I had a discussion … (I seem to have a lot of those, right?)
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Sunday at my church, perhaps at yours too.
The contents of this discussion might make a difference in your heart and service tomorrow, and hopefully for all the numerous tomorrows to follow.
Once again, the identity of the person has been hidden but the conversation preserved.
Ez: Please Sir, what’s your take on praise as a veritable tool to fight the enemy (the devil and his agents)?
PD: God dwells in the praises of His People.
Let God arise and His enemies be scattered.
Where the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
These are direct lifts of scriptures. Praise as a weapon is a matter of fact.
The issue, however, is that, though we often sing songs and dance, we rarely praise God. There is a difference between enjoying good music and actual praise.
“Let us praise Him in the dance.”
Also another verse of scripture.
It means it is quite possible to not praise Him in the dance.
When could it be said that one is actually praising God?
PD: Like every thing else with God, the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.
Isaiah 29:13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near [me] with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men.
It is what’s going on in your heart that’s really happening in the realm of the spirit. Mere words and outward actions amount to nothing unless one engages his heart.
Can you drive?
Ez: No sir.
PD: OK. Do you know about cars and driving?
Ez: A little
PD: You know the role the gear plays?
Ez: Yes sir
PD: What’s the role?
Ez: It engages the car for motion
So, no matter how powerful the car’s engine is, and no matter how hard you press down on the accelerator and how high the revometer goes and how loud the engine is sounding, if you do not engage the gear, there would be no motion.
PD: Now, imagine a car with the gear on neutral on a downhill slope; the car would be seen to be moving, right?
PD: And because the engine is making an audible sound and the driver is turn the steering wheel and using the pedals, it would seem he is driving a working car. Whereas he is just going with the flow, with the pull of gravity.
It is when the effect of gravity wears off or when the driver now wants to go uphill that it would be obvious the engine was not engaged all the while.
Ez: Hmmmm! This is deep
I stand to be corrected, sir
What are you correcting?
Ez: Nothing sir.
Ez: I am only trying to give you a feedback to know if I am following, Sir
PD: Funny guy.
Anyway, it’s the same with praise. We mostly just flow with the gravity of the music without engaging the heart.
All the benefits and warfare and victory that come on the wings of praise are actually side effects.
Real praise originates from the heart; it requires the heart.
Bible says “making melody in your hearts unto the Lord”.
If real praise is offered, results follow naturally.
Ez: Since praise is God’s due right, it’s rendering is not conditional on our own part. Right?
PD: Yeah, praise is God’s due. We have to give it unconditionally. But you know, we won’t be able to do it unconditionally unless we know what it is.
Ez: Secondly, the analogy of the downhill can be likened to a easy cruise and at such we just render praise carelessly without our heart in it. After all everything is good and nice.
Ez: But the uphill comes as a reality check that makes us realize that what is and what is not.
For those of us who have been flowing with mere rhythms and rhymes, we no longer see the good in God. But for those praising with the heart, it is firing all the way in spite of the uphill circumstances. Right?
So the question how do we go from lazy cruise to power drive … is how do we engage the heart?
Ez: Doing what we do with real understanding i.e an understanding of what praise is and what it does.
Ez: Right Sir?
Although, what praise does is not up to us and knowing that only helps us to know what to expect, knowing what praise really is and how to do it right is critical and totally up to us.
The Hebrew language uses word pictures or concepts to communicate a lot of times and use many words to express subtle shades of difference in meaning so in the example of praise, there are a number of words. But these words our translated inconsistently, I guess based on context, as Thanksgiving, Praise and Worship, and thus we use them interchangeably.
Although the three words are used interchangeably, they are slightly different. And since they are translated from the same 8 Hebrew words, the implication in reality is that they are interwoven and lead to one another.
PD: I used to have an image somewhere that depicts this.
Lemme see if I can find it.
PD: I can’t find it. Let me just sketch it up for you.
Ez: Alright Sir
PD: Sorry it took so long. Photoshop takes longer on this type of work than Corel draw and I don’t have Corel on my system right now.
I hope it’s clear enough.
Ez: Very clear Sir.
So, the three concepts lead one to another. No matter where you enter, you wind up going through them all.
The important thing is that the heart is involved.
Let me give you the definitions that God gave me and have helped me engage my heart each time.
Thanksgiving is the heart felt response to the generosity of God.
Praise is the heart felt response to the capacity of God.
Worship is the heart felt response to the personality of God.
God saw to it that I slept peacefully and woke up this morning. He has been good to me. I am grateful. My heart response is gratitude for his generosity towards me. What comes out of my heart is Thanksgiving. It is independent of the song I sing or the tempo or whether I dance or not.
God saw to it that 7.2 billion persons on the earth slept peacefully and woke up this morning. He has been good to this many people at once. I am awed! My heart response is respect for his capacity to be good towards so many people all at once without getting tired or needing help. I’m thinking “wow!” What comes out of my heart is Praise. It is independent of the song I sing or the tempo or whether I dance or not.
God saw to it that 7.2 billion persons on the earth slept peacefully and woke up this morning, whether they are good or bad. He has been good to this many people at consistently for as long as He has been God without waiting for them to love him or even thank Him. He does this because of His personality or character. I am captivated and fascinated by His person! My heart response is love for His personality; to be good towards so all people, all the time, for all time. I’m thinking God is a lovely person. What comes out of my heart is Worship. It is independent of the song I sing or the tempo or whether I dance or not.
Thanksgiving says thank you; Praise says I respect you, you are powerful and great; Worship says I love you, you are just wonderfully irresistible.
The connection is me … my heart.
There is no way I will thank God from my heart without winding up praising Him and Worshiping Him.
If my heart is involved in my worship, I will remember His kindness to me and Thanksgiving will pour out.
On and on the triangle keeps flowing back and forth.
I hope you get this so far.
Ez: Yea Sir
PD: So, all we need to do is think well about what we are saying and not be absent minded or carried away by the activities around us.
I remember when I was music director, some years back. Service was one, music was on, the worship leader was up on stage, the rest of the music team was executing the various assigned tasks and I was overseeing.
Then God spoke to me, “what are you doing?” And I said in my heart, I’m making sure things are running smoothly and keeping all the moving pieces together and making sure folks get to worship without interruptions. Then he said, “What about you? Won’t you worship?”
I was singing along but my heart was not in it. I was busy watching and ensuring others worshipped God but I left myself out.
I immediately dropped all I was doing, closed my eyes, opened my heart and thought of the lyrics of the song at that time and I joined the church in worshipping Jesus.
It’s very easy to be in the business of church music and dance without actually connecting to heaven.
Ez: Very true
PD: So, I believe we have tackled your question?
Ez: Thank you sir
PD: You’re welcome.
Ez: Sometimes I wish I can host you.