If you’ve remotely glanced at the book of Psalms, you know that praising God is a major theme.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise!
Psalm 100:4 NIV
Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises!
Psalm 47:6 NIV
Then you have a slam-bang finish with the psalm of all praise psalms, Psalm 150, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!”
Why would David, the author of roughly half the psalms, put such an emphasis on praising God? I think it’s because he knew that what we focus on determines our thoughts. And our thoughts determine the direction of our lives. What we look at is what we steer toward. Take Psalm 108:1-4 for example—
My heart is steadfast, O God!
I will sing and make melody with all my being!
Awake, O harp and lyre!
I will awake the dawn!
I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to you among the nations.
For your steadfast love is great above the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
David was fixed on praising God. He was fixed on praising God not because he had his perfect wife or dream job, or never suffered, or because life always went his way. It was a choice he made. He said, “My heart is steadfast!” To be steadfast means to be firmly fixed in place, fixed in direction, unwavering, not shakeable. David was set on praising God and nothing would distract him from that. He said in verses 1-3,
“I will sing and make melody with all my being!
I will awake the dawn!
I will give thanks to You, O Lord!
I will sing praises to You among the nations.”
Why would David do this? Why would he praise God in spite of circumstances and weaknesses and struggles? And why should we? Take one more look at the end of the passage from Psalm 108 —
For your steadfast love is great above the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Why should we praise Him? Because His love and faithfulness will never fail us! Our circumstances will change but our God remains the same. His character is sure. His love is certain. His heart is for us and His plans are good! He is worthy of all praise and all glory! Therefore, I will praise Him!
Wherever You lead me
Whatever it costs me
All I want is You
Jesus, all I want is You
—Follow You Anywhere
We are all trying to figure out where we are going in life. Whether you have your dream job or not, it seems like we are constantly faced with the looming question, “What are you going to do with your life?” It’s really easy to think that we will be truly satisfied when we find the right job or career.
At the beginning of His ministry, Jesus invited a group of fishermen to go back out after an unsuccessful night at sea. When they recast their nets, immediately their boats were overflowing with fish. More than the blessing, these fishermen were so in awe of Jesus and what He was able to do. They were humbled because God was standing in their presence.
Then, Jesus said two of the most life-changing words, “Follow Me.” Jesus invited them to be in a relationship with God. They were so compelled by who Jesus was, they left everything, including their business, and followed him.
You see, our primary calling in life is to follow Jesus. This calling is to die to ourselves and our way, and embrace Jesus and His way. When you see and experience the love of Jesus, you realize, He is worth our everything. The benefits of knowing Jesus far outweigh the costs. In Him, we find true satisfaction for our souls. We can deal with disappointments and setbacks, because through it all, Jesus is walking with us.
As we follow Jesus, He promises to give us a role to play. He said, “I will make you become fishers of men.” He invites us to be a part of what He is doing on the earth. Our job is to follow Jesus, it’s His job to make us into whatever He wants us to be. We just need to be open and available. As we follow Him, we can trust that at just the right time, He will bring about His purposes and plans for our lives.
And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.
– Brett Younker
I throw all my cares before You
My doubts and fears don’t scare You
You’re bigger than I thought You were
-Bigger Than I Thought You Were
There is a very beautiful and challenging story found in Mark 9 starting with verse 14. It’s about a man who is trying to get his son some much needed help. Help that could only come from Jesus. You should read it. I’ll wait…
Ok, you probably have loads of questions after reading a story like that. Good. So do I. After meditating on this story, here are the two things that left me compelled and encouraged.
1) Put yourself in the shoes of this father. His son is in really, really bad shape. This man has got to be gripped with all sorts of fears and questions and possibly some anger or doubt; all the kinds of things that life has a way of throwing at us. But, instead of running away from God with all those things, he ran straight towards Him. He threw it all at the feet of Jesus. Even his honest faith. “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief” verse 24.
2) Jesus doesn’t turn him away. Not only did Jesus heal the boy, but He also helped the father surrender. In the Kingdom of God, surrender always leads to freedom.
