“If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear. But certainly God has heard me; He has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, Who has not turned away my prayer, nor His mercy from me.” (Psalm 66:18-20 NKJV)
Unconfessed and prideful sin cuts the line of communication between us and God.
If we give our own sinful thoughts higher regard than the words of God, He will turn His ear from us. Our God is gracious and ready to hear our prayers and lift us up out of the miry clay, but we need to be willing to drop the sticky clay of our own wisdom and humbly ask His forgiveness when we go our own way.
The phrase “the Lord will not hear” sounds harsh and unlike the loving God that we know, but it is actually another reason to praise Him! Like a wise and loving parent, He gently uses discipline to guide us back to unhindered communion with Him.
Jeremiah reminds us of God’s heart towards us: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV).
God’s heart is not against us when He is silent. And so we can thank Him for guiding us, even when it doesn’t feel good.
Christmas is coming, and with it lots of good cheer, baking, and a whopping potential for selfishness and overwhelm. Take some time right now to ask God to keep your heart focused on Him through the Christmas season.
Don’t let the praise and thanksgiving fade away with November. Now is a better time than ever to pull out that gratitude journal or chalkboard, intentionally giving thanks for every good and perfect gift from our Father.
We can start with the words of David: “But certainly God has heard me; He has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, Who has not turned away my prayer, nor His mercy from me.”
“Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will declare what He has done for my soul. I cried to Him with my mouth, and He was extolled with my tongue.” (Psalm 66:16-17 NKJV)
Thanksgiving day. Originally, a three-day celebration of God’s faithfulness.
What did the Pilgrims really have to be thankful for? They were essentially exiled from their native land. They had lost 45 members of their group, all friends and family members.
They were facing a rough future, carving out a new life for their families in a country with none of the conveniences they were accustomed to.
But they had a three-day celebration because their hearts were overflowing with gratefulness for the faithfulness of God. They knew He had His hand on them, even though life in the New World had been extremely rough.
The Pilgrims adopted the praise lifestyle of David. When trials came, they bared their hearts and cried out to God. And then with their next breath, so to speak, they praised Him for hearing and answering their requests. Their thanks weren’t based on the way God answered their prayers, but on the fact that He answered.
Praise is acknowledging the gift of God’s answer, no matter what the answer may be.
In today’s passage, David isn’t thanking God for his outward circumstances, but for what God had done for his soul, the innermost part of his being.
I don’t know what your Thanksgiving looks like today. It may be full of gratitude for physical gifts like health, safety and material belongings. Or you may be facing the day with heartache and the pain of a story that is only half written.
Either way, know this: you can praise God for hearing and answering your prayers, and you can trust your soul to Him because He knows how to care for it in the best of ways.
He is carrying you in the palm of His hand, and you can always praise Him from there.
“Oh, bless our God, you peoples! And make the voice of His praise to be heard, Who keeps our soul among the living, and does not allow our feet to be moved. For You, O God, have tested us; You have refined us as silver is refined…We went through fire and through water; but You brought us out to rich fulfillment. I will go into Your house with burnt offerings; I will pay You my vows, which my lips have uttered and my mouth has spoken when I was in trouble.” (Psalm 66:8-10, 12b NKJV)
Have you ever gone through a heart-wrenching event that caused you to cry out to God every waking moment? Such a season can be hard and painful, but also a time when we draw near to God and He draws near to us.
But what about when our situation turns around for the good, and God gives us our heart’s desire? Is our praise as long-lived and energetic as our fervent requests?
When my husband was diagnosed with cancer, our hearts were crying out to God constantly. And we found ourselves surrounded by more friends than we even knew we had, all praying for grace, wisdom, and healing.
Three weeks later the doctor declared my husband cancer free and gave him a clean bill of health. A miracle! But, although we were overwhelmed with gratefulness, we found ourselves ready to move forward. Moving forward is good, but it is so easy to also move right on past the gratefulness as well.
Let’s not do that. Let us make His praise be heard, over and over again. God is constantly with us, through the good and bad, and there is never a moment that our hearts should not be full of praise and thankfulness to Him. After all, He is the one Who keeps our soul among the living and holds our feet in place on solid ground.
Take some time today to be still before God. Ask Him to fill you with a heart of praise and gratefulness, regardless of your outward circumstances. And then praise Him out loud! And then do it again tomorrow and the next day and the next day. We can never praise Him too much.
God is worthy of our praise, always.
“Come and see the works of God; He is awesome in His doing toward the sons of men. He turned the sea into dry land; they went through the river on foot. There we will rejoice in Him.” (Psalm 66:5-6 NKJV)
There is always, always dry land through the Red Sea and a path through the Jordan River.
There is always a place we can rejoice in God.
We always expect the path through the Red Sea to take us to peace and safety of a physical nature, but this is not always the case. God has His hand on the physical side of our lives, and He ordains our steps and orders our path. But He is even more interested in the work of the heart.
