The Power and Practice of PraisePraise Precedes Deliverance
Leslie Basham: Isn’t it amazing that we can actually get to know the God of the universe? Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: As we praise Him, we learn to explore His character, His ways, and His works; we to get to know more about Him. Then we respond to Him in worship and wonder and adoration and praise. That’s how we cultivate an intimate relationship with God. That’s how we enter into His presence.
Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Wednesday, November 22nd.
Today, you have a chance to talk with someone who’s brilliant in every field. He knows more about computers than Bill Gates. He knows more about golf than Tiger Woods, more about hospitality than Martha Stewart. He’s an expert in world affairs, music, engineering, and theology.
You and I have a chance to spend time with God—the One who knows everything. Why do we simply not do it more often? Here’s Nancy to explore that in a series called The Power and Practice of Praise.
Nancy: There are ways of knowing someone, and then there are ways of really knowing someone. I know quite a bit about President Bush. I read about him; I hear about what he’s doing; I follow his schedule a little bit; I pray for him. But I can’t really say that I know President Bush.
The people who work with him know President Bush: his cabinet members and members of Congress. They know President Bush. But there’s someone who really knows President Bush. Her name is Laura. She lives with the man, and she knows him in a way that those who’ve just met him, heard about him, read about him, or even work with him can’t possibly know him.
One of my goals in life—and it should be a supreme goal for all of us—is to know God in an intimate and personal way. Not just knowing about Him but really knowing Him.
As we talk about praise and worship . . . It’s not just a matter of being able to jump into the presence of God without some preparation, some process, some requirements that are involved in getting there. But as we over these next days talk about what’s involved in getting there, remember the objective: it's to get to know Him. Not just to hear about Him, not just to read about Him, not just to know about Him, but to really know Him.
I think our churches are loaded with people who know a lot about God but who don’t really know God. They’ve not taken the time or gone through the process; made the preparations of what is required to come into God’s presence and then to get to know Him.
Now there are many aspects of getting into the presence of God, but one of the most important is this matter of praise. Scripture says in Psalm 100 that we should enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise. Come before His presence with singing (verse 4). Singing, thanksgiving, and praise—what do they do? They take us right into the presence of God.
Now the Old Testament Jews—when they would think about the presence of God—what did they think about? They thought about the tabernacle or later the temple. What particular part of the tabernacle or the temple would have come into their minds? The holiest place; the place where the shekinah glory of God dwelt.
Now they knew they couldn’t actually go into that room themselves. They had to have a priest represent them, and that priest had to go through quite the preparations—the offering of sacrifices, the shedding of blood—so that he could go in with his own sins forgiven and then go to plead on behalf of the people, asking God to forgive their sins.
But part of what allowed him and the people to come into the presence of God was praise. “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving and into his courts [the courts of the King] with praise” (Psalm 100:4). Psalm chapter 22 tells us that God inhabits the praises of His people (verse 3). You want to know where God lives? You want to know how to find the presence of God? You enter in with thanksgiving. Where will you find His presence? In the place of praise.
As one preacher said, “Praise is God’s address.” That’s where He lives. If you want to find me, you have to go to my address in Michigan when I’m there. If you want to find God, you’ll find Him where He always is, and that is inhabiting the praises of His people.
Praise takes us into the intimate presence of God. We get to know Him as we lift up His character and His works and His wonders, and as we verbalize to Him our worship and our praise for who He is. As we praise Him, we learn to explore His character, His ways, His works, to get to know more about Him.
Then we respond to Him in worship and wonder and adoration and praise. That’s how we cultivate an intimate relationship with God. That’s how we enter into His presence. Now we know from the Scripture that praise brings down the glory of God. The manifest presence and glory of God as often experienced in seasons of revival comes, among other ways, through the means of praise.
There are some wonderful illustrations of that in the Scripture. The one that comes first in my mind is in 2 Chronicles chapter 5 where the newly built temple was being dedicated to the Lord. The Scripture says, “The trumpeters and the singers joined in unison, as with one voice, to give praise and thanks to the Lord. Accompanied by trumpets, cymbals and other instruments, they raised their voices in praise to the Lord and sang: ‘He is good; His love endures forever’” (verse 13).
