Thursday, 25 March 2010

Overcoming Through Praise

I was inspired while in Church last Wednesday during my Pastor's teachings to do a post on praises. The Topic of his teaching was "The Tongue as an instrument of praise".
We have often heard statements like, "prayers move mountains but praises move God". I, for one, have not been too keen in using this statement may be, because I can't find it verbatim in the entire Bible or may be, because I am a man of prayer and felt that such is a slight on prayer. Be that as it may, there is awesome power in praises and I have reasons to believe that praises indeed is more powerful than prayers. Someone has said, "when we pray, God sends angels but when we praise, HE comes down Himself.In fact, when your praises go up, HIS presence comes down. Have you not read in the Scriptures that HE (God) inhabits the praises of His people. I have also discovered that praises is an integral part of prevailing prayers.
The aim of this post is to provoke a lifestyle of praise in us!

When your praises go up, HIS presence comes down

In the book of Acts 12:1-11 When Peter was imprisoned by Herod to be executed the next day, the Bible says prayers were offered ceaselessly by the Church for him. What happened? An Angel was dispatched by heaven to go and effect Peter's release. The manner in which the release was effected made Peter to think he was dreaming. The Bible says, the chain (handcuffs) fell off Peter's hands as the Angel tapped him to arise. The Angel led him out of the prison and in to the city before vanishing out of sight. That was prayers in action.
But in Acts 16:23-40 when Paul and Silas faced the same fate-imprisonment- the Bible says they prayed after which they sang praises unto God. Their praises were so high and loud that all the prisoners and wardens heard them. What happened? God Himself came down! The foundations of the prisons were shaken and the whole doors and windows swung open. Not only that, the chains fell off the hands of every prisoner and the Jailor, as a result, gave his life to Christ. Unlike Peter's case, this one was more dramatic with earthquakes because God Himself came down. No wonder Psalms 22:3 declares that "HE inhabits the praises of HIS people". God may send angels to receive prayers on HIS behalf but not praises. He comes down Himself to receive them.

Praise is a weapon of war:
Praise has been a prophetic weapon of war even from ancient times. Psalms 149:6-9 declares "Let the high praise of God be in their mouth, and a two-edged sword in their hand; To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron...". In Psalms 8:2, the scripture says: "Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings has thou ordained strength because of thine enemies..." but when Jesus in Matthew 23: 16 quoted this same scripture, He substituted "strength" with "praise" telling you that praise is power. Also When the children of Moab, and Ammon et al came up against Jehoshaphat the king of judah to battle, it was through this weapon that He overcame them all. The Bible says in II Chronicles 20:21-22 that, when he (Jehoshaphat) had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the LORD that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the LORD; for his mercy endureth for ever.
And when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushments against the children of
Ammon, Moab, and mount Seir, which were come against Judah; and they were smitten. Because they praised, God himself set ambushments against their enemies. See full account in II Chronicles 20:1-30
Focus your energies on praising God and let Him take over your battles.

Praise is the gate-pass into the sacred chambers of the Most High:
The Psalmist enjoins us to "enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name (Psalms 100:4) Rev. Dr. Uma Ukpai once said, that nobody is permitted to enter into God's presence without praises and thanksgiving
. If God inhabits the praises of His people then it means the one who praises is right in the presence of God. Lets forget our worries and lift our hearts above our challenges to come into His presence through praise and worship. Spirit-inspired Praises and worship provokes a release of the anointing. Elisha once requested that a minstrel be brought to minister in songs before he could prophesy. It was as she was ministering that the Spirit of the Lord came upon Elisha and he prophesied. Praise and Worship is one of the ways we minister unto the Lord. See Acts 13:1-2

Be a Praise Addict
When it comes to praises, there is one man who knows how to use this weapon and that is none other but King David. David was a man after God's heart for two reasons: one, he was tender hearted and of a broken spirit who knows how to say "i am sorry, forgive me" whenever he erred and Two, he was a man who loves God and knows how to worship HIM in praises. He was a praise-addict! Every great man is an addict and for king David, his was addiction to praise. Praising God was his sleeping and waking thought. He seemed to know no other thing to do with his time and his tongue than to simply praise the LORD all the days of his life. He could thank God for virtually everything about himself and situations whether good or bad.

Lets do an exposition on this praise addict and learn from him:

1) For what did he praise the Lord? In all things! In battle and in peace, at home and in wilderness, in abundance and in want. So must we also praise God.
The Bible says we should give thanks to God in all things for this is His will concerning us in Christ Jesus. All things may not be His will but in all things, His will is that we should thank Him because He has what it takes to work out His glory from every mess in your life.

