The Lens of Praise

“From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised.” (Ps 113:3)
 
The attitude that we approach our day with matters. It is like coloring on the lens of the glasses we view the world through. A man that has an attitude that work is the most important thing will spend his life seeing all the things that must be done. A woman that has an inappropriate interest in the lives of others will see the world as a trove of secrets to be gathered and gossiped about.
 
Bitterness? You will see things to complain about. Selfishness? You will see people as tools to be manipulated for your own end.
 
God calls us to see the world through Him. From morning until evening, we should view all we see through the lens of gratitude and trust in His plan for this planet and His people. Granted, that is much harder on some days than on others, but the lens of praise is infinitely better for your soul than any other.
 
“Through Him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge His name.” (Heb 13:15)
 
Matt 4:4 #Biblebites

Lend a Helping Hand

“It is well with the man who is gracious and lends; He will maintain his cause in judgment.” (Ps 112:5)
 
If we close our hands to everyone else’s problems, we will live our lives alone. If we lend freely, we will inevitably lose some money, but we will gain the character of being gracious. Money is not worth losing your love of humanity for. If you see a need – fill it.
 
“But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.” (Lk 6:35)
 
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A Light in the Darkness

“Light arises in the darkness for the upright; He is gracious and compassionate and righteous.” (Ps 112:4)
 
Darkness is when a loved one dies and the void in your heart is a chasm. Darkness is when your spouse has violated your marriage vows. Darkness is losing your job, watching your body betray you with cancer, being slandered by those you considered friends, realizing you failed and others are hurting because of wounds you inflicted. Darkness is overwhelming and disorienting and in those moments, the darkness feels infinite.
 
But in the darkness, God causes the light to arise. To reorient us, remind us we aren’t alone, and bring us through to the other side of the valley of the shadow of death. That is His promise. The darkness won’t win – look for the light.
 
“But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.” (1 Thess 5:8)
 
Matt 4:4 #Biblebites

Learn By Doing

“A good understanding have all those who do His commandments” (Ps 111:10)
 
There are some things in life that cannot be fully comprehended until we have experienced them. A professor can discuss the physics of riding a bicycle and yet, a child knows more in five minutes of skinned knees and wobbly handlebars than a professor can impart in an hour lecture.
 
God’s commandments will never be truly understood until they are applied. Imperfect application of God’s teachings will provide more understanding than a thousand sermons. We cannot expect to grow because of the preacher’s understanding of the doctrine… we must skin our own knees, and however wobbly we are, steer our own vessel toward the light.
 
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An Upright Life

“Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart, in the company of the upright and in the assembly.” (Ps 111:1)
 
There are many words to describe God’s people – but the one used in Psalm 111 is particularly visual. They are described as the ‘upright’. Something that is upright is oriented as it ought to be. An upright floor lamp stands erect and can provide light. An upright bicycle is on its wheels and prepared to be ridden.
 
When we are right with the LORD, we are right with the world. We are properly oriented to stand tall against the trials of life and effectively work as mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, servants and leaders.
 
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The Right Foundation

“Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.” (Ps 127:1-2)
 
It is good to work hard and achieve… but work without the LORD is wasted because it is a tree that never bears sustaining fruit. It is like trying to care for that one house plant that no matter how much you nurture it is always a little sickly. You can kill yourself trying to make something succeed that is destined for failure.
 
On the other hand, when we put God at the center of our service, then the fruit comes naturally because we’ve planted the tree in the right soil.
 
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31)
(I might mention that though this principle is true in everything, the context of Psalm 127 is focused on raising our children, and when we think about how much effort we expend building our children up, it is particularly powerful to remember this principle so we don’t waste the effort.)
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Ripe Old Age

“Then he [David] died in a ripe old age, full of days, riches and honor; and his son Solomon reigned in his place.” (1 Chr 29:28)
 
You know why we call it “a ripe old age” because growing old should be like fruit – we should be at our sweetest and best near the end.
 
Never stop growing. Age should make us better, not bitter.
 
“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.” (2 Cor 4:16)
 
Matt 4:4 #Biblebites

Heart Strong

“O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, our fathers, preserve this forever in the intentions of the heart of Your people, and direct their heart to You” (1 Chr 29:18)
 
When the people offered willingly of their wealth to provide materials for the building of the temple, King David rejoiced at the gift, and this prayer is a reflection of that joy.
 
David didn’t ask that God would preserve the wealth of the nation or that He would make life easier for the people in the years to come – he asked that Jehovah would preserve the intentions of the heart that the nation had so clearly expressed that day.
 
The world may change and our circumstances are likely to be altered along the way. It is not likely that you will always be poor, always be wealthy, always be healthy, or always be sick. However, may our hearts always be inclined toward good intentions and may the intent of our hearts be wholly devoted to God wherever our life may take us.
 
“Blessed is the one who fears the LORD always, but whoever hardens his heart will fall into calamity.” (Pr 28:14)
 
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The Cheerful Gift

“Then the people rejoiced because they had offered so willingly, for they made their offering to the LORD with a whole heart, and King David also rejoiced greatly.” (1 Chr 29:9)
 
There is no joy in grudgingly doing the right thing. When our behavior is correct, but our attitude is off, then the blessing of joy in giving of ourselves is lost. When the nation gave of the gold and other precious metals to build the temple, they rejoiced because it was a free-will offering. The freedom of giving brought joyful hearts.
 
If we wake up and face the day with a bad attitude, all the joy is sucked from our service. You will probably still feed your children breakfast, do the chores, go to work, pay the bills, and hundreds of other required tasks – but you won’t enjoy it because in your heart you begrudge the service. The only way to have joy is to give of yourself voluntarily.
 
“Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor 9:7)
 
Matt 4:4 #Biblebites

The Written Pattern

“ ‘All this,’ said David, ‘the LORD made me understand in writing by His hand upon me, all the details of this pattern.’ ” (1 Chr 28:19)
 
God was able to lay out the blueprints for a very intricate and detailed temple. Using the written word, God expressed His plans and pattern to David for this impressive edifice. This illustrates God’s ability to articulate His desires through the Word – within the tomes of the sacred text, God clearly explains everything “pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Pet 1:3).
 
Just as David was given the pattern for the Jewish temple, we are given the pattern for how to live in our bodies which are the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 6:19) and the pattern for the church which is the temple of God (Eph 2:21). The Bible provides the blueprints for churches and Christians alike. We must model ourselves after the pattern found in the Scripture because the pattern is clearly expressed by God so that we might behave properly toward Him and our fellow man.
 
“Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 1:13)
 
Matt 4:4 #Biblebites