7“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” Mathew 7:7-8
7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” John 15:7
You will agree with me that the best part of the Lord’s prayer that most of us enjoy is “give us this day our daily bread, money, peace etc”. I am not saying that we ought not to ask but we ought to ask since Jesus taught us to. If God is not interested in satisfying the desires of your heart, Jesus wouldn’t have included the line in the Lord’s prayer as He taught the disciples how to pray. It is apparently that we have made it the basis of our prayer and we actually make the line the dwelling part when we pray. I know we have needs and they press us to the corner and the only thing that we can do is call out for help from God. David says in Psalms 121:1-2 “I lift up my eyes to the hills, where does my help come from, my help comes from the Lord, the maker of the heavens and the earth”. Apparently, when we go into the presence of God, the first thing that comes to our minds is our needs and before we remember even to thank God for what he has done for us, we are engrossed in asking from him.
Jesus continues after teaching his disciples how to pray and tells them that they should ask, seek and knock. These three words represent levels of prayer in a Christian’s life. When Jesus was teaching his disciples to pray, he taught them to ask for the daily bread. By saying this, He did not mean that we are curtailed from asking anything else. We are free to ask for more as long as it is in the will of God and the motive behind the asking is right. James reminds us in James 4:3 and says “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures”. The question is simple; what is the motive behind which you ask whatever you ask from the father? If you can answer this and know that you are asking with the right motive, know that the father will always give you.
Jesus was in other words telling the disciples that they need to grow up from just praying for their day to day life and get to a place where they can wage warfare for their live and for others. When it comes to the level of Seeking and Knocking, you need to realize that you are no longer praying the simple prayers but you are waging warfare in the spiritual realms. For more on this, click here to read more. At times we limit ourselves and thus God only answers to what we request of him. In the light of this, we live in a different level of life than we ought to because we haven’t maximized our asking potential that God gave us. When he taught his disciples to pray, He went ahead and reminded them of the same in John 15:7 and said “…ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.” You will notice though that this ‘ask’ has got a condition tagged to it. You have to abide/remain in him so that you can get WHATEVER that you ask of him.
You will see that we are not limited on what to ask; it is us who limit ourselves on what we ask from him. Jesus said… ask whatever you wish. He didn’t say that you need to ask for a certain amount; he didn’t say you shouldn’t ask for wealth; big cars; name it, whatever that you want; he can provide but you have to fulfill the condition first. You have to remain attached to the vine. Paul emphasized on the same words of Christ in Philippians 4:19 when he said “and my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” God is ready to supply us with all that we need, all we need is to ask of him. See the willingness of Jesus to supply all that we need. When He was passing through Jericho and blind Bartimaeus was calling out to him, Jesus stood and called him and asked him “What can I do for you?” Mark 10:51. I always think of this analogy in my head: If I found myself before the president and he told me, I have 10 minutes to ask of whatever I want to own in his country, how much would I ask for? The same with God; the bible tells us that He owns a thousand cattle on the hills; silver and gold belong to him thus, whatever you ask of him, He will give it to you.
You need to realize that you are a prince and an heir of the kingdom of God and whatever you ask, it is supplied to you. See a few people in the word of God who asked and they received what they had asked for and you will realize that yet if they had asked for more, they would have received of the same. The window with debts in 2 Kings 4:1-7; Elisha told her to collect as many jars as she could. You will notice that the bible says in verse 6 that “when the jars were finished, the oil stopped flowing” This meant that the more jars she had, the more the oil would have continued to flow. In 2 Kings 2:9, Elijah asks Elisha what he wanted before he was taken from him. Elisha asked for a double portion of his anointing. I tend to think, if he (Elisha) asked for more than a double portion of the anointing, wouldn’t he have gotten the same? The bible says, that’s God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” Ephesians 3:20. You can ask and you receive but God can do more than you can even imagine of asking.