A path through the Jordan River may actually look like peace and joy in the face of an impossible or heart-wrenching circumstance, a calm in the storm of our hearts.
The purpose of the Red Sea crossing was to strengthen the faith of God’s people, and that purpose remains the same today. God wants to build our faith deep and high and wide. Sometimes He stretches our faith in the physical realm, and other times He stretches it in the area of overwhelming grace or peace.
Sometimes He makes everything turn out right, and sometimes His grace is even more praiseworthy than physical healing.
Wherever you are today, stop and praise Him.
If God has pushed the clouds of your storm away and everything is bright and full of sunshine, praise Him from that place.
If He has overwhelmed you with His strength and grace even as you sit in the unknown, praise Him from there.
If He has grown you spiritually through trials and knit your heart closer to Him, praise Him from His loving embrace.
No matter the current weather of your life, God is good. Praise Him for that.
“He is awesome in His doing toward the sons of men…there we will rejoice in Him.”
P.S. Did you miss the announcement in yesterday's post? Make sure you go back and check it out - it's important.
“Make a joyful shout to God, all the earth! Sing out the honor of His name; make His praise glorious.” (Psalm 66:1-2 NKJV)
Praise is never about us.
It’s not about showing the world how God has blessed us, but declaring that He is glorious.
Recently my husband was diagnosed with cancer. If the only time I praised God right now was when I felt blessed on the surface of things, there’d be a lot of silence over here. But there’s so much more to my family’s current story than us.
This is about God, using all things for His good.
It’s about God being glorious, even in the gut-wrenching feelings.
Even when our hearts are in turmoil, He is worthy to be praised!
Later on in this Psalm, the Psalmist says, “Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will declare what He has done for my soul” (Psalm 66:16 NKJV).
When God asks us to praise Him in a storm, it will not do us any good to examine our feelings or our outside, superficial circumstances. Instead we can look up and outside of ourselves at God. He is faithful, true and glorious, and that is enough reason to praise Him. And we can look deep inside our own hearts and praise Him for the work He has done in our souls.
He’s not wasting the pain and the heartbreak – He is using it to work in our very souls. And He is good, no matter the circumstantial outcome.
Hey dear TruthBytes reader. Stefani here. When I started TruthBytes, it was from a passion to help Moms connect with Jesus every morning, before signing into Facebook or Instagram. And I've been overjoyed with the response to our little devotional app. I am so thankful there are so many moms out here in cyberland who are serious about their relationship with Jesus and who are pursuing Him wholeheartedly. So, all of that makes this really hard to say: the time has come to shut TruthBytes down for good. It makes me so sad, but God is calling our family down a different path and it has become impossible to keep everything going. The app will be available and updated through December 1.
This doesn't mean we need to lose connection though! You can go to the "About Us" tab on the homescreen and subscribe to and follow every team member behind the app. And I highly encourage you to! The ladies that have written for this app are filled with the wisdom and power only Jesus can give and I know following their personal blogs will be inspiring to you!
I'll be sharing some of our favorite devotional and Bible study resources over the next couple weeks as well.
Blessings and prayers for each of you! You are so loved!
We can choose to rely on our human intuition, or we can trust the truth of God’s Word.
When we choose to believe truth and praise God in any situation, He blesses us with peace.
Trading worry for peace? Our mess for praise? Priceless.
“Father, I praise you with my whole heart. Today, I choose to clean my heart of junk and “extras” and center on You. I know that truly, the only thing that matters in this life is that I glorify You. That I plan my days after what You want, not after my desires. Oh Lord, change my perspective. I am a Martha, busy about many things - and they are important, Lord. But Your ways are higher, different, perfect. I praise you for Your mercy. You never cease to forgive my failure. I praise You for Your truth; it fights my doubt and strengthens my soul. Although areas of my life look a mess, You are working all things for Your glory. And when you don’t save me the way I expect, I will trust You anyway. I thank You for the privilege of being your child. I believe You are loving, kind, and good! Amen.”
(Based on Psalm 138 and Luke 10:41)
“So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.” (Galatians 6:9, NLT)
I believe this verse very well could have been written for parents of older teens. It can be completely exasperating and exhausting trying to raise them to become good and productive adults.
I’ve often said a child is moldable until they are 12. After that it requires a chisel and a hammer. Sadly many parents stop parenting at this point. After all, their children have reached the main milestones and are now be self-sufficient in many areas of life. The realization that they simply don’t need us like they did when they were little can be liberating and heartbreaking at the same time.
The enemy uses our weariness and feeling of not being needed to cause us to think our job of parenting a teen is not important. When we believe this lie, it is easy to leave our children to raise themselves, or at the least, become more hands-off in our parenting.
Our job is to not give up after the molding is done. Take up the chisel and hammer and continue to parent your child. You will reap the reward for not giving up even though you become weary.
