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The Power and Praise of Thanksgiving!

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The Power and Praise of Thanksgiving!

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The Power and Praise of Thanksgiving!

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As God’s children today, let us be sure to praise God the Father and Jesus Christ often and give Them genuine thanks for who They are, what They are doing, and what They will do in the future! Let us remember that doubt and fear hinder us when times are tough, and keeping our heart and mind fixed on God is the answer!

Transcript

[Mr. Mark Welch]: Thank you Mr. Browning, we appreciate you sharing that with us. Certainly, heard some biblical themes in that composition, so we appreciate that very much. It’s good to see all of you, brethren, it’s good to be here, on God’s holy Sabbath day. I think quite a few people are away today, from what I’ve heard. They may have heard I was speaking, that could be part of it, granted. Brethren, I trust you had an enjoyable Thanksgiving. Barbara and I really enjoyed just spending the day together, eating a fine meal, and then sitting around being thankful. That was good. We enjoyed that. I’m also, brethren, thankful for you and thankful that we’re all part of God’s children, that God has called us out of this world to open our minds to His truth and His way of life. It’s a wonderful blessing. And God I know is always striving to get through to us. I know He’s always striving to get through to me, which isn’t always easy, but, thankfully, He keeps striving and eventually, hopefully, does get through. So, it’s good that God’s children understand His will and then act accordingly.

I wonder if God didn’t specifically inspire a Thanksgiving Day here in America so that we would be inspired to focus upon being grateful and thankful in a big way at least once each year. I think it’s very healthy that we have a Thanksgiving Day nationally. It also helps us in God’s Church to focus more fully on Thanksgiving.

I have no doubt God wants us to understand the power of praise and thanksgiving. And that’s what I’d like to talk about today. So why do I say that? Why is it that God would want us to understand the power of praise and thanksgiving? Well, notice what Paul says about those who do not understand the power of praise and thanksgiving. Maybe you’ve never looked at these verses in this context before, but it is very related to praise and thanksgiving.

Notice in Romans 1:20 Romans 1:20For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
American King James Version×
. By the way, I would like to welcome some guests that we have visiting us today. I see Mr. Wells back there visiting with us today. I’m glad he’s here with us. In Romans 1:20 Romans 1:20For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
American King James Version×
, notice what Paul says,

Romans 1:20 Romans 1:20For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
American King James Version×
– “For since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God nor were thankful.” Let me read that again. “Although they knew God, they did not glorify Him, they did not praise Him as God nor were thankful.” You know, they were unthankful people. “But became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools. And they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man, and birds, and four-footed animals, and creeping things.” And we know that the gods of all nations, for the most part anyway, the Egyptians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Romans, the Greeks, the American Indians, the Vikings, you know, they’ve all had their gods. The Norse gods and various different gods, every nation, it seems, has come up with an image made like corruptible man, or birds, or four-footed animals, or even creeping things. “Therefore, God also gave them up to uncleanness.”

So this all started with an attitude of being ungrateful, not being thankful, not seeing God as He truly is, not recognizing Him for His power, and for His might, for His love, for His mercy. “Therefore, God also gave them up to uncleanness and the lust of their hearts to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason, God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise, also the man leaving the natural use of the woman burned in their lust for one another. Men with men committing what is shameful and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.”

Now, this was very striking to me because I had never really seen the link so much in the past, but working on this sermon, it came right out at me. It was really quite eye-opening.

“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge,” - verse 28 –

“God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting. Being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness. They’re whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents.” So, all kinds of bad things. “Undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful. Who knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them.”

So, you know, obviously, we’re talking about people who have allowed themselves to degenerate, to get worse and worse and worse, and to do all these things that are against God. But it started with being unthankful, it started with being ungrateful for who God is, for what God was doing in their lives. They didn’t see God as the powerful loving God that He is. An argument could be made that every problem in the universe stems from these three issues: one, not seeing God for who He is, two, not being thankful to God, and three, not praising and glorifying Him as God. So it is very important that we understand what God wants us to know about the power of praise and thanksgiving. As God’s children today, let us be sure to praise God the Father, and Jesus Christ often. Let’s be sure to give Them genuine thanks for who They are, for what They’ve done, for what They’re doing today in our lives, and for what They’re going to do in the future for the promises that They give us. By so doing, we will come to see, to understand, and to experience the power of praise and thanksgiving.

So, ask yourself, “Have I been regularly praising and thanking God?” Now, I would imagine that you have been. You’re God’s people, you’re God’s children, you’re here today, you’re on target, you know, you love God, you love His way of life. And so you’ve been doing these things, but it never hurts to remind each other of how powerful and how important it is to continually praise God, and to thank God, and to see Him as He is.

Even modern research and science tells us that giving thanks is healthy for human beings. Recently, there’s an article from Harvard Health Publishing, the Harvard School of Medicine. There was no author’s name, but I’d like to quote a few excerpts from this article. It’s entitled “Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier.” “Giving Thanks Can Make You Happier.”

The article says, “People feel and express gratitude in multiple ways. They can apply it to the past, retrieving positive memories and being thankful for elements of childhood or past blessings, the present, not taking good fortune for granted as it comes, and the future, maintaining a hopeful and optimistic attitude. Regardless of the inherent or current level of someone’s gratitude, it is a quality that individuals can successfully cultivate further.”

