Poetry Saturday—Ready To Blaze

If we with earnest effort could succeed
   To make our life one long connected Prayer,
As lives of some perhaps have been and are:—
If—never leaving Thee—we had no need
Our wandering spirits back again to lead
   Into Thy presence, but continued there,
   Like angels standing on the highest stair
Of the sapphire throne―this were to pray indeed!
   But if distractions manifold prevail,
   And if in this we must confess we fail,
Grant us to keep at least a prompt desire,
   Continual readiness for Prayer and Praise—
An altar heaped and waiting to take fire
   With the least spark, and leap into a blaze! ―Richard Trench

“Like” A Lion

“The Bible says the devil prowls around like a roaring lion. The keyword is like. He is a poser, and his bark is worse than his bite. Refuse to believe his lies or to cower to his intimidation. When he reminds you of your past, remind him of his future! Fight back with the words of faith. Fight back with songs of praise. …

“A lion’s roar is meant to communicate dominance—to assert its authority in a territory. And the only thing that will silence a lion’s roar is the roar of a more powerful lion. … satan may roar at you, but he cannot touch you. He is the one in a cage. You are the one that’s free.” —Mark Batterson, in Chase The Lion

Poetry Saturday—The Praise Of God

FullSizeRenderSpeak, lips of mine! 
And tell abroad 
The praises of my God. 
Speak, stammering tongue! 
In gladdest tone, 
Make His high praises known. 
Speak, sea and earth! 
Heaven’s utmost star, 
Speak from your realms afar! 
Take up the note, 
And send it round 
Creation’s farthest bound. 
Speak, heaven of heavens! 
Wherein our God 
Has made His bright abode. 
Speak, angels, speak! 
In songs proclaim 
His everlasting name. 
Speak, son of dust! 
Thy flesh He took 
And heaven for thee forsook. 
Speak, child of death! 
Thy death He died, 
Bless thou the Crucified. —Horatius Bonar

The Delight Of Praise

C.S. Lewis at his desk“Just as men spontaneously praise whatever they value, so they spontaneously urge us to join them in praising it. ‘Isn’t she lovely? Wasn’t it glorious? Don’t you think that magnificent?’ The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about.

“My whole, more general, difficulty about the praise of God depended on my absurdly denying to us, as regards the supremely Valuable, what we delight to do, what indeed we can’t help doing, about everything else we value. I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. It is not out of compliment that lovers keep on telling one another how beautiful they are; the delight is incomplete till it is expressed. … This is so even when our expressions are inadequate, as of course they usually are. But how if one could really and fully praise even such things to perfection—utterly ‘get out’ in poetry or music or pain the upsurge of appreciation which almost bursts you? Then indeed the object would be fully appreciated and our delight would have attained perfect development. The worthier the object, the more intense this delight would be.” —C.S. Lewis, in Reflections On The Psalms

Poetry Saturday—See God In Everything

lake-michigan“Give me a new idea,” I said,
While musing on a sleepless bed;
“A new idea that’ll bring to earth
A balm for souls of priceless worth;
That’ll give men thoughts of things above,
And teach them how to serve and love,
That’ll banish every selfish thought,
And rid men of the sins they’ve fought.” 

The new thought came, just how, I’ll tell:
‘Twas when on bended knee I fell,
And sought from Him who knows full well
The way our sorrow to expel.
See God in all things, great and small,
And give Him praise whate’er befall,
In life or death, in pain or woe,
See God, and overcome thy foe.
I saw Him in the morning light,
He made the day shine clear and bright;
I saw Him in the noontide hour,
And gained from Him refreshing shower.
At eventide, when worn and sad,
He gave me help, and made me glad.
At midnight, when on tossing bed
My weary soul to sleep He led.

