Daily Devotions

Focused on Praise

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"Praise the Lord, all you nations! Extol him, all you peoples!" (Psalm 117:1)

 

Sometimes, watching the news multiple times per day, I inadvertently give too much power to ISIS. It is as if I have made them in integral part of my life, and they do not deserve that much attention. Attention is what they desire, and I am giving them too much control over my thoughts. God deserves my attention and praise. I need to put the news regarding ISIS in its proper place in my world. Meanwhile, I need to give a greater piece of my world to my God.

 

This tiny Psalm, with only two verses, says all that needs to be said on praise. It gives an invitation to praise and the reasons to praise God. The words "steadfast love" and "faithfulness" according to the New Interpreter's Bible commentary, were used by God as "self-revelation to Moses, which forms the culmination of the golden calf episode." Even in anger, God remains faithful and steadfastly loving to sinful humanity.

 

All sinful people and institutions will receive God's anger, but will also receive forgiveness, and be treated with faithfulness and love by God. Even amidst the horrors of ISIS, God will ultimately bring healing. The word "great" in the passage is used primarily to describe military might. But for God, "great" will occur by the power of God's faithful love.

So, today, pray for ISIS. Pray that they will begin to soften their hearts to experience remorse and guilt. Pray that they will realize that their understanding of the Koran has been corrupted by manipulative and opportunistic leaders, who worship war and chaos, rather than God. Then, conclude your prayer by praising God, who is the creator, redeemer and sustainer of this world. God will forgive, and restore our world from brutality to loving justice. ISIS will be brought low, and peace will be raised up. Praise our God of peace.

You are Worthy - Psalm 116:6

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"The Lord protects the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me." (Ps. 116:6)

 

Just like the vast majority of you, I have experienced serious health issues, death of family, struggles at work, etc. As I have gotten older, experience has shown me that all these struggles have actually been a blessing. It is in life's deep struggles, when we know we will not be able to pull ourselves up, that we are forced to cry out to God to "save me!"

 

This psalm is one of thanksgiving, for being delivered from some life-threatening situation. It might have been an illness, but the description was open-ended enough to apply to any number of horrible situations in life. No matter what the psalmist's pain, the focus is on the fact that he/she turned to God in a time of distress.

 

The other key to the Psalm is that God loved the psalmist and us enough to respond in our moment of deepest need. We are, therefore, valuable to God. In our suffering, the world may not view us as special, or needed, or valuable, but God sees us as we really are: worthy. It is important to view ourselves the way God views us; valuable.

 

Today, thank God for specific moments in your life when God carried you through deep struggles. Then continue to thank God for seeing you as valuable, even when others do not consider you worthy. Allow God to humbly lift you up and give you the self-worth to do meaningful and worthy things, in God's name. Judge yourself with grace, as God judges you and me.

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