Show Forth His Excellency!-A Repost

1 Peter 2:9 – But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

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In 2019, I wrote a series of posts on this verse in 1 Peter 2:9, and I invite you to check them out. But as I was thinking about a post for today, I decided to check and see if I had a post on this verse about praise, and that’s why I’m reposting it.

This verse is packed with the wonderful benefits afforded to the believer. I’d like to remind you once again what Peter is saying to us about who we are:

• A chosen generation-As such, we benefit from His protection and have access to His kingdom. We also share the same status with the Father that Jesus has. We like to think that we chose God, and we did! But the wonderful thing is that He chose us first! And as applicable as this verse was when Peter wrote it, it is still relevant today. Despite the news and the things that we see and hear, this generation was chosen by God!

• A royal priesthood- a kingly priesthood. We’ve been elevated to not only sonship but royalty that identifies us as kings. And in our kingly status, we offer sacrifices to the King of kings. Our sacrifices are not of bulls and goats but praise and worship!

• A holy nation-We are holy because His holiness comes into contact with us (after we are redeemed), causing us to be holy. And because He is holy, He demands us to also live a life that exemplifies holiness. No excuses!

• God’s special possession- We are acquired by our Heavenly Father with the precious Blood of Jesus and made to be His treasured possession. Our value to Him was so great that only the Blood of His Son could redeem us. He left our redemption to none but Himself, fulfilling all His redemption requirements while extending us much grace! If you want to read more about who we are according to 1 Peter 2:9, check out my blogs from 2019 on the topic!

Why would He do all of this for us? Why would He take “a wretch, a dirty ole sinner, a good for nothing slouch” and place him or her in His wonderful kingdom, giving us the status of a king-priest, the position of sonship, and call us His holy, treasured possession? Well, first and foremost, because He loves us.

Many people say they found the Lord when He was never lost. We were the ones lost, and He sent Jesus to give His life’s blood at Calvary to redeem us because of that love. So that’s the first and most important reason. And although I have brought that point out before, it needed to be made again. Oh, how He loves you and me!!

But according to this verse in 1 Peter, chapter 2, He did all of this that we might show forth His praises! Even if I didn’t do a word study on this part, I think it’s pretty clear what is being stated in this verse. But let’s check it out anyway!

The Greek word “exangello” is used in this verse and literally means “to tell out, proclaim abroad, to publish completely.” The Greek word for praise is “arete” and doesn’t mean praise as we think of it, but it means virtue or excellence.

We weren’t given this citizenship in the kingdom to just say praise God or even praise the Lord! Although that’s fine! But all of this was done so that we might spread abroad or publish God’s excellency. One commentator wrote that “arete” is better translated as “wonderful deeds.” From that perspective, our very lives are to proclaim the wonderful deeds of a loving God, our Father!

Another thing about the Father is He reigns supreme over all, and His Excellency has a lot to do with place or position of power. We proclaim His greatness, His power, His wonderful deeds, His excellency. Isaiah said it like this,

“They shall see the glory of the Lord, the excellency of our God.”

Isaiah 35:2b NKJV

And in Isaiah 43, he wrote:

This people I have formed for Myself; they shall declare My praise.

Isaiah 43:21 NKJV

We see an example of this from the Apostle Paul when he stood before King Agrippa in Acts 26:

“While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’  So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 

Acts 26:12-15 NKJV

Paul testifies of the excellency of the One who stopped him amid his sin, delivered him from himself and the clutches of the enemy, and gave purpose to his life! Paul continued to share with King Agrippa how he was sent to the Gentiles:

…to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’

Acts 26:18 NKJV

Paul’s testimony of the excellency of God, of his ministry, to turn people from darkness to light so that they might serve God was so powerful that King Agrippa responded:

“You almost persuade me to become a Christian.”

Acts 26: 28 NKJV

As we recognize the magnitude of what He has done for us, bringing us out of darkness into the Light, we cannot help but give Him praise and show that praise by sharing His goodness with others!

Recently, a group of us was sitting in a classroom preparing for the school year to begin. I don’t know how the conversation started, but one of the teachers began to share how her son was a cancer survivor. Then another person shared how she had a dream about her child that impacted her life. Then I entered the conversation and began to share how God gave me dreams about my children in different situations in their lives. By the time the conversation ended, we were almost in tears over the goodness of a God who loves us so much that He would speak to us.

No one was persuaded to become a Christian because they all believe that they are Christians, but I believe that God spoke to their hearts as I gave Him the glory for every dream He had given me, as well as for the things that the others had experienced! Showing forth His praise, His arete, that others may see His greatness left me such a sense of satisfaction in knowing Him that I felt ten feet tall afterward!

Now that I have had an opportunity to rejoice in a shared experience over His goodness, I look forward to the day when I get to share what it means to truly be a Christian! God doesn’t want men to be almost persuaded, but to be fully persuaded that He is God and there is none like Him!

As we go through this upcoming week, even in church tomorrow, may we take every opportunity to offer the kind of praise that shows forth His excellency to others. Wonderful Jesus!

The Power of Praise!

Psalm 113:2-3-Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forevermore!
From the rising of the sun to its going down the Lord’s name is to be praised.

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It is believed that Psalms 113 to 118 are the psalms that Jesus and His disciples sang during their last Passover together. Through these psalms, you will find words of praise to the Mighty God, who delivered His people out of bondage and led them to the Promised Land. As a part of the traditional Passover Feast, they ring with praise or “hālal” to the Great Deliverer!

Hālal is the Hebrew word from which we get our word “hallelujah,” and it literally means “Let us praise Yah!” Yah, of course, is a shortened version of the Hebrew name for God, which is Yahweh! Although I have a blog already addressing the word hālal, I realized that I had forgotten to make this point!

In our text, the psalmist declares that the name of the Lord is to be praised all day long! From sunrise to sunset! During their lifetime and during our lifetime! Any day and every day is a good day to give praise to the Lord. Whether we hālal, yādāh, tehillā, tôdāh, shabach, or barak the Lord, it is always a good time to offer praise to our God!

In the Old Testament, one of my favorite situations, where praise was used to bring a great deliverance, is found in the book of 2 Chronicles. It’s a familiar passage where we read of the three nations which decided to war against Jehoshaphat and the children of Judah. After praying and acknowledging their inability to handle this battle on their own, God sent them a word through a Levite, a son of Asaph. God told Jehosophat that they wouldn’t have to fight that battle because it belonged to Him!

