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Praise

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“Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening.”

Acts 16:25

Cornerhouse, Riga, The Kgb, Trip, Building, Cell

We sing songs in our worship services quite often about how worship can change a situation, and we proclaim and believe that worship can set us free. This story in Acts is a perfect example of that. Paul and Silas had been severely flogged. They were stripped, beaten and publicly humiliated, then thrown into a dark and cold prison cell. Their feet were then fastened in stocks, and thus began a very uncertain future for these two men.

After all of this though, their immediate reaction is to sing praise. I’m sure most of us have never experienced anything remotely close to what they endured, but we have all had our fair share of turmoil and despair. We have all been at one time in our lives enslaved to sin and defeated by our situations and circumstances. What is our first reaction though to trouble?

When they sang it not only loosed their shackles,  but every other prisoner in that cell block was delivered as well. People are always listening to what comes off our lips. Will they hear praise to our God, or negativity and complaining? Will our reaction to devastation trigger a hunger for God in their lives, or will it cause them to question Him?

Because of grace, we are able to sing in even the most difficult of trials. If we consciously choose to make praise and worship our priority today, our situations will change, and those around us will take notice.

Lord, I am so thankful that I have the ability to change my current situation. By lifting you higher, my problems will become smaller. I declare victory today, as I exalt Your name.

“In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion.” Psalm 71:1

As I was reading this Psalm in my Daily Devotions a few weeks ago, I realized that there were a lot of good verses that could be used as prayers, so  let’s just look at a few of them. I am using the New Living Version of the Scriptures.

Verse 2: “Save me and rescue me, for you do what is right.”  We can always trust God to know what is best for us and to rescue us when we start to go astray from His plan.HH

Verse 3: “Be my rock of safety where I can always hide. Give the order to save me for you are my rock and my fortress.”  No matter what we are going through, we can take it to the Lord and cast all our cares upon Him.  He is a safe place during every storm.

Verse 5: “O Lord, you alone are my hope. I’ve trusted in you from childhood.”  We know that the Lord had his hand on us before we were even born.  I am thankful that I came to know him while I was a child, and that He has been with me through the years.  Many of you may not have learned of Jesus until you were older, but you can be assured that He was watching over you all through your life and reaching for you with His love.

Verse 9: “And now, in my old age, don’t set me aside.  Don’t abandon me when my strength is failing.”  Although I may still feel young in heart, my body tells me that I am getting older.  I can’t do all the things I used to do, but as long as the Lord gives me breath, I am going to praise Him and endeavour to be a blessing to others.

Verse 22: “…because you are faithful to your promises, O my God I will sing praises to you.”  He has never failed; He always keeps His promises.  We could never praise Him enough for all the blessings He has bestowed upon us.

May this Psalm be a blessing to you as it has been to me.  The Lord Jesus Christ has been so good to us, and He deserved all our praise and worship.

Prayer:  Jesus, we lift our hearts in praise to you today, thanking you for all that you are and all that you do.

Devotion by Anne Johnston

“I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD.” Psalm 122:1

Today is a very special day, the day we gather together in the house of the Lord to worship Him and to fellowship with our brothers and sisters.  It is a day we look forward to all week long.  I know we get together for Bible study and perhaps at other times during the week, but Sundays are special.

Most of us have heard the quote by President John F Kennedy in his speech on January 1961: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Let’s turn that around and say: “Ask not what your church can do for you, but what you can do for your church.”

I know our pastors will have spent much time in prayer and study, asking the Lord to give them the message that people need for today.  As we pray for the services, do we just pray that the Lord will bless us, or do we pray that the Lord will make us a blessing to others.  God has been so good to us, much more than we deserve.  He wants us to share our blessing with others.

As we gather together, there will be people who have come with problems and situations that they need answers for.  Those of us who have known the Lord for many years, need to be an inspiration and an example to others.  The way that we respond in the worship service, and to the message will speak to them much more than any words that we could say.  When they see us raising our hands, lifting our voices to the Lord in praise, it will let them know that God is faithful, that He has kept us through the years and that He is able to meet them as well.

David said he was glad for the opportunity to go to the house of the Lord.  Are you looking forward to what the Lord is going to do today in your local church?  We cannot expect the Pastor to do it all, each of us has a place to fill.  Let’s be vessels of the Lord today, that others may see Christ in us and be blessed.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus, as we prepare for worship today, fill our hearts with a desire to be a blessing and example so that others will come to know You.

Devotion by Anne Johnston