THE SECRET TO JOYLESS - FAITHLESS - MISERABLE CHRISTIANITY IS to eliminate praise & thanksgiving
(By: Norm Rasmussen)
Praise and Thanksgiving to God is so crucial in your relationship with Him if you want to walk in any sustaining degree of joy and peace and faith in God. Yet is it always easy? No it isn't. But is it really necessary? You better believe it! As crucial as oxygen and water and nutrition is to keep us alive, praise and thanksgiving is just as crucial to keep us healthy spiritually.
You know it is God's will that you and I experience every increasing joy, don't you? Joy is listed as the second fruit of the Holy Spirit in our lives, right after love being the first. (See: Galatians 5:22-23).
'How in the world is a Christian supposed to walk in joy in a world so full of stress, turbulence and evil?', you may be asking. By determination. By an act of your will. Joy must be grown. Joy must be planted and cultivated. Just as a seed of corn must first be sown into the ground before it will produce more corn, a seed of joy must first be sown into spiritual ground. How does a person do that? With your mind willing it and your mouth expressing it, on a very regular basis.
Prayer can become the driest spiritual activity I can think of if praise and thanksgiving is left out. In fact, if you've never heard this before, there is a 'prayer of praise' and a 'prayer of thanksgiving'. The more you learn about both of those two critical elements of prayer, the more life there will be in your prayer life.
The secret to a life-giving, life-sustaining prayer life MUST have four ingredients or else it won't be sustained, and those four things are:
Okay, why is praise and thanksgiving so crucial in our prayers to God to walk in every increasing joy? If you don't understand why praise and thanksgiving are so crucial, chances are you won't concern yourself with it, and Satan will be overjoyed. After all, the ONE THING Satan doesn't want Christians getting a handle on is the crucial importance of mixing PRAISE and THANKSGIVING to God on a frequent basis in our relationship with Him. Joyless Christianity is what Satan wants every Christian experiencing ... perpetually frustrated in our prayer life and lacking in our confidence (FAITH!) with God.
Praise and thanksgiving (and of course in alignment with His will) moves God to respond to our prayers like nothing else can or will, because praise and thanksgiving demonstrates to God that we are serious about staying humble. In one's determination to stay humble, God imparts wisdom to us in how we are to pray about a given matter.
Saying it a different way -- one cannot truly be humble nor wise from God's point of view (which is the ONLY view that truly matters) unless they engage in praise and thanksgiving on a regular basis.
Seriously ponder what the following scripture is implying in Psalms 22:3: "God is inhabited, or enthroned, on the praises of His people."
At the time it was written, God's people were the people of Israel. Once the Church came into being, God's people became followers of Jesus Christ. That would be you and I - born again Jesus Christ following believers. (Now Jews are no more special to God than any other nationality. Once they are united with Jesus Christ, THEN they are special to God just like you and I are. That's not to assume God is finished with the nation of Israel. Quite the contrary!).
Our sincere, heart-felt praise to God motivates God to shower us with favor and blessing, it's as simple as that. Our lack of praise to Him motivates Him to withhold it. God expects us to worship Him, right? Yet if we fail to realize that praise and thanksgiving is crucial in worshiping Him, we're spiritually blinded.
Praise is simply demonstrating to God that we love Him. Thanksgiving demonstrates the same thing. What is the GREATEST commandment of God's Old Covenant Law with the Jewish people? Love the Lord your God with everything in you (Paraphrased). When you're initially in love with someone in this life, what motivates that person to shower love and affection back to you? Letting that person know how special they are to you, frequently. Praise let's God know how special He is to us, frequently if we're wise.
Yet thanksgiving to God entails something a bit different than letting God know we love Him. It demonstrates to Him that we acknowledge His power and sovereignty. When we enter into the deep treasures of thanksgiving, it demonstrates to God that our knowledge is very limited of all that He is allowing to go on in our lives, but by faith (trust) we believe that EVERYTHING He is allowing in our lives - EVERYTHING - is working together for our ultimate good as Romans 8:28 says it is. 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 reinforces this truth.
I've made my best effort to try to help people gain some insight into it in this link: God Is Concerned About Your Eternal Spiritual Well-Being
Thanksgiving frees us up to not have to have all the answers we would like from God in this life. Thanksgiving is THE key God gives us to 'get out of jail free' when we're in the prisons of frustration, anger, depression, worry, fear, uncertainty, etc. Praise can be likened to planting the kernel of corn, and thanksgiving can be likened to the fertilizer and water that causes the kernel of corn to sprout out of the ground and become a big corn stock that reproduces itself.
If you've never heard this before, praise and thanksgiving are two spiritual nuclear warheads. They are two of the most crucial spiritual weapons God has given us to battle the attacks of Satan against us that He has available for His people. The most important time to utilize these two weapons is when you LEAST FEEL LIKE IT, by the way!
When you least feel like praising and thanking God at times like that, praise isn't that hard. (THANKING God can be one of the most difficult things a person is asked to do at those moments, because everything in a person can become so angry at God that THANKING Him for whatever is going on in one's life at that time makes about as much human logical sense as reaching your hand into a pot of boiling grease to pluck out a frying chicken.)
WHY is it the most important time to praise and give thanks to God when you are ANGRY at either Him, and/or someone else? Because that is when you are the most vulnerable to Satan's mind attacks.
Give this a try. he next time someone makes you really angry, go to God in prayer and literally THANK HIM for allowing that person to make you so angry. Then, do as scripture says: Bless that person. Pray for your enemy. Pray that God will bless that person with the wisdom NOT to be so carnal in hurting and/or offending other people just like that person has done to you. Your prayer of blessing may not change things in that person as much as you may like at the time, but I can promise you it will bring a dimension of joy and peace when joy to your soul that you'll never get otherwise when you think of that person.
After all, it IS about JOY. And peace. (It's extremely difficult to have much peace when your joy is depleted). It's not so much about who is right or who is wrong. It's about moving forward to get joy, and KEEP joy. A life without joy is hell. Living hell. Satan wants you hurt; he wants you offended; he wants you discouraged; he wants you angry at God and everyone else; he wants you faithless; he wants your confidence in God to be zip 'zero' nada. He wants to make you as miserable as possible, nothing less. His whole purpose for all the conflict he inflicts upon us is to digress us down to joyless Christianity. He engages himself 24/7 in looking for ways to suck joy out of you. There is only one way you can maximize your odds of hindering his attacks upon you. Incorporate PRAISE and THANKSGIVING into your life on a very frequent basis.
A person desiring to be a wise, mature, joyful, productive for the Kingdom of God Christian will never reach that stage unless they grow to incorporate praise and thanksgiving on a frequent basis. The great falling away that God speaks of in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 is addressing spiritual deception 'spiritual blindness to truth' gross spiritual darkness. Christians who refuse to engage in praise and thanksgiving to Jesus Christ frequently as we move steadily into turbulent end times are going to be seduced by spiritual deception on a scale that is mind boggling to much of our human reasoning.
A person can grab hold of what this message is addressing regarding praise and thanksgiving, yet if not done in accordance with our spirit closely connected to the REAL Holy Spirit and in Truth, it will all be in vain for them on the Judgment Day. Devout Muslims understand the wisdom of praise and thanksgiving, but until they recognize that the Holy Bible is God's written truth and the Koran is nothing but a slick demonic counterfeit deception of God's word, their praise and thanksgiving to Allah will all come to naught when they stand before Jesus Christ their judge on that fateful moment in time referred to as the Judgment Day.
God wants our relationship with Him to be an ongoing joyous relationship, no matter how many trials God allows to come our way. Our enemy wants the very opposite. Satan can't stop us from obtaining ever-increasing joy, and God won't force us. It's up to us to work wisely - diligently - to get it, and keep it. You won't get it nor keep it if you try to obtain it any other way than through frequent praise and thanksgiving to our Creator.
Perhaps you've never given much thought to the importance of STAYING FILLED with the Holy Spirit. The Bible doesn't give us much detailed instruction on how to stay FILLED with the Holy Spirit ... but what God does give us, I believe we need to ponder deeply, because if a person goes very long without being "filled full to the brim" with the Holy Spirit, common sense to me says one is being depleted of joy as well.
So then, what instruction/s does God give Christians to stay filled with the Holy Spirit? Read the Bible more? Pray more? Fast more? (Don't misunderstand. All these disciplines are very important!). Here is what God tells us, found in Ephesians 5:18-21 (NKJV):
"And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God."
Would you agree with me that we can encapsulize this scripture passage to mean?
1) Don't resort to chemical substances to block out your emotional pain and spiritual joylessness, fears, worries, anxieties, etc., but rather FIRST resort to praise to God to deal with your emotional - spiritual struggles. (Out of engaging yourself in that spiritual discipline you will be far more equipped to hear what the Holy Spirit has to say to you about how to best handle the conflicts you are facing. And you might also find that God will simply cause many of your conflicts simply to go away all by themselves. God can execute the miraculous on our behalf any time He chooses, but if we are disregarding what Ephesians 5:18-21 tells us to do ... perhaps God may not be so motivated to execute that miracle for us - suppose?)
2) Be thankful.
3) Stay humble.
If you aren't singing melodies of praise and thanksgiving to God frequently, dear one, you are doing yourself a grave injustice. In your lack of understanding of it's importance, you are also allowing Satan to steal joy from you that doesn't have to be -- simple as that. Don't give Satan an inch of your joy, precious one. DO what God says to do in Ephesians 5:18-21 - very frequently.
Some would say that God is "commanding" us to engage in Ephesians 5:18-21. I don't agree with that line of thinking. I believe God is simply giving us wisdom to enhance our relationship with Him -- thus praising and thanking God isn't something I have to do -- it's something wise for me to do.
"Oh that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness." (Psalm 107:8-9 NKJV)
"Oh that men would praise the LORD for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.) (Psalm 107:8-9 KJV)
Here is some sobering reality: You can be assured from the scripture verse above that God most likely WON'T fill your hungry soul with goodness if you neglect frequent thanksgiving and praise to Him.
There are many excellent resources available to help a person understand the wisdom of tapping into praise and thanksgiving. I know of no one who has greater revelation and understanding into this arena than brother Merlin Carothers. God has blessed him with priceless insights into this vital spiritual arena of obtaining and keeping joy (and seeing God execute MIRACLES!) that every Christian would do well to learn of, if they want to walk in increasing joy. If you've never read his first book: PRISON TO PRAISE, I can't urge - especially young Christians - to obtain a copy. Here's a link to get a copy: Prison to Praise Paperback – July 26, 1970
He's produced other materials along the same lines, and here is a link to those resources: FOUNDATION OF PRAISE
Here is a link to another website (there are many excellent ones on the Internet on this topic) that is highly informative that essentially confirms everything a Christian needs to learn about the wisdom of praise and thanksgiving:
If you haven't read this writing yet, by all means do so:
Dear Reader - are you at peace with God? If not, you can be. Do you know what awaits you when you die? You can have the assurance from God that heaven will be your home, if you would like to be certain. You can even have that assurance RIGHT NOW! Either Jesus Christ died for your sins, or He didn't (He did!). Are you prepared to stand before God on the Judgment Day and tell Him that you didn't need the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross to have your sins forgiven and get in right-standing with God? We plead with you...please don't make such a tragic mistake.
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