There are two principles of asking and receiving that you need to note. Paul brings out one very clearly that God will do exceedingly and abundantly through the power that works within us. This power that works within us is the power of the Holy Spirit. You need to realize that this power cannot work in you and me if we are not connected to him. The first principle thus is; you need to be connected to the source which is Jesus Christ. Jesus puts it clear in the verse highlighted up here (John 15:7) that if you abide in me, whatsoever you ask, it will be done. James the servant of the Lord says “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt…” James 1:5-6. This brings the second principle that you should ask and ask without doubts. James continues and says that a double minded person will never ever receive anything from God.
Are you connected to the vine (Jesus Christ) and you do believe that whatever you ask in his name you will receive? Then, do not restrain yourself, ask from your father and he will gladly give you. The bible says “Enlarge the place of your tent, stretch your tent curtains wide, do not hold back; lengthen your cords, and strengthen your stakes. For you will spread out to the right and to the left…” Isaiah 54:2-3. Therefore, prepare yourself for what God is about to release unto you. There is an overflow that God is going to release over your life and unless you prepare for it, it will sweep you. Get ready for what God is about to do and do not limit God in whatever you want him to do for you, in you or through you.
“17 So Isaac moved away from there and encamped in the Valley of Gerar and settled there. 18 Isaac reopened the wells that had been dug in the time of his father Abraham, which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham died, and he gave them the same names his father had given them. 19 Isaac’s servants dug in the valley and discovered a well of fresh water there. 20 But the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen and said, "The water is ours!" So he named the well Esek, because they disputed with him. 21 Then they dug another well, but they quarreled over that one also; so he named it Sitnah. 22 He moved on from there and dug another well, and no one quarreled over it. He named it Rehoboth, saying, "Now the LORD has given us room and we will flourish in the land." Genesis 26:17-22
Isaac the servant of the Lord moves from his native land Canaan where his father Abraham had lived and goes to live in Gerar with the Philistines. Initially, the bible hints to us that he wanted to go back to Egypt where his father had gone when there was famine again in the land of Canaan but the Lord warned him not to go there but stay in the land where he was and he would make him prosper even during the famine season. This is what the bible says in Genesis 26:2-3 “The LORD appeared to Isaac and said, "Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you.” You will come to notice that from Abraham and all his descendants, they all ran to Egypt when famine came and when they got there, at some point they all lied. Abraham started when he said that Sarah was his sister and not his wife. Isaac did the same when he went to the land of Philistines and the sons of Jacob did also lie when they went to buy food from Egypt during the time of famine.
You need to realize this day that the moment you leave the place where God has placed you and you go to an unfamiliar territory, you will need to get new survival tactics and before you know; you will have compromised so as to safeguard yourself. One of the compromising things is that you lie over one thing or another. This comes as a result of us wanting to safeguard ourselves and what we have. Abraham and Isaac wanted to safeguard their wives because they knew they were beautiful and they could have been killed because of them. You need to realize that what God has given, no one can take it from you and thus there is no need to worry and fall into sin as you try to safeguard it. The bible says that “unless the Lord watches over a city, the watchmen labour in vain” Psalms 127:1b. All we need to do is listen to the voice of the Lord and obey. The battles that come our way when we have obeyed, he has promised that He will fight for us.
When Isaac dwelt in the land and the famine was great, the Lord commanded him to plant his crops and He (God) would multiply and bless him even in the time of famine. Isaac obeyed and he did so. So as to sustain his animals and the flock, he had to re-dig the wells that his father Abraham had dug. The reason why he had to re-dig them is because they had blocked up because the philistines had filled them with soil because of envy. Do not be surprised when the Lord blesses you and you prosper and some people come behind your back and start filling up the wells that you dig to sustain you. It happened to Isaac but the Lord was on his side and he had victory at last. The bible tells us that Isaac didn’t give up re-digging the wells; instead, he went ahead, moved from that particular place (Gerar) and settled in the valley. It is here that he re-dug the well but the philistines came and said that the wells were theirs. Isaac gave them out to the philistines and he dug another well. The same thing happened. He went ahead and dug another one but this was not quarreled over and so, he settled there. See that Isaac did not give up digging the wells despite the opposition that he got. Many of us give up so easily when we are opposed and we lose heart. I encourage you this morning; you do not have to give up, press on and you will finally get what you want to get.
