The Power of Praise

We can learn so much about having an effective marriage and family from observing Christ’s relationship with the church and the church’s relationship with Christ. In the Book of Acts, Chapter 16, we find the account of Paul and Silas being thrown into prison. It tells us in verses 25-26, 
 
But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors opened and everyone’s chains were loosed. 
 
At this point of great trial and affliction, Paul and Silas chose to respond through prayer and praise! This was truly what Psalm 116:17 calls offering to God “…the sacrifice of thanksgiving.” It isn’t that God needs our praise at times of trial and despair in our life. We need to praise Him in order to get our mind off our circumstances and on God’s ability to show up on our behalf. When Paul and Silas did this, they were not only loosed from their chains and jail cell, but all of the prisoners were loosed also! This shows a very important spiritual point; our praise has the ability to not only set us free from the power of darkness, but others as well. 
 
We find another account of the power of praise in 2 Chronicles 20:21-22: 
 
And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went our before the army and were saying: ‘Praise the Lord, for His mercy endures forever,’ Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated. 
 
Praise is powerful! Praise breaks the strongholds of the enemy. God was able to move on His people’s behalf to defeat their enemies because they put their faith and trust in Him through praise! God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He will show Himself strong on our behalf just as powerfully today when we praise Him and even more so now because we have a covenant though Jesus. 
 
When we are in a difficult situation, whether it be marriage, children, or anything else, we can praise Him because He is faithful! We can praise Him because Hid mercy endures forever! After we pray faith-filled and Holy-Spirit-led prayers over our situation, we can praise and thank Him that He is going to to take what the devil intended for our harm and turn it around for our good and His glory (see Romans 8:28). We can believe God that when the dust settles, we will still be standing and we will be all the stronger in our walk with God and in our relationships. 
 
David was called a man after God’s own heart, and we see why in the book of Psalms. He was constantly praising God. In fact, Psalm 119:164 tells us that he praise the Lord seven times a day! If something bad happened, He praised God for being faithful and merciful. If something good happened, he praised Him for the good. 
 
No matter what, David was always praising! He even said when he was going through a great trial of affliction, “But I will hope continually, and will praise You yet more and more” (Psalm 71:14). In other words, the devil just couldn’t shut him up. He was determined to praise no matter what! You know, you just can’t keep a man like that down. One way or another he is going to rise to the top because God inhabits the praises of His people. God will do the same thing for us. Our praise to God has the ability to completely turn a situation around. As Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise.
 
Praying abundant blessings over you, 
Shaun & Amy

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Don’t Build a Case Against Yourself

The most important battles we will ever face in life are within. One of the greatest of those, is what you decide to believe about yourself. God has already decided what He believes about you. Jeremiah 29:11 tells you: “I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

Many people go through life thinking defeated thoughts about themselves. They build a case against themselves in their own mind of reasons why they can’t succeed. This mindset holds them in a prison that only they can make the choice to unlock and be freed from. Don’t allow yourself to hold a magnifying glass up to the problems you see within, while looking through a microscope at your gifts and strengths.

What you currently have become, good or bad, is largely due to what you have believed about yourself and the world around you. Don’t think about all the reasons you can’t do something that’s in your heart to do; instead find the reason why you can. Great things are achieved by people who believe that God is bigger than their current circumstances.

What you focus on will direct your outcomes in life. That’s why God wants us to have vision and put it in writing. Then keep that vision before you daily. As Zig Ziglar once said, “You can’t consistently perform in a manner that is inconsistent with the way you see yourself.”

Through Jesus, God’s Word, and His Holy Spirit, the Father has freely given us every tool we need to be a success in life. Now we just need to believe it, receive it, and daily learn walk it out. Do you believe what God says? If so, then you must also choose to believe what He says about you. “Greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world” 1 John 4:4.

God does have a good plan for your life. We challenge you to write down three of the God-given dreams He has put in your heart, as well as scriptures you can meditate with them. Then read these dreams and scriptures aloud each morning. When you go to sleep at night, picture them happening. Start believing that you can because God is bigger than any obstacle you face. When you pursue His plan for your life, He delights in helping you!

May 2018 be a year of great completion and manifestation of dreams for you! Remember as you go throughout this year, both faith and fear will try to sail into your harbor, but only allow faith to be the one to drop anchor! We are excited to hear about the great things God does in and through you this year!

Shaun & Amy

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It’s Pronounced /yes/

Before I became the Youth Director at High Point Church, one of my dreams was to someday be an English professor at a private university. I adore words — how they sound, how they change meaning within varied settings, and how linguistics across cultures affect our understanding of the world around us. Helping people understand words is my passion, from ironing out their pronunciation to conveying their consequences across contexts.

