The Ways of Praise

Sometimes we don't understand what worship is. Church services are frequently referred to as worship services. We also think of the elements in the service as worship. But, worship is not the church service. It is not the songs. Worship is an expression of love. It is adoration. It is the act of expending our precious resources on something we value. God desires to be the object of our worship. He wants to be the person we lavish our resources on. Of course, in life we pay attention to many things. We are passionate about hobbies and dreams and other people. It’s ok to have other things we value in our lives, but we just do not want to love them more than God. We are to have no other god before us.

In Luke 19, we learn about the Sunday before Jesus was resurrected. This period in Jesus’ life was known as His popularity. The people welcomed Jesus with a parade as He rode on a donkey into Jerusalem. They used palm branches for the celebration, laying them on the ground in front of Him and waving them, shouting and singing as He rode by. This was offensive to the religious leaders and they asked Jesus to stop the crowd from doing it. Jesus’ response was that if the people kept quiet, the rocks would cry out in praise. God doesn't have a set style of worship but He will be praised. As we look at the Psalms, we find praise and worship explained so we can understand. To draw a picture of worship, Psalms uses seven Hebrew words that have been translated as “praise” in the English language. Therefore, to understand the responses and reactions of worship, we have to go back to the Hebrew.

Halal means to rave, to boast, to celebrate, clamorously foolish behavior. Thinking of a football or baseball game, should we shout louder for a team or player who doesn't know anything about us more than we do for our Creator who knows us intimately and cares for us boundlessly? God is looking for people who are excited to be in His presence. Ps 35:18 is a verse that uses halal translated as praise. Resisting this kind of praise does nothing but protect your ego. Give God the praise He's asking for. You don’t have to do anything radical. Just take a step closer from where you are now.

1. Yadah is a form of praise meaning to acknowledge God in public with an extended hand. Think of when they call your name at a restaurant. You raise your hand to acknowledge that you are at the restaurant and ready for your table. Acknowledge God in public. There’s no need to ask why. Just do it. God said it, so do it His way. You like to be acknowledged. God does too. Ps 138:1 says to give thanks with all your heart.

2. Barak means to bless by kneeling or bowing. In Ps 103:1, “Let all that I am praise the Lord.”

3. Zamar is making music to God with stringed instruments. I personally think this means to pluck those bad boys really hard. God’s cool and Ps 92:1 declares it good to praise God this way.

4. Shabach is to address God in a loud tone or to shout. You do it at your kid’s soccer game. Ps 63:3 says to shabach because God’s love is better than life. It’s better than golf, better than my Harley, better than blue skies. Let your lips shout because God’s love is better than anything else in life.

5. Todah praise means to lift hands in adoration. It forgoes your pride. It means to lay yourself down. In Ps 50:23 it is called the sacrifice of praise.

6. Tehillah is exuberant singing (sing regardless of how you think you sound!). Ps 34:1 declares that praise is always on my lips. It’s an all in, completely surrendered kind of praise.

Worship is love expressed. It's not worship if it's not love and it's not love if it is not expressed. We express love the way that blesses the object of our love. Ps 150 sums up praise and worship beautifully. “Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in the heavens of His power! Praise Him for His mighty acts; praise Him according to the abundance of His greatness! Praise Him with trumpet sound; praise Him with lute and harp! Praise Him with tambourine and [single or group] dance; praise Him with stringed and wind instruments or flutes!”
Where do you start? Jesus’ answer was to love the Lord. Love the Lord the way He said He wants to be loved. As we love God first, everything else will be added. Fall in love with God. That's the secret to Christianity. Fall in love with the God of the Bible. Go all in and make Him the object of your worship.

worship, praise, hebrew, zamar, shabach, todah, halal, tehila

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Value Sets Priority

What do you value most? Another way to ask this question is what do you worship? We all worship something. Something is getting your adoration. Worship is love expressed. It is our response to whatever we value most. We all have things we think about a lot or things we love to do. Of course, it’s ok to truly enjoy your hobby or to think about your dream, but God should be the priority. He is the only one worthy of being worshipped.

So, what’s the why? Why do we worship? A friend of mine, famous for his worship, told me once that there was a moment in his life when he was leading thousands of people in worship into the presence of God but realized God’s presence was absent in his own life. He realized he had lost his why. When you lose your why, it is easy to lose your way.

