Category Archives: praise

How Long O LORD {Part 3}

Published first in TRC Magazine on October 31, 2014:

Habakkuk Devotional Series – Part 3

If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed.
If you look at God you’ll be at rest.

—Corrie ten Boom

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Habakkuk’s Prayer

A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet, according to Shigionoth.

LORD, I have heard the report about You and I fear.
O LORD, revive Your work in the midst of the years,
in the midst of the years make it known;
in wrath remember mercy.

—Habakkuk 3:1-2

In Chapter 2, Habakkuk listens as God replies to his concerns. At the end of that chapter, he acknowledges God’s power and pre-eminence:

But the LORD is in His holy temple. Let all the earth be silent before Him.
—Habakkuk 2:20

Now he prays to God in the form of a Shigionoth, which was considered to be a highly emotional poetic form. Habakkuk has confronted God about the havoc he sees going on around him and asks Him why He is not doing anything about it. God has replied to his concerns, but Habakkuk is still wondering if God will really do anything about it.

Isn’t that just like us? We pray about a situation, telling God that we trust Him to take care of things as He deems right. And yet if we don’t see something happen quickly, don’t we find ourselves questioning God’s timing and motives?

Habakkuk goes on to tell God that he knows the way God has worked in the past when chastising rebellious peoples. But why is he begging God to remember mercy? It seems Habakkuk has forgotten the times God followed up the punishment by granting mercy to these same sinners. He still sees nothing but chaos, madness and war all around him and wonders if God will really do anything to stop these wicked Babylonians.

Finally, Habakkuk remembers that God is still in control and makes the choice to trust Him. Although he is still afraid, he pleads for God’s mercy.

Habakkuk’s Prophecy – Praise

God comes from Teman, and the Holy One from Mount Paran. Selah.
His splendor covers the heavens, and the earth is full of His praise.

His radiance is like the sunlight; he has rays flashing from His hand,
and there is the hiding of His power.

Before Him goes pestilence, and plague comes after Him.

—Habakkuk 3:3-5

What a song of praise Habakkuk now sings! As was so often done in Old Testament times—and as we still do today—he is remembering and praising God’s past faithfulness, mercy and grace. Now he acknowledges a few of God’s awesome attributes:

  • His holiness (verse 3)
  • His splendor (verse 3)
  • His radiance (verse 4)

The Shekinah glory, which protected and led Israel from Egypt through the wilderness (cf. Ex 40:34-38), was the physical manifestation of His presence. Like the sun, He spread His radiance throughout the heavens and the earth. —John MacArthur

The term Shekinah as commonly used describes the visible manifestation of God’s presence and glory usually in the form of a cloud.1

  • His power (verse 4)

This description seems to refer to the unfathomable “inner recesses of the divine power.” How can a finite being, even the godly prophet Habakkuk, comprehend and stand in the presence of infinite power? But dear child of God, don’t forget that this very One is also YOUR Father, YOUR God, YOUR Protector! Be encouraged! —Richard Patterson

  • His righteous anger (verse 5)

He is powerful, as the earth shakes, the nations tremble, and the mountains crumble. If nature is brought low, fear and reverence by people is inevitable. “His ways are eternal”—nothing human, natural, or supernatural can stand against Him. —Today in the Word, Moody Bible Institute
Pronouncement

He stood and surveyed the earth; He looked and startled the nations.
Yes, the perpetual mountains were shattered, the ancient hills collapsed.
His ways are everlasting.

—Habakkuk 3:6

Habakkuk praises God’s magnificence and power. Who else can stand and survey the entire world at one time? God now gives him a vision of how He will demolish the evildoers by literally shaking up their world. The mountains and hills which have been in place since God put them there will be no more as they collapse and destroy the savage armies.

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But the multitude of your enemies shall become like fine dust,
and the multitude of the ruthless ones like the chaff
which blows away; and it shall happen instantly, suddenly.
—Isaiah 29:5

Habakkuk goes on to praise God as the everlasting One, who has always been, always will be, and whose ways are forever just and true.