And this is something that we can do as God’s children too, we can cultivate this power of praise and thanksgiving in our lives. Also, from the article, it says “Two psychologists, Dr. Robert A. Emmons of the University of California, Davis, and Dr. Michael E. McCullough of the University of Miami, have done much of the research on gratitude. In one study, they ask all participants to write a few sentences each week focusing on particular topics. One group wrote about things they were grateful for that had occurred during the week. A second group wrote about daily irritations or things that had displeased them. And the third wrote about events that had affected them with no emphasis on them being positive or negative. After 10 weeks, those who wrote about gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives.” I wonder how much money they had to spend to figure that out. It doesn’t say how much money they spent on research. “Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than those who focused on sources of aggravation.”

Now, doesn’t the Bible tell us about, “Think on whatsoever things are good and pure and lovely, things that are of good report, things that are virtuous, think on these things?” You know, if people would just read the Bible and apply it, we wouldn’t have nearly as many sick people on Earth today. Because it does make a huge difference the way we think and what we focus upon.

So, again, I ask the question, have you already been actively and regularly praising God and thanking Him? If you have, then you’re already experiencing the power of praise and thanksgiving in your life. You’ve been a benefactor of that, probably many of you for many, many years. If perhaps you haven’t been, if you haven’t really seen the correlation here, then now is the time to begin to understand and experience the power of praise and thanksgiving in your life.

So during the sermon, let’s take a look at the power of praise and thanksgiving from God’s Holy Word. We will see three distinct powers that come from genuine praise and thanksgiving to God. First of all, number one, when you practice praise and thanksgiving and thankfulness toward God and Christ, you’re going to experience God’s power to deliver.

Now, Dr. Fouch mentioned that in his sermonette that God is always there to help us to endure, to deliver us from any trial, anything that comes along. We see this power revealed first in the lives of the Israelites, who were led out of bondage in Egypt. At least, in a more direct way, we see it in the Bible. Certainly, God delivered Noah. And I’m sure God or Noah was one who praised God and was thankful toward God. But God clearly led the Israelites out of Egypt by many wonders, by signs, and by miracles. He poured out upon Egypt 10 plagues. Remember those 10 plagues that came crashing down on the land of Egypt? He showed His vast superiority over the gods of Egypt. He literally decimated Egypt, and He did it openly for all the Israelites to see and to witness. He showed His great power and might to deliver. No one could deny it, it was very, very evident.

Some Israelites understood and appreciated God’s intervention and His greatness against Pharaoh and against Egypt. I suppose all of them did to a point, but certainly, it wasn’t very ingrained in a good many of the Israelites.

Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb were among those who were very grateful to God. They had faith in God, and they kept their hearts and minds on the one who brings salvation and delivers from all troubles. No doubt, though, many others who were mostly unnamed in the Bible, doesn’t tell us too many names of the rebels. It tells us some names of the rebels and those who are unthankful, but many go unnamed. They were so fearful they quickly lost sight of what God had done for Israel.

So, this is very important that these words in the Bible mean something to us. I mean, these are real events that they happened. I believe they happened. I believe they happened just as the Bible tells us. So, we really need to understand that some of those people were right there and they still didn’t get it, you know? So even though we think we ought to all get it, it sometimes makes you wonder, doesn’t it, how forgetful and how weak we can all be. So, as I said, many were mostly unnamed, and they were so fearful they lost sight of who God is. Notice in Exodus 14:10 Exodus 14:10And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out to the LORD.
American King James Version×
. Exodus 14:10 Exodus 14:10And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out to the LORD.
American King James Version×
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Exodus 14:10 Exodus 14:10And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out to the LORD.
American King James Version×
– “And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them, so they were very afraid. And the children of Israel cried out to the Lord.” So that’s good! They cried out to God. They did the right thing. They’re under duress, they cry out to God. “But then they said to Moses, ‘Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us to bring us up out of Egypt?’” Somehow, they didn’t see the correlation between God and Moses even though God made it very clear that Moses was the man He was mostly working through at the time. It should have been very, very clear to them Moses was the instrument God was using. But instead, they turn to Moses, and they begin to complain, “Why have you so dealt with us to bring us up out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt?” See, they had an attitude problem in Egypt too, saying, “Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians.” They were comfortable in Egypt, weren’t they? They were comfortable being in slavery. They were comfortable being in bondage. “For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than we should die in the wilderness.” I guess they weren’t freedom fighters. They were people that were lackadaisical, lethargic in many ways, and they had just gotten used to being in bondage.

“And Moses said to the people, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand still and see the salvation of the Eternal, which He will accomplish for you today.’” So, Moses is unequivocating. He’s not vacillating. He says very clearly, “No worries, be happy. God’s going to take care of us. We don’t have to worry.”

“‘He will accomplish for you today for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall again no more see, you shall again no more see them forever. The Eternal will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.’ Now, the Eternal said to Moses, ‘Why do you cry to me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward.’”