2) Why did he praise the Lord? For God is good, and His mercies endureth forever (Pslms 22:3; 136:1-6;145:21). Knowing how he started and from where the Lord picked him from, he never failed to thank God for this unmerited favour. He saw God's goodness in every thing that happened to him. The Bible says it is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed.

3) Who did he say should praise the Lord? The living shall praise the Lord (Pslms 150:6; Isaiah 38:9) The dead can't praise God. Not just the physically dead but also the spiritually dead as well, for God is a spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. Remember, God is the God of the living and not the dead.

4) How did David praise the Lord? With all available instruments; including his mouth and all that is within him. (Pslms 103:1; 150: 1-6). Everything about us ought to praise Him-our appearance, our speech, our car, our phones (the ringtones, wall paper etc), our homes(and houses) etc.

5) Where did he praise the Lord? Everywhere and anywhere (Pslms 48:1, 2; Acts. 16:25-26).
6) When did he praise the Lord? At all times (Pslms 34:1, 134:1-2, Chronicles 16:8)
There are folks who praise Him only on Sundays and soon as they out of church, grumbling and bitterness take over. We should praise Him at all times and in all places so we could carry His presence withersover we go.

Praises (and thanksgiving) is the bank cheque with which we make withdrawals from our accounts in Heaven. Many Christians by their many prayers are rich in their accounts in heaven but still live wretchedly on earth due to their lack of thankfulness and gratitude to God. Somebody said, "if you want to be FULL of great things, be greatFULL" and another said, "if you are not grateful, you are not better than a great fool". What is that challenge for which prayers have been offered and it seems nothing's happening. Try praises! There are testimonies of men who have obtained promises through praises.
Don't just be a prayer warrior, but be a praise warrior as well

Praise is an evidence of faith in God:
The economy may be bad, and life very rough but don't let praise depart from your Tabernacle. Your Praises and thanksgivings in the midst of hardship are testimonials of your faith in God. To praise and thank Him for things that's yet to be is evidence of faith just like our father Abraham in Romans 4: 20-21, "He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory unto God; And being fully persuaded, that what He had promised, He was able also to perform".

Living a life of praise (gratitude, gratefulness, thankfulness) is an attitude you cultivate. Learn to live by praises. Praise God for everything because "we know that all things worketh together for good to those that love God, to those who are called according to His purpose". I have had testimonies as well along this line. One of which was the increase in my pay. My pay became so insufficient that i had to write our management some time around mid 2008 requesting for a pay increase. I never heard from my MD on the issue again and the letter, i believe, ended up in the trash can. God gave us favour through our DMD who happens to be a believer but the MD sat on her proposal for a pay increase as well. Meanwhile, as all these transpired, i was engaged in all kinds of fire for fire prayers until December 2008 when I read the book "from prison to praise" by Merilyn Carothers. I started thanking and praising God for the situation including the MD and by this, committed Him to my cause. Without any further efforts, the MD approved a pay rise for us later in 2009 and back dated it to January 2009.

It doesn't matter how hard life has treated you. That you are reading this post is enough reason to praise Him. There are stronger guys who couldn't survive the same conditions. Praise Him because He has what it takes to turn the table in your favour.
If you can't praise and worship Him for who He is, then praise Him because of who you are. Yes! who you are, because there is somebody somewhere praying to be what you are today even though you are still miles away from whom you ought to be. A fellow was crying because he has got no shoes until he came across someone without legs. You may be down today but certainly not out, so praise Him. You may be in what seems like a prison, an incapacitation sort of, just like apostle Paul and Silas but thank God your mouth is not bound. Praise your way to freedom! When you praise Him in the midst of adversities, you drive the devil mad. The devil wants to steal your joy cos he knows the place of joy in fullfiling destiny. Isaiah 12:3 says: "therefore with with joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation (salvation from poverty, distress, adversities etc)" If your case has deteriorated to the point that praises have dried up in your mouth and what you have is murmuring and grumbling instead, then accept my sympathy. This was the undoing of the Israelites in the wilderness en-route Canaan.
Praise refreshes and renews our souls.

When everything else fails, try praises!