I don’t know, but I imagine they sang it over and over and over again. “He is good. His love endures forever. He is good. His love endures forever.” Say it with me. “He is good. His love endures forever.” Again. “He is good. His love endures forever.”
Well what happened? While the people were singing this, the choir was singing this, the trumpeters and the instrumentalists; the cymbals were all joining together in unison praising the Lord. What happened?
The passage goes on to say, “Then the temple of the Lord was filled with a cloud” (verse 13b). Picture in the Old Testament the presence, majesty, and the glory of God. “And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the temple of God” (verse 14).
Now maybe you think, “Wouldn’t it be great if I could just see God’s glory in that way?” Well you know what? We have something better. We are, in the New Testament, the temple of God. He lives within us. When we praise Him with clean hands and pure hearts, His glory fills this temple (Psalm 24:4).
We find that as we praise Him that we get to know Him; we enter into His presence. We experience the fullest expression of His glory. I’ll tell you something else we find as we praise the Lord: God deals with issues of spiritual dryness. We often find ourselves in this Christian walk in a desert time—in a dry time.
The Scripture says that as we lift our eyes upward above our desert and begin to praise the Lord, we will find God sending refreshment and restoration to our souls. He restores our souls. In fact, Acts 3:19 says, “Times of refreshing”—anybody here need a time of refreshing? We all need those physically, emotionally, spiritually, and mentally—times of refreshing. Where do they come from? They come from the presence of the Lord.
How do we get into God’s presence? Through praise, thanksgiving, and worship. So often, through the Psalms, you’ll find the psalmist in a dry place, in a spiritual drought—maybe oppressed or attacked by his enemies, hemmed in around, no sign of victory or deliverance. Invariably, as he lifts his heart to the Lord in praise, he finds that his spirit is lifted, his perspective is changed.
I think, for example, of Psalm 63. By the way, I took time over the last several days to read straight through the entire book of Psalms. What a blessing that was because you get a mega-picture—an overview of what psalmist is going through. I’ll tell you, here’s an honest man—men who wrote the Psalms, crying out from their hearts to the Lord.
In this particular psalm, David cries out and he says, “Oh God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you, in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (verse 1). There are times when, like David, I cry out and I say, “Lord, my heart is cold. My eyes are dry.”
I experienced that numbers of times this past week, as I was getting ready to teach on this subject of praise. I was just feeling cold at times and indifferent—not like praising the Lord. In fact, for me praise was coming more as an effort than as the natural overflow out of my own heart to the Lord.
There are those times. But what does David say? “I have seen You in the sanctuary” (verse 2). I remember what I’ve seen of You in the past. “I’ve beheld Your power and Your glory” (verse 2). Oh Lord, I know what You’re like. I have a track record with You. I’ve seen You work. “Because Your love is better than life [I know it to be true; even though I may not feel it at this moment, I know that Your love is better than life itself therefore], my lips will glorify You” (verse 3).
In this dry and thirsty land where I’m living right now, I will speak Your praise. My lips will glorify You. “I will praise You as long as I live and in Your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you” (verses 4-5).
You know what praise does? It transfers my focus from me and my circumstances, my desert, my battlefield, whatever I may be going through. Praise transfers my focus from this earth and my little world, and it lifts those eyes upwards and focuses on God. Beholding Him, all else looks different.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face.
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of His glory and grace.
So what are you looking at? What are you fixing your eyes on? What are you focusing on? What are you concentrating on these days? When someone asks you when you leave here or later in this day, “How are you doing?” will your first answer be to tell them how you’re doing, or will it be to glorify the Lord with your lips and tell them how He’s doing?
I’ll tell you what—as long as He’s on His throne, you’re fine. I mean, you really are. It’s okay; all is well as long as God is on His throne—and He is. So as we praise Him, we enter into the intimate place of His presence. We get to really know Him. We experience the fullness of His presence and glory in our lives. We’ll even find that He restores and refreshes us; renews us in times of spiritual dryness as we glorify Him with our lips and praise Him. For His love is better than life itself.
Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss helping us to set our minds on the most worthy object of praise, God Himself. She’ll be right back to continue in this series called The Power and Practice of Praise.