So, God just wanted them to move ahead, keep getting away from these Egyptians that are coming after you. Not that God could have protected them had they just stood still. But I think the lesson is God wants us to move forward. He wants us to take some initiative, He wants us to do our part. He doesn’t usually just want us to stand around and watch Him do it. Although I will show you an example a little bit later where He actually does tell them to stand still and see the salvation of the Lord. But, usually, He wants us to move forward, He wants us to do our part. Trust in Him, but also do something. The Bible goes on to reveal very clearly how God intervened and destroyed the greatest army on Earth while protecting and delivering the children of Israel. Now, I’m not going to take the time to read all the account. We’re quite familiar with it. The sharing of many specific details is so we can believe these accounts and know that they’re true. There’s a lot of detail in what the Bible gives us. It’s because it’s true. And people saw it happen. People wrote it down. God inspired it, and it’s there for all of us to learn. It’s for our admonition, for our warning, for our learning. In Exodus 14:30 Exodus 14:30Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the sea shore.
American King James Version×
,

Exodus 14:30 Exodus 14:30Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the sea shore.
American King James Version×
- “So the Eternal saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore.” You know what happened. The waters came over them, they died in the sea while the Israelites walked through on dry ground. “Thus Israel saw the great work which the Lord had done in Egypt, so the people feared the Lord and believed the Lord and His servant Moses.” So now they have a better attitude after God delivers them out of the Red Sea and miraculously protects them. Then Moses, Miriam, and the children of Israel, what do they do then? They all sing a song of praise and thanksgiving to God for His marvelous, miraculous, powerful deliverance of the children of Israel. Let’s notice that in Exodus 15:1 Exodus 15:1Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song to the LORD, and spoke, saying, I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider has he thrown into the sea.
American King James Version×
,

Exodus 15:1 Exodus 15:1Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song to the LORD, and spoke, saying, I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider has he thrown into the sea.
American King James Version×
- “Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the Eternal, to the Lord, to Yahweh and spoke saying, ‘I will sing to the Lord for He has triumphed gloriously. The horse and his rider, He has thrown into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my song, and He has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise Him. My father is God, and I will exalt Him. The Eternal is a man...’” That’s a bad translation. The Eternal is not a man. But He is a mighty champion, a mighty being. A certain champion can be another way to translate this. “He’s a man of war. No, He’s a certain champion of war. The Eternal is His name. Pharaoh’s chariots and his army, He has cast into the sea. His chosen captains also are drowned in the Red Sea. The depths have covered them they sank to the bottom like a stone. Your right hand, O Eternal has become glorious in power, Your right hand, O Eternal has dashed the enemy in pieces. And in the greatness of Your excellence, You have overthrown those who rose against You. You sent forth Your wrath. It consumed them like stubble.”

They were God’s enemies. And sometimes God does this to His enemies, right? Ultimately, all of His enemies will become a stubble. That’s a fact. That’s what the Bible teaches. I hope none of us think we’re more righteous than God, that we’re more loving and kind and compassionate than God is. God knows exactly what He’s doing. And He will only destroy those in the lake of fire who have no willingness to repent and to change because they’re better off frankly gone than they would be living a miserable life and causing misery and grief to other people.

So, we could go on and read more about it, but I think we see that this is a song of praise, a song of thanksgiving to God, it’s a song of His greatness. It’s something that actually we should all be doing. I think it’s a good thing to reflect back on what God has done in the past and glorify Him, praise Him for all that He’s done in the past. It’s fine to bring up these accounts in the Bible and praise God. You know, while we’re praying, just thank God that He delivered the children of Israel. He delivered our ancestors from, you know, this army, this greatest army on Earth. He delivered them. He will deliver us. There are many ways to praise God and to honor Him in our prayers. And I find sometimes when I just wake up in the morning, you know, praises are on my lips, you know, and I like that. I’m glad that that happens pretty frequently. You know, after these many years of trying to serve God and obey Him, it’s nice when things automatically come to mind that are good and right instead of those things that are evil, which also still come to mind at times. But I really appreciate it when I wake up praising God and thanking God and being just truly grateful for all that He does for me.

Verse 8 says, “And with a blast of your nostrils, the waters were gathered together, the floods stood upright like a heap, the depths congealed in the heart of the sea. The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil. My desire shall be satisfied on them. I will draw my sword. My hand shall destroy them.’ You blew with Your wind. The sea covered them. They sank like lead in the mighty waters.”

So God will take care of our enemies if we place our faith and our trust in Him. There is nothing too great for God, there’s no one too great. There’s no force anywhere that’s big enough and great enough to make a dent in God’s power and His might. If only the children of Israel had learned the lesson to always trust in God and believe His promises of deliverance. They were on a high at this time. They were singing these songs and praises. They were dancing, no doubt, and playing instruments and music toward God. And they were very grateful in the moment, but unfortunately, many of them did not continue to have that deep faith and trust in God. And that’s what all of us need, is a deep faith and conviction and trust that God is exactly who He says He is, exactly who the Bible reveals that He is. And then, as Mr. Fouch said, God will never leave us. God will never forsake us. We can always trust in Him. We can always count on Him. We can always believe in Him. We can place our faith directly on the Rock of our salvation.

So if only the children of Israel had learned the lesson to always trust in God and believe His promises of deliverance, if only they had always been deeply grateful and thankful, what great things they would have accomplished, what a different history we would read in the Bible. But, of course, they were weak, they were frail, they were human beings. Most of them did not have God’s Spirit dwelling in them. They were limited, very limited, and so it’s no wonder that they did what they did. I mean, God, I’m sure, understood and realized what would happen. He knows the end from the beginning. That’s why He knew He would send His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for all of us who just don’t get it, but one day we’ll get it with His help.

