the other will yield shame.

Our Inheritance (1 Peter 1:4)

In 1993, my father passed away. There were a few items that he owned, which were special to me. One item was a jewelry box. I can remember it as far back as my memory can recall. In it, he kept his cufflinks and some small change. When you open the lid, a song played an a figurine popped up and spun around. Not long after his passing, it was given to me. Occasionally, I lift the lid and listen to the music. When I do this, my heart stirs as it remembers him. To me the inheritance is of great value. 

I have another inheritance that I received for my other father, the Lord God. This inheritance is so special and it isn’t anything like the jewelry box, which has painted that is faded and flaking away. This inheritance will not decay, fade, or change from its purest state. I am assured of this because God said that this inheritance is reserved or guarded for me in heaven. I father has big plans and he isn’t going to allow anything to change or defile my inheritance.

Times may change and the world may continue to slip away into greater corruption as they embrace every low form of morality and living. It may appear as if everything right is wrong and the wrong of this world is right. Times may be troublesome on the Earth, but not in Heaven. Remember, God has a plan for you and your inheritance in Heaven is guarded and remains the same. One day, we will experience all that he has for us and only then can we fully recognize that what we endured for him was worth it all.

Guaranteed! So instead of focusing on what is happening around you, focus on him and set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

Begotten Us Again (1 Peter 1:3)

There was no hope for the natural man. When Adam fell, he plummeted mankind into sin and hopelessness. When he sinned, it was not merely an act, but instead a decision that would affect everyone in every aspect of their lives. When Adam took hold of sin, sin took hold of mankind and ravished it. There was no way to stop it and he could not be reformed. The only hope for man was for him to be made a new creature.

When a person trust Christ as Savior, God makes him a new creature or a new creation. This work of mercy does not change the physical creation of man, but instead man’s spiritual state. Man’s rebirth would give him a hope – a lively hope – one that would dwell within him every day.

Life can be crushing. In your life, how many tears of sorrow have you shed? How many times have you held the hand of a loved one is their heart burst with anguish and sorrow? Your past has not been great and your future will most likely contain just as much sorrow. But since the new birth, there is a hope that lives and dwells within you. That lively hope will enable you to look to your merciful God who will provide comfort, strength and direction. How did you get this lively hope? It came because of the mercy of God.

To illustrate this, imagine you are one of the crew on the ship. While on deck, you feel the tremble as an explosion occurs below deck. The event created a gaping hole in the side of the ship. Water comes rushing in taking lives of men as it advances through the ship. 

The blast of alarms sound around you and everyone begins to abandon ship. You fall into the water and begin swimming for your life. Terror fills the air and your heart is pounding as you try your best to continue to swim. You eventually fear that you cannot go on and you just want to give up and get this whole terrifying experience over. And then, a floatation device springs up out of the water. 

Quickly you make your way towards the object and grasp it with all of your might. Immediately your heart moves from fear to hope as you cling to the device and exclaimed, “I’m saved!”

In the distance, you hear people struggling and screaming. As you float in safety, others less fortunate succumb and become one more floating casually. 

This illustration depicts your life and mine. Lost in sin, we were without hope and regardless of how much struggling to overcome the result ended in failure. And then, the Savior came. Since the moment that we clung to him, we have been saved. Oh, we may still be floating in the sea of the world, but one day, the Savior will lift us out and deliver us from the presence of all that is around us. 

We have a hope and our hope is in Christ. It is not a dead hope, but a lively one. We can live each day and face the fear of all that is around us. We can do this because we know that we will be delivered. This is our lively hope.

Blessed Be God (1 Peter 1:3)

The apostle is praising God and encouraging us to do the same. There are countless reasons why we should praise him and Peter is taking a portion of his epistle to note specific reasons why.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (1 Peter 1:3)

Abundant mercy: aren’t you glad for that? Each work that God does for us is because of his mercy and this mercy that he has for us endures forever. 

I remember being raised Catholic. During the mass there was a portion of time set aside for the priest to either pray or state praises to God and the congregation would respond to whatever he said by saying the same phrase. Psalm 136 reminds me of such an event. 

O give thanks unto the Lord; for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever. (Psalm 136:1)

For years, I struggled with this passage because I resist ritualistic worship. But one day, I saw it differently. Imagine the first half of a verse in this psalm being stated by someone. The statement declares something about God that is beneficial to man. A pause takes place as the people search for why God would act in such a manner toward man and then finally in unison they declare, “For his mercy endures forever.” The process repeats itself again, but the pause is shorter and the exclamation is louder. Can you imagine yourself being there? ” Why did God love you?” “For his mercy endures forever!” “Why did he call you?” “For his mercy endures forever!” How long could this go on? It is endless and in heaven, it will last and go on forever.

Every action that God has made for you is because of his mercy. Had it not been for mercy, your life and eternity would be hopeless. There maybe times or situations in your life that are very difficult. From the natural view, there may not seem to be any reason for praising God, but if you stop, seek his face and think for a while, God will reveal to you his workings, provisions or purposes for those situations. When you recognize his handiwork in your life, you too will be forced to proclaim your explanation with the very same words: for his mercy endures forever.

Abused, Mocked, Shamed and Cast Out (Mark 15:17-19)

Have you ever misjudged someone? You know, you meet somebody for the first time and maybe you get a negative impression and that impressions causes you to treat them in a certain manner. Then sometime later, you discover something about them that turns you, your attitude and your actions completely around. We have all been there and guilty of the same.
In fact, you may have experienced this as the victim as well. Rest assured, you are not alone in this experience. In fact, the Lord was treated in the same manner.

And they clothed him with purple, and platted a crown of thorns, and put it about his head, And began to salute him, Hail, King of the Jews! And they smote him on the head with a reed, and did spit upon him, and bowing their knees worshipped him. And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him. (Mark 15:17-19)

When people fail to recognize your value as a person, they may do the same to you as they did to him. They may physically harm or abuse you, mock and shame you, and cast you out.

People who are truly loved will be cherished and protected. People are not loved because they fall short of what people desire or expect and when this occurs, they become objects upon which people take out their anger and bitterness. Jesus was scourged for the purpose of satisfying the hearts of the people. The people were glad for this to be done and this gladness was a direct result of how little they valued Jesus. (Mark 15:15 And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified.)

When people fail to recognize your value as a person, they will mock and degrade you: they may talk as you talk and walk in the same manner as you would walk all to make a mockery of you. Their words of ridicule, rejection and laughter may tear deeply in your heart, but remember, you are not alone. In like manner, the people made a mockery and shame of the Lord.

Finally, they may cast you out. As they cast out Christ and sent him to be crucified, they too will cast you out. If they only knew how wonderful you really are, they wouldn’t treat you this way. Hurt, anger, bitterness and hatred fill their hearts and control them to act as they do. Sin took its hold on them and in sin they will act out on others around them.

For some people, they may recognize their error and make a change, but some may never recognize your great value. God didn’t make any mistake when he made you. Your height, weight, looks, economic status, intellect, physical impairments and whatever else may appear to be holding you back are really your thorn in the flesh that can make you stronger. You are not alone as you face life and those that treat you wrongfully. As Jesus faced these treatments from men, he was never alone. His father was always present with him and he will always be present with you. His Holy Spirit will comfort you and because of this, he wants you to come boldly to the throne of grace to find his help in times of need. (Hebrews 4:15-16)

Remember, God will always be there for you. He recognizes your great value because he created you for himself. He will not reject you: he cannot reject you. You are fearfully and wonderfully made and what you are is just what he loves.