Empowered by Praise will expand your knowledge about praising God and energize your daily practice of praise, resulting in a powerful, personal spiritual transformation.
When praise is practiced according to the Biblical model:
1. It releases us from earthly concerns
2. It transports us into God's presence
3. It opens the door to God's power
|Publisher:||Leading The Way with Dr. Michael Youssef|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.41(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Empowered by PRAISEHOW GOD RESPONDS WHEN YOU REVEL IN HIS GLORY
By Michael Youssef
WaterBrook PRESSCopyright © 2002 Michael Youssef
All right reserved.
Chapter OnePraise Brings God Near
A man stood in a midweek prayer meeting I attended and began to pray, "O Lord, I will praise You with the instrument of ten strings." Just about everybody in the room opened at least one eye, because we knew there were no musical instruments around when we started to pray. I could sense a feeling of bewilderment throughout the room. How was this man going to praise the Lord with a ten-stringed instrument?
Then the man continued his prayer. "I will praise You with my two eyes-I will look only to You. I will praise You by exalting You with my two ears-I will listen only to Your voice. I will extol You with the work of my two hands-I will work in Your service wherever You direct.
"I will honor You with my two feet-I will walk in Your statutes, and I will go wherever You lead. I will magnify Your holy name with my tongue-I will testify constantly of Your loving-kindness. I will worship You with my heart-I will love only You, and I will receive all the unconditional love You pour out in Your mercy, grace, and forgiveness.
"I thank You, Lord, for the ten-stringed instrument that You built into my being. Keep me in tune and play upon me as You will. Ring out the melodies of Your grace.May the harmony of my praise song bring pleasure to You and glory to Your name. Amen."
This man knew about praising God with everything that was within him. We are to praise the Lord with our minds, offer praise from our hearts, and voice praise with our mouths. Praise involves the use of all that we have for God's glory.
Praise and the Meaning of Life
Every person I know, in the depths of his or her heart, seeks a life of fulfillment and joy. We are driven to know our reason for being. We want our lives to make a difference, to bring out something of lasting value.
As the saying goes, we don't want much, we want everything-at least everything that matters. To find a life of meaning, we need to concentrate on praising God. Not only does praise put us in closer communion with God, it also reveals things about ourselves. Praise opens our eyes to spiritual reality, to the love and power of God, and to our need for Him.
I have been a believer in Jesus Christ since I was a young man. I grew up in Egypt singing songs of praise to God and hearing my mother and grandfather praise God for hours at a time. But even with such a consistent model of praise in my family, I still didn't grasp the true meaning of praise-that is, not until the spring of 1990.
My lovely wife, Elizabeth, had been experiencing some health problems. She went to the doctor, and after a careful examination he ordered a series of tests. We were eager for a diagnosis, but the testing went on for some time. Finally, after a number of conflicting test results, a surgeon looked at me and my wife and pronounced one word that sent my stomach into convulsions and my heart into overdrive. You may have already guessed the word: cancer.
When we met with the surgeon, my wife was barely forty years old. My first thought was, God, she is too young to have breast cancer! How can this be happening? My protest against God was a way of dealing with my fear. But then, in the midst of fear and the frustration that I could not take my wife's place or do anything except to pray for her and comfort her, I began to learn the power of praise. Our church was only three years old at the time, and our congregation was small. But we went immediately into intercession mode. We entered God's course of instruction, Power of Praise 101, with the Holy Spirit and the Bible as our instructors. God began to take me and my family and our church through the first stages of learning what it means to praise Him in the midst of the storm.
The more we praised God, the stronger our belief grew that God was capable of all things. He is concerned about all the things that concern us, and He is infinitely compassionate toward His children. Praise refocused our fear and frustration. It changed our thinking and our feelings. The more we praised God, the deeper the fellowship we experienced with Him. Even as my wife underwent medical treatment that brought physical healing, we underwent spiritual treatment that brought wholeness, hope, strength, and power to our souls. Our spiritual wholeness, and our experience of God's power, came through praising Him. Praise fully established the reign of God in our lives.
Ultimately, praise reinforced the truth of who we are and who God is. He alone is the One who makes us whole. He alone is the One who walks through the valley with us, our faithful Lord who never leaves us nor forsakes us. He alone is the Source of all good things. Praise transformed our pain into victory.
Praise the Lord! My wife today is in excellent health. We continue to praise God, not only for her healing, but also for teaching us what it means to be empowered by praise to face any circumstance and any problem that life may hand us.
The Life Lessons of Praise
Life rarely unfolds as we expect it to. Illness, personal loss, and financial setbacks can throw our lives off-course. That's why praise is so important. Praise produces five major benefits in our lives. I like to think of these as the five R's of praise. Praise reveals our true beliefs, and it refocuses our thinking and feelings. Praise is the route to deep fellowship with God, and it establishes the reign of God in our lives. Finally, praise reinforces the truth of who we are and who God is. Let's look at these essential life lessons one at a time.
Praise Reveals Our True Beliefs
The Scriptures tell us that our lips reveal whatever it is that we treasure in our hearts (see Matthew 6:19-21 and 12:33-35). Ultimately, we cannot separate what we say from what we think and believe. Likewise, what we do-including our praise of God-is an expression of what we are inside. If we truly believe in God's goodness and His greatness, our belief will spill over into what we say about Him. We won't be able to hold back our praise. If we truly believe that God is the almighty King of the Universe and the Lord of our lives, we won't be able to keep from expressing our praise to Him.
What we believe, we express. The strength and fervor, the depth and energy of our praise to God with our lips and our lives is directly proportional to our belief in God's goodness and greatness. Believing and praising build on each other. The more deeply and strongly we believe, the greater and more expansive is our praise. The more we praise the Lord, the more we behold His glory and see His hand at work continually in our lives. The more we praise Him, the more our faith grows and the more fervently and strongly we believe.
When my wife was diagnosed with cancer, my belief in God was tested. Was He a God of love, of healing, and of faithfulness? I had believed these things for most of my life, so I started praising God in advance for His care, His comfort, and His healing power. In praising Him, I grew to believe even more that He is exactly who He says He is.
Praise Refocuses Our Thinking and Feelings
The world hassles us. I didn't have to tell you that-you already knew it!
Pressures and problems confront us every day. We seem continually to be dealing with sickness, death, trouble, suffering, and pain-if not in our personal lives, in the lives of those nearest and dearest to us. Even when we're not facing a major crisis, we must deal with the unavoidable difficulties of life-paying our bills, dealing with cantankerous people, coping with the challenges of our daily work, responding to the many demands of those who are in authority over us. And we must do all this while attempting to live out our faith in Christ Jesus. In this world, we have to deal with very real fears, doubts, anxieties, and hurts.
But what happens to people who only think about the problems and challenges of their physical lives? Very soon, the spiritual realm becomes misty; foggy, and unreal. The more we lose sight of God's realm, the more we become bogged down in the problems of earthly life. We slide into pessimism, cynicism, and depression. Life loses its luster, its joy, its excitement. Limiting our thinking to this world alone will grind us down into the dust from which we were created.
No matter how difficult or unjust our circumstances become, we can choose to serve God or to ignore Him. Likewise, by exercising our free will, we choose to praise God or to neglect the praise that only He deserves. We choose not only what we will praise God for, but how long we praise God, how frequently we praise God, and how intensely we praise God.
As we noted in the introduction, King David's life shows us that praise has a strong emotional dimension. But it is not driven by emotions, it is driven by our will. Praise must never be dependent upon emotions or whims. We must be careful never to say, "I prefer to praise God when I feel like it." We are to praise God in all situations, in both victory and defeat. We are to praise God when we're in need and when we're experiencing plenty.
A person can choose to praise God when he doesn't feel like it. In fact, it is precisely those times when it's essential that we praise God. The next time you are discouraged or despondent, start praising God. When you feel defeated or unable to break loose from addictions or bad habits, start praising God. When your marriage seems to be falling apart, start praising God. Why do I say this? Because praise is about what God desires to do, not about the power of your life circumstances. When you get your eyes off your immediate problem and put your focus on God, you redirect yourself-your mind, your emotions, your will-toward what God will do for you, not what man has done to you. At that point, God can step in and work in your life to produce real growth.
The truth for the believer in Christ is that this tangible, physical world is not the "real" world. The real world is our ultimate home-the heavenly spiritual realm where the presence of God permeates the atmosphere and where the power of God is openly manifested at all times. When we start to view our present physical life in light of the ultimate spiritual life, things begin to change. Optimism, faith, and hope take root and flourish. Joy and peace grow in our hearts.
This is how praise refocuses our feelings. When we praise God, we are constantly reminded that He calls us to live and move in the world of the Spirit. Praise focuses our attention on the heavenly, spiritual reality of life. This world hassles us. God's realm comforts, empowers, and heals us. That's the "real" world we all seek.
