A non-denominational English-speaking church in Haiti

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.

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.

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.

SIX REASONS TO PRAISE GOD

In our last two teachings, we tried to understand what praise is and its expressions. We are now going to look at six reasons that we are to praise God. There could be more reasons than this, but I believe these are the essential reasons that God brings out in His Word.

1) God tell us to do this.

Psalms 105:2 – “Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts”

The Bible tells us to praise God. This is not something optional. He expects our praise. We can give others praise, which is good and fine, but we must not neglect our duty to praise God. Some would say, it should not be called a duty. Yet, it is our duty. At the same time, I hope that this is not the sole reason that you are giving God praise. Do you realize that a person who does not praise God is sinning?

2) God inhabits the praise of his people.

Ps. 22:3 – “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabits the praises of Israel” (KJV)

Ps. 22:3 – “Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel.” (NASB)

What are these verses saying?

He loves our praise. Our praises are like a wonderful aroma. It gives Him pleasure. It excites Him. Some of us have never pictured God as being excited. Many of us picture Him as some somber being out there somewhere.

We may have heard the expression that we shower people with praise. I am not sure of the origin of this expression. Yet, most of us enjoy a good shower. Whether it be a rain shower, or hot shower when it is cold and a cold shower when it is hot. It is the same when we praise God. I sometimes picture God taking a bath when we shower Him with praise. This may be sacrilege and an offense to some, but to me it is a beautiful picture of God enjoying His people’s praises.

He loves to be close to those who praise Him. We know that God is present everywhere, and in essence, He is always near. Yet, there a special bond or a special sense of His presence when we praise Him.

He is active or present in a special way when we praise Him. Praise releases God’s active power in our lives. When someone praises you, do you not have a renewed appreciation of the person, which often makes you want to reciprocate in some way. I don’t believe it is any different with God. When you are under appreciated, how does that effect your relationship with that person? Usually in a negative way. It is the same with God.

Praise gets our eyes off of us and onto God, which allows God to do a special work in our lives. God loves our praise, but praising God is more beneficial to us than to Him. God doesn’t need our encouragement or praise in the same way that we need praise from others. Yet, He expects our praise and loves our praise.

3) It is good to give Him praise.

Ps. 92:1- “It is good to give thanks to the Lord and to sing praises to your name, O Most High;”

This is connected to why God inhabits our praise. When we praise Him, it is good for us to do this.

4) He is worthy of our praise.

Revelation 4:11- “Worthy are you, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power; for you created all things, and because of your will they existed, and were created.”

He is worthy of our praise because He created us and all things. It is by His mighty power that He sustains us and all of creation. He is worthy of our praise because He gave us salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ. There are countless other reasons that we could mention why He is worthy of our praise.

5) We were created to praise Him.

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”

God chose us and saved us that we might declare His praises. This is not only declaring His praises with our lips, but by our actions. Your actions can bring God praise, or bring Him dishonor. When we fulfill our priesthood by being a true representation of God and by bringing others into right relationship with God, we are giving Him praise. When we live a holy life by obeying His commands and bearing the fruit of the Spirit, we bring God praise. Yet, when we do the opposite of these things that I have just mentioned, we are dishonoring God.

6) It releases the power of God to act on our behalf.

    References: 2 Chronicles 20:1-6, 11-29, Acts 16:22-34

In our next article, we will dive into this last reason to praise God.

FURTHER UNDERSTANDING PRAISE

In our last teaching, we looked at the Greek word for praise which gave us some insights into what praise is. Let us now reflect on that word study beginning with a simple definition of praise. It is when you give someone honor, glory, and respect with your mouth and by your actions because of what the person did or said.

If you remember from our word study, praise is to be a celebration. As with any celebration, it is joyous. Most celebrations involve many people and are often quite noisy. Celebrations are to be good times and full of smiles. Yet, how often do we see people praising without smiling? Some times we take praise too seriously. Do you feel the joy of the Lord when praising? You should have a sense of celebration. It shouldn’t be hard. It can be hard when we focus on ourselves and others instead of God. It can be hard when we reflect on our troubles instead of God’s goodness and greatness.

Praise is boasting in our God. Boasting is not done in a corner. Boasting is to be heard, if not, it is not boasting. Boasting in God is telling God and others how great He is. Yes, God can read our minds, and knows our heart, but he loves to hear us boast about Him with our lips. When we declare before others how good and great our God is, we are actually praising God in that moment.

Praise often involves some shouting (Shabach) because we are so excited about God. We often shout at a sporting event, but are unwilling to shout in praise. There were several occasions when God asked His people to shout. We are to give a victory cry as the Spirit of the Lord leads us.

Praise is a time of thanksgiving, not a time of telling God our troubles. When we set our hearts on thanking Him our troubles will seem small. When we thank Him, we will begin to rejoice and be glad. We are commanded to give thanks to the Lord.

