There is power in praising God. An unfathomable mystery. And the impact on those who praise Him is both misunderstood and underestimated.
The Power In Praising God Connects You To His Presence
Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually. –Psalm 105:2,4
God is a person. Not a thing. An it. Or institution. He has emotions. And a unique character. Yes, it’s different than ours. Because He is perfect and holy. Which means he is completely consistent in his person. Because unlike us, his actions and emotions are never arbitrary or capricious. Yet, amazingly, he desires a personal relationship with you and me.
And praise ushers you into his presence.
Where you are humbled by his infinite greatness. Amid an almighty presence of power and love. And your shroud of darkness falls away. So you glimpse God’s glory.
The Power In Praising God Fills You With Awe And Wonder
You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel! –Psalm 22:23
Have you ever gazed out at the ocean where blue sky and blue water meet in an indistinguishable line? Tried to count the stars in the night sky? Beheld the majestic beauty of the Grand Canyon? In amazement?
Perhaps it gives you pause and a sense of perspective. As you’re suddenly aware of your finite smallness. Hardly able to comprehend, the magnitude of a God that simply speaks it all into existence.
But rather than find yourself overwhelmed by insignificance, you are reminded this very God loves you. Cares about you. And wants you to personally know and walk with him in fellowship.
Praise is your transport. It fills your mind with awe and wonder. As your heart overflows with humility and gratitude. Because you know you’re loved, valued and accepted. And you’re inspired to be better. Do better. And love better.
The Power In Praising God Is Spiritually Renewing
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love, for his wondrous works to the children of man! For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things. –Psalm 107: 8-9
Praising God is not just about him. It also spiritually recharges you. And is what you are designed for. God created you and through praise he recreates you. Because life both wears you down and wears you out. But praise is your renewable, spiritual energy source.
It lets you refocus your thoughts on God and reorient your life on the things of God. Like a reset to original specifications. It keeps you in sync with God’s purpose for your life. Which makes it more meaningful, joyful and fulfilling.
Praise is the path to the ultimate desire for every person…the satisfaction of a longing, hungry soul.
There is life renewing power in Biblical repentance. No matter what you’ve done. Haven’t done. How good or bad you are. Or think you are. Biblical repentance starts a whole new life.
Wow! Why then doesn’t everyone repent? Maybe because Biblical repentance is misunderstood. So let’s look at what Biblical repentance is and the life renewing opportunity it presents.
The Life Renewing Power In Biblical Repentance Begins With A Decision
There’s a popular sterotype of red-faced preachers, worked up in an angry frenzy, pounding on pulpits and demanding congregants to repent from sin. It’s an image that promotes condemnation and fear. And often turns people away from the Christian faith.
While Jesus never condemned people for their sin, he clearly called them to repent. And his message holds true today. So what did he mean?
The Greek word for repent that Jesus used is Metanoeo, which means to change one’s mind. But even more, it’s a change in direction. A spiritual U-turn that turns away from sin and turns to God.
You may experience emotions when you repent. The Apostle Paul discusses a Godly sorrow that leads to repentance. But emotion is not a requirement.
What IS required is to engage your will. For you to willingly profess and actively follow Jesus Christ.
The Life Renewing Power In Biblical Repentance Involves A Life Long Practice
Also, repentance is not one and done. Yes, there is an initial change of mind. A decision to turn from sin and turn to God. Declare your willingness to follow Jesus as the Son of God. And in that moment you are spiritually renewed and transformed from the inside out.
But you’re not done. You will have to repent on a regular basis for the rest of your life. Because your past doesn’t simply dissolve. There are experiences, pain, emotions and scars that remain. And perhaps consequences of behavior.
Yes, you are new and transformed. But old patterns of behaviors and habits will present themselves. Along with the temptations of a real, spiritual enemy who wants you to fail. And while God’s Spirit now resides in you, so does your sin nature. So you won’t win every battle over sin.
