Praising God in Times of Trouble

9/16/2014

This is something I have rarely ever shared with anybody. I became a born again Christian in 1989 when I was 36 years old. And for much of my Christian life I have experienced excruciating ongoing physical pain from a variety of health issues. My life experience tells me that most people don’t experience a fraction of what I have endured. And yet, some have endured even more. For the most part, the only time I have ever talked about this is when it has been so painful and debilitating that it is just impossible to hide it. I am very good at hiding it. And I hate self-pity. Over the years I have occasionally asked for prayer but I decided long ago that I did not want to burden others endlessly with concern over this. Especially my children. This has been my choice and I still believe it has been the right one for me.

My salvation experience was truly an amazing encounter with God. But about 6 months later I had another life changing encounter with God. I was sitting in my living room reading a booklet about sacrificial praise that was exhorting the reader to praise God even in the worst of times. In agreement with the principles in this pamphlet I decided that I should raise up both my arms and praise the Lord. I had seen others do this but I had not yet taken that step. I hesitated for a couple of minutes because I was afraid that the neighbors might see me standing in my well lit living room with both of my arms outstretched in this way and wonder what in the world I was doing.

Finally, I overcame my fear and with an almost angry determination I raised my arms to praise the Lord while saying things like, “Thank you, Jesus.”  I totally did not FEEL like doing this. I just knew it was right and pushed myself to do it. I immediately experienced a profound presence of the Holy Spirit while poetic-like words of prophecy began pouring into my mind. I made my way to the kitchen and sat down with a tablet and pen and began to write – amazed at the things I was writing. It definitely wasn’t me coming up with these things. This was the beginning of that particular anointing for me.

As I have reflected on this over the years, I have concluded that God’s lesson to me through this encounter was that a sacrifice of praise, especially when you REALLY don’t feel like it, is just about the most appropriate thing that a Christian can do in the face of any and all adversity in this life. Praising God in the midst of life’s hardships testifies to the integrity of our commitment to him. Doing so from our heart reveals that our service to Him transcends the pains and inconveniences of our life. It is the spiritual meter that measures the depth of our convictions and declares to the world that our God is worth it.

Hebrews 13:15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.

A victim mentality deafens our soul to the voice of God.

9/15/2014

1 Cor. 2:9-10 declares. “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” – the things God has prepared for those who love him— these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

But are we listening?

As long as we believe we have the right to persist in feeling offended or hurt about something in our life, we are not where God wants us to be and we cannot receive clear direction about what God wants to do in our lives.

When we continually harbor the wounds of victimization within ourselves, we will always interpret life with nearsighted perspective. As long as we allow ourselves to remain in the mentality of the victim we will be especially vulnerable to self-righteous indignation and ungodly character development.

This self-centered, victim mentality focus, distracts us from the revelation of God’s plans for us. We are simply too busy thinking and feeling hurt or angry or disappointed to be clearly cognizant of the Spirit’s leadings from within.

God’s History Book

9/12/2014

Recently, I saw a video of college students being interviewed. They were being asked questions about American history. The vast majority of them couldn’t answer the simplest and most basic questions about American history. It seemed outrageous and unacceptable to me! Previously, I have seen this same interviewer asking similar questions of students with similar results in several other videos.

I believe this kind of thing is happening today, because for years, students within our education system have not been encouraged to value and thus learn from history. As a result, our children seem more focused on learning about life through the subjectivity of personal experience. This is what they seem to value most.

And this is one of the reasons why many Christians today rarely read the Bible. The Bible is a book of history. And many Christians are simply not interested in valuing and learning from a history book about other people’s lives. Instead, their primary focus is their own personal experience from which they make judgments about spirituality and God.

As our culture continues to change so will our values and principles. As we embrace the current culture with all its little gods of happiness and instant gratification we are slowly disengaging from the God that is revealed through Bible history. Without realizing it, we are redesigning God to fit the requirements of our new desires. He has become a benefactor but no longer a judge, one who blesses but no longer disciplines. As we continue to redesign Him our delusions will deepen.

Eventually, we may even consider true believers to be the ones who are deceived.

1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,

Matthew 24:10 And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another.

2 Peter 3:17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, take care that you are not carried away with the error of lawless people and lose your own stability.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.

People tend to perceive God based on the image of who they think they are in relationship to God.

9/3/2014

Shortly after I  gave my life to the Lord, I met a pastor’s wife who mentored me for about 6 months. One time she shared this story with me.

She was talking with a priest one time when she brought up the subject of believers hearing God. The priest remarked, “Oh, don’t you hate it when that happens? Its always the same. All He ever does is criticize!”  Surprised and somewhat disturbed by his remark, she replied, “Oh my goodness, I don’t hear Him like that at all!”

People tend to perceive God based on the image of who they think they are in relationship to God. 

1 John 4:16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

Compromise

8/30/2014

We should not deceive ourselves. Compromises that we make because of the “weakness” of our will, are, in actuality, self-centered rebellion against the word of God. In reality, our will is only “weak” to do the will of God while it is “strong” to do our own will.

James Chapter 4 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
4 You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world means enmity against God? Therefore, anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

About that self-esteem…

8/27/2014

Recent studies indicate that inflating students’ self-esteem in and of itself has no positive effect on any objective aspect of their lives. One study has shown that inflating self-esteem by itself can actually decrease grades. (Baumeister 2005)
The concept of self-improvement has undergone dramatic change since 1911, when Ambrose Bierce mockingly defined self-esteem as “an erroneous appraisement.” Good and bad character are now known as “personality differences.” Rights have replaced responsibilities.

A revolution has taken place in the vocabulary of self. Words that imply responsibility or accountability—self-criticism, self-denial, self-discipline, self-control, self-effacement, self-mastery, self-reproach, and self-sacrifice — are no longer in fashion. The language most in favor is that which exalts the self — self-expression, self-assertion, self-indulgence, self-realization, self-approval, self-acceptance, self-love, and self-esteem. (Ruggiero, 2000)

So then, what should our self-esteem be founded in?

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27