We can't afford to minimize worship. Entering God’s presence through worship is one of the most important things we can spend our time doing. Do you value His presence? Worship grabs Gods attention. He is looking for worshippers. Whenever you're worshiping, you have God’s full attention. God inhabits the praises of His people. When we worship, He finds where He is going to live, where he's going to take up residence.

Satan is looking for worshippers too. He was an angel and the main worship leader of Heaven before he was cast out. When he hears worship, he will attempt to distract us, to quiet us. He will bring up our preferences. He does this to disarm the power of worship. In fact, nothing disarms the power of worship quicker than measuring it by our preferences. Your preferences say more about you than about worship. God loves all styles. When we refuse to worship because it's not what we like, we are making it about us and not God and we become the object of worship. Worship is about Jesus. He's the one who died for you. You didn't make the stars. He is the One who heals you. Don't let the enemy influence your worship. Don't let anything keep you from God’s presence. Worship has the power to change your attitude. Understanding your “why” will keep the enemy from wrecking your worship. Here are some “whys” for worship:

1. We are hardwired to worship. Even archeologists note that man is destined for worship. We all show adoration and attention to something. God just wants us to love Him more than anything else.
2. We worship God because of who He is. Worship cannot be based on the kind of week you have had but on what kind of God you have.
3. We worship because of who we used to be. I love the quote outside the Marine Corp Air Base in South Carolina, “Pardon our noise. It's the sound of freedom.” Some may think we are overdoing it during worship and making a big show, but what the critics can't see is what we've been set free from. When you are set free you can't help but worship. Worship like no one is watching. They probably aren’t.
4. We worship because of what is ahead. In Old Testament temple worship, (Ez 46:9) people were required to leave using the opposite gateway from where they entered. They physically left a different way. The New Testament made this a reality spiritually. We do not want to leave worship the same way we came in. If you came in depressed, you can leave with joy. If you came in confused you can leave with clarity. If you came in fearful, you can leave in peace. If you came in broken, you can leave whole. Worship is not something we lay aside when things go wrong; it’s what we pick up to make things right. When we worship, things have to change. When our hands go up, the enemy is put down. When we release praise, the enemy has to retreat. When we lift up Jesus, He lifts us out of frustration and fear. When we declare God’s goodness, His glory floods our situations.

Include worship in your everyday life. Include God in all you do and in all your relationships. He wants you to love Him the most. He wants you to offer yourself to Him, everything you do, all you have. He's really just looking for a relationship and beautifully, life is better when we put God first.

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Grab Hold & Don't Let Go

Today, I want to talk to you about praying - prophetically seeing, hearing and thinking what God is saying and doing in the life of your kids and household. It is important that we hear from God for our families and for our children through what the Bible says and through specific things God speaks regarding us or our family. Sometimes God reveals things to us and sometimes another person will speak things they’ve heard God say about us or our family. The thing to remember is that when God speaks, it will always be consistent with what the Bible says.

When we declare scripture or those things we believe God is saying directly to us, it not the understanding that is powerful, but it is the fact that it is spoken. Some things need to be declared. My wife and I have been declaring certain things over our son since he was still in the womb. You want to find the word of the Lord for your child and you want to speak those things over your child. The same is true for your family.

In Job 1:4-5, we see Job offering sacrifices on behalf of his children. This was an intercessory role. He prayed on their behalf, not because they did something wrong, but just in case they might have done something wrong. What an amazing posture. We should take this attitude as parents, not just to bring problems to God as they come up, but to be proactive and pray for them as they go through the process of life. We want to call out things that strengthen them for challenges ahead or events that are coming up. We want to be praying ahead of time rather than just reacting to situations and circumstances. Pray with your children every night. Pray over each of your children uniquely according to the gifts inside of them. Each one has gifts and qualities that God has given them for their life’s purpose. It is important that you are speaking into those areas and declaring God’s word over them.

When children come home with problems, help them find a purpose in those difficult times. Help them identify what they can learn from the situation. Use these moments to awaken hope and purpose for them. This is not necessarily prayer or prophecy, although this is always a good time to pray with them, but it is a good word in due season for encouragement. When you see things in your children, speak them. You see and you declare. Train them up in the way God has for them (Proverbs 22:6). We have got to learn to pay attention to the way they should go and then be there for them to support, encourage and direct when needed. Be careful that the words that we speak over them are constructive not destructive. Hard times will come and mistakes will be made, but these don’t define your child and they don’t define your family.

