There is an interesting event that happened to Paul and Silas in the Bible which is really worthy of note as it holds a lot for the times we are in. On a particular day, Paul and Silas were on their way to the place of prayer as it was their usual custom, a slave girl ran into them. She was a psychic and, with her fortunetelling, made a lot of money for the people who owned her. She started following Paul around, calling everyone’s attention to them by yelling, “These men are working for the Most High God. They’re laying out the road of salvation for you!” She did this for a number of days until Paul, finally fed up of the daily yelling, turned to her and commanded the spirit that possessed her, “In the name of Jesus Christ, get out of her!” And instantly, the spirit left her.
When her owners saw that their lucrative little business was suddenly bankrupt, they went after Paul and Silas, roughed them up and dragged them into the market square. Then the police arrested them and pulled them into a court with the accusation, “These men are disturbing the peace of the land–dangerous Jewish agitators subverting our Roman law and order.”
By this time the crowd had turned into a restless mob out for blood. The judges went along with the mob, had Paul and Silas’s clothes ripped off and ordered a public beating. After beating them black and blue, they threw them into jail, telling the jailkeeper to put them under heavy guard so there would be no chance of escape. The jailer did just that–threw them into the maximum security cell in the jail and clamped leg irons on them.
Have you ever been in a situation where it seemed like you were getting less than you deserved or in a scenario where you are being persecuted for doing good all because some people are feeding fat on the products of a corrupt system? Paul and Silas should have been given National Honours for casting a devil out of the nation but what they got was the treatment a public enemy deserved. The whole world was against them for fighting a just cause and that earned them a place not in the Presidential villa but in the maximum prison meant for hardened criminals.
Along about midnight, Paul and Silas were at prayer and singing a robust hymn to God. The other prisoners couldn’t believe their ears. Acts 16:25 MSG
But, despite the treatment these men received, Paul and Silas were not bitter about their circumstances. They were fully aware of what they were up against yet they weren’t too bitter to praise. Their legs and feet were bound but their mouth wasn’t. They kept on praising despite the fact that they were on a seemingly dead end. The chains and fetters were real, the brass of Iron Gate was not imaginary but they held on to the truth that is greater than their reality – not even their condition could stop their praise.
#1 Your Praise is doing more than you think
When Life hits hard and it looks like hell is let loose on you; when you are faced with questions of Life that you don’t really have a grip on and when the challenges you are going through are too much for your age and experience. If there is anything you must not lose in times like this, it’s your praise.
There is no mountain too big for you to move and no trials too difficult to overcome if you will keep your praise switch ON. Your praise in the midst of grievous oppositions, bitter hostility, and stormy times is faith in action. Your praise is a declaration of God’s rule and reign in your affairs.
Your praise is an affirmation that God is working it out for your good – making a masterpiece out of the broken pieces. Your praise releases the ability and energy of God in you and propels you out of a place of defeat and depression into complete victory. Your praise releases your authority and proclaims your superiority and dominance over the enemy. Your praise makes the triumph of Christ real to principalities and power. Your praise strikes fear in every enemy of God and sends confusion to the camp of the enemies. Your praise is an affirmation that your trust and hope is in God. Your praise is a testimony of your faith in God’s promise and thankfulness for his glorious mercy.
#2 God is in your praise
Let’s take our place outside with Jesus, no longer pouring out the sacrificial blood of animals but pouring OUT SACRIFICIAL PRAISES FROM OUR LIPS TO GOD IN JESUS’ NAME. Heb.13:15 MSG
Sometimes your praise is a sacrifice. It is not something convenient for you, it’s costing you something. It’s a thanksgiving that takes the spotlight off your prevailing trials and travails of life and magnifies the Lord’s faithfulness. When Life hits you hard and all you can say is “Thank You Jesus”, Life hits you again and your response remains the same. Suddenly, you begin to see God at work in your life, working behind the scenes and turning your storms into divine orchestrations leading to his eternal plan and purpose for your life.
Instead of whining and getting frustrated about life, let the praise on your lips burst forth. Even in the night and midnight hours of your life, there is praise on your inside like streams of water locked up. In the midst of Apostle Paul’s many beatings and multiple shipwrecks, he also learned to rejoice. In Php.4:4, he said “Rejoice in the Lord always. And again I say Rejoice”. Life’s trials will seem so small when the high praise of God is in your mouth.
#3 Don’t be too bitter to praise
Don’t be too bitter or disappointed about life not to always have a praise break. A praise break could be as simple as just lifting your hands to heaven and saying, “Father, thank You because you are at work in me! Thank you because your thoughts towards me are of good and not of evil! Thank you Father because you are good and your mercy endures forever! I will bless you at all times with everything in me! You Oh Lord are my source and sustainer”. There is no chain that can bind up the spirit of a person who is full of praise.
Probably you are recounting the events that have occurred in your life and you really do not see why you should praise God because previous happenings in your life have been marked by hurts, pains, disappointments, heartbreaks, failures, betrayals and every heart-rending events you can think of. But the truth is God’s best is never in your past. God’s best is never in who left you but in who you are still going to meet. Think of everything seemingly terrible that has ever happened to you and you would realize it wasn’t the worst. The worst did not happen to you; not because the Devil was mild or played fair, but because of God’s mercy and faithfulness. Here you are still standing, the devil meant it for your end but God said NO. You have a hand to lift, a foot to dance, a mouth to praise. Why not just take a praise break and just give a shout of praise to God.
Instead of sulking around about the insecurity of the nation and the emergence of the deadly Ebola virus, why not thank him because you are in the secret place of the most high and all your sicknesses and diseases have been taken away. If you can’t thank him for who left you, why not thank him for whom He is bringing your way. If you can’t thank him for your present unemployed status, why not thank Him for the dream job coming your way. If you can’t thank him for anything, why not praise him for the gift of Life. If you can’t thank him for what you lost, why not thank him for the restoration he’s working out for you. If you can’t thank him for the stages of your life you seem not to understand, why not thank him because all things are working together for your good and your steps are ordered. Praise him because you are wonderfully and fearfully made. Praise him because after the storm, there is going to be calmness where He wraps everything up.
Paul had been snake bit, beat in the head and left for dead, suffered multiple shipwrecks, was imprisoned on numerous occasions, yet he could still stand up and say, “I am more than conqueror”. Even when he was forced to spend the end of his life in chains, Paul still wrote the book of Philippians – a short letter that mentions joy and rejoicing 16times. His praise was always conditioning his attitude and response to life.
Praise is vocal. It can be seen and heard by others. We see a great example of this in Acts 16, Paul and Silas were imprisoned, their hands and feet in stocks, but the authorities forgot to tape their mouths shut! I like to say that as long as you have your voice, there is no prison that can hold you. Your voice is your address in the realm of the Spirit.
Just believe what the Word says Jesus has done for you. Think about it, talk about it, sing about it, and shout it at the rooftop. And do these continually, do it every day. Make it a lifestyle. No matter what challenges you might be facing today, the divine strategy is to send praise ahead of you.
Have a great weekend!