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Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 118:1

The United States of America will be celebrating Thanksgiving Day on November 22. Originally this day was set aside as a day in which our nation would pause to give thanks to the Creator God of the universe, the Great and Mighty Jehovah for the blessings brought to our nation.

Since that proclamation given by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, Thanksgiving day has become less of a religious holiday by many and more a time for feasting and shopping and football.

Over the next couple days ‘Built with Grace’ invites you to reflect on the true reasons for Thanksgiving based on Luke 17:11-19.

Give thanks to the Lord!


As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance  and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” Luke 17:12-13

In Jesus’ day, leprosy was a terrible disease. While it is treatable today, during Biblical times it was a slow moving and eventually fatal disease. Small skin lesions would begin to eat away at fingers, toes and facial features and in later stages destroy the nervous system and lead to death.

While the physical disease was horrific, it may have been the emotional and spiritual part of the disease that was more painful to endure. Since there was no cure for leprosy and it was considered highly contagious. When a person was diagnosed with leprosy they were sent away from society so that the people would be spared. The leper was required to let his hair grow long, wear torn clothes, cover he lower part of his face and call out “Unclean! Unclean!” when a person without leprosy approached.

Often lepers would live alone or in colonies just outside the city wall. Imagine being a spouse or a child and only get to see your father from a distance. Imagine the emotional heartache and the financial burden that would be placed on the family because ‘daddy can’t live at home anymore.’

But it gets worse! Not only did society reject and isolate the leper, the church did too! Leprosy was considered a symbol of sin. Therefore if a person got leprosy it was assumed that the person (and perhaps the family) had sin in their lives. As a result, the family of a leper was under just as much suspicion as the leper when it came to sin.

When the ten lepers in Luke 17 saw Jesus they approached him as far as was appropriate and begged for mercy. They knew their need for healing and they had no doubt heard about this itinerant preacher who healed people everywhere he went.

The lesson each of us can learn from the ten lepers is that we all have a tremendous need for Jesus. We all have sin in our lives that keep us from a relationship with God. We all have a fatal disease called ‘being human’ that will eventually lead to death. The death rate among humans is 100%.

The advantage we have over the lepers is that we can hide most of our sin if we choose. People who are addicted to drugs and alcohol, pornography, anger/abuse and other ‘diseases of the soul’ have done quite well at covering up the secret lives they live. However, God sees through the façade. He isn’t fooled by religious activity or many words of assurance. Like the leper, our private lives are wide open to God.

I’m thankful today that I don’t have to hide behind all sorts of masks and disguises. I’m thankful that Jesus sees my faults as clearly as he saw the leperous sores on the men he came across that day and accepts me as I am with all my faults.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus like the leper, I have a disease. I can hide it from others but I know I can’t hide if from you. Thank you that even though you know my weakness, you love me just the same. Thank you that because of your forgiveness I don’t have to call out “Unclean! Unclean!” Amen


Then I will shout all day, “Praise the LORD God! He did what was right.” Psalm 35:28 (CEV)

Three seconds left in the second overtime of the state championship game. The moment all of us athletes (armchair and otherwise) dream of. He’d probably pretended to make this shot a million times in his backyard. The only difference then was that this time three seconds was really three seconds and there would be no second chance.

The ball was thrown in; he dribbled to half court and let it fly. As it flew through mid-air the final buzzer sounded. By the time the ball slipped softly through the net, the game was officially over. The only difference and it was a major difference, was that when the ball left his hand his team was down by two points. Now, they were the champions.

The crowd roared. On the one side? A ‘roar’ of anguish and disbelief. On the other side? A roar of amazement and celebration.

There are so many analogies we can make to the athletic field and life. Even the Apostle Paul makes athletically based references to this journey, this race we call life. All run, few are rewarded the champions crown. All serious athletes train diligently. None enter the contest hoping to come in second. Yet only one is left standing.

Before the ball hit that gymnasium floor that day, the ‘hero’s teammates surrounded him. His name is still in the record books these 20 years later, but relatively few remember the joy of those fleeting moments. And only those of us who experienced it really understand the euphoria.

When David reflected back his life he saw the ruins of broken relationships, the scars of battles lost and the oasis’ of encouragement from his followers. But one thing reigned supreme. His God had not failed him. Ever.

David had failed. Miserably sometimes. Others had turned their backs on him and thrown him under the bus. But God had always remained faithful. It was God who walked him through the dark, lion infested fields as he tended sheep. It was God who directed the stone that day as he faced the giant. It was God who protected him from the angry outbursts of a jealous King Saul.

