Rev. Randy Crawford|
Let's just praise the Lord our God
We live in a world today that focuses on the negative and how bad things are going for people.
Paul wrote in Philippians 4, "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me — or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you."
Paul understood the influence of one's thoughts on one's life. What a person allows to occupy his or her mind will sooner or later determine speech and actions. Paul's exhortation to "think about such things" is followed by a second exhortation, "put it into practice." The combination of virtues listed in these verses is sure to produce a wholesome thought pattern, which in turn will result in a life of moral and spiritual excellence.
Hazel Lee wrote in her book "The Cycle of Victorious Living" that as she was going through one of her roughest times as a missionary in India she closed the door and knelt down by her bed and cried out her heart's agony. She said she prayed, "O God, show me the way through, for I have no way to turn!" As she waited, she felt a quiet voice speaking to her: "Look on the table beside the bed. You'll see the answer there."
The missionary wrote, "I was a bit startled but stood and walked over to the little night table. A small book lay on the table, and the title, in letters of fire, read 'Rejoice.' Then God spoke to me again, saying, 'Here is the way through: praise me and delight in me for myself alone, and I will come to your rescue.' "
As Lee was going through a time when she felt that God had forsaken her, she realized that all she needed to do was to focus her thoughts on God and praise him for loving her. When this happened she could feel the presence of the Lord with her.
What happens when you praise the Lord? It prepares our hearts for God to minister. It renews our spirits. It puts our attention on God. It takes "I" out of the way so God can work in our lives. It satisfies our hearts. It excites us to praise his name and to share his glory.
When times are hard and you think there is no hope, as the gospel song reminds us, "Lets Just Praise the Lord."
The Rev. Randy Crawford is pastor of Decatur First Church of the Nazarene.