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November 14, 2018, 8:00 AM

4 Truths about the Power of Praise


1.  Praise Gives us Access to God

Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise”. This verse refers to Moses’ Tabernacle in the wilderness. The Tabernacle was divided into three parts. The Outer Court, The Inner Court, and The Holy of Holies where God dwelled.

There was only one gate - one entrance - into The Outer Court. If you wanted to approach God, you had to go through the gate, into the courtyard, and finally into The Holy of Holies. 

 

The gate you come through to approach God is thanksgiving and the court you enter is praise. Psalm 100:4 should be so much more meaningful in light of its historical context.

It pains me to see people skip the praise and worship portion of a service. Worse yet, I’ve led worship in conferences where the Pastor or visiting speaker would skip out on worship, and show up at the very end just in time to speak.

Praise and worship is not the opening act to the Pastor's message! Praise softens the soil of your heart so the seeds of the message can be planted.

To have direct access to God, it is essential to come through praise.

2.  Praise Changes You

Leading worship, I have seen a lot from the platform. I’ve seen the hardest of hearts melt. I’ve seen repentance. I’ve seen friendship restored and marriages heal. I’ve seen children coming back to their parents, and parents return to their children.

Praise can change you if you allow it to.

Praise changes relationships. It changes hearts. It changes mindsets. In praise, our focus shifts from us to the Lord. From problems to The Solution. From pain to promise. From hurt to hope.

Proverbs 27:21 says, “As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise.” Judson Cornwall says it this way in Let Us Praise. "So often, when we have heated our Spirits in worship . . . thoughts, desires, and attitudes rise to the surface.” 

As we are broken and heated in the presence of the Lord, those negative attitudes rise to the surface of our hearts. We are then able to bring them to Jesus to be forgiven and cleansed. 

3.  Praise is About Relationship - Not Ritual

Psalm 81:10 says, “I am the Lord, YOUR God . . .”. Isn’t it wonderful to know that He is ours and we are His? Praise brings us into a closer relationship with Jesus.

I love Exodus 25:8. God tells Moses to build a sanctuary that “I may dwell among them”. He didn’t want a cathedral shining with jewels to show His awesomeness. He didn’t ask for massive monuments or statues made of gold. 

God asked for a simple tent. It wasn’t about the structure. It was about the relationship. He wanted a tabernacle just so He could be with us. That brings such tears to my eyes. The God of all of the earth could be anywhere, could have anything, could do anything, and yet He chooses to be with you, dear friend. 

I’ve been in the most beautifully structured churches. They are gorgeous to look at, but the Spirit of the Lord is no where to be found. I’ve sat in simple living rooms with a handful of saints, and the presence of God is so strong it is tangible. 

The problem comes in when ritual takes the place of pure praise. A.W. Tozer said, “Worship is no longer worship when it reflects the culture around us more than the Christ within us.” In 1962, Tozer grieved, “It is scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction was God.”

Oh Lord, forgive us.

How true are Tozer’s words fifty-five years later. On one hand, you have modern “praise and worship” movements that at a quick glance looks more like a rock concert than a worship service. We “praise” the singers of the songs more than The One we are singing about. Lasers, fog machines, and video displays have taken the place of a humble altar and even humbler hearts. 

Now understand me, there always must be balance. I love The Theatrical Arts! I own my own theater! But when churches alter their worship services to “fit in” with the culture of the day, it ceases to become worship. When our praise and worship becomes ritualistic in how it is displayed, it becomes less and less about relationship with The Father. 

On the absolute other hand, you have “religion” which has dictated why, where, and how we should worship including a list of do’s and don’ts. Most churches strictly abide by a “three fast songs, two slow songs” pattern that leaves no room for God to move. There is no relationship, just man-made religion.

Can God move in the lasers, fog machines, and electric guitars? Of course. Can God move in the rituals of our worship? Of course, He can do whatever He wants to do. He is God. I am not arguing how you should praise. I am stating that if your cultural rituals replace relationship, it no longer becomes praise.  True praise doesn’t come from modern culture or a rigid religious system. True praise comes from relationship with Jesus. 