I saw Him when great losses came,
And found He loved me just the same.
When heavy loads I had to bear,
I found He lightened every care.
By sickness, sorrow, sore distress,
He calmed my mind and gave me rest.
He’s filled my heart with gladsome praise
Since I gave Him the upward gaze.
‘Twas new to me, yet old to some,
This thought that to me has become
A revelation of the way
We all should live throughout the day;
For as each day unfolds its light,
We’ll walk by faith and not by sight.
Life will, indeed, a blessing bring,
If we SEE GOD IN EVERYTHING.” —A.E. Finn

5 Blessings You Should Expect From Your Church Experience

Place of peaceKing David loved God, and he loved God’s people. He was passionate about everyone getting as deeply connected with God as he was, so he wrote worship songs, setup worship teams, and organized the temple for worshippers.

The first song of ascent he wrote was one anticipating how good it was going to be when everyone got to the temple in Jerusalem to worship.

In fact, David was so excited about what he was expecting to happen in their worship together that he practically glowed with joy! Really! The word for rejoiced in his song means to be so cheerful and happy that you make others around you bright by your happiness. 😀

What was it that David thought was going to happen? First of all, we need to look at the name Jerusalem. Traditionally this means the City of Peace, but the two words that make up “Jerusalem” are much richer than that. Yes, -salem means “peace.” But the first part of the word (yara-) literally means water flowing through, or an arrow being shot out.

In other words, David anticipated that we are going to a peaceful place to be sent out full of peace, to take that peace to others who don’t have it, but desperately need it.

While we are in our “Jerusalem” (for us in the New Testament, this is our “church,” even if it’s just two or three people getting together), here are five blessings you should expect—

  1. Unity—with all the “tribes” joining together.
  2. Praise—joining together to tell God how great He is!
  3. Learning—we come together to learn God’s statutes.
  4. Judgment—what?! How is judgment a blessing? If you are nervous about being judged, just remember Who does the judging in God’s temple: the Holy Spirit. He judges us in a loving way, and in a way that allows us an opportunity to see our sin, repent from it, and experience unconditional forgiveness. That is exciting!
  5. Peace, security, prosperity—the word shalom is used multiple times in the closing verses of this song. The best definition of shalom is: nothing missing, nothing broken. In other words, when we gather together to worship we should expect that God will heal any dis-ease we have, that He will supply what has fallen short, that He will fill up what’s empty.

With those five blessings in mind, here’s the declaration all Christians can make—

Inside these walls…
we live in unity
we praise the Lord
we learn God’s laws
we judge ourselves by God’s standards
repenting, confessing, forgiving, and being forgiven
we fight for peace
we bless God and one another
We descend back to the valleys
to take this message to valley-dwellers
that they, too, may pilgrimage
with us to Jerusalem
It starts here in God’s family!
It starts with me!

 

Check out the full video of this message, where I explain each of these ideas more fully. And if you’re in the area, join us on Sunday as we continue our look at the Psalms of Ascent.

Week Of Prayer—Thursday

WOP_2016_Slide_ThuOur week of prayer continues today with this prayer focus for Thursday—

Pray that with absolute trust in God you will say yes in obedience to His direction in your life.

We have been praying the Scriptures all week. For today’s prayer focus, perhaps you could pray something like this:

God, I trust You. Completely. Although at times I have questions, I still trust You. How long, Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemies triumph over me? Look on me and answer, O Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,” and my foes will rejoice when I fall. But I trust in Your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in Your salvation. So I will sing Your praise, for You have been good to me [Psalm 13]. 

But I will extol You at all times; Your praise will always be on my lips. I will glory in You; let anyone around me who is afflicted hear and rejoice. I call out to them, “Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt His name together.” Because when I cry out to You, You answer me; You deliver me from all my fears. When I keep my eyes on You, my face is radiant. When I call to You, You hear me, and You save me out of all my troubles. Your angels encamp around me, and You deliver me. I have tasted and now I know for myself that You are good. I am blessed when I take refuge in You. Listen to what I have learned: Fear the Lord, you His holy people, for those who fear Him lack nothing [Psalm 34:1-9]. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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