Praise Precedes Victory

“After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.’” – 2 Chronicles 20:21 After Jahaziel prophesied that Judah would win over the armies of Ammon, Moab, and Mt. Seir, King Jehoshaphat and his troops marched into war. However, instead of going entrenched in gear and combat strategy, they moved toward their enemies worshipping the Lord. So certain were they that God would make good on His promise to deliver them that they were confident enough to thank Him before it happened. And while we tend to think of conflict and struggle as solemn, the truth is that our greatest battles are often won from a posture of joyful praise. No matter how dire things look, the

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Unfinished Symphonies

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” – Ephesians 2:10 (NLT) A symphony is an elaborate musical work that’s written for a full orchestra. It’s typically divided into four movements, and all of them are distinctly different but woven together by similar themes. Since composing such a complex piece of music is no easy task, there are several famous composers who started them but never finished. Perhaps the most famous is Franz Schubert and his Symphony #8, of which he completed only two movements. Though speculation by some is that he never intended to finish it, the reality is that he probably didn’t get to it, either because he lacked inspiration or didn’t receive adequate support. Thankfully for us, God doesn’t author any unfinished symphonies. Though our lives are complex and

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God Brings Good News

“Then one of them said, ‘I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.’ Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing.” – Genesis 18:10,11 Yesterday, we talked about how Abraham lavishly welcomed God and His angels to his tent. He washed their feet, had Sarah bake them fresh bread, and fed them steak from his fatted calf. In other words, He spared no expense to show them hospitality, and neither should we. Since the Father of Creation sent His Son, who humbled Himself to the point of death on a cross and then came to live inside of us, we are free to fully surrender our lives to His service. In fact, welcoming Him and walking in His

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Simply Praise

“My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long.” – Psalm 71:8 As we conclude our discussion about the power of words, I want to offer one final piece of advice — when you don’t know what to say, simply praise. We can never go wrong with worshiping God, and when it’s the last thing our emotions say to do, that’s when it’s most important to do it. Even if things around us spiral out of control, healing comes as we turn our full attention to the One who is in control. He is the Beginning and the End, and because He never shifts or changes, He is always worthy of praise. He is powerful, majestic, and incomprehensibly glorious, yet He is full of love and compassion. So much does He adore us that He reconciled us to Himself while we were hopelessly lost in a

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Agreeing With God’s Words

“And Mary said: ‘My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant.’” – Luke 1:46-48 Yesterday, we talked about Zechariah and how Gabriel shut his mouth after he spoke doubt over the divine revelation that his wife would have a son in her old age. Since he carried such great influence at the temple, any negative words uttered publicly might have done damage, so the angel thought it wise to keep him from speaking until the miracle had actually occurred. Now well along in years, it seems the aged priest had faced enough disappointments to become unsure about the promises of God. Perhaps in the decades of waiting for a child, his heart had grown bitter, and he couldn’t bring himself to believe that this time, it would actually come to pass. After all,

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The Harvest of His Promises

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” – Isaiah 55:10,11 I love this promise from the Lord as recorded by Isaiah because it reminds us that His Word never returns void. I think many of us become discouraged when we faithfully apply ourselves to the things of God and yet don’t experience the freedom and breakthrough we’ve been longing for. We pray, seek, and trust, but we still endure a prolonged wilderness that leaves us wondering if He’s there at all. It can be equally as

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The Wonder of Worship

“On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.” – Matthew 2:11 The second offering the Magi presented to Jesus was frankincense, otherwise simply known as incense. Like the gold they brought to Him in abundance, incense was a valuable commodity in the ancient world, and it was used traditionally in temple worship and burned ceremonially by the priests as an offering to the Lord. Known for its calming and healing properties, this second in the trio of original Christmas gifts offers us a message of hope and encouragement in years like this one. Just as gold signifies that Jesus has dominion over the affairs of history, incense denotes that He reigns supreme in the Heavenly realm. While there is a very real spiritual battle raging around us, the baby who was born in Bethlehem triumphed over Satan when

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Gratitude with Contentment

“I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:11-13 Well, we made it to Thanksgiving 2020. It’s been a rough nine months, and for most of us, the holidays look a great deal different than they did last year. Some of us are sad about not being with the people we love today, and others are grieving the loss of a friend or family member. Knowing this, it can be difficult to experience strong feelings of gratitude. So what do we do?

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