Girlfriends in God - Sept. 7, 2010
September 7, 2010
Praise God Anyway!
Philippians 4:7 (NIV) "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
Friend to Friend
I once saw 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." Can you relate? 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 an understanding of who God really is and wants to be in our life and our willingness to put our faith in Him.
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 at our invitation. 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 I 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 rest in 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 I found myself a powerless, prisoner of the darkness as I battled severe clinical depression. It took me two long years to climb out of that pit and not a day goes by that I am not reminded of that wonderful, horrible time. God used that first experience with the darkness in so many ways. He taught me new truths as He stripped away wrong attitudes and destructive thought patterns. I began to see myself as He sees me - loved, planned and wanted.
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. Praise is 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 just ahead. That is 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 never changes.
No matter what lies ahead, God is faithful.
No matter how hot the fiery trial may be, God will deliver us in it or from it and surely be with us as we go through it.
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 that the battle belongs to God and because of that single truth, victory is certain.
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 matter what happens, I can praise You!
In Jesus' name,
Now It's Your Turn
Read and answer the following questions:
- When you hear the word "praise," what comes to your mind?
- Do you really believe your life can bring God pleasure?
- Read Psalm 139. According to this psalm, how does God see you?
- What are the sources of discouragement in your life?
- What steps do you need to take to eliminate those sources?
Begin your "Joy Journal" by recording the daily blessings He gives you each day this week. 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.
More from the Girlfriends
Isn't it easy to get into the mental habit of looking for what is wrong in life instead of what is right? Maybe it is time to change the filter through which we view our circumstances and relationships. What would happen if you and I began to make praise the norm instead of the exception in our attitudes, words and actions?
Need help? I can't believe I am even writing these words, but the holidays are just around the corner! I can already feel the stress that is just around that same corner. If you want to find God's answer for stress, check out my book, Escaping the Stress Trap, for steps you can take to help you live in peace.
Join women from across the world in Mary's Online Bible Study, Light for the Journey. Sandpaper People is the current series and will help you discover ten ways to deal with the "sandpaper people" in your life - you know - the ones that rub you the wrong way. When you enroll, you also have access to all of the 2010 studies. Check it out!
Need a friend? Connect with me on Facebook or through email. I love hearing what God is doing in your life! Tell me how praising God has made a difference in your life. Let's talk about it, girlfriend!
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