There are some things that you had started in your life and you faced opposition on the same and you ultimately gave up. You need to realize that when you gave up, you gave the devil the ultimate authority to fill up the well that you had started to dig with soil. This should not be. You should not give the devil any slight foothold in your life. The minute you do that, you guarantee him unlimited access to bring you down in all that you attempt to do and accomplish. This is what Isaac did not do. Some of us; we have allowed the devil to preach to us sermons that do not have a base or even meaning in our lives. Mark you, there is not a single day when the devil will give you something that will ever help you; his aim is to always bring you down. You need to have a fighting spirit and do not give up nor allow defeat.
This morning, I am challenged to look back into my life and things that I have allowed the enemy to block up after I have started. I would pose the same challenge to you. Take some time and see what you have allowed the enemy to fill up with soil after you have dug it up. To some of us, it might be our relationship with God that is on the rocks; others, our prayer lives have died; to some, the passion, desire and hunger to read the word of God has died; name them all – the word today is that you can re-dig the wells again and you will get fresh water in them. The promise of the word of the Lord is that He will bless you in and out of season.
For you to re-dig the closed wells, you need persistence. We clearly see that Isaac was persistent to dig the wells despite the fact that the philistines came and claimed the wells. You will realize that he dug the well three times. How many times have you tried to do something and when you encounter a challenge you give up? Take up the challenge and be consistent. Nehemiah faced opposition from Tobbias and Sanballat but that did not deter him from rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 4:7). The ban and decree that was issued by the king could not deter Daniel from praying three times a day as he was used to (Daniel 6:10-12). The fiery furnace could not make Shadrack, Misheck and Abednego to change their mind and compromise their stand and bow down to the golden image that was set up by Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 3:16-18). His job at stake and being thrown behind the bars could not have been reasons enough to make Joseph to sleep with Portiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:8-10).
If the above people I have mentioned above could not allow themselves to be deterred by the prevailing circumstances from accomplishing what they had started or compromise their stand and principles, why you? Why do you give up so easily? Stand your ground, re-dig the wells that the enemy has blocked up and move ahead. This day, look back and see what the devil has discouraged you from doing it to completion and restart it again. Look at your relationship with God. Is it slackening and dying? You can rebuild it again. Is it your prayer life, hunger and thirst to read the word of God that has died? You can start again and be strong as you were before. Re-dig the wells again!
1 Early in the morning, Jerub-Baal (that is, Gideon) and all his men camped at the spring of Harod… 2 The LORD said to Gideon, “You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands…3 announce now to the people, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave Mount Gilead.’ “So twenty-two thousand men left, while ten thousand remained. 4 But the LORD said to Gideon, “There are still too many men… Take them down to the water, and I will sift them for you there. 5 So Gideon took the men down to the water. There the LORD told him, “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues like a dog from those who kneel down to drink.” 6 Three hundred men lapped with their hands to their mouths. All the rest got down on their knees to drink. 7 The LORD said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the other men go, each to his own place.” 8 So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites to their tents but kept the three hundred, who took over the provisions and trumpets of the others.” Judges 7:1-8
While I was in primary school as well as high school, I had two boyfriends whom we were really tight and we shared almost everything in our school work. We used to discuss and do revision together and come the time for exams, we would always be happy to come back together and review the paper that we had done against what we had revised the previous night or session ahead of the paper that we had. It is unfortunate that at some point in life, we parted ways and we rarely communicate. Because of some reasons, we ended up not communicating because of the distance between us and also because we took different directions in life and thus we feel that we may not be of value to each other. This is what happens to us. We have friends whom we value so much in life but yet we forget that we will not have them for the whole lifetime.