Dear Lord, parenting teens is hard work. Give me the strength to not give up on my parenting role too soon. Show me how to use the hammer and chisel in a way to help guide my child into adulthood. Forgive me where I have released my child to raise him or herself. Open my eyes and help me see that they still need me. Give me the strength to finish this parenting season well as I look forward to the reward of my child becoming a productive member of society, a person who loves You and maintains a good relationship with me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
“The Lord will perfect that which concerns me;
Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever;
Do not forsake the works of Your hands.” (Psalm 138:8)
Some cross-stitchers craft the back of their artwork as neatly as the front.
(I am not one of those.)
I once cross-stitched a Christmas stocking for my oldest. After viewing the backside, I quickly covered it by sewing the inside stocking sleeve.
Sometimes we view our lives like the backside of a haphazard cross-stitch pattern, just a jumbled mass of ugly threads.
But God doesn’t. His ways aren’t our ways; His methods are different. Tozer says, “God is not like anything you know.” Even God Himself hasn’t revealed all of who He is through Scripture. In fact, John 21:25 says, “ And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.”
Your marriage may be in shambles right now. Maybe your child has strayed from the truth. Perhaps you’re facing bankruptcy.
I don’t know the answer, but God does, and He knows it’s a perfect one. But we must trust Him. Praise Him wholeheartedly. Abide in Him.
Do you know why David mentioned God’s mercy after saying God would perfect his situation? Because he was thinking the same thing you and I are right now. “I’ve failed. I’m not perfect. I took a side road.”
“But God, who is faithful in mercy, will perfect that which concerns you.”
He waits for us to acknowledge Him in praise. He turns our threads to beauty in His eyes. And His “perfect” is not the same as ours.
Run to the Savior; confess.. He is faithful and merciful. He will not forsake the work of His hands – that’s you!
“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me;
You will stretch out Your hand
Against the wrath of my enemies,
And Your right hand will save me.” (Psalm 138:7 NKJV)
How often do we rush into God’s presence with an attitude of “Help, Lord, I need this ASAP!”
The Psalmist praised before presenting his need.
While yes, there are times for SOS prayers, our daily rhythm should be one of praise: “Even though my heart is troubled, I’m centered on You and Your truth” (my paraphrase).
David was admittedly in trouble. His season was a time of unrest.
Yet he reminded Himself, repeating back to God, the Lord’s truth and faithfulness, saying, “You will revive me.” David believed it, he prayed it, and he received it.
Praying God’s Word back to Him is a powerful practice. When we don’t know how to praise, we can look to the Psalms.
When we don’t know how to pray, we can pray promises:
I will be with you.
I will never leave you.
Fear not, for I am with You.
I go behind and before you.
I am your Shepherd.
I lead you in paths of righteousness.
I will direct your paths if you acknowledge me in all your ways.
“Your right hand will save me,” David prayed. He knew Scripture, and He knew the Author.
He didn’t know for sure how God would save him from the enemy. The truth is, he knew the choice was God’s - whether to rescue from earthly harm, or take him home to glory. Either way, David would be saved.
We don’t know the outcome. But we do know the Savior. We know His promises.
And we can rest in praising Him.
“All the kings of the earth shall praise You, O Lord,
When they hear the words of Your mouth.
Yes, they shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
For great is the glory of the Lord.
Though the Lord is on high,
Yet He regards the lowly;
But the proud He knows from afar.” (Psalm 138:4-6, NKJV)
We get discouraged with political leadership, don’t we? Nearly every day embarrassing headlines feature powerful leaders – from presidents, to congressmen, to world diplomats.
Regardless of the truth of these reports, mankind reeks of failure – from the least of us to the greatest. Truth be told, even we moms display fickleness, sometimes letting our families down.
But not God; that’s where He differs from us. And someday, Scripture says, every knee will bow, every mouth confess His Lordship.
We see in this passage that all God’s words and ways are praiseworthy. All.of.them.
Where else will we find a flawless leader? No other’s glory is greater than His.
And the wonder is this: even though He is high and lifted up above all others, He regards the lowly.
It’s evident from the smallest seed of creation to the humble details of Christ’s birth.
There was nothing special about Jesus’ looks. Isaiah 53:2 says, “He had no form or comeliness.” The next time you feel intimidated, let this passage comfort your soul. He holds the lowly closest because they acknowledge their neediness.
Remember, the secret of dwelling in His presence is praise.
“Humility is perfect quietness of heart. It is to expect nothing, to wonder at nothing that is done to me, to feel nothing done against me. It is to be at rest when nobody praises me, and when I am blamed or despised. It is to have a blessed home in the Lord, where I can go in and shut the door, and kneel to my Father in secret, and am at peace as in a deep sea of calmness, when all around and above is trouble.”
― Andrew Murray, Humility