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MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN LIGHT OF ETERNITY

What are some things that are of greatest importance to you?

Is it having a great job or making a lot of money?

Is it getting married as well as having children and grandchildren?

Is it owning a house and accumulating things?

Is it being happy and having a good time?

Is it helping others and being a good person?

All these things are good and important, but what should be of greatest importance in our lives?

The two things of greatest importance in our lives is having an intimate relationship with God. Secondly, it is making a difference in light of eternity. What I mean by making a difference in light of eternity is that our actions should have eternal results. In other words, we should be heavenly minded. Yet, our feet or actions should be grounded in our temporal reality.  We need to bring change in this world and try to make it a better place for all without sacrificing those things of eternal value. The Bible says the things we see and touch are fleeting. It will all be destroyed by fire one day. Then God will make a new heaven and a new earth. The physical elements will not last. It is those spiritual elements that will endure.

2 Corinthians 4:18 – “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

Matthew 24:35 – “35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (The heaven spoken here is the sky or atmosphere. The orbiting plants and stars.)

Hebrews 12:26-27 – “At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.”[a] 27 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.”

Who are some people in the Bible who made an eternal difference?

Joseph who because of his purity and faithfulness to God saved God’s people from famine. Therefore, establishing God’s plan through Israel.

Moses who delivered God’s people out of bondage, and God through him gave the law.

Joshua who brought God’s people into the promise land in order that they could be a nation of priests, and show God’s righteousness, goodness, and power.

Peter, James, John and Paul who were key instruments in bringing the Gospel to the whole world of their day.

Our life should impact those around us for Christ. Our actions should further God’s purposes.  What we do should bring glory to God. We should be helping people in their relationship with God and the body of Christ.

To make a difference for eternity we must know who we are in Christ and our destiny.

Philippians 3:20-21 – “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

We need to take hold of this truth. When we realize that we are citizens of heaven. The things of this earth will no longer have the greatest priority. We will not be overly attached to this world or physical life.  We will be more spiritually minded. Not spiritual in the sense of holiness, but in the sense of things not seen or touched. We will be looking for the complete fulfillment of our redemption. We will be longing for the day to see Christ face to face, and receiving our spiritual (eternal) bodies.

I Peter 2:9 – “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

We need took take hold of this verse because we will look at ourselves totally different. It speaks of our identity, our position, and our purpose. When we believe these truths, we will live with purpose, and not for ourselves. The end result will be taking actions that affect us and those around us eternally.  Our thought processes will not be earthly bound. We will no longer think or act like those who are living for the present or near future.  We will no longer focus on self or others. Our focus will be on our relationship with God, and ushering other people into the same relationship we have. God will be in control of our life and possessions because we understand God’s higher purpose for us and humanity.

2 Timothy 2:4 – “No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather tries to please his commanding officer.”

We are soldiers in Christ’s army. Many times, we don’t feel like it. Yet, this does not change the fact that this is what we are. Sometimes we are resting in the camp. Other times we are in training. Then when we are called upon, we go into battle. No matter what we are doing in the army of God right now, we must guard ourselves from being entangled by sin. We must not allow anything to way us down that would hinder us in God’s service, like people, possessions and cares of life.

Matthew 6:19-21 – ““Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

When we live life in light of eternity, the eternal is more important than the present gains.

How do we store up these treasures in heaven?

1) Obedience to Christ

2) Saving souls & making disciples.

3) Helping the needy – widow, orphan, poor

4) Giving to the kingdom work or doing the kingdom work.

5) Serving the ministers of the gospel through abilities, gifts, and hospitality.

What are some practical ways that you are making a difference for eternity?

  1. Intercessory prayer.
  2. Sacrificial giving to the kingdom of God.
  3. Being a witness in word and deed.
  4. Enabling ministers of the gospel through the ministry of helps.
  5. Fulfilling the calling or gift God has given.

Ask the Lord today to help you make a difference for eternity. This is what really counts. When you take hold of this truth, your life will not be the same.

GIVING OUT OF OUR NEED

In I Kings 17:7-16 there is the story of the widow at Zarephath. There has been many teachings on this portion of scripture concerning faith, obedience and God’s provision. I myself have read it many a time, but there is one things that I never noticed is that God commanded Elijah to go to the widow that she might supply him with food. Elijah didn’t know that she was destitute, but God did. I find it odd that God knowing this chose a destitute woman to supply Elijah’s need? Why?

