Proverbs 26-27 (NLT link) 

Discover His heart: He tests our hearts to keep us pure

I once heard a great preacher say after a grand and glorious introduction and thunderous applause that his greatest troubles would begin if he started to believe the  introductions he received.  Let’s hear it for humility!

Through the years, many books have been written about humility, many of them with an edge of humor, books like, Humility and How I Achieved It, (C.Neale) and How to Stay Humble When You’re Smarter Than Everybody Else. (B.Goode)  Interesting concepts, to say the least!  The definition of humility is “humbleness, modesty, unassuming nature, meekness – a way of behaving that shows that you do not think that you are better or more important than other people.”  I guess most of us could take a dose of that.

@Proverbs 27
“Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but a person is tested by being praised.” (21)  The original process of testing the purity of gold involved lead, silver and gold heated together in a 2000° F oven until the gold and silver melted and their impurities adhered to the lead.  After cooling, the silver and gold were separated and the final gold product was pure 24 karat gold.  Needless to say, we won’t be trying this at home.  While the testing process of a person’s humility seems very benign in comparison, how we respond in our hearts under the heat of praise and adulation reveals how pure we really are.

Some may feel they are still waiting for the opportunity to be tested by great praise, but most of us have felt the heat. We’ve felt that glow of warm fuzzies reaching all the way to our toes resulting from words of honor, admiration or praise from others at one time or another.  If we survive without arrogance and pride rearing their ugly heads, we are the real deal, pure as gold.

True humility is not exhibited by a self-effacing attitude or by feelings of worthlessness.  True humility is accepting our positions in life as God-given and doing our best with them through His divine help.  With this attitude, should praise from others come our way, we know Who deserves all the glory and how preposterous it would be to assume it for ourselves.  Another great reality check for us from the Proverbs! 

Moving Forward: Once again, it’s all about you, Lord, it’s all about you!  And that fact removes any pressure of determining who gets the glory. 

Tomorrow @ Obadiah

Psalms 93-95 (NLT link)

Discover His heart: He welcomes our worship as He watches over His flock

@ Psalm 95
“Come, let us sing to the Lord!  Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.  Let us come to him with thanksgiving.  Let us sing psalms of praise to him.  For the Lord is a great God, a great King above all gods.” (1-3)  When we think about God’s greatness, there’s so much praise to give Him that sometimes we just have to get rowdy with it, joyfully shouting to Him because of our salvation, because He alone changed everything for us.  When we really consider this fact, it’s hard to contain or hold our joy, so why do we so often do just that – contain our joy?  Maybe we’re just not taking the time to consider His greatness.

Just the other day I felt like I was carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders, and apparently I looked liked it.  A friend of mine looked at me and said something to the effect, “Phyllis, you’ve got to get your praise on.”  While the challenges I was facing that day were nothing to bring on a shout, I turned my focus from those challenges to the faithfulness of the Lord, and everything changed.

I started to thank Him for my salvation and His goodness to me.  I sang praises to Him for who He was, “a great God, a great King above all gods” with the resources of the universe at His disposal.  After all, “He holds in his hands the depths of the earth and the mightiest mountains. The sea belongs to him, for he made it.  His hands formed the dry land, too.” (4-5)  My challenges had not yet changed, but the burden of them lifted, and I felt 50 pounds lighter, something, of course, I always like to feel.

Later that day, I knelt to thank Him for my friend and for the joy that came out of the gloom.  My heart became quiet.  I found no words to say and could only pause in His Holy presence as a peace and a rest flooded my being that nothing else, no substitute, could ever bring.  “Come, let us worship and bow down.  Let us kneel before the Lord our maker, for he is our God.  We are the people he watches over, the flock under his care.” (6-7)  Tucked there under the folds of my Shepherd’s garment, I was humbled by the knowledge that He was taking care of all my needs, “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want..” (Psalm 23:1)

Whether in rowdy praise or in humble adoration, Psalm 95 calls us to worship, “Come, let us sing to the Lord!  Let us shout joyfully…Come, let us worship and bow down.”  Something to consider today. 

Moving Forward: Gettin’ my praise on today, moving forward with a song in my heart and a praise on my lips, remembering “The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want.” 

Tomorrow @ Proverbs 16

Psalms 149-150 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: He dwells in the atmosphere of praise (Psalm 22:3)

I’ve never taken a journalism class but somewhere along the line I picked up the journalism mantra:  Who, what, when, where, why and how.  If I can answer these questions, then the story has been told!  The sticking points are usually why and how, and they must be answered before the story is complete or before the case can be solved.  This style of journalism was recorded as far as back as the first century B.C., but obviously the writers of Psalms had a lock on it long before then.

Psalms, the glorious book of praise, ends with an inspirational summary in Psalms 149 and 150 that answers these journalistic inquiries.  One day each week over the past year we have read example after example of David and other psalmists praising God in a myriad of life’s situations, the good, the bad and the ugly.  These closing Psalms sum up the story of praise and its purpose in our lives and answer those vital questions about Praise:  who, what, when, where, why and how. 

