Jesus prayed often as he walked on earth, so often in fact, it was as natural as breathing in life-giving oxygen for his human body.  His prayers were constant, consistent dialogues with His Father, God, who was a part of Him, while on earth.  Yes, they communed as One because they were One.  Jesus, God in the flesh, came down to seek and to save the lost, (you and I), but He also demonstrated how to talk with God, as His Father in Heaven, along with how to listen to God and obey Him without question or doubt.

Jesus often would tell those around him, “I only do and say what the Father tells me.”  Oh, if that were possible with us—to ONLY do and say what God tells us.  We would avoid a lot more trouble if we listened and obeyed our Father like Jesus, right?  Jesus, who was without sin, is the One and Only who can deliver us from all evil and evil’s schemes to destroy us from the inside out.  Jesus died and rose again, defeating death, and is now our advocate in heaven as we pray to God.  Because of Jesus, we can come right into the throne room of God, in Jesus Name, and communicate with Him in relationship with Him!  THIS is amazing grace!

The Psalmist is crying out to God, “Come close, come quickly!”  It is our cry today as we journey briefly in a world that distracts and draws us to come close to evil and be consumed by it.  The Psalmist prayer is calling out for help;

“Guard my mouth…”

“Don’t let me dream of evil…”

“Don’t let me thoughtlessly fall for evil…”

“Don’t let me be lured by sweet talk…”

“May the Just One set me straight…” 

“May the Kind One correct me…”

The Just and Kind One is Jesus, although this was written centuries before Jesus came down to earth to show us how to avoid all evil.  Jesus shows us how.  By praying, asking God, Our Father in Heave to “deliver us from evil”, power beyond ourselves is given by God to destroy our enemy.  “The battle is the Lord’s’, says David.  We must remember the battle is won ultimately by our Lord.  Jesus, the One and Only, who knew no sin, died and rose again so that we could come to Father and ask what Jesus asked while on earth—”Deliver us from evil.”  Amazing.

Jesus is coming back to claim His own someday soon.  We don’t know when but we do know we need to be ready.  Our prayer is, “Yes, Lord, deliver us from all evil.  Help us to grow and mature with your holy character leading every action we take.  Show us your will and tell us what you want and we will think, say and do it.”  To be like Jesus is to talk and listen to God and then do what He says. Daily, He will deliver us from evil.  His power is unmatched with evil’s very limited power.  He wins every time.  All because of Jesus, we win.  That’s way Jesus is called “Our Deliverer”.  Yes!

Worship and Wisdom, Psalms and Proverbs

Psalm 141, The Message

God, come close. Come quickly!
    Open your ears—it’s my voice you’re hearing!
Treat my prayer as sweet incense rising;
    my raised hands are my evening prayers.

3-7 Post a guard at my mouth, God,
    set a watch at the door of my lips.
Don’t let me so much as dream of evil
    or thoughtlessly fall into bad company.
And these people who only do wrong—
    don’t let them lure me with their sweet talk!
May the Just One set me straight,
    may the Kind One correct me,
Don’t let sin anoint my head.
    I’m praying hard against their evil ways!
Oh, let their leaders be pushed off a high rock cliff;
    make them face the music.
Like a rock pulverized by a maul,
    let their bones be scattered at the gates of hell.

8-10 But God, dear Lord,
    I only have eyes for you.
Since I’ve run for dear life to you,
    take good care of me.
Protect me from their evil scheming,
    from all their demonic subterfuge.
Let the wicked fall flat on their faces,
    while I walk off without a scratch.

TRUTH:  God will take care of us, protect us from evil scheming, and ultimately deliver us from evil.

Proverb 10:7-12, NCV

Good people will be remembered as a blessing, but evil people will soon be forgotten. The wise do what they are told, but a talkative fool will be ruined. The honest person will live in safety, but the dishonest will be caught. A wink may get you into trouble, and foolish talk will lead to your ruin. The words of a good person give life, like a fountain of water, but the words of the wicked contain nothing but violence. Hatred stirs up trouble, but love forgives all wrongs.

WISDOM:  Pray for wisdom to hear God and do what He says.  Love like God.

Abba, Father in Heaven,

Hallowed be Your Name.  May Your Kingdom come and reign in me and all around me!  May YOUR will be done in every detail of our lives here on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day all you know we will need to think, say and do what you want.  And forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.  Lead us, not into temptations, but DELIVER us from all evil and evil’s schemes to draw us away from you.  Draw us close.  Come close to us so we hear the faintest whisper of your voice in our ears.  For you have ALL power, to you be ALL glory, honor, awe and praise.  You are God and we are not.  Thank you, thank you, thank you for life eternal with you.

In Jesus Name, Amen

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As pastoral leaders, student workers, worship leaders, musicians and volunteer leaders, we readily understand the battles with evil, working his hardest to thwart our efforts in preparation just before and during Holy Week.  “The devil is in the details” is not just a saying.  It’s true.  Know God.  Know His Message.  Know Yourself.  Know the Enemy.