Are there hurts, fears or doubts in your life that cause you to run away from Jesus instead of towards Him? Don’t be afraid. He won’t turn you away. He’s bigger than that. The King is on your side. Surrender it all. Find your freedom.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
written by Sean Curran
You’re the God who makes the giants fall
You bring down the walls of Jericho
You’re the God who gives the miracle
-More To Come
Remembering is a powerful thing. We are not promised every day will be the brightest and the best. We are living in a world broken by sin and filled with pain and heartache. In fact, I’m willing to bet that each and every one of us reading this right now have been disappointed, heartbroken, let down or walked through the valley of the shadow of death at some point in life. As sons and daughters of the living God, these are the times when remembering is crucial.
Our God has a perfect track record. He has never broken a promise and has never failed to keep His word. His ways are trustworthy and His heart is good. We can look back through scripture and see all the ways that He has been a deliverer, provider, protector, guide and Savior to His people. We can even look back on our own lives and see how His hands have held us, protected us and led us through desert seasons. These moments and miracles are markers. They are rocks of remembrance that we return to when we find ourselves in the fight of our lives wondering if He is with us. It’s God’s past faithfulness that gives us confidence for today and for whatever lies ahead.
Lift your eyes today and remember the God who holds you. He is good. He is powerful. He is near. He does come through. He is sovereign over all. He has a plan. He is Lord. He is not done. There is more to come.
Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens. Your faithfulness continues through all generations; You established the earth, and it endures. Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve You.
written by: Kristian Stanfill
Photos by: Austin Bell + Brooke Bennett
Strongholds bowing to the Savior
Resurrection power, over every circumstance…
-It is Finished
A lie is anything that leads us to believe the opposite of what God says about us. And a lie, over time, can become a stronghold — a battle that feels impossible to overcome. You’re not alone if you’ve ever felt imprisoned by a desire, a grief, a guilt, or bitterness. However, we were not designed to live a life of captivity. There is freedom for every one of us in the finished work of Jesus: His death and resurrection.
Have you ever considered what Scripture means when it talks about resurrection power? It says that Jesus holds all authority over death and the same power that raised Jesus from the grave is available to us today. Think about that! Don’t move by it too fast. Resurrection power breathed life into Jesus’ dead bones. It took a body that was dead and began pumping blood through its veins once again. That unrivaled strength did what no man could ever do: it brought life from death, hope from hopelessness.
We can live in that power today. Though each of us will face unforeseen circumstances and undesired hardships, those things do not define us and we are not enslaved to them. What seems impossible becomes possible when there is resurrection power involved. Hurts can be healed. Offenses can be forgiven. Dead things can come to life.
Wherever you find yourself today, remember this: every stronghold must bow to the authority of Jesus. Today we claim not just any power over our circumstances, but the greatest of them all: resurrection power.
“If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.”
written by: Jeff Johnson
What a remarkable time we had at LIFT 2017: A Collective of Worship Leaders, Musicians, and Creative! We had leaders and teams from over 450 churches who came together for a time of renewal and refocusing our hearts on Jesus. There were several different states, regions, backgrounds, and denominations represented at LIFT — but when we lift up the name of Jesus, we become one Church. It was truly a beautiful sight and sound to witness.
There were lots of great sessions and breakouts that happened this year, and because no one was able to go to all of them, we’re releasing several of them for FREE! You’re welcome to download these, share them, and hopefully encourage your team with them. Sign-up below to join our Passion Music and Passion Conferences email lists and we’ll send you a link to the watch / download page.
Also, don’t forget to register early for LIFT 2018. We’ll see you there!
