The Outpouring of Praise

The Needs of a Generation romantik-003

A few months ago, on my way to get something to eat before my Bible study, I prayed God would show me someone’s needs. That He would give me the opportunity, wherever I ate, to speak into someone’s life.

A short time later, I stopped at a Chick-Fil-A, walked inside, and was welcomed by a dining room of at least 50 children. The Lord spoke to me, “I am showing you the needs of a generation.” Hope needs to be restored to this generation, and that’s where praise comes in. I admit I am writing this blog as someone who needs to read this blog as much if not more than you.

Perhaps, you are thinking you are all for praising God if it can restore hope in your life. Praising God only for the potential benefit of it restoring hope in your life is praising God out of selfish ambition and vain conceit. Our praise must restore hope in others. If it only restores hope in us, then we are guilty of hiding our light (Matt 5:14-16).

When Your Praise is Containable

When you praise God in Spirit and in Truth, you cannot contain that praise. You must share your joy because God’s goodness becomes too great for you to keep to yourself. If your praise is containable, your praise is too small. The outpouring of praise causes others to know your joy through evangelism, your giving, your devotion to God’s word and the house of God, and a noticeable difference in your life.

The abundance of praise in a person’s life overwhelms that person so greatly that they cannot contain God’s goodness. They must share God’s goodness with others, so others may receive God’s joy and hope may be restored to them. Our praise should restore hope in others because they see an overwhelming hope in us. (Phil 4:7).

Praising with Crazy Love

A few weeks after that night at Chick-Fil-A, I went to the library to return some books. I walked around to see if I could find any interesting books. Perusing the small section of Christian books, I noticed Crazy Love by Francis Chan – A book about how our love of God should pour out onto others.

God spoke to me, “Check out that book.” I told God that I wanted to read something else. God said, “Check out that book.” I told God I would check it out next time. Then, God said, “Look! We can sit here and argue about it, or you can check out that book.” So, I grabbed the book and checked it out. Let’s just say the book changed my entire perspective. Praise is an outward expression of love, but your love isn’t “Crazy Love” until your love is over capacity and pours out onto others.

Paul says in I Cor 13:2 “If I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.” Those words are challenging enough, but they become even more challenging when you remember the words of Jesus in Matt 17:20: “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” That’s intense!

Praise Smaller than a Mustard Seed

Perhaps, you have faith that God can move whatever mountain is in your life. Maybe you’ve seen Him heal people of Cancer, restore marriages, pour out financial blessings, open the eyes of the blind, and more. Those things will certainly cause a person to rejoice in God and praise Him for His marvelous works.

Though, if the outpouring of your praise does not culminate in the Crazy Love”  of sharing your love and joy of Jesus with others, then your praise is smaller than a mustard seed. Praise restores hope to the praiser, but the culmination of praising God in Spirit and in Truth restores hope to the lost, lonely, friendless, and forgotten.

Living Out Your Praise

As I said, I am writing this blog from the perspective of someone who needs to read it. I am a selfish man, and my selfishness is best expressed in that too often I praise God in the house of God. Yet, so often, I choose not to see others as God sees them. I am guilty of ignoring the needs of a generation.

After I read Crazy Love, I became so convicted of my selfishness that I bought a second Bible specifically for evangelism. I highlighted scriptures in John, Romans, Hebrews, and elsewhere that talk about salvation. And now, when I go to a coffee house, I make sure to carry that Bible with me for others to see.

I want others to see my praise. I wonder if it were so that no one else saw my praise because I chose to ignore the needs of a generation that God would also choose to ignore my praise. How do you live out your praise in such a way that you are seeing and fulfilling the needs of a generation?

Come back next week to read more on Positional Christianity and how hope flows into healing.

The Flow of Prayer into Praise

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In order to understand Positional Christianity, you must understand that there is a flow to it. Prayer flows into praise, praise flows into hope, hope flows into healing, and healing flows into purpose. God did not think the world into existence. He spoke the world (I am using the term “the world” to speak of the universe and all that is within it) into existence. And from His words flowed forth creation (Gen 1).

So, if there is a flow to God’s words, there must also be a flow to our words. Though, before God spoke the world into existence, He had to think what He wanted. There was no world before He created one, so He had to know what He wanted, think it, and then speak it. His words were an expression of His desires and thoughts.

Intimate Communion with God

In the same way our praise is the outpouring of our intimate communion with God. That is the words we speak aloud in praise, and the good works we do, which He created for us to do (Eph 2:10), must be an outward expression of our intimate communion with God. If our words of love and honor to God, as well as our acts of service to God, do not flow forth from our intimate communion with God through prayer, then our alleged praise to God has little meaning.

Now, imagine if God told the angel Gabriel he could create a world and creatures to serve him (In other words, imagine Mormonism was true, with the Angel Gabriel in place of the demon Moroni). Imagine that we were that creation and we read a Bible given to us by Gabriel. Imagine this Bible said Gabriel created the world; though, the God who created the Angel Gabriel spoke forth and tried to create a world, but He did not have the power. What would you think of that God? You would probably think such a God who cannot see His words fulfilled through the creation of what He spoke is powerless.

Praise through Words and Works

Now, understand this is why James said, “faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead (James 2:17).” If God had thought that He wanted to create a world and even tried to speak the world into existence, but that world never came into existence, we would think the faith of such a God dead. So, our praise, which is both our verbal expression of our love and honor of God and our action to glorify Him by serving Him and others, must flow forth from our prayers. The creation of the world was an expression of God’s desires and thoughts, and so also words of praise and acts of service must be an expression of the desires of our hearts that we gain through intimate communion with God. If we pray and our intimate communion with God does not flow forth into our praise through adoration and honor of God, as well as acts of service to God directly and indirectly by serving others, then our faith is dead.

If a man gave a woman whom He did not know, know anything about, or ever spent time with flowers, and then claimed that he loved her, his action and his words would have little meaning. She would think, ‘He cannot love me because He does not know me, my desires, or my needs.’ His expression of love and his act of giving her flowers would have little meaning. They would be self-serving, and could not be an expression of love or honor to her, because he would not have spent any time getting to know her, her needs, or how he could serve her.

So also our words of love and acts of service to God must flow from our times of intimate communion with God. If we do not spend time in intimate communion with God through prayer, then our attempts to adore Him and give Him honor are little more than out of “selfish ambition or vain conceit (Phil 2:3).” This is why the Apostle Paul said, “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal (I Cor 13:1).”

Praise without Prayer

Now, the question is do you go to church on Sunday and sing worship songs, and do you feed the homeless or give to the poor? That is great. But do spend time in intimate communion with God? Do you pray? I am not talking about 15 minutes a morning, of which 10 of those minutes is reading a daily devotional and scriptures to go along with it. Do you enter into His presence daily?

So, from what position do you praise God? Do you praise Him from the same position as that of the Samaritan woman at the well, who was more concerned with show (John 4:19)? Or do you praise Him from the position of wanting to know Him, which flows forth from your time of intimate communion with Him (John 4:24)?

Once a person begins to praise God in spirit and truth, their praise will begin to flow into hope. Praise that does not flow out of spending time becoming intimately acquainted with God through prayer cannot flow into hope. It can exist, but it will not flow into hope. Though, that person may praise God outwardly through verbal expressions of love and honor to God, and serving God and others, they will not gain hope and will remain stale like the waters of the Dead Sea until they enter into intimate communion with God.

 

Tell me, how is your prayer life? Do you notice that the more you pray, the more your times of intimate communion with God flows into wanting to praise God? Do you think you can praise God in Spirit and in truth without a strong prayer life? Share any thoughts you have with me.

Living out God’s Purpose through Positional Christianity

 

Positional Christianity

Okay, I know I haven’t been blogging as consistently as I should. I started out with a series on how to become a Battle Ready Christian, but since then I have only been blogging about once a month. Life got busier for me, and I just didn’t have time to think of a new topic to write about every week.

So, rather than just blogging once every few weeks, I am going to go on hiatus until the first Monday in January (Jan. 5). Between now and then, I will pray about what the Lord would have me say, write a blog calendar, make this blog look as awesome as I can, and work on some other projects.

Recently, God spoke four words to me, which He said I am to make the focus of this blog. Those four words are prayer, praise, hope, and healing. In that order. So, I am going to blog on one of those every week. The first Monday of the month I will blog on prayer, the second Monday on praise, the third hope, and the fourth healing. On those months that have a fifth Monday, I am not sure what I will do.

Why those words in that order?

Every Christian must go through and remain in these four positions to receive the fullness of Christ. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me (Lk 9:23).” Being a disciple of Christ means we need to decide daily that we are going to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him.

The Position of Prayer

When we pray, we become intimately acquainted with God. The fullness of this intimacy allows us to move into a position of understanding our authority in Christ. It is from this position of our authority in Christ that we are able to prepare ourselves to fully praise God. That doesn’t mean we can’t praise God until we have an awesome prayer life. It just means the more we pray, the more we will come to know God and want to praise Him.

Though, never think you can go from one position to the other and leave that position behind. You must remain in each position, while you move into the next position, or else you will fall out of your position in Christ. You must get into and remain in these positions daily.

The Position of Praise

My pastor once said, “If you’re not happy, maybe your problem is you’re too focused on yourself.” Go ahead. Try to praise God and keep your eyes on yourself. Prayer moves us into a position of realizing our authority in Christ, from where our natural response is to praise Him for His nature. We can praise in private, but praise is best expressed as a public declaration of our realization of Christ in our lives.

The Position of Hope

When we begin to pray we begin to take our eyes off of ourselves, and we begin to praise Him. The more we begin to praise Him, the more we will begin to hope in Him. Prayer and praise are both conscious decisions to develop an intimate relationship with God by taking our eyes off of ourselves. Hope is also a conscious decision. Though, while the positions of prayer and praise are conscious decisions to develop more intimate relationships with God, the position of hope and healing are positions of enjoying the benefits of developing an intimate relationship with God, which is to receive the fullness of Christ.

When we take our eyes off of ourselves and fix them on God through prayer and praise, we stop wallowing in self-pity and begin to hope in God. This position of hope is the position from which we will begin to realize God’s healing in our lives.

The Position of Healing

Notice I said “realize,” not “experience.” You are healed! You are healed by the blood of the Lamb! By the stripes on Christ’s back! You just need to realize it. Think of it like when you first met your significant other. At first, you hoped they liked you, then you got to know each other, and the more you got to know that person the more you realized they did like you. We begin by hoping God will heal us, but the more we hope the more we realize He has healed us.

Though, God’s healing in our lives will manifest itself at different times physically, financially, or relationally, I am talking about spiritual healing. This is the position from which a person begins to not only understand and live out the fullness of Christ in their lives, but it is also the position from which a person begins to live out their purpose in Christ.

Understanding Positional Christianity

So, it is this last position–the position of purpose–that I will not write about in this blog. God didn’t tell me to include it. I may use that 5th Monday to write about how the first four positions will cause you to move into a position of purpose. Though, the first four positions are positions of preparation, whereas the position of your purpose in Christ is the position of God carrying out His good work in you (Phil 1:6).

Though, know that God only moves those into this position of purpose who are faithful to move into and remain within the first four positions. That doesn’t mean we won’t get knocked out of position on occasion. It means the more and more we learn to get into and remain in a right position with God the less and less we will get knocked out of position and the faster we will get back into position when we are knocked out of position.

The future of #OBHBlog

God is still working on me. I am no further ahead than anyone else. Though, they are becoming more  and more infrequent, there is still the occasional day when I don’t pray. There is still the occasional Sunday when I am not in the mood to praise God. There remain times when I need to remind myself to take my eyes off of my circumstances and set them on the hope that is before me (Heb 12:1-4). And I still sometimes forget I am healed.

Though, those days are becoming less and less, and the more infrequent they become the more God is able to move me into that position of purpose for which He created me. So, as God teaches me how to move me into that position of purpose, I will pass on what I learn. I also welcome you to pass on what you have learned in the comments. Through that collaboration, I hope to create a community in which we can learn and grow together!

Have a very blessed Thanksgiving, joyful Christmas, and happy New Year!

Becoming a Battle Ready Christian – Raising the Victory Cry

Lebron James

Lebron James

If you don’t recognize the man in the picture, there is a good chance you live under a rock. Lebron James is one of the most recognizable athletes in the world. And if by chance, you don’t recognize him, and you insist you don’t live under a rock, he is the Roger Federer of basketball.

James’ net worth is an estimated $150,000,000, which includes his annual pay check and various endorsements. Even if you don’t like him, don’t care about him, or really don’t know who he is, you contribute to his earnings.

How You Contribute to Lebron James’ earnings

  • If you watched the San Antonio Spurs dismantle the Miami Heat’s dreams, you contributed to his earnings.
  • If you eat at McDonald’s or just watch their commercials, you contribute to his earnings.
  • If you’ve boughten a pair of Nike’s, or just watch their commercials, you contribute to his earnings.
  • If you drink Coke, purchase any Coke products, or watch their commercials, you contribute to his earnings.
  • If you own a Samsung smart phone, any other of their products, or watch their commercials, you contribute to his earnings.
  • If you buy anything from Dunkin’ Donuts or just watch their commercials you contribute to his earnings.
  • If you have State Farm Insurance, or just watch their commercials, you contribute to his earnings.

In the first six chapter of Joshua, God told Joshua to lead the children of Israel across the Jordan. God told Joshua He would give him all of the land he could see. The children of Israel were tired, hot, and hungry. Experiencing misery was their reality. But they told Joseph they would be faithful to follow his leadership. Just as James’ vision would be worthless without millions of people contributing to his goals, Joshua’s leadership would be worthless without the support of those following him.

Joshua vs. Lebron James

  • Millions of people contribute to Lebron James’ ability to fulfill his goals. The tribes of Israel contributed to helping Joshua fulfill God’s purpose for Israel. (Jos 1:16)
  • Lebron James surrounds himself with the best in order to fulfill his goals. Joshua surrounded himself with 40,000 men of war in order to praise God. (Jos 4:13)
  • Lebron James entered into the NBA expecting championships. Joshua crossed the Jordan expecting victory, so God would be glorified. (Jos 4:5-7; 21-24)

By the time the Israelites got to the walls of Jericho, they didn’t need to do much because it was like one of those movie scenes set in the 1800’s with the two men dueling at high noon. All of the shops closed up, the windows shut, and everyone cleared the streets. The only difference between those movies and the scene around Jericho was that 40,000 men circumvented Jericho.

Jericho vs. Our Lives

  • The people of Jericho shut up the city because they heard the Israelites were coming. Your enemies will become silent, as you are faithful to cross your Jordan and march around the walls in your life (Jos. 6:1)
  • The priests used trumpets of rams’ horns, which were used in Jubilee not war. Bring your praise to the battle. (Jos 6: 4, 16)
  • The walls fell in response to their ‘great shout’. Give God the praise, expecting Him to give you victory. (Jos. 6: 5, 20)
  • The men of war went first. Find God’s mightiest people, surround the walls of your lives with them, and set them in front. (Jos. 6: 8-9)
  • They rose early and readied themselves. Whether you’re an early riser or not, start each day by readying yourself for God’s victory in your life (Jos. 6:15)
  • They were ready to receive God’s blessings. We need to prepare our lives to receive God’s blessings. (Jos. 6:20)

Just as God led Joshua to those walls to lead the children of Israel into victory, God places wall in front of you to give you the victory. Just as God told Joshua to raise the victory cry in expectation of the victory, God is calling you to praise Him in expectation of victory in your life. Just as the walls of Jericho fell in response to their obedience and praise, the walls in your life will fall because of your obedience to God and praise to God.

So much more could be said about praise, but I must point out the irony that Israel’s men of war were called to praise. Do you want to be a battle ready Christian? God is calling you to praise Him for the victory. Though, remember, the victory God called the people of Israel to praise Him for was that the walls of Jericho would fall and they would take the city He gave to them. They could have marched around another walled city, blasted rams’ horns, and shouted for victory; but those walls would have stayed in tact. God would have said, “I didn’t call you to march around those walls. I’m not going to give you the victory here because it is not my will that you take this city.” The walls God placed in your life, and the victory He will give to you, will always further his purpose for your life and His Kingdom.

Are you facing the walls God set before you that will lead you into His will for your life, surrounding yourself with battle ready Christians, and praising God for the victories before you? What walls are you facing right now? God will give you the victory. Just be obedient to His calling, expect the victory, and praise God for that victory.

Tell me about the walls God placed before you. Let’s praise God for the victory together. Tell me about God’s purpose for your life. God has a much bigger purpose for me than to just write blogs, but starting this blog is me crossing my Jordan. Almost 16 years ago God called me into the ministry of writing. I left the safe path of my life, began crossing my Jordan, and am now gathering battle ready Christians to raise the victory cry with me.

I hope you are blessed by this blog. Come back next week to read the next blog in my “Becoming a Battle Ready Cristian” series, and get ready to raise the victory cry with me.

BTW, I would love if you would follow me on Twitter or Like the On Becoming Human Facebook page.