Creative Praise

“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his. He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him" -- Daniel 2:21-22.

The Babylonian king demanded that his wise men interpret his dream, but the king refused to tell them what the dream was! What's more, they would all die unless someone interpreted it for him. When Daniel heard this, he asked the king for time, went home and prayed with his friends, and got the interpretation in a night vision. When he did, he praised the Lord for saving his life, but he didn't say things like, "Thank You, Lord, praise You, Lord." Instead, he entered into a time of creative praise that outlined how great God is and gave thanks for the answer to prayer. How creative is your praise? Do you say the same things over and over again? Has your praise developed and matured over the years, or is it still stuck in the same old phrases you have used for years? Are you hesitant to involve your creative where God's praise is concerned? Why are you afraid?

Lord, I have been lazy where my praise of You is concerned. I have not incorporated into my praise new insights into who You are or taken the time to develop the praise words and phrases the represent my growth in You. Forgive my laziness, for You are worthy of the best praise I can devise!


A Test Run

"Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, 'Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see'" -- Daniel 1:11-13.

Like Moses' parents, Daniel was faced with a dilemma when he relocated to Babylon. He was expected to eat food that was not consistent with his kosher diet, but Daniel did not wish to defile himself with the king's food. His supervisor was concerned that Daniel's refusal would reflect badly on the supervisor, but eventually agreed to the ten-day test to see if Daniel's diet would work, which it did. The point is that Daniel had to be creative in his appeal not to eat from the king's table. He did not get angry, pitch a fit, or go on a hunger strike. He creatively appealed to the supervisor's self-interest (if the diet worked, it would make the supervisor look good). How creative are you when you are faced with a situation where you are required to do something that may be against your conscience or your values? Do you stop and look for a creative alternative, or is your thinking limited to the few options that seem to be available?

Lord, I want to apply creativity in my daily affairs. Help me not jump to conclusions too quickly, but give me the discipline to listen for the creative breeze that will blow through my life if my eyes and ears are fixed on you. I want to be like Daniel in the Babylon to which you have sent me.


Creative Obedience

"But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile" -- Exodus 2:3.

Pharaoh had ordered that all the male babies of Israel should be thrown into the Nile River upon birth in an effort to keep their numbers from increasing. That was not a creative solution to the problem of the Israelites growing too powerful in Egypt. Most of the families must have complied, but Moses' parents did not, and kept looking for a solution that would keep their boy alive. They displayed admirable creativity by obeying Pharaoh's order -- they did eventually throw their baby into the river -- but with a creative twist by first putting him in a waterproof basket. Their baby was found by Pharaoh's daughter and Moses' mother actually got paid to nurse her baby! That represents a creative solution to a difficult problem! Are you facing a difficult problem? Perhaps it would help if you followed Moses' parents' model by not rushing, taking your time, and making sure you have looked at the problem from every angle? Trust God for a creative solution and watch Him help you follow in the steps of Moses' parents who creatively obeyed Pharaoh but saved their son at the same time.

Lord, I am faced with problems every day at work, in my home, and in ministry. I need to approach my problems just like Moses' parents did, with creative and original thinking. Help me to look at my problems differently and thus be able to come up with different solutions.


Not a Hobby

"I was there when he set the heavens in place, when he marked out the horizon on the face of the deep,w when he established the clouds above and fixed securely the fountains of the deep" -- Proverbs 8:27-28.

Wisdom was present when God created the earth! This wisdom is of course not a body of information but rather a person:, Jesus our Lord, "in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3). Therefore, a relationship with Jesus is the key to making creativity all it can be, for He understands the essence of creativity, since He was there at the beginning of Creation. Do you pray for wisdom for your creativity? Do you involve Jesus in the creative process? Do you realize that you have access to the same creative wisdom that produced the universe and all you behold? Are you tapping into the depth of that wisdom?

Once again, Lord, I see that my creativity is not a hobby, but is related to the very creative act of the world coming into existence. Forgive me where I have not taken my creativity seriously enough. I promise to seek You more diligently for wisdom so that I can create in a powerful way that will be worthy of Your attention and use, as you see fit.


Big

"Solomon had twelve district governors over all Israel, who supplied provisions for the king and the royal household. Each one had to provide supplies for one month in the year" -- 1 Kings 4:7.

Solomon's kingdom was larger and more complex than either of his two predecessors, so he had to address the organization of his kingdom. He had to use creativity to do so because he had few models upon which to draw. Today's verse tells us about his plan to obtain his provisions for his rather large family and government agencies. Rather than grow and be creative to organize and manage, many people prefer to stay and play small, keeping things where they know what to do and can stick to the tried-and-true procedures and structures. Are you keeping your world small because you are afraid to allow it to grow? Is your fear based on the impression that you will lose control if things get too big? Are you afraid you will fail, so you play small? What could you do if you applied your creativity to your organization's (or your personal purpose) needs?

Lord, Solomon was not afraid of becoming "big," and I should not be afraid either. You may wish to bless me with a large enterprise, and I must apply the same creativity that gave me the idea in the first place to help me manage my work so it can grow and prosper. Help me to get over my fear and bias against "big."


