Have you ever had a thought pop in your mind that you knew was not your imagination? Last week in church I was randomly praying (silently) for the congregation when 3 pictures popped in my mind. It wasn’t from a known fear or anything familiar. Because this is a public blog I think it’s best not to give the details but the pictures gave me insight how to pray. During the worship time three people gave their testimonies and their praise dissolved, neutralized and removed what I perceived to be a threat in each picture. It was like baking soda thrown on acid- fpssst. It was fascinating to me and a visual for what takes place spiritually when people praise God – for their past, their mistakes and God’s grace in their lives. I was just zoning out when the service started. So many times I’ve gone to church and passively stood there while God ministered to me, while people prayed for me, while healing took place. Now when I’m feeling free and strong I want to press in for others and not let my mind just wander. Because I’ve been prayed for, I want to also pray for others. I was not expecting to learn something of warfare that morning. Fizzle, dissolve – gone. Praise obliterates the poison of the enemy. I couldn’t help think how time efficient and cost effective of God to just eradicate pain or yuck with a song? We can’t often explain intercession but God leads us to and through it. Do I believe in psychology, counseling, psychotherapy and medicine? Absolutely. But I also know that sometimes a praise break can do deep works that only God could accomplish or explain.
One night a couple years ago, I went to visit my sweet mama in the hospital. I had to stay in the ICU waiting room for long periods of time. There were many families going thru heartache with their loved ones. There were lots of tears and sorrow. One family there attended a Baptist church and every day their church brought them food. Those Baptists loved on me too with their casseroles. That’s not seen as a spiritual gift but it should be! The next day I asked the Lord how I could be a blessing and felt a leading to sing “The blood will never lose its power.” I wrestled with this. There were all new people in the waiting room and I was scared. Finally, I did it. Peace came into that room. A family whose dad was dying came near. Last rites had just been given. They were Catholic and asked if I would come sing my song to their dad. I can’t explain it but their dad got better and lived for several more months, reconciling with family and making things right with God/man. Some things about God are just stronger than what people expect or plan on taking place. Fpssst….. New direction. God neutralizes really hard things when we praise. The family was very grateful for this time.
Stripes on the back of Jesus, then two men get arrested for preaching about HOPE in this beaten, dead and resurrected guy’s name. That name was not neutral, it did things. They would be free –if they had just shut up about the hope within them. They could not contain their joy- it kept popping out. Paul and Silas were bound in physical chains and the story goes on (Acts 16) that they praised God, even in their darkness and in spite of their trial. We remember this story as an example of their great faith. Did you ever read the next lines? Silas was WITH Paul and they were NOT alone.
Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely. Having received such a charge, he put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God,
and the prisoners were listening to them.
They were just taking a praise break with God but others were listening in. God moves mountains when even a little tiny beam of hope enters into someones’ heart. It’s God’s currency; it’s what thrills Him the most. Streaming light, come on up higher, this is the God in Heaven we are reaching for, streeeeeetch….. and the prisoners catch on and ride that wave on Paul and Silas’ praise, encountering God.
26 Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and
EVERYONE’s chains were loosed.” God likes to go BIG or go home.
Someones’ going deeper for more than just themselves. Fpssst….. There’s a change of plans. The power of that name is real! Thanksgiving isn’t just a holiday it’s a minute by minute life choice. Praise spreads, it multiplies, and it draws in Heavenly choirs and listening angels. It does not stay put or silent. God’s got this and the story gets rewritten. Praise invites the God of that praise to come on down and dance a while. You just gotta get some Jesus Jig on that! It’s medicinal, it’s real, its hope giving, life altering and not just about us!
Psalm 92 (a song written for the Sabbath day) says, “It is good to give thanks to the Lord, and to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your loving kindness in the morning, and Your faithfulness every night…” I’ll leave the rest of that chapter for those spiritual soldiers to look up and I challenge you to view it as a warfare tool. This is no tame psalm to just sing a little tune. The “Good” in Psalm 92, looks like healing, plans changed, victories won, not just “normal” or happy.
In the last days, Matthew 24:10 tells us, many will get all hateful and many will live offended at one another. Not just the media, but everyone. We cannot change things in the natural but we can praise God and “Fpssst” let His poison busting, hate crashing, Spirit comforting power –work. We can invite Him into situations that are deemed hopeless or painfully hard. “We praise in full trust that = God’s got this.” We are not just employing weapons of our warfare but connecting with the ONE who can change tough situations into joy. Sometimes situations remain but He changes us. Sometimes that happens immediately and sometimes it is stored for eternal desserts – see the book of Hebrews. Either way, God gets involved and comes to minister to His children while the rest of the world is zoning out and waiting for something to happen. God is sovereign but our will to praise puts us right in the middle of the miracle while it’s happening.
Sins effects are seen all around us. The world is filled with wars, darkness and death. That’s real. Pollyanna platitudes can’t erase wickedness. Human effort can’t eradicate spiritual evil. What is also real, is a God who can cleanse us from all unrighteousness and make us whole. What is also true is that He can change situations when we invite Him into them. The world will still be held by God’s hands today. The sun will rise and set. The stars will still twinkle in their place. The tide will come in and go out. God has set things in motion and continues to be sovereign over them. What about us? Our motions are not fixed by God. Today we will choose whether our praise goes up or our heads hang down. Today we will choose if we relegate our plans to God’s care or our failed wisdom. Today we can choose if we involve Him in our lives through praise or distance ourselves and worship other gods. David, a covetous, murderous adulterer was on a trajectory of death, then Fpssst….. He invites God into his mess. “Uhm, God this is royally screwed up, will you reign some Heaven on this?” The fruit of the loom dancer David, returns to worshiping the only Worthy One and everything changes. He exchanges his story for God’s story planned for him from long ago. He “sees” God as being worthy of his praise and then God “sees” him as being a man after His own heart. Aren’t you thankful God sees us better than we know ourselves to be in the current situation? The spiritual “earthquake” in David’s soul makes room for the Messiah in his family line. God was planning David’s redemption and legacy even while he’s losing ground. That’s grace. Then all those bound around him start to get their chains loosened. Aren’t you glad David chose to praise? His resume got a rewrite – fpssst.
Are you free today or bound by others’ opinions? Are you chained to your past, your fragile present or your presumptive future? What would change if you took a praise break now? Are those around you in chains just waiting for you to reach out with the glimmer of hope you still have, to praise Him? Whether you or those you love are bound today, aren’t you glad the One we praise is wanting and longing to hear you sing and worship, declaring your trust in Him?
Because of HIS stripes, we can be free, even while bound. Because of His death and resurrection we can stand justified, redeemed and whole – praising with full assurance of present and eternal hope. Aren’t you glad, you are no longer in chains, stuck in a prison of despair? Praise connects us with Jesus. Praise gives us perspective on who He is and who we just might be or become. Fpssst… Change of plans! Change of me…