And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem bowed before the Lord, worshiping the Lord. Then the Levites of the children of the Kohathites and of the children of the Korahites stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with voices loud and high.

2 Chronicles 20:18 NKJV

The word for praise in this verse is hālal! The Levites that David had appointed to hālal the Lord, day and night and on special occasions, were still leading the people in praise to the God of Israel. The next day, when they arose to obey the word of God, Jehosophat appointed singers to praise the Lord. And this amazing thing happened next:

Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated. For the people of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir to utterly kill and destroy them. And when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

2 Chronicles 20:22-23 NKJV

Look at God! He hadn’t told them how He would win the battle, just that He would handle it! But when they began to hālal and tehillah before the Lord, He caused the very people who had come to destroy Judah, to turn and destroy each other! Hallelujah! There’s a lesson in here for us! I hope you caught it! Some battles we are going to have to praise our way through because they are too great for us! Then we are going to have to trust that God will step into that battle and defeat our enemies!

The New Testament also has a favorite incident of mine surrounding praise found in the book of Acts! Paul and Silas were on their way to prayer when a girl with a spirit of divination followed behind them, crying,

 “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.”

Acts 16:17 NKJV

She did this for several days, to the point of immensely annoying Paul. One day Paul turned around and rebuked that spirit out of her, and she was set free. Before you start shouting, remember that this was not good news to the men who made money off her bondage. (It’s a lesson for another day, but it’s pretty sad how many people profit from others being held in bondage and then they become angry when the people are set free!) They were so angry at what Paul had done that they dragged Paul and Silas to the magistrates and stirred up the people against them.

Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods.  And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely.

Acts 16:22-23 NKJV

Paul and Silas were beaten by a mob and thrown into prison. This was not a few whacks to keep them in line, but it was mob action that was meant to be very painful, resulting in many wounds! You would think they would be so weak in their bodies and weary in their spirits that they would seek rest to maintain their strength. Luke, however, tells us a different story:

But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were loosed.

Acts 16:25-26 NKJV

I don’t know why I just thought of a book I once read to my students, “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” by Judith Viorst! Alexander perceived he would have a terrible day because he went to sleep with gum in his mouth and woke up with gum in his hair! We have no knowledge that Paul and Silas perceived their day would end the way it did, but things went south fast. From my point of view, it was a terrible day for Paul and Silas!

But when midnight came, they weren’t moaning and groaning. They weren’t complaining and pointing out their woes. They started praying and singing hymns to God! And did you see God move? He sent an earthquake that shook the prison’s foundations so much that all of the doors were opened, and everybody’s chains were loosed! Now that’s pretty amazing! Their praise caused an earthquake that brought their deliverance! Only God!

In both the Old and New Testaments, we can see that praise is powerful! Whether the attacks we face are physical or spiritual, praise is a weapon we can use to defeat the enemy. Although our praise is focused on the great God we serve, anything can happen when He steps into our praise!

David had this to say about praise:

I will bless (barak) the Lord at all times; His praise (tehilla) shall  continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast (hālal)in the Lord; the humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.

Psalm 34:1-3 NKJV

Wonderful, wonderful Jesus!

The Shout of Victory!

Psalm 95:1-2-Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. NKJV

There comes a time in all of our lives when things come that seem bigger than we are! That’s not always a bad place to be because that is when we can count on the One who is bigger than our circumstances. It’s not that He isn’t always there, because He is! But when things look their most challenging and there seems no way to victory, it’s a good time to shout to the Lord!

Joshua and the Israelites had wandered in the desert for forty years. I know you have heard the account of what happened, but for today’s blog, I need to review it! As they got to Jericho and saw the fortified walls, the hope of victory seemed slim indeed. But Joshua sought the Lord for a strategy. God told Joshua to gather the warriors and march around Jericho’s walls once a day for six days. But on the seventh day, they were to be given different instructions:

But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him.”

Joshua 6:4b-5 NKJV

God told the people to rûa on the seventh day! Rûa means to raise a shout! This strategy to cause the walls to fall seems ridiculous to the intellectual mind, but archaeologists have found proof that the walls appeared to have fallen in a way that holds to the scriptural account of what happened. Not that I need their word, because I have God’s word that this is what happened! They raised a shout, a rûa, and the thickest wall ever built came down!

In Psalm 95, David wrote that we are to shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation! David said that as we enter into His presence with thanksgiving, we are to shout joyfully to the Lord. Both of these phrases, “shout joyfully,” are translated from the Hebrew word “rûa”! This is the same word God commanded Joshua and the Israelites to do at the walls of Jericho! Raise up a shout!

Rûa is a war cry! It was the cry of alarm for battle and the shout of victory! In other words, the same shout you give as a battle cry is the same shout you give to declare your victory!

For six days, the warriors of Israel walked around the walls of Jericho! Can you imagine what was going through the people’s minds inside the walls when they saw the Israelites? They probably had their battle array on, their weapons in their hands, and their minds made up to defend their city, but instead of an attack, the Israelites walked around the walls in silence and returned to their camps.

Jericho warrior 1: What in the world just happened here?

Jericho warrior 2: I have no idea! What kind of battle plan is that? They didn’t do anything! I thought they would attack!

Jericho warrior 1: Of course you did! We all did! I don’t know what they just did, but I believe they will return, and we have to stay ready because they are trying to catch us unprepared.

Jericho warrior 2: You are probably right! I’ll go back to my spot!

But the second day arrived with the same results. Until the sixth day!

Jericho warrior 1: This is ridiculous! What are they doing? What are they waiting for?

Jericho warrior 2: I don’t know! But it’s wreaking havoc on everybody’s nerves! We were already stretched thin with worry and fear; now, we add sleeplessness and terror to the mix. This is worst than fighting!

Jercho warrior 1: Yea! I have a bad feeling about this! A really bad feeling!

Then on the seventh day, the warriors of Israel returned again. After the first circuit around the walls, they walked again, and again, and again! Seven times in total. Except for the sound of the feet of the warriors, everyone else was still. Silently waiting for what was about to happen next. Then suddenly, the leader, a man called Joshua, said, “Rûa, for the Lord has given you the city!” And the people raised their voices, giving out the most deafening shout ever heard. A sound that traveled through the thick walls into every crevice of Jericho, causing fear to ricochet throughout the land!

