Monday, August 26, 2013

DO IT ANYWAY

Praise God anyway!  My two favorite Biblical stories to exemplify this charge are Paul and Silas in prison (Acts 16:16-40) and the Fiery Furnace (Daniel 3).  I can hear somebody possibly saying, "Well, yeah they praised God in the Paul and Silas story, but I don't recall them praising God in the Fiery Furnace story."

  1. "Praise is not a feeling, it is an expression.  It must be expressed to be considered praise.  It must be expressed to be received by God, witnessed by the lost, and feared by hell.  You may be feeling admiration in your heart, but how are you expressing it to God and to the world?  How are you 'making it known?'  How are you 'declaring' it?  That's praise." (p.101, How To Worship A King, Zach Neese)
  2. I can well imagine, even if it is not documented, that after being pushed into a furnace that was heated seven times hotter than normal and not being burned or even the smell of fire on them - there was some vocal praising going on!!!  But even if there was not, they expressed their praise to God by trusting in His provision for their very lives and did not worship any other god.
Reasons to praise God

1.  [Acknowledgment] His Accomplishments In Your Life (Past)

"Only a grateful person can really praise the Lord, because thanksgiving is the essence of praise." (p.102)
"Praise retells the stories of God's exploits.  It is truth reviewed and the good news proclaimed.  Praise is the Gospel set to song." (p.102)

2.  [Realization] His Promises In Your Life (Present)
God's law of Sowing and Reaping comes into play here.  The more we pour out the more God pours into the Believer.  However, even while Christians pour out their lives for others,  there will be times when we experience spiritual deserts. As a Michael English song says, "There's not a crown without a cross."  The deserts in our lives are there to train, teach, and prepare Christian believers for the promises of God.  It is up to us if we learn from this time or if we have to bake a little longer.

Christians need to study the Word of God or Bible to discover God's promises for us in the here and now and walk in them. Here are a few -

  • We are co-heirs with Christ - Romans 8:17
  • We are seated with Christ in heavenly places - Ephesians 2:4-6
  • We are sons/daughters of God, not servants - John 15:15

3.  [Trust] His Provision Is Trusted (Future)

Praising the promises back to God is key here.  Thanking Him for whatever is needed for the situation disarms the enemy in a heartbeat and allows God's power to flow in your life.  "Praise is not a denial of our circumstances. Praise declares that God is faithful and trustworthy regardless of our situation." (p.103)

Just review the circumstances in the story of Jericho.  Carman has a song called "Jericho" that does a beautiful job of explaining the spiritual lesson of Praise we can take away from the story of Jericho.  He says,

Now God was putting into operation a principal of war
Setting at our disposal weaponry that drops demons to the floor
Something with tremendous power that assassinates fear and doubt
It's the high praises of victory unleashed by a shout

When David played his songs of praise, demons fled from Saul
As Paul and Silas worship God their chains began to fall
It lifts us above the circumstance, lets God's power flow
The shout of victory binds the devil with chains that won't let go

Here is the best mindset to have when going through troubles, trials, and tribulations while not understanding God - "I don't trust God because He always does what I want.  I trust Him because He has already proven that He loves me.  And even though I don't always understand Him, I know that He always has my best in mind." (p.105)  Praise God! He understands me better than I understand myself, loves me through everything, and has the best in mind for me always! What an awesome God!

This does an excellent job at getting a grip on what the Holy Spirit says through James right out of the gate in chapter one - "Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." - James 1:2-4

Interesting that in the song Heart of Worship there are lyrics that portray living a life of praise beyond that of just music.

I'll bring You more than a song
For a song in itself
Is not what You have required
You search much deeper within
Through the way things appear
You're looking into my heart

"...praise is more than a song.  It is an expression that encompasses our entire saved being, just like worship does.  Many will see my praise and passion for Christ expressed.  Many will see me saved from the mud and standing firmly on the rock, declaring His truth and praises." (p. 121)

What is at the root of all this praising God?  Your life changed by God and your desire to tell others in many different ways.....

"That God is real.  That there is a King on the throne.  That Jesus saves.  That hell is defeated and sin is crushed.  That judgment is coming.  And that the King is worthy of more than lip service and mental assent: He is worthy to reign in each individual life.  He must be Lord of all or He is not Lord at all." (pp.121-122, How To Worship A King, Neese)

Zach Neese's last comment reminds me of one of my favorite quotes, if not my favorite quote of all time.......

“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” - C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

If you call Jesus your personal Lord and Savior.  If you call Jesus the Son of God. If you agree that God is real and you cannot escape His presence.  I encourage you to magnify God and not your challenges in life. Praise Him in the thick.  Praise Him in the thin.  Praise Him on the mountaintop.  Praise Him when it is grim. (I'm a poet and don't even know it.)  But...Do It Anyway!