January 22, 2018

I Never Lost My Praise

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I lost some good friends along life’s way
Some loved ones departed in heaven to stay but
Thank God I didn’t lose everything
I’ve lost faith in people who said they care
The time of my crisis they were never there
But in my disappointment, in my season of pain
One thing never wavered, one thing never changed

I never lost my hope, I never lost my joy
I never lost my faith but, most of all, I never lost my praise

I’ve let some blessings slip away, and I lost my focus
And went astray, but thank God I didn’t lose everything
I’ve lost possessions that were so dear
And I’ve lost some battles by walking in fear
But in the midst of my struggle, in my season of pain
One thing never wavered, one thing never changed

I never lost my hope, I never lost my joy
I never lost my faith but, most of all, I never lost my praise
Praise, praise, praise, praise…most of all, I never lost my praise

My praise, still here, my praise still here
Hallelujah! My praise is still here

Charlotte Central Church of God Choir
Songwriter – Kurt Carr

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Oh, can you picture Job singing this song?  He lost loved ones and lost possessions.  He  lost faith in people who said they care and in his time of crisis they were never there.   But one thing never wavered…one thing never changed—he never lost his hope…he never lost his faith…he never lost his praise.

There aren’t too many records throughout the Scriptures which depict someone more deeply grieved and in mourning than the story of Job.  Here is how God described Job:

…a blameless and upright man, fears God and turns away from evil.
Job 1:8

Right off in chapter one, we read of the horrific loss that Job experienced. He was a man blessed by his God with “seven sons and three daughters; 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen, 500 female donkeys, and a very great body of servants.” The Scriptures tell us that “this man was the greatest of all the men of the East.” But, as we know, Satan purposed to take all that Job had in order to tempt him  to turn away from and curse his God (verse 11).  In one day, within a very short period of time, Job learned that all his flocks, practically every one of his servants, and each of his children has been taken from him.  However, Satan’s purpose was foiled because, “Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God” (verse 22).  Job kept his heart of worship and praise; his response to all this?

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head.
Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.”
Job 1:20-22

He never lost his praise.

As the woman who sings this song shared with us, in her time of sadness and loss, God taught her about the ‘sacrifice of praise.’   (Go back, if you would, and listen to her heart starting at :18 to 1:19.)

She never lost her praise.

Through Him, therefore, let us constantly and at all times offer up to God
a sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of lips
that thankfully acknowledge and confess and glorify His name.
Hebrews 13:15

Probably each of us has offered a ‘sacrifice of praise’ at least once or twice in our lives…yes?  However, I am confronted by the higher standard that Hebrews 13:15 states: “let us constantly and at all times offer up to God a sacrifice of praise….”  Other versions of this verse use the terms, ‘continually’ and ‘always.’  That doesn’t leave much room for wiggling out of obedience, now does it?

We are to constantly {always, continually, at all times} give to God our praise as a sacrifice—whether our circumstances are happy and joy-filled or not.  Even in those times where it looks like there is nothing left, we are to acknowledge all He has done, is doing, and will do to take care of us.

And when we struggle to maintain our joy and peace we can still praise God for Who He is…

  • He never changes (Malachi 3:6)
  • He never leaves us nor forsakes us (Deuteronomy 31:8)
  • He loves us with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3
  • He is faithful to all of His promises (Deuteronomy 7:9)

We should always praise Him for those things…and much, much, much more!  I believe that then we, too, will sing…

I never lost my praise.

When God Restores

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After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his prosperity and doubled his previous possessions.  All his brothers, sisters, and former acquaintances came to his house and dined with him in his house.  They sympathized with him and comforted him concerning all the adversity the Lord had brought on him.  Each one gave him a qesitah and a gold earring.  So the Lord blessed the last part of Job’s life more than the first.  He owned 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 female donkeys.  He also had seven sons and three daughters.  He named his first daughter Jemimah, his second Keziah, and his third Keren-happuch.  No women as beautiful as Job’s daughters could be found in all the land, and their father granted them an inheritance with their brothers.  Job lived 140 years after this and saw his children and their children to the fourth generation.  Then Job died, old and full of days.

Job 42:10-17 HCSB

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“You have the patience of Job!” she says to me.  {I don’t really.}  I think of all the things and people that Job lost and I wonder if he ever had a full-blown temper tantrum…I know I have.  And, like Job, God has never left me.  As I watched my baby girl leave today for college, I felt loss, sadness, and despair.  But I know that she is as close as a phone call and only a day trip away in the car.  As parents, it is hard to watch our children leave after so many years of living with us.  I have had people say to me, “At least you have two more at home.”  And, while this is true, the ones that have moved out can never be replaced.  But our lives and homes are restored to a new normal.

Job 42:10 says that after Job had prayed for his friends, that God made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before!  God is a God of restoration!  He doesn’t just replace what we have lost…He wants to restore us.  When we, His children, suffer loss He doesn’t just quickly replace it with something else…that is not His way.  He wants to heal our hearts and minister to us.  He goes straight to our heart and heals it.  Obviously, He did this for Job.  Job’s friends had really done some awful things to him and, if  God had not intervened, Job would have hung on every negative word and action and maybe even blamed them instead of the real enemy.

You know, God could have replaced all his friends with new ones but that wouldn’t have accomplished the healing that God wanted for his child.  And I am pretty sure that the resentment towards the old ones would have still been there, too.  Instead prayer began to heal Job’s heart and he began to pray earnestly for those that had really hurt him.  This is the moment it all changed…Job began to love his enemies.  This is restoration!  And God gave Job a blessing.

I can safely say that most of us have experienced loss.  Some more painful than others, but pain is still pain.  And God is still the God of restoration.  He wants to begin a new thing in our lives. He wants to replace bitterness and heal our hearts so that we, too, can pray for those who have wronged us or taken something from us.  Let’s begin today!  Just wait and see what your Father is going to do…

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Let us pray: Dear God, You are a loving Father and You care so much for each one of us.  You cry over each loss we endure.  Lord, I ask that You take away any bitterness and anger that we are holding onto and replace it with joy that only You can give.  Thank You for loving us so much that You want to not only give us more than we lost, but You want to heal and restore us to a new person though this.  Help us to forgive those who have wronged us and teach us to pray for them.  Thank You for Jesus, Who took all our sins with Him on the Cross and left them there to die.  We love You and we praise You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Giving Thanks In EVERYthing

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Rejoice always
Pray without ceasing
In everything give thanks
For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

As our sisters have already reminded us this week—IN everything give thanks (not FOR everything)!

Y’know…there is a certain man whose dedication and commitment to God IN every situation and circumstance is recorded in the Old Testament.  I’ll give you a hint or two, ok?

  1. His friends tried to DISsuade him from giving thanks IN everything….
  2. His wife clearly told him the situation was so bad that he should just ‘curse God and die’….

Oh, I am SURE you recognize this man; yes?  Of course, it was righteous Job.  If ever there were someone who perceivably had nothing left for which to give thanks, it was Job.

Job was abundantly blessed by God: he had houses, and flocks, and herds of animals, and servants, and a great big family. One dreadful day, his 10 children were killed in a house collapse, his sheep, camels, oxen, and donkeys were stolen away, and all his servants (save the three who escaped and brought him the terrible news) were captured.  He could have complained to God bitterly. But he said,

Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.
Job 1:21

In all that Job went through, his attitude never wavered.  He knew that God is sovereign, that all that he had (or didn’t have) was in God’s hand.  And, like righteous Job, we too, should have this unwavering attitude of giving thanks to Almighty God IN all situations and circumstances.  Paul also reminded the 1st century Christians ( and us!) to do the same.

At all times and for everything giving thanks
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.
Ephesians 5:20

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
Colossians 3:17

Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father,
Who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.
James 1:17

Truly, we should rejoice always  ♥  pray without ceasing  ♥  give thanks in everything!

Every day, throughout each day, let’s speak and sing out our gratitude and thankfulness to our heavenly Father!  May our prayer be as David’s…

To the end that my tongue and my heart
and everything glorious within me
may sing praise to You and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.
Psalm 30:12

 

Broken Hallelujah

psalmshymnsspiritualsongskjv

I can barely stand right now.
Everything is crashing down,
And I wonder where You are.

I try to find the words to pray.
I don’t always know what to say,
But You’re the one that can hear my heart.

Even though I don’t know what your plan is,
I know You’re making beauty from these ashes.

I’ve seen joy and I’ve seen pain
On my knees, I call Your name
Here’s my broken hallelujah
With nothing left to hold onto
I raise these empty hands to You
Here’s my broken hallelujah

You know the things that have brought me here.
You know the story of every tear.
‘Cause You’ve been here from the very start.

Even though I don’t know what your plan is,
I know You’re making beauty from these ashes.

When all is taken away, don’t let my heart be changed.
Let me always sing Hallelujah
When I feel afraid, don’t let my hope be erased
Let me always sing Hallelujah.
Let me always sing Hallelujah.

I will always sing
I will always sing
Here’s my broken hallelujah.

 Writer(s): Josh Havens/Matt Fuqua/Jordan Mohilowski/Dan Ostebo
Performed by The Afters

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The band, “The Afters,” wrote this song about Job and all the things he went through. Each band member put himself in Job’s place and challenged himself to this: if each one of us lost it all, and we had the trials that Job went through, (death, loss, illness etc.,) would we still praise God for Who He is and for what He has given us? Would we believe that He is good always, even when we don’t like what He gives? And the answer came in a song…this song.  (If you would like to hear more from The Afters about the story behind this song, click here.)

Can you relate? I know for me there are days that just putting one foot in front of the other is all I can do. Everything is so uncertain and the things I have prayed for seem light years away, yet I still praise Him and believe that He is good always and He loves me so much. I see all the little miracles throughout my days and although no one else may understand, I do and I am amazed that He is in the small details of my life. Sometimes the ‘Hallelujah!’ is broken, because I am. But as the song says, my heart is not changed. I am still so in love with my God.

There are times that I don’t know what to pray. Those are the times that I just hold out my empty arms and receive all He has to give  me. When we don’t know what we need, He does. And sometimes He allows pain into our lives and maybe we don’t know why but if we were to see the big picture, we would never change a thing. Because He is our Creator and He loves us more than anyone ever could, we trust Him in these times and rest in Him.

Where are you today? Are you wondering where He is right now? If you are going through a storm, He is right there with you. If you are on a mountain top, He walked with you all the way there. He never leaves you, regardless of how you feel. So praise Him with everything you have! Hold out those empty hands and let Him fill you with all He has for you. Because He is always worthy to be praised, even if your praise feels a little broken…

At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head.
Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:
“Naked I came from my mothers womb and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and The Lord has taken away;
may the name of The Lord be praised.”
In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.
Job 1:20-22 NIV

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Let us pray: Dearest Heavenly Father, You are worthy to be praised and worshipped. Thank You for the grace that we don’t deserve. You will take our ‘hallelujahs’ however they come. Even when we feel empty, and are in need, You know the answers before we ask. Lord, we ask that You give us the will and the courage to praise You, even when we aren’t where we want to be and we  have lost all we thought was important. When we have You, we have all we need. We love You. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Girls With Swords: Chapter 14 – “Cross Carry” (pgs 209-210)

As we come to the final section of our book, we find a new word:  COMMISSIONED.  I looked it up for us so we would know what we were talking about.

COMMISSIONED

  •     The act of granting certain powers or the authority to carry out a particular task or duty.
  •     A group of people officially authorized to perform certain duties or functions.
  •     In Active Service.
  •     Authority to undertake or perform certain duties.

There are a couple of very powerful words hidden in the definition of this word.  In the first point, someone has the authority to grant certain powers or authority to another person to enable them to carry out a task or duty.  In the second point, there are a group of people who have been assigned this authorization – they have been commissioned.  In the fourth point, being commissioned means someone has the authority to undertake or perform assigned duties.

BUT, in the third point, someone who is commissioned is IN ACTIVE SERVICE.  Someone is not authorized to be in passive service, or absent service, or ‘when you want to’ service.  If you are commissioned, you are in ACTIVE service.

Throughout our study of “Girls With Swords” we have learned that we are CHOSEN.  We have been EQUIPPED and ARMED.  In this final week we are learning what it means to be COMMISSIONED by our Commander to enter Active Service.  Look with me at the words of Jesus as He prepares the remaining eleven disciples for ACTIVE SERVICE in His Kingdom.

JESUS Gives The Great COMMISSION

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth.  Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you.  And be sure of this:  I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18-20

Did you notice the action words in this passage?  Go, Baptize and Teach.  As commissioned disciples of Jesus, we have a JOB.  Jesus did not give us a job without teaching us how to carry out that job.  Look back at Matthew 16:24, Then Jesus told his disciples, If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.”  Again…more action words: Come, Deny, Take and Follow.

Jesus says “anyone” and that includes you and me.  We have the ability to accept His invitation to follow Him, to obey Him, to deny ourselves, and take up our cross.  Lisa says we each have a different cross because we are different people.  We each walk our own journey and need His help carrying our cross.

For us to be able to wear the King’s crown one day, we must learn to carry the cross.  Lisa says something pretty profound:

“We wear the crown, and we carry the cross.  Jesus bore our cross so we could wear his crown.  He became like us.  Isn’t it time we became like him?” (page 210)

So, what is OUR cross?  It is our part of the Kingdom.  We each have a job to do.  We are called into ACTIVE SERVICE because Jesus has the Authority to Commission us.  Jesus invites us to join Him in His work.  He has given us a job.  Will you participate actively?  Are you passive?  Are you still sitting on the bench waiting and watching other people carrying THEIR cross?

When I have a really big job to do, it bothers me to no end to see my kids sitting on the couch watching TV or painting their nails.  We all have a part to play in the proper function of our household.  If I am the only one working, I begin to have a bad attitude.  I imagine Jesus has felt the same way about us, don’t you?

Jesus has offered us the opportunity to come alongside Him and serve.  He has commissioned us Into Active Service.  We have a job that only we can do.  If you are sitting on the sidelines, someone else is doing your part and getting your blessing.  Your cross is not a ‘memorial’ or a symbol.  It is your active service to the KING.

Take up your cross, do your job, and be honored to lay your crown down at the feet of Jesus.  Let’s begin this last week together worshipping the King.  You have been chosen, equipped, trained, and commissioned.  Let’s make our Commander proud.

Let’s Pray:

Father God, King of Kings and LORD of our lives, we submit our will to You today.  Thank You for choosing us.  Thank You for Your care in training us and for Your belief in our ability to serve in Your Kingdom.  Thank You for Your Sword.  As we learn to use our Swords, we will be able to take up our cross daily and SERVE You.  We love You, Jesus.  You took our cross so that we might wear Your crown.  We lay our crowns at Your feet today.  We want to be ACTIVE warriors for You.   AMEN