“At midnight Paul and Silas began to praise God. Suddenly there cam a great earthquake that shook the foundations of the prison, opening all the locked doors and shaking loose the chains of every prisoner!”. Acts 16
If you follow this blog you will know that I often write from the eye of the storm in a very transparent perspective. This is intentional for a couple reasons-one, to identify with those who are going through similar trials and challenges, and two, so that in our struggles, together we can cling to the hope and promises left for our benefit, our life-savers, if you will. Through each of the challenges I’ve encountered over the past several years, I have always tried to find a way to continue to offer up praise, even if faint, and even if less than totally sincere. I have always known it is the best and often last weapon I have if I was to overcome the latest challenge. I am simply amazed at how effective a weapon praise can be!
There is a story in the Old Testament about a King of Judah named Jehoshaphat. Our 70’s band Resurrection, did a song about his story. A vast army was about to attack Judah and understandably, the people of the city were terrified. So King Jehoshaphat didn’t gather all his fighting men, horses and chariots to plan out a defense. Instead, he declared a mandatory fast and all the people gathered together to seek an answer from God. Entire families, including children, waited before the Lord. Then God gave them a message through a man named Jahaziel. The message, so powerful and complete, was this;
“Don’t be afraid or discouraged because of the size of this army. For this battle isn’t yours to fight, but God’s!”
You don’t know how many times I have relied on this verse over the years! The story continues that King Jehoshaphat mounted up the next day and did something unexpected-he had the Worship Team lead the army out, his weapon of mass destruction! Instead of beating their swords against their shields, they sang out;
“Give praise to the Lord for his love and mercies endure forever!”
As the King’s men sang their praises the Ammonites and Moabites became so confused they began to attack each other until not a single soldier was left standing. The army of Judah won the battle and annihilated the enemy without drawing a single sword or firing a single arrow! Praise is a powerful and effective weapon. I am still learning how devastating it can be against unseen attacks! The victory experienced by the army of Judah was so devastating and complete that news traveled far and wide that God was their protector and they enjoyed peace for many years because anyone who heard the story was too fearful to challenge their God!
It is so easy in life to be intimidated by the size of the enemy waging war against us. We see through human eyes that we are surrounded by a vast army getting ready to attack us on every front and we see no way out. I believe that sometimes we forget that the armies surrounding us that we too easily see, are themselves surrounded by an even greater, heavenly, unseen Army of fiery chariots of heavens angels who are saying to us, “don’t be afraid-this battle isn’t yours but God’s!” What we envision as being a battle to big to win, is in fact, just another day of deliverance at the hands of a heavenly host, ready to go to war for us, and just waiting for the command, our release through the most difficult of circumstances of the praise from our hearts and lips-our weapon of mass destruction! When we praise and worship God we are in essence giving the command and permission for heaven’s armies to unleash its power against all other weapons formed against us in such a way that the enemy is left defenseless and in ruins!
Paul and Silas were chained and sent to prison by the very people they were trying to save. After being stripped and severely beaten and flogged, they were chained by their feet in the inner prison. At midnight when it’s the darkest, in chains, bloodied and suffering pain from the open wounds from their flogging, they lifted up their praise and sang hymns to God, so openly that all the prisoners who were jailed with them could hear their praises. Surely they must have thought that Paul and Silas had lost their freaking minds-how could anyone under such dire circumstances possibly worship God? What they didn’t realize is that Paul and Silas knew the power of praise in tearing down strongholds and breaking chains! As their praise ascended God sent an earthquake so violent that even the chains of those who heard the worship were shaken off and fell to the jail floor. The jailer, seeing and feeling this phenomenal event was so moved he and his entire family accepted their message and were saved. When God moves and responds, people are changed and set free!
There are so many promises of complete victory for those who follow Christ;
“All thanks to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ”
“In all things we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us”
“Thanks to God who in Christ, always leads us in triumphal procession…”
“For the Lord your God is He who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies and to assure you receive victory”
“What else is there to say-if God is for us, WHO can come against us!”
So far 2019 has been an amazing year of victories and turn around for me. I am seeing prayers answered so dramatically that I know it is nothing but a God thing. And I can’t claim any glory except to say that in my weakest moments, I found a way to still worship Christ even when there were no words left to offer up. I am simply in awe of his goodness in my life and his faithfulness in responding, not on my time but in his. I am humbled and speechless before Him. Can I offer some heartfelt advice?
I have heard it said that the worship time of a church service is intended to allow stragglers to get to their seats before the sermon or homily. I’ve even heard some say they just come for the message and not the worship time. I can’t emphasize enough how wrong that approach is! To me, that’s like going to a fine restaurant just to pay the bill without enjoying the food. When believers come together in one voice or concerted effort to praise a holy God together as one church family, there is a power, a restoration, a healing, a battle cry that gives you more deliverance and strength than the greatest of sermons. Scripture tells us that God inhabits, or simply put, takes his residence in the praises of his children. That corporate time when we gather simply to worship and revere our Father and his holiness-that’s where our power comes from-that’s our secret weapon against the attacks against us, not the ear-tickling sermon. I win when I worship-I receive when I praise-I feel closest to God when I am reaching out to him in song and I stand no taller than when I’m on my face before His throne. He is my weapon of mass destruction, my salvation, my victory. “Praise be to God-His mercies endure forever”.