Why?  Satan, fallen angel and enemy of Jesus, hates new believers falling before the Lord of lords and King of kings giving their complete allegiance to Jesus.  He thinks he has unbelievers and the undecided so he will do everything in his limited power to keep them.  He hates mature believers on their knees, crying out in the Name of Jesus for lost souls to be saved by God’s grace and mercy.  The Enemy hates our tenacity of faith and determination to hear God’s voice above his loud voice of lies and confusion.  Understand that Evil has one purpose—our destruction and death forever.  Yes, our death is the goal.  But Jesus came and defeated death forever.  Jesus is Life who gives Life eternal.  The evil one hates that. 

I think these thoughts as we meditate on this Holy Week and remember all that Jesus did for us.  Our Psalmist today is singing a lament about how evil is getting the best of him.  He sings knowing God will indeed redeem and restore him from evil.  He outlines what evil does to God (as if God didn’t know) just to realize himself how evil can get to us if we let him.

“God, get me out of here, away from evil!” is a prayer I have often prayed during Holy Week as a pastoral leader.  I’m pretty sure Jesus prayed that same prayer the days before He took all our sin on his shoulders to save the world who would believe in Him so they would not perish in death but have eternal life with Him.  Wow.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  John 3:16

“God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  Romans 5:8

Jesus is the Victor over the Enemy called Death!  “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins,in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.” 

“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” 

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”  Ephesians 2:1-10, NIV

Believers, we are dead to sin and now alive in Christ!  Forever!  Can I get an amen?!

The end of the Psalmist’s lament praises God because of the power of His Presence with us, protecting and delivering us from Evil.  This is our blessed assurance.  THIS is the reason we celebrate Resurrection Sunday—Jesus is alive and coming back for His own.  Jesus is the victor over the enemy!  The enemy is called death.  Our war with the “devil in the details” is only momentary.  God steps in and delivers us from the battle.  Every. Time.  His will.  His way.  His Time.  Pray in Jesus Name and His will be done.

Worship and Wisdom, Psalms and Proverbs

Psalm 140, The Message

1-5 God, get me out of here, away from this evil;
    protect me from these vicious people.
All they do is think up new ways to be bad;
    they spend their days plotting war games.
They practice the sharp rhetoric of hate and hurt,
    speak venomous words that maim and kill.
God, keep me out of the clutch of these wicked ones,
    protect me from these vicious people;
All boast and swagger, they plot ways to trip me up,
    determined to bring me down.
These crooks invent traps to catch me
    and do their best to incriminate me.

6-8 I prayed, “God, you’re my God!
    Listen, God! Mercy!
God, my Lord, Strong Savior,
    protect me when the fighting breaks out!
Don’t let the wicked have their way, God,
    don’t give them an inch!”

9-11 These troublemakers all around me—
    let them drown in their own verbal poison.
Let God pile hellfire on them,
    let him bury them alive in crevasses!
These loudmouths—
    don’t let them be taken seriously;
These savages—
    let the Devil hunt them down!

12-13 I know that you, God, are on the side of victims,
    that you care for the rights of the poor.
And I know that the righteous personally thank you,
    that good people are secure in your presence.

TRUTH:  I know that you, God, are on our side against the enemy.  We are secure in Your Holy Presence.

Proverb 27:19-20, The Message

Just as water mirrors your face,
    so your face mirrors your heart.

20 Hell has a voracious appetite,
    and lust just never quits.

WISDOM:  Keep your heart pure.  Avoid the Enemy at all cost.

Abba, Father in Heaven,

You are the Victor over our Enemy every time.  You will deliver us from evil so we pray as you taught us.  Hallowed is Your Name.  May Your Kingdom come.  May Your Will be done on earth, in all the details of our lives, as it is done in heave.  Give us this day victory over evil’s schemes.  Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.  Lead us not into temptations but DELIVER us from all evil.  For YOU have ALL power.  To YOU be all glory, honor and praise!

In Jesus Name, Amen

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To be known and acknowledged gives strength and energy to a tired soul.  To be loved unconditionally and deeply brings life abundant to our being.  To be cherished so greatly as a special creation of God is outstanding and too much for our small minds to think or imagine at times.  God is in heaven.  God is here.  God knows every person born along with how many hairs are on each head.  God knows our thoughts.  Yes, God knows us better than we know ourselves—and still He loves us so much he sent his son to die in our place for our sins.  God knows what we will say before it comes to our minds.  God saw us in the womb of our moms.  God knows my name.  God knows your name.

We were on Jesus’ mind as He took all sin on his shoulders, held himself to a cross of shame in front of the world and paid the penalty for all sins. Yes, I am known by God who knew I would need a Savior.  I am known by God, Our Father in Heaven, who knew I would need an advocate to the Father.  I am known by Jesus who is God in flesh who came down from heaven to stand in my place for my sin.  I am known.  You are known.

No one knows and loves you more than God, Jesus and His Holy Spirit. 

Be still and know Him.  Hear Him.  Trust Him.

