In my new message series, “7 Ways 2 Praise,” we discussed the first of seven Hebrew words about praise. This word was Yadah. The word pictures associated with the root words for this type of praise is shooting an arrow or throwing a rock. It literally means to forcefully extend the hands. It is also used in some cases where the translators put the word “confess.”
Keeping all this in mind, I began talking about the birth of Judah (Genesis 29:35). His Hebrew name is Yehudah which is a derivation of Yadah. He began a tribe of praise from which Jesus descended! It was the tribe of Judah who stood at the land where the temple had been destroyed by the Babylonian Empire as they began rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 3). It was the people of praise who started this work during a very dire circumstance. We must be in the practise of praising God in expectation of victory!
After the temple was rebuilt, we read that Nehemiah went back to finish building the walls around Jerusalem. Upon dedication, the people confess their sins for a quarter of the day, then praise God for a quarter of the day! Both of these instances use the word Yadah. I think this paints an amazing picture of praising God at the beginning of a new journey and upon its completion; and it encourages us to spend time pushing off the sin that restricts us as we grow closer to Him!
Perhaps the most difficult people to love are ourselves. I believe it is important that we take care of ourselves and I feel that the Bible encourages us to do so. Why do we have such a hard time letting ourselves off the hook and being proud of ourselves? Do you ever look in the mirror and tell yourself that you’re doing a good job?
In order to appreciate ourselves, we must learn to see ourselves the way God sees us. Remember that you are created in His image (Genesis 1:27). Romans 8:16+17 tells us that we are children of God and joint-heirs with Christ! John 3:16 tells us that we are loved and 1 John 1:9 states that He has forgiven us. Think of yourself in this way.
Changing our perception of our identity is only the first step. We must also give ourselves permission to forgive ourselves and to be proud of ourselves. James 4:14 reminds us that this life is but a vapor. We should learn to enjoy the days. I challenge you all to look in the mirror this week and smile at yourself. Tell yourself something that you really like about you. Buy yourself a piece of chocolate or a new shirt or something else just because it makes you feel good. Give yourself permission to just be silly and make yourself laugh. If you want to take it seriously, go online and look up “self-care tips.”
Loving yourself takes just as much practise as loving others…and it’s just as important.
Let’s discuss the topic of loving others. This can be hard to do but Jesus commanded us to do in in Luke 10. After giving the commandment to love our neighbours as ourselves, Jesus went on to tell the story of the good Samaritan. The priest and the Levite who passed by the desperate man were the ones everyone would expect to lend a hand; but they walked by. The Samaritan was someone that the Jews would look down upon do to a rough history but here, he is painted as a man having the most giving heart possible.
How do we love our neighbours as ourselves? We do it by in the same way we would receive love from others. We have to make sure of the following:
· Don’t pressure them to return the favour.
· Love them in a way that they won’t feel selfish for receiving.
· Don’t do it out of obligation (ask God for compassion for His people).
· Make sure there are no strings attached.
· Give them a reason to trust you and your motives.
Philippians 2:3-4 (NIV) “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”
In the next installment of my series about love, I spoke about loving God. Specifically, I asked “Why do we love God?” and “How do we love God?”
Why we love God seems like a simple question to answer. First John chapter 2 tells us that we cannot love the world and God at the same time and that the things of the world are passing away. Basically, we should love God more than the world. In the same book, 4:19 tells us that we love Him because He first loved us. God said in the original ten commandments to have no other gods before Him (Exodus 20:3). I think those are good enough answers to the why part.
How we love God can be a bit more difficult. In Luke 10, Jesus tells an expert in the law that we should love with our heart, soul, strength, and mind. As Luke was a physician, he is generally a little more detailed in his telling of the stories of Jesus. There must be a reason for this.
In my research, I came across a great commentary that summed this all up very well. Adam Clarke wrote a commentary on the entire Bible between 1810 and 1826. It is found here: https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc.html
He explains these parts this way:
Heart: Be ready to give up, do, or suffer any thing in order to please and glorify him: Matthew 16:24 (we can’t serve two masters).
Soul: Be ready to give up life for His sake – to endure all sorts of torments, and to be deprived of all kinds of comforts, rather than dishonor God: This is how we can honor Him in the midst of trouble. Do everything to please Him (even if you inconvenience yourself). This is not emotion-based.
Strength: Exert all the powers of your body and soul in the service of God: for the glory of your Maker, spare neither labor nor cost – sacrifice time, body, health, ease, for the honor of God, offer Him all goods, talents, power, credit, authority, and influence.
Mind: Apply yourself only to know God, and His holy will: receive with submission, gratitude, and pleasure, the sacred truths which God has revealed to mankind and promote His glory.
This sounds like a high calling but we must remember that we cannot out-give God and we cannot out-serve Him! When we give Him complete control, He will do amazing things through us.
Receiving love can sometimes be a very difficult thing to do. Why is that?
An interesting article by psychologytoday.com gave many good reasons as to why it is hard to receive love. A few of those are as follows:
· Sometimes there is pressure to return that love.
· It feels selfish to receive kindness from someone.
· There is an innate fear of intimacy.
· Strings may be attached or it is brought on by obligation.
We must understand that none of these things should be true when we speak of receiving God’s love. He loves us with perfect intention. He is love and does love His creation regardless of our actions. We must learn to trust this. Ernest Hemingway said that “The best way to find out if you can trust someone is to trust them.”
1 JOHN 3:1 says “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”
EPHESIANS 2:8 says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”
Romans 8:39 tells us that “(Nothing) will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
These scriptures (along with many others) tell us that we are children of God and that this is a gift (which we do nothing to earn) and that nothing can stop that.
There is sinful behavior which can drive a wedge between us and an intimate relationship with God but that NEVER means that God no longer loves us. He is quick to forgive and restore us when we allow Him to!
Ok, so I’ll get the conversation going with this.
Remember that it is important to share our stories as to encourage others. With that in mind, it is not necessarily “bragging” or “pride” when we share what we’re doing here as long as it is not for selfish reasons.
I offered to buy a candy bar for a guy I work with but rarely get the chance to converse with. He would only accept if I chose the treat. I picked a Kit-Kat and we had a good conversation about his day at work thus adding a link to the chain of our friendship (as I don’t know the person well). Even better…he insisted I take half back. A blessing for both of us!