The Power of Praise- Part Two

In Haggai we saw how the Lord urged the Israelites to consider why their efforts to prosper themselves came to so little while they lived in fancy homes but the temple lay in ruins. As Haggai goes on, (and I urge you to read the entire book) we see that the Lord told them to go up into the mountains and bring back wood to rebuild that temple. (Chapter 1, Vs. 8) We further see that the Lord assured the people He would be with them (Vs. 13) and He encouraged them, stirring them up and gave them an enthusiasm for their work. (vs. 14).
Then, in Chapter 2, the Lord tells them to be strong and work for He is with them. (vs. 4) He tells them that He will not break His promises to them, that His Spirit will be with them, and not to be afraid. (vs.5) Then, He tells them He “will shake heaven and earth, the sea and dry land; 7 and I will shake all nations, and they shall come to the Desire of All Nations,[b] and I will fill this temple with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts. 8 ‘The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts. 9 ‘The glory of this latter temple shall be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts. ‘And in this place I will give peace,’ says the Lord of hosts.” So, they will lack for nothing to build a glorious temple and they will have peace.
The Lord cautions them not be defiled, not to sin, for their sin will defile their work. (vs. 10-14.)
Then, as the book ends, the Lord promises to overthrow all the enemies of Judah and make their governor, Zerubbabel like his own signet ring!
Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, I submit to you that the story of Haggai has as much to do with our spirits as it did with that temple thousands of years ago.
Jesus said he would tear down that very temple described in Haggai and rebuild it in only three days. When he died on the cross, the earth shook, the rocks split, and the curtain in that temple separating us from God was torn in two.

Consider 1 Corinthians 3:16 (NKJV)

16 Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

The temple destroyed at Jesus’ crucifixion was rebuilt in us through His resurrection.

We were designed and created as God’s greatest work on this earth. God created everything on earth by simply speaking it into being—except for human beings, which He formed out of the dust with His own hands and breathed the breath of life into with His own breath. (Genesis 2:7) We were created as creatures of praise to His glory! So, praise is our natural relationship with God.
When we live unnatural lives, lives of sin and striving to enrich ourselves with the things this world tells us will bring us happiness, we find ourselves trying to fill a bucket with holes in it. It is, as Solomon says, “vanity and chasing after wind.” The idea that the riches of this world enrich us is a lie that steals our joy and kills our souls. (Does the description of anyone in the Bible as a liar, a thief, and a murder ring any bells?)
True joy is found when we scale that mountain of Calvary and bring down the wood of the cross of Jesus Christ to build temples of praise in our spirits that bring pleasure and glory to God. It is then we find the Lord is with us, that He encourages us, stirs us up, gives us enthusiasm,  assures us He will be with us, that He will never break His promises, that He guides us with His own Spirit, that we need not be afraid, and that He gives us peace. These truly are riches far greater than we can ever gain from gold or silver or fancy cars or houses. It is then, when we take delight in the Lord, that we find the true desires of our heart are His desires for us because the God of the abundant life can grant greater gifts than we can ever imagine.
Yes, we will have trials and trouble and temptation (and maybe even migraine headaches) but praise of God has the power to overcome the adversity in our lives and leave the signature of God on us. To the praise of His glory!
Does it seem backwards to praise God when things in your life are not going well? Are there other things in the Bible that seem backwards to the way the world works? Are you willing to try spending one day focusing on praising God and letting us know what happens?
Today’s praise:
Psalm 105:3
Glory in His holy name; Let the hearts of those rejoice who seek the LORD!