Worship and Wisdom, Psalms and Proverbs

Psalm 139, The Message  (Personal Favorite)

1-6 God, investigate my life;
    get all the facts firsthand.
I’m an open book to you;
    even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking.
You know when I leave and when I get back;
    I’m never out of your sight.
You know everything I’m going to say
    before I start the first sentence.
I look behind me and you’re there,
    then up ahead and you’re there, too—
    your reassuring presence, coming and going.
This is too much, too wonderful—
    I can’t take it all in!

7-12 Is there any place I can go to avoid your Spirit?
    to be out of your sight?
If I climb to the sky, you’re there!
    If I go underground, you’re there!
If I flew on morning’s wings
    to the far western horizon,
You’d find me in a minute—
    you’re already there waiting!
Then I said to myself, “Oh, he even sees me in the dark!
    At night I’m immersed in the light!”
It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;
    night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you.

13-16 Oh yes, you shaped me first inside, then out;
    you formed me in my mother’s womb.
I thank you, High God—you’re breathtaking!
    Body and soul, I am marvelously made!
    I worship in adoration—what a creation!
You know me inside and out,
    you know every bone in my body;
You know exactly how I was made, bit by bit,
    how I was sculpted from nothing into something.
Like an open book, you watched me grow from conception to birth;
    all the stages of my life were spread out before you,
The days of my life all prepared
    before I’d even lived one day.

17-22 Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful!
    God, I’ll never comprehend them!
I couldn’t even begin to count them—
    any more than I could count the sand of the sea.
Oh, let me rise in the morning and live always with you!
    And please, God, do away with wickedness for good!
And you murderers—out of here!—
    all the men and women who belittle you, God,
    infatuated with cheap god-imitations.
See how I hate those who hate you, God,
    see how I loathe all this godless arrogance;
I hate it with pure, unadulterated hatred.
    Your enemies are my enemies!

23-24 Investigate my life, O God,
    find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
    get a clear picture of what I’m about;
See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong—
    then guide me on the road to eternal life.

TRUTH:  God, our Father, the creator of our lives, who IS Life, loves us, knows us and loves us greater still.  God is all knowing.  He knows us by name.  He longs for us to love Him back.  He wants to guide us to His best for us.  Be still (let go of all else in this world, including self), and know Him.  He died to have a close, personal intimate relationship with us. 

And He’s coming back for his own someday.  Know and be known.

Proverb 8:17, The Message

WISDOM: “I love those who love me; those who look for me find me.” 

Seek the God who knows us well and loves us unconditionally.

Abba, Father in Heaven,

Thank you for knowing me and wanting to be with me everywhere I go!  Thank you for knowing me so well that you know what I need.  Thank for protecting me and providing for me before I know I need it.  Thank you for wanting a close relationship with me that sustains me, keeps me calm in the storms of life, and gives life and energy to my being.  Thank you for loving me the way you do even while knowing me and my messes.  Thank you for guiding me to your best with mercy and grace coming along beside me.  Thank you for saving my soul and making me whole.  Thank you for the honor to be known by You.

In Jesus Name, Amen.  I believe.

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How does it feel when you invest a great deal of time in helping someone rise from the ashes of life and find new hope in Jesus?  Pretty amazing, right?  What if this person you helped finds hope in Jesus never said thank you?  Granted, what we do we do for Jesus, in Jesus Name, but isn’t it icing on the cake when people kindly and gratefully say thank you?  Jesus thinks so.

Do you say thank you in kindness when someone helps or serves you in any way?  Probably, you do, if you are a server.  I have been observing that people who have the least and have been through the worst in life are the ones most thankful and willing to serve gratefully when asked.  Humility breeds gratitude.  Serving produces gratefulness.

Ten lepers came to Jesus for healing.  He healed all ten.  Nine ran home to their families who had to shun them so they wouldn’t get the dreaded disease themselves.  Only one turned from running home to run to Jesus, fall down and thank Him for his healing which changed his life forever.  (See Luke 17:11-19) “Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”  Jesus might be wondering why we haven’t said thank you lately for each day that we get to live life on this earth as changed souls because of his salvation. 

Stronger faith is built by a grateful heart.  How grateful are we?  How thankful for our own changed lives to the One and Only who saved us for eternity?  Maybe it is time to turn around from all that distracts us and run to Jesus right now and say thank you.  Thank you for saving my soul and making me whole.  Thank you for protecting me when the enemy tries to draw me from you.  Thank you for listening to my cries for help.  Thank you for providing for my daily needs.  Thank you for your love, mercy and grace.

Yes, Everything in me says, “Thank you, Jesus” today!

Worship and Wisdom, Psalms and Proverbs

Psalm 138, The Message

1-3 Thank you! Everything in me says “Thank you!”
    Angels listen as I sing my thanks.
I kneel in worship facing your holy temple
    and say it again: “Thank you!”
Thank you for your love,
    thank you for your faithfulness;
Most holy is your name,
    most holy is your Word.
The moment I called out, you stepped in;
    you made my life large with strength.