To get a copy of this teaching on CD, visit ReviveOurHearts.com. When you order or make a donation of any size, we’ll send you a bonus gift. It’s a set of beautiful Christmas cards written by Nancy.
You’ll probably be buying cards to send out this Christmas. When you get a set from ReviveOurHearts.com, you’ll be helping this ministry continue reaching women. The cards will be delivered to your door. You’ll be spreading the true message of Christmas. It’s just fun to know that your cards were written by Nancy. Again, we’ll send you a set when you make any donation at ReviveOurHearts.com.
Do you have something serious weighing on you today? Maybe it’s a problem your child is going through or a bill that needs to be paid. Nancy says that one of the most powerful things you can do, when you’re in trouble or under attack is to praise God.
Nancy: We see this illustrated in a wonderful passage in the Old Testament, 2 Chronicles chapter 20, about how praise has the power to defeat the enemy. As we apply this kind of passage to our greatest enemy, Satan, we see that he is often forced to flee in the face of praise.
Remember in 2 Chronicles chapter 20 that the king of the nation of Judah was King Jehoshaphat. He was a man who feared the Lord; he loved the Lord. Let me just remind you as we read this passage that just because you fear and love and honor the Lord doesn’t mean you won’t have attacks.
In this passage, the Moabites and the Ammonites came against the little nation of Judah and hopelessly outnumbered them. I mean this was no contest. The Moabites and the Ammonites—the enemies of God—were going to win hands down if God didn’t intervene.
We won’t read the whole text, but as you go through the chapter—and it’s a wonderful chapter to read in times when you feel like you’re under attack—Jehoshaphat called the people together and he led them first in a prayer meeting. Not first in a strategic planning session—which is what we tend to do when things are going crazy at work or at home or in our church—we say, “What should we do?” and we start to list all the options and all the pros and cons.
Jehoshaphat didn’t do that. He called a prayer meeting, and he lifted his eyes upward with the people, and led them in saying, “Lord, we’re in trouble.” The Lord already knew that. But He needed to hear His people say that; His people needed to say that. When we say we’re in trouble, that means we’re humbling ourselves, and we’re acknowledging we can’t handle this on our own.
In fact, that’s exactly what Jehoshaphat did. He said, “Lord, we don’t know what to do. If You leave us to ourselves, we will be defeated. But Lord, our eyes are upon You; we’re looking to You. We’re getting our eyes off of the enemy; we’re getting our eyes off of our own measly troops and resources and weapons, and we’re lifting our eyes upward to You—not looking outward, not looking inward, but looking upward.”
God gave Jehoshaphat the assurance that He (God) was going to win this battle the next day. He didn’t tell him how, but Jehoshaphat went out in faith. On the evening before the battle, he called a praise meeting to follow the prayer meeting. “God has said He is going to win. God has said He’s going to win the victory, so let’s praise Him for it before we can even see the outcome; before God has shown us how He’s going to do this.”
That’s a hard time to praise the Lord—when you have His promises, but you can’t see how they’re going to work. You know that God is going to sanctify you. You know that God is going to work, that God is at work in your marriage, in your children, in your workplace, in your pressure points of life. You know that God is going to bring glory to Himself ultimately, that good will triumph over evil. You know that, but when you can’t see how it’s going to happen, do you stop and call a praise meeting?
The choir and the people began to sing praise to the Lord. Then, the next morning—the day of the battle, the day when humanly speaking they were going to be wiped out—they called another praise meeting. This time Jehoshaphat sent the choir to the front of the battle line—the singers and the instrumentalists.
How’d you like to be in that choir—in front of the troops; in front of the men with the weapons? I might be willing to sing, but I think I’d like to stay behind the army. But he sent the choir to the front of the army. What a step of faith!
The Scripture says in verse 21, “Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise Him for the splendor of His holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying: ‘Give thanks to the Lord, for His love endures forever’” (Chronicles 20). Give thanks to the Lord, for His love endures forever.
Don’t you imagine that their hearts were just pounding a hundred miles a minute? I know mine would have been! You see, praising the Lord and exercising faith doesn’t mean that you don’t feel afraid. It means that you step out in spite of the fear and you praise the Lord anyway.
