God’s Word invites His children to bring our praises to Him, for God is always worthy of our praises! We are encouraged to offer praise to God through Jesus Christ who has made the way for us to do this: “Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” (Hebrews 13:15).
Scripture also encourages all of God’s children to praise God no matter where we are and with all that we have: “Praise the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens. Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness. Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre, praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe, praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 150:1-6).
God’s Word also invites His children to boldly present our requests to Him, and to do this as a way of life. We are urged by the Apostle Paul, "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" (Philippians 4:6-7). The Apostle Peter also urged us to “cast all your anxieties upon Him, because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).
And not only are we invited to bring our own needs and petitions to God, we are also urged to care and pray for one another, as for example: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 5:2). Paul set a sweet example in this, as for example: “From the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you” (Colossians 1:9).
For a variety of reasons, I have not written any blog articles or posted any personal updates for a while. But from time to time, I am asked to share how I am doing, and my heart is now stirred to do so.
I want to focus on sharing a few of the praises that are now on my heart and then to share with you one fresh petition. In my own prayer life, I have long aimed to maintain a balance of praises and petitions, lifting my soul heavenward by giving God the praise He is due no matter what the circumstances are in my life and in this troubled world, but also not neglecting to entrust to Him my every need and being faithful to intercede for all whom God lays upon my heart as being in the need of prayer.
For the purpose of this article, and with very deep gratitude to God and to my dear wife Helen and to so many who have walked with us along our life journey, I will be sharing here just a few personal praises, and then one fresh petition.
Reflecting this week about praising God, I recalled and then located the picture you see below of me offering up my praises to God. This photo was taken more than twenty years ago by a photographer from our local newspaper at a community prayer service held in our New Hampshire town hall. Though I took some good-natured ribbing from some who suggested the lights above my head were actually a halo, the truth is, I remember well that night, for my heart truly was filled with praises to God, even though we had already faced, and I knew we were yet going to face, many hardships. I am wanting to return again to living with a heart of praise before my Lord. And so, I am offering to God, and sharing here with you these personal praises.
A Few Praises...
I GIVE GOD PRAISE FOR A RESTORED MEASURE OF HEALTH: Earlier this month I celebrated the 3rd anniversary since my Bone Marrow/Stem Cell Transplant (SCT). By the time my transplant actually happened, twenty months had gone by since I had been diagnosed with Active Multiple Myeloma. The multiple courses of chemotherapy I had endured were hard on me, and the SCT was too. There were some tough times when I truly thought I would die, and times when I longed to.
But I often called out to God who always hears the cries of His children (1 Chronicles 5:7; Philippians 4:6; 1 Peter 3:12), and God delivered me. God had renewed life planned for me, with a restored measure of health. After all, God is the One who numbers my days and yours (Psalm 139:16). For so long, because of cancer and because of having such a poor immune system, I was repeatedly sick. But I now have a working immune system again, and though I should still use some precautions, especially when I am in crowds or near someone who is ill, it is now safe enough for me to go places and do things. My heart is therefore filled with praise to God for a restored measure of health! Rejoice with me!
I GIVE GOD PRAISE FOR NEW MINISTRY OPPORTUNITIES: After being diagnosed with cancer in October 2018 I began feeling quite depressed because so many ministry opportunities had been taken away from me, and I was deeply grieving what I could no longer do. But since receiving that diagnosis, for the glory of God I was enabled to write and have published two books: Walking With God Through Deep Valleys – Lessons on Finding Contentment When Life is Hard and a daily devotional Because God I Can – Twelve Themes on Following Jesus. Both of these books remain available for sale in paper form and/or for free eBook download at Amazon.com: Dr. Stephen A. Gammon: books, biography, latest update.
Lately new ministry opportunities have been opening to me including: occasional opportunities to preach, I am writing again (more information will come on this later), I am preparing to teach some adult education classes through our local church. And as with us all, I continue praying for the Holy Spirit to lead me so that I will recognize and respond to every divine appointment prepared for me. My heart is filled with praise to God for new ministry opportunities! Rejoice with me!