A Stirred Heart

"My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king; my tongue is the pen of a skillful writer" -- Psalm 45:1.

This one verse contains a lot of insight into creativity. First, there are ideas and themes that stir the heart. Perhaps that is where creativity begins? Then the creator expresses the theme, in this case it seems to be through song or poetic verses. Then the psalmist makes a fascinating statement that his tongue was the pen of a skillful writer. That indicates that eloquence or speaking skills is akin to writing skill, and is some cases speaking may actually lead to the production of written material. What in this verse captures your attention? Is your heart stirred by a certain creative practice or theme? Have you acted on that heart stirring? Have you ever seen your ability to speak as a skill similar to book writing or composing? What changes will you make in how you approach your creative inclination?

Lord, I want my creativity to be all that it can be. I need to pay attention to my heart and find a way to express what is in there. If I am only to speak it, then I want to be the best speaker I can possibly be. Then I will be open to taking what I speak and publishing it so I can touch more people with my noble heart themes.


Hospitality

"Gideon went inside, prepared a young goat, and from an ephah of flour he made bread without yeast. Putting the meat in a basket and its broth in a pot, he brought them out and offered them to him under the oak" -- Judges 6:19.

When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, Gideon felt the need to provide hospitality for his visitor. What did he do? He went to his home (keep in mind that the Midianites were confiscating their foodstuffs) and he threw together a nice meal to present to his visitor. Gideon was creative in the kitchen and it served him well in a time of divine visitation. Do you have a flair for hospitality? Can you put together a party? Do you enjoy planning a menu and executing it to completion? Do you also pay attention to the decorations and ambience when you entertain? All those are creative expressions that not everyone can do. As you accept your creativity in that area, who knows where it may lead. You may write a cookbook, start cooking classes, or begin to host regular social events to bring people together around food.

Lord, I have taken so many of the creative things I do for granted, and cooking and hospitality are two of them! I enjoy seeing people coming together around food, and now I know that desire and gift are from You. Help me to make the most of those gifts as a means to bring people together to fellowship and enjoy one another's company.


Your Handwriting

“Take a scroll and write on it all the words I have spoken to you concerning Israel, Judah and all the other nations from the time I began speaking to you in the reign of Josiah till now" -- Jeremiah 36:2.

The Lord told Jeremiah to write down the things He had said concerning the nations. Since there were no computers or typewriters, it is safe to assume that Jeremiah wrote them in his own handwriting, which is a creative expression common to everyone who knows how to read and write. When children start to learn to write, their efforts are crude, but eventually they work out a style that is unique to them, so much so that handwriting experts can determine later in life if a signature really belongs to a particular person or is a forgery. Did you ever consider that your handwriting style and signature are expressions of your creativity? When you reflect on the process of learning to write, do you see how it emerged over a period of time, and eventually took on your flair and style? What other creative expressions could you have if you took the time to develop them?

Lord, while I have claimed I am not creative, I express my creativity every time I sign a check or write out a grocery list or menu for a special meal. My handwriting is as unique as my fingerprints, and it's something I learned to express over time. I want to know what else is in me that I can learn to express in such a way that others will be able to identify it as something that emanates from me and no one else on earth.


Reconciled

"For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross" -- Colossians 1:19-20.

After the Fall in the Garden, everything God had created was not the same. It was as if a virus was introduced to the Garden computer, and it impacted all the files and the operating system. One of those things impacted by sin was man's creativity, which did not go away, but was used increasingly by man to further his own agenda and not God's. Today, we see creativity being used for all kinds of godless and humanistic endeavors. Jesus did not come, however, to do away with man's creativity but to redeem and reconcile to God so it can be used to glorify God and fulfill the Garden mandate for man to be fruitful and multiply. Have you allowed your creativity to be touched by the power of Jesus' cross and resurrection? Are you employing your creativity to fulfill your purpose and to bless and serve other people as God intends? Are you releasing a spiritual dynamic of power and insight into your creativity?

Lord, You want me to express my creativity in part because Jesus died to reconcile my creativity to You. I want to use my creativity to help further Your kingdom, for You as my King want to oversee my creativity's usage to further Your rule on earth. I want to be a Kingdom creator for You!


Fame

"So Gideon built an altar to the Lord there and called it The Lord Is Peace. To this day it stands in Ophrah of the Abiezrites" -- Judges 6:24.

Like Noah before him, Gideon was a builder of sorts, erecting an altar after he had an encounter with the Lord. This must have been a famous and significant altar, for the author mentioned it and expected that some of the people would recognize what he was talking about. Most people are comfortable with anonymity, but God may wish to make your name and your work better known than that of others. If He chooses to do so, He does not need your permission, nor is it a sign that you are promoting yourself. Are you willing to create with the thought that God would want you to build something long-lasting? Are you willing to invest yourself in the process to help market and distribute your work? Are you willing to sacrifice your privacy for the purpose God has for you? Are you willing to be famous for the Lord?

Lord, I am comfortable being unknown, but I have been ambivalent about a public role and persona. I will be ambivalent no longer. Instead, I surrender my reputation to You, not only to work behind the scenes, but to work in the public eye or as a creative leader.