The Power of Praise – Part One

The headaches started when I was in the fourth grade. 
Initially, they were so bad they made me nauseous. It was always the same: a sharp pain over my eyes, wrapping around  my head to the back of my neck. Light and sound actually hurt. All I could do was find a quiet, dark room and hope to go to sleep until it passed.
Mom took me to the doctor and he diagnosed it as migraines. Many things were prescribed, but I always got the headaches. Stress, worry, too much sleep, not enough sleep, sleeping in a bed too soft or too hard, caffeine, sugar, chocolate, cheese, riding in cars, too much heat, too much cold, even certain smells—the list of triggers and causes went on and on.
I tried many things for the pain. Some helped, some didn’t.
I prayed many times for the Lord to take the pain away, but it seemed I would get one about once a week no matter what.
About 4 years ago, I noticed that if I praised the Lord when I had a headache, the pain would subside or at least I would fall asleep more quickly.  I praised the Lord more and more each time I would get a headache. And, I began to try and remember to praise the Lord every day throughout my day, not just during my morning or night-time prayers.
Then, my wife told me they now have a prescription drug that prevented migraines. As a child, I had doctors try many things to prevent the headaches, none of which worked.
Still, I firmly believe my wife is a gift from God, so I took her advice and went to the doctor. He prescribed a drug called Propanalol.
And the headaches went away!
After forty years of suffering that I took as a fact of life, the headaches were gone. My prayers had been answered. My pain is gone. Sure, I occasionally get a hint of one of those old headaches, but it’s nothing compared to before.
I call it a miracle and a great blessing. Of course, there would be those who say I owe praise to the medical profession, not to God.
Well, here’s the thing: Propanolol was NOT invented or developed to prevent migraines. It was designed to lower blood pressure, but it really doesn’t work very well at all for that. Preventing migraines is a side-effect of this drug. So, all praise and glory goes to the Lord who gives men and women knowledge.  And, I know the Lord gave me my wife.
Haggai is a tiny, two-page book near the end of the Old Testament. It’s set in a time when the temple in Jerusalem has been destroyed. The people stated to rebuild it, but gave up because others made fun of them. Here’s how Chapter One begins:
1 In the second year of King Darius, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying, 2 “Thus speaks the Lord of hosts, saying: ‘This people says, “The time has not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built.”’”

3 Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, 4 Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple[a] to lie in ruins?” 5 Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways!

6 “You have sown much, and bring in little;
You eat, but do not have enough;
You drink, but you are not filled with drink;
You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm;
And he who earns wages,
Earns wages to put into a bag with holes.”
7 Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways! 8 Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified,” says the Lord. 9 You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?” says the Lord of hosts. “Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house.
Now, the part of this passage that jumped out at me is right there in the end of verse eight: “that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified.”
God wanted His temple rebuilt as a place of praise! The people were suffering and in want because of a lack of praise to the LORD!
When Jesus was asked which commandment was the most important of all, He answered in Mark 12: 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’
Wouldn’t praise be the natural outpouring if we did indeed love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind?
Notice how the Lord begins when He speaks through Haggai: 4 Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?”
The people were putting themselves first. They were living in fancy houses and paying attention only to their own needs. Their primary goal was to create gain and pleasure for themselves. God explains that doing so results in loss and suffering.
Consider this verse:
 Psalm 37:4
4        Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Does this verse mean God is a big bubble-gum machine where we put in a prayer and get out whatever we want?  Does the lesson of Haggai mean we have to build a temple to God to be blessed with material rewards? How can we praise God when so many bad things are all around us?
Feel free to comment and discuss by clicking the blue “comments” word below and we will continue to explore the power of praise next week. Oh, and thanks to Pastor Betty Johnson for bringing Haggai to my attention.
Today’s praise:
1 Timothy 1:17
To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

What is your worth?

It was taken from my mom’s old musty attic,  the lamp was in my eyes–
simply hideous.
A primitive looking base that fit a standard 60 watt bulb with a glass etched front that said,
  New York’s World Fair
I put it up for auction on eBay for $1.00, no reserve. You never know who might want the ugly thing, I’d be surprised if it would even fetch a dollar.
As each day passed, I noticed the current bid price escalating at a quick rate
…at about the $440 mark I began to wonder what in the world I had in my possession. Suddenly, I was a little more careful with how I handled my neglected lamp.
On the last day of bidding there was a mad flurry of bids and next thing I knew it was purchased for over $800.
I emailed the winning bidder and asked him why he bid so much.
I had a very rare lamp that collectors greatly desired, he said. There were only a handful in existence.

I had no idea.

You see, on eBay,  an item’s value is decided by the highest bidder. 

May I ask, 
What is your value beloved child?
We lie with hands outstretched wanting to be told our value by those who have never paid the price for our lives, let alone bid for our heart and soul. We allow others to abuse, use, define and label us. We accept the neglect and walk in shame. We make choices that say to the world that our value is not rare, or precious or a treasure. 
But the truth is, 
You were worth dying for.
Jesus died for you and until someone pays a higher price than that, do not allow others thoughts and words about you to define you.
The law of eBay is that your product is worth what the highest bidder pays for it, all other bids are ignored except the highest.
The law of the kingdom of Heaven is that your worth is determined by the price that Jesus paid for you.
Jesus pressed Buy It Now when He obediently went to the cross.
 He paid the ultimate price with His precious blood. 
He did it because of His unconditional and passionate love for you.