This make it worse when we cling so much to try and mend some broken relationships that in the long run will leave us hurting rather than heal us. We need to know that some friends that God gives us are just for a season in our lives and when that season is over, they quit since their mission is accomplished. But many of us push for them to remain. In this journey of life, we need to understand that we are all not headed in the same direction. We will board the same vehicle but some of us will alight in different stages and do not be astonished that you will at the destination alone. This clearly tells you that not everyone who is your friend merits to be part of your life.
Gideon is called upon by the Lord to lead the children of Israel into battle against the Midianites who had oppressed them for a while. Many people heeded to the call of Gideon but the Lord looked from heaven and told Gideon “you have too many men for me to use to deliver the Midianites into your hands.” It is at this point that the Lord gave Gideon the directives of how to size down the army that he had. You will notice that from thirty two thousand people, Gideon went into battle with only three hundred men. The reason why God had to do that is one… He clearly tells Gideon “In order that Israel may not boast against me that her own strength has saved her,” Judges 7:2b that was the reason that God had to reduce the number of people in the army that Gideon had.
This reminds us that at times we achieve things and we forget that we have been able to by the help of God and not the people that we know or the connections that we have. But as human beings, we like to ascribe the glory to ourselves. That’s what God wanted the children of Israel not to boast about that it is their vast army that made them defeat the Midianites. Solomon reminds us in Proverbs 3:5 that we shouldn’t lean on our own understanding but we should always trust in the Lord. How many times have you depended on your own strength, wisdom or even friends to accomplish what the Lord has intended for you and you boast that it is you who made it? It is a point that we should sit back evaluate ourselves and get back on track.
God took Gideon through a process so that he could sift out the men and have the people that He needed to deliver the children of Israel. There are friends that God will sift out of your life if you have to accomplish what the Lord has purposed for you to. The question is; are you ready or you will cling to them? God told Gideon “announce now to the people, ‘Anyone who trembles with fear may turn back and leave” Judges 7:3a. There are some friends that you have who are ready to walk with you but yet they fear to walk with you this journey; they are simply there because they want to be counted/associated as your friends. These are the people who will flee away and leave you when things get tough. By the virtue of the anointing that God has placed upon your life, there are some things that you will pass through and some of your friends will depart. These are the people who are fearful. You need to leave them behind and move on. Quite a chunk of people feared the battle even though they were part of Gideon’s army but the Lord removed them.
Secondly, the Lord took them down to the river. This is what He told Gideon: “Separate those who lap the water with their tongues like a dog from those who kneel down to drink.” Judges 7:5b. There are some of your friends who are part of you but their practices are different from yours. Their beliefs differ from yours despite professing the same faith as you do. Jesus said “Therefore, you will fully know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven” Matthew 7:20-21. God wanted to separate the soldiers who knew what they were doing and those who didn’t. For a soldier to lie down and lick water like a dog means that he is giving the enemy room to attack and kill him. Remember also, at this time, he has placed his armor down and when the enemy strikes, it will be too late for him to pick up his weapons and start fighting but the one who licks water from his hand is ready in case of any attack. He can fight back because his weapons are not placed down. Some of our friends will be there in person but when we need them to stand with us and defend us, they are busy doing something else or they are not ready because they are caught unawares.
Friends, what am I saying? There are relationships that we are clinging to that are not going to benefit us in the long run. My principle is; when God gives me a friend, I ask him to enlighten me and allow me to know for what purpose, season and period that he has granted this friend for. Friends are there for seasons as I said earlier. The earlier you know that, you will know and realize that it is not everyone who is your friend who is meant to travel with you in this journey. With that in mind, you will not be stressed or feel deserted when you fall out with a friend on the way. It will be an indicator that this person wasn’t part of the team that is supposed to walk with me. You need to evaluate and know whether everyone who comes into your life is worthy or guaranteed to be an intimate part of your life. There are some who are not.
