Friday, July 15, 2011

Praise When It’s Hard

“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and

singing hymns to God, and other prisoners were listening to them.”

Acts 16:25 (NIV)

Can you imagine two men, confined to stocks, sitting around praying to God and singing hymns? This is an anomaly of human behavior. We gripe about having to wait in line at the ATM. We carry on about the restaurant with the golden arches not having our order filled fast enough. We grouse about having our plans changed in order to suit some else’s schedule.

These two men were in prison because Paul had used the power of God to have a demon leave a slave girl. The girl’s employers didn’t like the lost revenue. They stirred up the crowd. The people fought with him and Silas. The magistrates had them beaten- even flogged. And they could still praise God?

The book of Acts was written about AD 66 or 68. We live in a different world, twenty centuries later. In our civilized world, we don’t hear of floggings very often. Some of our people shed tears when they get a minor cut.

Who do you think was the orchestrator of this praise fest? I believe it was God. Yes, Paul and Silas were the ones visibly singing and praying. God was there also, first to tell the duo to pray and sing and then to receive the praise from them.

The jailer saw the aftermath and was going to take his own life. Paul told him it wasn’t necessary because all the prisoners were still there. The jailer and his entire household became saved because of Paul and Silas’ praising in unusual circumstances.

Don’t you think we should try giving prayers and praise in the hard times as well as well as when it’s easy?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Announcement, Annnouncement

Can we have a blast of the Shofar? Or a drum roll? How about a bit of excitement. 'Cause I have an announcement to make.

I have been accepted as a weekly columnist on a website called

"Live as if"

I am going to write under my real name, Cecelia Lester. I named my column "God's Words For Us." I plan on publishing new articles on Fridays.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Praise Should Be Joyous

“Praise the Lord.

Praise God in his sanctuary;

Praise him in his mighty heavens.

Praise him for his act of power;

Praise him for his surpassing greatness.

Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,

Praise him with the harp and lyre,

Praise him with tambourine and dancing,

Praise him with the strings and flute,

Praise him with the clash of cymbals,

Praise him with resounding cymbals.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord.”

Psalm 150 (NIV)

Praise should be joyful. In the closing chapter of Psalm we read of places we should praise God-in the sanctuary. The writer tells us why we need to do this-His surpassing greatness. He also instructs us how we can give God His glory- with several musical instruments.

In the mid 1970s I returned to work. My place of employment was at a now closed Army base. At different times while I worked there, the Army band would set up in the lower hall of our building and go through a small program. I remember when I worked on the third floor of the building, hearing the sound waft through the air, enticing us to use our break time to come listen. The music filled the area and cheered up those who listened.

Praise fills the sanctuary in God’s house. It allows those who hear the praises to join with those who share their warm news.

God doesn’t limit who can praise Him. The closing verse of this book tells us we all have the capacity to praise our Father.

If we don’t feel we have anything to praise God for, just look around and see what He has given us. Has He done something for a friend or a neighbor? Has He blessed you with special news? Has he opened your eyes to new understanding of His Word?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Praise His Holiness

“Let them praise your great and awesome name- he is holy.”

Psalm 99:3 (NIV)

I recently watched a movie that was popular in our past. For the purposes of this entry, it shall be nameless. I have closed captioning on my television. As I watched and listened I found the language to be salty. Some of the words were vulgar. One particular term was only used in part but the innuendo was there. One of the characters took God’s name in vain or swore every other sentence.

I had seen this movie back when it was in the theaters in the late 1970’s. In a movie house, I might not have caught the words. I also saw it several times as our son grew up, minus the close captioning.

When did our society give approval of misusing the Lord’s name? Why do we Christians accept it?

Our drama ministry had a skit about our relegating His name to swear words. One of our drama people had written a skit set in a restaurant about the words people-Christians-use in public. The leader of our group asked me to expand on the topic and depict several areas of life where we fall short in this department.

Our pastor had earlier voiced concern about the subject and suggested we dramatize it. When I thought I was finished with the script, I made an appointment and took it to him. He had one change. He wanted a character to actually say the Lord’s name in an expressive, yet offensive way.

I actually thought about stating a disclaimer about the dialogue. In a recent drama meeting, one of the women said, because of that play, she stopped saying one of her pet exclamations.

What would it take for our society to return to praising God’s name instead of cursing with it? Or is it too late?

Fear, Courage: God Is With Us  Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD ...