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Bittersweet Praise

autumn label correctedby Linda Boyette
Published in the Titus Women’s Ministry eNews
December 5, 2014

 Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me…. Blessed is the Lord who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may His name become famous in Israel… Ruth 1: 20; 4:14
You have finished the forty days of praying for the top ten souls Jesus laid on your heart. Now the Christmas Advent Season has begun. Do not stop bringing these souls before Jesus. Advent is the perfect time to again bring them to the throne of grace, this time with grateful praise! Praise Him for hearing your intercession. Praise Him that His Holy Spirit is at work. Praise Him for giving to all who believe, the privilege of knowing Him as their Savior from darkness and sin, their center filled with His love and their source of all that is good.

You and I know how difficult praise can be when we do not see the effects of praying or living in Jesus. Perhaps this is because we pray and live with the incorrect motives and focus. Do we live for Him because of the blessings we receive or do we know the blessing of living In Him? Do we pray to see answers or do we pray to live knowing the One in Who IS the answer! I can truly offer praise when my trust is IN HIM, not for what I am praying.

This week’s reading gives fresh understanding and a great reason to praise. We often think of verbal praise as singing, music, laughter, etc. However this week I am reminded this is only one aspect of “the fruit of our lips.” One Jewish woman demonstrates praise as defined in Hebrews 13: 15(NTL) “Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to His name.”

Mara shared her grief; the Almighty had dealt very bitterly with her (Ruth 1: 13,20). There was no singing now! The Word of God does not go into details of sharing the everyday lives of Naomi and Ruth, but we can only imagine it wasn’t an easy road. Yet out of the unrevealed secrets of their hearts we receive a huge revelation when we read the next portion of the story.

Naomi did not, could not, realize that (took comma out) because of her loyalty to YHWH, He would take the taste of bitterness and replace it with eternal sweetness. Ruth, her Moabite daughter-in-law noticed Naomi’s revered loyalty to God; so much so, it resulted in a clear invitation for her to choose to live and follow the God of her mother-in-law, the God of Israel.

We know the rest of the story. The feather curtain of God was pulled back enough to allow Naomi to see what was to be only the beginning of His sweetness to this family; Ruth is given a hope-filled future. But Naomi never knew that out of her loyalty to follow His ways, Ruth was divinely chosen to be the next participant in the lineage of Jesus: our kinsman redeemer!

Am I willing to give praise, the fruit of my lips in confessing His name even if I’m unable to sing? We may never see how Jesus will make a miracle out of our delays, disappointments or pain, but when we give Him our allegiance through praise-empowered obedience in the midst of the pain, we can believe Him for a miracle – just remember Naomi and Ruth.

The following are verses and quotes sent from a dear sister in Christ who invited me and others to take the challenge to make each of the 31 days of December filled with praise! I hope you’ll join me. What better way to sum up our forty-days of intercession and live this wonderful Advent Season. There is no greater evidence of grateful praise than to follow His voice and obey His Word.

Hebrews 13:15 – “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess His name!”

“It is impossible to spend too much time thanking and praising Him. Thanksgiving and Praise put us in proper relationship with Him, opening the way for His riches to flow into us. As we thank Him, we appropriate His richest gifts…His Peace & Presence! All else is surplus.”  

I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (KJV) “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks:  for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”

“The practice of thanking Him frequently throughout each day makes it possible to pray without ceasing. This is the kind of constant prayer coverage we need in these final days of 2014!”

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