Archive for January 8th, 2018

Pit Praisers

from JO’s sermon tonight:

it’s easy to give God praise when things are going good, that doesn’t take much faith, but what about when business slows down, somebody does us wrong, the medical report says we’re not going to get better? we all have times where we feel like we’re in the pits, life has thrown us a curve. it’s easy to get discouraged, go around negative. we think, “when it turns around, then I’ll have a good attitude. when my health improves, then I’ll be grateful. when I get out of this mess, break this addiction, then I’ll get my joy back.” but that’s backwards; you have to give God praise first. praise is what causes things to turn around, breaks bondages that are holding us back, activates God’s favor. don’t wait until you get out of the pit; be a pit praiser. praise Him in spite of what hasn’t worked out, what you lost. any of us can give God praise when we’re on the mountaintop; the real test is, will you praise Him in the valley, worship Him in the wilderness, shout when the walls aren’t falling, be a pit praiser?

this is what Joseph had to do. when he was a young man, God gave him a dream:

Genesis 37:6-8 (NIV)
6 He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: 7 We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.”
8 His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?”

he was excited; he knew God’s favor was on his life. he should’ve been more discreet, and kept it to himself; his brothers didn’t like the idea that they were going to bow down. they were already jealous:

Genesis 37:3-4 (NIV)
3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than any of his other sons, because he had been born to him in his old age; and he made an ornate robe for him. 4 When his brothers saw that their father loved him more than any of them, they hated him and could not speak a kind word to him.

one day:

Genesis 37:12-24 (NKJV)
12 Then his brothers went to feed their father’s flock in Shechem. 13 And Israel said to Joseph, “Are not your brothers feeding the flock in Shechem? Come, I will send you to them.”… 18 Now when they saw him afar off… 20 Come therefore, let us now kill him and cast him into some pit; and we shall say, ‘Some wild beast has devoured him.’…22 And Reuben said to them, “Shed no blood, but cast him into this pit which is in the wilderness… 23 So it came to pass, when Joseph had come to his brothers, that they stripped Joseph of his tunic, the tunic of many colors that was on him. 24 Then they took him and cast him into a pit.

they were going to leave him there to die. but when God puts a promise in your heart, people, bad breaks, betrayal, rejection, can’t stop you. people don’t have the final say, God does. but the dream God put in you is not going to come to pass without opposition; there will be times that it’s not fair, doesn’t make sense. don’t get bitter; it’s all a part of God’s plan. it looks like a setback; the truth is, it’s a setup to move you into your destiny. the key is what you do when you’re in the pit, when life has taken an unexpected turn: a relationship didn’t work out, you lost a loved one, got a bad medical report. it’s tempting to get sour, go around complaining, talking about how it’s not going to work out; all that’s going to do is keep you in the pit.

Genesis 37:25-28 (NKJV)
25 And they sat down to eat a meal. Then they lifted their eyes and looked, and there was a company of Ishmaelites, coming from Gilead… 26 So Judah said to his brothers, “What profit is there if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? 27 Come and let us sell him to the Ishmaelites… so the brothers pulled Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites

what’s interesting is, the name Judah, the brother that saved Joseph’s life, means “praise”; God was showing us that praise protects the dream. (NB: even more interesting; Judah, although he was the 4th son, is the one from whom Jesus is descended.) the other brothers were saying, “let’s kill him, leave him here to die,” but praise rose up and said, “no, we’re going to let him live.” praise changed the opposition’s mind, pushed back the forces of darkness. when you’re in the pit, don’t complain; turn up your praise. you have to protect your dream; the way you do it is by having Judah show up. “Father, thank You that You are fighting my battles. yes, this is a big problem, but I know You’re a big God; You flung stars into space, nothing’s too difficult for You.” the scripture says:

2 Corinthians 4:13 (NIV)
13 It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” Since we have that same spirit of faith, we also believe and therefore speak

what kind of words are coming out of your mouth? are you talking about how big your problem is, or are you talking about how big your God is? are you complaining about the pit, focused on what wasn’t fair, who did you wrong? you have to wake up Judah; Judah is in you. you’re waiting for someone else to deliver you, pray for you, cheer you up; you can deliver yourself if you’ll get Judah up and start thanking God that He’s turning it around. not complaining about the medical report, but thanking Him that He is restoring health back unto you. not discouraged over finances, but thanking Him that you will lend and not borrow. when God sees you praising Him in the pit, loss, storm, that’s what He calls “the sacrifice of praise.” He knows it’s not easy, it wasn’t fair, they did you wrong, you felt like quitting, but when you praise Him in the pit, that moves God in a greater way. the sacrifice of praise carries more weight.

it’s one thing to be grateful when things are going our way; that’s important, we should do that, but when you have a song in your heart when every circumstance says you should be discouraged, when you can say, “God, I bless You in spite of what hasn’t worked out,” get ready for God to show out in your life.

David said:

Psalm 40:2 (NIV)
2 He lifted me out of the slimy pit,
out of the mud and mire;
he set my feet on a rock

you may be in the pit, but you’re not going to stay there. you’ve heard that saying, “you can’t keep a good man down”? let me tell you, you can’t keep a praiser down. anyone can complain, be discouraged, but God is looking for some pit praisers, people that will praise Him no matter what happens, in the good times and in the tough times, when business is up or down. David said:

Psalm 34:1 (KJV)
34 I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

this is what Paul and Silas did in the scripture. they were falsely accused and put in prison. they could’ve been bitter, complained, “God, why did You let this happen? we were doing the right thing.” instead, they were pit praisers:

Acts 16:25-26 (NIV)
25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God… 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose.

Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)
17 The Lord your God is with you,
the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
but will rejoice over you with singing.”

when you give God praise in the difficult times, sing in the midnight hour, the all-powerful Creator of the universe will not only take delight in you, but He will start singing over you. when God sings, addictions are broken, depression, poverty and lack have to go. God will get you to where you’re supposed to be.

but when we’re in the pits, it’s easy to have a pity party, think, “why did this happen, I prayed, but my loved one didn’t make it, my relationship didn’t work out.” you’re right where Joseph was; doing the right thing, and the wrong thing happened. you’re right where Paul and Silas were; honoring God and were thrown into a pit. you could either get negative, bitter, or you can become a pit praiser. you can thank God, not for the pit, but that He’s bringing you out, not for the problem, but that He’s turning it around.

we’re not going to understand everything God is doing. there are times, like with Joseph, that the pit has been ordained by God. we don’t like it, but the pit is on the road to our destiny. God’s plan for Joseph’s life was to rule Egypt. his brothers were ordained to betray him. he was ordained to be sold as a slave; that was all a part of the plan to get him to Egypt. sometimes, life is not going to make sense; you’re doing the right thing, but it’s not working out. you have to trust that God is still in control, knows what He’s doing, will not mismanage your life. God has already planned the end from the beginning, but He never promised that we would understand everything that happens along the way, in fact, He said:

Isaiah 55:8 (NLV)
8 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and My ways are not your ways,” says the Lord.

He let us know right up front, it’s not always going to make sense; this is what faith is all about.

when God gave Joseph that dream, it showed him up and his brothers down. but when the brothers threw him into the pit, he was down, and his brothers were up. he could have thought, “God, I must have heard you wrong; this is backwards.” he could’ve complained, been bitter. instead, his attitude was, “God, I trust You. You said that my steps are ordered by You, so wherever You have me, I’m going to be the best that I can be.” you never read where Joseph complained, was bitter, slacked off.

the pit was simply a test. God was seeing, “will you trust Me when you don’t understand, praise Me in the pit when it doesn’t make sense?” praise is not just words, it’s our attitude; we’re grateful, have a smile, we’re being good to people, passionate about our dreams.

