What is the essence of Praise?
Is it just knowing God is? How often does it come easy when He paints a wondrous sky? When He does anything to make us smile? How does one apply the sacrifice of praise? This question lays heavy on my heart theses days. Almost every believer I know (almost) doesn’t seem to grasp the concept of sacrificial praise. When asked in a poll, nine out of ten believers could not quote a scripture that speaks of sacrificial praise. May seem rather inconsequential unless you realize how often its referenced in the Word. 218 times the word sacrifice is in the Word, half of them include praise with them. In the half that doesn’t refer to praise directly with it, it gives strong indications of it being in conjuction to or related to, or a result of. ..pretty incredible.
To sacrifice means to give something up. To praise means to lift something or someone up in exaltation. Put together, as the Word repeatedly states it, we sacrifice the opposite of praise for praise of God . After all it would hardly be a sacrifice to praise God when I’m happy. It would seem these days that we have this assumption that we are entitled to our feelings. So praise can come after I’ve had my pout, rant, disappointment, hurt, anger – especially if it comes on the heals of injustice. Yet as I enter into the presence of God, and He teaches me, He clearly says to sacrifice my feelings and with all my heart, mind, and soul praise Him, especially when I can hardly dredge up a thin whisp of His praise-worthiness, this is true sacrifice. It requires faith. Faith in the God who is working at all times to and for the good of those that love Him. This is a foundational truth that must be lived. How better to live it than to practice it? Or do it. Something can’t live, as dead words on a page, it must become active to live. Dying to oneself will always come with the sacrifice of one’s feelings. Not the ignorance of them, or denial, but the will turning towards the Father and actively willing itself into the Kingdom of Praise. It’s the arm wrestle of me and my view verses God and His. Every promise He has made can be used to contradict a complaint from human lips. Yes, every single one. Noone keeps their promises like God, not one.
Someone once said, “I really can’t see one thing today that is worth praising“. For those in throws of this temptation let me share a perspective. Everyday, in order for the day to be called a day, the sun must have risen(God be praised), in order for one to be able to call a day a day, one must have been given breath to enter into it(God be praised). One may argue, “what if I wish God had taken me Home instead?” Simply put, then your will has not entered into His, for if you were willed to go Home to be with Him, your breaths would have ceased and there you would be. So. ..sacrifice your will to the sovereign God you say you believe in and thank Him for the day He has made, ask Him to change your heart and open your eyes to the gift of the day you are in and thank Him for your purpose in His will to be here, now.
What does it cost you to call yourself a follower of Christ? Have you been stoned (with real rocks, not weed) for your belief in Him? Do you know the sacrifice of not doing the thing you think you can’t live without, just because He said “Live without it.” Do we truly know that when He says that He is prophecying? Literally, if you give it up, you will really and truly live, actively putting His Word to action, faith being a real live thing working inside you. This is Life, the Life Yeshua (Jesus) came to give. The Life He lived, and now we can by the power of His Spirit live too. I can honestly say I never succeed at such sacrifice, until I’ve admitted my defeat in ability and asked for the Spirit to give me praise instead. I can’t drudge praise up on my own. So, you see the denial of the feelings that cause complaint, pout, rage, bitterness, doubt, comparison, etc – may indeed be acknowledged but not lived instead they must be sacrificed, exchanged for what we don’t possess. The only reason we reason to our advantage to keep our feelings and “work through them”, is simply because we don’t want to let them go. Not one person has ever worked through their feelings leading to life, faith in God. Read Hebrews 11. There is no mention of one hint of one person of Faith who “worked through their feelings But had faith. Not one. Every single one, sacrificed their feelings and turned towards God to obtain faith. Often our feelings are cronic lairs. Why? Because they are hitched to our comfort, our perspective, our desires, our failures, the fallen nature of this world. But, what about delight, joy, love, compassion. ..aren’t theses feelings, you ask? Depends. Depends on Who gives them to you. Do you delight at the sunset? Any question as to Who gets the credit for it? And love? This is constantly being defined by feelings, it’s not a feeling, Love is and always will be a choice. Love is sacrifice, if you don’t sacrifice for the one you say you love, you don’t love them. To sacrifice in love, one must give up something of themselves for the other. It must cost something. Another long subject for another blog, but love is not a feeling, it’s a result of feelings being yielded to Love Himself. What does the Word say about joy? I won’t answer this for you, look it up, study it, it’s not a feeling we come by as good little human beings in and of ourselves. All things good – every single good thing ever only and ever will come from God. If you experience it, thank Him for it, cause we don’t get joy without Him or compassion, or delight. One may argue; “but non-believers delight in sunsets“. So? This is evidence of the contrary of what is true about sunsets? Whether one believes or not, God made sunsets, and if one delights at one, they delight in Him, whether they acknowledge it or not. The Author of the sunset does not change, and why wouldn’t He give delight to anyone for admiring His work? That is the amazing thing about God, He doesn’t wait to be who He is, do what He does, on us to believe Him or acknowledge Him. Never has, never will. He came while we were yet sinners, remember? Yes, indeed, even the sinners are given delight in the things that come from God alone.