Then another sound was heard. The sound of fear as the walls began to move and shake as if a mighty hand was pushing against them. The people of Jericho started screaming, adding their own shouts to the rûa of the people of God. They began to run and scramble around, looking for an escape plan. But suddenly, the warriors started entering the city, and the handwriting was on the walls. The city had been given to the people of God!

The Sons of Korah wrote a psalm that begins with these words:

Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples! Shout to God with the voice of triumph!
For the Lord Most High is awesome; He is a great King over all the earth.

Psalm 47:1-2 NKJV

Let’s make some noise for God!!! Clap your hands and shout to God with the voice of triumph! Rûa to the Lord Most High, for He is awesome and the great King over all the earth! In another psalm, it is written:

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth; break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises

Psalm 98:4 NKJV

Things are not looking too wholesome around the world today. Many things happening would make a strong man run and hide. But this is still the day the Lord has made, and we are to be glad and rejoice in it! This is not the time for hiding from the enemy. It’s time for shouting because we win! Irrespective of what we see, hear, or even experience at times, God always triumphs over the enemy!

God’s declaration to us is the same as it was to the children of Israel:

 Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! Serve the Lord with gladness;
Come before His presence with singing. Know that the Lord, He is God

Psalm 100:1-3 NKJV

Our shout isn’t because we are trying to frighten the devil! Our shout is to the great and awesome God, our heavenly Father! But I can easily imagine that when the people of God shout triumphantly before the Lord our God, Satan begins to shake in fear because he knows the power of the rûa! It’s a shout of war and the sound of victory! Even if you don’t see the victory and can’t feel it or know how it will come, rûa to the Lord your God, for He has given you the victory! Wonderful Jesus!

Sacrifice of Praise!

Jeremiah 33:11- The voice of joy and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voice of those who will say: “Praise the Lord of hosts,
for the Lord is good, for His mercy endures forever”—and of those who will bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord. For I will cause the captives of the land to return as at the first,’ says the Lord. NKJV

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Whenever I think of the phrase “sacrifice of praise” I think of a person who is struggling in the Lord, and out of that struggle, they give God praise! Even now, I have a tendency of thinking that way. But nothing could be further from the truth!

Tôdâ is the Hebrew word from which we get our English word, thanksgiving or sacrifice of praise. It is a time of dancing and singing before the Lord and not a time of mourning and struggling.

Jeremiah describes tôdâ in the key verse as a voice of joy and gladness! He depicts it as the bride and groom’s voice who say, “praise the Lord”! This sounds like a time of celebration! Not a time of struggling!

David used the word tôdâ in several of his psalms to the Lord. In Psalm 26, David stated:

That I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all Your wondrous works. Lord, I have loved the habitation of Your house,
And the place where Your glory dwells.

Psalm 26:7b-8 NKJV

The voice of thanksgiving is the voice of tôdâ, which is also the sacrifice of praise. I believe in this rendering of the Hebrew word tôdâ, the sacrifice of praise is not a solemn occasion or an effort to praise God when you don’t feel like it. I believe the act of praise, or tôdâ, is the sacrifice! In place of bulls or goats, we are to bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord our God! Praise filled with thanksgiving for all the wonderful things God has done for us!

Asaph was given the responsibility, as a Levite, to offer praise to the Lord in the temple that Solomon built. David had assigned him and the tribe of Levites to this task to ensure that praise and worship were held day and night and on every special occasion. Asaph wrote this psalm of the Lord:

Whoever offers praise glorifies Me; and to him who orders his conduct aright
I will show the salvation of God.”

Psalm 50:23 NKJV

Whoever offers tôdâ to the Lord brings Him glory! Why? Because the voice of joy and thanksgiving is a sweet-smelling aroma before the Lord! As we offer thanks to Him for His wonderful works, mercy, and grace towards us, it brings Him glory! It’s a sacrifice He can appreciate!

Jonah recognized his foolishness while sitting in the great fish’s belly. He had done all he could to avoid God’s will and ended up in an impossible situation. Jonah wrote:

“Those who regard worthless idols forsake their own Mercy. But I will sacrifice to You with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay what I have vowed. Salvation is of the Lord.”

Jonah 2:8-9 NKJV

Jonah was in a tough situation. He had messed up before God. But as he began to offer the sacrifice of praise with a voice of thanksgiving, God had the fish spit him up on the dry ground! There is power in our praise! Not the “woe is me” praise, but the praise that is filled with such thanksgiving to the Lord that things begin to change in our lives!

Whenever the Israelites needed to get back in sync with the Lord, they offered tôdâ to the Lord. This sacrifice of praise, rendered via thanksgiving, set them in the mind frame of recognizing the greatness of God! When Hezekiah became king of Judah, he cleansed the temples, restored the Levites to offering praise in the temple, and set God’s house back in order! (2 Chronicles 29:31)

When Nehemiah dedicated the wall of Jerusalem, he called for the Levites to offer tôdâ to the Lord for helping them to accomplish the task:

Now at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought out the Levites in all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem to celebrate the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings and singing, with cymbals and stringed instruments and harps. 

Nehemiah 12:27 NKJV

They even formed two thanksgiving choirs to participate in the offering of tôdâ! It was a high time of celebration! And any time we stop and celebrate the Lord is a good time!

One of my favorite scriptures using tôdâ also happens to be in one of my favorite psalms, Psalm 100:

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.

Psalm 100:4 -5 NKJV

I learned this verse as a young believer in the Lord. It’s a reminder to me of the way I am to enter into the place of worship, my church. I used to be a part of the praise team, and we would always discuss how we noticed when people were disengaged during the time of worship.

Since I had already made a covenant with the Lord that Psalm 100:4 would be my attitude for worship, it didn’t affect me because it was never about the people. It was always about how I wanted to approach the Lord!

Even in my time before the Lord, I spend time singing, but mostly I give Him thanks! Sometimes I seem repetitive for the things that I thank Him for, but I don’t care; I just keep thanking Him! I thank Him continuously for being a good God and Father to me. I thank Him for His hand in my life! I thank Him because I have the privilege of praying to Him! I thank Him because He has been better to me than I can ever be to myself! So, I truly appreciate that tôdâ is an expression of praise through thanksgiving because He is worthy of that type of praise from all of us!

