September 10, 2009 
Praise God Anyway! 
Mary Southerland

Today's Truth 
Philippians 4:6-7 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (NIV).

Friend To Friend 
Someone recently gave me a refrigerator magnet that said, "I know God promises to never give me more than I can handle. But sometimes, I just wish he didn't trust me so much."  When trials come and life seems hard, we plead with God to deliver us from the problem when many times his plan is to deliver us in the problem. Praise does not depend upon an understanding of the circumstance or trial. Praise depends upon faith in the God of that circumstance or trial.

As humans, we will never fully understand God - this side of heaven. God is holy and without blemish. God is all powerful and omniscient. He is Creator of the universe and yet lives in you and me. He is the only true, living God!  We may understand some of his ways and comprehend the reasoning behind some of his plans. We may even come to the place of knowing him on what we call an intimate level, but a full understanding of God is reserved for heaven.  Until then, we walk by faith, not by sight.  We praise him in the darkness, knowing that the light is just ahead. We trust him for things we cannot see and praise him in the valleys.  Honestly, the thought of serving and relying on a God I can understand is not a reassuring thought. 

Most people who know me well would describe me as a strong person, someone who can usually handle what life holds.  I thought the same thing until, in 1995, I found myself a powerless, prisoner of the darkness as I battled clinical depression.  It took me two long years to climb out of that pit and not a day goes by that I'm not reminded of that wonderful, horrible time. One of the many lessons I learned from my "pit experience" was that I cannot depend upon my own strength or my fickle emotions.  God often asked me to praise him when, as far as I could tell, there wasn't a whole lot to praise him for! I didn't feel like praising him. I began to understand that praise is not a feeling but a choice, a step of obedience taken without the assurance of a changed circumstance or the elimination of a trial.  Praise focuses on God, not the circumstance, and fixes its gaze upon God's truth and God's character instead of the trial at hand or the one just ahead. That's why we can celebrate the battle before it begins. The outcome is neither our responsibility nor our goal. Praise begins and ends with faith in the very nature, personality and integrity of God … and that reality never changes. 

No matter what lies ahead, God is faithful.  No matter how hot the fiery trial may be, God will deliver us. No matter what man says or does, God loves and accepts us. So praise God! Thank him today for every victory tomorrow holds! Celebrate - knowing the battle belongs to God and because of that single truth, victory is certain. 

Now It's Your Turn 
Begin your "Joy Journal" by recording the daily blessings he gives you each day.  Remember to add the "small" miracles as well as the "large" ones.  At the end of the week, have a private praise service - just you and God.  Thank him for his presence and power at work in your life.

Memorize Philippians 4:7 "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (NIV).

Think about it...  

 

·         When I hear the word "praise", what comes to my mind?  

·         Do I really believe my life can bring God pleasure? 

·         After reading Psalm 139, how do I think God sees me? 

·         What are the sources of discouragement in my life? 

·         What steps do I need to take to eliminate those sources?

Let's Pray 
Father, I praise You today for all that You have done in my life.  You are faithful even when I am faithless. Your love pursues me even when I am unlovable. Your forgiveness covers my sin and frees me from its penalty. Lord, teach me to praise You. Help me to see and understand the power of praising You in my life. I want to bring You pleasure, Father. I praise You for your love and faithfulness to me.  Your presence in my life changes everything, empowering me to live each moment of every day, content in knowing You are in control. As I face today, Lord, remind me that no matters what happens, I can praise You! 

In Jesus' name, 
Amen.

More From The Girlfriends 
An attitude of praise flourishes when we set our mind on God's joy in us. Joy is a deliberate choice of our mind and will - not an emotion or feeling.  Joy is a deeply rooted confidence that God is in control.  With that truth tucked into our heart, we can approach every circumstance with praise. 

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