OVERCOMING THROUGH PRAISE

“Whatever happens, keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ. This is what God wants you to do.” (1st Thessalonians 5:18 CEV)

Texts: Psalm 92: 1-5; 149: 1 – 7; 1 Thess. 5: 18; 2 Chronicles 20: 1 – 34

There is no nation or a group of people on earth today that are not experiencing one form of economic crisis or the other. Both the low and the mighty have all been hit by the current economic downturn globally.

Our nation (Nigeria) in particular is faced with a lot of hardships. We have heard of a father exchanging his son for a bag of rice. We have also read about people even in the big cities stealing their neighbours’ food while still on fire to feed their hungry children. One story was told of a woman that stole her neighbour’s pot of Amala (a Yoruba local delicacy) while on fire. When the owner who had just stepped into her room to get a few things returned to see just her stove burning with no pot on it, she realised that her meal had been stolen. She decided to go from one apartment to the other in search of her meal. To her shock on entering a particular apartment, she found her neighbour with her little children swallowing her missing Amala with palm oil. Out of pity, she went back to her own apartment and returned with a bowl of soup for her neighbour and children, so that they, too, may have something decent for a male. People have now learnt to watch over their meals while cooking.

The current situation in Nigeria is so horrible that many now go on for days without food. The dawn of a new day brings fear – fear of joblessness, fear of not having food to eat, fear of not having money to carter for their children, fear of seeing their children die of mere illnesses, fear of being kicked out of their homes by landlords because of overdue house rents, fear of children being sent home from school because of unpaid fees. These economic challenges have forced many young men and women including the married into armed robbery and prostitution.

As Christmas, end of the year and New Year celebrations draw near, many have no reason to celebrate. I can boldly say that a lot of homes will go without the basic festive items this period because they just cannot afford any. However, in God; we have hope and in Him, we can rejoice.

The 2nd Book of Chronicles Chapter Twenty presents a gloomy picture of Judah under siege by three nations – Moab, Ammon and the Meunites. Permit me to say that this event, to an extent depicts the kind of siege most people are experiencing today. The heart of the people melted for fear of their enemies just the way many hearts have melted and lost hope.

But the attitude of King Jehoshaphat made all the difference in the midst of all his troubles and fears:

  1. He set himself to seek the Lord, vs. 3. “To seek” as used here implies a desire to know God’s will about a situation and to worship the Lord. In his fears and troubles, Jehoshaphat worshipped the Lord – he took the lead as their King.
  2. He proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah, vs. 3. He gathered the entire nation and humbled (emptied) themselves before the Lord. They demonstrated before the Lord that they depended on Him – that on their own, they were weak to save themselves.
  3. Jehoshaphat prayed to God in the midst of the people including women and children, vs. 5 – 13. He extolled the virtues of God, recalled God’s feats in times past, and reminded God of His assurances to His people. What do you do when you are facing challenges? Do you go to men or to God in praises and prayers?
  4. God responded by promising victory, vs. 14 – 17. What word do you have from the Lord concerning your situation?
  5. 5. Under the leadership of King Jehoshaphat, the entire nation went into a frenzy of praises to the Lord, vs. 18 – 21. God deserves an elaborate worship from you in your circumstance.
  6. As they praised the Lord, He set an ambush against the enemies of His children – vs. 22 – 23. The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the Meunite. After they had finished slaughtering the Meunites, the armies of Moab and Ammon helped to destroy each other. Your praise has the potential to give you victory over the enemy. You can overcome your situations through your praises to the Lord.
  7. When the men of Judah looked from a distance; they saw only dead bodies, none of their enemies escaped death, vs. 24. So will your story be as you give the Lord an elaborate praise in your trying and troubled times.
  8. King Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah got more than they bargained; a great plunder of valuable articles, which they spent 3 days to gather in, vs. 24 -26. As you praise the Lord, so shall you gather in abundance – the past and the present time.
  9. King Jehoshaphat and his army returned home rejoicing and the land had rest, vs. 27 – 30. You will rejoice and the Lord shall give you rest.

Praising God and giving Him thanks are key elements of our Christian walk with God. Paul wrote in Philippians 4:6 saying, “Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything. With thankful hearts offer up your prayers and requests to God.” (CEV). Then in 1st Thessalonians 5:18 he reechoed the importance of praise and thanksgiving: “Whatever happens, keep thanking God because of Jesus Christ. This is what God wants you to do.” (CEV).

We may not all have achieved our physical targets, but one thing we must not fail to do is to have a heart of gratitude for the salvation we have through Jesus Christ, God’s loving kindness, His faithfulness and mercies. We are to express gratitude to Him whether we have food or not, whether we have succeeded in our plans or not, whether things are getting on well or not – we are simply called to give God thanks and praise Him – in all things – whatever happens – praise the Lord.

King David’s Perspective – Psalms 92; 1- 5; 149: 5 – 9

King David is well known for his lavish praise, (2nd Samuel 6: 16; 1st chronicles 15: 29). In Psalms 92, King David declared that it is good to give thanks and praises to the LORD. “It is good to give thanks to the LORD, and to sing praises unto Your name, O Most High:” (MEV). What are our praises and thanks supposed to do? “To declare forth Your lovingkindness in the morning and Your faithfulness in the night.” (vs. 2 MEV).

Our thanksgiving and praises should be nothing short of our testimony of the goodness of the Lord – a heartfelt gratitude to all God has done, is doing and will yet do – without ceasing – day and night – in all situations, ( see 2nd Chronicles 20: 5 – 13). And as much as we can, our praises should be accompanied by sweet music. “It is good to play for you on the ten stringed instrument and lyre and to add the soft sounds of the harp to my praise.” (vs. 3 ERV). King David himself was a musician, so he understood the importance of music in our praises unto the Lord.

Now, pause and consider this: “Praise the LORD! Sing a new song to the LORD! Sing his praise in the assembly of his followers. Let Israel be happy with their Maker. Let the people of Zion be happy with their King. Let them praise him by dancing and playing their tambourines and harps. The LORD is happy with his people. He did a wonderful thing for his humble people. He saved them! Let his followers rejoice in this victory! Let them sing for joy, even in their beds! Let the people shout praise to the God. And with a sharp sword in their hand, let them take revenge on other nations. Let them go punish those people.” (Psalms 92: 1 – 7 ERV).

Worship is an integral part of spiritual warfare – “…Let the people shout praise to the God. And with a sharp sword in their hand…” Little surprise King Jehoshaphat and his armies went to battle against the union of Moab, Ammon and Meunites in loud praises on their lips and weapons of warfare in their hands.

So, you think you have lost everything? Do you think the world has gone past you? Have you lost hope of ever succeeding in life?  Your praise to the LORD today can make that difference. You can overcome your trials and troubles today by praising the LORD.

Praise the LORD!

 

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