But, praise, sacrificial praise, this is only given to them that believe and acknowledge Him. Those without Him are quite incapable of faith. But lest, we who follow and live for God be proud, we, too are incapable without Him. The difference is, we who have let Him take over our lives, have been given the power of the Spirit of God to do the things of God. So we see, it all comes from Him, not us. This why, I believe, that nine out of every ten of those believers in that poll, had no clue about sacrificial praise. It’s the stumbling stone we trip over, living a life we get credit for vs. living a life He gets credit for. Indeed it’s a contradiction to even say, I can live my own life. My life is dead if lived for me. Only Life and God go hand in hand. Without Him, death is the only result of anything.
I belabor, but I do so at the lead of the God of Life. Read up about sacrificial praise in His Word, ask Him to expand upon it into your limbs. You’ll find, much of the walk with Him will have this sacrificial praise as it’s hallmark. It takes faith to praise God when bills are due and money is no where to pay, it takes faith to believe He is working in such detail while the over due notices are stamped out. It takes faith to praise God for accidents and floods. It takes faith to praise God for hiccups and delays. Faith is trust in action. A moving, living trust that moves our lips towards praise and our hearts, minds and bodies in line with them. Every single person on the planet has trust issues. Don’t claim that as special or unique to you. Hint, God never said to trust anyone but Him. Most the time we have trust issues, it’s because we trusted the people He made, or ourselves instead of Him in the first place. Trust issues are cured only by trusting only in God. Faith can only come from a living active trust in God. Sacrificial praise is the epitome of faith!
Trusting is being confident of what we hope for, convinced about things we do not see.
Through Him, therefore, let us offer God a sacrifice of praise continually. For this is the natural product of lips that acknowledge His Name.
Offer thanksgiving as your sacrifice to God, pay your vows to the Most High, and call to Me when you are in trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor Me.
♡ Grace and peace in Yeshua the Messiah ♡
You unfaithful wives! Don’t you know that loving the world is hating God; Whoever chooses to be the world’s friend makes himself God’s enemy! Or do you suppose the Scripture speaks in vain when it says that there is a spirit in us which longs to envy?
The above quote in the picture has weighed heavy on my heart. You see, we are in the middle of buying a house. We were supposed to be closed and “over the threshold” by now. Delays that can only be understood by God, as He is the One who moved our chess pieces into the game in the first place, have abounded the last couple weeks. Then just before the holiday, ureeka the appraisal went thru! Yet closing on the 28th was not to be (that was supposed to be the closing date). I looked around my tiny one bedroom apartment, mostly packed, and wondered “What in the world?”
You see, I really could care less about a house, the things that go with it, I really don’t have my heart hinged on it! I learned a while ago, home by its definition has very little to do with earthly structure. So when the Lord points His finger and says “Go, there, now!” We went, and the doors flew open, then the Lord held up a stop sign, like a cross walk attendant at a school. We sat there and watched the flow of events roll thru our line of sight and scratched our heads. “Were we really hearing from God?” Next came the huge task of waiting. One minute I’m saying; “Hey slow down, Lord!” the next I’m taping my fingers in the “ark” full of boxes and ready to go. But no rain.
