Sunday, September 5, 2010

I will praise You in the Storm!

So I realize it has been MONTHS since I have written a blog and I'm guessing y'all probably thought I had forgotten about blogging or was just "over" it! Well I'm there!!! :) In all honesty though I have struggled with not blogging...don't get me wrong...I have wanted to blog...but if I can be truthful here I have been going through a huge storm in my life right now and I am not at the place right now where I am able to share with everyone what is going on! I know y'all understand because I know each and everyone of you has been here before. Probably not going through the same thing I am...but going through something that is so overwhelming.

Friends, in the last month...well pretty much last 2 months my world has been rocked! And not in the good way. I have felt like someone has taken my life turned it upside down shook it then threw it on the ground and trampled on it! I'm not over exaggerating here either. Have you ever been in a place where it literally feels like your entire world has come to a stop? You are going along in life thinking that you are on the right track, doing what you need to do then BAM!!!!! You find yourself smack on your face....and the hardest part about's not even your fault. It is the result of someone else's actions. Well that is where I am...or at least have been and I'm so exhausted from it all. Trying to pick up the pieces of life and not really sure how.

Well tonight my Pastor (ok...I have to stop here for a minute because I love the sound of that "my pastor"! We have been looking for a church for such a long time and have finally found the right one at the right time and I LOVE IT!!!! Ok now back to the thought)! My Pastor preached about "Power in Praise"! He went to Acts 16:25-30. For those unfamiliar with the Bible this is a story about 2 men named Paul and Silas who were stripped of their clothes and beaten and put in prison where there feet were put in stocks for no reason except they were doing the work of God!

So let me tell you how God spoke to me through my Pastor's sermon tonight. Of course I will tell it a little differently then him...but that's ok...I'm sure he won't mind! So picture this...imagine doing the work of God and one day a crowd of people getting mad at you because speaking the truth has made them uncomfortable! So they take you, rip your clothes of and beat you, and then drag you to prison and put your feet in stocks so you can't even get up and move! And this prison is not like ours now days. They were on the floor of a cold nasty probably damp cell...and I can imagine there were rats and who knows what running around down there. I don't know about you but me...I would be having a huge pity party! I would be wondering what God was thinking...why had He not watched out for me? But this is NOT what Paul and Silas do....instead of feeling sorry for themselves and letting their circumstances get the best of them they actually started singing praises to God! (vs. 25) I mean seriously? Were they crazy? Did they not see what an awful, horrible situation they were in? Of course they did, but unlike me, they rose above themselves and their surroundings and focused on something so much better! They focused on God and all that He had done for them and they were overwhelmed with praise!

There were several things Pastor gave us about the Power of Praise, but here are 3 things that pretty much jumped out at me! First of all Praise helps you rise above your circumstances! Seriously..think about this! If you are going through a struggle and it seems like life is never going to right itself just stop for even a minute and find something to praise about. Praise Him that you are alive! I don't know what your health situation is like...but if you are reading this I'm guessing you are breathing! Praise Him for that! Praise him for food on the table, for clothes on your back, for a house to live in, for your kids, spouse, mom, dad, for the life he has given you! Even going through this short list here has to make you feel at least a little bit better about life! Come can admit do feel better!

Secondly when you give praise unto God your chains will be loosed! This one was such an amazing concept to me and I'm not sure why I had never saw it! Remember how Paul and Silas were praising God? Well in verse 26 it said suddenly there was an earthquake, all the doors opened and everyone's chains were loosed (I am paraphrasing I know...but you get the idea)! I was sitting in church tonight and it was like a light bulb turned on in my head. I am not in a physical jail, nor am I in physical chains...but the last couple of months I have felt like I have been in chains! It feels like life is weighing me down and I can't move. I feel such pain and sorrow and it is tying me down and I cannot get out from underneath it. But I realized something tonight....this is the perfect time to praise God! I know this sounds crazy guys, especially for those of you who know what I have been going through...but I'm telling you this is the perfect time for Praise. For when we start praising God for things such as money to pay bills, a truck to drive, a job security for my husband, bringing my husband home safe, for soldiers who are willing to fight for our freedom so we can live in the greatest country in the world. Praising Him for sending his Son to die for our sins, and not only dying but most importantly rising again 3 days later so one day we can live with Him forever....slowly...well in reality not so slowly those chains will break loose and we will be free!

And last of all when you Praise God the Doors will open! It also says in verse 26 that the prison doors flew open...yet when the prison guard came in all the prisoners were still there! Now here is a new concept that you might not have thought of! I don't know about you, but if I was in prison and my chains came loose and the doors burst open, I'm pretty sure I would have been busting out of that place! Just being straight up honest here! But they didn't! They stayed and the jalier got saved that night as well as his household! Praise the Lord!!!! So what is the concept? Well sometimes the doors will fly open and God does want us to go through them. But what if He opens the doors but wants us to stay? I had never thought of this before tonight. Surely if God seems to give us a way out then we should take it right? That's what I thought, but through my Pastor God showed me something new. Now stick with me for a minute, I realize this blog is super long, but this point really brings it all together. What if God is opening the door not for you to escape through, but for people to see you through? If you are praising God through a storm and God opens the door others will be able to see God working through you. They will be able to see that you are going through something so intense, so bleak, so dark that is seems there is no hope, but you are praising God! What an amazing testimony! How many lives can be touched through the storm that you are going through and through the fact that you are still able to praise God!

There is a reason why God has put me in the storm I am in! And most days, ok...not most days, every day so far I have not understood why. I have gone through every possible emotion you can go through! Hurt, anger, depression, get the picture, if it's an emotion...I've gone through it! But if I but praise God and focus on all the things he has given me I can rise above this circumstance, my chains from this horrible prison can be loosed and my doors can and will be thrown open! The question I walk through them and escape or do I stay and let others look through them at me and see my praise? How easy it would be to escape, to leave it all behind me. To walk away and say "I gave it my best, but thank God he made a way of escape"! I could easily say that and no one would think any less of me. But you know what? I think I will stay and let others look through those doors and into my struggles and see my praise because I know once I get through this storm God has an awesome plan for me and I want to help others going through a storm like me to realize there is hope, there is peace if we but only Praise!

So I dare you... whatever storm you are in, whatever life has thrown at you, however down you are, however low you are, just for the next 5 minutes....even the next minute Praise God! The Pastor challenged us to list at least 7 things to praise God about and I guarantee you if you do you will feel your circumstances changing and you will feel your chains loosed! So what are you waiting for? Do it!!!! Just Praise God! It's really that easy!