Our journey on earth if full of various types of battles. Some we win, some we lose. But when those battles are done there is cause for rejoicing. Even in the darkest part of the night when the storms rage we can praise Him because we know he will bring us through and we’ll be stronger because of it.

Make every day a day of praise. Celebrate the fact that good or bad, even if you don’t see the good right now, your Heavenly Father always does right.

PRAYER: Father, it’s easy to celebrate the victories of our lives, but remind us to praise you in the midst of the darkness as well because we know you always do right. Amen.


They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Psalm 19:3

Go outside on a clear night. Get away from the city lights and look heavenward. See it? Stand and gaze for a few moments. Perhaps even lay down on the cool, soft carpet of grass below you. Look intently and listen. Do you hear it?

It’s the sound of the heavens. Oh, you won’t hear actual words. Angels sang to announce Jesus’ birth, but there haven’t been many heavenly choirs. This sound is different because this sound is not distinguishable to the human ear.

Take a look at their song though. Those stars over there? They’re the Baptist stars. Staunch & stoic they stand silent in the night boldly proclaiming the truth of the creation and the creator. The Pentecostal stars are over there. They’re the ones shining brightly and seem to dance in their heavenly place against the black backdrop. The Lutheran stars are off to the left (not sure if they are having a pot luck or not).
The Spanish speaking stars are over there right next to the English speaking stars. The French speaking stars are next and so on down the line.
You may be thinking, “What sky is he looking at?” You may be wondering what color the grass is in my world as well.

You’d be right of course. You see, all of heavens speak one language. Stars, planets, asteroids, moons and all the other celestial bodies join in perfect harmony to praise their creator. We humans have a hard time understanding each other. We have a difficult time dealing with people from different economic, cultural or religious backgrounds. But when we look at outer space even the atheist stands in awe at its complexity and enormity.

The language of heaven is a language of praise and unity. It’s a language that is understood by all and heard by none. Not a single star needs to speak praise for the creator. It simply shines, and all its buddies join in.

What would our world be like if we as Christ-followers shone in unity and as brightly as the stars you see as we lay here in the grass looking up at them? Would anyone be able to doubt the power and majesty of our Creator? I think not.

The Psalmist writes, “The Heavens declare the glory of God. They do it without seminary training. They do it without allegiance to any organized group. The heavens declare God’s greatness in silence, yet it’s a message we all can hear and understand. Live in peace and unity. Proclaim God’s glory without saying a single word by living a life pleasing to God.

PRAYER: I stand in awe of your majesty my Lord. I confess that we as your creations have been pulled apart by all sorts of things that don’t really matter. Empower us by your Spirit to shine forth to the world. Amen.


With praises from children and from tiny infants, you have built a fortress. It makes your enemies silent, and all who turn against you are left speechless. Psalm 8:2 CEV

All of us want to do mighty things. When we are little we don’t play games that we lose at. We always make the winning shot, have the nicest house, the best spouse and perfect kids. The games we play when we are young make us champions.

While it’s human nature to want to be the best, and we should always strive for excellence, it’s important to remember that God’s Kingdom is never about the wealthy, the wise and the powerful. God’s most powerful work is done with the insignificant things.

The smallest seed falling into a rock becomes a tree that splits the rock in two! A delicate flower pushes its way through drought parched soil to bring a touch of beauty to the wilderness. A few fish and loaves fed over 5,000 men. A little mud gave a man his sight. The union of two microscopic cells brings life to the womb. The praises of a child make a fortress against evil.

God doesn’t need our wisdom to outwit the enemy. He doesn’t need our eloquence to thwart the plans of evil. It’s the praises of children, the simplicity of an infant’s words that unleash the mighty power of the Heavenly Father.

An infant doesn’t comprehend the mysteries of life. A child can’t understand all the ramifications of the political world, the economic climate and financial stability. A theologian was once asked what the most important of all the doctrines was for the church to hold onto. His answer became the basis of one of the most well-known of all songs: “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

Our Father has given us direct access to his throne. He wants us to come boldly, to come honestly before him with our fears, our burdens, our guilt. But the most powerful prayer we can come with, the prayer is the most effective is the prayer of praise.

What struggle are you facing today? Job loss? Health issues? Relationships with your family, your kids, your spouse? A job that’s unfulfilling? Guilt? Addiction? It may be the hardest thing in your life to do, but when faced with any of these ‘enemies of the soul’ your best weapon is still praise to the Father because God’s power is unleashed when his people praise.

PRAYER: Father God, it’s hard to praise you and worry at the same time. Worry is easier and makes more sense to my frail, human mind. I try to figure all this out when I really need to praise you more. Replace the enemies of my soul with praise for the keeper of my heart, you the almighty God. In Jesus name I pray, amen.

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