The tight rope I began to traverse was all about revealing the fine line between demand and devotion, true contentment and spiritual imagery, praise and popular pump ups. After all the there's a difference between waiting for God to move you, all moved in to a place and ready to stay or leave, but. ..unpacked – and ready to leave or stay – packed up. Everything feels competely inaccessible in the latter, but tolerable in the former. Comfort to this flesh I'm in was still handy in the former, not now. I'm not a neat freak, but this is unnerving. I'm tripping over boxes with stuff in it I need but can't undo because at a moments notice I just know, just KNOW the word is coming. .."it's time to go!" And I'll regret taking a step back in obedience to cater to a wavering faith. At one point I told those around me (with a laugh in my voice) "I’m not sure I’m packing out of denial or faith, at this point!” We all giggled, but I meant it. And this is hard. They say buying a house ranks up there in the top three most stressful things you can do. Not sure the order, but getting married is among them and losing a spouse. I’ve been married, not so much stress there. Even bought a house before, that was a cake walk compared to this time around. I haven’t lost my spouse, I don’t have to think long about that to know its definitely worthy of being among the top three.
Yet as a Follower of Yeshua, this whole house thing uurks me. It’s a thing, and temporary and distracting if you ask me. I praise God the house was located in another state, so my attachment to it was very small and grew dimmer by the day. Saying “easy come easy go” at this point especially – no problem! Yet deep inside, way down in there, I want the house, I want the heck out of this city, and I’m ready for a change. The house, I could leave or take but now my estimated time of departure hinges on the darned thing! Incompatible, oh yeah, I get that! The One I Follow never had a house. I require shelter, but I dont need to own a house. I can live in what most call pretty undesirable circumstances. The apartment I currently dwell in is far from nice, except that it’s what God has provided, it functions, and I can (barely) pay for it. The amount of money we throw at it would shock you, but it’s ‘the cheap’ here. You get what you pay for? Not in this case, I am staring at alot less dough for that house than this apartment. The house appeals! But the stress to get it so far? I’ll keep the apartment, thank you! Why would the Lord catch me between two winds of such opposing nature’s? My eyes are dry, hair is a mess, and skin is the kind of chapped that can only come from long periods of time exposed to ferocious winds.
Tonight, it hits me. The calm begins. ..He’s reminding me what satisfies. It’s not this apartment, a house, the stuff in those boxes, or out of those boxes, order, none of it. It is Him. My flesh argues on many levels while my soul takes its position and digs in.
It seemed competely ridiculous to me as so many around me that I love can’t see a time where they will ever “buy a house” much less rent one any time in the future. I was hard pressed to complain, but held back at the same time. This was/is a hard balancing act on so many levels. (The wind not withstanding)
Then Yeshua’s (Jesus) words in Matthew 6:24-25 came to softly shield me in the windswept terrain.
“No one can be a slave to two masters; for he will either hate the first and love the second, or scorn the second and be loyal to the first. You can’t be a slave to both God and money. Therefore, I tell you, don’t worry about your life -…”
He goes on to say the many ways we worry about our lives and the incompatibility of worry and worth in His eyes. The days of Christmas have just passed, full of money money money, things things things. Though we don’t celebrate this holiday, we watch most of our loved ones do so. Or try to. Broke in December always brings new meaning to the word Christmas. Tears flow due to the lack of ability to “give”. The illusion of love wrapped in a shiny package is strong this time of year. It makes one dread the up and coming “new year”. How completely futile! The Lord wasn’t even born in December! And He would certainly never have endorsed a material giving and wanting to get in children on His birthday! It’s completely against everything He ever did or said! Yet, here is the crave Wayne Stiles is speaking of. The best this world has to offer is its comforts and toys. The best His world has to offer is sacrifice and giving of things far more valuable – time! Time full of grace and mercy. Time full of hope for a future that doesn’t include anything you can fit under a tree. Or wrap in a bow. Time spending currency that can’t be earned on earth, only in heaven. Where the only One that can be praised is God!