4-6 When they hear what you have to say, God,
    all earth’s kings will say “Thank you.”
They’ll sing of what you’ve done:
    “How great the glory of God!”
And here’s why: God, high above, sees far below;
    no matter the distance, he knows everything about us.

7-8 When I walk into the thick of trouble,
    keep me alive in the angry turmoil.
With one hand
    strike my foes,
With your other hand
    save me.
Finish what you started in me, God.
    Your love is eternal—don’t quit on me now.

TRUTH:  God never gives up on us who believe on Him and trust in Jesus who saved us.  He WILL finish what He started in us on the day of our salvation.

Sing with the Psalmist and me, “One Thing Remains”

Higher than the mountains that I face
Stronger than the power of the grave
Constant through the trial and the change
One thing remains, yes, one thing remains

Your love never fails
It never gives up
It never runs out on me

Because on and on, and on, and on it goes
Before it overwhelms and satisfies my soul
And I never, ever, have to be afraid
One thing remains, yes, one thing remains
Sing it, your love

Your love never fails
It never gives up
It never runs out on me

In death, in life
I’m confident and covered by
The power of your great love
My debt is paid
There’s nothing that can separate
My heart from your great love
Sing it, your love

Your love never fails
It never gives up
It never runs out on me

Never runs out on me
Your love never fails
It never gives up
Never runs out on me

Your love never fails
It never gives up
Never runs out on me, oh
Yes, your love
Your love, your love, your love…
Yes, your love
Yes, your love

Never fails
It never fails
It never fails
Never fails…

Proverb 10:12, The Message

“Hatred starts fights, but love pulls a quilt over the bickering.”

WISDOM:  Be thankful, loving and kind as our Father in heaven is to us.  Love God.  Love Others.  His love never quits and never gives up on us.  Love like that.

Abba Father,

Thank you for all you have done for me and my family over the years of our lives.  Thank you for how you at work in our lives now!  Thank you for what you will do to constantly grow and mature us in your love.  Thank you for saving my soul.  Thank you for healing my brokenness.  Thank you for teaching me daily.  Thank you for life.  Just thank you!

In Jesus Name, Amen

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In the middle of life’s really tough, nearly debilitating, suffering battles of life we can forget about the God who saves us and the One who is always at work within us who believe.  Through tears we can forget that God stands ready to lift us up from the ashes of brokenness when we call out to Him for help.  We can forget to look up from what has been dumped on us for whatever reason and only cast our eyes at the mess instead of the Message.  We can forget what we believe as we hear words of worldview thinking that only satisfies self and fall for sin and resulting destructive behaviors.  We can forget all the blessings God has given to us, grown in us and delivered to us by His grace and mercy for us.  We can forget what love is when we forget about God who is Love.

If ever I forget you, Lord…Remind me!  I know you won’t let me wander too far without bringing back my memory of You and all You and Your Son have done for me.  I know you will remind me of the glory of your relentless love.  I know you have redeemed and saved me from self and all the sins that surround selfish thinking.  I know you will deliver me each day from the thinking and resulting behavior that the enemy tries to present to me.  I know you and I want to know more.  I love you and I want to love like you love me.  So, I remember to turn to Your Word and meditate on each word while Your Holy Spirit teaches me.  I remember to be a willing, humble student who adores her Teacher.

Yes, if ever I forget you when the sea of doubt overwhelms me, help me.  I know you will.  Just as you parted the Red Sea when your people took the first step forward, you will make a way for me and for all who believe, trust and hope in You and walk toward You. 

If EVER I forget, may my first thought be of You and my first words be “Thank you!”

Worship and Wisdom, Psalms and Proverbs

Psalm 137, The Message

Alongside Babylon’s rivers
    we sat on the banks; we cried and cried,
    remembering the good old days in Zion.
Alongside the quaking aspens
    we stacked our unplayed harps;
That’s where our captors demanded songs,
    sarcastic and mocking:
    “Sing us a happy Zion song!”

4-6 Oh, how could we ever sing God’s song
    in this wasteland?
If I ever forget you, Jerusalem,
    let my fingers wither and fall off like leaves.
Let my tongue swell and turn black
    if I fail to remember you,
If I fail, O dear Jerusalem,
    to honor you as my greatest.

7-9 God, remember those Edomites,
    and remember the ruin of Jerusalem,
That day they yelled out,
    “Wreck it, smash it to bits!”
And you, Babylonians—ravagers!
    A reward to whoever gets back at you
    for all you’ve done to us;
Yes, a reward to the one who grabs your babies
    and smashes their heads on the rocks!

TRUTH:  God remembers us. God is always at work within us and around us. God delivers us.  God loves us through it all.  Believe and be saved by the One who loves you most.

Proverb 16:1-7, The Message

Mortals make elaborate plans,
    but God has the last word.

Humans are satisfied with whatever looks good;
    God probes for what is good.

Put God in charge of your work,
    then what you’ve planned will take place.

God made everything with a place and purpose;
    even the wicked are included—but for judgment.

God can’t stomach arrogance or pretense;
    believe me, he’ll put those braggarts in their place.

Guilt is banished through love and truth;
    Fear-of-God deflects evil.