Praise Is the Route to Deep Fellowship with God
It is by means of praise that we more fully experience God's presence, both within us and at work all around us. The Scriptures tell us that God dwells in the praises of His people. He is the holy God "that inhabitest the praises of Israel" (Psalm 22:3, KJV). God pitches His tent wherever His name is exalted. The image painted by the psalmist is that God sits down and takes delight in the praises offered to His name. He camps out with those who acknowledge, glorify, and desire His presence.
If you are struggling with pain, sickness, or loss and are desperate for a sense of God's nearness, then start praising His holy name. As my wife and I struggled over the surgeon's diagnosis of cancer, we clung to God in praise of His love, His protection, and His faithfulness to us. We needed Him to set up camp amid our weakness and fear and suffering. And He did!
Friend, it is as we praise our Lord that we enjoy the warmest, deepest, fullest form of fellowship with our heavenly Father. No matter what you are facing, praise Him now.
Praise Establishes the Reign of God in Our Lives
The simple fact of God's presence is this: Wherever God dwells, God rules. He is our authority. He is sovereign over all. When we invite God to dwell in us, He reigns over our hearts. When we invite God to dwell in our marriages or our family relationships, God reigns over those relationships. When we invite God to exert His will and presence in our business, He reigns over our business.
Praise is our foremost means of inviting God to take up His residence with us and to establish His presence, authority, and purpose in every aspect of our lives. Since we all hunger for the nearness of God, let's look at four practical ways we can invite Him to set up camp in our daily lives.
Praise God for His Sovereignty
God stays close to those who praise Him for His unlimited, all-loving ability to take authority over every area we yield to Him. A believer might pray, "Father, I declare that You are sovereign over my finances. I submit my will to Your will and ask You to help me in every financial decision I make. I want to make decisions that are pleasing to You."
The Lord has all resources at His command. He is the commander in chief of all forces that bring blessings our way. He established the law of sowing and reaping, the principles of giving and receiving (see Galatians 6:7-10 and Malachi 3:10). He can rebuke any force of evil that would attempt to steal from us, destroy us, or diminish us (see Malachi 3:11-12).
In praising the Lord for His sovereignty over our finances, we are adjusting our own thinking and our emotional responses. Stock-market forces aren't exalted as sovereign; God is. Employers and corporate downsizing aren't exalted as sovereign; God is. Economic slowdowns aren't exalted as sovereign; God is.
Praise God for the Guidance He Gives in Scripture
When we seek to yield an area of our life to God's control, we immerse ourselves in both the commandments of God and the promises of God that are related to that area. We praise Him for giving us abundant promises in His Word as well as precise commandments to guide us. We thank and exalt God for working on our behalf, always conforming us to the likeness of Christ Jesus (see Romans 8:28-29). We praise Him for giving us the desire to change, the ability to change, and the strength to change. We praise Him because He has sent His Holy Spirit to dwell within us to help us change. He leads us to repent of our sins and to pursue a life of obedience. We praise God because He is always faithful to His Word.
In our example of praising God for His sovereignty over our finances, we might look up verses in the Bible that assure us of God's provision and then praise God for His specific promises to provide for us always.
Praise God for His Faithfulness As We Obey His Commandments
In our example of praising God for His sovereignty over our finances, we might praise Him as we pay our bills. We would praise Him for giving us the provision of money to pay our financial obligations. As we give our tithes and offerings, we would praise Him for His promise to use our giving to grow our blessing. As we make our budgets, our investments, or our purchases, we would praise Him that He is helping us get out of debt, prosper in our finances, and become even more effective stewards of all He has given us. We praise Him because He is the Lord over all financial systems, all resources, all opportunities, all honorable work.
Praise God for Meeting Our Needs
As God becomes sovereign over an area of our lives, we need to praise Him for the righteousness and goodness of the rule He has established. For example, if you have been praising God for His promised provision, make sure you also praise Him when He brings financial recovery or blessing. "Lord, I praise You for bringing me to this place of blessing. I acknowledge that this is Your work and Your plan. I praise You for Your goodness toward me and my family, I praise You for showing me ways I can use the resources You have given me to have a greater impact in spreading the gospel."
Praising God leads to yielding our lives more completely to Him. And yielding to His authority then leads to greater praise. The more the Lord takes authority over any area of our lives, the more we see His hand at work in us and through us, and the more cause we have to praise Him. Praise feeds our obedience, and our obedience feeds more praise of Him.
Excerpted from Empowered by PRAISE by Michael Youssef Copyright © 2002 by Michael Youssef
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.