What a strange turn of events these days have uncovered. What can sumerize them best. The quote above and the lens of God’s Word to understand them. We crave. We surrender. We serve. We Follow. We suffer. We obey. We learn. Or we crave, indulge, expect, invade, enjoy temporary comforts at the cost of eternal gain, disobey, and repeat the same mistakes over and over, never learning. Almost everyone does this every December. Almost everyone does this when the opportunity comes to buy a new car or house or anything. What do our opposing cravings teach us? What story will they tell on judgment day? Who’s birth do we celebrate in joining a world in a pagan holiday that originally celebrates the idols born from the beginning of time? No matter what, just like Yeshua said, these thing reveal who our Master will be. The one we love or the one we hate. Both dwelling inside our hearts and mind only create chaos. One must go.
It’s not wrong to buy a house. If God tells you to. It’s not wrong to buy anything, if God leads you to. If He does, we don’t have to put off bills or rack more up to do so. He pays for it too! Our jobs are His way of doing so. If He says full spreed ahead, we go. Yet then if He puts the brakes on, we wait. Or we lose Him in the midst of the travel. A far more costly endeavor. How to discern deep in the craving of two incompatible worlds? Wait on Him, then obey, follow, and trust Him. Our flesh will run us amuck. It is a master deciever, telling us we only want good things while those things scratch out the eyes of truth. We are warned, not to be ruled, but in love. His love is the only thing that puts things of this world in union with His. Compatibility.
Thank Abba for this lesson, on going as it is, and carve out in me, only what is solid in You! May You get the glory!
♡ Grace and peace in Yeshua the Messiah ♡
We are not called to be “good people”. We are not created to be the most successful, educated, prosperous we can be in our means for income; nor the raising of our children; nor anything that promotes us or illuminates us in this world. All these may come, but they are not the first and foremost focus of our lives. As Yeshua (Jesus) said, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of heaven, and (then) all these things shall be added into you.” Our call, or goal our first and most passionate pursuit must be holiness! What is holiness? Sounds like a legalistic religious word these days, eh? It depends on Who’s eyes you are looking for the definition for through.
The key words are what we are to hate and what we are to cling to or love.
Within the community these days there is a back tracking with the word – hate. “Christians don’t hate, they love.” – as the mantra goes. Really? That’s not what I read in the heart of my Father. Hate what is evil. If we are going to be Holy, the exact opposite of love must be held as a lifelong steady discipline in regards to anything anything evil.
It helps to become like children. They have no hesitancy in rejecting what they hate. They resist it without giving up. Foods, chores, discipline, mostly – they are learning what their flesh bends like. We teach them to love those good things. But just focus on their single minded devotion to reject that plate of broccoli (or whatever each one may abhore). I remember working on a plate of broccoli for three days, until I ate it all. I didn’t eat much those three days. I was miserable, but I didn’t care, I hated broccoli. I was determined in my mind it was not good, would not be good and therefore it wasn’t good. (I love broccoli now, thanks mom!) I also remember avoiding it like the plague. If I knew mom was fixing it, I found ways to be at a friends for dinner instead of home, or I’d play sick. I rejected what I hated. I did it well. We all did. So why can’t we do that with evil? We celebrate Halloween and apply the scripture backwards. Attempting to glean some good out of a practice that has no root of good in it. The candy, and the tears of our children “feeling left out” entice us with compromise for sweets and new inventions to go along with it. Holiness, sees Halloween as just another calender day, it simply rejects the whole thing. If a donut had arsenic in it, mixed into the dough, do we eat just a little thinking the arsenic won’t effect us? The Word of God, says a little leaven, a little slip, a little compromise and the whole batch is ruined. We are called to hate, that which holds any degree of evil, to abhore and avoid it like we avoid pain. With everything in us. It starts by making up our minds.