But you will experience ultimate victory. Because God’s forgiveness and mercy are overflowing. So repenting on a regular basis becomes an important practice in ongoing spiritual renewal.
The Life Renewing Power In Biblical Repentance Is A Spiritual Partnership
The Prodigal Son Bible parable pictures God as a loving father who desires a relationship with you. Who waits eagerly for your homecoming, rushes to meet you and celebrates your return.
It confirms that repentance is not just one way event. But the start of a dynamic relationship. Where God is an active agent. Who calls you to repent. Might even be calling you now. Are you listening?
And beyond repentance, God’s Spirit empowers you. Intercedes on your behalf. And guides you on a spiritual journey of discovering and following His will.
There will still be hardships, challenges and setbacks. Jesus warned that discipleship has costs. But at the same time, it’s a forward moving journey. One with a promise and a prize.
There is healing power in active listening. I learned this from watching my Mom who was an active listening expert. She didn’t psychologically analyze, offer Dr. Phil advice and only sparingly quoted scripture references.
She mostly, simply listened. Non-judgmentally. But in a focused manner that was all in on what you were saying.
From Mom I learned that active listening…
Makes people feel valued
Provides a release valve for bottled up emotions
Is a pathway for working through problems simply by talking it through with someone who listens.
And Mom had no college education. No formal training, certifications or listening accolades. But one by one, she provided healing through a listening ear. Something anyone can do. Here’s how.
Active Listening Begins By Giving Undivided Attention
Sounds obvious, but do you?
Or are you really
just waiting for the other person to stop talking so you can start?
And while they’re talking, you’re formulating thoughts on what you plan to say. Considering solutions to their problem. Drawing from the depths of profound wisdom. Or perhaps just mentally pausing to casually observe what’s going on around you.
Listening Means…well, listening.
I know. It’s harder
than you think. Active listening takes discipline because your mind processes
information much quicker than someone speaks. So it’s way ahead of the
conversation. Waiting for their mouth to catch up. Plenty of time for it to
Calculate stock trades. Cogitate the deeper meanings of life.
Of course, you have to be intentional. Pause your thoughts. Bridle your brain. Focus, grasshopper. Or you’ll wander away from active listening to mind meandering along various thought trails of inattentiveness.
So when actively listening, make eye contact with the other person. Lean in. Perhaps even jot notes on a pad of paper. You’ll hear, understand and comprehend more effectively.
Active Listening Makes Hearing And Understanding The Priority
When listening to someone share a problem, a first inclination is to solve the problem. Provide wise counsel and guidance. Even when the other person may only want to be heard and feel empathetic understanding.
But it’s an immediate, active listening disconnect. You wanting to solve. Them wanting to be heard. The conversation is unsatisfying for both of you.
Therefore, avoid this by asking clarifying questions and summarizing what the other person says. This lets them talk through the problem. See it from different angles. Maybe even consider a different perspective.
And it keeps you on track. To say, “Yes, I am actively listening and understanding you.”
But keep in mind that people may struggle to articulate their thoughts. Especially in the midst of emotional drama. They may use words that don’t accurately describe what they really mean. Or different from how you define them.
Also, when you summarize what they just said in your own words and they agree with you, it improves the level of mutual understanding.
Active Listening Is Empathetic And Shares Stories
We all want to feel understood and like others share our pain. That’s what active listening communicates to another person.
And why it’s so powerful…so healing. It assures people what they’re going through is a shared human experience. That you are there for support.
So it’s helpful to share similar life experiences with some level of vulnerability. Confess your own mistakes or doubts. How you’ve navigated them. Come out on the other side. And lessons learned.
Although your primary mission is to actively listen. So sharing specific details is unnecessary. But be authentic and express your humanity.
In other words, here’s my experience…my takeaway…my adjustment. Assure the other person you are a work in progress. A member of the human family and fellow life traveler. But maybe there’s something from your journey that can help them on theirs.
