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As we go through life, we can identify with the lyrics of the rock song: “Well, some say life will beat you down. Break your heart, steal your crown” (Learning to Fly, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers). The sequences over the last several years seem to have been specifically designed to accomplish this. Yet, God constantly reminds us that he wants to empower our lives. Even in the difficult and mysterious circumstances of life, that power will give us potential and strength that we did not think were possible.  In the series Empowered we are exploring the many ways that the power of the resurrection continues to help us thrive rather than simply survive our circumstances. This week, the sermon is Connect to Praise.  Praise is not simply an action for a worship service, but it is a powerful tool for our relationships and life. We are using Psalm 103:1-14 as the foundation for connecting to the power of praise.  These ancient words are poetic and beautiful, yet they also give us a picture of how God responds to our fragile and broken spirits as we negotiate the difficulty of life.  More importantly, they direct us to a path that gives us joy, hope, and strength for living.  We continue to pray for your spiritual strength through the power of the Holy Spirit, especially as you read Psalm 103:1-14: Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. 2 Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits– 3 who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, 4 who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, 5 who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. 6 The LORD works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed. 7 He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel: 8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love  9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; 10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. 13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; 14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. (NIV)