Friday, 12 March 2010

The True Essence of Knowledge

So much has been said and written about knowledge. Every motivational speaker and writer would want to drum it into his audience that knowledge is all they need and that if anyone thinks otherwise, he should go and try ignorance. And in fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy, knowledge has greatly increased in this later days. The result is that man's quest for knowledge has been on the increase. The average child today knows more than his parents knew when they were his age. There are a thousand and one books on virtually every field of human endeavour and existence. Is it marriage, finance, spirituality, relationship, you name it. Almost every home today has a copy of the Bible. Knowledge is so accessible today that ignorance can no longer be excused. Even if you can't read, at least you can hear and there are speakers (tapes, and CDs) in whatever is your area of interest. The importance of knowledge can not be over emphasized. Bishop Oyedepo once said that every exploit in life is a product of knowledge.

Every exploit in life is a product of knowledge- Bishop D. O .Oyedepo

But there is an evil I have seen under the sun, our lives do not match up with the level of knowledge we wield. With the volumes of knowledge available to us today, can we boldly say that the level and quality of lives we live is a true reflection of how knowledgeable or versed we are? Is your financial status a true reflection of how versed you are upstairs in financial matters? The world has seen the marriages of those who taught others how to build healthy relationships hit the rock. The Church has seen believers, theologians and scholars alike whose lives and what they profess or teach are worlds apart though, knowledgeable and versed in scriptures. Hope you know there are professors in the sciences today who comparatively know more in their fields than did the likes of Edison back then but who have no invention/discoveries to their credit? The list is endless! We know so much upstairs but with so little to show for it. These things ought not to be.

The essence of knowledge is action, not information. It is not to make you a walking dictionary or encyclopedia but to enrich your life. The true essence of knowledge is change, and not information. And such change can only come through action. This is where we often get it wrong. Hear the words of the Lord Jesus in John 13:17, "if ye know these things, happy (blessed) are ye if ye do them" It is the "doing" that brings the blessing and not just the "knowing".
The aim of knowledge is action, and its true essence is change, not information-Prince

Knowledge does not equal change neither does it equal results. In fact having the knowledge does not always automatically translates into results. How many people today know that Jesus saves from sin? How many more know that prosperity is God's will for them? Quite a good number of course! But only a minute fraction of them are actually saved or prosperous. "knowing" is not always "being" and the bridge between them is "doing". Many of us have the same attitude as that young rich fellow who came to Jesus to ask him what he will do to inherit eternal life who when he was eventually told, walked out on the Lord. We attend seminar, read books, ask questions with an attitude of "what must I do to get..." but unfortunately, that is how far we go. No commitment, no action therefore, no change!
Knowing what God has promised you is information, and knowing what to do to make it yours is revelation-Bishop Oyedepo

Something instructive played out in I Kings 17:9-15 when God informed Elijah that He (God) has commanded a widow at Zarephath to sustain (or be feeding) him. Armed with this information, Elijah set out for Zarephath. Surprisingly, when he got there, he didn't meet a widow eagerly waiting with a sumptuous meal to feed him. Rather he met a resistant "poor" widow. It took Elijah a little persistence to prevail on the widow to do what God has said. Many of us would have backed off after the initial resistance. Knowing what God has promised you is information, and knowing what to do to take delivery of it is revelation. "Knowing" is not always "possessing" and "revelation-based actions" is the bridge between them. There is the word of faith, there is also the action of faith. Faith most times is justified by actions (James 2). Knowing is not always possessing! Knowing the importance of stock and how to buy them doesn't make you a shareholder in any firm. Having a knowledge of the presence of crude oil underneath your house won't make you a millionaire. Got that? No knowledge is automatic, you must believe and act on it. It has often been said that "knowledge is power" but i beg to differ. It can only be power when used or acted upon or else, knowledge is potential. Active knowledge (i.e. knowledge applied or acted upon) is power whereas dormant knowledge (i.e. knowledge yet to be applied or acted upon) is potential.
Francis Beacon said, "knowledge is light". What this means is that it lightens our path and shows us the way to go but we have to walk the walk.

What shall it profit a man if he acquires the whole knowledge and uses it not?-Prince

I will end this piece with an exposition on John 8:32, "ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free" (KJV). Note He didn't say, "ye shall be free for knowing the truth". There are two clauses in His statement connected by a conjunction. Although the second is a function of the first.
The First: "ye shall know the truth"- that is knowledge
The second: "the truth shall make you free"- that is knowledge at work (or putting knowledge to work)
A lot of folks stop at the first without progressing to the second.
"I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health even as thy soul prospereth" the Bible says. Knowing this is good but do you know how to activate this acknowledge to work for you? The essence of knowledge is change and until knowledge goes to work in your life or situation, there won't be any change.
Yes! Knowledge is a key but it will not, and can not, on its own open any door until you specifically put it to such a use.