Friday, September 4, 2015

Encouragement For the Waiting: What to Do While You Wait ~ Praise

We're nearing the end of our devotional series on waiting. This month, we see how waiting is a time for...

#4. Praise (I like this part): (n.) the expression of approval or admiration for someone or something.

· Praise involves Singing (Ps. 22:3; 68:42, 71:8, 14; 96:1-4)

But I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more.
Psalm 71:14

Sing unto the Lord, bless his name; shew forth his salvation from day to day.
Psalm 96:2


God loves to hear us praise Him and will bless our praise with His presence, protection, and provision.

When my sister and brother and I were little my dad was an evangelist. So we traveled a lot. And when you’re seven or eight years old, a five-minute trip will make your hair turn gray. I mean, it’s terrible.
 

To distract ourselves from premature aging while we rode up and down the highway, we would sing. Sometimes it would be silly songs like “It ain’t gonna rain no more no more, it ain’t gonna rain no more.” Anybody else heard that before, or were we just the privileged ones? We also sang gospel songs and listened to cassette tapes of our favorite groups like the Rochesters and the Ruppes.

Singing praise is not only a good way to pass the time. Singing praise ministers to God. His word commands praise. He inhabits, literally dwells among, the praises of His people (Psa 22:3).

Praise also moves God on our behalf. In II Chronicles 20 there is an account of an army going out to war with singers leading the way. Really? Singers? No big, intimidating warriors with huge muscles and gleaming swords and maybe an eye patch for emphasis? Okay, I get it. Maybe their singing was bad enough to destroy the enemy by bursting their eardrums? Nope.

As these brave singers praised, God moved and fought the battle for them. When they got to the battle, all that was left was the dead bodies of their enemies. When we praise, God moves on our behalf. He will fight for us. He doesn’t always change the circumstances, but He’ll always change us. Which brings me to my next point.

Sometimes praise is a sacrifice. 


Sacrifice (Psalm 54:6, 107:22, 116:17; Heb. 13:15).


By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. 
Heb 13:15 


Praise isn’t always easy, and we do not always feel like it. Sometimes worship will be a sacrifice that costs us something. Sometimes we have to praise until we feel like praising. But that is one of the beautiful things about praising our God. When we praise, it may take some time, but the feelings will come.

About four years ago, an opportunity had opened up for me that looked like a dream come true--the beginning of a serious romantic relationship. Not wanting to rush into anything, I prayed and fasted, asked my parents to pray, and I asked God that if there was any reason He didn’t want this, and I shouldn’t go forward that He would show me. Within 24 hours of that prayer some new information came out about the situation that left me overwhelmed. I prayed for a month afterward about my answer, willing to do whatever God wanted me to do, but I wanted to know His will for sure. My parents basically said, we’ll support you in whatever you decide, so at that point it was between me and God.

He never gave me peace to move forward, and I knew staying in my current situation was better than stepping out on my own without God’s blessing. But for about three months I bordered on bitterness. I wondered why in the world God would dangle my heart’s desire for a relationship in front of me, then snatch it away so quickly. (By now, y’all know I’m a romantic at heart.)

FOR LAUGHS: When I was nine years old, I had dreamed of getting married when I was 16, because at the time you could do that if your parents signed your license for you. That was before I developed a brain.


Anyway, I was pretty tore up that God was asking me to bypass a chance at a relationship like that one when at first it had appeared to be all I had wanted for so long. About that time I discovered the song Broken Hallelujah by Mandisa.

When All that I can sing is a broken hallelujah,
When my only offering is shattered praise,
Still a song of adoration will rise up from these ashes,
And I will worship You and give You thanks.
Even when my only praise is a broken hallelujah.

God used that song in my life during what was such a hard time for me. God showed me how to seek His will and listen to His answer, but even if nothing else, He taught me it IS possible to praise while your hurting, and that praise does change us. It protects us from bitterness and helps us surrender to God’s plan for us.

One thing I believe He was trying to show me at that time is that I, as a young twenty-something whose friends were already married and starting families, I had put that goal of marriage above anything else in life. (Yes, today must be single-girl confessions day.) I thought I’d be miserable and alone forever if I didn’t marry by 22. (Thankfully Jesus has since shown me I can be single and still be beautifully fulfilled in Him while I wait.) Praise not only blesses God's heart but it can help us receive with a cheerful spirit the lessons God has planned for our life.

Another song that comes to mind is Sheri Easter’s Praise His Name. It’s perfect for those times when you don’t really feel like singing, but you need to feel God's presence.



AAAAANNNDD here’s one of my favorite quotes:   


What about you? Do you find your heart encouraged when you praise God? What are some of your favorite songs or Bible verses about praising God?

I compiled all the entry names from the blog post and the Facebook thread for last week's giveaway of Pam Hillman's Stealing Jake. Then I put them into Random.org. And the WINNER iiiiiiis....Lauren Borho. Congrats! :) I'll be getting in touch with you soon!


5 comments:

englishmysteriesblog said...

As always, beautiful post Natalie. :) I especially liked the line, "No big, intimidating warriors with huge muscles and gleaming swords and maybe an eye patch for emphasis?" Brilliant sentence. :) And I love that you mentioned cassette tapes, so I'm not the only one who is old here...lol.
My favorite songs--that is hard. I'm sure you have guessed by now that I love contemporary Christian music, but there are so many songs within that genre that I could name. Some recent favorites would be: Good Fight by Unspoken, He Knows by Jeremy Camp, Drops in the Ocean by Hawk Nelson, Restart, I Am Second, and We Believe by Newsboys.
And yes, the list could continue. :)

Meghan Gorecki said...

A very timely read for me, Natalie. Beautiful words and heart behind them--thank you for writing this.

Natalie Monk said...

Thank you so much for the kind encouragement, HEATHER! I don't know about brilliant, but it made me laugh, so I wrote it. Haha!

Ah, yes. The lovely cassette tape. I still have a couple I think. Somewhere.

I love We Believe! I know I've heard Drops in the Ocean--wonderful!--I'll have to check out the other ones.

Natalie Monk said...

Hi, MEGHAN! Great to see you again! Thank you for coming by and letting me know! It means so much!

Courtney Ballinger said...

Wow, I love your new blog look!!!

Last night at church, the preacher preached about contentment. About how it's a commandment for us to be content. How Moses was content (a verse I'd never noticed before) before he was called to lead the children of Israel.
That's something I need to work on.
Lord, help us all be content with where we've been placed!
:)