When God approves of your life,
    even your enemies will end up shaking your hand.

WISDOM:  God is in control. God made everything and everyone with purpose.  Don’t forget God has the last word!  God is The Word.

Abba, Father in Heaven,

Hallowed be Your Name.  May Your Kingdom come, Your will be done in every detail of our lives here on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day great memories of all you have done for us and in us that will drive us forward in your way of thinking and behaving.  And forgive us our sins of selfishness as we forgive those who hurt, malign or mock us.  Lead us not into temptations to strike back but deliver us from evil and evil’s schemes to distract us and destroy us.  We know you won’t let that happen.  All good comes from you.  To You be all glory!  Help us to love like you do by allowing your power to flow through us. 

In Jesus Name, Amen.  I believe.

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Worship and Wisdom, Psalms and Proverbs

Psalm 136, The Message

1-3 Thank God! He deserves your thanks.
    His love never quits.
Thank the God of all gods,
    His love never quits.
Thank the Lord of all lords.
    His love never quits.

4-22 Thank the miracle-working God,
    His love never quits.
The God whose skill formed the cosmos,
    His love never quits.
The God who laid out earth on ocean foundations,
    His love never quits.
The God who filled the skies with light,
    His love never quits.
The sun to watch over the day,
    His love never quits.
Moon and stars as guardians of the night,
    His love never quits.
The God who struck down the Egyptian firstborn,
    His love never quits.
And rescued Israel from Egypt’s oppression,
    His love never quits.
Took Israel in hand with his powerful hand,
    His love never quits.
Split the Red Sea right in half,
    His love never quits.
Led Israel right through the middle,
    His love never quits.
Dumped Pharaoh and his army in the sea,
    His love never quits.
The God who marched his people through the desert,
    His love never quits.
Smashed huge kingdoms right and left,
    His love never quits.
Struck down the famous kings,
    His love never quits.
Struck Sihon the Amorite king,
    His love never quits.
Struck Og the Bashanite king,
    His love never quits.
Then distributed their land as booty,
    His love never quits.
Handed the land over to Israel.
    His love never quits.

23-26 God remembered us when we were down,
    His love never quits.
Rescued us from the trampling boot,
    His love never quits.
Takes care of everyone in time of need.
    His love never quits.
Thank God, who did it all!
    His love never quits!

TRUTH:  GOD NEVER QUITS and neither will I.

God, I do thank you that when I sleep, you do not. Thank you for working on my concerns, answering my prayers, sustaining my world, and doing your work while I sleep as well as when I’m awake. I cannot comprehend it, but I am truly thankful that you are the God who does not tire or grow weary in doing what is good and what is a blessing. I recognize that all the good things I have in my life have come because of your blessing. I praise you for your mercy and grace that sustain me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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Raise a Hallelujah!

I raise a hallelujah, with everything inside of me
I raise a hallelujah, I will watch the darkness flee
I raise a hallelujah, in the middle of the mystery
I raise a hallelujah, fear you lost your hold on me!

I’m gonna sing, in the middle of the storm
Louder and louder, you’re gonna hear my praises roar
Up from the ashes, hope will arise
Death is defeated, the King is alive!

Sing a little louder (In the presence of my enemies)
Sing a little louder (Louder than the unbelief)
Sing a little louder (My weapon is a melody)
Sing a little louder (Heaven comes to fight for me)
Sing a little louder (In the presence of my enemies)
Sing a little louder (Louder than the unbelief)
Sing a little louder (My weapon is a melody)
Sing a little louder (Heaven comes to fight for me)
Sing a little louder!

I’m gonna sing, in the middle of the storm
Louder and louder, you’re gonna hear my praises roar
Up from the ashes, hope will arise
Death is defeated, the King is alive!

Worship and Wisdom, Psalms and Proverbs

Psalm 135, The Message

Praise the name of God,
    praise the works of God.
All you priests on duty in God’s temple,
    serving in the sacred halls of our God,
Shout “Hallelujah!” because God’s so good,
    sing anthems to his beautiful name.
And why? Because God chose Jacob,
    embraced Israel as a prize possession.

5-12 I, too, give witness to the greatness of God,
    our Lord, high above all other gods.
He does just as he pleases—
    however, wherever, whenever.
He makes the weather—clouds and thunder,
    lightning and rain, wind pouring out of the north.
He struck down the Egyptian firstborn,
    both human and animal firstborn.
He made Egypt sit up and take notice,
    confronted Pharaoh and his servants with miracles.
Yes, he struck down great nations,
    he slew mighty kings—
Sihon king of the Amorites, also Og of Bashan—
    every last one of the Canaanite kings!
Then he turned their land over to Israel,
    a gift of good land to his people.

13-18 God, your name is eternal,
    God, you’ll never be out-of-date.
God stands up for his people,
    God holds the hands of his people.
The gods of the godless nations are mere trinkets,
    made for quick sale in the markets:
Chiseled mouths that can’t talk,
    painted eyes that can’t see,
Carved ears that can’t hear—
    dead wood! cold metal!
Those who make and trust them
    become like them.