There are some things that we pray repeatedly because that’s the way children learn. We teach simple prayers to them and we repeat scripture, but we also need to encourage our children to hear from God themselves. Have them ask God if there’s anything that He wants them to do in their life that seems impossible. Help them see that God created them on purpose to do impossible things We also have the ability as parents to reverse words. We can openly and declaratively reject negative words that are spoken over our children. They are not identified by mistakes they’ve made. We know they’re not perfect. But we know God has great and wonderful things planned for them and this is what we hold to and declare over them. Give honor to qualities and efforts they make and brag on them.

Finally, find scriptures for your family and pray these words over them until they become yours, until they become true. Even when you’re children are adults, find, pray and declare scripture over them. Don’t stop praying when they graduate high school or college. Pray for them throughout their lives. Study and learn to hear from God for your family. Call out the gifting‘s and the personality traits for each of them. Take the things you see in them and pray them. We not only have to pray into the present but we have to pray into the future and declare what God is saying on behalf of our families.

honoring your parents, bible, praying circles, raising Godly children, intercessory prayer, parents, scriptures, prayer, God

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Do Your Part

God has amazing things in store for you! Scripture says that the plans and thoughts He has for you are beyond anything you can think, ask or imagine! But maybe you find yourself in a place where you are asking, “God, where are you? I do not see you in my current situation. I am believing for a miracle but I am not seeing any movement. I am discouraged and becoming hopeless.” As the epileptic boy’s father said to Jesus in Mark 9, “I believe. Help my unbelief.” We must do our part. If we engage, as we worship, the atmosphere will shift. We have a certain amount of faith but we can increase our faith. We can break the barrier that separates us or holds us back from our victory. Have you been hurt? Maybe you have had a bad experience at church even. Is this holding you back from what God has for you? You can't hold someone in contempt because that person was foolish. Get to church. Enter into worship. Break through that barrier. Take hold of expectations. Expectation is the breeding ground for miracles.

As a baseball player focuses and pays attention to be able to run bases and get to home plate for a score, we need to focus. We don't need to be told how to run the bases. We just need to do it. Just run! But, as many of us have discovered, the need for miracles happens most between third base and home base. When we are closest to the score, closest to breakthrough, the enemy works harder against us, Weariness sets in. We begin to have anxiety about finishing. We may think God has forgotten us or that this victory wasn’t for us. We might begin to believe we were hoping for something that was not ours to have. Focus! Believe! Be intentional. Take time with God. Worship Him. Ask for Holy Spirit to open up Scripture to you so that you receive new levels of understanding. Then watch as God works on your behalf. Are you believing? Losing hope will keep you from running that last 90 feet between 3rd and home. Get with God and He will renew your hope. We add more faith to our existing faith through worship, learning the Word and prayer. Ask God to show you scripture that reveals His promises for you. Then speak these words, declare them, until your belief increases and you have added that extra pound of faith. Cut out those things that work against faith. Are you being critical? Are you complaining and confessing things that work against your victory? This is pollution and if we allow pollution, our faith gets diluted.

Jesus tells us to come to Him, we who are burdened, and He will give us rest. When we put our faith in Him, when we come to Him, faith will activate. God is cheering us on. Don't stop now. God is always talking to you. Are you listening? Are you looking to hear from Him more? The more you fill up with God's Word, the hungrier you will get. Faith is a muscle and for it to grow you have to stretch it and work it. Learn how to read and declare scripture so it pours out of you and affects those around you. Check out the story of Paul & Silas in Acts 16. They were praising God at midnight, in prison, in chains and their praise changed the atmosphere and broke the chains. Declare God and His Word in the middle of a storm and watch the circumstances shift. Faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by the Word of God. Declaring victory coupled with knowledge of scripture will shift the atmosphere.

Listen for your direction from God through His Word and in your prayer time, then keep following the instruction He gives until He tells you a new direction. Just like the player on third base, stay the course and don't quit. Sometimes we let our guard down. We allow sin to enter in. But this pollutes and dilutes our faith. If you find yourself in that place, clear out that pollution. Confess your sin and He is faithful to forgive you your sin and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness. Then embrace what He is saying and be diligent to declare it. This will add to your faith. Remember to be intentional with believing for your miracle, be clear and concise about your expectations based on Scripture, and be patient during the process. God sees you on third base so don't quit now. Help others find their miracle to open your heart for your miracle. This is trust and surrender in action. Develop a hunger for God's word and get a passion for His presence. Take those scriptures that resonate with you and declare them. This increases faith. It gives God something to work with. Don't allow yourself to be desensitized, fearful, weary, or fatigued. Stop looking at the dead. Shift the atmosphere through worship, time in the Word and prayer. Declare your victory.

