A “Hallelujah!” Lifestyle

David shows us a picture of a man who made prayer the cornerstone of all he did. He’s quick to cry, “Help!” when he’s in trouble, and he doesn’t hold back when he’s crying out to God.

But he also shows us that prayer isn’t just for times of trouble. Prayer should be an ongoing conversation with God so that we can get to know His heart. God knows what’s going to happen (Isaiah 46:10), and He wants us to ask Him to make things clear to us (Jeremiah 33:3).

In Psalm 145, David challenges us to lift up our praise to God, as well as our prayers. This psalm of praise teaches us that we don’t have to only praise God for what He’s done—although that’s a great thing to do—but we can also praise God simply for Who He is!

In this psalm, David says God is…

…worthy of praise (v. 3a) 
…great beyond comprehension (v. 3b) 
…majestic (v. 5)
…awesome (v. 6)
…abundantly good (v. 7)
…gracious, compassionate, slow to anger, rich in love (v. 8)
…good to all (v. 9)
…mighty (v. 11)
…everlasting (v. 13)
…strong (v. 14)
…righteous and loving (v. 17) 
…near to us (v. 18)
…fulfilling (v. 19)
…watchful (v. 20)

Let’s not be known just for our petitions, but for our praise.

Let’s not be known just for our “Help!” but for our “Hallelujah!

Please join me in our continuing look at the Prayers Of David.

Becoming Spiritually Fit

To me this sounds weird: Jesus grew spiritually strong. Think about that: Isn’t He already God?!

When Jesus came to Earth as a man, the writer of Hebrews says He was made like us humans in every way. So just as you and I have a spiritual health to maintain, so did Jesus while He was on earth.

Dr. Luke noticed this as well when he noted that Jesus grew mentally, physically, spiritually and emotionally. Luke notes His spiritual growth by saying Jesus “grew…in favor with God.” In other words, God was more and more pleased by what He saw developing in His Son.

Yesterday I listened to Pastor Josh Schram explain the parallels between our physical health and our spiritual health. He said that we all know what we need to do to grow physically strong—eat the right food, exercise, get proper rest, and have some way of monitoring our health.

It’s exactly the same way spiritually! We need…

…a good dietMan does not live on bread alone but on every Word that comes from the mouth of the Lord (Deuteronomy 8:3). Jesus repeated this truth when He was confronted by the devil, and lived it out every day.

…proper exercise—All the health food in the world won’t do us a bit of good if we just sit around. It’s the same with the Bible: we can read it, memorize it, and talk about it, but if we don’t exercise it we won’t get spiritually fit. Be doers of the Word, and not hearers only (James 1:22).

…the right amount of rest—We can’t be in perpetual “go” mode if we want to be healthy physically or spiritually. Jesus knew the value of rest, and frequently He would “withdraw to deserted places and pray” (Luke 5:16).

…to monitor our progress—James talks about the Word of God being a mirror for us, and Paul advises us to “examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

But here was the most important takeaway for me in Josh’s message…

Health is not just one big one-time choice. Health is small daily choices.

A good question for all of us to ask ourselves: Am I making good daily choices which will help me grow spiritually fit like Jesus.

I so enjoy sharing the teaching duties with a couple of really solid pastors-in-training in our church. They have helped me develop this series called Wholly Healthy, and have taken part in sharing messages in various aspects of this series. Please watch how Josh lays out the plan for our spiritual fitness.

#MOWT

justice-mercy-graceLast week I blogged about justice, mercy, and grace. Justice is getting the penalty we deserve, mercy is not getting the penalty we deserve, and grace is getting blessings we don’t deserve.

If we are truly grace-full people, then we should be thank-full people as well. As we approach Thanksgiving Day, people are naturally thinking about things for which they can give thanks during this past year. But Christians should be the most full-of-thanks people on the planet, because we have been showered with so much grace! 

I’d like us to think about a word that I believe will increase our level of thankfulness: Appreciation. Appreciation goes beyond merely being thankful for blessings, as it sees the high value in those blessings, and then continually looks for ways to express even more gratitude for them. In other words, appreciation can begin a cycle of gratitude that grows and grows and GROWS!

Check out three parts to the definition of appreciation

[1] Gratitude; thankful recognition. Did you know that being grateful is actually good for you? Research has shown that increasing your gratitude levels increases your:

  • Physical health. “A state of gratitude, according to research by the Institute of HeartMath, also improves the heart’s rhythmic functioning, which helps us to reduce stress, think more clearly under pressure and heal physically. It’s actually physiologically impossible to be stressed and thankful at the same time” —Jon Gordon
  • Emotional health. Dr. Robert Emmons says gratitude decreases envy, resentment, and feelings of retaliation; and increases empathy, emotional resilience, and self-esteem.
  • Spiritual health. Notice how ingratitude is included in the list of a whole lot of ugliness (2 Timothy 3:1-4), but spiritual health is restored simply by being thankful (Ephesians 5:3-4).