19-21 Family of Israel, bless God!
    Family of Aaron, bless God!
Family of Levi, bless God!
    You who fear God, bless God!
Oh, blessed be God of Zion,
    First Citizen of Jerusalem!

TRUTH:  Bless God, honor God, give ALL credit to God for all He has done, is doing and will do!  First bless God before asking Him to bless us.  God created all, is in all and above all.  God does the impossible and man cannot.  Hallelujah, God is, was and always will be—God!

Proverb 3:5-12, The Message

Trust God from the bottom of your heart;
    don’t try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go;
    he’s the one who will keep you on track.
Don’t assume that you know it all.
    Run to God! Run from evil!
Your body will glow with health,
    your very bones will vibrate with life!
Honor God with everything you own;
    give him the first and the best.
Your barns will burst,
    your wine vats will brim over.
But don’t, dear friend, resent God’s discipline;
    don’t sulk under his loving correction.
It’s the child he loves that God corrects;
    a father’s delight is behind all this.

WISDOM:  Always God first.  Always.

Abba, Father in Heaven,

I wake each day with you on my mind.  I run to you with all my concerns while thanking you for bringing me this far in life.  I run to you with problems and disappointments, troubles and confusion and you set me straight.  I love you, Lord.  Thank you for discipling me to be all you created me to be.  I know I’m still not arrived but thank you for continuing your work of salvation in me, from the inside out.  You are God and I am not.  I need you every hour.

In Jesus Name, Amen

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Some days when we can’t think of the words to pray, we can ask God’s Holy Spirit in us to pray for us. AND HE WILL!  God’s Word promises…” In certain ways we are weak, but the Spirit is here to help us. For example, when we don’t know what to pray for, the Spirit prays for us in ways that cannot be put into words.”  Romans 8:26, CEV

When it comes to praise, we can praise God morning, noon and night with raised hands, a joyful heart, a knowing, grateful mind, with a soul fill of humility and honor for God, Our Father in Heaven.  We can get help to praise God from God, too!  There are many benefits to praise!

Because of Jesus, we who believe in Him, we can walk right up to the throne of God!  We can praise Him and thank God for His Son.  We can humble ourselves before him and give honor to His Son, King of kings and Lord of lords for saving us.  We can thank God for all the times He protected us and provided for our needs before we knew we needed it.  Are you breathing?  Praise God right now for being alive! 

Never stop praising God!  Bless the Lord, O my soul! With all that is in me, Bless His holy Name!  In praise we recognize who God is and our place in His Kingdom which gives us even more motivation to praise Him more and more!  Don’t wait for Sunday, praise God daily…hourly for God is with us always. 

AND DID YOU KNOW…that the more we praise God, the more we seem to encourage and give honor to each other, building each other up?  There are always those around us who need encouragement. While we are praising God with thanksgiving in our hearts, He helps us to recognize people who need some of what we have which is encouragement through our joy and peace.  YES, God turns our praise to HIM to gifts of encouragement to others–exponentially benefitting others who help others! This is a recent discovery for me as a result of being in a very encouraging ladies online Bible Study.  The more we praise God, the more we encourage each other.  Don’t you love that!

Worship and Wisdom, Psalms and Proverbs

Psalm 134, The Message

1-3 Come, bless God,
    all you servants of God!
You priests of God, posted to the nightwatch
    in God’s shrine,
Lift your praising hands to the Holy Place,
    and bless God.
In turn, may God of Zion bless you—
    God who made heaven and earth!

TRUTH:  Praise God; in turn God blesses us!

Proverb 1:7, The Message

Start with God—the first step in learning is bowing down to God;
    only fools thumb their noses at such wisdom and learning.

WISDOM:  Humble ourselves before God.  Then look up to the God of Creation, our Father in heaven for all wisdom and knowledge that will go with us to eternity and not fail us in crisis.  The Hebrew words rendered fool in Proverbs, and often elsewhere in the Old Testament, denote a person who is morally deficient.  A fool refuses to give honor and praise to God, learn from God or live for God.

Abba, Father in Heaven,

Thank you for all you have done, are doing and will do in my life.  To you be the glory for all that is good in my life.  Thank you for life.  Thank you for saving my soul, dear Jesus.  Thank you for protecting us and leading us to all that is right and good.  Thank you for providing for all we need to fulfil the responsibilities of what you have invited us to be and do.  Thank you for being with us.  Thank you for picking us up when we fall.  Thank you for helping rise above our circumstances and see you for who you really are…Our Father.

In Jesus Name, Amen

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When we really love each other, assume brilliance in each other’s giftedness and talents given to each of us by God himself, God pours out blessings on us.  When we can love our brothers and sisters without thinking about what we can get in return, God blesses us.  When we help out our brothers and sisters, not thinking about how much they deserve our help, God provides blessings on all of us.  When we love others without ANY thought of who they are, what they done, or where they been in life, we begin to love like Jesus loves us.  When justice is truly for all without thinking of the color of our skin, the status of our station in life or the position we hold in our community, we begin to “get it”.  “IT” is what God’s Word is trying to tell us—He loves it when His kids get along.  Unity makes God smile.