God is in the miracle working business but He needs your participation. This is the power of agreement. If you are working in agreement with God, there is nothing that can’t be done. You've got to have a victorious mindset and create an atmosphere of expectation. He wants to do exceedingly and abundantly more than you can ask, think or imagine. But, you must do your part.

motor city church, Dr. Dave Martin, bible, intercessory prayer, praying parents, worship, engage, praise changes the atmosphere, miracles, Pastor Christine Martin, storms, faith

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Live Long & Prosper

Have you ever wondered, “How do I have a prosperous and long life?” Ephesians 6:2 gives us a key. Honor your mother and father and things will go well. Why honor? We honor because of the position. Parents may not necessarily deserve honor, but we are commanded to honor unconditionally, just because they hold the position of parent in our life. The position is designated for honor, so we have no excuse. So, how do we honor our parents through the course of our life?

As a child, we honor by obeying. We do what they ask and follow our parent’s instructions - willfully, cheerfully and immediately. I call this first-time obedience. God has ordained three authorities according to Scripture, home, church, and government. When we learn how to respond and relate to those in authority as a young person, it helps us throughout life. As a teenager, respect is valuable in showing honor. In Leviticus 19:3, God commands us to show great respect to our father and mother. It says nothing here about making an exception if they are flawed and imperfect. Forgive them for their imperfections, the good, the bad, and the ugly and treat them with respect. Another way is by listening to your parents. This proves your intelligence according to Proverbs 13:1. Foolish children do their own thing and go their own way. God gave you parents for a purpose, to help you become the person you were meant to be. Proverbs 6:20 says to obey your father’s commands is the path to life. But what if I am an adult? How do I show honor to my parents at this stage of life? Appreciate them. Appreciate your parents for their effort. They put up with you they whole time you were growing up. Appreciate them for their sacrifice. They went without things in order to raise you! Parenting is expensive. It's an unselfish decision to be a parent. Prov 23:25 says to give your father and mother joy. May she who gave you life be happy. Learn to value your parents and acknowledge that you understand that they've impacted you. Stay in touch with them. Call them and visit them. Provide for them as your roles are reversed.

God valued the honor of parents so much that he included it in His first, most basic and most important commandments, right up there with “don't murder” and “don’t commit adultery”. It's an important commandment with a promise for long life and prosperity. In fact, it is so important to honor your parents that even as Jesus was crucified and dying after a beating beyond imagination, He took time to make sure His own mother was cared for. He made seven statements while He was on the cross and one of them was to commission John to care for His mother Mary. Honor and care of His mother was that important. I Timothy 5:8 says that if anyone doesn't take care of his own relatives, especially his immediate family, that he has denied his Christian faith and he is worse than an unbeliever. We honor God when we honor our parents. Love is spelled t_i_m_e. Give your parents time. Show up. Call. Write. Text. Make time for them, to honor them and ultimately to honor God.

I know some are in a situation where parents were abusive or absent. What should you do if your parents hurt you? Face it and deal with it, so you can get on with your life. If you're carrying unfinished business, unforgiveness and hurt, you need to deal with it so those emotions don't surface and result in hurt of your own spouse and children, friends and family. Release the anger. Let it go and be healed. Forgive. Stop hiding. Stop blaming. Find a good counselor. Talk to your parents about how you feel if possible. Do the work necessary so you can move on with your life. Stop the cycle so it doesn't affect the generations that follow. Only God can heal you but it starts by facing the issues instead of pretending to be ok. Were you abandoned? Psalm 27:10 promises that the Lord Himself will take care of you. He never leaves you. You can turn to Him at any time. There is no indication in Scripture that we ever grow out of the command to honor our father and mother. And just as there is no end to the command, there is no expiration of the attached promise, that if you do this, it will go well with you. You will live long and prosper. Take God at His word and you will be blessed.

honor, obedience, honoring your parents, long life, successful living, prosper, love, time, purpose, Dr. Dave Martin, unforgiveness, bible, scripture

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