So the book of Exodus goes on to record many instances of complaining, of unbelief, of lacking faith in God and His promises of deliverance. What a different scenario for the children of Israel had they always been thankful to God. I think that was the key problem. They really weren’t thankful, they weren’t really grateful, and they didn’t see God as He truly is. For whatever reason, they just could not trust in Him and get that in their minds. So, if they’d only been thankful, God would have given them the promised land. They would not have had to wander for 40 years in the wilderness. They would not have had to die in the wilderness so many of them, all of them, frankly, except Joshua and Caleb, at the time when they rebelled against God if only they had trusted in God, if only they had focused on what God had already done for them. God had already shown His power, He’d shown His willingness to protect them and to deliver them. But they didn’t look to God for the strength that He had and the deliverance that He could bring to them. So, God had shown His power against mighty Pharaoh. He had shown what He could do. No one would have died of hunger or thirst, even though they thought they were going to, right? And they got sick of that manna too. But the manna was good for them. It was healthy for them. And had they just accepted what God was giving them, they would have been fine.

And really, you know, I find that oftentimes, if we focus on the things that God has already given us and not worry about what He has not yet given us, then we’re going to be fine. If we’re happy with what God has already provided... not to say that we can’t have goals and strive for more because we should do that as well in the right balance. But on the other hand, we should learn to be content as Paul said he was content with whatever God allowed. Even when he was shipwrecked, even when he was suffering from a stoning, he learned to be content. God allowed it. God would see him through it. God would provide deliverance. And God provided deliverance many times for the Apostle Paul.

So instead of going into a land flowing with milk and honey, they had to stay in the desert for a long time, wandering the wilderness. And yet they still didn’t get it even after they came out of the wilderness. Even the children who saw their parents die in the wilderness, it wasn’t a strong enough lesson for them.

You know, I’m grateful that I was born in this day and age with God’s calling. You know, what a blessing that is. I don’t think I would have liked spending 40 years in the wilderness. I like it here in Ohio. This is so much nicer. In Texas, and Oklahoma, and Michigan, and Pennsylvania, and everywhere I’ve lived, it’s a lot nicer than the desert. So, I’m really grateful that God called me at this time and showed me His way of life now, gave me His Spirit, which obviously makes all the difference.

Now, if only the 10 spies had realized what Joshua and Caleb knew and understood. Now, Joshua and Caleb were two who did no one understand. Now, they had a different heart. There was something about them. They had a different heart, a different spirit, so God gave them His Spirit. Why God gave it to them, you know, it doesn’t really tell us specifically, it doesn’t seem... I mean, there were others that God did call and give His Spirit to during that time. There was a time when 7,000 would not bow before Baal. Now, whether or not they were all converted, Bible doesn’t say, but at least at that moment, they were doing the right thing. And perhaps they were converted, perhaps they had the Spirit of God, and that’s why they were the ones who were not willing to bow before Baal.

So, if only the 10 spies had focused on praising and thanking God. If they’d gone into the wilderness and said, “Wow, look at this. It’s the greatest thing ever. Can you believe it? We spent 40 years in the wilderness. Look what we could have had. We’re idiots. I mean, we’re really idiots. You know, God could have given us this 40 years ago. Instead, we’ve suffered, and our parents have died. And look at this land, it’s unbelievable. Look at the grapes. They’re the size of a basketball.” I don’t know if they were really that big, but they were good size, big clusters of grapes. Maybe the cluster was as big as a basketball. But, you know, they were really...it was really great fertile land. It was a beautiful land. It was an unbelievable land. So, if they would have just said, “God, You are so wonderful. Look at this. This is what You’re giving us. Let’s just turn around right now. Let’s get Moses, and let’s march in here because we should not spend another day outside of this Promised Land,” what a difference that would have made. Instead, what happened? 10 out of 12 complained and said, “There’s giants in the land.” They should have said, “We know these giants were really going to fall. And they’re going to fall a long ways, but they’re going to fall. And we have nothing to fear. God is with us.” But instead, they said, “We’re like grasshoppers. You know, we don’t have the strength. We don’t have God on our side.” Wait a minute, yeah, they did have God on their side, but they didn’t look to God. They looked to themselves. They looked to their puniness, to their weakness.

We all have to learn to stop looking at how puny we are because, if we do that, then we’re doomed because we’re all puny, aren’t we? I mean, I’m puny. I think you’re puny. In comparison to God, I know you are puny. And if we would all just see God’s greatness and just trust in Him, place our faith in Him, surrender to Him, turn ourselves over to Him, let Him have His way. You know, it’s when we fight God, that’s when we run into problems. When we let God have His way in our lives, things go very well. And it doesn’t mean that we’re not gonna have trials and problems and sicknesses and other things, but God will see us through, and we’ll have that strength and that comfort that we need to endure any trial and any problem. So, it does matter what we focus upon. And focusing upon God is the best thing that we can ever do.