All other attempts at telling us our worth are ignored. 
Jesus didn’t wait for others to bid. He just clicked on the Buy It Now button and paid the price without even looking. He didn’t shop around. He didn’t need other suggestions. He didn’t need to comparison shop. He didn’t read the condition or the fine print. He didn’t notice the crack in the foundation or the chip on the side. He didn’t care what color you were or how many others had you first. He didn’t care
He loved you so much
His desire for you, so passionate, 
His pursuit of you, to the ends of the earth.
Do you see? 
Your worth , your value, is 
You are His beloved.
It’s true!
What painful words defined and crushed you this week loved one?
What unhealthy choices did you make this week, forgiven one, because you believed you were worthless not priceless?
Will you allow Jesus to determine your worth?

Today’s blog post written by:
 Kinship Staff Member and Announcer Julie Busby

The Promise of Restoration

Over a decade ago, I bought my wife a beautiful flowering crab apple tree as an anniversary present. 

I planted the tree that spring day on the rise of a hill, right by our driveway, so she could enjoy it every time she drove past. It grew and prospered that first summer.

Unfortunately, we had a very cold and harsh winter that year.
When it came spring, even though all the other trees put forth buds and fresh green leaves, the crab apple was dead.
Or so I thought.
Some time later, I noticed sprigs and shoots coming from the base. The top was dead, but the root lived.
Over the following years, I let the tree grow, but it wasn’t a flowering crab anymore. It was some wild, straggly half-bush, half-tree kind of thing. It never produced fruit or flowers.
Still, I let it grow.
Now, I knew that the beautiful ornamental trees and the fruit trees in Minnesota are not grown from seed. The roots of these kinds of trees cannot withstand our harsh winters. So, nurseries grow tough, hardy trees with root systems that will live through the winters, then cut off the trunk and graft on a tree that will produce flowers or fruit.
What was growing on the crest of that hill was a tree that had sprung up from the tough and resilient root stock. The tree was ugly and useless, but still alive.
Meanwhile, in a more protected location in the backyard, I had planted two Honeycrisp apple trees. One was doing well, but the other had been reduced to a frayed stick by a buck deer rubbing his antlers on it. Maybe I could do some grafting myself and restore the useless crab to a fruit-producing tree.
So I studied grafting and watched videos of people doing it on the internet.
About three or four months ago, when the trees were still dormant, I cut four twigs off the good Honeycrisp, wrapped them in damp paper towels, put them in a plastic bag, and stored them in the refrigerator.
Then, when the straggly tree was just starting to bud, I took my twigs (called “scions” by people who do this) and cut the old crab off about one foot above the ground. All that was left of it was a couple of stumps. Then, following the instructions, I made a vertical slit through the bark of the stump, then carefully peeled the bark back exposing the thin layer where the tree was actively growing. I sharpened the twigs to a flat point, and inserted them into the gap I had created between the bark and the wood of the trunk. This was then wrapped with tape and the whole surgical site covered in beeswax to seal in the moisture.
I said a little prayer over my work, asking that the tree would be blessed and produce much fruit someday.
I drove past the lifeless twigs every day, constantly looking and waiting for life to burst forth.
Nothing happened.
Days passed.
Weeks passed.
Months passed.
All the other trees were full of leaves actively growing, but the twigs and the stump were lifeless.
I began to lose hope and wonder what I had done wrong.
Then, on the National Day of Prayer, as I drove past the tree as I returned form work, lo and behold, tiny green leaves were shooting out of all the twigs!
Now, it remains to be seen whether this new tree will produce fruit, but it’s alive and it has a chance!
In John 15:5, Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”
Throughout my life, I have been a lot like that crab apple tree. I came to faith in Jesus as a child, but as a teenager, I strayed away and the winter of my sin killed what was growing from me. The promise of the beauty in my soul died and was replaced by a wild, straggly, drug addict.
But when I came back to him, Jesus cut off the old man and grafted on a twig of hope and joy that produces fruit in my life to this day. Now, each day holds the promise of new growth and new fruit and new joy.
Jesus is the root in me that will never die no matter the coldness of the winter that blows over me. In Him, all things are possible and without Him, I can do nothing.
Was there a winter in your life and a restoring grafting of the Holy Spirit that saved you and blessed you?  Will you share your witness and your testimony here? Or, is now the winter in your life when you need to come back to Jesus and let him be your root and your source of life?
Today’s Praise
Psalm 150:6
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD!