I can’t tell you how many times, including this week as I have come to record Revive Our Hearts sessions, that my stomach and my heart have just been pounding and feeling, “I’m not ready. I can’t do this. This is not going to come together.” I have just these real uneasy feelings inside. I battle those regularly.
But then I step out in faith and I say, “Lord, this is Your program. This is Your truth. I am Your servant. You speak; You do the work. I’m looking to You.” I begin to praise the Lord in the midst of my fears—in the midst of my trembling heart.
Then the Scripture says, verse 22, “As they began to sing and praise, the Lord sent ambushes against the men of Amon and Moab who were invading Judah and they were defeated.” How? I don’t know!
Can you imagine these soldiers and these choir members telling their children 20 years later about this battle?
“Well dad, what happened?”
“Well, we sang. We praised the Lord.”
“And then what happened?”
“Well . . . God defeated the enemy.”
“How’d He do it, Dad?”
“I don’t know, but He did it.”
The Lord sent ambushes. It was supernatural. I think some of us never enter into the fullest extent of what God wants to do in sending us deliverance. God knows what deliverance means.
That doesn’t mean your husband is going to get saved tonight because you start to praise the Lord. It doesn’t mean your wayward, rebellious child will call on the phone this afternoon, weeping and broken and repentant and coming back to the Lord. But, in His way and in His time God will send deliverance.
I think many of us never enter into that deliverance because we don’t do what Jehoshaphat did—sing and praise the Lord. It’s easy to do that at the end of the battle. But doing it in the midst of the battle is a challenge.
In the morning I love to sing the hymn, “When morning gilds the skies my heart awaking cries: May Jesus Christ be praised.” There’s a line in that hymn that is so true to the Scripture. It says, “The powers of darkness fear when this sweet chant they hear: May Jesus Christ be praised!”
I want to tell you ladies, Satan runs at the sound of praise. He may be attacking you just in your emotions, in fears, in your mind. I talk with women whose minds are very disoriented, very confused, very flustered and frustrated, and don’t know what to do and which way to turn. I find so many women today living in varying stages of confusion and unrest and being unsettled in their hearts.
Do you know what will settle your heart in this very topsy-turvy world? It’s praise. Praise defeats the enemy. Satan will run when you run into the face of your problem—into the face of your situation—and you begin to praise the Lord.
Praise precedes and prepares us for deliverance. Jonah learned that. He ended up in the belly of that great fish as a result of his own sin, his own wrongdoing. There in Jonah chapter 2 we have his prayer. He says to God, “But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will make my sacrifices to you” (verse 9). Then what do we see the very next verse? “Then the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto the dry land” (verse 10).
Praise precedes and prepares for deliverance. Praise the Lord! You may be in the belly of that great fish through your own sin and wrongdoing. You may be there because of someone else’s sin and wrongdoing. But when you begin to praise the Lord, you will find that He delivers your heart; He delivers your emotions; He delivers your mind.
Someone sent me an email last night. I was troubled over something that had happened yesterday, and just feeling unsettled about it. Someone sent me an email last night reminding me, “God will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is fixed on Him.”
Fix your mind. It will stabilize your heart; it will stabilize your emotions. Praise precedes and prepares for deliverance.
Praise the Lord and watch the enemy run!
Leslie: That’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to make praise a greater priority in my life.
If you’d like to learn how to incorporate praise into your daily routine, why don’t you call us and get the book, Thirty One Days of Praise by Ruth Myers? These daily devotionals take God’s truth and help you refocus on praising Him in the midst of real life struggles.
It’s a great month-long tool to help you get into the habit of praising the Lord every day, no matter what you’re going through. You can find out more by visiting ReviveOurHearts.com, or you can call us at 1-800-569-5959.
Tomorrow, we’ll hear from a woman who learned to praise even while watching a son grow more and more rebellious. In fact, he was ultimately arrested for murder. Do you think you could praise in that situation? We’ll hear more about it tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.
Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.
All Scripture is taken from the New International Version.
1Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus. Helen H. Lemmel.
2When Morning Gilds the Skies. Katholisches Gesangbuch and Robert S. Bridges.Offers available only during the broadcast of the radio series.