I believe it is because God wanted to meet the widows need. He wanted to use Elijah to bless her. I find interesting that God had already commanded her to supply Elijah’s need before he had even talked to Elijah. Had the widow already heard from the Lord on this matter? I don’t think so, but God made her predisposed.

What would have happened if the woman had not received, believed, and acted on the Word of God to her? She would have missed out on God’s provision. Sometimes, God sends people are way who are in need while we are in need ourselves. It would be easy to ignore their need, but sometimes God calls us to supply another persons need even as we are in need in order that God might meet our need.

The widow shared the little she had according to the command of the Lord. As result, she had enough food for her and the prophet Elijah during three years of drought. Let us be careful to not let our lack hinder us from obeying God and meeting another persons need. This might be the very thing God chooses to give you a financial break through.

We often teach that God gives proportionally to our giving. The more we give the more we get. This is a biblical truth, but not the whole truth. The widow didn’t give the prophet much, but her return was great. Yet, God gave proportionally to her giving in that what she gave was a lot compared to what she had. God doesn’t look only at the quantity, but takes in consideration the sacrifice made in the giving. A sacrificial giver who obeys the Word of the Lord will always receive a great return on their gift.

In the weeks and months to come when you are presented with a need don’t look at what you don’t have or your need, but hear the voice of the Lord in that situation and obey Him even if it may require great sacrifice.

Prayer – Bringing Heaven to Earth

I.The Bible encourages us to pray. Prayer is very important to the Christian life and our spiritual well being and the well being of others.

  1. The book of Psalms is full of David’s prayers. Ps. 109:4b
  2. The Lord delights in the prayers of the upright. Proverbs 15:8

II. We have many recorded prayers in the Bible from people such as: Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Elisha, Hezekiah, Jeremiah, Daniel, Jonah, Manasseh, Jabez, Paul, and Jesus.

  1. Jesus told us to pray. Matthew 9:38; Luke 18:1; Luke 21:36
  2. The apostles encouraged prayer. Acts 6:4; I Tim. 2:8; Ephesians 6:18; James 5:16; I Peter 4:7
  3. God hears and answers prayer. Ps. 65;2; 86:7; I Peter 3:12a
  4. We are called to pray for everyone.

I Timothy 2:1-4 – “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

III. God has given us authority in Christ.

  1. God gave Adam and Eve authority over every living thing. Gen. 1:26,27
  2. Christ gave us authority over the earth.

Matt. 16:19 – “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Why don’t we always see this when we pray?

It may be because we are not asking in Christ’s name and for His glory.  Jesus name is not some magical wand that makes things miraculously happen. It is us coming before our Father God, and saying that Jesus told me this or said this. If Jesus didn’t tell you to pray that way, then you are praying in vain or in ignorance. God is not angry with us when we do this if done in humility and faith. He understands that we lack understanding or insight. He just simply replies, no, I will not do this because it is not my will.  When the Bible tells us to ask in His name, it is saying that we are to pray according to the will of Christ. Prayer in Jesus name is declaring what God has already confirmed, and collaborating with God’s plan. It is for this reason that we need the help of the Holy Spirit when we pray.

John 16:13 – “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

IV. The Lord’s teaches us how to pray in Luke 11:2-4.

Here we see the basics of prayer.

1. We are to address our Father in heaven. Jesus showed them the Father and son relationship in prayer.

2. Hallowed be your name. Hallowed means to make holy, to purify, to consecrate, to regard with respect or reverence, to appreciate, to hold dear. Jesus is teaching them, even though God is our Father, we are to come before Him humbly, with respect and in an honorable way. Also, Jesus is saying to come to Him in a spirit of worship and praise.

3. Your kingdom come.

What is most important to God?

It is that His kingdom be established. In other words, intercessory prayer is for the purpose of establishing   Christ’s kingdom, not our own agenda. It is important to see here that the word “come” here in the Greek is “ercomehe” which means to come from over there to over here”. Jesus is saying, call those things that be not as though they were. Jesus is saying, ask that God’s kingdom come from heaven and be established on earth. We pray that your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Why must we ask God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven? He doesn’t need our permission.

Yet, he chooses to use us to accomplish His will on earth. By doing this, we align ourselves to God’s will. One definition of prayer is that prayer is taking a situation before the Lord, hearing His answer, and speaking forth God’s will into the situation. In this way we bring heaven to earth.

V. Remember what or who we are fighting. This will guide us in our prayer.

Ephesians 6:12 – “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

Our focus is not on the people or situation that is disrupting our lives, but on that which is behind it.