As you evaluate your friends and relationships, realize that there are some God has placed in your life and there is nothing you can do about it. You cannot shun them off or drop them off. These are the likes of your parents; siblings, relatives, spouses etc. As incompatible they may be with you, you do not have a choice, you will live with them. All you need to do is strike a balance between yourself and them. As much as Gideon was a mighty man of valour, his father worshiped foreign gods but that didn’t make him less his father (Judges 6:25-26). Pray for them and God will do something in their lives. The bible says that “He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; Malachi 4:6.
You have too many men and you need to drop some of them off your bus. May the Lord help you as you evaluate and look at the people and the things that you need to drop in your life so that you are able to accomplish God’s will and purpose for your life in your generation. Remember “Do two people walk hand in hand if they aren’t going to the same place?” Amos 3:3 other translations say “two people cannot walk together, unless they are agreed! Realize that you need to be in the same accord when you sail in the same boat with someone, else, you will either make them miss the mark or they will make you miss the mark.
“4Remain in me and I will remain in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except you abide in me. 5I am the vine, you are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing. 6If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you.” John 15:4-7
We all know that life is all about relationships. These relationships vary depending on where we are and also in what circumstance. In an office, you have the boss-employee relationship; employee-employee relationships. At home you have parent-children relationship and siblings’ relationships as well. When we come into the kingdom of God, there is a relationship we have with God too. This is a FATHER-CHILD relationship. This is superior to all the relationships that we have on earth. God loves us as his children and it doesn’t matter who you are or where you are, He loves you with an everlasting love. John 3:16 bring it out clearly saying: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son…” you can imagine the matter and magnitude of love that God has for you to such an extent of sacrificing his beloved son for you. The bible continues to say in John 1:12-13 that “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” The question is, do you believe that?
You should remember that when God chose you, He set you apart. 1 Peter 2:9a says “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people…” you are special in the eyes of God. He has made you and me part of his royal family so that we can reign with him eternally. We are peculiar and valued in the eyes of the Lord. Therefore, in the light of this, we know how we relate with our earthly fathers and in that way, we maintain a relationship with them. The same way, God expects us to maintain a relationship with him. Paul speaks to believers in Philippi and he urges them saying this: “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” Philippians 2:12b. This is the only way in which we can live in harmony with our father and God. We need to develop this relationship daily and thus means we need to be always connected with him in prayer and also through reading the word so that we align ourselves with his purposes.
Jesus speaking to his disciples, he tells them that He is the true vine and God our heavenly father is the dresser. He goes and tells them that they are the branches in this vine and they are expected to bear fruits. You need to realize that a branch bears the fruits that are a directly a replica of the tree. And the branch will give fruits of what it feeds from the tree. This is the same to us. What we feed on is what will reflect in our lives. We need to be very careful of what we feed on because that is what will eventually be displayed in the lives that we live and portray outside. Jesus goes ahead and He mentioned a critical principle that we need to realize today. He says… “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” John 15:4. It is so unfortunate that we have not realized this at all especially in our generation and thus, we are taking things for granted. We take the gifts and talents that God has given us for granted and we assume that we can function without God who had gifted us with them.
Jesus puts it plain and clearly, that for us to bear fruits, we need to abide in Him and Him in us. You know you can claim that you have hidden yourself in him whereas you are only confessing it with your mouth only. When you allow him to be in you and you in Him, it means that you allow the self in you to die and him to arise in you. You reach appoint where you proclaim like Paul and say “nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20. This can only come when we die to self. When we abide in the vine, we feed from the vine. We are nourished and thus we are able to bear much fruits since we are connected. Jesus continues to say that without me, you will not bear any fruits. He explains that his father being the gardener, He eliminates or cuts off any branch that doesn’t bear any or much fruits. This is where many of us fail.
It is true that God has gifted us in various areas in the ministry and we know that clearly and well. People have even told us that we carry a certain anointing in us. And because of that, we have taken it for granted that things will happen automatically since we are anointed in that certain area. We cease from depending on God and rely on our experience and expertise that we have. If you are a worshiper, you take it for granted that when you stand before the people of God and start singing, God’s presence will come down and thus you do not take time to seek God’s face and direction that He wants you to take for that specific Sunday as you lead the people into the presence of God. (I used the example of a worshiper intentionally because I am one and this is what we tend to do). When we reach at that point that we cease to rely on God, that’s the time that we cease to bear fruits. We start doing things for formality – Just to be seen and to fulfill a duty.
