Sunday, October 07, 2007


In my previous post, I explained that thanksgiving should naturally leading to rejoicing when we follow James' instruction to "count it all joy." As we count up all that God has done, we shouldn't stop at merely thanking God. In every one of the acts of God is a revelation of His nature. And we see God's nature - His extravagance, joy, love, faithfulness, goodness, and power - the only sensible response is to PRAISE HIM. Praise and rejoicing are two sides of the same coin, as we see in Psalm 9:2 : "I will be glad and rejoice in You; I will sing praise to Your name, O Most High." It's hard to praise effectively without rejoicing, without bringing our body, soul, and spirit into an expression of celebration. We can't rejoice without having a reason, and that reason is God's nature, revealed in His relationship with us, that we declare in our praises. When God says to "rejoice always," the implication is that we are to establish PRAISE AS A LIFESTYLE.

The praise that flows from thanksgiving is described in Hebrews 13:15 as a "sacrifice." This verse gives us a guideline for what kind of activities genuinely qualify as praise. First of all, PRAISE SHOULD CAUSE US SOMETHING. Only then is it a proper response to the God who has given us costly gift of His own Son. When I forced myself to rejoice in those nights alone in the sanctuary, I was offering God my time, my focus, and my comfort. I was stepping beyond what was convenient and beyond all the pressures of my circumstances. That is what made the act of praise a costly expression. Secondly, a sacrifice of praise should always require FAITH because it's impossible to please Him apart from faith. Hebrews 11:4 explains that it was "By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain ...."

It certainly requires faith to rejoice when that's the last thing you feel like doing or seems to make sense in the face of your present circumstances. It doesn't take much faith to hang your head and sing "Thou Art Worthy" when you're really just thinking, "I am worthless!" Truely rejoicing in Him requires that you stand on the truth that you are already accepted by Him where you are. Rejoicing requires you to acknowledge that His goodness and faithfulness are more real than your present difficulty. It especially requires you to agree that your life is not really about you!

Only the rejoicing that requires you to agree with God's perspective on your situation is the sacrifice of praise that pleases Him and has the power to transform you. It is the expression of faith. Sometimes that rejoicing is what David describes in Psalm 2:11 : "rejoice with trembling." In other words, you don't have to feel full of faith to rejoice - you just have to do it.

While the nature of praise and thanksgiving is different, they should always go together, because they sequential steps toward strenthening ourselves in His manifest presence. Psalm 100:4 says we "enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise." This verse is a road map into the presence of God. Thus, our goal should be to sustain thanks and praise until our whole being is alive to His presence.But we also have to remember in that moment that the focus doesn't change from ministering to God to our getting what we need.

Thanksgiving and praise are tools to strengthen ourselves not because they help us get something from the Lord, but because they reconnect us to our primary purpose - TO MINISTER TO HIM IN WORSHIP. They bring us into His presence; and TRUE WORSHIP is something that only happens in that place of communion with His presence. In worship, the sacrifice is no longer physical expression or verbal declarations. We are the sacrifice. Fire always falls on a sacrifice. And when we are the sacrifice, we cannot help but be changed.

An extract from - Strengthen Yourself In The Lord by Bill Johnson


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