So the next time you hear the phrase “sacrifice of praise,” understand that you are not sacrificially praising God because you don’t feel like it; it’s just the opposite! You are offering up a sacrifice that only you can give to the Lord, one of thanksgiving for all He has done and all He has been to you! He’s worthy of the sacrifice and so worthy of the praise! Wonderful Jesus!

A Lifting of the Hands!

Psalm 30:11-12-You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, to the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever. NKJV

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When you come into the church for the first time, you can feel ignorant regarding everything you see and hear. At least, I remember feeling that way as I was introduced to the pentecostal believers. Their time of worship excluded the hymns I had grown to love, their instruments were more than the organ, and the songs were sung with a loud sound and a jubilant dance! I didn’t know what to make of it all!

As you grow old in the things of the church, you can sound pretty ignorant when you can’t explain what is happening around you; you just participate. While you may not always be able to place a name on everything happening, you should at least know what is scriptural and what isn’t. Why are all these hands lifted up? That’s our topic for today!

Another word used to praise the Father is the Hebrew word yâdâh! The first time the word yâdâh appears in the scriptures is in Genesis:

And she conceived again and bore a son, and said, “Now I will praise the Lord.” Therefore she called his name Judah. Then she stopped bearing.Genesis 29:35 NKJV

In the natural, it appeared that Leah found her worth in childbearing. When she had her fourth son, she was so delighted that it caused her to “yâdâh” the Lord for his birth. To yâdâh, the Lord is to express thanks or praise to Him. It literally means to extend or throw out your hand, or even to throw or cast a stone away or at something. So when we yâdâh the Lord, we throw our hands in the air and wave them in praise or thanks!

David sang these words to the Lord at the dedication of his house:

You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, to the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever.Psalm 30:11-12 NKJV

He was so thankful to God for building him a house. If you recall, David wanted to build God a house, but God told him his hands were too bloody. In return, God built David a house! He had so much family drama after his affair with Bathsheba that he was all over the place. But then God promised to establish his kingdom forever, taking his sorrow and replacing it with such thankfulness that he began to dance, sing, and yâdâh the Lord! I know how he felt!

I remember the day the Lord stepped into my mourning and turned it into dancing! I was in my apartment when I remembered it was my mother’s birthday. In every prior year, I would grieve on that day because I couldn’t spend it with her anymore. As I made the connection and was beginning to return to that place of mourning, God stopped me in my thoughts! He basically told me that I could continue down this path or release the sorrow to Him and move on with living. As I gave over to His peace, I became highly thankful that I didn’t have to sorrow anymore! Wonderful Savior!

Yâdâh is an expression of thanks! David used this word multiple times in the scriptures, particularly in psalms!

On that day David first delivered this psalm into the hand of Asaph and his brethren, to thank the Lord: Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples!1 Chronicles 16:7-8 NKJV

The ark of the covenant had been restored to its rightful place. David gave a psalm to Asaph and his brethren to yâdâh the Lord. The first line in the psalm encouraged the people to provide yâdâh the Lord and to call upon His name! Have you ever been so thankful to God for His blessings in your life that your hand just went up in the air? Almost of its own accord and a testament of how filled your heart was with thankfulness and praise? It’s a beautiful expression to the Lord!

While the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness, the Levites were responsible for transporting the tabernacle and all its articles used during worship. But after the tabernacle was built, they had a new assignment that included:

To stand every morning to thank and praise the Lord, and likewise at evening; and at every presentation of a burnt offering to the Lord on the Sabbaths and on the New Moons and on the set feasts, by number according to the ordinance governing them, regularly before the Lord;1 Chronicles 23:30-31 NKJV

David wanted to know that yâdâh would be given to the Lord, His God, in the new tabernacle, so he assigned this responsibility to the Levites! Now, instead of carrying the physical tabernacle, they were responsible for lifting their hands in yâdâh and praising the Lord in the morning, at night, and on every occasion!

I learned today that yâdâh also means to confess. So in the area of praise, we confess how great our God is when we yâdâh! But not only that, as we confess our sins, we cast them upon the Lord! Let’s validate this in scripture:

“When Your people Israel are defeated before an enemy because they have sinned against You, and when they turn back to You and confess Your name, and pray and make supplication to You in this temple..1 Kings 8:33 NKJV

As Solomon prayed to God during the temple’s dedication, Solomon asked the Lord to remember His people when they confess, or yâdâh, His name! As we lift our hands to God, in a sign of surrender to His will and dominion, we confess that He is more extensive than us and more significant than our problems. That truth alone is worth throwing your hands in the air and giving Him praise!

Then those of Israelite lineage separated themselves from all foreigners; and they stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. And they stood up in their place and read from the Book of the Law of the Lord their God for one-fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God.Nehemiah 9:1-2 NKJV

The word for confessed is actually the word yâdâh! So as they confessed their sins to Lord, casting them away, worship filled their hearts for the Lord! Have you ever thought about whether your confession of sin was genuine? Well, here in scripture, we notice that they confessed and worshipped. There is something profoundly moving about turning the worst of who you are over to the best of who He is that will cause thanksgiving and praise to fill you!

David used the word yâdâh in many of his psalms for different reasons. He raised his hands to yâdâh the Lord, for His righteousness:

I will praise the Lord according to His righteousness,
And will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.Psalm 7:17 NKJV

David lifted his hands to the Lord for all of His marvelous works:

 I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works.
I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High.Psalm 9:1-2 NKJV

And David lifted up his hands and cast words of adoration to his God for being his strength, his shield, and his help:

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart greatly rejoices, and with my song I will praise Him.Psalm 28:7 NKJV

I’m sure that you have been lifting up your hands in praise to our God for years. Maybe you could put a name on it, or perhaps you couldn’t! But you understood that there are some times in life when there is a lifting of the hands because nothing else will do! Wonderful Jesus!

O Sing to the Lord!

Isaiah 42:10-Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the ends of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that is in it, you islands, and all who live in them. NKJV

Photo by Papa Yaw on Pexels.com

When I woke up this morning, a song rang in my spirit. It was an oldie, “I Will Trust in the Lord.” As I prepared for work, it kept ringing in my heart until I had to play and sing with it. It was a great way to start my day, praising God for His hand in my life and reaffirming my commitment to trusting Him until I die! Our word for praise today has to deal with songs of praise!