I GIVE GOD PRAISE FOR TRAVEL OPPORTUNITIES: While enduring prolonged illness with a compromised immune system, and with the worldwide pandemic on top of that, I have been unable to travel much in recent years, except very carefully and typically by car. But keeping in mind James 4:13-16 that our plans must always be made with desire for God, and trusting Him for His perfect will, these trips are now scheduled:
Bulgaria - I will depart May 25, arriving in Bulgaria May 26. On May 28 I will be preaching in the city of Asenovgrad, and from May 29 to June 2 in Velingrad, I will participate in the Triennial Meetings of the World Evangelical Congregational Fellowship. St. Cloud, Minnesota – This one is closer to home for us, but Helen and I will attend the Annual Gathering of the Conservative Congregational Christian Conference from July 10-13. This is the national association of churches and ministers that has been our extended Church family for 44 years, and as we have been unable to attend for several years this will feel for us like a family reunion. Fair Haven, Vermont – Helen and I will travel together to Vermont from August 5-8, to attend the 50th anniversary celebration of my High School Graduation from FHUHS. It is quite amazing to think that a half century has gone by since I graduated from High School, but it is so. I look forward to connecting with old friends, and to introducing Helen to them all. I am also scheduled to preach that Sunday at the church in Fair Haven that my Dad pastored then and that I attended as a teenager. We will also enjoy sweet fellowship with nieces and nephews, including seeing and welcoming a brand-new baby. Greece – Helen and I have never been to Greece, but we have long wanted to go. We will be accepting a dear friend’s invitation to visit him in his homeland, departing August 22 and returning September 11. We knew Alex very well 40 years when he was a college student living with us in Rhode Island, during those years when I was serving my first church. We were like family then, and of course we still are, for in Christ, friends and family are forever. My heart is filled with praise to God for allowing me these opportunities to travel again. Rejoice with me!
I GIVE GOD PRAISE FOR OPPORTUNITIES TO BE WITH OUR FAMILY: Helen and I are blessed with three adult children. For so many years we lived at a great distance from all of them. But in this later phase of our lives, we live in Northfield, Minnesota, in the very town where two of our three children live. Our oldest son Carl has settled here now, as has our youngest son Jonathan, with his dear wife Jackie, and their two boys, our grandsons Archer and Theo. Our daughter Amy, her husband Joey, and their two boys, our grandsons Levi and Luca live some distance away, in Wasilla, Alaska. But we feel blessed that direct flights are available from Minneapolis to Anchorage, and we are especially excited now because Amy, Joey, and the boys will soon be with us for a week in Minnesota - from June 17-24. How wonderful it will be to have all of our kids and grandkids together! My heart is filled with praise to God now for opportunities to be together with family! Rejoice with me!
I praise God for who He is and for all He has done, is doing, and will do for the glory of His name! I have given to God my praises for a restored measure of health, new ministry opportunities, travel opportunities, and for opportunities to be with family! I give praise to God for saving me in so many ways, especially through the substitutionary death and triumphant resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
I could certainly list here many more reasons for giving God praise, but as my finite mind can only focus on a few at a time, I have therefore shared with you here just a few of my own reasons for giving praises to God, and I invite you to rejoice with me.
I do this for two reasons: (1) I truly want to glorify God and give Him all the praise, and (2) I want to encourage you to reflect for a few moments on what God has been showing you lately, and what He is doing in your life right now for which you want to give Him praise. Go ahead and list a few, then give God the praise He is due today. And let's do this again tomorrow.
A Fresh Petition...
As with the praises I have listed above, so also with listing petitions: I could easily provide a very long list. The amazing wonder is that you and I are encouraged by God to be bringing all our cares to Him. This includes petitions and intercessions for ourselves and for others. Hebrews tells us that we can come before God boldly: Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16).
The gospels show people boldly approaching Jesus, crying out to Him in faith asking for His mercy. The Bible says of Him, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). Our Lord was, is, and will forever be so very compassionate. He therefore invites us to come to Him with our petitions. He invites us to pray with and for one another (James 5:13-18).
My own fresh petition that I share now with family and friends who pray, is that our Lord might in mercy restore my physical mobility by healing my right foot and lower leg. Would you please pray with me for this healing? My mobility has been greatly reduced these past several months due to right achilles tendinosis, which has progressively become worse. I have had great difficulty walking. Riding a bike is impossible, and even driving has been hard.
The prescribed medical solution for this injury is a right leg surgery called Gastrocnemius Recession. This is now scheduled for me on June 6, which is just three days after I am scheduled to return from Bulgaria. Please be praying for manageable pain and reduced swelling throughout my travels and ministries in Bulgaria, and pray that if this surgery is indeed part of God’s plan to affect my healing, that it may go very well, and that recuperation and healing will be smooth and complete. I believe in faith that God hears our prayers, for He is loving and powerful, and we are always in His hands! I desire only what will bring Him glory through this situation. Thank you so much for joining me in faith in this matter, bringing this petition and every burden that is upon your heart before the Lord of all. I will keep you all posted in my progress, so that we may rejoice in the Lord together.
I am also praying for each of you, that your summer may be memorable and blessed, and that in every circumstance you may know the Lord's love, presence, and peace!