Amidst words like Worcestershire, colonel, and defibrillator, I find that one of the hardest words to say in the English language is one of the shortest. Similar to war, forgive, love, and mercy this word bears considerable consequences:

Y – E – S

So short yet often so far from our first response. Challenging yes, there is an even shorter word in English that is very easy to say:

N – O

Physically, NO is much easier to say than YES. The soft consonant /n/ literally requires less work than the the palatal /y/ and hard consonant /s/. This is the reason why no finds its way into the most-frequently-used-words list of many toddlers’ vocabularies, even before other simple words like dog and ball. No is simply easier.

There are plenty of instances in the Bible where people found no easier to say than yes. After studying several of these instances, I narrowed down three approaches that we take to the word no, some of which are quite subtle:

  • No (Jonah 1:3)
  • I’ll do it later (Luke 9:61)
  • I’ll do it, but in my own way (Numbers 20:7-12)

Note that the 2nd and 3rd phrases do not include the word no — at least not spelled out. Without the direct word no, we can fool ourselves into thinking that later or yes, but in a different way are actually variations of the word yes. “Well, I told God that I would do it, just not now” or “just not the way he suggested.” It’s not a suggestion. God does not need your advice on timing or style. He knows what he asks for, when and how it needs to be done, and why.

Sociologists tell us that even the most introverted people will influence over 10,000 people in their lifetime. That’s likely around 9,000 more people than each of us know by name. The reason we can each influence so many people is chain reactions. What you say or do to one person influences how they act towards the next person, and how that person acts towards the next, on and on through a seemingly endless chain of people.

Who could possibly track all of the changes your present actions will have on the last person on the chain? I could maybe guess how what I say and do will influence the person next to me, but only God can comprehend the whole picture. That is why it is vital that we respond obediently to God’s direction.

Unlike the word no, with its manifold methods of delivery, there is only one way to say “yes” to God. Y-E-S. There is no qualifier, excuse, or adjustment. He knows the timing, the style, and the effects. All you need to know is how the word is pronounced.

If you ever feel an urge to do something beyond your comfort zone, and you are confident that the urge is from God (and consistent with His Biblical standards), remember Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Don’t let your limited vision for the outcome prevent you from obedience. There is a PLAN in His request, for your good and for the good of those you will influence.

If saying “yes” is ever so difficult for you that you cannot get it past your lips, here are some Bible verses that you can study to help get the words out. I encourage you to dig into the testimonies behind them and the outcomes of each instance of submission to see what kinds of incredible things happened as a result of YES.

  • I will hasten and not delay to obey your commands (Psalm 119:60 NIV)
  • Then Mary said, “I am willing to be used of the Lord. Let it happen to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38 NLV)
  • Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done. (Luke 22:42 NIV)

-Catherine Lexvold 


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The Power of a Thankful Heart

We have so much to be grateful for. Every day that we are alive, we have a reason to give thanks. However, the reality is that sometimes the constant demands, struggles and worries do more to create a spirit of defeat than a heart of thanks. We can forget, in the midst of the busyness to pause, take a deep breath, and give God thanks for all that He has done and will continue to do in our lives. 

Sometimes it really does seem like a sacrifice to offer up praise and thanksgiving to God. We’re struggling. We’re busy. We’re weary. Maybe we feel like He really doesn’t care about what is troubling us. Our lives feel like they are spiraling out of control and we’re saying, “God I just don’t see the point.”

But, here’s what can make an eternal difference. We have the choice, to daily give God thanks. With a heart of thanksgiving, we realize that no matter what life throws at us, God doesn’t only work to change our circumstances and help us through our problems. He does more. Much more. He also changes our hearts. His power, through hearts of gratitude and focused minds on Him, releases the grip our struggles have over us.

God’s word is filled to the brim with many reminders of how powerful and essential a thankful heart is in this world. 

 The Power of a grateful heart – 5 things it can do:

  1. It gets our eyes off of ourselves and back onto God.
  2. It reminds us that God is the giver of all good gifts. We were never intended to be fully self-sufficient in this life. A grateful heart reminds us that God is our Provider.
  3. A heart of gratitude leaves no room for complaining, for it is impossible to be truly thankful and be filled with negativity at the same time.
  4. It helps us recognize we have so much to be thankful for, even all of the little things, like sunrises, laughter and food at our table.
  5. It opens up the door for continued blessings.  

