By Peter Amsterdam
“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
The age-old problem many of us often face is finding the time to read and study God’s Word. We all have a desire to read and study the Word, but there always seems to be so much to do! It helps to remind ourselves that if we take the time with Him in personal prayer, hearing from Him and reading His Word, then He can enhance our efforts and help us to do whatever work He knows needs to get done.
With the great responsibilities that we each carry—the strength and wisdom necessary for the work the Lord has called us to do can be found in spending time with Him in prayer and meditating on His Word. Taking a few minutes throughout the day to praise and thank the Lord can help us incorporate time with Him into our daily lives as we acknowledge Him and spend precious moments resting in His arms, telling Him how much we love Him and need Him.
The interesting thing about praise is that the more you get in the habit of praising the Lord, the more you want to, and the easier it becomes. Praise is so important, because praise is the voice of faith. And we know that this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith. (1 John 5:4) I think sometimes we underestimate the power of praise and how tremendously effective it is in bringing the Lord’s Spirit into our lives, enabling us to resist the attacks of the Enemy, and helping us to be more positive, more cheerful, and more uplifting to those around us.
The Lord loves praise! He dwells in the praises of His people. The Lord wants us to praise Him in all situations—especially when we don’t feel like it. Even when we’re tempted to be out of it, or critical, or to complain a little bit—either in our thoughts or with our words—if we’ll just make a conscious effort to think about our blessings, to dwell on all the good, to concentrate on all that the Lord has done for us and all the ways that He’s kept us, and blessed and prospered and protected us, then I think it’ll do a lot to help us get over any bad habits we may have where our first reactions are negative, fretful, or even just indifferent.
I’m reminded of a story about a preacher, Dr. Alexander Whyte, who was famous for being so praiseful in his prayers. He always found something to thank the Lord for, even in bad times. One stormy morning a member of his congregation thought to himself, “The preacher won’t have anything to thank God for on a terrible morning like this.” But he began his prayer, “We thank Thee, O God, that it’s not always like this.” What a good example of looking at things positively and being praiseful.
If we pray desperately and ask the Lord to help us, and set our minds to it, I believe He can help us to overcome our natural negative reactions to difficult circumstances and become a lot more praiseful. Not only would it make the Lord a lot happier, but it would make all of us a lot happier too.
Praise is powerful. The Lord wants our praise. So why not make a conscious effort to be more praiseful; to replace negative thoughts with positive, thankful, praiseful thoughts. Let’s also try as much as possible in our speech and in our interactions with others to glorify the Lord, as Preacher Whyte did, by praising Him and acknowledging how He’s blessed us, instead of complaining or getting down or reacting negatively.
The two greatest commandments are to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. (See Mark 12:30–31) Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another.” (John 13:35)
Love is the lifeblood of Christianity. Love is the foundation, the cornerstone. Love is what Christians should be known for. Our love for one another should be like a soft, warm, cozy blanket that wraps gently around each of us, in which we find comfort and security, peace and understanding.
It is that simple, unconditional, brotherly love that “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things,” the type that “never fails”. (1 Corinthians 13) I’m talking about the kind of love that understands, forgives, and reaches out a helping hand to love without partiality. The kind of love that loves the unlovely, looks past one another’s faults and shortcomings, sees the Lord in others, and sees each individual as someone who’s given their heart and life to Jesus and who deserves to be accepted, nurtured, cared for, and loved.
We can be the manifestation of His love to others. The concern, sympathy, patience, faith, understanding and love that we show for another may be the very thing that will give that person the faith, courage, and strength to keep going, to fight on, and to win the victory. Jesus said, “Inasmuch as you have done it unto the least of these My brethren, you have done it unto Me.” (Matthew 25:40) This is a good question to ask ourselves—have I treated others as I would treat Jesus? Have I been the example of the Lord’s love that He wants me to be?
Let’s give of our time, be a listening ear, and open our hearts and lives to others. Let’s be swift to forgive and forget. Let’s do our best to be hospitable and share our earthly goods with others in need when we’re able. Let’s be a strong shoulder to lean on or cry on, and an example of the Lord’s unconditional love. Let’s not jump to conclusions or judge unfairly, but instead give the benefit of the doubt to those who are struggling. Let’s bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)
“May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”
—2 Thessalonians 2:16–17 NIV
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