Prediction

I saw the tents of Cushan under distress, the tent curtains of the land of Midian were trembling.

Did the LORD rage against the rivers, or was Your anger against the rivers, or was Your wrath against the sea, that You rode on Your horses, on Your chariots of salvation?

Your bow was made bare, the rods of chastisement were sworn. Selah. You cleaved the earth with rivers.
The mountains saw You and quaked; the downpour of waters swept by. The deep uttered forth its voice, it lifted high its hands.
Sun and moon stood in their places; they went away at the light of Your arrows, at the radiance of Your gleaming spear.
In indignation You marched through the earth; in anger You trampled the nations.
You went forth for the salvation of Your people, for the salvation of Your anointed. You struck the head of the house of the evil to lay him open from thigh to neck. Selah.
You pierced with his own spears the head of his throngs. They stormed in to scatter us; their exultation was like those who devour the oppressed in secret.
You trampled on the sea with Your horses, on the surge of many waters.
—Habakkuk 3:7-15

This section is unquestionably difficult to understand. Habakkuk starts by recalling past events, stating and praising the way God protected His people (Israel) time after time. He continues to confirm God’s awesome power over His creation as He overtakes and subdues the enemies of His people by demolishing the very things He placed on this earth.

He ends this portion by heaping praises on God for protecting and saving His chosen people.

But while He comes thus, executing wrath and judgment upon the ungodly, He comes in mercy. He goes forth for the salvation of His people, for the salvation of Thine anointed, that is, the elect nation (Israel) and the God-fearing, waiting remnant of the last days (see Ps. 105:15).
—A. C. Gaebelein

Premonition

I heard and my inward parts trembled, at the sound my lips quivered.
Decay enters my bones, and in my place I tremble.
Because I must wait quietly for the day of distress,
for the people to arise who will invade us.

—Habakkuk 3:16

Habakkuk is sharing his own personal reactions to all God has revealed to him of what is to come. Although he knows that God will take care of the terrible Chaldeans, he also realizes that it will not be pretty.

Warren Wiersbe explains Habakkuk’s current state of mind this way:

“If Habakkuk looked ahead, he saw a nation heading for destruction, and that frightened him. When he looked within, he saw himself trembling with fear, and when he looked around, he saw everything in the economy about to fall apart. But when he looked up by faith, he saw God, and all his fears vanished.”

Praise

Though the fig tree should not blossom and there be no fruit on the vines, though the yield of the olive should fail and the fields produce no food, though the flock should be cut off from the fold and there be no cattle in the stalls,
Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.
The Lord GOD is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, and makes me walk on my high places.

For the choir director, on my stringed instruments.
—Habakkuk 3:17-19

In spite of Habakkuk’s fears, his faith enables him to express his absolute trust in God. He exults (rejoices) in His LORD; “the Lord GOD is my strength.” He quietly and patiently acknowledges that only God is his help and directs his every step no matter how steep the mountain of trials may be.

Summary of Habakkuk

Habakkuk is the only Old Testament book consisting entirely of a dialogue between God and a man. Other prophetic books consist mainly of a record of the prophets’ message (preaching) to the people.2

In the first chapter, we considered Habakkuk’s confusion in a world filled with chaos. He felt that God saw and knew about all the injustice and corruption but did not care enough about His people to do anything about it.

In Chapter 2, Habakkuk patiently waits as God replies to his questions by saying that He is using the Babylonians for His purposes and will punish them for their sins in His timing. God reminds Habakkuk that no matter what he sees or feels, He is still on His throne taking care of business as He sees fit. Ultimately Habakkuk submits to God’s authority and continues to praise Him.

Finally, in this last chapter, we see that Habakkuk has done a complete about-face. He now completely understands that God has not abandoned His own people. His faith is renewed and his why is replaced with great rejoicing over the strength, constancy and faithfulness of God.