Active Listening Is Enhanced By Spiritual Engagement
As a follower of Jesus Christ, I can invite God’s presence into an active listening encounter through prayer. And He often brings spiritual discernment, relevant scripture and stories to mind in a way that amazes me. Even better, He offers hope.
As a result, active listening lets me participate in healing the soul. But prayer engages the God who heals the eternal, human spirit. For He is the ultimate, caring listener. And the final ANSWER to every problem.
Furthermore, active listening counterbalances a talk heavy culture. And maybe if more people pursued it, we’d see more healing and understanding around the world.
There’s a little known Bible story with a valuable lesson about the difference between leading through influence over authority.
It has almost a Grimm’s Fairy Tale quality to it and is found in 2 Kings 11-13 and 2 Chronicles 24:15-22.
Here’s a summary:
Athaliah, the wicked queen mother of king Ahaziah, seizes the throne of Judah when king Ahaziah is assassinated. And she proceeds to kill all possible heirs to secure her rule. But one of those heirs, Joash, an infant, is whisked away and hidden in the temple where he is raised by Johioada the priest.
When Joash turns seven, Johoiada the priest, publicly produces him, announces him king, and Athaliah is seized and put to death.
As king of Judah, Joash now has supreme power. But it is the influence of Jehoiada the priest that governs how he rules.
According to 2 Kings 12:3, Joash did what was right in the eyes of the Lord all the years Jehoiada the priest instructed him.
If you read to the story’s conclusion, you learn that after Jehoiada dies, Joash reverses his behavior, morally degrades into a wicked king and is eventually assassinated.
Which leads to a principle:
Authority Comes By Position, Influence Comes Through Relationship
So often in business and so often in life, we miss this subtle, but crucial difference. The importance it plays in building a healthy team and organization. And the difference of leading by influence over authority.
Just because you have authority. Just because you’re in a decision-making role, can say because I said so, and demand allegiance. It doesn’t mean you have allegiance. Or guarantee those who follow you will fully and enthusiastically carry out your orders.
And if those who follow you are not all in. If they don’t embrace the direction you’re leading and enthusiastically carry it out…then you’re going nowhere.
To achieve this level of teamwork and unity, you must establish trust. You must develop and foster genuine relationships. You must exert influence.
Strength Of Character And Relationship Impact Your Level Of Influence
It’s not spelled out in the text. But the inference is clear. Jehoiada was like a father to Joash. He cared for him, loved him and raised him like a son.
As a priest, Jehoiada also loved and served God. He obeyed God’s teachings. He demonstrated Godly character. And his teachings and character rubbed off on Joash.
Since Jehoiada wanted to please and serve God, Joash wanted to please and serve God too.
Another influence story is found in John 1:40-51. At the onset of his ministry, Jesus calls his disciples. One of the first ones is Andrew, who afterward immediately finds his brother, Peter and introduces him to Jesus too.
Peter…the guy Jesus called a rock. The guy who became a significant leader in the Christian movement and influence on the church. But it was his brother, Andrew that paved the way.
What if that hadn’t happened?
Could someone else have influenced Peter to go meet Jesus?
Hard to say.
But obviously, Andrew could and the strength of that family relationship played a part in leading Peter to discipleship.
So here are a couple of questions to consider:
What relationships do you have where you can and should exert influence?
Some are stronger than others. Which ones can you and should you maximize to accomplish what and for what reasons? And never underestimate the impact your influence might have.
What areas of personal character should you address for improved credibility in order to maximize your influence?
The strength of Jehoiada’s character impacted Joash. The strength of your character will also impact the level of your influence.
And keep in mind. You don’t have to be in a position of authority to be an effective leader or make a positive impact on someone else.
Jehoiada the priest had no power or authority. But his influence impacted the welfare of an entire kingdom. Andrew’s influence impacted an entire religion.
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