START PRAISING THE LORD
- We live in a world where there is so much going on.
- There is economic uncertainty, health uncertainty and political uncertainty, as well as so many other uncertainties that can overwhelm a person's heart and mind.
- Some of these things we can do something about, but many of these issues are beyond our control.
- What becomes vital is what we focus on.
- It reminds me a lot of the story of Peter who walked on the water. As long as he kept his eyes on Jesus he could walk on the water. But the moment he started looking at the wind and the waves, he began to sink.
- As you and I focus our attention on the Lord, He will enable us to make progress even in the storms. But if we start to focus on the problems and issues we face, as individuals, or in our particular nation, or even on a global scale, it will pull us down into the depths of despair.
- One of the greatest tools we have is praise.
- When we start to praise the Lord, we take a leap into another dimension, a dimension that opens the way to hope and confidence, even if the challenges seem tough.
1. THE CHALLENGES OF OUR DAY
- We are alive at a time when the challenges are unlike anything we have seen before.
- This has the potential of destabilizing our confidence and trust.
- As I sit here and think about these challenges, I can identify a few.
- 1. Too much information. We are bombarded with information on every side.
- 2. Misinformation. Much of the information we are exposed to is unverified and we often do not know the origin or the truth about the matter.
- 3. Uncertainty. Uncertainty has become a normal part of life. We are not sure what will happen, if it will happen, and if it would ever have happened.
- 4. Fear. The upshot of these challenges is that fear becomes a battleground, in our hearts and in our minds.
- When all this happens, we have two choices:
1. We can be overwhelmed and consumed with all these things. This often leads to the development of a critical spirit or even a cynical mentality. We can end up feeling distressed, angry, and frustrated.
2. We can lift up our eyes and focus on something different. As we are surrounded by the storms, the wind, and the waves, we can lift up our eyes, take our focus off all that surrounds us and start to look to the Lord. He, after all, never changes and promises to never leave us nor forsake us.
- As we begin to use the weapon of praise, we can make this shift and, in the process, free ourselves of many burdens and weights.
2. HOLD ONTO YOUR HOPE
- Hope is that essential ingredient to a life of purpose and joy.
- Without hope, we give in to despair and hopelessness.
- With hope, we have an expectation of good to come.
- Our hope in God is an anchor for our very souls.
- Hebrews 6:18-19 'So God has given both His promise and His oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to Him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God's inner sanctuary.'
- We can have confidence because of God's faithfulness.
- We need to run into the arms of the Lord and make Him our refuge in the storms of life.
- It is in this place of connectedness with God that we can enjoy GREAT confidence.
- We need to hold on to the hope we have in God, like our lives depend on it. In the same way that a survivor of a shipwreck would hold onto the lifebelt with all his might, we must hold onto the Lord.
- The Bible tells us that hope in God is an anchor for our souls.
- The interesting thing is that this anchor of hope connects us to God and to the eternal dimension.
- God is the source of all hope, and when we are connected to Him, we can have hope in our hearts.
3. DO NOT GIVE IN TO FEAR
- Years ago we used to sing a song and the words went like this:
'When you feel the urge within you, to submit to earthly fears, don't let the faith you're standing in, seem to disappear. Praise the Lord.'
- I have thought about these words a lot lately.
- I am not sure under what circumstances these words were penned, but the author obviously knew the struggle with fear.
- He speaks about 'feeling the urge'.
- Perhaps this is something we should become aware of.
- We should recognize the moment that fear lifts its ugly head in our lives and that is the time to react in our hearts.
- We cannot wait for fear to take root before we stop it.
- We need to stop it in its tracks and deal with it boldly.
- The words go on and speak about 'submitting to earthly fears.'
- I do believe that there is a choice to embrace fear, and in effect, submit to it, or reject it in our lives.
- Perhaps you have been feeling the urge within you to submit to earthly fears?
- Then it is time to stand up, take hold of your faith and choose not to go down that path, but rather to hold onto your hope and confidence in God, and begin to praise Him.
4. PRAISE IS A POWERFUL TOOL
- When we praise the Lord, we shift our focus off our issues and onto His greatness and majesty.
- There is another great song we used to sing and the words are as follows: 'Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face, and the things of the earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.'
- So, praise is powerful because it shifts our focus onto the Lord.
- The Bible also tells us that God inhabits the praises of His people.
- Psalm 22:3 'You are holy, You Who inhabit the praises of Israel.'
- The implication is that when we praise God, He is with us.
- To understand this, we can imagine a picture of someone who pauses to be with us, to sit with us and to dwell with us, while we are praising.
- So, praise is powerful because it changes the dynamic of our relationship with the Lord.
- Another wonderful aspect is that as we praise the Lord, it changes the atmosphere and creates an environment for miracles and breakthrough.
- 2 Chronicles 20:22 '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.'
- This scripture is part of a great story of victory.
- As the people praised the Lord, the Lord intervened and brought about a victory in their physical situation.
- Praise changed their circumstances.
- Praise is a powerful tool, and we need to start using it more.
5. START PRAISING THE LORD
- This calls for a quality decision that we will not sit around moaning, murmuring, criticizing, and complaining, but we will lift up our eyes and look to the Lord for our fulfillment, joy, strength, and hope.
- We can start praising the Lord as we remind ourselves of His greatness, His ability and His great loving-kindness and mercy.
- Many of the Psalms speak of the wonders of God, and we can begin to focus on these wonders and on His faithful character and never-ending love.
- The next way in which we can begin to praise Him is to be thankful.
- There is always something to be thankful for. Identify a few things that you have that you are thankful for and begin to thank and praise God for those things.
- Over time we can develop a lifestyle of praise.
- We can break the habit of negativity and learn to become people who praise God from our hearts.
- Praise is a powerful tool and with it we can expect great changes in our hearts, in our minds and in our situations.
- Today is a wonderful day to start praising the Lord.
By Pastor Andrew Roebert
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