The theme of Habakkuk is faith. He has been called the prophet of faith. This little book opens in gloom and closes in glory. It begins with a question mark and closes with an exclamation point.
—J. Vernon McGee

This short book of prophecy is a great comfort to me. When I am feeling low regarding events currently going on in the world or even about the personal issues that make my daily life a struggle, I have great peace in knowing that God is always available to hear my questions and concerns.

Habakkuk had a conversation with God about the wickedness going on in the world. He thought God was not paying attention to the evil Babylonians but God assured him that not only did He know all that was happening, but that He already had a plan in place to take care of the matter.

Our world today is full of violence, injustice and depravity. We are daily faced with news of war, pandemic illnesses and terrorist activity. Christian values are being laughed at, and we who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior are scoffed at and treated as fools.

Is this any different than in Habakkuk’s time?

Take heart! No matter how awful and frightening the world is today, God is still in control. He is not surprised by anything that is happening. He is fully aware of what is going on, is using every single thing for His purposes and His glory, and will continue to do so forever. 

Picture4David Jeremiah’s devotional, “Fear No Evil,” says that evil has always been around and always will be:

Perhaps the evil is worse now; we’re closer to the end than we’ve ever been before. But evil has been around since the Garden of Eden, and God’s plan for victory was designed before the world began. The Bible tells us to fear no evil. Because Christ triumphed, we will also overcome evil in the end. Trust Christ in this evil age and redeem the time, for the days are evil.

Make no mistake: sin will be punished. Satan and his minions will eventually be sealed in the Lake of Fire where they will spend eternity. Those of us who claim Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord will live in peace and harmony with Him in heaven forever. There we will bask in the precious, lavish and all-encompassing love of our Abba Father.

He who testifies to these things says,
“Surely I am coming quickly.” Amen.
Even so, come, Lord Jesus!
—Revelation 22:20

1 http://www.preceptaustin.org/overview_glory_of_the_lord.htm#Shekinah
2 http://preceptaustin.org/habakkuk_commentaries.htm

 

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Mourning Yet Praising

Today’s post is taken from one of Today in the Word’s devotionals by Moody Bible Institute. I think this pairs well with my Prayer When Struggling With Depression post from last week. 

Is it really possible to be depressed or in mourning and still be praising God? This might sound like a paradox but it is indeed possible. We can mourn or be depressed about a situation and yet praise God because of who He is and how He is always with us. If we have trusted Him in the past we can trust Him again and again because we know that He will see us through this particular storm. And because He has been faithful to us before, we can count on that faithfulness every single day.

Beloved, please read on. I believe you will be blessed by this as much as I am.

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Mourning yet Praising

StreamWaterfall-www.todayintheword.org

Read Psalm 42 

My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you. 
—Psalm 42:6 

 Psalm42sm--AMP

Ten years ago, Chuck and Lynette’s daughter Joy died of complications from epilepsy. She was 28 years old. Joy was a vibrant Christian who had lived up to her name—everyone who knew her testified to her sweet spirit. “I miss her so much every day,” Lynette said. “We used to sing together in church, and I have so many special memories of singing and laughing together. When I sing those songs today, sometimes I cry instead of laugh, but I know that one day we’ll be reunited at the feet of Jesus.”

Lynette’s statement beautifully captures the paradoxical tension within biblical lament. We can feel loss and hope at the same time. We can sing hymns of praise even while we weep and mourn.Our reading for today, Psalm 42, concludes our focus this month on lament. Unlike some of the other lament psalms, this one does not move in a straight line from lament over circumstances to trust in God’s character. Throughout the psalm, the poet describes how desperation and faith wrestle with one another.

In the first four verses, the psalmist articulates his loneliness, torment, grief, and longing. The opening image of the deer panting for water vividly conveys the psalmist’s desperate yearning. Verses 5 and 6 serve as both a summary of the psalm and a hinge between its two sections. The psalmist indicates that he is both downcast and trusting God. He has hope that the time for praise will come.

But the psalm doesn’t end there. Expressions of trust in God don’t end the experience of suffering and sorrow. The psalmist experiences God’s love (v. 8) and also feels abandoned by God (v. 9). The psalmist persists in biblical lament—he is downcast and disturbed, but he also trusts in God and looks forward to praise (v. 11).

Apply the Word

Biblical lament defies our cultural expectations to process grief in certain ways or to just get on with things. You don’t have to feel better before you praise God. Coming to Him with your desperation and suffering is itself an act of trust. Make verse 11 your own personal prayer and statement of faith that you will one day praise God at the feet of Jesus.

http://www.todayintheword.org/titw_devotion.aspx?id=142179

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Make Music in Your Heart

Eph5-19


Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 

always giving thanks to God the Father for everything,
in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

—Ephesians 5:19b-20

Have you ever heard the phrase attitude of gratitude? Ask yourself why it should be an attitude, rather than just good old gratitude. It’s easy to be grateful when things are going well, but what about when they’re not? Is it possible to be thankful even then?

So many of us struggle with how to live joyfully with chronic illness or disability. The reality is that trying to find any kind of joy in such situations takes time. What can we do to live with pain and yet truly keep a positive outlook?

I’m sure you’ve met people who struggle with daily pain yet never fail to greet you with joy no matter how they feel. How do they maintain such a grateful attitude when they’re going through such tough times?

ChronicPainFor those of us who are chronically ill or disabled, it is natural to want things as they used to be. But not only is that a waste of precious time and emotions, allowing God to use us where we are now can help us focus on the good things in our lives. And that leads us to remember that God is working everything out for the best, even if it doesn’t seem that way to us.

Beloved, life is not easy for those of us struggling with daily pain issues. The simplest tasks can seem daunting when our bodies refuse to cooperate properly. However, we do have a choice: we can choose to be sad and angry about what is happening to us. Or we can nurture an attitude of gratitude, which usually results in a happy outlook and allows others to glimpse God’s love through us.

I often sing this song by Casting Crowns in my heart to God when I am at my lowest. It never fails to do two things:

  • I am filled with utter thankfulness that He is always, always, always holding me close to His side
  • my eyes start leaking

If you cannot view this video of Casting Crowns’ “Praise You in This Storm,” please click here to read the lyrics.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, sometimes it is so hard to sing through our pain, but we know You are always at our side to strengthen and hold us up when we are not able to on our own. Help us remember that giving thanks for everything means we can be thankful for what You are doing in our hearts through our pain. Thank You for always being our All in All. Blessed be Your holy Name!

 

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God’s Righteousness and Praise

Happy Sunday!

Is61-11

I will greatly rejoice in the Lord,
my soul shall be joyful in my God;
for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation,
he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments,
and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.

For as the earth bringeth forth her bud,
and as the garden causeth the things
that are sown in it to spring forth;
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to spring forth before all the nations.
—Isaiah 61:10-11

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Thankful for God’s Blessings

Thankful_Thursdays

Every so often I like to share some of my devotionals with you that were published in an anthology titled Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. My assignment was to write 30 devotionals for this book, and I had only 3 weeks to get them done. That tight deadline was stressful enough, but having migraines 24/7 only added more stress. When I wasn’t writing, I was sleeping!

Thankfully, God’s continuous grace and mercy got me through this difficult assignment. Looking back now, I can say that He carried me through all my painful circumstances to write what He had in mind for me. I hope you are as blessed when you read this as I was while I was writing it. To God be the glory for walking with me through it!

Please enjoy this devotional. It was the first in the section titled Prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving.

When I want to thank God for His blessings . . .

Praise the LORD, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits. —Psalm 103:1-2

From the fullness of his grace we have all received one blessing after another. —John 1:16

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.. —Ephesians 1:3

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. —James 1:17

. . . I will pray.

Holy Lord,

Lately I’ve been reflecting on how much You have blessed me, and it brings tears to my eyes as I realize You supply all these things because You love me so much.

I look around my home and see how You have amply provided for all my needs. Comfortable furniture fills my rooms. There is food in the pantry and refrigerator to nourish my body. The clothes in my closet keep me warm in winter and allow me to be cool in summer.