Tehilla is the Hebrew word that literally means “a song of praise.” Isaiah said we are to sing a song of praise from one end of the earth to the other, even a new song! In other words, it doesn’t matter who we are, where we live, or our station in life; we are to sing a song of praise to the Lord! The Bible has many instances where people broke forth into songs of praise because of the beautiful works of the Lord. As God performed miracles, answered prayers, displayed His glory, and proclaimed His holiness, God’s people found themselves singing praise to His name!

In the book of Judges, we see the prophetess Deborah burst into a song of praise:

“Hear, O kings! Give ear, O princes! I, even I, will sing to the Lord; I will sing praise to the Lord God of Israel.

Judges 5:3 NKJV

God had defeated a mighty enemy for them. Barak had been afraid to venture into war at Deborah’s prophetic word. But he agreed to go if she would go with him. She went with Barak informing him that Sisera, the captain of their enemy’s army, would be delivered into the hands of a woman. God came through as she spoke, and they just had to take some time to sing a song of praise. Victory over your enemies will cause a song to rise from your lips to the Great Deliverer! The psalmist wrote:

Oh, sing to the Lord a new song! For He has done marvelous things; His right hand and His holy arm have gained Him the victory.

Psalm 98:1 NKJV

The word tehillah has been translated in several verses to the word praise. Let’s look at a few of these verses:

But You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel.

Psalm 22:3 NKJV

As we lift our voices in tehillah, God is enthroned or inhabits our praise. He comes right into the midst of our praise as we sing songs to Him! Is anyone looking for a way to bring God into their circumstances? Begin singing during your struggles and God will inhabit, occupy, and step into those circumstances. David wrote,

Praise is awaiting You, O God, in Zion; and to You the vow shall be performed.
O You who hear prayer, to You all flesh will come.

Psalm 65:1-2 NKJV

Songs of praise, tehillah praise, are waiting for the God who answers prayers. David made a vow to sing those songs of praise of Him! We can also vow to tehillah or sing songs of praise to our God! That’s what I had to do this morning! True, it was already in my heart, but I wasn’t satisfied until I repeatedly sang that I would trust in the Lord until I died!

It’s not enough that we get to sing songs of praise to our wonderful Savior, but Moses wrote that God is our tehillah! He is our praise!

You shall fear the Lord your God; you shall serve Him, and to Him you shall hold fast, and take oaths in His name. He is your praise, and He is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things which your eyes have seen. 

Deuteronomy 10:21-22 NKJV

Moses said that we are to fear the Lord our God and to serve Him, for He is our tehillah and our God! How does that work? Songs of praise will come into your spirit, and it will be the very presence of God Himself singing to you! At least, that’s what I envision! Jeremiah agreed with Moses’ take on God being our tehillah:

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed;
Save me, and I shall be saved,
For You are my praise.

Jeremiah 17:14 NKJV

I love this verse! Jeremiah had absolute confidence in the truth that whatever God did would be sufficient! If it was healing that he needed from God, then God would heal him, and he (Jeremiah) would be healed! If it was saving that he needed, God would take care of that, for God was his tehillah! Is He your tehillah? Does His very nature cause praise to erupt inside you because of who He is?

Do not keep silent, O God of my praise! For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful have opened against me;

Psalm 109:1 NKJV

When we think of a person devoted to praising God, we automatically think of David. David said that God was the God of his praise. Not another god, but God the Father. His praise wasn’t directed to a god like Baal, who was made with hands, but to the omnipotent God who came to his rescue when he called. That’s the God we sing songs of praise to!

It is God who avenges me, and subdues the peoples under me; He delivers me from my enemies. You also lift me up above those who rise against me;
You have delivered me from the violent man. Therefore I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the Gentiles, and sing praises to Your name.

2 Samuel 22:48-50 NKJV

I believe you get the message! Not only can we sing songs of praise, but God becomes our song, our tehillah! So go ahead, people worldwide, from every city and every nation, sing a song to the Lord, and give Him tehillah with all of your heart! Wonderful Jesus!

Let Everything That Has Breath!

Psalm 150:6- “Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord! KJV

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I was about eleven when I visited my first “sanctified” church. I went with a friend and her family to a church that was out in the country. I remember they packed food to take with us, and I thought that was unusual until we arrived. They had a morning service, a meal, and an evening service. We were there all day!

What was so memorable to me was that when the pastor got up, he asked me to read Psalm 150 out loud. I read,

 Praise ye the Lord!

Psalm 150:1a KJV

And suddenly the people went wild with shouts and banging on instruments. After a time, he said, “Read!” And so nervously I read the next words,

Praise God in his sanctuary!

Psalm 150:1b KJV

And they erupted again! This continued for the remainder of the reading, which took quite some time to complete. Needless to say, I was so uncomfortable with this display of emotion and the length of the service that I never returned to the church again.

Unfortunately, what I saw then and believe now are so closely related to one another that I can’t help but reminisce about that day with a smile on my heart. What I didn’t know then that they completely understood is that it is always a good thing to give praise to the Lord! I think had they explained it to me beforehand (maybe they did, and I missed it), I would have been able to relate. There is just something wonderful about praising the Lord!

Praise is the act of adoration and celebration of God! It is both a noun and a verb, and in Webster’s dictionary, several key points are mentioned, which we will explore throughout this series. But for today’s blog, it is an act of adoration and celebration of God!

Blogging about prayer over the past few weeks has put me in the mind of praising God. As I was thinking of the direction of my blogs, it was easy to make the shift to writing about the power of praise. Although we use only one word to describe the many facets of praise, in the Bible, there are multiple words to express the praise that is rendered to God. Those different expressions will be my focus for the next several weeks!

In today’s blog, I will briefly discuss the different methods or ways we can praise God. Singing is a universal form of praise to the Lord. When the children of Israel crossed over the Red Sea, the first thing they did was sing praise to the Lord:

Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the Lord, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.

Exodus 15:1 KJV

As they sang, they immediately transitioned into another form of praise, the dance!

 And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances.

Exodus 15:20 KJV

And while they were dancing, they used another method of praise, the instruments! Miriam took her timbrel and led the women into glorious praise of the Great God, their deliverer! She sang, she played, and she danced because God had done what He had promised!