I Thessalonians 5:18 – “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

One thing is sure in all of this. Praise is to be heard.

Psalms 66:8 – “Praise our God, all peoples, let the sound of his praise be heard;”

Whenever we give a person praise and thanks, we always say it out loud. We may think it is different with God because He knows our heart and mind, but it isn’t. As husbands, we often assume that our wife knows our mind and feelings towards her. While often they do know our mind and feelings towards them, this doesn’t mean they don’t want to hear it spoken. This is true with God as well. Also, when we praise God in the presence of others, this encourages them and builds them up in their faith and love for God.

God’s praise is to always be on our lips.

Psalms 34:1- “I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.”

God doesn’t want us to be complainers. We are to praise Him in good times and bad times. If we praise Him all the time, naturally we will praise Him everywhere.

Psalms 113:3- “From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of

the Lord is to be praised.”

This verse clearly states that God is to be praised over the whole earth. We are to praise Him in church, at home, at work, at school and everywhere in between.

It is good to write down your expressions of praise.

The almighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace, Jehovah God, our provider, God our deliverer, you are above all, there is none like you, Elshadai, the almighty God. I thank you for saving me, helping me every day, protecting me, strengthening me, dying for me, loving me, guiding me, and blessing me.

Now say what you have written down aloud and repeat it until you feel it comes from the heart. (You’ve just practiced praise.)

In closing, there are two kinds of praise. Direct praise which is when we praise him in prayer and song. Indirect praise which is when we tell others of how God is great and good or show God by the way we live.

Most believers know that praise and worship are at the center of Christian life, but few have done an in-depth study on it. As a result, we are unable to recognize true praise and worship or experience it to it’s fullest. The first thing that we will look at are the Hebrew and Greek words for praise. This will give us greater insight into praise.

1) Halal – celebrate, glory, and boast. (used 160 times in the O.T.)

It is the root word for Hallelujah which is a Hebrew expression of praise to God.  Hallelujah is translated in Hebrew as “Let us praise God”. The Greek form in the New Testament is translated “Alleluia”.

Examples: Ps. 22:22; Ps.102:18; Ps. 35:18

2)Tehilliah – The emphasis of this word is on singing God praises. (used 57 times)

Ps. 119:171 – “May my lips overflow with praise (singing), for you teach me your decrees.”

Other examples: Habakkuk 3:3, Deuteronomy 10:21

3) Shabach – Means to shout with a loud voice, to shout in triumph, to glory in victory.

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

Ps. 63:3 – “Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify (praise) you.”

Other examples: Daniel 2:23; Ps. 117:1

4) Yadah – to give thanks (used 120 times in the O.T.)

Psalms 35:18 – “I will give you thanks in the great assembly; among the throngs I will praise you.”

Let us now look at some Greek words that are translated praise in our Bibles as we seek further insight into praise.

1) Aineo – A praise offering or celebration, or lifting of voice in thanks.

Romans 15:11 – “Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles; let all the peoples extol him.”

2) Epaineo – Means to applaud, to commend for something

Eph. 1:6 – “to the praise (applaud) of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.”

3) Eulogeo – Means to speak well of. 

Luke 1:64 – “Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising (speaking well of) God.”

In summary as we reflect on these words for praise, we see a number of characteristics of praise. We see praise has the idea of celebration. Praise is often a form of celebration. We are celebrating who God is and what He has done. We are celebrating our relationship with God. Another characteristic is giving God glory because He merits this. Often praise is a form of boasting, boasting in who God is and what He has done, even in what He will do. Also, we saw that often praise is offered through singing. Singing in itself is not praise, but when offered with the intent of glorifying God, it is praise. As we continue to reflect on the words for praise, we see that praise can be very loud. Shouting and applauding is often involved. Also, we saw another aspect of praise is thanksgiving. Thanking God for all he has done.

In our next blog, we will continue to look further into the characteristics and aspects of praise.

SPIRITUAL GIFTS PART IV

As we launch into spiritual gifts part four, we encourage you to read part one, which gives you some foundational principles on spiritual gifts. You will need to read parts two and three as well, which describe the speaking gifts and knowledge gifts. We are now going to describe for you the last three of the nine gifts, which are power gifts. Although all the gifts require the power of  the Holy Spirit in our lives to operate them, these next three gifts release God’s power in a mighty way.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are found in 1 Corinthians 12:7-10.

The first of these power gifts is the gift of faith.

Romans 12:3 – “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.”

Every believer has been given a measure of faith. Initially, we are given the faith of salvation. Along with this we are given the faith of perseverance which comes from the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. This faith enables the believer to remain in Christ and causes the believer to pursue Christ.

Romans 10:17 – “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.”

The gift of faith that we find in I Corinthians 12:9 is a special faith that the Spirit of God gives to believers above and beyond simple faith of salvation and perseverance. It could be called a miraculous faith. We see Jesus with this kind of faith in John 11:38-44. In this story Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead.