I am surrounded by family and friends who love and care about me. Did You place them in my life to help me through the rough patches? It seems that way to me.

I know there are times I don’t appreciate You as much as I should. Instead, I grumble and complain about the most insignificant things. That’s when You remind me that You are always with me—and that is the biggest and best blessing of all. When I’m happy and joyful, You cheer me up even more. And when I’m feeling low, it helps me to remember that the most precious part of my life is knowing You.

Thank You for being the Giver of bountiful blessings.

Amen.

Reflect upon your present blessings of which every man has many; not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some. —Charles Dickens

[From Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. Copyright © 2006 Bordon-Winters LLC]

AnytimePrayersForEverydayPeople

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Yahweh Is the Sweetest Name I Know [John Piper]

I receive devotionals from the Desiring God blog every day and am always blessed by what I read from them. Today’s writing by John Piper is so sweet I knew I had to share it with you. Please visit the Desiring God site, where you’ll find much wonderful reading!

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You are not wrong to sing, “Jesus is the sweetest name I know,” even though Yahweh is.

Here’s why.

God gave himself the name Yahweh. No man gave him this name. It is God’s chosen personal name. He loves to be known by this name. It is used over 5,000 times in the Old Testament. It is almost always translated by Lᴏʀᴅ (small caps). But it is not a title. It is a personal name, like James or Elizabeth.

You know the name Yahweh best from its shortened form Yah at the end of Hallelujah, which means “praise Yahweh.” I love to think about this when I sing. When I sing, “Hallelujah,” I love to really mean, “No! I don’t praise you Bel, or Nebo, or Molech, or Rimmon, or Dagon, or Chemosh. I turn from you with disdain to Yah! I praise Yah. Hallelu Yah!”

God announced his name to Moses in Exodus 3:15. God said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘Yahweh, the God of your fathers. . . . This is my name forever.”

He preceded this announcement with two other statements so the meaning would be clear. He said, “I am who I am” (verse 14a). And he said, “Say to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you’” (verse 14b).

The Hebrew name Yahweh is connected to the Hebrew verb “I am.” So Yahweh is most fundamentally the One-Who-Is. “I am who I am” is the most foundational meaning of Yahweh. It means: My am-ness comes from my am-ness. My being from my being. My existence from my existence.

There are vast personal and covenantal implications of this. But this is foundational. No beginning. No ending. No dependence. He simply is, always was, and always will be. He communicates all of this with a personal name. To be sure, he has titles, and he has attributes. But this is a personal name. He packs the weightiest truth about himself into a personal name. Infinite greatness and personal knowability are in the name Yahweh.

Then in the fullness of time, Yahweh came into the world to seek and save the lost. The angel said to Joseph, “You shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Jesus is an English transliteration of the Greek Iesoun. And this in turn is a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew Joshua. And Joshua is a combination of Yah and “salvation” or “save”. It means “Yahweh saves.”

So Jesus means “Yahweh saves.” Jesus is Yahweh with a human nature coming to save his people from sin.

Paul confirms this in Philippians 2:11. He says of the risen Jesus, “Every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” That is a quote from Isaiah 45:23 where Yahweh is the one to whom every knee shall bow and every tongue confess. Paul is saying that, in the end, the whole world will acknowledge that Jesus is in fact Yahweh incarnate.

So you don’t have to choose between singing, “Jesus is the sweetest name I know,” and, “Yahweh is the sweetest name I know.” Indeed you dare not choose.


For more on this topic, see John Piper’s three most recent messages:

Topic: The Supremacy of Christ

John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books.

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13 Days of Being Thankful

Day 10:

Thank you, Jesus!

Surrounded with JOY

Mighty in Power

Saturday Praises


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O Lord God of hosts, who is like You, O mighty Lord?
Your faithfulness also surrounds You. —Psalm 89:8

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For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.  —Isaiah 9:6

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Then I heard something like the voice of a great multitude and like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” —Revelation 19:6-7

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Praise the Lord, O My Soul!

Praising along with you!

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