when you’re a pit praiser, you can be in the pit and nobody around you knows it; you’re not sour, don’t have a chip on your shoulder. you’ve learned the secret; to bless the Lord at all times. when you’re giving God praise, He’s fighting your battles, giving people ideas, putting thoughts in their minds, causing them to want to be good to you. when you’re in the pit, it’s a test; are you going to get discouraged, bitter, or are you going to protect your dream through praise?

sometimes, like with Joseph, what God promised us looks just the opposite: God said He’s restoring health back to you, but the medical report says you’re not going to get better. God says your whole family is going to serve Him; maybe you have children that are far off course. don’t get discouraged by what’s not lining up; it’s not over. God is still working; behind the scenes, things are happening that you cannot see. keep thanking God that it’s on the way.

the pit stops in our lives are not the end. when we’re in the pits, a difficult time, we had a bad break, God uses that pit stop to refuel us and get us prepared for the next season of our lives. the way to get refueled is through your praise. finding something to be grateful for; not dwelling on what’s wrong, but thanking God for what’s right. not focused on what you lost, but thanking God for what you have. you may feel like you’re in the pits, you have a good reason to be discouraged. have a new perspective; you’re in a time of refreshing, reenergizing, refueling. without a few pit stops, we wouldn’t be prepared for the rest of our journey.

the problem is, some people make the pit stop their home. they lose their passion, get discouraged, “why did this happen to me? I was doing so well.” it’s just a pit stop. I don’t know anyone that’s fulfilled their destiny without a few pit stops. the heroes of faith: David, Moses, Abraham, Ruth, Esther, Sarah, they all had pit stops. my challenge is; don’t get stuck in the pit. it’s a pit stop, not a pit finish, not a pit it’s over and done. your life is not supposed to end in defeat, a bad break, disappointment; God has victory in front of you.

“I’m in a big pit”; then you need to have big praise, faith, dreams. don’t believe that lie that where you are is permanent. God did not breathe life into you, crown you with favor, put royal blood in your veins, for you to live in the pits. the pits are temporary, but you have to do your part, and praise your way out of the pit. the right attitude is, “Father, thank You that this pit is just a stop, it’s not my final destination, that You’re making a way where I don’t see a way, that what was meant to stop me is going to promote me.” if you’ll stay full of praise, keep thanking God, encouraging yourself, you’ll not only come out of the pit, you’ll come out stronger, into new levels, relationships, opportunities.

after the pit is promotion, favor, the palace. Joseph went on to see his dream come to pass; there were a lot of twists and turns, it was a winding road, but he kept moving forward and fulfilled his destiny. but had he not been willing to praise in the pit, he would have never made it to the palace. could it be that a lack of praise is keeping you out of your palace? you’re waiting for things to turn around, then you’ll have a good attitude, be grateful? you have to give God praise in the pit; that’s what allows Him to take you into the palace, a new level of your destiny.

in Matthew 15:

Matthew 15:21-22 (NIV)
21 Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him

Canaanites were idol worshippers, gentiles, didn’t believe in Jehovah. for a lady to approach him like that in that day was unusual, because the women were taught to stay in the background.

Matthew 15:22-23 (NIV)
22 … crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”
23 Jesus did not answer a word.

this was unusual, because Jesus was normally so compassionate.
(NB: “Tyre and Sidon were Gentile cities, located some 50 miles (80 kilometers) away. Jesus went all this way to meet this one Gentile woman’s need. This shows remarkable and unexpected love from Jesus to this woman of Canaan.”

https://enduringword.com/bible-commentary/matthew-15/ )

Matthew 15:23-24 (NIV)
23 … So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

he was saying, “I’m sorry, but you’re not a part of our family. I feel badly, but I can’t take what belongs to the Israelites and gave it to you.” this lady had everything going against her: she was a gentile, idol worshipper, a woman. but when she said, “Son of David, have mercy on me,” she was saying, “I’m asking you to make an exception.” when Jesus told her no, that could’ve been the end of the story, but this lady did something interesting; instead of continuing to beg:

Matthew 15:25 (NIV)
25 The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said… 28 Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

a few minutes earlier, he was ignoring her; what changed? when she went from begging to worshipping.

the scripture says:

Psalm 22:3 (MEV)
3 … You who inhabits the praises of Israel.

that means, praise brings God on the scene. begging, complaining doesn’t sway Him, but praise causes the Creator of the universe to show up.

you may think you’re outside the family, you don’t deserve God’s goodness, you’ve made mistakes, brought trouble on yourself. there may be a dozen reasons why God shouldn’t do it, but if you’ll do like this lady, and go to God, not begging Him, but giving Him praise, worshiping, thanking Him, bragging on His goodness, God will do things that you don’t deserve. what begging won’t do, praise will do. no more, “God, I’m begging you to heal me, turn my child around.” switch over into praise; “Father, thank You that You’re restoring health back to me, that as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” God won’t disappoint a praiser. Jeremiah said:

Jeremiah 33:11 (KJV)
11 … and of them that shall bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord. For I will cause to return the captivity of the land, as at the first, saith the Lord.

Jeremiah 33:11 (MEV)
11 … and of those who bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the Lord. For I will restore the fortunes of the land as at the first, says the Lord.

there may be some things you need reversed and restored. you don’t see how it could happen, but you go through the day saying, “Father, thank You that the answer’s on the way, You’re working behind the scenes.” because you’re offering up that sacrifice of praise, God is going to reverse finances that are down, negative medical reports, legal situations. not only that, He’s going to restore what should’ve been yours: years that you lost because somebody did you wrong, a relationship that’s going down, health back to your body. it’s going to happen because of your praise.

in the scripture, the Israelites had traveled through the desert for forty years trying to make it to the promised land. the parents never did make it in, because they complained and were negative; they eventually died. now, their children were at Jericho; this was the last city that stood between them and their promised land. you can imagine how excited they were; if they could just get through Jericho, they could see this dream come to pass. there will always be a Jericho that stands between you and your promised land, one last obstacle that looks insurmountable. you’ve come this far, done so well, but you don’t see how you could get past it. this is how the Israelites felt; they could taste the victory, after years they were finally within reach, but Jericho had a huge wall around the city, so thick that a chariot could ride on top of the wall. it looked impossible to penetrate, but God told Joshua:

Joshua 6:2-5 (NIV)
2 Then the Lord said to Joshua… 3 March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. 4 … On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. 5 When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have the whole army give a loud shout

I can imagine the people told Joshua, “we’ll shout after the wall falls. after we take the city, then we’ll give God praise; there’s no reason to do it before, that doesn’t make sense.” like them, we want to shout after the victory. but God is saying, “if you’ll give Me praise while the wall is still standing, then you’ll see things begin to change.” do you trust Him enough to praise Him in front of a wall that’s not moving, to worship Him with a bad medical report, to thank Him for freedom when you still have the addiction?

Joshua 6:20 (NIV)
20 When the trumpets sounded, the army shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the men gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so everyone charged straight in, and they took the city.

this huge wall not only came tumbling down, but researchers have found that it fell in such a way that it created a perfect ramp, so the Israelites could go in and take the city. when you give God praise, He doesn’t just bring down walls, He’ll make a path so you can go in and take your promised land. He’ll make your rough places smooth.

maybe you have a big obstacle in front of you; you don’t see how you could ever get past it. don’t complain; turn up your praise. praise is what’s going to bring the wall down. perhaps you feel like you’re in a pit; you’ve had some bad breaks. being bitter is not going to make it better; you have to bring Judah on the scene. be a pit praiser. all through the day; “Father, thank You that You’re fighting my battles; You hold victory in store for the upright.” if you’ll do this, like Joseph, you’re coming out of that pit, into your palace. like with Joshua, walls that are holding you back are being broken right now. like Jeremiah said, God’s going to reverse and restore. you’re going to see healing, breakthroughs, vindication, promotion, the fullness of your destiny.

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