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“That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height—to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”
Ephesians 3:17-19

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Making Praise My Legacy

For the past week or two, I’ve asked God by what earmark should my life be known in 2010. What is the one thing He wants me to do so that He might fill me and use me? The recurring one-word answer I kept hearing in my heart was PRAISE. If praise is to be the theme of my life in the coming months, I need to grasp an understanding of why I need to praise Him.

We are His workmanship, and He created us to praise Him, but that isn’t the only reason my life should revolve around praise in 2010. If I praise Him only out of obedience, I'm missing half the point. God is still God whether I praise Him or not, so His existence doesn’t depend on my praise.

God doesn't need our praise, but He knows we need to praise Him. Does that sound like a contradiction? Perhaps, so let me explain. Praise is for our benefit, not His. Humanly speaking, when we praise another person, we lift them up, encourage them, validate them, reassure them, make them happy, give them reason to keep on. But that’s not why we praise God. Of course, we praise Him because we love Him, but the purpose goes beyond that. The safest and most joyful place we can be as Christians is in His presence, and Psalm 22:3 states that God inhabits the praise of His people.

Being a writer, I like to pick words apart, to analyze their meaning. That word, inhabit means to dwell, to occupy, to take up residence. It doesn’t mean to drop by for a visit, it’s not a fleeting glimpse, it’s not temporary. In biblical times, to inhabit a place meant to drive your tent stakes in deep, dig a well, and raise up the next generation in that place. So if God inhabits my praise, He intends to stay. The more I praise Him, the closer He is. It’s like throwing the door open in excitement. My praise welcomes His presence.

When I find myself walking through circumstances that are disappointing or frightening, the power of praise is my most potent weapon. I’ve learned I cannot battle fear or discouragement in my own strength. I am humanly fallible, and I have not the strength or the faith to battle through life’s strangleholds on my own. The only way to defeat these oppressions is through praise, because God inhabits, He indwells, He occupies, He takes up residence within my praise. Praise is an invitation asking God to join me where I am. And where God is, oppression has to flee.

I noticed another thing about praise. God’s word instructs us to praise Him now. Psalm 146:1-2 is not only an admonition, it is a joyous shout. “Praise the Lord, O my soul! While I live I will praise the Lord, I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.” If we wait until we get to heaven to praise Him, we will miss an extraordinary blessing. In 2010, I want to fill my life with praise to God while I still walk on this earth.

My son had the opportunity to speak and give his testimony at a church about six weeks before God took him Home. He used Psalm 66 as his text and proclaimed, “Come and see the works of God. He is awesome in His doings…Come and hear…and I will declare what He has done for my soul.” Sweet praise fell from his lips, praise for the Savior he loved. His testimony is still remembered by many who heard him that night. His legacy was praise.

Throughout 2010, I’m certain God will show me new and exciting things about praise, and the anticipation of the journey fills me with a desire to know Jesus better in 2010 than I did in 2009. My prayer is that I, too, will leave a legacy of praise.

Thanks for letting me share my heart.

**In loving memory of Sgt. Jonathan Stevens USMC 6-22-77 ~ 1-10-06**


Rose McCauley said...

Thanks for this reminder of God inhabiting our praises and dwelling among us, Connie. I am doing a Beth Moore Bible study about the life of David, and my lesson for today talked about the Hebrew word for dwelling and then co-related it with the gospel of John where it says the Word dwelt among us. How wonderful to have that truth to stand on and praise Him for. Love you and praying for you.

Kim Vogel Sawyer said...

He does inhabit praise. Praising Him is the singlemost important thing we can do to feel close to Him. Thank you for the reminder.