[2] Estimating qualities and giving them their proper value. In order to determine value, we must have a standard of comparison. What’s your standard? Is it what your neighbor has? Is it what you don’t have? Or is it thankfulness for what God has given you? 

Max Lucado said, “To reflect on your blessings is to rehearse God’s accomplishments. To rehearse His accomplishments is to discover His heart. Gratitude always leaves us looking at God and away from dread.”

[3] Assessing the true worth of our blessings. Assessing leads to appreciation, and appreciation begins to give us a return on investment. I like how Jeff Anderson says it: “If you want to grow your faith, grow your gratitude. To grow your gratitude, take time to count your blessings.”

Remember: gratitude isn’t gratitude if it isn’t expressed. David made his gratitude known, and other afflicted people around him began to join with him in thanking God for His blessings (see Psalm 34:1-3). In other words, David’s thanksgiving went viral!

mowtHere’s how we can make our gratitude go viral: #MOWT. Let’s count our blessings every day, and let’s appreciate what God has done for us. Then let’s share our gratitude not only with God, but with others as well. Post it on Facebook or Twitter or Instagram with #MOWT: my one word thanks. Maybe include a photo and “family” #MOWT, or “protection” #MOWT, or even “paycheck” #MOWT.

Let’s give God so much glory for His grace gifts, that we tell the world about our appreciation!

10 Quotes From “The Psychology Of Redemption”

The Psychology Of RedemptionOswald Chambers always gives me a paradigm-expanding look at the Bible and Christianity. In The Psychology Of Redemption (see my book review here), he does so in a unique way, by joining psychology and theology. Here are just a few of the many, many passages I highlighted in this fascinating book.

“Christian Psychology is the study of a supernatural life made natural in our human life by the Redemption.” 

“Sin dwells in human nature, but the Bible makes it very clear that it is an abnormal thing, it has no right there, it does not belong to human nature as God designed it. Sin has come into human nature and perverted and twisted it. The Redemption of God through our Lord Jesus Christ delivers human nature from sin, and then begins the possibility of the manifestation of the life of Jesus in our mortal flesh. We are saved by God’s grace, but, thank God, we have something to do. We must take care to meet God’s supernatural work of grace by our human obedience.”

“The vital relationship which the Christian has to the Bible is not that he worships the letter, but that the Holy Spirit makes the words of the Bible spirit and life to him.” 

“The practicing is ours, not God’s. God regenerates us and puts us in contact with all His divine resources, but He cannot make us walk according to His will. If we will obey the Spirit of God and practice through our physical life all that God has put in our hearts by His Spirit, then when the crisis comes we shall find that we have not only God’s grace to stand by us but our own nature also, and the crisis is passed without any disaster, but exactly the opposite happens, the soul is build up into a stronger attitude towards God.”

“Jesus Christ sets the standard of God’s life in us. We have not to ask what good men have experienced, but to go direct to the Lord Jesus Christ and study His exhibition of the character of God’s normal man.”

“When Christ is formed in us, we are a satisfaction to our Lord and Master wherever He places us. The point of importance is to know that we are just exactly where He has engineered our circumstances. There is no ‘foreign field’ to our Lord.”

“Another evidence of new birth is that we see the rule of God. We no longer see the haphazard of chance for fate, but by the experience of new birth we are in able to see the rule of God everywhere. … We all see the common occurrences of our daily life, but who amongst us can perceive the arm of the Lord behind them? The saint recognizes in all the ordinary circumstances of his life the hand of God and the rule of God, and Jesus says we cannot do that unless we are born from above. … Nothing happens by chance to a saint, no matter how haphazard it seems. It is the order of God.”

“The Sermon on the Mount is a statement of the life we will live when the Holy Spirit is getting His way with us.”

“We have to nourish the life of the Son of God in us, and we do it by obedience, that is, by bringing our natural life into accordance with His life and transforming it into a spiritual life.”

“The curse of much modern religion is that it makes us so desperately interested in ourselves, so overweeningly concerned about our own whiteness. Jesus Christ was absolutely interested in God, and the saint is to be a simple, unaffected, natural human being in dwelt by the Spirit of God. If the saint is paying attention to the Source, Jesus Christ, out of him and unconsciously to him are flowing the rivers of living water wherever he goes (John 7:37-39). Men are either getting better or worse because of us.”