Author: Dan Jones

How Mighty Is Our God?

Just how mighty is our God?
Proverbs 1:7 says, The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge. In this context, “fear of the LORD”means an awe-inspiring, knee-shaking understanding of His awesome might.
That got me to thinking about something I once read in a Ravi Zacharias book: If you were to go outside on a clear, cloudless night and hold a dime up to the night sky, that tiny coin would be covering up 15 million stars that we know of.
There are 70 trillion stars in the night sky that we can detect with out best telescopes—and the Bible says that God created each of them and knows them all by name.
That’s more stars than our human understanding is capable of comprehending. The vastness of the universe is, again, beyond our understanding.
On the other end of the spectrum, God also created water. We know of about 15 million separate chemicals and, in all the universe, only water behaves like water.
This simple, yet miraculous, trinity of one oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms is essential to all life we know of and completely unique in all the known universe. Only water is suitable for delivering oxygen through a fish’s gills and only water is suitable for the basis for our very life blood.
Only water dissolves as many things as water does. Only water works in the system God designed of evaporation, condensation, and precipitation that cycles through our lakes, rivers, and oceans.
Scientists have calculated that there are about 1.67 sextillion water molecules in a single drop of water. (A sextillion is 1 with 24 zeros behind it.) That’s about 239 billion water molecules for every star in the sky–in a single drop of water!
Because water molecules are smaller than light waves, we will never be able to see an individual water molecule–no matter how powerful our microscopes.
And, this from substance that composes 65% of our bodies and covers 70% of the planet. This from a substance that scientists say shouldn’t even exist on this planet!
None of this is any accident. The trillions of stars in the sky, the vastness of the universe, the careful miraculous design of the infinitesimally small water molecule are clear evidence of God’s omniscience, power, and might.
And this mighty, awesome, powerful God capable of understanding and knowing things so far beyond our comprehension as to be dumbfounding is not only able and willing to forgive our sins through the blood of His son, Jesus Christ—our omniscient God promises to forget them.
That’s powerful.
That’s awesome.
THAT’S mighty.
Has anything in God’s creation ever astounded you and brought you to your knees in awe? Where have you seen God’s fingerprints in the world around you?
Author- Dan Jones

We’re in this together!

All of us face challenges and opportunities each and every day of our lives. 
As we walk with Christ, the support and encouragement of other believers is extremely valuable. It’s no surprise that scripture exhorts us to encourage each other and build each other up. (1 Thessalonians and many others.) That’s the purpose of this blog. We are here for each other! 
We need not walk alone.
In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus tells of seeds which fell on the path, seed which fell on stony places, seed which fell among thorns, and seed which fell on good ground. Of course, only the seed which fell on good ground proved fruitful.
But, even good seed in good ground needs light and water to grow, thrive, and produce fruit. It’s no accident that Jesus said, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.” (John 8:12) Jesus also referred to Himself as “living water” in John 4:10 and other verses.
The interesting thing is when we believe, we become light and water as Christ grows in us. “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” (Matthew 5:14)  And, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:38)
Kinship Christian Radio has always broadcast Jesus as that light and living water which grows Christians, helps them to mature, and be fruitful in a dark, dry, and thirsty land.
A blog is another tool believers can use to strengthen and mature our collective faith, equip each other to witness effectively for the salvation of the lost, and bring praises to the glory of God.
We invite you to join us in exploring the richness and depth of His love for us as revealed in His Holy Word.
The Power of Praise
I once heard a pastor on KJLY say, “Praise of the LORD creates an atmosphere the adversary cannot move through.”
In Psalm 138:1, David says,
I will praise You with my whole heart;
Before the gods I will sing praises to You.”

Now, the “gods” David is talking about are false gods. They are idols. And, rather than rail against them or engage the idolaters in debate, he praises God!

The Psalm goes on:

I will worship toward Your holy temple,
And praise Your name
For Your lovingkindness and Your truth;
For You have magnified Your word above all Your name

What great things is God doing in your life? Would you share your praises about our great King with us here?

Author: Dan Jones.