Whether it was a relationship, an achievement, a dream, a failure, or our own plan, our foundation was our own making. We can only build our lives with our own hands for so long until realizing that our foundations aren’t strong enough. They are cracked. Or completely shattered. What God wants to build in each of our lives is an eternal, purpose-filled life, a life that we cannot muster or earn or build on our own strength. It takes a strong and sure foundation. When we put our faith in Jesus, we exchanged our faulty, self-made, crumbling foundation, broken by the weight of sin and darkness, for a sure footing on the brand new foundation of God, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
As we surrender daily to Jesus, we begin to see him building what only He can build in us: eyes that see him, hearts filled with the things He loves, and lives which seek to serve those around us. His is a love which cannot be moved, and in Jesus we are given a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Jesus holds it all together and the Holy Spirit fills us with wisdom and revelation, revealing who God is to us. Revelation always moves us to act. If we have truly seen God for who He is, our desires will shift and eventually become His desires. As He changes our lives, we will long for others to “know and rely on the love God has” for both us and those around us.
Father, show me who you are today. Fill me with your heart—all the things you love and want me to love—and empty me of the things which don’t build up your kingdom. Then lead me in your love to, in turn, love those around me with the love of Christ. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
We have had the best month getting to travel all over America with Rock & Worship Roadshow. It was so amazing to carry the songs of Passion into so many cities and watch Jesus touch down into the lives of people. We also got to do it with some of the best artist on the planet. Much love to @stevencurtischapman, @francescamusic, @rendcollective, @familyforce5, @jordanfeliz, @thederekminor, @urbanrescue, @loswhit, @thattonywolfguy, @compassion.
Our hearts are full. Grateful.
Our stories are the same! God has called us by name, and through Jesus, brought us into his family. He has made the ordinary extraordinary and given us a new heart, a heart freed from captivity to sin and death which can now choose instead to follow Jesus with abandon. Scripture says in 2 Chronicles 16:9 that the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. In another translation, it says he strengthens hearts “that are completely his.”
The world tells us to abandon our hearts to other things, and our flesh beckons us back to a life of sin. We may have our hands balled up around something which we have not given to God. It may be something we compartmentalize: God, you can have it all…except this one thing. What is the thing, the relationship, the addiction, the money, the area of life you want control over? Are there any walls in your heart toward God? What would happen if our hearts were “completely His?” He gives us a strength which encourages us, gives courage to us, and sustains us. We lose our false semblance of control, but gain the protection and loving leading of God in our lives and peace that passes understanding. Let it be said of us, the Church, this generation, you and me, that we are a people with hearts abandoned, hearts that are completely His, hearts that are ever after Him alone.
God, give me a heart abandoned, ever after you alone. All the things of this world pale in comparison to You. If they don’t, awaken me to the reality of Christ, open my eyes to see you and surely everything else will fade into the background. I know You’re the one who gave me a new heart in Christ, so please shape it and guide it into your ways. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
We all deeply connect with the idea of feeling known, accepted, and ultimately, loved, and are searching for it…maybe in all the wrong places as the old adage says. But more often than not, we look for it in good things: a relationship, our career, a success or goal met, our family, the next adventure or “big” thing on the horizon. We may readily run to these things to fill us with a sense of love and acceptance, but there’s a void of dissatisfaction wherever earthly love has taken residence in us where only divine love will do. There are a lot of “good” loves, but only one heavenly Great Love. Only the love of God in Christ Jesus will satisfy continually the innermost depths of our hearts, minds, and souls, to the brim and overflowing both now and forever.
Scripture tells us in 1 John 3:1: How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God, and that is what we are! Romans 8 says that nothing, not death, life, nor circumstances, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus. Through the Innocent Perfection who gave his life for us, we have been forever changed by the power of the cross and brought into this great love of God. This kind of love calls us by name and lifts us up. It gives us a mercy which is new every day. It allows us to live from a place of love and acceptance, not a place of striving or earning. We are simply free to respond to the love of God with our lives. Oh Lord, let us do that today!
Father, thank you that I can call you that! Father. You have poured out in great measure continually, even now, your unmatched love on me, that I would be called your child. Thank you that through Jesus I have access to the love and power of God through the Spirit. Help me to lift my eyes to you today, and let your love transform me as I cease striving and live from acceptance, not for it. Amen.