VI. Sometimes we must persist in prayer.

  1. Paul taught that we are to persevere. Eph. 6:18
  2. Jesus taught persistence. Luke 11:5-8
  3. Jesus taught us not to lose heart but pray day and night. Luke 8:1,7,8
  4. We do not always see the results to our prayer immediately. Why?

1)The answer may be a, no.

2) It may not be God’s timing.

3) There may be some kind of hindrance.

4) God may be testing us.

5) God may be teaching us and others through the delay.

VII. There can be some hindrances to our prayers, brought on ourselves.

  1. Our unbelief hinders God’s answer to our prayers. James 1:5-7
  2. Others unbelief can hinder God’s purposes and our prayers.

Matt. 13:54-58; Mark 5:39-42

  1. Lack of knowledge or understanding of the will of God.
  2. Pride. Luke 18:9-14
  3. Holding someone in our hearts because we have not forgiven them. Matthew 5:23,24; Mark 11:25-26
  4. Not being in right relationship with your wife. I Peter 3:7
  5. Sin breaks the line of communication. Psalms 66:8

Matthew 21:21 – “Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done.”

VIII. You are able to pray with faith and confidence when we declare God’s Word and His promises.

Isaiah 55:11 – “so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

WORSHIP II

In our last article we began to explore “what is worship” and “how to worship in spirit and truth”. We will now look at some things that could hinder us from worshiping God with all our heart, soul and mind.

Pride is a great hindrance to worship. The Bible says that God opposes the proud.

James 4:6 – “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.”

Remember worship involves communication and intimacy which can not be nurtured in pride. Along with this, some people praise and worship God in a certain way to bring attention to themselves. This is not good or pleasing to God. As well, some people don’t worship God as the Spirit leads them because they are afraid of what others may think. Pride keeps us from humbling ourselves before God. As result, you may be unwilling to bow in worship, raise your hands or dance before the Lord.

Another great hinderance to worship is a life that is not right or holy before God. A person who is living in willful sin and unforgiveness will find it difficult to worship God. When our relationship is not right with others, it breaks communion with God, which is part of worship.

Another hinderance to worship is our thoughts. If our thoughts are in turmoil or distracted by other things, we will not fully enter into worship.

A “spectator’s spirit” will hinder someone from entering into worship as well. What I mean by a “spectator spirit” is that many come to church but do not truly enter into worship because they are watching everyone else. They watch and do not enter into what the Spirit is doing in their midst.

Also, some people come to a worship service to get something instead of coming to Him to give of themselves. Therefore, they come with wrong motives. Yes, we will receive from the Lord in worship, but we should not come with this attitude.

 Let us look at an example of true worship is found in Luke 7:36-50.

“When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume.  As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.” Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you’. ”Tell me, teacher,” he said.  “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.  Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.” Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

In these verses, we see some key principles concerning worship from the lady who came there to worship Jesus.

The first principle here is, a true worshiper gives themselves fully to Christ. She gave herself unrestrained to Jesus which shocked the on lookers. The second principle here is,  worship can be costly. This woman poured expensive perfume on Jesus feet because she loved Jesus. This brings us to our third principle. One who has given him or herself to God will find it easy to worship God.

It is biblical to give God offerings as part of our worship which is what this woman did.

Ps. 96:8-9 – “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts. Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth.

The fourth principle is, a true worshiper will bow low before God and give Him their heart. She kissed Jesus and poured the perfume on Jesus feet, then kissed and wiped them with her hair. The Greek word for worship is “proskuneo” which means to kiss a person’s hand in honor or bow low before someone. The root word for “proskuneo” in Greek gives the idea of a dog licking his master in affection.

The fifth principle is, a true worshiper will not allow others to hinder them from worshipping God with all their heart and as the Holy Spirit leads. This woman was not afraid to show her true feelings for Christ before others. This woman was not afraid of criticism or rejection. She took a great risk coming into a Pharisees house uninvited and, as a sinful woman, unwelcomed. Also, in touching Jesus in public and in the way she did, she would have definitely been criticized, as this was not appropriate.

I encourage you to examine your hearts and actions in worship as you seek to apply these principles. As result, you will have a greater experience in worship and it will be more fruitful.

WORSHIP PART I

In the last few articles of this teaching blog, we have been focusing on praise. We will now begin to look at worship. Let’s begin by defining or describing worship.

In the general sense, it is every action we do that comes from the heart as an expression of our love for God. Therefore, worship does not take place only in church or quiet times with the Lord. We are to live a life of worship.

In a more specific way, it is –

– fellowship with God that comes from a heart of love.

–  an expression of our love for God.

– when we give our heart to God with much affection.

– when our spirit communicates with God’s Spirit as a child speaks loving with his father.

There are three elements to all worship: love, fellowship, intimacy. If these three elements are not present or active, it is not truly worship.

You can compare worship to the kind of relationship you have with your best friend or a lovesick girlfriend or boyfriend.

It is like when –

– you are alone with a loved one in deep conversation.

– you are sharing secrets or your heart with a loved one.

– you sit in silence together with your loved one and just soak up the moment.

– you and your loved one stare at each other for a long while and feel wonderful all over and seem to

understand what the other person is thinking.

Let us now reflect on some differences between praise and worship. Praise does not come from an intimate (close) relationship with God. As result, all are able to praise God, but not all are able to worship God. Praise is an offering while worship is communion or communication. Praise is almost always visible, while worship is usually invisible. Praise is often more animated than worship, but not always. Although there are difference between praise and worship, they often overlap or are done simultaneously.

The Bible says in John 4:23-24 that we are to worship God in spirit and truth.

John 4:23-24 – “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

Those who worship Him in spirit can only do so by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, they must have the Holy Spirit in them. It is the Holy Spirit in us that allows us to have fellowship or communion with God. An unbeliever can pray to the Lord and praise Him, but is unable to worship Him. Those who worship in spirit worship him from the heart and with sincerity.

Those who worship Him in truth must be born again. If you are worshiping God in truth, you must live a righteous life and without hypocrisy. A hypocrite is unable to worship God in truth because he is living a lie. Those who worship God in truth must do so with a right or correct attitude. Those who worship Him in truth must do so according to God and his Word. The Bible tells us how to praise and worship. Yes, we can worship God in different ways, but God expects us to approach Him in a certain way. In the Old Testament, there were a lot of laws and principles established for worship. I am not saying that we need to adhere to all of them, but God is the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, Creator of the Universe and we should not approach Him too casually or without regard to what he has taught us in Scripture.

The bottom line is that God will not receive our worship if we do not worship him in Spirit and truth.

EXPRESSING OURSELVES IN PRAISE TO THE FULLEST

As we continue our study on praise, we will look at Biblical expressions of praise.

How do you praise God? Do you praise God with your lips only or do you praise God with your whole body, soul and spirit?

Mark 12:30 – “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.”

Romans 12:1 – “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”

In this teaching I hope to challenge you to praise God in new ways and use your whole being in praise. God wants our whole soul engaged in praise: mind, emotions and will. God wants our bodies to be engaged in praise as well. When you praise God, are your mind, emotions, will and body totally engaged? In Mark and Romans, we saw that God wants all of who we are. God doesn’t want half given praise, but full praise.

In God’s Word we see a number of biblical expressions of praise that I believe are applicable for us today. The first one we will look at is expressing praise through the lifting of ones hands.

Psalms 134:2 – “Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the LORD.”

Why does God’s psalmist encourage us to raise our hands in praise?

1) Raising of one’s hands can be a symbol or expression of:

  1. Submission – A police officer asks a person to raise one’s hands because it is a symbol of surrender. It shows the police officer that the person is not hiding anything in their hands. In the same way, when we raise our hands in praise and worship, we are saying to God that we are fully surrendered to Him and hiding nothing in our hearts from Him.
  2. Affection – In the same way we embrace others to show our affection and love, when we open our arms in praise and worship, we are symbolically embracing the Father in love.
  3. An offering of praise- In the O.T. they had wave offerings which were an offering of thanks and a fellowship offering. (Lev. 23:9-11; 23:15-21)

2) The raising of one’s hands can aid us in concentrating on God. When one lifts his hands, the natural tendency is to lift one’s head and look upward. It will often aid us in thinking upward or heavenly. Also, he’s less likely to look around at what is happening and less it’s likely for one’s mind to go astray.

The second expression of praise to God is clapping our hands in his honor.

Psalms 47:1 – “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy.

It is a natural thing for most people to clap their hands in delight (celebration) or as a way of recognizing a person’s accomplishment (praise). We often cheer people on by clapping our hands. Why do some people clap for others, but are not willing to clap for God who has accomplished more than any other person on earth? Is it just humans that like encouragement?

Now we must keep in mind when the Bible speaks of clapping unto God. It does not refer to clapping as in keeping the beat of music. Clapping with the music is not an action of praise. Yet, clapping and rejoicing in what God has done or is doing is praise.

The third expression of praise is playing an instrument unto God.

Psalms 150:3-5 – “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.”

Now playing an instrument because you love playing is not praise. When you play an instrument for the pleasure of others, this is not praise. When you play an instrument as an accompaniment to a song or music, this is not praise. Yet, when a musician plays from his heart to the Lord as an expression of love and honor, this is praise and worship.

The fourth expression of praise is standing in God’s presence.

II Chronicles 7:6 – “The priests took their positions, as did the Levites with the LORD’s musical instruments, which King David had made for praising the LORD and which were used when he gave thanks, saying, “His love endures forever.” Opposite the Levites, the priests blew their trumpets, and all the Israelites were standing.”

Why is standing the preferable position in praising God?

1) Standing in praise shows respect. In most cultures, when you come before a dignitary, you don’t just plop down in a chair when you arrive without being given permission. Sometimes we approach God too casually. We must not forget that He is the creator of all things and King over all. Sitting during the praise part of the service is acceptable when the Holy Spirit gives us permission or the leader requests us to do so. It is acceptable to sit as well when your physical body demands it.

2) Standing during praise keeps us from sleeping and enables us to use our whole body in praise. Standing is an active position while sitting is a position of rest, relaxation, receiving or contemplation. Praise is to be active, not passive. The intent of praise is to give, not receive.

The fifth expression of praise is dancing before Him.

Exodus 15:20-21 – “Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing. Miriam sang to them: “Sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea.”

When Miriam danced before the Lord, it was celebratory. Do you ever get so excited that you can’t sit still? You want run, jump or dance. If you responded ‘yes’ to this question, then why not dance with excitement and joy before the Lord. I hope that you are excited about God. If you are, then please show it.

2 Samuel 6:14-16 – “Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the LORD with all his might, while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the LORD with shouts and the sound of trumpets. As the ark of the LORD was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the LORD, she despised him in her heart.”

2 Samuel 6:22 -23 I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honor.”  And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.”

Many people do not dance in praise and worship because they feel uncomfortable doing it or they are afraid what others will say or think. They may think it is unbecoming or not very dignified. Yet, David danced with all his might before the Lord. He didn’t care what others thought. He was so excited about God and bringing the ark into Jerusalem, which was where the presence of God was seated among the people of Israel.

The sixth expression of praise is praising with a loud voice and a shout.

Psalms 66:1 – “Shout for joy to God, all the earth!”

Psalms 95:1-2 – “Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.”

Psalms 98:4 – “Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth, burst into jubilant song with music;”

We are commanded to shout for joy to God. Shouting is mentioned in conjunction with praise 26 times in the O.T.

Does this mean we need to sing and shout at the top of our voice in praise? Yes and No

There are 2 aspects to this. The one is singing and praising loudly because we are so excited and worked up in praise. There is nothing wrong with this. It is natural for most people when they are excited about something or expressing strong emotions to be loud. At the same time, it doesn’t mean that we have to be loud all the time. There are times we can praise God softly. The second aspect to shouting is the idea of letting out a great shout in unison as a group of people with the intent of re-enforcing the words spoken or in the attitude of boldness or repelling the forces of darkness.

There are numerous other actions we could do while praising him, but these are the biblical ones that I have found.

Whatever actions we do, they should be purposeful. The actions should go with what we are thinking or saying. The actions often strengthen our words, make them more meaningful, and help keep us focused on God.

Not all of us are expressive or animated in our worship. What should be our measuring stick for how animated we are to be in praise and worship?

First and foremost, it should be dependent on the moving of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit communicates to our spirit and our spirit communicates to our body. In other words, when the Holy Spirit wells up in our spirit, we need to give Him freedom to express Himself through us as the Holy Spirit sees fit.

Secondly, we need to take our personality into account.

By nature are you an expressive person?

Do you like to embrace others, especially those you love? Then you should be embracing God in praise.

Do you like to smile when you are happy? Then smile when you praise.

Do you use your hands when you talk or get excited? Then you should be using them in praise.

Do you flail your arms when you get excited? Then flail your arms in praise.

Do you raise your voice when you get excited? Then raise your voice in praise.

Do you shout at sports events? Then shout in praise.

Do you jump up and down when you get excited? Then jump up and down in praise.

Do you clap your hands at events or when someone does well? Clap your hands in praise.

Do you like being theatrical? Then be theatrical in praise.

