By Femi Aribisala
If you want to determine if someone is physically alive, check his pulse. But if you want to determine if he is is spiritually alive, check his praise.
I was sitting beside a girl on a plane to New York and we were chatting. Then a man came along and she started talking to him in a language I could not understand. When he left, the girl turned to me and said: “Wow, I’m so glad I talked to him. I wanted to speak Hebrew so bad.”
Has that ever happened to you? You just wanted to do something so badly? Answer me this: have you ever wanted to praise God so badly? You just had to stop whatever you were doing to give God praise. I need to tell you why this happens.
If you are born again, you are born again to praise God. Peter points this out: “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, his own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9).
If you want to determine if someone is physically alive, check his pulse. But if you want to determine if he is spiritually alive, check his praise. David says: “The dead do not praise the Lord.” (Psalm 115:17). If you are not praising God, you are a dead man walking. The psalmist says: “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” (Psalm 150:6).
Judah comes first
Moses told Israel: “‘God is your praise.” (Deuteronomy 10:21). David concurs. He says to God: “My praise shall be of you.” (Psalm 22:25). Stop wasting time praising mere mortals like Cristiano Ronaldo or Leonel Messi whose breath is in their nostrils. Let God and God alone be your praise.
When the Israelites were going into battle, they asked the Lord: “‘Who of us shall go first to fight against the Benjamites?’ The Lord replied, ‘Judah shall go first.’” (Judges 20:18). “Judah” means praise. All our interactions with God, every battle we fight, must be preceded by praise. David says: “Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise.” (Psalm 100:4).
Confronted with a coalition of three great armies ranged against Judah, Jehoshaphat put praise-singers at the head of his army: “As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.” (2 Chronicles 20:22).
When the devil attacks us, he has one singular objective: that God should not be glorified. He knows we are created for God’s glory. God himself affirms this: “Everyone who is called by my name, whom I have created for my glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him.” (Isaiah 43:7).
When the scribes and the Pharisees tried to stop the people from praising God, Jesus said to them: “If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.’” (Luke 19:40). That is why Ron Kenoly sings: “I ain’t gonna let no rock outpraise me.”
We not only praise God when our wine and corn increase, we praise him when things are upside down; we praise him when things are not going well. That is when praise becomes a sacrifice. We offer God a sacrifice of praise in faith. We praise him knowing he works all things together for our good.
David says: “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” (Psalm 34:1). Even when things are not smooth-sailing, we must praise God joyfully. David says: “My mouth shall praise you with joyful lips.” (Psalm 63:5).
There is a reward when we praise God continually in spite of adversity. God says: “He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God.” (Psalm 50:23).
Like every promise of God, this is fulfilled, as always, in Christ Jesus. Thus, in proclaiming his ministry, Jesus declares that he gives: “beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that (God) may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:3).
This confounds the devil whose design in bringing adversity is precisely that God should not to be glorified but be despised. (Job 1:9-11). Thus, in order to confound demonic counsel, at midnight, in their darkest hour, chained and cooped up in jail, Paul and Silas were fulsome in offering praises to God; and God responded with a magnificent deliverance:
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose.” (Acts 16:25-27).
Anointed to praise
I was a baby Christian, basking in new-born fellowship of the Holy Spirit. I woke up one morning only to discover I was singing a new song. How do you sing a song you never knew before? How do you come to know the words? That is kingdom dynamics.
Elihu says in the scriptures God gives us songs in the night. (Job 40:3). I checked the index of a Pentecostal hymnbook and found the song there. It says: “When the Spirit of the Lord is upon my soul, I will dance like David danced.”
I was flabbergasted. So God even teaches us to sing and dance. I spent the entire morning singing the song, dancing all over the house. From the shower, to my dressing-room, to my breakfast: I sang and hummed and danced. I was a complete nuisance to the rest of my family.
My wife and son stared at me and looked at one another knowingly. It was a Sunday morning, so we were going to church. At the time, our preferred church was some thirty minutes from our house. So I continued singing in the car at the top of my voice. I left no one in doubt that the Spirit of the Lord was indeed upon my soul.
When we got to the church, something strange happened. My young son was the first to get out of the car and go into the church. What he saw was so amazing, he immediately rushed back to tell us. “Daddy, Daddy,” he shouted, a smile of incredulity on his lips. “They are singing the same song.”
We walked into the church to find it in something of a Holy Ghost uproar. People were jumping up and down; clapping their hands with great fervour. Others were dancing as aggressively as they could. Everyone was singing the same song the Lord had just put in my mouth: “When the Spirit of the Lord is upon my soul, I will dance like David danced.”
God says to his people: “Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” (Psalm 81:10). What does he fill our mouths with? David provides the most prescient answer: “He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God.” (Psalm 40:3).
Jesus asks: “Have you never read, ‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants you have perfected praise?’” (Matthew 21:16).