He inhabits the praises of His people. (Psalm 22:3). He dwells in, lives in, and abides in our praise. My dear friends, He just wants a relationship with you.

Praise Defeats the Enemy

The first mention of praise in the Bible is at the birth of Jacob’s son, Judah, in Genesis 29:35. Judah means praise. No matter where you see the name Judah in the Bible, it always means praise. 

Revelation 5:5 tells us that our Lord Jesus, The Lion of the Tribe of Praise (Judah) has overcome! So many of us walk around in fear of the enemy. Whether it is “the devil” you fear, your own thoughts, or your next door neighbor, we often walk around fearing our enemy and what he/she could do to us. 

Praisers know that their Lion of the Tribe of Judah is the real thing and He has already overcome every single enemy that may come in their path.

In the historical books of the Bible, Judah is always performing. He is always moving. (Judson Cornwall, LET US PRAISE) In Judges 1:1-2 we read, “Now after the death of Joshua it came to pass, that the children of Israel asked the LORD, saying, Who shall go up for us against the Canaanites first, to fight against them? And the LORD said, Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hand.” God told PRAISE to go in first to the enemy. Praise entered the battle first. 

In 2 Chronicles 20:21, King Jehoshaphat “appointed singers unto the Lord, that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the Lord; for his mercy endureth for ever.”  The choir and the orchestra went ahead of the warriors! It worked. The enemies were defeated and Judah never even had to take out their swords!

How many battles do we needlessly fight; drawing our swords of worry, our shields of fear, and our words of war? What would happen if we simply trusted that the Lion of the Tribe of Judah has already won the battle?

What would happen in our lives if we put away our warring words, and lifted our voices in praise?

There is POWER IN OUR PRAISE!  Amen.




November 4, 2018, 12:00 AM

Praise - 7 Reasons for Thankful Praise!


This week's word is PRAISE!  Why?  Let me give you 7 reasons to give Praise to the Lord!

  1. The Bible commands it. As the Psalmist says, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord” (Psalm 150:6).
  2. Praise facilitates access to God. Obviously, it’s the blood of Jesus that paves the way for our forgiveness from sin and relationship with God (Hebrews 10:19). That being said, our perpetual praise provides a clear and unhindered passage. Therefore, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise” (Psalm 100:4).
  3. Praise is where God lives. Wait a minute, isn’t God omnipresent – everywhere, all the time? Absolutely! Yet His presence is especially intense in an atmosphere of praise. The Bible says God is “Enthroned upon the praises of Israel” (Psalm 22:3).
  4. Praise promotes productivity. According to the Word, the Earth yields its produce in the presence of praise (Psalm 17:5-6). Does this mean crops are actually going to grow better where praise is present? Perhaps. Why not? Whatever your feeling on the matter, I like Jack Taylor’s commentary in his book The Hallelujah Factor. “When we praise, productivity is maximized, fulfillment is realized and frustration is neutralized” (p. 31).
  5. Praise chases away despair. There’s no better way to beat the blues than to change our focus from self to God. Such a shift produces “the oil of gladness instead of mourning” (Isaiah 61:3).
  6. Praise is an effective weapon against the devil and evil. I firmly believe Satan, once the good angel Lucifer and God’s praise leader (Isaiah 14), was kicked out of heaven and doomed to destruction due to his desire to be like God. He has hated praise ever since because of its reminder of what he gave up and can’t regain.
  7. God is worthy of it. “The Lord is great and worthy of our praise” (NCV). While it’s obviously good to praise and encourage those around us, God alone deserves our heartfelt worship and supreme allegiance.
My friends, PRAISE is powerful and life changing.  It starts on the inside and radiates out when things are good - and when things are hard it pushes itself from the outside verbage into the heart - warming and cheering all the way.  That's why this week - the word is PRAISE!



April 11, 2018, 9:00 AM

Prayer Ministry


This Week's Word is:  Prayer Ministry!!!