You might be thinking, well this is Jesus the Son of God, what would you expect?

Yes, it was Jesus, but Jesus being fully human and fully God depended on the Holy Spirit even as we do to accomplish the work of His Father (Luke 4:18). Remember Jesus said, ‘these things that I do even greater things than these will you do’ (John 14:12). Jesus, being the Messiah, flowed in all the gifts.

Let us look at some of the characteristics of the gift of faith in order to better understand what it is. A person who has the gift of the faith will believe in the extraordinary as if it is something ordinary.

In Acts 28:3-6, we see Paul bitten by a poisonous snake and seemingly not bothered in the least by it. I don’t think the apostle Paul was in a panic about it, but carried on as normal while the people around him were expecting him to die.

A person who has the gift of faith will have faith in things that an ordinary Christian would not have faith to believe for. He will have faith to raise the dead, heal those who are terminally ill, believe for extraordinary amounts of money; believe for extraordinary accomplishments, and miracles of all sorts. As you already see, the gift of faith often works hand in hand with the gifts of healing and miracles. Some people in the Bible who had the gift of faith were Moses, Caleb, Joshua, Elijah, Elisha, and Daniel.

Another characteristic of a person who has the gift of faith is that their faith is not based on the promises of God’s word, but on the measure of faith God has given them and a rhema Word of God. A rhema word is a spoken word of God to you, not necessarily a Scripture.

A person who has the gift of faith will always speak words of faith and the thing that the person believes for will be accomplished. In other words, you will see the results of the faith gift in their life and ministry. Remember that none of the gifts are given for personal benefit, but for the benefit of the body of Christ and His kingdom.

The next power gift is the gift of miracles.

Before looking at the characteristics of this gift, let us define what a miracle is. In its simplest form, it is a work of power. More specifically, a miracle is a supernatural act of God where God uses a person as an instrument of power and where the laws of nature are superseded by the power of God, to bring about a physical outcome contrary to the laws of nature.  Not all things that are out of the normal are necessarily a miracle. An exceptional ability is not an indicator of miraculous power. A miracle is more than a phenomenon. A miracle is not simply a manifestation of the power of God or a supernatural intervention of God.  It is important to understand that a supernatural act of God without the use of a person in accomplishing it is not a miracle. Without man involved, it is simply an act of God.

The person who has the gift of miracles will perform many miracles as part of the ministry God has given him. Just because God used a person to perform one or two miracles does not mean that they have the gift of miracles. It will be a dominating factor of the person’s ministry. A person, who has this gift, often has the gift of healing as well. I don’t believe the Bible teaches or shows that there is a ministry of miracles and/or healing. None of the spiritual gifts are a ministry in themselves, but accompany a ministry gift. In the Bible we see that apostles and evangelists often have the gifts of healing and miracles.

There are many examples of miracles in God’s word. The following are references to some of them – Deuteronomy 29:2-5; Exodus 4:1-9; I Kings 18:44-46; 2 Kings 4:32-35; Mathew 8:23-27.

The final power gifts is the gift of healing.

Even as a miracle requires the involvement of a person, a healing also requires the involvement of a person. The gift of healing takes place when God uses a person to heal someone physically by supernatural powers, not medicine. Not all miracles are healings, but all healings brought about by God’s servants in a supernatural way are miracles. All examples of healing in the Bible are instantaneous. They are never progressive. In the same way, the person who has the gift of healing will see immediate results. Although God is able to use any believer to bring healing to another person, the person who has the gift will heal many. It will be a regular part of their ministry. Also, a person who has the gift of healing will more often than not be used by God to do extraordinary healings, like healing the blind and the lame, healing cancer and other terminal diseases. We see that the apostles in the book of Acts were used tremendously in this way.

Let us not fall into the deception of Satan and believe that miracles and healings were only for Biblical times and are not for today. God is the same God. He has not changed and His purposes have not changed. If we look back over the history of the church from the times of the apostles to this very day, we see God has used many people in miracles and healings of all kinds.

Let us not ignore the fact that Satan and his followers are able to do miracles and healings as well.

Exodus 7:10-22 – “So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. 11 Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: 12 Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs.”

Matthew 7:22-23 – “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”

Although Satan is able to do miracles and healing, God is more powerful than Satan.

1 John 4:4 – “You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

How do we know if a miracle or healing is from God? You first need to look at the person who is doing the work. Are they a child of God? If not, you know that it is not with God’s power that they are doing it.

Also, ask the question, to whom or for whom are they doing it? If they are doing it for their own glory or the glory of another, then it is most likely not of God.

I pray that this series will not only give you greater insight into the Holy Spirit and his works, but will also stir up a hunger in you for more of God and His power in your life. I pray that you will give the Holy Spirit greater control in your life.

%d bloggers like this: