Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Praising Through Tears

Leslie Basham: Imagine having a child who showed no interest in the things of God. That’s what a woman named Kathy experienced.

Kathy: One day, I remember my husband told him that God had a plan for his life, and he said, “I have plans of my own,” and that was the last time that we saw him in our home. The next time we saw him, he had been arrested for murder.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thanksgiving Day.

When the Pilgrims celebrated the first Thanksgiving, they didn’t take it lightly. They’d been through times of drastic sickness and scarcity, and still they were able to thank and praise God for all that He’d done.

In our emotions, our finances, and our relationships, you and I are going to go through some scarce times too. In a few minutes we’ll hear from a woman who learned that in a powerful way when her son was arrested.

First, Nancy is continuing in her teaching series called The Power and Practice of Praise.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Calvin Miller has written an allegory called The Valiant Papers. It’s the story of how a guardian angel named Valiant deals with trying to bring his latest charge, an Ohio business man named J. B. Considine, to faith in Christ.

There’s a quote in that book that has bearing on what we’re talking about this week—the matter of praise and worship. He says,

I’ve never forgotten that Daystar [which in this allegory is a name for Satan] began his Great Insurrection by frowning and skipping his morning Alleluias. It must have seemed minor at the time, but hell grows out of paradise gone sour. Joy is a discipline, and fallen angels were always those who grew negligent with their praise (p 18).

“Daystar began his Great Insurrection by frowning and skipping his morning Alleluias.”

Do you know, the same way that he ended up getting cast out of heaven is the same way that a lot of my days go down—by starting the day with frowning and skipping my morning hallelujahs.

“Joy is a discipline,” Miller says, “and fallen angels were always those who grew negligent with their praise.”

We’ve seen that praise is a lifestyle, and I want us to focus on that today, that praise is not just an activity that we do at certain scheduled times. That’s why I’m always a little uncomfortable with a church bulletin or program or an order of worship that says, "First we have the announcements, and then we have the choir singing, and then we have praise and worship, and then we have the message, and then we have the offering," or whatever order they do things in your church.

All of life is intended to be praise and worship—all the time!

There’s a picture of that in the Old Testament where the priests were to offer up what was called “perpetual incense” to God, in the tabernacle first and then later in the temple. They were to offer this up every morning and every evening—every morning and every evening, morning and evening, morning and evening. The incense going up to the throne of God symbolized the prayers and the praise of God’s people.

Interestingly, the incense was burned at the same time each morning and each evening that the oil lamps were lit. What a picture that is of each time the oil lamp of God’s Word is lit in our hearts, which should be day after day after day.

They were also to offer up prayers and praise to the Lord. You see this theme of praise being a continuous lifestyle all the way through the Scripture. Let me read you some verses. I’m not going to give you the references, but if you go to our website, we’ll have those references posted with the verses in the transcript there. But we read in Psalm 92:1-2,

It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning,
And Your faithfulness every night (NKJV).

How often should we be declaring God’s faithfulness? How often? I can’t hear you! Every morning, every night.

Psalm 119:64 says: "Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws" (NIV). Consciously stopping to praise God for His laws. "My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day" (Psalm 71:8 ESV). All the day!

Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time forth and forevermore! From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised!" (Psalm 113:2-3 ESV).

How long is that? From first thing in the morning till last thing at night and from east to west, all around the world, there should be a perpetual incense of praise going up to the Lord, up to His throne from the saints of God, the people of God.

All around the planet! Morning, noon, and night, all the time offering up praise to God.

"Every day I will bless You; and I will praise Your name forever and ever" (Psalm 145:2 NKJV).

"Therefore by Him [Jesus Christ] let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name" (Hebrews 13:15 NKJV).

Praise is to be the eternal, day in, day out, forevermore occupation of every believer. Not just believers whose lives are going well. Anybody can praise the Lord when the sun’s shining and they’ve got money in the bank and their kids love them and their husband is nuts about them and is romancing them . . . I mean, who couldn’t praise the Lord when all those things were happening?

But God loves it when we praise Him continuously, regardless of what is going on around us, in us, in any part of our lives. As we praise the Lord, He loves that.

William Law was an old-time writer, and in his book he said that “One who makes it a rule to be content in every part and accident of life because it comes from God praises God in a much higher manner than one who has some set time for the singing of psalms.”1

God loves it when praise is our discipline, our practice, our habit; and you have to train yourself in this habit. You have to work at it.

I’ve been working at it more consciously over the last week as I’ve been working on this series. I’ve been consciously focusing on first thing in the morning—my first waking thoughts—verbalizing praise and love to the Lord, regardless of what I have to face that day.

Stopping during the day as often as I’m reminded, to thank the Lord, to praise Him; and then as I pillow my head at night saying, “I love You, Lord; I bless You, praise You, give You thanks, regardless of what has happened throughout the course of this day.”

You see, praise is an expression of faith. It’s an act of the will. It’s not something we do based on our emotions.

We praise the Lord, and we can choose and we must choose to praise Him, regardless of how we feel, regardless of our circumstances.

David understood that in the Scripture. As you read through the psalms, as I’ve been doing in recent days, you see him in some very desperate situations; yet out of the midst of those desperate times, there comes rising incense of praise and prayer, praise and prayer.

“I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth” (Psalm 34:1 NKJV).

As you go back and study the background of that psalm, you realize that David wrote those words when he was a fugitive living out in the wilderness, fleeing from a maniac king who was determined to take his life. Now, we know the outcome. We know how the story ends. But David didn’t!

You don’t know the outcome of how your story ends, your situation that’s so desperate right now. You can’t see how or where or when it will end. Sometimes you wonder if it will end!

In the midst of just such a circumstance, David said, “I will bless the Lord at all times.”

"I will."  He decided, “I’m not going to magnify King Saul and my circumstances; I’m going to magnify the Lord.” So he said, “My soul shall make its boast in the Lord” (verse 2).

You know what happens when we do that? Not only are our own hearts lifted, but the hearts of others around us are lifted.

He goes on to say, "The humble, the oppressed, others who are down, they will hear my praising, and they will be glad." So he says, “Oh, magnify the Lord with me.” Put the spotlight on Him! Put the magnifying glass on Him! “Magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together” (verse 3).

You see, praise is not a response to our circumstances. “Praise the Lord, I got a raise at work today! Praise the Lord, I found a parking spot in that terrible rain storm!”

Now, I will grant you that it’s a whole lot easier to praise the Lord if you got the raise or you got the parking spot; but it’s when you don’t get the raise, it’s when you don’t get the parking spot, it’s when your husband doesn’t get healed of that terminal illness and you’re left as a widow—that’s when praise is especially pleasing to God.

That’s when you demonstrate faith that God is bigger and greater and more real than any circumstance you may be facing in your life. You see, praise often involves our emotions: “All that is within me, bless His holy name!” (Psalm 103:1 NKJV).

But there are times when you praise God in spite of every emotion in your being screaming against it. And you say, “I will. I will praise the Lord! I will lift Him up!”

For David in the Old Testament, it didn’t matter whether he was sitting on the throne or being pursued by the one who was. It didn’t matter if he was hungry or full, whether he was happy or sad, whether he was with his best friends or he was left alone; all that mattered to him was that God was there. As long as he had God, he could choose to praise.

That’s why David could say in Psalm 57:7, “O God, my heart is steadfast.” I’m stable. I’m okay. “My heart is steadfast; I will sing and give praise” (NKJV).

I wonder if there’s some circumstance or situation that you’re facing at this season of your life that’s hard, that’s painful; there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight, there doesn’t seem to be any hope, and you’ve been focusing on your circumstance, and you’ve given way to whining and moaning and groaning, and you and everyone around you knows that that is the most important thing in your life right now.

Would you at this moment just lift your eyes upward and say, “Lord, I choose to transfer my focus from me and my circumstances to You. You are great! You are good! You are worthy of my praise! You are working at this very moment to fulfill Your holy, eternal purposes in my life and in the lives of those I love. So Lord, as long as You give me breath, I’ll use that breath to praise You. ‘I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.’”

Accept O Lord, I pray, the sacrifice of praise we bring into Your presence in this quiet moment, and be glorified. May praise be our continual, eternal occupation. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: Maybe this holiday finds you in a tough situation. Perhaps it’s hard to give thanks on this Thanksgiving Day. I hope that today’s words from Nancy Leigh DeMoss have pointed your eyes upward and reminded you about the power that praise has in our lives.

Today’s teaching from Nancy is part of a series called, The Power and Practice of Praise. You can hear the entire teaching online or order it on CD by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com.

A woman who’s been listening along with us knows what it’s like to praise the Lord in the middle of a very difficult trial. Here’s Kathy.

Kathy: I just wanted to give some of you ladies a reminder (and, I think, a reminder to myself), a word of encouragement about how God is so faithful in our lives. When we just trust Him and when we remember that He is God and that He is in control of everything and that we can praise Him in every circumstance, there is an opportunity that we have just to be in His presence and trust.

In the year 2000 my husband and I had an opportunity to put that into practice in a big way. We have three children, and for many years we have had a problem with thinking that we could control our children’s lives.

We tried to get help for a son who was on drugs and alcohol, and we continued to seek all kinds of institutions to put him in, all kinds of secular help, help from the church. We prayed continuously about this, but sometimes you have to get to that point where you just give it all over to the Lord.

We got to that point, and a few years ago we had the realization that nothing we had done was working in his life and that it was just going to take an act of God to help him. He had walked out of our home one day. I remember my husband told him that God had a plan for his life. We were talking to him about Jeremiah 29:11, and he said, “I have plans of my own.”

That was the last time we saw him in our home. The next time we saw him, he had been arrested for murder. He had been on drugs and alcohol and had taken the life of his girlfriend in the argument they’d had.

You look at those times and you think, “This is the worst time of my life.” But somehow I didn’t think that. It was as though God, as the Scripture says, gave that peace that passes all understanding ( see Philippians 4:7).

God takes you through that; and we saw the Lord work in just miraculous ways, awesome ways, like you were talking about, during that time and throughout the trial and our son’s confession. He is now in ____ prison having received a life sentence without parole.

When he was first arrested, I could put both my hands around his waist. He was so emaciated and at death’s door; and I believe with all my heart that God saved him in this because now he’s healthy. He has read his Bible several times, and I have seen God work in his life and in the prison and in the men that he talks to in prison.

It’s amazing to see what God has done! And for women who have wayward children, I would just say that there are many, many Scriptures in the Bible that say, “I will save you and your household.”

There’s Jeremiah 24:7 that says that God will give them a heart to return to Him. Praying those Scriptures has been such a blessing to me, to know that God is so faithful to do that in our children’s lives. It’s awesome!

Nancy: You know, Kathy, it was interesting that you said to me, when we were talking a little earlier today, that you feel that now, looking back, there were some things that God has done in your son’s life and is doing in your son’s life that you don’t think probably would have happened any other way.

That meant that as a mom, you had to get out of the way and let God do whatever was necessary, as tragic and painful as it was. Of course, you pray that God will spare your children from that kind of extreme end, but as it turned out, that is not the end.

Kathy: No, it’s not! There are so many worse places than prison! And there are all kinds of prisons. I had a dear friend of mine a couple of years ago who died with MS, and I think so many times about the prison that she was in because she was paralyzed from her neck down for years.

I can remember being with her and talking about that because it was like being in a prison. And the prison of being lost is so much worse a prison than being saved and in a jailhouse.

As long as we’re alive, God can use whatever situation we are in for His glory, and He does that over and over again. We see that illustrated.

Nancy: That’s why we can offer the sacrifice of thanksgiving because there’s so much that God sees and knows that we don’t see and know. Someone has said, and you’ve heard me quote it before, that “God’s will is exactly what I would choose if I knew what God knows.”

The problem is, I don’t know what God knows! And maybe that’s a good thing. But I don’t know; and that’s where, when we come into these circumstances, we can lift our eyes up and say,

“God, I don’t see. I don’t understand. I can’t comprehend how this can possibly turn out for good, how this could bring You glory. But I trust that You know and You are at work in this child’s life or this husband’s life or this parent’s life or this situation. You are fulfilling eternal purposes, and I surrender myself with thanksgiving to those purposes.”

By the way, faith and praise go hand in hand. The ability to praise is based on trust that God knows what He is doing. John Wesley said, “Our task is to give the world a right impression of God.”

The way we respond to our circumstances, whether it’s cancer or car wrecks or wayward children—as Elisabeth Elliott has said, “Suffering can be anything from traffic jams to taxes to tumors and everything in between”—but how we respond in those circumstances is always giving those around us an opinion of God.

We can give the world a right opinion of God if we will receive those circumstances and give thanks. That’s why read in Psalm 50:23, “The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies Me” (ESV).

When we give thanks in circumstances where the world can’t imagine giving thanks, what do we do? We give the world a right opinion about God. We glorify Him, and ultimately that’s what it’s all about.

That’s why we live. That’s why we exist and why we were created, to bring Him glory. That’s how we do it.

We would all say that “I want my life to bring glory to God,” but that’s how we do it. It’s in the nitty-gritty of everyday life, with its major and minor traumas and upsets and every circumstance and situation. The way we’re responding is either bringing glory to God, or it’s giving the impression that God is not a good God, that He has fallen down on His job, that He’s not coming through.

We don’t want to give the world that opinion of God, and that’s why we need to praise, to be thankful people, to smile. I think that if anyone should know how to smile, it ought to be Christians, even in circumstances of life where it’s a challenge to smile.

I’m not talking about always being giddy or always laughing or always being light-hearted. There are always circumstances and seasons of life that some of you are walking through right now where there’s no way you could be light-hearted, and you shouldn’t be; but there can still be joy, and there can always be praise. Always!

Thank You, Lord, for the opportunities You give us to trust You, to wait on You, to look to You, to give the world a right opinion of You. Help us to do that today in the circumstances we know about and the ones that are going to happen that we don’t yet know about. May it become our instinctive, supernatural reaction, by Your grace, to give thanks in everything, that You may be glorified. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Leslie: Sometimes thanksgiving is hard, even on Thanksgiving Day. I do hope you’ve gotten some important perspective on thanks and praise from Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

If you’d like a copy of today’s powerful story and teaching, you can get it on CD as part of our current series, The Power and Practice of Praise.

When you order or make a donation of any amount, we’ll say thanks by sending a gift. It’s a set of beautiful Christmas cards that Nancy wrote. For more information, visit our website, or you can call us at 800-569-5959.

It’s really important to have a spirit of praise in our heart, but we also need to let praise out of our heart and into our mouth. Find out why tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

1William Law. "A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life." Christianity Today, Vol. 39, no. 5.

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