When you are disconnected from the vine which is Jesus Christ, it simply means that your relationship with him is dead – you are cut off from him. In John 15:6, Jesus says “If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” When a branch is cut off from a tree, it withers and dries up. From there, it can be used as firewood or even burnt up to become charcoal. This is what happens to you when you are disconnected from God. When your connection with God dies, your spirit withers and dries up because there is no nourishment that you are getting to refresh your soul and spirit. Take the case of Samson, he knew very well that God had called him and set him apart as a Nazarite and he carried the anointing of God in his life but he took everything for granted. He could go and eat wild honey from a dead animal’s carcass and continue as if he has done nothing. He took God’s presence in his life for granted.
When we are disconnected, the devil blinds your spiritual eyes and you cease to see yourself in the eyes of God. It reached a point that he wasn’t conscious of who he was. The bible records in Judges 16:1-3 that Samson went in and lay with a harlot in the city of Gaza. Paul says, “All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body.” 1 Corinthians 6:16. More so, Solomon says in Proverbs 6:32 that “a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself” and this is exactly what Samson Did. After that, simply because he knew he had the anointing of God in him, he goes ahead and carries up the gates of the city to the mountain but little did he know that the devil was working out his downfall step by step. We all know the downfall of Samson and his death. This is how the devil does; so craftily that you can’t even notice what he is up to till the minute you find yourself in the fire, that’s when you realize what is happening.
The next thing that happens when you are disconnected from the vine is that God leaves you. The bible says in Judges 16:20 that… “Then she (Delilah) called, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” He awoke from his sleep and thought, “I’ll go but as before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the LORD had left him.” Samson awoke from his sleep thinking that he would go as usual and strike the Philistines just as he had done – this means he had gotten used to it. It was a formality. He did not realize that it was God who was in him doing so. This is what happens when we neglect our walk and fellowship with God. We do not grow and we do not even hear the voice of the Lord. The same thing happened to Eli the priest. In 1 Samuel 3:2 the bible says that his eyes were becoming weak. With his old age and his physical eyes becoming weak to an extent that he couldn’t see the evil things that his sons Hophni and Phinehas were doing with the sacrifices meant that even his spiritual ears and eyes were growing weak as well thus shy he couldn’t realize immediately that it was God who was calling Samuel.
I can continue and give more examples of people who were cut off from the presence of God simply because they lost their connection with God – they didn’t stay connected to the vine. The question today is unto you. Where do you stand? Are you connected/attached to the vine or you have been cut off? Take time and re-evaluate yourself and if you have disconnected from the vine, get back and attach yourself to the vine so that you can bear much fruits. Remember for some of us, we may not be even receiving the answers to our prayers simply because we are disconnected from the vine. Jesus said when we are connected/abide in him, whatever we ask of him, we shall receive. May God open up your eyes today so that you can realize where you stand and make your way back to be attached to him and thus bear fruits.
“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all the marvelous things you have done. I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High.” Psalms 9:1
How amazing is our God. He does many things that amaze me and his works are always perfect. Looking back in the days, I can recount of his marvelous works and all I can do is stand in awe and open my mouth and worship him. Thanksgiving is the only thing that is filling my heart. When you take time to look back at what the Lord has done in your life and where he has brought you from, you have no option but to praise him. We realized yesterday that thanksgiving is the basis of praise. It is until you recognize what someone has done and you thank him/her then you can go ahead and praise what he has done and recommend the same to someone else. It takes one to take time and reflect on the goodness of the Lord and then you can appreciate what he has done.