The Israelites paid a huge price for their unbelief and their short-sightedness. Thousands died in plagues for their disobedience and lack of faith. You can read about these different plagues that God poured out upon them as they were rebelling against Him. Korah, Dathan, Abiram, you know, the numbering of Israel. There were different times when they were disobedient, when they lacked faith, and God wanted to teach them a lesson. So many of them died, thousands at a time died. So, it’s just overwhelming the lessons that we can learn if we just let the Bible speak to us, if we just let the Bible become a part of us. Isn’t this Word of God supposed to be written in our hearts and in our minds? I think all of it needs to be written there. You know, I think everything in there needs to be written in here, in our hearts. If we could just transfer it from here into here and into here, then we have everything that we need. God has given us everything that we need.

God had been... I’m sorry, they had been full of thanksgiving and praise for God and His greatness... had they been full of this thanksgiving and greatness of God’s and His power, there’s no way they would have lacked such faith. They lacked faith because they didn’t have their eyes on God. They didn’t rehearse the stories, the realities of God and His greatness and His deliverance. You know, they just got their mind on other things. Instead of focusing on the power that’s out there, they focused on just many mundane things and weaknesses and things that really couldn’t help them.

Genuine praise and thanksgiving toward God, that will lead to greater faith. Let me say that again, genuine praise and thanksgiving toward God leads to greater faith. So, if you want greater faith, first of all, ask for it. The Bible is clear that we should ask for faith. We should pray for faith, ask God to give us more faith. But realize that genuine praise and thanksgiving toward God will lead to greater faith because when we dwell on God’s power, we cannot help but have greater faith. It’s axiomatic if we dwell on His power, His might, His love, His mercy, His kindness, His goodness, then we’re going to have more faith in Him. So, do you see and understand that if they had been truly grateful to God, if the Israelites had been full of praise toward Him, things would have been very, very different? The children of Israel were being tested as to whether or not they really trusted in God. Would they put Him first in their lives? Most of them failed the test back then miserably. Now, it’s our turn. Salvation has come to the house of God. This is our day of salvation. This is our time. Obviously, there’s a greater onus on us to get it right because we do have God’s Holy Spirit. God has granted us His Spirit. There’s no second resurrection for those who are to be in the first resurrection. Those who have been called and chosen and have received the Holy Spirit of God, if they are to turn away from it, then there’s no going back. So now is our day of salvation. That is a wonderful truth that God has given to us, and it’s a truth that none of us should ever take lightly because it’s true. And we have to understand it in order to be faithful to that principle.

Along the way, in their history, there were some instances, a few instances, of when the Israelites focused on God and put Him first by praising and thanking Him for who He is. One very powerful example is found in 2 Chronicles 20. So, we’re going to go through this in some detail. 2 Chronicles 20:1 2 Chronicles 20:1It came to pass after this also, that the children of Moab, and the children of Ammon, and with them other beside the Ammonites, came against Jehoshaphat to battle.
American King James Version×
, we see that three nations are gathered together to destroy the house of Judah. This is 2 Chronicles 20. This is during the time of King Jehoshaphat and the house of Judah. “Three nations are gathered together to destroy the house of Judah, the Ammonites, the Moabites, and those from Mount Seir.” - verse 3 - “And Jehoshaphat feared and set himself to seek the Lord and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.” So that was a smart move. Fasting to draw near to God is always a smart move. It’s always a wise thing to do.

“So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord. And from all the cities of Judah, they came to seek the Eternal.” Now, Jehoshaphat had been a much better king. He was one of the few really good kings of the house of Judah. And the house of Israel, there was not even a good king, I don’t think, unless you count David as that, you know, before the divided kingdom took place. But we see that Jehoshaphat is already on the right track in many ways. He understands how he needs to react. And so, he’s a good leader as he leads the people here. “So Judah gathered to ask help from the Lord. And from all the cities of Judah, they came to seek the Eternal.” So, they came all around from all cities to Jerusalem to seek the Eternal. “Then Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem in the house of the Lord at the temple before the new court and said, ‘Oh, Lord, God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven? And do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might so that no one is able to withstand You? Are You not our God who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and gave it to the descendants of Abraham, Your friend forever?’”

So, Jehoshaphat got it. He understood who God is. He understood God’s power. He understood what God had done. He also understood what God was doing. God was with him. God was with the house of Judah at this time even though there were many times when the people had turned against God, and God was not with them so much. But Jehoshaphat was a different king.

Verse 8, “And they dwelled in it and have built You a sanctuary in it for Your name saying, ‘If disaster comes upon us, sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine, no matter what happens, we will stand before this temple and in Your presence for Your name is in this temple. And we will cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear, and You will save.’ And now here are the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, whom You would not let Israel invade when they came out of the land of Egypt. But they turned from them and did not destroy them.”

So, he’s referring back to an incident that occurred. Of course, you know, I have no doubt that they could have already... they would have already destroyed these people had they truly obeyed God and did what they were supposed to do in the first place to go in and take care of the people of the land. If they would have just taken care of it, then this wouldn’t be happening. “Here they are rewarding us by coming to throw us out of Your possession which You have given us to inherit. Oh, our God, will You not judge them for we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us.” So, Jehoshaphat wasn’t counting in his army, the house of Judah. He says, “Nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.”