To read more Oswald Chambers quotes, you may want to subscribe to my blog. Every Thursday I publish a lengthy passage from the current Chambers book I am reading. You can subscribe by simply filling in your email address in the blank on the right side of the screen.

I also share Oswald Chambers quotes frequently on both Twitter and Tumblr.

Links & Quotes

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“Although circumstances may bring us into the place of death, that need not spell disaster—for if we trust in the Lord and wait patiently, that simply provides the occasion for the display of His almighty power.” —L.B. Cowman

“Notice the singular ‘commandment’—‘This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us’ [1 John 3:23]. These two things are so closely connected for John he calls them one commandment: believe Jesus and love others. That is your purpose. That is the sum of the Christian life. Trusting Jesus, loving people.” —John Piper

“We make progress in overcoming our sin when we have hope that our failures will be forgiven. If you don’t have hope that God will forgive your failures, when you start fighting sin, you give up.” —John Piper

“Impatient believers are offended when they see God working miracles all around them but not in their lives. They’re offended at what they believe is God’s slowness to answer them, and over time they feel neglected and imprisoned. Hebrews tells us such impatience is a form of spiritual laziness: ‘Be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises’ (Hebrews 6:12). We are instructed to follow Abraham’s example: ‘After he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise’ (6:15).” —David Wilkerson

Tim Dilena has some amazing insights for every married couple in this video.

Links & Quotes

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“Ah, what a thing is prayer! The simplest form of speech—such as even a child could utter—yet the highest and divinest of all utterances; such as the Holy Spirit alone can enable us to give fourth.” —Horatius Bonar

“When God feels distant, remember the Christmas story. When you feel alone, unloved, or unlovable, remember that God loves you. And He travelled a great distance to be close to you. Why? Because He loves to be with the ones He loves!” —Max Lucado

“Do you ever take a moment to pray but feel like you stumble out of the gate? Do you have trouble finding the words when it comes time to bow your head? Remember, the One who hears your prayers is your Daddy. You don’t need to wow him with eloquence. Jesus downplayed the importance of words in prayers. We tend to do the opposite. The more words the better. The better words the better. … Just as a happy child cannot mis-hug, the sincere heart cannot mis-pray.” —Max Lucado

J.Warner Wallace answers a good question: Why doesn’t the birth record of Jesus appear in every Gospel?

Dan Reiland has some good words for those in leadership positions in ministry.

Far too many school administrators and teachers think they are limited by the so-called “separation of church and state.” Here’s a post from Eric Buehrer you should share with any of your friends who work in the public school system.

John Stonestreet says, “Remember when people laughed about ‘death panels’?” Check out Who decides to end a life?

Frank Turek asks, “How do we fix a world filled with murder, rape, betrayal, adultery, fraud, theft, sexual exploitation, pornography, bullying, abortion, terrorism, cheating, lying, child abuse, racism, assault, drugs, robbery, and countless other evils?” He says we may not like the answer.

15 More Tweetable Billy Graham Quotes

BillyGrahamI recently shared 15 quotes from The Quotable Billy Graham that fit nicely into Twitter. I saw lots of those quotes appearing in other places, so here are 15 more tweetable quotes from Dr. Graham…

“Without God, the best man in the world is capable of the most terrifying crimes.”

“We have become so accustomed to immorality that it no longer seems to us to be immoral.”

“One of the best ways to get a boy to say ‘I do’ at the marriage altar is for the girl to say ‘No’ before marriage.”

“One of the worst sins we can commit is that of ingratitude.”

“I beg you not to squander life. I beseech you to take the long view. Do not live for the world only.”

“All mankind is searching for ideal conditions in a world that is anything but ideal.”

“A religion which is full of pretense is nothing but religious addiction.”

“Crisis times are the times when Christ should be proclaimed.”

Only if Christ is a partner in the home and in the hearts of the two people will romance continue.”

“Self-respect is a wonderful thing so long as it is not produced by self-deception.”

“It has always been the mark of decaying civilizations to become obsessed with sex.”

“The three chief consequences of sin are: estrangement from God; bondage to self; disharmony with others.”

“The verb of the world is ‘get.’ The verb of the Christian is ‘give.’” 

“Any philosophy which deals only with the here and now is not adequate for man.”

“Everyone meets temptations, but some folks entertain them.”

You can read my review of this book here. And check out some longer quotes from Billy Graham here and here.

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