WHO:  “Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord!  Praise the Lord!” (150:6) 

WHAT: Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song.” (149:1)

WHEN: “Sing his praises in the assembly of the faithful… Let them sing for joy as they lie on their beds… Let the praises of God be in their mouths, and a sharp sword in their hands.” (149:1,5,6)  Praise the Lord in church, in the home and in battle – everywhere.  “I will praise the Lord at all times.  I will constantly speak his praises.” (34:1) 

WHERE: “Praise God in His sanctuary; praise him in His mighty heaven!” (150:1) Visit Him in His sanctuary, at His feet and praise His holy name. “Publish his glorious deeds among the nations.  Tell everyone about the amazing things he does.” (96:3) Publish, make known everywhere, your praise to the Lord.

WHY: “Praise him for His mighty works; praise His unequaled greatness! (150:2)  Praise Him for who He is and what He does.  “How good to sing praises to our God!  How delightful and how fitting!” (147:1)  It’s good, delightful and fitting to praise the Lord. “Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.” (22:3) Our praises provide a dwelling place for Him to reign amongst us.

HOW: “Praise him with a blast of the ram’s horn; praise him with the lyre and harp! Praise him with the tambourine and dancing; praise him with strings and flutes!  Praise him with a clash of cymbals; praise him with loud clanging cymbals.  Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord!” (150:3-6)  Praise Him with our instruments, our dancing and our singing.

Well, there we have it!  The story has been told.  All of us are to praise the Lord, all the time, everywhere with our voices, our dance and our instruments because of Who He is and the great things He has done.  Now to express one last bit of journalistic jargon: I’m going to put this story to bed! 

Moving Forward: Singing praises…“In the morning, I can’t stop praising your name. In the evening, I can’t stop praising your name…” (Hillsong, Faletolu/Sampson) 

Tomorrow @ Song of Solomon 7-8

Psalms 143-145 (NLT) 

Discover His heart: His grace and goodness are immeasurable, His love unfailing

“Would anyone like to share a testimony tonight of what God has done in your life this past week?”  Those of us who remember hearing this invitation from our pastor during a Wednesday or Sunday night service are probably over 50 years old.  At that invitation, church members would stand and give a testimony.  As a little girl, I enjoyed hearing testimonies of miracles, healing and provision straight from the mouths of people I knew.

Yes, sometimes Sister So and So would go on and on for quite a while and share much more than was needed, and as churches grew in size, it was difficult to hear what was being said. But the testimony service seemed to build a foundation of faith in me – God is faithful, He will not fail me and He loves to bless His children.  Today I love when my pastor calls someone up front to share about the goodness of the Lord, and I love the testimony of David in our reading today. 

@ Psalm 145
“Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness… Your awe-inspiring deeds will be on every tongue; I will proclaim your greatness. Everyone will share the story of your wonderful goodness; they will sing with joy about your righteousness.” (3,6-7)  Well, it’s testimony time!  Regardless of the difficult challenges we may be facing at the moment, there is always something that will stir us to give praise and glory to our God.  Just in case we need a reminder, David supplied us today in verses 8-20 with some thoughts that should encourage our testimony of praise:

  • The Lord is merciful and compassionate,
  • Slow to get angry
  • And filled with unfailing love.
  • The Lord is good to everyone.
  • He showers compassion on all his creation.
  • All of your works will thank you, Lord,
  • And your faithful followers will praise you.
  • They will speak of the glory of your kingdom;
  • They will give examples of your power.
  • They will tell about your mighty deeds
  • And about the majesty and glory of your reign.
  • For your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom.
  • You rule throughout all generations.
  • The Lord always keeps his promises;
  • He is gracious in all he does.
  • The Lord helps the fallen
  • And lifts those bent beneath their loads.
  • The eyes of all look to you in hope;
  • You give them their food as they need it.
  • When you open your hand, you satisfy the hunger and thirst of every living thing.
  • The Lord is righteous in everything he does;
  • He is filled with kindness.
  • The Lord is close to all who call on him, yes, to all who call on him in truth.
  • He grants the desires of those who fear him;
  • Hears their cries for help and rescues them.
  • The Lord protects all those who love him, but he destroys the wicked.

Our testimony service has gone on and on, but my faith is renewed!  I am reminded that God is faithful, He will not fail me and He loves to bless His children. Our testimonies are powerful tools, building faith in us and touching the hearts of others as well, giving power to overcome the enemy.  Revelation 12:11 gives insight to the cause of our future victory, “And they overcame [the enemy] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.” (KJV)  I’m wondering, does anyone have a testimony today of what God has done in your life?  I’m certain you do. 

Moving Forward:  “My mouth shall speak the praise of the LORD: and let all flesh bless his holy name forever and ever.” (KJV 21) 

Tomorrow @ Song of Solomon 3-4