So, it is good that he saw the weakness physically of the children of Judah and that these three nations were greater physically in power. And so he just blazed it right out to God. “But our eyes are upon You. Now, all Judah with their little ones, their wives, and their children stood before the Lord.” So, these are all families, whole families getting together, praying together, beseeching God together, coming before God. “Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jahaziel, the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, in the midst of the assembly, and he said, ‘Listen, all of you, of Judah, and you inhabitants of Jerusalem, and you King Jehoshaphat, thus says the Lord to you.’”

So, here’s a prophet. God sends the prophet to Jehoshaphat and to the children of Judah. “Do not be afraid nor dismayed because of this great multitude for the battle is not yours but God’s.” I bet those words were so beautiful to Jehoshaphat’s ears. God was answering. God was going to deliver. “Tomorrow, go down against them.” He still required that they go down against them. They still had to make a movement in that direction with the armies. “‘Tomorrow, go down against them. They will surely come up by the ascent of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the brook before the wilderness of Jeruel. You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourself, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord who is with you, oh, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not fear or be dismayed. Tomorrow, go out against them for the Lord is with you.’ And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem bowed before the Lord worshiping the Lord.”

Now, I do believe that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. I believe that we have the same access, even greater access to the God who did this for the children of Judah, for His servants that were striving to look to Him for deliverance, for guidance, for direction. God will deliver us. We just need to place our trust and faith in Him completely. That’s not easy to do, is it? Because we’re still human. But that’s what we should strive to do.

“So Jehoshaphat,” - in verse 18 – “bowed his head with his face to the ground, and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem bowed before the Lord worshiping the Eternal.” - in verse 19 - “Then the Levites, the children of the Kohathites, and of the children of Korahites stood up to praise the Lord God of Israel with voices loud and high.”

So here we see that praising God is an important part of this equation. God is delivering them. They’re looking to God. They’re also thankful toward God. They’re also going to praise Him. And they’re going to publicly praise Him. They’re going to thank Him. Notice they praise the Lord God of Israel with voices loud and high. Loud and high. There’s nothing wrong with getting boisterous when you praise God and when you worship Him. There are times, you know, obviously, you don’t want to make a public display of it, you don’t want to draw attention to yourself. That’s not the point. But if someone does get a little overexuberant, let’s just realize that, hey, they’re trying to worship and praise God and give them the benefit of the doubt that they’re not really trying to draw attention to themselves. These people, their voices were loud and high.

“So they rose early in the morning, and they went out into the wilderness of Tekoa. And as they went out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, ‘Hear me, oh, Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem. Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established.’” “Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established.” I think that’s true for all of us. If we believe in the Lord our God, then we will be established. In other words, we will succeed. God will be with us if we really put Him first in our lives. Isn’t that what Christ said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things they’re going to be added unto you?” So, you will be established if you just put God first.

“Believe in the Lord your God, and you shall be established. Believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.” So, believe every word that’s written in this Book, believe it, and live by it. “And when he had consulted,” - I’m in verse 21 – “and when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the Lord.” So, they got together, and they discussed it, and they decided, you know, “We should actually appoint those who should sing to the Lord and who should praise the beauty of holiness,” as they went out before the army. And they were saying, “‘Praise the Eternal, praise Yahweh, for His mercy endures forever.’ Now, when they began to sing and to praise, that’s when the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir.” You know, it stirred God to action when the people rose up to praise God with loud voices and with singing and praising.

“And they were defeated for the people of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir.” So, these three nations, and they’re beginning to turn on each other. Now, that wasn’t the plan. The plan was to join forces, so they could get rid of these children of Israel that God was with. And there were times when God was really with them, and when they had tremendous power and might, and they were taking up the whole land. God was giving them the whole land, but they wanted to stop that. So, they bound together, and they were planning to wipe them out first. Then they may have thought about, you know, turning on each other, but, first, they wanted to wipe out the house of Judah. But instead, they turned on each other because God intervened. “And when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another.”

So that’s certainly God fighting your battles for you, isn’t it? You did nothing except praise God. You did nothing but sing praises and trust in Him and have faith in Him. God took care of the rest. Sometimes we get too involved with our enemies, and we should just back off, pray for them. Isn’t that what the Scripture says we should do? Pray for those who spitefully use us and persecute us. Don’t go out after vengeance. Put it into God’s hands. Let Him handle it.

So, in verse 24, “When Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude, and there were the dead bodies fallen on the earth. No one had escaped. When Jehoshaphat and his people came and they took away their spoil,” and all that, I won’t need to read that. But it took them three days to gather up all the spoil. Notice verse 26. “And on the fourth day, they assembled in the Valley of Berachah for there they blessed.” This is from the word Barak, B-A-R-A-K, which means to kneel. It’s speaking about an act of adoration. “They blessed the Eternal.” They praised God. They blessed the Eternal. “Therefore, the name of that place was called the Valley of Berachah, which means blessing, until this day.” So, there was a great blessing that God poured out upon His children at this time. So, they knelt down as an act of adoration. They bowed their knees before God. They worshipped Him and thanked Him and praised Him. “Then they returned every man of Judah and Jerusalem with Jehoshaphat in front of them to go back to Jerusalem with joy.” They were exuberant. “They were filled with joy for the Lord had made them rejoice over their enemies. So, they came to Jerusalem with stringed instruments and harps and trumpets to the house of the Eternal. And the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of those countries when they heard that the Lord had fought against the enemies of Israel. Then the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet for his God gave him rest all around.”

So that was an amazing story. Not a fairy tale, but a real story, a real truth, a real happening. Jehoshaphat is considered one of the few good kings of Israel and Judah. Is it not because he understood and trusted in God for His intervention, for His deliverance, and he pointed the people toward God? Is it not because he understood the power of praise and thanksgiving toward a merciful, loving God? Praise God, even in the midst of trials. Especially in the midst of trials, we should praise God. We should lift our voices to God and thank Him for what He’s always done in our life. He’s brought us to this point, even though now we’re in a tremendous trial, whether it’s a health trial, maybe a life-threatening health trial. Reflect back on what God has already done for you. Reflect back on the many blessings that He’s given you. The fact that you are a called-out one, that you are chosen, that you are to be one of the first fruits, no matter what God happens...no matter what He allows to happen, God has been good to you, God has blessed you. Surrender to Him. Put it in His hands. If He allows you to die, then you’re sealed, you’re sealed by the Spirit of God. You know, there are worse things that could happen. Not that any of us want to die prematurely. You know, none of us want to die prematurely, right? I don’t. I’d like to live quite a bit longer. I still feel good. I want to live a while. But if God were to take my life now, I hope I would be grateful for all that He’s given me up to this point. He’s done so much in my life. He’s blessed me so greatly that I hope I would reflect on all that He has done for me and all that He’s doing because I’m still alive. I’m not dead, not until I draw that last breath.

So God is with me. God has promised to never leave me nor forsake me. Whatever that means, I know He will be with me. If He allows me to die, then I go in peace. If I live, then I live to glorify God. That’s what we should all, I think, have that approach no matter what trial. And I know it’s easy for me to say up here. I’m not on my deathbed. I do feel for those who are suffering, those who are going through exactly what I’m talking about, a life-threatening illness. We have people in God’s church, we have ministers, ministers’ wives, we have brethren, we have many of our brethren. When one suffers, we should all suffer. We should pray fervently for them and pray that God will intervene and pray that God will strengthen them, and that God will give them faith and grant them what they need in their time of trial. So, brethren, we’re all in this together.

One quick example from the New Testament. This was the account in Exodus chapter...I’m sorry, Acts, not Exodus. Acts 16. Acts 16. “It was at midnight, and Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God.” You know where they were? That’s right, they were in prison. They had been imprisoned for preaching the truth and actually for casting out a demon that a woman had. And she was going around saying these are servants of the Most High God. And had she only done it once or twice, they would have left her alone. But, finally, Paul became annoyed because she was following them all around, and so he cast out the demon. And the people that she worked for, the people that basically owned her, they didn’t like it, and so they had him thrown in jail. And they were praying and singing hymns to God when a great earthquake took place, and the prison doors were opened, and the jailer walks up, and he’s sure that, oh, they’re all gone, you know? Who would not leave? You know, if the doors were opened in a prison, I have a feeling I’d be gone, I’d be out of there.

But I think they understood that, you know, “we’re better off just staying right here.” And, evidently, they convinced the others to stay with them and not all take off. So, he was going to kill himself, and Paul said, “‘Don’t do yourself harm for we’re all here.’ And he called for light, he ran, and he fell down trembling before Paul and Silas, and he brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ And they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,’” - man - “‘and you will be saved.’”

I just realized I’m on point one. I told you I had three points, didn’t I? All right. Well, the next points are really short. They really are very short. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” And so he says, “They spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes, and immediately he and all his family were baptized. And when he had brought them to his house, he set food before them, and he rejoiced having believed in God with all of his household.”

So this is quite a miraculous thing that this jailer is converted and his family is converted. Had they all taken off, this would have never happened. He would have killed himself, and the story might not even be in the Bible. But everything turned out well. They were praising and singing hymns to God. They just left it in God’s hands. And God called this family, this jailer, and then they were allowed to leave, but I don’t have time to go into the rest of the story. But, you know, deliverance is something that God will do for us, but praising God is not a silver bullet for deliverance. Just because we praise God, it doesn’t mean we’re always going to be delivered in the way that we hope we will be delivered. We will be delivered. One way or the other, God will do what’s best for us. “All things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.”

So, the first point that we waxed eloquent on for a long time here was if we practice praise and thankfulness toward God, that He will deliver us. Then a second principle is when you practice praise and thankfulness toward God and Christ, you will see and experience the literal power and presence of God. God will be with you. And there’s this one passage of verses in 2 Chronicles 5:11-14 2 Chronicles 5:11-14 [11] And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place: (for all the priests that were present were sanctified, and did not then wait by course: [12] Also the Levites which were the singers, all of them of Asaph, of Heman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brothers, being arrayed in white linen, having cymbals and psalteries and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them an hundred and twenty priests sounding with trumpets:) [13] It came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the LORD; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the LORD, saying, For he is good; for his mercy endures for ever: that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the LORD; [14] So that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud: for the glory of the LORD had filled the house of God.
American King James Version×
that bears that out. 2 Chronicles 5:11 2 Chronicles 5:11And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place: (for all the priests that were present were sanctified, and did not then wait by course:
American King James Version×
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2 Chronicles 5:11 2 Chronicles 5:11And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place: (for all the priests that were present were sanctified, and did not then wait by course:
American King James Version×
- “And it came to pass when the priest came out of the Holy Place, for all the priests who were present had sanctified themselves without keeping to their divisions. And the Levites, who were the singers, all those of Asaph, and Haman, and Jeduthun with their sons and their brethren stood at the east end of the altar. They were clothed in white linen, having cymbals, having stringed instruments and harps. And with them, 120 priests were sounding with trumpets.” So, they were really playing these instruments to God. They were praising God through instruments and songs. “Indeed, it came to pass when the trumpeters and singers were as one to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Eternal. And when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets, and cymbals, and instruments of music, and praised the Lord saying, ‘For He is good, for His mercy endures forever,’ that was the very moment that the house of the Lord was filled with a cloud so that the priests could not continue ministering because of the cloud for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of God.”

So, it was when they were praising God, and looking to God, and worshiping Him, and singing to Him in the temple that God filled the temple with His presence. I believe that God is with us when we also praise Him. When we sing hymns to Him, when we’re reaching out to Him, God is with us, He’s there present for us, especially those of us with His Spirit, which leads us to the third point. When you practice praise and thankfulness toward God and Christ, you’re going to experience the power to fulfill your calling. You’re going to experience the power to fulfill your calling when you practice praise and thankfulness toward God.

So, number one, if we praise God, and thank Him, He’s going to deliver us. Number two, when we praise and thank God, He’s going to be with us. His presence is there at all times, no matter where we are. So, if you want God near, learn to praise and thank Him. Have it be a part of you, a part of who you are, not something that you have to drum up or force, but it’s automatic. It comes after years and years of turning to God and serving Him, wanting to obey Him. And then number three, when you practice praise and thankfulness toward God and Christ, you’re going to experience the power to fulfill your calling. In 1 Peter 2, you see, we were all called to praise God. This is part of our calling. We’re called to praise God, and we fulfill our calling when we praise Him, when we see Him as He is when we look to Him. 1 Peter 2:9 1 Peter 2:9But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;
American King James Version×
, notice the power that’s in this verse.

1 Peter 2:9 1 Peter 2:9But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light;
American King James Version×
- “But you are a chosen generation. You are a royal priesthood. You’re a holy nation. You’re His own special people.” This is Peter speaking to God’s children at the time. “You are His own special people.” These are the ones that God had called out, that God had given His Spirit. “You’re His own special people that you may proclaim the praises of Him.”

Okay, we are called to proclaim God’s praises, to exalt Him, to look to Him, to speak of His greatness amongst each other. When we come here on the Sabbath, this should be a time when we talk about God and His truth and His way of life, when we share things that God is doing in our lives. The Sabbath is a holy time. It’s a time that’s dedicated to God, and so we should fill this time with reminisces of God, with speaking of Him and what He’s done, and praising Him one to another. Because we are a chosen people, a special people that we may proclaim the praises of Him, who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.

We’ve all been called out of darkness, right? We’ve all been darkened by Satan and his ways, the world’s ways that God has brought us into His marvelous light, who once were not a people but are now the people of God. We are now the people of God who had not obtained mercy, but now we have obtained mercy. So, we’ve all obtained mercy - God has granted us mercy. He’s forgiven our sins through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ, whom we’ve all accepted. He’s washed away our sins in His blood. When we accept Jesus Christ’s sacrifice, our sins are forgiven, we’ve come out of darkness into His marvelous light.

So, we were called to praise God. We fulfill our calling by praising God. Those who praise God until the day they die with the Spirit of God dwelling in them, they have no fears, they have nothing to fear, they’re going to be in His Kingdom. They’re going to be in the first resurrection, those whom God is calling now. It’s a sure thing.

So, brethren, we should all consider the importance and the power of praise and thanksgiving. There’s tremendous power in praising God. You know, the Scripture talks a lot about a sacrifice of praise, a sacrifice of thanksgiving. These are offerings that we make to God. You know, we don’t kill bulls and lambs any longer, but we’re still supposed to offer up sacrifices, we’re still supposed to offer our gifts to God, and those are gifts of praise, gifts of thanksgiving. So, don’t let a single day go by without praising God throughout the day. Praise Him morning, noon, and night because He’s worthy of praise, He’s worthy of our honor, He’s worthy of our glory. You know, we have no glory, except the glory that God gives us. God will glorify each and every one of us. He’s going to glorify us, God is in the process of glorifying His sons and daughters.

So, brethren, again, I hope I’ve given you plenty of good reasons and rationale for taking a greater focus on being sure to spend plenty of time praising and thanking God and Jesus Christ in the future. But not only in the future, let us also remember what God has done for us in the past, what He’s doing right now in our lives, and, again, the promises of the Bible, what He’s going to do for us in the future. We just kept a Feast of Tabernacles and the Eighth Day. It’s pictured what God’s going to do for us in the future. Let’s never lose sight of that. Let’s remember, again, what God is doing for us. Let us experience the power of God to deliver. Let us experience the power of God’s presence in our lives through prayer, or through praise and through prayer, through giving thanks. And let’s experience the power of our calling being fulfilled as we turn to God and praise and give Him wonderful thanks. So, let us all give thanks. Let us praise our great God and His Son, Jesus Christ.