See where it says, “and become convinced of…”. I think this is where we go wrong. We are not fully convinced that a little joining in with evil practices will truly harm us. Many are not so in union with the Spirit that they can discern where evil lurks inside candy-coated, seemingly innocent things. It is impossible to cling to what is good and compromise with a little evil. You cannot say, “I love you”, to someone and have resentment, or bitterness towards them in your heart. So we see that the holiness always starts from within, to begin the process of convincing. We never convince ourselves, the Spirit of the Living God first convicts and teaches/instructs, then He shows us how to give up our way of rationalizing, to die to ourselves, and with nothing but blind trust move forward with the way laid out for us in scripture. Hating what’s evil is not coincidently the first part of the instructing. That is first. Then we can can begin to cling to what is good.
I hate. ..unkindness. So I am kind. – Holiness
It doesn’t matter if my feelings feel like being kind, I choose the kindness in trust in my Savior.
I hate. ..deception. So, no matter what it may cost me, I am honest. – Holiness
I hate. ..trying to get something for nothing also known as laziness. Which can come in disguise of entitlement. So I think nothing is owed to me, and look for where it will cost me something to obtain anything. – Holiness
I hate. ..resentment. Which comes in many forms, all of which centers on selfishness. Expecting others to do or be something for me. Unable to rejoice when someone gets something good. Choosing to be hurt and put distance between myself and another instead of choosing grace. So I choose grace every time, in all things, with all people. – Holiness
Do we begin to see? Ninety percent of Holiness is done from within. And without continued exposure to the mind and heart of God – His Word – there can be no transformation. No hating evil and clinging to what is God aka: good.
Our destination is holiness. Ninety percent of all our energy is to be focused on obtaining it. When we think that sending our energy into this more than others, will keep us from doing well in our jobs, our family’s, our missions, we get all backwards.
seek ye first. ..and then. ..
We test it and see. Pulling all our resources into this pursuit, only gives us all we need to do more than well with everything else.
As followers of Yeshua, we hate, abhore and reject any form of evil. Theres a time to hate, and a time to love. Not people, but often the things they choose, or the practices they invent. First inside our own hearts, then where we find it as a result of being in others. Evil is sly, sneaky, complicated, and disguised in anything but it’s own face. We can not discern it without the Spirit. We cannot be led by the Spirit without the Savior. We cannot know the Savior without knowing The Word; which He is. We cannot serve two masters. We will either hate the one and love the other or vise versa.
The first stop on the road of Destination Holiness, is hating what is evil. Rejecting, avoiding and turning away from it like a child throwing a tantrum about a plate of food they have determined in their mind is no good for them.
May we all reach this destination!
♡ Grace and Shalom in Yeshua the Messiah ♡
For I am not ashamed of the Good News, since it is God’s powerful means of bringing salvation to everyone who keeps trusting, to the Jew especially, but equally the Gentile. For in it is revealed how God makes people righteous in His sight; and from the beginning to the end it is through trust – as the Tanakh puts it, “But the person who is righteous will live his life by trust.”
There are so many things that can be perceived as shameful. I won’t digress to dictionary definitions. The kind of unashamed we are too be in our Savior can only be defined by what He calls – healthy shame, placed within us from His hand in the womb. That nagging sense that we should feel a shrinking inside when we sin. Indeed is because we shrink from His presence, and it grieves Him, like a mother who’s arms reach for her child. The distance sin causes hurts the Lord because He loves our nearness to Him! We shrink inside because our souls were made for Him and the distance makes us small, alone, naked. Shame in this case is a grace given to us, that warns us, and attempts to teach us and guide us back Home.
The kind of shame that comes with being called a “goody-two-shoes”, or prude…ahhh, I remember this shame well! Do you? Yet if God is good, and I guarantee you in the world’s terms He is definitively PRUDE, then we know this shame is not the healthy kind! For God is good, and prude and love, kindness, patient, long suffering (in this world’s terms a glutton for punishment), forgiving, merciful, gracious, slow to anger (in this world’s terms – retarded); these things don’t just describe God in intellectual terms – they ARE Him! All that He is, all that describes Him – He IS! It’s His character those words describe, in Hebrew the word Name means character. So if I feel shame because some call me a goody-two-shoes, then in essence I’m ashamed of Him!