They praised God for triumphing over the Egyptians! They gave Him praise for drowning Pharaoh and his army in the sea! They praised Him for gathering the waters into a heap that allowed them to cross over on dry land! They praised Him for the land that He was leading them to, to plant them as a nation! And they continued to praise Him for His strength, deliverance, greatness, and so forth!

But God didn’t stop being an awesome and amazing God to them! As they continued their journey to the promised land after they arrived and conquered their enemies, after they were established as a nation, and even to this present day, His faithfulness has not ceased to them, nor to us!

This is why, on that Sunday many decades ago, when the people heard those words in the psalm, they lifted up their voices, played the instruments, and danced across the sanctuary in praise to the God who is worthy of all of that and so much more!

Halal ye the Lord. Halal God in his sanctuary: halal him in the firmament of his power. Halal him for his mighty acts: halal him according to his excellent greatness. Halal him with the sound of the trumpet: halal him with the psaltery and harp. Halal him with the timbrel and dance: halal him with stringed instruments and organs. Halal him upon the loud cymbals: halal him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath halal the Lord. Halal ye the Lord. (Halals are included by me, not in KJV)!

Psalm 150:1-6 KJV

This praise is the praise, halal. It means to boast about the Lord! It gives the picture of one who makes a show of what they are doing, as they foolishly celebrate while praising. I can assure you that to me, they looked a little foolish and definitely were acting that way! But that’s what halal looks like!

David understood this type of halal! As he and the thirty thousand chosen men of Israel headed home with the ark of the covenant,

And David and all the house of Israel played before the Lord on all manner of instruments made of fir wood, even on harps, and on psalteries, and on timbrels, and on cornets, and on cymbals.

2 Samuel 6:5 KJV

They were having a hallelujah, or halal time, before the Lord. But someone who wasn’t supposed to touch the ark touched it and died. This killed the mood of praisers. They left the ark for three months with Obededom, then returned to get it. This time around, the ark made it to Jerusalem!

And David danced before the Lord with all his might; and David was girded with a linen ephod. So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the Lord with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet. And as the ark of the Lord came into the city of David, Michal Saul’s daughter looked through a window, and saw king David leaping and dancing before the Lord; and she despised him in her heart.

2 Samuel 6:14-16 KJV

David really got his dance on this time! He danced with all of his might in halal to God! They created such a ruckus coming back with the ark that people gathered to see the celebration. One person, his wife, saw him praising God and despised him in her heart! And then she criticized him to his face! God was not pleased with her attitude, and she was barren for the rest of her days.

People who halal the Lord may look crazy, even like something is wrong with them. But you don’t know what God has done for that person. You don’t know the deliverance they have experienced. The miracle they have seen God do for them! You don’t know!

But you should know that God is worthy of the halal kind of praise. He is worthy of us looking like we are crazy when we praise Him. He is worthy of us garnering attention that makes people sneer at us. He is worthy of all that and more!

If you are feeling a need to get up and dance, sing, or play on timbrel, go right ahead and halal the Lord! I’ve gotten with the program and have experienced halal on many occasions! He’s worthy of the halal, so let everything that has breath give it to Him! Halal ye the Lord! Wonderful Jesus!

What is It?

Jeremiah 33:3-‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’ NKJV

Patrick Fore@unsplash.com

I heard a story many years ago. I’ll try and recount it for you because it will lead me to my point for this blog. There was a flood in a city, and rescues were underway to save those stranded. A believer prayed for God’s help to get them out of their precarious situation. A person came by in a canoe and offered to give them help, which they denied because they were waiting on God.

As the water continued to rise, they cried to God for help. Soon afterward, a person came by in a boat and offered them deliverance. Yet, they told that person they didn’t need their help. The waters continued to rise, and they were on the roof, waiting for God. A helicopter came by to rescue them and again they waved them on. Finally, as the water was covering their bodies and they had nowhere else to go, they began to scold God for not answering their prayer. But God reminded them of the canoe, the boat, and the helicopter that He had sent their way, which they had refused. You see, too many of us are angry with God for not answering our prayers when we didn’t recognize the answer when He sent it.

‘Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.’

Jeremiah 33:3 NKJV

I might not have told the story correctly, but I think you get the point! God promised us that if we call to Him, He would answer! Some say that we may not always like the answer, but that doesn’t mean He didn’t answer.

I think of the Israelites whenever I think of people who missed it repeatedly. They were never truly satisfied with how God did things because He never did them the way they thought things should be done. For example, they cried out to God for deliverance from Egyptian bondage and God sent them Moses. At first, they were all excited about Moses, but as Pharaoh continued to say that he wouldn’t let them go, and things worsened for them, they complained about how God wanted to deliver them!

Then, as they came out from Pharaoh, they met Moses and Aaron who stood there to meet them. And they said to them, “Let the Lord look on you and judge, because you have made us abhorrent in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to kill us.”

Exodus 5:20-21 NKJV

This didn’t look like deliverance to them. This looked like a curse because things were getting worst, not better. Although they had prayed for God to remember them and to deliver them from bondage, they didn’t recognize His answer to their prayers. Time and again, they cried out to the Lord, and He heard their cry and answered them. But they had no remembrance of His faithfulness when more challenges came their way.

In chapter 15 of Exodus, the children of Israel asked for water to drink. They came to a place with bitter water and began complaining, asking what they should drink. Moses then cried out to the Lord:

So he cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet.

Exodus 15:5 NKJV

Moses asked God about water, and God showed Moses a tree! Moses had enough sense to take the tree and throw it in the bitter waters of Marah! The water became drinkable! Did God not answer his prayer for water? Yes, He did! Just not how Moses and the children of Israel thought He would!

In Exodus 16, they complained that they had no meat or bread in the wilderness they were in. God told Moses that He had heard the complaints of the people and that He would answer them:

 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,  “I have heard the complaints of the children of Israel. Speak to them, saying, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread. And you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’ ”

Exodus 16:11-12NKJV

So the Lord provided quail in the evenings and bread in the mornings. But they didn’t recognize it as bread and called it manna:

And the house of Israel called its name Manna. And it was like white coriander seed, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.

Exodus 16:31 NKJV

In Hebrew, the word manna means, “what is it?” They asked for bread. God promised bread. But because it didn’t look like what they thought bread should look like, they didn’t recognize it. So it was called manna!

The Bible has many examples of God doing unusual things in answer to the cries of His people. For example, when Israel’s armies faced the Philistine armies and Goliath, they needed a man to fight for them. God didn’t send them a giant like Goliath; He sent them David. Not a trained warrior, but His warrior!