Do you like to dance? Then dance in praise.

Do you dance around when you get very excited? Then dance in praise.

Now for some of us, we are more animated when there is no one around us. My challenge for you today is to get over being self-conscious. You need to be as God intended you to be.

Now for those of you who are statues and never show your excitement, then you can praise God without showing any excitement or joy. Yet, for everyone who likes to express themselves, but do not do it in praise, you need to get over being fearful of what others will think. You need to break out in praise. You need to give your whole self to praise. This is pleasing to the Lord.

PRAISE – A WEAPON OF WARFARE

In Ephesians 6:10-18, Paul tells us that we are in a spiritual battle, and the weapons we have are not natural, but spiritual. He then describes the armor and weapons that we have as believers to stand up against the enemy. The armor and weapons mentioned by Paul are the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the footwear of the Gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, and praying in the Spirit.

There are basically two kinds of praise – celebratory praise and praise in the Spirit of warfare.

Today we are going to focus on praise as a weapon of warfare. We are going to see what it means to do warfare with praise as well as its purpose and results.

We will be basing this teaching on 2 Chronicles chapter 20. In 2 Chronicles chapter 20, we see a large army of three nations coming to attack Juda and Jerusalem.  They were the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites (Edomites).

2 Chronicles 20:3-4 says, “Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.”

The first thing we need to do when we are facing a problem or difficulty, is to seek the Lord’s help and guidance.

2 Chronicles 20:12 says, “Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”

The second step to victory is recognizing our inability, and God’s ability to help us.

1 Peter 5:6 says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”

While the people of Judah were praying and fasting, God sent a message by His Spirit through Jahaziel that the battle is not theirs, but God’s.

2 Chronicles 20:14-15 – “Then the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly. He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. Tomorrow march down against them…….”

The third step to victory is putting our faith in Him and step out in obedience to His Word.

2 Chronicles 20:20 says, “Early in the morning they left for the Desert of Tekoa. As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.”

There are times when God will tell us to stop praying and striving. He will ask us to just stand in His presence and declare the victory.

2 Chronicles 20:21 – “After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: “Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.”

There are times when we must do battle through praise. We do this by declaring with our mouth God’s faithfulness, power and stand on the promise he has given us through His Word or by the Spirit of God. There are two big differences between celebratory praise and warfare praise. The first difference is our reason and attitude in our declaration. Warfare praise is with the objective of sending the enemy to flight. We do it in the attitude of an already accomplished victory. Secondly, warfare praise is declaring the promises of God in faith. It is speaking the truths of God’s Word which the enemy can not stand up against. It is, in faith, thanking Him for accomplishing the very thing that we are believing for even though we don’t see it yet fulfilled. When we do this in faith and obedience, the victory is ours.

2 Chronicles 20:22-24 – “ As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another. When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped.”

When we do battle through praise:

  1. We declare God’s glory & focus on Him only.
  2. We don’t dictate to God what we want Him to do.
  3. We praise Him for His wisdom and power.
  4. We accept that He has already resolved what we are facing, and that the victory is ours.
  5. We don’t fix our eyes on the battle, but on God alone.

We see another example in God’s Word where prayer and praise brought the victory to Paul and Silas.

Acts 16:24-26 – “When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.”

What has bound you?

Sin, doubt, discouragement, depression, bad thoughts, debt, sickness, family problems

Praise, done in faith, and declaring God’s promises with a heart of thankfulness, will break:

  1. The bonds of doubt.
  2. The chains of discouragement.
  3. The things that hold your mind captive.
  4. The works of the devil.

Choose to praise and thank God when things are not going well and when you don’t see the solution to your problem or answer to your prayer. Remember what He has done for you and thank Him for these things. Testify (tell) others about the victories you have had and God’s goodness and faithfulness.

Do you feel that you are in a spiritual battle in your life? Do you see unanswered prayer?

Maybe God is asking you to stop striving in your strength, abilities and your wisdom, and to rely on Him and declare His praises. Maybe there are unanswered prayers, and God is asking you to stop praying and begin to declare the victory, to stand on His promises, and thank Him for His greatness and faithfulness.

Praise is a mighty weapon that can destroy the powers of darkness and liberate us from those things that bind us. Praise will usher the presence of God into our lives and the lives of those around us. We must, in the attitude and spirit of waging a battle in the spiritual realm, declare the promises of God, His greatness, His mercy and His faithfulness. Then stand firm and watch God fight on our behalf.

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