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Forgiveness, Healing, and the Power of Praise

It’s finally summer! For all you school teachers and students, the time of rest and recouperation is HERE! Even for those of us not in school anymore, the start of summer can be a time of resetting our lives, cleaning and introducing new habits. We find the time to engage in the things we’ve neglected in our busy seasons: we work out more, eat better, read our favorite books, spend time being creative, or spend more time with our loved ones. Today, I want to encourage you to evaluate whether you’ve been neglecting your relationship with God, and remind you of the spiritual and emotional benefits of joining together with God’s people to worship Him.

God is Present When We Praise
The saying is, “God inhabits the praises of His people” (Psalm 22). Just as God is all-knowing, He is also ever-present. Many times in scripture we are reminded God is with us – Emmanuel is one of Jesus’ names, right? Now, I don’t believe God is only with us when we praise. In fact, we have the assurance where two or three people are simply gathered together, the presence of God is there. So, if you have been seeking the presence of God, you will definitely find it when His people are praising together (whether it’s two or infinity and beyond).

Praise is our Weapon
My favorite example of praise used as a weapon for warfare is in 2 Chronicles 20. I find no clearer example of the effects of praise against enemies than this story. Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah are faced with this HUGE army, and the first thing Jehoshaphat has them do is praise God. Judah knew God would hear them and save them from their enemy, if only they would cry out to God and worship Him. The Levites led them in praise. One of them confirmed they would not have to even fight the battle – God would fight it and win. In 20:22, we see “as they began to sing and praise” the Lord defeated their enemies. If you have been looking for a way to combat the enemy, praise is the way to go.
 
Declaring the Truth Combats Satan
Worship and praise is a way for God’s people to declare the truth about His character, as well as proclaim the awesomeness of what He’s done (and what He’s going to do). What better way to tell Satan he’s a liar by competing with him over the truths about who God is? All Satan wants you to do is believe his lies that God is not powerful enough. Well, guess what? Satan is the one who has no real power. The way to overcome the struggle of believing the lies Satan tells you about God is to seek the truth out for yourself. Not only that, but to declare it – loudly!
 
We Remember Who’s in Charge
Neglecting your relationship with God ultimately results in a change in the proverbial “seat of power.” When I am engaged in my relationship with God, I know for certain He is the one in charge. He’s the one in control, guiding my decisions and directing my motivations. But when I become disengaged with God and start to neglect my time with Him, I start to usurp the role God plays in my life – and as a result, I don’t reap the blessings of peace, direction, and protection I’d have if I were resting in the presence of God. Maybe this summer you have realized you need to remember who is really in charge. Maybe you need to re-ignite your relationship with the Lord and remember what it’s like to rest in His presence – which is with you all the time!

There’s a famous verse in 2 Chronicles 7 which says “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place [the temple].”

We know in the New Covenant, God has made our bodies his ‘temple.’ So, maybe your “land” – rather than simply being a country you occupy –  is your home and family. God’s promise in this verse is if you turn from wickedness (which, in essence, are those who ignore God’s word), He will offer you forgiveness and healing in your land. He’s also going to open his eyes and ears to your prayers and pleading with Him. Maybe today you need to reset and re-engage in your relationship with God. I want to encourage you today, even if you have neglected Him, He still desires a relationship with you and has not forgotten you, if only you would turn back to Him!

- Karissa Mead