When the nation of Israel was under the control of the Roman Empire, they cried for a deliverer to save them. God sent them One, Jesus! Only He came as a baby, born in a manger! As He grew and began to establish His kingdom, they were looking for an earthly kingdom, but He offered a forever kingdom!

When they wanted to crown Him King, He hid from them. Until the day they placed a crown of thorns on His head and nailed Him to the cross! This was not the deliverer they were looking for, but the Deliverer they needed! He was the only one who could bring them salvation for the body and the soul, yet, they didn’t recognize Him. They wondered, “what is it?”

Sometimes, the thing we pray for will be exactly what we get. Then there are other times we will pray and have to look for God’s answer in the things or events around us. If we are not careful, we will be foolish enough to think that He hasn’t answered our prayers! But if we are wise, we will see Him working in every situation to answer our prayers.

I shared this before, but it bears repeating. When we had our first baby, I was given a blood transfusion. Because of the blood transfusion, I was denied insurance when we left the military. When we had our second child, we had to pay for medical expenses before I had the baby. We prayed for a regular delivery with a healthy baby and no problems because we paid out of pocket. Lo and behold, I had a C-section. Not only that, our baby was put in PICU. I laugh now because of the goodness of God. But after she was born, my husband said he was in prayer and said to the Lord that he didn’t get anything he had asked for. Not a normal birth, not a healthy baby, and more finances than we could hope to pay! But God is as faithful today as He was then, and He stepped in and gave us one miracle after another.

I recovered from the C-section with no issues. Our baby was miraculously healed with no lingering effects, all hospital bills were paid, and our money was returned! We didn’t get what we asked for; we got more than we could have imagined! Could I have lived a lifetime without watching my baby suffer? Most definitely! But the testimony of His faithfulness is what I remember more than those months of uncertainty!

As I conclude this series on prayer, I just want to remind you of the faithfulness of God to us and to His word. He said that if we call to Him, He will answer us and show us great and mighty things that we don’t know! However, if we think it will always be the way we asked for it, we will miss His heavenly answers! When the floods of life come and we cry out to Him, He will answer us! Look for Him in the canoe, the boat, the helicopter, or the manna! Whatever we do, don’t miss Him, because He answers when we call! Wonderful Jesus!

Rescue Me!

Luke 11:4-And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.” NKJV

Photo by Norbert Braun on Unsplash

The way that Jesus taught His disciples to pray covered all of life. It doesn’t seem like it when you first read the words, but it does. It covers the establishing of the relationship we have with the Father. It reveals the magnitude of His greatness and dominion over all of the earth. We see the holiness and awe of His Presence and realize that He is God and there is none besides Him. Then we move into the place of prayer, where we surrender our will and agenda to His will and plan. A time of praying about the things on His heart and mind.

Then we turn to our needs. Jesus told us we can pray daily for our spiritual and natural concerns. Nothing is missing, and nothing is lacking. We remind Him that as He has forgiven us, so we willingly forgive others. Therefore, as we stand forgiven and place our requests before Him, we can be assured that He is listening. Waiting to respond.

We realize that we are not able in our own strength to resist all the wiles of the devil, so we ask Him to keep us from the many temptations that could come our way. And we end this prayer by asking Him to keep us from the enemy. It’s where we start tonight. Jesus said that we can pray to be delivered from the evil one.

And lead us not into temptation [but rescue us from evil].

Luke 11:4b AMP

Although I shared two posts on us not being led into temptation, it isn’t an isolated thought. Jesus said to pray that we are not led into temptation, but that we are delivered or rescued from evil, and some versions read, the evil one. On Sunday, we had a guest speaker at the church. During his sermon, he brought up the evil one. He said that some people make too little of the devil, while others ignore him completely. We have a real adversary, and his name is Satan. He was initially called Lucifer (son of the morning) in Isaiah 14. But he was kicked out because he desired to exalt himself above God and enticed a third of the angelic host! Jesus said,

 “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.

Luke 10:8 NKJV

verifying that he was indeed in heaven but had fallen from that place of honor. Peter had this to say about the devil,

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.

1 Peter 5:8 NKJV

He was speaking from experience. Satan, the devil, is always on the prowl like a lion, looking for prey. Before Jesus went to the cross, He told Peter that Satan had asked for him:

And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”

Luke 22:31-32 NKJV

Jesus told Simon to listen and pay attention because He had something to share with Peter. Jesus told Peter that Satan asked for him! Can you imagine how Peter felt knowing that Satan requested to be able to destroy him by name? We all know that the devil is our enemy, but it’s another thing to know: he went before God and asked if he could attack you! Yet, that’s what he did. But this didn’t phase Jesus because He told Peter that He had prayed for him and that his faith would not fail. Wow! Not only do we have the assurance that Jesus has prayed that our faith will not fail when we come under the enemy’s attack, but He told us that we could pray that we are rescued from the devil! That’s pretty amazing!

Remember in 1 Corinthians 10, where Paul talked about the faithfulness of God during temptations? Well, look at what Paul wrote to Timothy:

But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me, and that all the Gentiles might hear. Also I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. And the Lord will deliver me from every evil work and preserve me for His heavenly kingdom. To Him be glory forever and ever. Amen!

2 Timothy 4:17-18 NKJV

Paul wrote that he was delivered out of the mouth of the lion and that God would deliver him from every evil work! Paul wrote that the Lord stood with him and strengthened him. When we are being attacked by the devil, we should understand that God is faithful; He is standing with us to support us in battle! And sometimes, He will just deliver or rescue us from the enemy and his plans! It doesn’t matter if he has asked for us by name; God can always deny his request! But when God doesn’t deny his request, it is because He is confident that we will come through the test with flying colors, like Job and Peter did!

 But the Lord is faithful, who will establish you and guard you from the evil one.

2 Thessalonians 3:3 NKJV

God is faithful! Peter didn’t pray, but Jesus did, and Peter was delivered! Job may not have realized he could pray, but God was faithful and delivered him! We know that we can pray, and we should pray to be kept from the evil one! Since Jesus told us we can pray for this, it is evident that He will keep us from evil and the orchestrator of evil! And remember that He also prayed this over us:

I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. 

