Praise ( Part 1 )

I still remember an emotionally charged service that took place over 45 years ago, an experience that “lifted me into heavenly places!”  Why?  Because I saw the Holy Spirit overhaul a brokenhearted woman before my very eyes!

I was at Eastside Assembly of God in Springfield, Missouri.  The service was progressing nicely and the Holy Spirit was moving powerfully.  A spirit of praise swept across the 200-plus people in attendance that day, and it seemed the crowd meshed into one. It was one of those services where non-participants were very much in the minority, and the majority present was caught up in loud corporate praise.  It was heaven on earth!  Pastor Bob Smith knelt on the stage, pouring out his heart with tears cascading down his face.

Seated behind me, a searching woman experienced a complete emotional breakthrough — she came brokenhearted.  She poured her soul out like sweet perfume from the alabaster bottle.  I could not help but weep with her, as a spirit of intercession invaded the atmosphere.  The musicians played, not concerned about performance.  It was a time of “soaking in His presence.”

I heard this dear woman move from broken-heartedness to joy-filled weeping in those moments.  Surely, she WAS YET ANOTHER woman, who sat at the feet of Jesus and poured out her purest praise from a heavy heart. And she too was transformed!  

I thought about the woman whose story is found in Luke 7:37-38.  “And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner and when she learned that He (Jesus) was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume.”

This precious lady also exchanged her ashes for beauty!  She “put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isaiah 63:1). I was blessed as I beheld her transformation. A beautiful butterfly broke loose from its cocoon and took flight!

If I may, allow me to draw some “teachable moments” from that experience:

  1. Jesus lives in the praises of His people.
  2. Praise is “becoming to the upright” (Psalm 33:1).  This phrase is used to describe clothing.  In other words, it’s what we “should look like, how we should dress!” Praise adorns! The lady mentioned in the above Scripture perfumed the feet of Jesus with her praise.  She was never more beautiful!
  3. Audible praise loosens inhibitions and releases power.  Audible praise builds a conduit from Earth to the Throne of God. “Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
  4. Praise should flow out of brokenness and genuine love for the Master, not performance-driven ingenuity.  Corporate worship is more than rehearsed song lists.  Regardless of music genres and specific songs, it provides opportunities for God’s people to enter Into His life-giving presence.

But here’s the bottom line:  Genuine worship does not give attention-seekers the green light to distract other worshipers.  Corporate worship means just that:  Everyone entering in!  Spirit-filled worship is known for its “flow aspect.”  It should crescendo with both highs and lows.  “Out of your belly (emotions) shall FLOW rivers of living water” (John 7:38).  Worship that doesn’t affect our emotions becomes rote and lifeless.  By the same token, praise to the Lord cannot be weighed by our emotions, but it certainly often rides on the waves of emotion!  When our Holy God — the Spirit of holiness — shows up, emotions are going to be impacted.  The woman in John 7 becomes “Exhibit A.”  We are spirit and soul — mind, will, and EMOTIONS — housed in flesh!

To be sure, quiet praise has its place.  There are definitely times to be still (quiet) — (Psalm 46:10).  On the other hand, I often hear, “I’m a quiet person.   Loud praise goes against my personality.”  My friend, praise has nothing to do with personality; it is a command from the Psalms and other places. 

Next week, I’m going to discuss seven Hebrew words that describe worship expressions, taken from the books of Psalms and Isaiah.  Then, I’m going to demonstrate why genuine worship services have to be conducted decently and in order for all in attendance to receive from the Lord. 


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