Praise has been a major theme on my mind the past few months. I haven’t felt great the last few months either. I’ve been tired, I’ve been nauseous, I’ve gotten sick, and life really hasn’t gone the way I expected it to at all. Almost every day, at some point, over the last few months I have been convicted over my lack of joy in the day and my lack of praise to my God. Instead of this conviction invoking confession and repentance, I’ve allowed the conviction to invoke shame and guilt. My thoughts have automatically become, “You know you’re supposed to praise the Lord, why aren’t you doing it? What’s wrong with you? You messed up AGAIN!”
I so often believe the lie that it’s good to feel guilty over my sin. I should mourn my sin right? What starts with a mourning of sin, the Lord is revealing to me, is quickly turning to a focus on only myself and not my Savior — and not the truth. The truth is that my sin should cause a mourning because I’m sinning against my God who loves me and gave everything for me. But it should also turn my eyes to my Savior who already paid for the sin I’ve been convicted of and this should produce praise to the one who paid my debt and rejoicing. After Ezra read God’s Word to the people in the book of Nehemiah they were deeply grieved over the reality of their sin and Ezra says in Nehemiah 8:10, “…do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” So, I know the truth, I can tell you the truth, but why can’t I live the truth?
Our lecture from Lesson 3 of Heart of a Woman, “I Bow My Knees Before the Father,” the Lord really used to open my eyes to the beginning of an answer to that question. My focus is way more on myself than I ever realized. Laurie spoke about Moses and when God spoke to him through the burning bush about how Moses was going to be used to free the Israelites. Moses’ first response to God was, “Who am I?” I’ve always kind of thought that’s a pretty noble response from Moses. But what Laurie explained was interesting to me. Moses’ first response wasn’t confidence in the Lord and who He was, his first response revealed a focus on himself instead. I see myself in this example so clearly. My focus is on me when I’m convicted of my lack of joy in my day or convicted of any sin really. I am discouraged that I have, once again, failed to give God the glory He deserves, and I feel I must figure out a way to do this right. If you notice there, never in that sentence do I think anything about who my God is, the praise is still missing—it’s self, self, and more self.
I don’t like this about me, but here’s what I’ve been missing—this is my sinner self. My sinner self wants to have it all together, do it right, not only right, but do it perfectly, and if I don’t then I fail. My sinner self doesn’t want to be weak, she wants to look good to others and intimidate others. I don’t have to identify with this girl. This is not who I am anymore.
I can worship a God that is truly worthy of ALL PRAISE AND WORSHIP. He’s worthy of every hour of my day, all the sickness I experience, every meal that’s cooked, every prayer that I say, every phone call I make, every laundry load I do, every email I send, every meeting I have, every lunch. He is even worthy of me having to experience every failure He allows, every embarrassment, every let down—HE IS WORTHY OF ALL BECAUSE ALL IS FOR HIS GLORY! In every one of those things I listed I have complained. I have grumbled. I have been ungrateful. I have not wanted to do them. I have been lazy. I have given provision for my sinner self to then feel discouraged because I didn’t give the Lord the praise He was due.
Laurie posed a question in her lecture: “If we praise the Lord with our mouths, but don’t in our life, are we really praising the Lord?” Like I mentioned, I have been convicted about this for quite some time. The Lord showed me a Bethel song called “Ever Be.” The resounding chorus that is sung throughout this song is, “Your praise will ever be on my lips.” I’ve listened to that song over and over and over again. I love it. The sad reality, however, is that I’ve listened to the song to once again try and “fix” my own mind into praising the Lord in my own way and what has come from that is someone that listens to a song about praise, praises with her words, but her actions speak otherwise—hypocrite.
One of my favorite chapters in the Bible is Isaiah 61. Isaiah 61:3 says, “… to grant those who mourn in Zion—to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:11 says, “For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations.”
My favorite verse in “Ever Be” says, “You fathered the orphan, your kindness makes us whole. And you shoulder our weakness, and your strength becomes our own. Now you’re making me like you, clothing me in white, bringing beauty from ashes, for you will have your bride. Free of all her guilt. Rid of all her shame. Known by her true name, and that’s why I sing! Your praise will ever be on my lips.”
The theme that I see in all of these statements from Scripture and from the song is that they tell of who God is. They proclaim His character and what He will do, not what I will do. “…to give them…the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit,” “…so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all the nations,” “…for you will have your bride.” God does it all.
After confessing to my husband a few nights ago that comparison and allowing my mind to think on things that weren’t truth led to me believing and fearing that maybe I didn’t love my baby as much as I should, he said something that was so interesting to me. He said, “It really comes down to your confidence.” I thought about that for a long time and how much that related to praising the Lord regardless of circumstance or feeling. It really does come down to confidence. Is my confidence going to be in me or is it going to be in who the Lord is? When I feel ugly and want to be in a bad mood because of it, will my confidence be in me and what I think or in who the Lord is and who He says I am? When I compare myself to a friend and let my mind have a fit, will I have confidence in what my mind tells me or in who the Lord is and what He says about love? When I’m tired, just in a bad mood, or something else really bad effects my family’s life, will my confidence be in me and my feelings at that particular moment or will I have confidence in who my God is and praise Him?
I don’t want my confidence to be in me. Most of the time it is and it doesn’t end well. I want to know who my God is and believe in who He says He is. And that’s really scary because I won’t be in control. But it can start with praising the Lord and affirming His character. Will you pray for me to have grace to do this? I will pray for you. May His praise be ever on our lips.
Planted for His Glory