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Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (Colossians 3:15 NIV)

Do you have days, sometimes weeks, months, even years, when you find it hard to be thankful? …times when life’s disappointments and burdens weigh you down and you find yourself dwelling and stewing over them? It seems unpatriotic or sacrilegious to mention such a thing now, one day before Thanksgiving, but for many it is reality. Thanksgiving and Christmas bring with them great expectations of family celebrations and traditions… and disappointment over unmet expectations.

I suggest Colossians 3:16 may offer some insight to how we can rise above these situations and cultivate a spirit of thankfulness. If we cultivate the peace of Christ in our hearts, and if we make it a matter of will to keep our eyes on Jesus, we will feel his presence lifting us up even in our disappointments. The Bible often mentions a “sacrifice of praise.” This happens when we praise God in spite of our disappointments, even daring to praise him for the things that cause us grief. In my own experience, it has been the hard times that brought me closer to God. What I would have missed if life had always gone my way – what a spoiled brat I would have become.

Make your Bible your favorite book. A good concordance may help you find scriptures to meet your particular needs for the day. The Psalms are a great place to go when your spirit needs a lift. Spend time in prayer, and sing praises to God. If you listen to Christian music, especially scripture and praise songs, you bring in the assistance of those recorded voices to lift your spirit. Be pro-active in your praise and sing with them. God isn’t concerned over how well you sing, but he loves the sound of your voice when it is praising him. If you feel like crying, then cry your heart out to God. Remember that the shortest verse in the Bible is “Jesus wept.” He cares about your grief. Keep the music playing until you have cried it through, and let the praise songs lift you up into his presence.

A song that brings out how God blesses us through our trials is entitled, Through it All. Click the link and listen to the version I found on YouTube by The Booth Brothers. I hope these words bless you like they do me.

Father God, help us to truly be thankful to you as we experience the Thanksgiving holiday this year. Bless the needy out of your bounty so they can see your face and feel your peace.

© 2009 by Janice D. Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Psalm 141:1-4 (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

This Psalm is written by David. It is a good prayer to use to start any day. Verses 1 & 2 express the intimacy that David felt when he talked with the LORD in prayer. I love how David anticipates that God sees his prayers like incense rising up to him.

David is not hesitant to lift up his hands to the God in prayer. I remember how self-conscious I felt when I first tried this. But then I did a little reflecting on other times when I reach toward other things I like with no sense of embarrassment at all. I would not hesitate to reach toward a beautiful flower, vase, or butterfly. It would not embarrass me to reach out to a baby or child to express love to them. We reach out our hands to our pets. Our hands seem to be designed for expressing love. I can feel my heart lifting to God as I reach up to him.

Verse 3 needs to be planted in my heart and mind 24/7. It is so easy to speak first and think later with regret. What a powerful prayer for every day of the week. Verse 4 follows 3 very appropriately. It is as if once the careless words are spoken we are all the more susceptible to go along with the crowd in other ways as well.

Re-read this scripture and offer it up to God in prayer. Lift your hands to him and speak the prayer out loud.

Lord, give us the courage…

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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Psalm 119:25-32 (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible. Please read the scripture first.)

We are about to begin a study of Josiah, the boy king. I believe this Psalm was selected for today’s scripture because it reflected so well the barrenness of the spiritual condition of the Jewish nation when Josiah began his reign.

This passage would not only have encouraged Josiah in Bible times, it is written for us today as well. Perhaps you are at an all-time low and you are tempted to believe that God has abandoned you because of your circumstances. The psalmist is writing from the perspective of the dust heap–he is feeling great sorrow.

But the psalmist is lifting his eyes to the Lord. He is pleading with God to teach him his laws so he could meditate on them through his time of sorrow. He is praying that God will strengthen him through the scriptures, that he will keep him from becoming deceitful, from trying to rise in his own strength. He resolves to continue in the way of truth with his heart set on the laws of God, and prays that God will not allow him to be put to shame. The psalmist is able to run in the freedom he has received from following God’s paths.

Are we willing to trust in the scriptures to lift us out of our own despair? I recall a Sunday when I was so deep in despair that I couldn’t bear to attend our worship service for fear I would make a spectacle of myself through my tears. Instead, I armed myself with my Bible and some scripture-based music tapes and drove to a secluded place to worship my God in private. I cried as I listened to one song after another. I looked up the scriptures the musicians sang. Even though the tears continued to flow, they gradually changed from tears of grief to tears of hope and then joy. I returned home with a new lift to my spirit. I was ready to face whatever came my way.

Father God, we thank and praise you that you know our hearts and that you care. Just as Jesus wept for Martha and Mary in their grief, you weep for us when we are hurting. Help us to never forget your love, and to never forget to lift our eyes to you when we feel discouraged. You have promised to never let us down. Thank you for always being there for us.

P.S. As I was uploading this message God blessed my heart with the song “You Are My Hiding Place” on the radio and my tears again flowed, as he had been my hiding place on that day I just wrote about. God will bless you if you will give him the opportunity. (Psalm 32:7 is the scripture that inspired this song)

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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2 Chronicles 6:1-11 (Click to read NIV or select your preferred translation of the Bible.)

The labors were finally done and it was time to dedicate the temple.  Solomon re-stated the history behind the building of the temple as he addressed the assembly. Then he turned away from the people and offered praise to God for his faithfulness. Solomon again repeated the promise God had made to David emphasizing that God had been faithful to keep his promise.

Solomon gave credit where credit was due. He did not seek credit for building the temple, but gave God all the credit for having seen it through to completion and the ark of the covenant was now in the temple.

Are we willing to give God credit for seeing us through the tasks he gives us to do? Or do we feel like we did all the work? Are we quick to give him the credit for giving us the abilities we have, or do we want everyone to see what wonderful thing we have done?

Dear heavenly Father, you have been so faithful to us. Thank you for for loving us and reaching out to us, for opening our eyes that we might know you, and for giving us the desire to grow in our relationship with you. Help us to acknowledge you in everything and to recall your many blessings to us.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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1 Praise the LORD.

      Praise the name of the LORD;
praise him, you servants of the LORD,
2 you who minister in the house of the LORD,
in the courts of the house of our God.

3 Praise the LORD, for the LORD is good;
sing praise to his name, for that is pleasant.
4 For the LORD has chosen Jacob to be his own,
Israel to be his treasured possession.

5 I know that the LORD is great,
that our Lord is greater than all gods.

Psalm 135:1-5 (NIV)

God is so good. Rejoice that you know his name and he knows yours. God is so worthy of our praise. Those who serve in our houses of worship need to lead the way in the worship of our God, but don’t wait for them if they don’t. Praise the Lord, your God.

Just how good is our God? He has chosen us to be his own. He first chose the house of Jacob, Israel, to call his own. Later through Jesus Christ, he called the rest of us who will receive him and grafted us into his wonderful family. In spite of our unworthiness, he has called us to be his own.

The fifth verse reminds us that our God isn’t just another god, he is THE GOD, the one and only true God. All others are impostors. Don’t let anyone try to tell you that all religions lead to the same place, or that they are all basically the same. If you believe that lie, you cannot believe the Bible at the same time.

  • Read the first Commandment: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.  You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3-4 NIV)
  • Read Jesus’ words: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 NIV)

This is one basic ingredient of the Christian faith that cannot be compromised. You believe God and Jesus Christ his Son, or you don’t.

To know God (Jesus) is to love him. Show him your love through praise.

Almighty and most glorious God, your name is to be praised above all others. May our worship and praise flow from the depths of our hearts, minds, and souls whenever we think of you.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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     37 David left Asaph and his associates before the ark of the covenant of the LORD to minister there regularly, according to each day’s requirements. 38 He also left Obed-Edom and his sixty-eight associates to minister with them. Obed-Edom son of Jeduthun, and also Hosah, were gatekeepers. 

    39 David left Zadok the priest and his fellow priests before the tabernacle of the LORD at the high place in Gibeon 40 to present burnt offerings to the LORD on the altar of burnt offering regularly, morning and evening, in accordance with everything written in the Law of the LORD, which he had given Israel. 41 With them were Heman and Jeduthun and the rest of those chosen and designated by name to give thanks to the LORD, “for his love endures forever.” 42 Heman and Jeduthun were responsible for the sounding of the trumpets and cymbals and for the playing of the other instruments for sacred song. The sons of Jeduthun were stationed at the gate.

     43 Then all the people left, each for his own home, and David returned home to bless his family.

1 Chronicles 16:37-43  (NIV)

The ark of the covenant is finally back in Jerusalem. The great ceremony has taken place and it was magnificent. God’s name was exalted and his praises filled the air.

Before it was time to go home, David took care of some important details. To make sure that God’s name would continue to be lifted up, he Asaph and his associates to minister regularly at the ark of the covenant. Another group was assigned the responsibility of gatekeepers. A third group was in charge of the burnt offerings every morning and evening. A fourth group of musicians were responsible to continually offer thanks to the Lord. They were to sound the trumpets and cymbals and play other instruments to praise the Lord at the gate.

Only after all of these arrangements had been made, was it time for all the people, including David, to return to their homes.

David still was not finished, however, for when he went home, he blessed his family. Perhaps a reminder is in order. The last mention of David’s family was of his wife’s bitter scolding of him for his exuberant dancing in front of all the people. No doubt, he was expecting to face more criticism when he stepped in the door. But we are told in this passage that he “returned home to bless his family.”

But David had spent the day in worship and praise of his God. He had also put things in order with his public ministry. Surely God’s presence followed him home and helped him to sooth the ruffled feathers from earlier in the day.

Lord help us to seek you through heartfelt praise so that we may be prepared to deal with the struggles we have in our everyday lives.

Have you ever experienced a time when God’s presence, in a time of worship, empowered you to deal with hurtful situations in your life. You are invited and encouraged to share them with our readers in the comments section below.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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1 Chronicles 16:7-36 (Click on this link to read the passage. It is too long for me to copy into this post without breaking the Copyright law that governs its use.)