God is always enthroned in the praise of his people (Psalms 22:3). We need to realize that when God is enthroned in our circumstance, situations that we go through each and every day as well as our lives, his glory and presence comes down to dwell amidst us. A singer sang and said… “We lift you higher, we lift you higher, because when our praises go up; your glory comes down”. It is not our prayers or deeds that bring down the presence of God, but rather our praises. Our sacrifice of praise ascends to God as a sweet smelling savor unto God’s throne and it pleases God to come and dwell in such an environment. You can be sure that when God descends down to dwell amidst our praises as we enthrone him, he doesn’t come alone; He comes along with his presence and in his presence, there is fullness of joy. When Paul and Silas were in prison (Acts 16:25-26), they chose not to be derailed by the circumstance that they were in; the pain they were feeling and instead, they choose to praise God in their pain and in chains. It is hard for someone to praise God in pain but it takes one to make that choice to do so. Remember, thanking and praising God is a choice and a decision that we have to make and it is not dependent on our prevailing circumstances, emotions and feelings.
As we see in Paul and Silas situation, when we praise God, he responds. Here are some of the things that I have experienced personally when I praise and choose to thank God no matter what I am going through:
a) Praise and thanksgiving crowds out criticism and helps us defeat depression and fear and thus we have joy. – There are situations and circumstances that we go through and the best thing that happens to us is that we start criticizing, murmuring and doubting whether God is still there with us. But the minute we choose to be thankful and praise God in that particular incident, all fear, doubts and criticism melts off. Paul reminds us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16, 18 saying “Always be joyful… Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus”. When we praise and thank God, we acknowledge that God is in control of our circumstances and we have peace.
b) The prayer of praise is a weapon against a critical spirit. – Through praising and thanksgiving, we teach ourselves to trust in God daily and our thoughts become aligned to his. We become tuned to him and thus we have no cause to worry. Isaiah 26:3 says “You (God) will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you”. In the point above, we recognized that when we praise, we recognize and acknowledge that God is in control, thus a better reason to trust in him the more.
c) Through praise, God ministers to us. – There are those times that you find yourself so down and discouraged. The best advice that I can give you is to praise. When we praise, we allow the Holy Spirit to minister to us. David was at such a point in Psalms 42 but see what he says in verses 4-6 “My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration! Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again—my Savior and my God! Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you.” You will realize that the last part of this passage that David intentionally purposes to praise God in his situation. This is the same attitude that we should be having.
d) Praise is a weapon against fear. – I can’t help but laugh at this. You will realize that when someone is called upon to lead maybe a song in a meeting, you will realize that there is that fear to do so; but get this same person in his/her shower time, you will be amazed especially if the water is cold – the cold disappears when you sing. Same case applies to all the fears we have in our lives. Fear or rejection, silence, failure… name them; they all melt away in the power of praise. Did you know fear can be a hindrance for you to get into the presence of God? Remember this is the tool that the devil uses. He will always remind you of your past sins and thus you are afraid to go before the presence of the Lord.
e) Praising banishes away all negative emotions that we may have. – When we praise, we align ourselves with God’s purposes for our lives. In this case, we cease to see ourselves the way we perceive but instead, we see ourselves as God sees us. Meditating on the word of God and thanking him for his promises in his word regarding our lives, we see ourselves from God’s perspective and not our perspective. We start thinking in the way the word of God instructs us to. The word of God renews our minds to see or view life from God’s perspective
Praise is a means of communication between us and God. God wants us to communicate with him because this is what will keep our relationship moving and growing as well. Sometimes it will mean us keeping quiet and listening to him speaks to us and other times he listens to us. You will come to realize that when you get used to this – you make it your lifestyle, you will never have two days with a similar experience. Our relationship with God will continue to grow and bud. Today will never be like yesterday nor will tomorrow be like today. All we need to do is be persistent. A plant with no water dies and so is a relationship without time spent together and communication – it also eventually dies. We need to create time to communicate with God and spend time with him. In this, we will get to be more intimate and our relationship will grow. When we praise and thank God, I bet, you do not stop there… it gets deeper and you get into worship and thus spending time with God.