Worship and Wisdom, Psalms and Proverbs

Psalm 133, The Message

How wonderful, how beautiful,
    when brothers and sisters get along!
It’s like costly anointing oil
    flowing down head and beard,
Flowing down Aaron’s beard,
    flowing down the collar of his priestly robes.
It’s like the dew on Mount Hermon
    flowing down the slopes of Zion.
Yes, that’s where God commands the blessing, ordains eternal life.

TRUTH:  God commands blessings upon those who get along! 

UNITY is not an event; it is a lifestyle of oneness.  Jesus is the One who made us brothers and sisters.

Proverb 24:1-22, ESV

WISDOM:  Live and love in the unity of God’s Holy Spirit

Be not envious of evil men,
    nor desire to be with them,
for their hearts devise violence,
    and their lips talk of trouble.

By wisdom a house is built,
    and by understanding it is established;
by knowledge the rooms are filled
    with all precious and pleasant riches.
A wise man is full of strength,
    and a man of knowledge enhances his might,
for by wise guidance you can wage your war,
    and in abundance of counselors there is victory.
Wisdom is too high for a fool;
    in the gate he does not open his mouth.

Whoever plans to do evil
    will be called a schemer.
The devising[a] of folly is sin,
    and the scoffer is an abomination to mankind.

10 If you faint in the day of adversity,
    your strength is small.
11 Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
    hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
12 If you say, “Behold, we did not know this,”
    does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,
    and will he not repay man according to his work?

13 My son, eat honey, for it is good,
    and the drippings of the honeycomb are sweet to your taste.
14 Know that wisdom is such to your soul;
    if you find it, there will be a future,
    and your hope will not be cut off.

15 Lie not in wait as a wicked man against the dwelling of the righteous;
    do no violence to his home;
16 for the righteous falls seven times and rises again,
    but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.

17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls,
    and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles,
18 lest the Lord see it and be displeased,
    and turn away his anger from him.

19 Fret not yourself because of evildoers,
    and be not envious of the wicked,
20 for the evil man has no future;
    the lamp of the wicked will be put out.

21 My son, fear the Lord and the king,
    and do not join with those who do otherwise,
22 for disaster will arise suddenly from them,
    and who knows the ruin that will come from them both?

“Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”           Ephesians 5:1-2

Abba, Father in Heaven,

Hallowed be Your Name.  May Your Kingdom come and reign in us and all around us.  May Your Will of unity be done in all areas of life here while we grow in your character.  Make us holy before you.  Give us this day your word then help us to quickly obey.  Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.  Lead us not into temptations of selfishness, but deliver us from all evil and evil’s schemes to bring us down.  Fill us with Your Holy Spirit.  For You have all power.  To you be all glory!  Forever.

In Jesus Name, Amen

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Yes, David vowed to build a Temple for God.  He wanted to honor God for all God had done for him.  David was determined but God had other plans for the completion of the work.  That’s the way life should be lived.  Our courage and determination must come from God and line up with His purposes and will.  His plan is always perfect.  His will is for our best and helps correct our missteps in life called sin.  Our ultimate purpose is to bring Him glory so that all His created will understand that God is God and we are not. 

David had a dream and with a plan for the Temple but it would be Solomon, his son, who would execute the plan and bring the vision to completion. The lesson we learn is that our work is to do what God says when He says it.  We need to fulfill our responsibilities given to us by God’s invitation with God’s help in His timing for the best results, leaving nothing undone with everything done well.

The completion of the temple was no assurance of God’s blessing on Israel, for the important thing was that the people fulfill their responsibilities toward the Lord.  Our present responsibilities to God, as in the days of David and Solomon, include:

Giving God His Rightful Place

The ark represented God’s throne on earth and its rightful place was in the Holy of Holies of God’s sanctuary. Unless God is on the throne of our lives, no enterprise we attempt can be really successful.

Expressing to God Our Joyful Worship

When Solomon put the ark into the Holy of Holies, the glory of God moved in, just as when Moses dedicated the tabernacle. This psalm refers to Numbers 10:33-36 and reminded the worshippers of God’s guidance and power exhibited in the days of Moses. The prayer for the priests in verse 9 is answered in verse 16. “I’ll dress my priests in salvation clothes; the holy people will sing their hearts out!”  A holy priesthood was important to the prosperity of Israel, but so was a nation dedicated to the Lord.  Our worship to God is our determination to hear Him and obey Him all because of our love and adoration of Him.

Reminding God of His Faithful Covenant 

The psalmist reminded the Lord of His covenant, because he wanted someone from the Davidic dynasty to sit on the throne of Israel. Ultimately, this promise was fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the Son of David, whose throne and kingdom are forever!  By reminding God of His Covenant, we are reminding ourselves of God’s Promises! 