This passage is a psalm of David’s even though it is not in the book of Psalms. It is a song of thanksgiving and praise to God for all he has done for his people. The cause of this celebration of praise was the restoration of the arc of the Covenant to Jerusalem.

In this psalm David is thanking God for all of the wonder acts he performed on behalf of the Israelites. He is calling for the Israelites to rejoice and to glory in the name of God. He calls on them to remember the wonders and miracles God has performed as well as his righteous judgments against those who rebelled against him.

David remembers God’s faithfulness to his covenant even when the people were not faithful. He remembers God’s faithfulness to give the Promised Land to his people as an inheritance.

David recalls how God protected the Israelite nation as they wondered in the desert with no place to call home – yet. He then calls on the Israelites to sing God’s praises and to declare his glory to all nations.

David declares God’s sovereignty over all other gods. He challenges the Israelites to give God the glory and honor he is due. He calls on the earth to tremble before the Almighty God.

My feeble re-telling of this great psalm leaves much to be desired. One needs to read this Psalm over and over. Try to imagine King David’s uncontainable excitement as he sings his heart out to the Israelites through these words.

As I have written these words today I have wondered how we could bring this psalm closer home. Those of us who live in the United States have a history that, at least at the beginning of our nation, had very close ties with God. His name is embedded in our national documents, and his people were at work making our nation great. It is grievous to see how far away from God we have moved in the past 100 years.

I would like to see this psalm re-written to fit our nation’s history and to challenge our own citizens to “Cry out, ‘Save us, O God our Savior; gather us and deliver us from the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name, that we may glory in your praise.’ Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.” (1 Chronicles 16:35-36 NIV) 

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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1 Chronicles 16:1-6 Click on link to read passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

I see no evidence that the celebrations were over and done with once the ark of the covenant was put into the tent that had been prepared for it.

The celebration and praise continued. More sacrifices were made to God. Some were burnt offerings and some were fellowship offerings. The fellowship offerings were eaten by the people in an act of honor of God. Gifts of bread, date and raisin cakes were also given to each man and woman.

The musical instruments were played regularly before the ark of the Lord. Again, David assigned the responsibilities to play the various instruments before the ark of the covenant.

We should be vigilant in our worship of God. Our Bibles shouldn’t have to be dusted off each time we read them. Our voices should always be ready to sing God’s praise. Our hearts should find reasons to praise God throughout the day.

Lord, lift our eyes to you and fill our hearts with joyful praise as we consider all your blessings and your mighty deeds.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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1 Chronicles 15:25-29 Click on link to read passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

The passage in my previous post emphasized the planning that went into preparing for the acts of worship as the ark of God was brought back to Palestine. Today’s passage tells how the praise was carried out.

There was much ceremony with the singing and the musical instruments. All the singers, musicians, and persons involved in the procession, including King David, were dressed in fine linen. Seven bulls and seven rams were sacrificed as an offering of praise and thanksgiving to God.

Because of the differences in the ancient culture of these Israelites in comparison to the ways we celebrate and worship today, it is hard for us to wrap our minds around the events of that day. But I think it is time well spent to stop and close my eyes and try to imagine all of these things happening at one time. The people were celebrating with their whole heart, body, and soul.

David was so caught up in the celebration and worship of God that he danced for joy. His wife, Michal, who was the daughter of the former King Saul, was embarrassed by David’s dancing and despised him in her heart. According to the account as it appears in 2 Samuel 6:20-23, Michal’s harsh words to David cost her dearly. God closed her womb, and she never bore any children.

God is worthy of our worship and praise. If we are uncomfortable in expressing sincere adoration and praise to him, we need to evaluate our relationship with him. Seek him with all your heart and soul and you will find him.

Father God, please accept our offerings of worship and praise. Help us to know and love you more that we may praise you more.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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1 Chronicles 15:16-24 Click on link to read passage. You may select your own version of the Bible after the link opens.

At first glance this seems an insignificant passage in the scriptures with its long list of names. Granted, we don’t know much about the majority of these individuals apart from their brief descriptions here. But God doesn’t waste space in his Bible.  So let us glean what we can in an overview.

David went to the Levites, God’s appointed priesthood to the Israelites, to work out the details of the music to be sung and played when the ark was to be brought back to Jerusalem. The leaders of the Levites were to select from among their brothers the singers and the musicians to play musical instruments. The players of the bronze cymbals were named in verse 19.  Verse 20 and 21 name the persons who are to play the harps and lyres in each of what appears to be two different styles of music. Because Kenaniah was such a skillful singer, he was placed in charge of the singing. Doorkeepers and trumpet players were also named.

Nothing was left to chance because David knew the important role music had and still has in worshiping God. Restoring the arc of God to Jerusalem was not to be taken lightly.  We must offer our best to God when we worship him and sing his praises.

Most holy God, please accept our offerings of praise as we attempt to make our joyful noise as we worship you. May we offer you only our best.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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