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Don't Judge My Praise...If You Don't Know My Story (Part II)

We don't know the depth of one another's thoughts, experiences or intentions because we only see the shallowness of one another's actions. And it's in that (the things we can't even see) that we tend to judge people.

But God already told us in 2 Cor 4:18 that we should not focus our attention on what we can see, because what we see is only temporary. It's what we don't see that will last forever. It's what we don't see that has the greatest impact on us and others around us. It's what we don't see that will yield the fruit that others will eventually see if they look long enough.

We must expect there to be conflict and judgment that comes as a byproduct to our praise. Spiritually, because the enemy is mad! But naturally too. Because some people can't, and others just won't - see in you what God sees, cause they are looking at things that will come and go.

They might look at you today and see you struggling with purity in your relationship, pregnancy out of wedlock, addiction to drugs or alcohol or being influenced by "people" you know you shouldn't be hanging around. But we all should be encouraged to keep praising God constantly, despite the incongruence we see in our lives every day. The bad attitudes, foul language, wrong decisions, peer pressure – young and old, the lies and schemes, hatred towards others – We are not perfect! But God shows us grace and mercy to overcome these sins in our lives every day. So despite the incongruence we know is present, we should be encouraged to praise God with our whole hearts.

And I'm not talking about just a "thank you Lord" kind of praise that we tend to say without even thinking about the impact our words. That "Thank You Lord" kind of praise is good and it has its place. But I'm talking about the kind of praise that causes our lives to complement God. Or the kind of praise Hannah offered up to God in 1 Samuel 1:12-15.

In this scripture, we see Hannah offering her self so freely in prayer - that Eli thought she was drunk! Moving her lips and no sound coming out..... that's because she had a prayer and praise on the inside that only she and God we're privy to. Eli didn't understand the depth of her heart. He didn't understand her sorrow. He didn't understand the grief and pain that she bore. But his lack of understanding for her story didn't stop her from going into her secret place even in the midst of men whom she knew wouldn't understand.

The Bible tells us that she poured out her soul before the Lord in ways she had not before. She said: "Listen, I know I've complained and spoken out of my grief in the past, but this time it's different." She was going before her Lord - not with a complaint, but with a praise. And she poured out everything she had before Him. And the Bible says that when she left, she was no longer sad!

Get this...

Her circumstances didn't change. She was still childless. But after meeting God in her Secret Place, offering him a sacrifice of praise from her very soul, she left changed. After being in the presence of God like that, no one can remain the same!

So yes, there are some benefits for us that are unwrapped through our praise!

Our praise penetrates walls of hatred, envy, jealousy and discontentment - and brakes us into the realm of the unseen and eternal - where peace and joy abide.

Our praise allows us to tap into that peace that surpasses all understanding. So when our worlds are turned upside down, we are still able to walk upright and in confidence because our hope is in Jesus Christ.

Our praise allows us to tap into that joy, unspeakable joy, when death and deception seem to surround us. Still able to see God's goodness and mercy. Still able to wear real smiles on our faces. Not the fake ones that only come when our circumstances dictate happiness. But the ones that stick around even in chaos and condemnation.

Our praise is what allows us to love others despite how they may persecute us. For we understand that when we take up the cross and follow Jesus Christ, that persecution is in evitable. So we can pray for those that hate us because we recognize (in this unseen realm of the Spirit) that there is a warfare going on. But greater is he who is in us than he who is in the world!

While others may be looking at appearances, accolades, lifestyles and assets... The believers' praise is honoring God for his safety, provision, grace and favor, our victory over death and sin, sickness and poverty, defeat and destruction. Our praise is honoring God because his name is very great.

But HOW?? How do we offer up that kind of sacrifice? One that says, I'm thirsty for you Lord so I die to myself. I die to my own agenda and to the feelings and emotions that cause me to respond to life ineffectively. I die to the stinking thinking that has caused me to make so many wrong decisions. I die to myself Lord, so that your perfect plan will be revealed in my life. How do we offer up that kind of sacrifice?

I submit to you today that - Prayer is the key that unlocks our praise!

When we go to God in our Secret Place, he begins to reveal more of himself to us, and he begins to reveal more of ourselves to us. We even get clear revelation of our own story and how our current life circumstances are writing just one of the chapters in our books of life.

After being in the presence of God like Hannah – praising God for who he is and just for being VERY GREAT – not complaining about what we don't have or what we wish we could get. When God sees THAT kind of praise, he pours out his Spirit upon us. And we will be changed.

Then we will start to say things like: "Don't judge my praise, because you don't know my story!"

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