ODJ: Filled with Praise

August 3, 2016 

READ: Psalm 117:1-2  

Praise him, all you people of the earth. For his unfailing love for us is powerful; the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever (vv.1-2).

When I was a young believer in Jesus, I was encouraged to keep a thanksgiving diary. It was a little booklet I carried with me as a means to capture the daily happenings that filled my heart with gratitude. Sometimes I would write my thanks items at the end of the week, following a time of reflection.

Carefully crafting a list of praise items is a good habit—one that I should probably re-establish in my life. It helps me to be mindful of God’s presence and to be grateful for His ever-present provision and protection.

The psalmist who wrote Psalm 117 celebrated God’s love and faithfulness with words of worship for his Creator. In the shortest of all the psalms, the writer encourages all people to praise the Lord because “his unfailing love for us is powerful; the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever” (v.2).

As believers in Jesus, it’s our privilege to be people of praise because we worship a praiseworthy God. Here are some practical ways we can do just that: start the day by spending a few minutes with God. Read a portion of Scripture and focus your thoughts on how great He is and on what He’s done for you. Commit your day to Him in prayer. And if He puts a song in your heart, sing or hum it as you get ready for what lies before you.

Then, throughout the events of your day, pause often to focus on Him, to pray about challenges that come to light or to give thanks to Him for who He is. At night, as you get ready for bed, praise Him for His loving-kindness and faithfulness you experienced that day (v.2).

God draws us to consider Him and His awesome ways. As we take time to do so, our lives will truly overflow with praise.

—Poh Fang Chia

365-day plan: Luke 11:14-32

Read Hebrews 13:15 to see how often we should praise our great God. 
What can you do to remain Godfocused this week? How can you better understand and celebrate His unfailing love and faithfulness? 

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ODJ: deflecting praise

May 8, 2014 

READ: Judges 8:22-27 

Gideon replied, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son. The LORD will rule over you!” (v.23).

We often celebrate a victory by heaping accolades and awards on the winners. Last week the Christian radio station where I work received an award for media excellence and we have a trophy as a reminder of our outstanding efforts throughout the year.

Gideon returned from battle, having triumphed over the Midianites. The Israelites rushed to honour him, shouting, “Be our ruler! You and your son and your grandson will be our rulers, for you have rescued us from Midian.” But Gideon told them, “I will not rule over you, nor will my son. The LORD will rule over you!” (Judges 8:22-23).

Gideon is a great example because he deflected the praise of a nation off himself and on to the true source of his victory: God. Gideon’s next request, however, led to the eventual downfall of his family and the entire nation of Israel: “I do have one request—that each of you give me an earring from the plunder you collected from your fallen enemies.” “Gladly!” they said. So “Gideon made a sacred ephod from the gold and put it in Ophrah, his hometown. But soon all the Israelites prostituted themselves by worshipping it and it became a trap for Gideon and his family” (vv.24-27). The ‘trophy’ was made for the nation of Israel as a symbol of the deliverance and the provision of God, but it became the object of their worship and a destructive snare.

Recently, a well known pastor’s wife declined an invitation to receive a life-time achievement award. At 75 she simply desired to seek God’s approval, not the approval of man. Like that woman, let’s be careful in the way we give and receive honour. As followers of Jesus, we need to seek the praise of God alone (John 12:43). —Ruth O’Reilly-Smith

Job 1:1-22 ‹365-day plan

Read Matthew 6:1-18, where Jesus gives us clear instructions on Christ-like giving, serving and prayer. 
How can deflecting praise be a form of false humility? Why is it important for us to seek the approval of God alone? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODJ: happy new year!

January 1, 2014 

READ: Psalm 146:1-10 

Joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the LORD their God (v.5).

Happy New Year!” “Have a joyous New Year!” We will hear a lot of these greetings today. And you’ll find yourself saying them to others too. Undoubtedly we hope that 2014 will be a blessed and joyous year for us. The psalmist articulated his desire for happy days ahead with this confident affirmation: “Joyful are those who have the God of Israel as their helper, whose hope is in the LORD their God” (Psalm 146:5).

Psalm 146 is the first of the five “Hallelujah psalms” (the last five songs in the Psalter), so called because each of these songs (ch.146-150) begins and ends with the refrain, “Praise the LORD!” or “Hallelujah!”

Let’s begin the New Year by joining the psalmist in exclaiming, “Praise the LORD! Let all that I am praise the LORD. I will praise the LORD as long as I live” (vv.1-2) is a good way to start the New Year. We begin the year with gratefulness, acknowledging the greatness and the goodness of our God (vv.1-9).

Psalm 146 is a call to trust in the Lord—the Sovereign Creator God who is eternal, faithful, just, gracious, compassionate and loving. He defends the oppressed, feeds the hungry, heals the suffering, loves the godly and protects the vulnerable. And lest we forget, He also punishes the wicked (vv.7,9).

The psalmist’s call is a timely reminder: trust in God only, not in man (v.3). Only those who trust God can be truly happy (v.5), for God is the only One worthy of our trust (v.6). “Joyful are those who live like this! Joyful indeed are those whose God is the LORD” (144:15), for the Lord is sovereign. “The LORD will reign forever. . . . Praise the LORD” (146:10). That makes for a very happy new year! —K.T. Sim
› Genesis 1:1-2:3

Read Psalm 84 and see how you can remain joyous throughout the year (vv.4-5).  
What’s one thing you can praise the Lord for today? How does praising God change our perspective of life and its challenges? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODJ: bless the Lord

November 7, 2013 

READ: Psalm 103 

Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name (v.1).

Have you sung Matt Redman’s inspiring song, “10,000 Reasons”? It begins, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, O my soul, worship His holy name. Sing like never before, O my soul. I’ll worship Your holy name.” Matt said he based the song on Psalm 103, which lists many and various reasons to bless the Lord. The New International Version and New Living Translation translate Psalm 103:1 as “praise the Lord,” but the Hebrew literally says, “O my soul, bless the Lord.” Do you wonder what that means?

To bless means to bestow good on someone, which is why you can’t read too far in the Old Testament without someone begging the Lord for His blessing. Abraham pleaded with God, “May Ishmael live under your special blessing!” (Genesis 17:18). Jacob battled Esau over the blessing and clung to the divine wrestler, insisting that “I will not let you go unless You bless me” (32:26). These saints knew that God’s blessing was the secret to their success, for only God could open wombs, shut out enemies and guarantee a huge crop. God’s blessing could make even Job’s situation tolerable, and after his test “the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning” (Job 42:12).

We understand how God blesses us by giving us good things, but how can we bless God? What good could we possibly add that He doesn’t already have? Only one thing: reputation. Psalm 115 says that when the nations ridicule the Lord, saying, “Where is their God?” (v.2), we respond by blessing (the Hebrew term in v.18) the Lord for His countless blessings on us. And so we make His name great.

God blesses us by conferring good things; we bless Him by praising the good we see in Him. Want to add to the fame of the Lord? Sing “10,000 Reasons” again, this time with feeling. —Mike Wittmer

Read Matthew 6:9-13 and consider what it means for the Father’s name to “be kept holy”. 
What have you said or done today that has added to the fame of your heavenly Father? What have you said or done that has diminished His glory in the eyes of some?  

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)