At our last Program Council among all the great things we talked about and planned for - one stood out to Brad and I at least as the single most important thing that FCC could further develop-and that brings us to this week's word:  PRAYER MINISTRY!

We know that the people of FCC are a praying people.  We see the results in our Sunday joys weekly.  But for us to really become the people that God is calling us to be we need to be becoming more intentional about our prayer lives - individually and collectively - together. 

Honestly we do not know what this looks like yet.  We are following our formula for creating a new ministry - finding our leaders first - some who are committed to this and will make it a priority for them and the church.  We have some ideas as to who will be helping lead this but we also want to ask you to be in prayer about this as well.  Ask God if this is something you should turn your time too.  Ask God what you would give up to be involved at a deeper level. 

You might be asking "what is a PRAYER MINISTRY?" and this is a great question.  It is a group of people committed to praying for the church.  For the vision.  The the ministries.  For the Pastor.  For the Leaders.  For the lost.  It is big picture praying.  It is praying with and for people's needs, it is praying with focus and accountability with others who are praying for the same things.  It will mean gathering together in a big group to pray at times and in small groups at other times. PRAYER MINISTRY like all others ministry here at FCC will be committed to FCC being a place to belong and changing lives in the name of Jesus. 

If you believe that God might be calling you to help lead this ministry - please contact our current point people - Brad Bower or me.  But even if you aren't feeling called to lead it,please be in prayer for this week's word: our PRAYER MINISTRY!

For Sunday's Sermon - NEW NAME, NEW HOPE, please read Jeremiah 31:31-35 and Acts 11:19-26  

See you Sunday!




April 4, 2018, 11:01 AM

This Week's Word: NEW!



This Week's Word is: NEW!!!

WOW - what an awesome Holy Week and Easter celebration we had here at FCC in Junction City!   And so many thank you's for all of you who stepped up and served in mighty ways!  Elders, Deacons, Greeters, Hosts, JUDI and all the volunteers with the breakfast - so very awesome in so many ways!  Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

This week's word is what Easter brings us to: NEW LIFE!  HIs resurrection makes all things new.  Our belief in Him makes us a NEW creation, brings us a NEW hope and a NEW name, fills us with a NEW joy and gives a NEW view of life.  Easter brings all of this to us and more. 

We all understand what the word means.  NEW means a great smell in a car, a clean carpet, a freshly painted wall.  NEW means hope when it comes to chances and baby's.  NEW brings excitement to life.  Think about what the word NEW means to you.  It might mean scary, unknown, or be a threat.  It's a powerful word.   

This week read John 3:1-18 to get ready for worship.  It's about the NEW. 

That's this week's word:  NEW!!!




February 20, 2018, 5:49 PM

More.....


This Week's Word is: MORE!!!

One day as I was visiting my family in my home town I drove past a church that had a sign  and on that sign was one of those "cute" statements meant to catch your attention and to make you think.  I drove by it, slowed down to read it.  Turned around to drive by again and pulled into the parking lot to think about it.  I know that the church, the Pastor and the whoever put up the sign meant well but it was so wrong.  I almost couldn't believe it.  It was only four words long.  But it almost made me cry.  I knew what they were trying to say - but it showed me one of the biggest flaws in the way most church's and perhaps most Christians think.  The phrase?  So simple.  So understandable.  Are you ready?    Here it is in big bold letters:  THE SIN OF MORE!


I am sure that the sermon that week was focusing on the sin of greed.  But the sentence?  Well consider this from John 10:10: "I am come that they might have life, and that might have it MORE abundantly."  Or this one from Romans 8:37: No, in all these things we are MORE than conquerors."  And then there is this one from our scripture for Sunday:  Now to him who is able to do immeasurably MORE than all we ask or IMAGINE"  (Ephesians 3:20)


Now none of these sound like sin do they?  That word more - its been banging around in my head for years now.  We in the church need to be celebrating MORE.  

MORE LOVE, MORE GRACE, MORE POWER, MORE HOPE.  MORE JESUS. 

MORE.... now that's this week's word!


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