20 verses of thanks from God’s word:

“O Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation. Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.”  Ps. 95:1-3

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him; bless his name! For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.” Ps. 100:4-5

“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love endures forever.” Ps. 118:29

“I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.” Ps. 9:1

“I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.” Ps. 7:17

“Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” Col. 2:7

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.” Col. 3:15

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Col. 4:2

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” James 1:17

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Phil 4:6

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Ps. 103:1-5

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thess. 5:18

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” Ps. 107:1

“Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,” Eph. 5:20

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; Therefore my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him.” Ps. 28:7

“I will praise the name of God with song, and shall magnify Him with thanksgiving.” Ps. 69:30

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures forever. Give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever; to him who by understanding made the heavens, for his steadfast love endures forever; …” Ps. 136:1-5

“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire.” Heb. 12:28-29

“Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” 2 Cor. 9:15

“We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign.” Rev. 11:17

 

I encourage you to meditate on these verses on a regular basis and focus on giving God thanks in ALL circumstances. I know that your life will change for the better because of your thankful heart. 

Praying many blessings over you in this season of thankfulness and joy.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

With love, Liah


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Grace and Gold

When I was thirteen, I accidentally broke a very expensive piece of my parents’ pottery. The artist had just passed away, so the value shot up just in time for my rough housing to take it back down. My parents were unhappy, to say the least. When I received the dad-repaired pottery bowl as a wedding gift eight years later, I kept it on my coffee table to centerpiece my history as a clumsy, rough-housing teenager.

Not long after I was gifted the pottery, an incomplete redecorating job combined with a pitch black room presented the perfect opportunity for my misplaced step to smash the pottery bowl, this time separating it into three large pieces.

I was devastated, taken back to thirteen in painful waves, reliving the first time I told my parents I had fractured the value of their pottery collection. I couldn’t bring myself to admit that history had repeated itself, so my husband came up with a plan. “The pottery broke,” he told Dad, never offering a culprit or any explanation for the new cracks. I was praying to be in the clear.

To our surprise, Dad was elated. “How perfect is God’s timing? I was just reading about an old repair process for broken pottery like this!”

As I battled the urge to proudly confess my role in God’s timing, Dad explained a bizarre new word: Kintsugi, he described, is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with glue and gold. Instead of throwing away the shattered piece, the artist repairs them. Instead of hiding the repairs, the artist highlights them. No pieces thrown away, no imperfections left uncovered.

I presented kintsugi as a metaphor to the High Point youth a couple weeks ago, asking them to list people from the Bible who illustrated a kintsugi-style life repair. Here are the answers we developed along with the attributes that qualified each person for the list:

  • Moses (frustration, insecurity, anger)
  • Gideon (doubt, insecurity)
  • David (envy, deception, self-gratification)
  • Jonah (prejudice, hypocrisy, disobedience)
  • Samaritan “woman at the well” (unfaithfulness, rejection)
  • Peter (impulsiveness, cowardice)
  • Saul/Paul (persecution, brutality)

This list is not comprehensive, of course, but it doesn’t take every story in the Bible for us to recognize cracks and weaknesses we’ve seen in ourselves. Thankfully we aren’t left alone to fall to those weaknesses!

While studying about the kintsugi process, I came across 2 Corinthians 12:9.

But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (NIV)

Boast about my weaknesses? Why would I do that? I am liberated, restored, and made strong.

Exactly.

In the same way that the focus of Kintsugi is the beautiful gold, not the cracks, the focus here is not on weakness; it is on God’s power, “My power is made perfect in weakness. . . . Christ’s power may rest on me.”

The cracks and jagged pieces you perceive in your life are not throwaways. They are areas that you need to let God piece together and cover with His strength and grace. What you can’t do on your own is what makes you ideal for what you are called to do. It’s an opportunity for God to do it all through you.

Gideon’s life is an excellent example of God’s power in our weakness. When God calls him to lead, Gideon responds, “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family” (Judges 6:15 NIV).

What did God said to that? Oh, I guess you’re right… I didn’t think of that. I should probably use someone stronger and more gifted in leadership than you. NO. God assures Gideon, “I will be with you” (Judges 6:16 NIV). He is telling Gideon that being the “least” is no limitation. Gideon’s weakness will not hinder God’s plan for his life but will instead make a no-questions statement that God won the victory. 

God chose you for the task, and He will do through you what you cannot do on your own. When you are weak, He is strong.

The kintsugi-ed pottery bowl now hangs in my house as a reminder:

  • With God, I am confident, likeable, capable, patient, faithful, obedient, and everything I need to be to accomplish His plan for my life.
  • God has repaired my shattered pieces, covered me with gold, and made me even more valuable.
  • God’s power is made all the more apparent through my weaknesses. They are a space for Him to fill with His strength and cover with His grace.

God’s grace is at work. You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you.


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