So how many different ways can being ashamed rear it’s ugly head in connection with the Good News that saves us?
To shrink back from:
What God says is right.
How God made things.
What God says about things.
Ahhh…these can cover everything in life.
God says that marriage is one man and one woman. Not ashamed.
God says that to do good to those who hurt you is His way. Not ashamed.
God says that lying is wrong. Not ashamed.
God says not talking about people behind their back is His way. Not ashamed.
God says not worrying about things is His way. Not ashamed.
God says that everyone’s primary purpose in life is to know Him. Not ashamed.
The list goes on and on.
So what does – not ashamed “look” like?
We look at the words of Paul. Trust! If I trust all that God says, the ways He does things, then I trust Him! If I do, then I do the things He does and says. Not ashamed. If I don’t, then I do not – ashamed. What makes you and I shrink back from goodness? Only God can be good. And anything called good, therefore, can only be God.
Speaking up when everyone in the room is joining in on gossip, saying “hey, let’s move on to talking about something less harmful”. Does the heat of conviction spread down your back in such a situation? Do you shrink or are you ashamed? To just stay silent, not join in, will not cut it. To be a light one must shine. Though to be fair it is always better to be silent than join with the tongue of gossip.
It’s a kind of “thing” to shout on Facebook and everywhere one goes; “I’m not ashamed of Jesus!” Maybe they are not, but truly only actions tell the story. There are people who say they believe in Christ, but their actions are ashamed of Him. As God said in His Book, even the demons believe in Him. So what?!?
Will they do good to those who hurt them? Will they turn their cheeks for more hits, will they step forward to say sorry first even if they feel they did no wrong? Will they tell the truth no matter the cost? Will they take each thought like a slave to Yeshua to have Him proof read them and edit them and so change them?
These are the signs of ashamed or unashamed.
What do we stand on? Pride? Self effort? Our opinions? Our rights? Here are the opposites
Humility, weakness, silence, giving up/over. Where do you see a banner raised for these characters?
Are they flying high in your heart so as to make you soar in your deeds? Who’s Spirit controls your life?
I remember well, my shrinking as a child from the taunting of my peers – “prude!” I didn’t know then, that my shrinking was shame for the One who makes me pure. I do now. I’m not ashamed to be called narrow minded because I follow the narrow way, but less because I do it; no! Because He does it first and enables me too follow! Unashamed!
Call me dumb, lame, boring, anything one can attempt to shrink me with, in the name of being God’s kid, part of His Kingdom, a follower of the Way, the Truth, the Life and I will stand to be counted and call it joy. Truthfully it only hurts when people I love do the name calling. Those I don’t know, I feel little about. I’m not God. He loves everybody! Like we love our loved ones, God loves all mankind! A strangers opinion makes little impact, a loved ones can create craters! Who can fathom love like God IS? That’s a love to be unashamed of! To run towards and hide in! Unashamed!
Don’t be ashamed of what makes you able to stand before the Living God! Do it! In secret, in front of everyone, do the unashameful things God sent His Son and His Spirit to enable you and I to do! Then, like Paul, and all those who have gone before us, we can say…
“I am not ashamed!”
With our mouths, yes – but with our every action and deed – here is proof of His touch, His ownership of our lives. I am not ashamed to be His slave! Slaves don’t have the option of living life however they decide. They must do as they are told! Live a life that says you are not ashamed, you do as you are told and delight to be in the service of the Master! No sense of morbid giddiness do we get from persecution – no. But we count it all as joy, because we see this as shaping our character into the likeness of the Name! The Name above all other names! Yeshua, beloved Son of the Father, Salvation, Author and Finisher of our Trust!
♡ Grace and Shalom in Yeshua the Messiah ♡