If David’s successors wanted the blessing of God, they needed to obey the law of God, but many of them did not. Believers today are united with the Lord in a new covenant that Jesus made in His own blood and He will never break that covenant. The psalmist used David’s name when he prayed to the Lord, but we pray in the name of Jesus (John 14:13-14). The Father is faithful to His Son, and the Son is faithful to the covenant He made in His own blood.  Remember.

Trusting God for His Beautiful Blessings and Promises

God chose Israel to be His people.  God also chose Zion as the building site of His Temple.  David had desperately wanted to build God a house but was forbidden to do so, but he gathered the wealth needed, received the plans from the Lord, and bought the property on which the temple would stand. 

Other nations had temples, but none of those temples had the glory of the true and living God dwelling in them.  God promised to dwell with Israel, provide their food, bless their worship, and defeat their enemies. Jesus’ seven I AM statements are our promises from God’s New Covenant with all believers today and reveals our God who desires a personal relationship with us! 

It is no surprise that social psychology says that actually knowing someone requires personal and private knowledge coming from being with someone over time and building up a level of trust so that they let you in. Knowing about someone is just the first step toward actually knowing them.

It is the same way with God. Thankfully, God has gone to the extreme to make himself known to us. He does this through nature, personal spiritual interactions, and (most importantly) the revelation of himself through his Son, Jesus Christ that we get to read about in God’s Word to us.

The Seven–

1. I Am the Bread of Life: Jesus alone can sustain us, who are but starving beggars looking for food (John 6).

2. I Am the Light of the World: Jesus is the original and eternal source of light in the universe for us who are spiritually blind by birth (John 8).

3. I Am the Gate of the Sheepfold: Jesus is the only door to life for us who are lost outside God’s will (John 10).

4. I Am the Good Shepherd: Jesus knows and cares for us who are orphaned, wandering sheep without a shepherd (John 10).

5. I Am the Resurrection and the Life: Jesus is the key to escaping spiritual death for us who are hopelessly doomed to death because of our sin (John 11).

6. I Am the Way, Truth, and Life: Jesus is the accessible path, the illuminating truth, and the giver of life for us who are lost, ignorant, and dead without Him (John 14).

7. I Am the True Vine: Jesus is the source of eternal life for us who are dead and useless branches apart from him (John 15).

Robert Hampshire, Contributing Writer states, “Jesus was especially self-revealing in his “I Am” statements found in the gospels (specifically in the Book of John). These descriptive statements explain the character and nature of God through significant phrases that all begin with “I Am.” These are not Jesus’ only statements about himself, but they stand out in a unique way.”

“Although we cannot comprehend the complexities of what God is (as in all-powerful, always present, and all-knowing), the great thing is that we can know who he is because he has revealed Himself to us through His Son, Jesus Christ.”

“The God of the universe is not just some mysterious voice behind a curtain. He is a relational being that we can know personally. He is Immanuel, which means “God with us.” Really, Jesus’ coming was the culmination of God already revealing Himself to us in so many ways.”

Worship and Wisdom, Psalms and Proverbs

Psalm 132, The Message

1-5 O God, remember David,
    remember all his troubles!
And remember how he promised God,
    made a vow to the Strong God of Jacob,
“I’m not going home,
    and I’m not going to bed,
I’m not going to sleep,
    not even take time to rest,
Until I find a home for God,
    a house for the Strong God of Jacob.”

6-7 Remember how we got the news in Ephrathah,
    learned all about it at Jaar Meadows?
We shouted, “Let’s go to the shrine dedication!
    Let’s worship at God’s own footstool!”

8-10 Up, God, enjoy your new place of quiet repose,
    you and your mighty covenant ark;
Get your priests all dressed up in justice;
    prompt your worshipers to sing this prayer:
“Honor your servant David;
    don’t disdain your anointed one.”

11-18 God gave David his word,
    he won’t back out on this promise:
“One of your sons
    I will set on your throne;
If your sons stay true to my Covenant
    and learn to live the way I teach them,
Their sons will continue the line—
    always a son to sit on your throne.
Yes—I, God, chose Zion,
    the place I wanted for my shrine;
This will always be my home;
    this is what I want, and I’m here for good.
I’ll shower blessings on the pilgrims who come here,
    and give supper to those who arrive hungry;
I’ll dress my priests in salvation clothes;
    the holy people will sing their hearts out!
Oh, I’ll make the place radiant for David!
    I’ll fill it with light for my anointed!
I’ll dress his enemies in dirty rags,
    but I’ll make his crown sparkle with splendor.”

TRUTH:  God always wanted His people to know Him ever since sin separated humanity from Him in the Garden of Eden. God promised His people through the prophet Jeremiah: “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you…” (Jeremiah 29:13-14, ESV).

Proverb 18:10, The Message

WISDOM: “God’s name is a place of protection—good people can run there and be safe.”

Abba, Father in Heaven,

I run to you daily, seeking you and I’m never disappointed.  Thank you for desiring a relationship with me that is loving and kind.  Yes, your love never quits and never runs out on me, no matter what.  I worship you for your love and care alone.  I love you back with all that is in me.  Continue to teach me, I’m listening. 

In Jesus Name, Amen

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