John 17:15 NKJV

In Gethsemane, before He went to the cross, He prayed that we would be kept from the evil one. If you don’t believe that God will answer your prayers, know that He always answers the prayers of Jesus! Well, I believe He most certainly will answer our prayers when we pray for deliverance!

This is a powerful prayer in its totality. Even the different parts of the prayer teach us that God is concerned about our lives on this earth. Jesus didn’t want to translate us from the world, but He wanted us to be overcomers while living on this earth.

I leave you with this short testimony. I’ve been more diligent in praying through this model of prayer. And most mornings, as I prepare to leave for work, I ask the Lord for His protection over us as we drive to our jobs and go throughout our day. My husband recently came home and told us that he fell from a ladder. He had been using it for a couple of hours, so when he placed his foot on the rung and it collapsed, he flew to the ground. Amazingly, he was completely whole after the fall. I checked his head for a bump or bruise, but there wasn’t one. I kept asking him if he was sure he was okay, and he said he was. Thank you, Jesus! Of course, we’re incredibly grateful that the plans of the evil one did not come to fruition that day! God is faithful and able to rescue us from the objectives of the wicked one. And the rescue plan begins with us praying! Glory to His Name!! Wonderful Jesus!

This is Not From God!

Luke 11:4-And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” NKJV

Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels.com

In my previous post, I took a lighter look at temptation. But today, I want to dive a little deeper into the more challenging side of temptation. Forgive my picture of pasta (still dealing with my personal temptation), but most photos of temptation are pornographic from what my quick perusal of images found.

A book can be written on the many aspects of temptation, but I want to look at the concept of whether or not God is responsible for the temptations that we often find ourselves dealing with. In the book of James, we see this statement of confidence:

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 

James 1:13 NKJV

Rick Renner, a noted bible scholar, explained this verse at a conference I attended. He said that James was telling the church that if they were saying that they were being tempted by God, to stop saying it. Because God cannot be tempted by evil, neither does He tempt any man with evil. He explained that because they believed God was sovereign, they thought everything was from God, including sin. But since God is not evil, and evil is not in His nature, He doesn’t tempt us with evil.

Douglas Moo, in his commentary on James, wrote similar words. He said that having the wrong attitude about temptation leads to us failing to overcome them. How can you overcome a temptation successfully when you believe it was God Himself who led you into the temptation? Moo said that you can’t! Because that type of attitude, thinking that God is responsible for the temptation, will make it easier for you to give in to it.

Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Matthew 26:41 NKJV

Again, the Savior tells us that we are to pray that we do not succumb to temptation. We are to be on the lookout for the traps of the enemy while praying that we don’t fall into them. Our spirit man is willing to obey God, but our flesh is often weak. This is not an excuse to give in to the flesh; it’s the reason we need to be praying that we don’t yield to temptation. James made this connection to the temptation that is something we all need to make a note of:

But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.  Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.

James 1:14 NKJV

James said that God is not our problem! We are the problem! When we are tempted with something, it is our desires at the root of the problem, not the sovereignty of God! Moo explained in his commentary that God cannot tempt us with evil because He is untouched by evil. Therefore, the blame lies solely at our door because of our desires.

In the New Testament, desires refer to selfish, fleshly, and unlawful things, typically of a sexual nature. But this verse refers to desires in a broader sense of the word. James seems to be describing that tendency we all have towards sin. Moo explained this desire as a hook with bait that lures the fish into captivity. God isn’t on the other side of that pole; Satan is! And even though he is our defeated foe, he is forever setting up traps to ensnare us again into bondage. That’s the power of temptation!

James said that when temptation can create a desire within us, that desire leads us into sin. Not God! Even though we have an adversary who is actively working against our walk in Christ, even he can’t make us sin. His temptations are strategic, and his suggestions are strong, but once again, our desires draw us into sin; and the wages of sin are death!

Well, you might be wondering at this point about the role of God in all of this. After all, He is sovereign and can stop anything He wants to stop. So, why doesn’t He stop the devil from tempting us? Good question! I hope I can correctly divide the word of truth for you about this! Let’s go back to 1 Corinthians 10:13

No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

1 Corinthians 10:13 NKJV

When we are tempted by our desires, God is with us! His faithfulness knows no end! So right there amid the temptation is our time to realize that even though the temptation is present and difficult to overlook, God is with us! Also, God will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you can bear during this temptation. We have His word on this! He is faithful!

James refers to temptation as a type of examination. Not an exam from God, but from the enemy. When you are placed in a tempting situation, it is an examination. Not from God, but from the devil! Trust that God says, “I have the cheat sheet,” so you’ve got this! Whether the test is as simple as giving up your desire for sweets or as severe as giving up your appetite for illicit sex, God has the cheat sheet for the test.

When our daughter was in sixth grade, my husband wanted her to attend a high school that allowed seventh-grade students to participate in high school early. I was not enthused about this idea because the high school is on the other side of the city. For students in 7th and 8th grades, transportation was provided. But she would have to take the train when she became a ninth grader. So I was not thrilled. So I did what I tend to do when we are not in agreement; I prayed.

One night, before she took the entrance exam, I had a dream. In the dream, she was taking the exam. As she took the exam, the proctor kept walking over to her and giving her the answer or letting her know she had made the wrong choice. I know that was my confirmation that God wanted her to go to that particular high school. But as I was typing this blog and thinking of how God is with us during temptations, I remembered that dream! God is with us in the midst of every challenge we face in life, holding the cheat sheet! It’s our path to victory, the way of escape. However, it is up to us to trust this truth and to expect deliverance!

God didn’t send Jesus to die on the cross for a weak, bruised, and battered church. His greatest joy is to bring us to complete victory before the throne. He has made every effort to provide us with the goods to be overcomers of our flesh and the devil. So His investment in us is for productivity, not for loss.

Yes, He tested people in the Old Testament to see if they would be faithful and obey Him. Yes, sometimes they failed. But we are under a covenant with better promises and more effective weapons. God no longer visits periodically with mankind; He resides within us through the Person of the Holy Ghost!

There is no temptation the devil can throw at us that he hasn’t used before. Just as he may have our number, God has his number! God is an expert in thwarting the enemy’s plans so that His plans, God’s plans, may prevail in our lives. No weapon formed against us shall prosper! I want to encourage you to look at every temptation and trial with the attitude that God is for you, and the devil is against you! It’s just that simple! Wonderful Jesus!