I urge you to make it a routine to be with the Lord in both prayers, praise and thanksgiving and you will be amazed to see the change, joy and breakthrough that you will experience in your life.
“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” Psalms 100:2, 4
Wow!! Another day and another month is here with us. I am so grateful that Christ died on the cross for my sins and He took away the shame that I was to bear for my sins and above all, paid the debt that I couldn’t have paid. What a loving saviour do we have… can we find someone else who would be ready to lay down his life for you and me just as Jesus did? The thought of this draws my heart to think of what would I have done personally and seeing the sacrifice that Jesus gave for us, it makes my heart melt into tears of joy, thanksgiving and praise knowing that someone loves me more than I can ever imagine.
When Jesus died on the cross, we got access into the presence of God – the Holy of holies. The temple curtain that separated the temple into three sections was torn into two (Mark 15:38) and Paul says that “we can approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16). When we come into the presence of God, many times we do not remember the work that Jesus did on the cross so that we could have free access into the presence of God where we can come freely and at anytime to speak to our father. But David reminds us that we should always remember to have the attitude of thanksgiving and praise whenever we are in the presence of God.
In Psalms 100, David urges us to come before the presence of God with joyful songs. He continues to mention the same thing in Psalms 95:2 saying “Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him…” He continues and says that when we are coming into the house of the Lord, as we go past the gates of the temple; our hearts should be filled with Thanksgiving. As we enter into his courts, our lips should be filled with praise to his name. In simple words, David is giving us a formula or a way to approach God whenever we come into his presence. David was a man who sought after God’s own heart and he did this mostly through worship. David is the greatest worshiper of all times that the bible has ever talked of. He knew how to tap into the presence of God whenever he came into the house of the Lord. He always longed to be in the presence of God.
Thanksgiving and praise are the passwords for us to unlock the gates into the presence of God. Thanksgiving is the basis of praise. You have first to see what someone has done, thank him/her then praise him. In praising, you are appreciating what someone has done to you. When we reflect on what the Lord has done for us, we are able to be thankful to him and thus, thankfulness ushers our hearts to praise him. If we are not able to recognize what He has done, then it is hard to praise God. We might look at where we are and we might not be contented or happy and thus it might be hard for us to praise God and thank him for the same; but I want to submit to you today that thanking and praising God is a choice and a decision that we have to make and it is not dependent on our prevailing circumstances, emotions and feelings. Our lips should continuously praise God. Hebrews 13:15 says “therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise – the fruit of lips that confess his name.” Through praising God, we proclaim that he is in control of our circumstances and we believe him. (Romans 8:28).
In 1 Samuel 30:6 and Psalms 103:1, we see clearly that David chose to praise the Lord no matter the prevailing circumstances that he was going through. Living a life of praise realizes us into the presence of God. David reminds us again that He (God) is enthroned in the praises of his people. (Psalms 22:3). Meditating on the word of God and thanking him for his promises in his word regarding our lives, we see ourselves from God’s perspective and not our perspective. We start thinking in the way the word of God instructs us to. The word of God renews our minds to see or view life from God’s perspective and reap the benefits that come along with it. He instructs Joshua to do the same in Joshua 1:8 saying “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” We should as well do the same.
Through thanksgiving, all our anxieties are settled down. Philippians 4:6 says “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Our anxieties always major on our past and present; but when we lay them before the lord, he gives us peace and then thus, our minds and thinking changes. Paul tells the Philippians in Philippians 4:7-8 this: “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” After you have laid down all your anxieties to the Lord in thanksgiving, we have peace and thus our thinking changes. We have a better view of what we need to think about since our minds have been changed!
Choosing to praise and thank God for his goodness and grace daily in our lives no matter what we are going through opens the door wide open for us to experience God’s presence in our lives daily. It is a choice that you and I need to make. This also enhances our relationship with God and thus, we are able to be free with him at all times. Have you been thankful to God in everything that you have been through? Make a choice today onwards to be and you will see the difference you will see in your life.