Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Power of Praise - Part One



The headaches started when I was in the fourth grade. 
Initially, they were so bad they made me nauseous. It was always the same: a sharp pain over my eyes, wrapping around  my head to the back of my neck. Light and sound actually hurt. All I could do was find a quiet, dark room and hope to go to sleep until it passed.

Mom took me to the doctor and he diagnosed it as migraines. Many things were prescribed, but I always got the headaches. Stress, worry, too much sleep, not enough sleep, sleeping in a bed too soft or too hard, caffeine, sugar, chocolate, cheese, riding in cars, too much heat, too much cold, even certain smells—the list of triggers and causes went on and on.

I tried many things for the pain. Some helped, some didn’t.

I prayed many times for the Lord to take the pain away, but it seemed I would get one about once a week no matter what.

About 4 years ago, I noticed that if I praised the Lord when I had a headache, the pain would subside or at least I would fall asleep more quickly.  I praised the Lord more and more each time I would get a headache. And, I began to try and remember to praise the Lord every day throughout my day, not just during my morning or night-time prayers.

Then, my wife told me they now have a prescription drug that prevented migraines. As a child, I had doctors try many things to prevent the headaches, none of which worked.
Still, I firmly believe my wife is a gift from God, so I took her advice and went to the doctor. He prescribed a drug called Propanalol.

And the headaches went away!

After forty years of suffering that I took as a fact of life, the headaches were gone. My prayers had been answered. My pain is gone. Sure, I occasionally get a hint of one of those old headaches, but it’s nothing compared to before.

I call it a miracle and a great blessing. Of course, there would be those who say I owe praise to the medical profession, not to God.

Well, here’s the thing: Propanolol was NOT invented or developed to prevent migraines. It was designed to lower blood pressure, but it really doesn’t work very well at all for that. Preventing migraines is a side-effect of this drug. So, all praise and glory goes to the Lord who gives men and women knowledge.  And, I know the Lord gave me my wife.

Haggai is a tiny, two-page book near the end of the Old Testament. It’s set in a time when the temple in Jerusalem has been destroyed. The people stated to rebuild it, but gave up because others made fun of them. Here’s how Chapter One begins:
1 In the second year of King Darius, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, saying, 2 “Thus speaks the Lord of hosts, saying: ‘This people says, “The time has not come, the time that the Lord’s house should be built.”’”
3 Then the word of the Lord came by Haggai the prophet, saying, 4 Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple[a] to lie in ruins?” 5 Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways!
6 “You have sown much, and bring in little;
You eat, but do not have enough;
You drink, but you are not filled with drink;
You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm;
And he who earns wages,
Earns wages to put into a bag with holes.”
7 Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways! 8 Go up to the mountains and bring wood and build the temple, that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified,” says the Lord. 9 You looked for much, but indeed it came to little; and when you brought it home, I blew it away. Why?” says the Lord of hosts. “Because of My house that is in ruins, while every one of you runs to his own house.
Now, the part of this passage that jumped out at me is right there in the end of verse eight: “that I may take pleasure in it and be glorified.”

God wanted His temple rebuilt as a place of praise! The people were suffering and in want because of a lack of praise to the LORD!

When Jesus was asked which commandment was the most important of all, He answered in Mark 12: 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’

Wouldn’t praise be the natural outpouring if we did indeed love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and mind?

Notice how the Lord begins when He speaks through Haggai: 4 Is it time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, and this temple to lie in ruins?”

The people were putting themselves first. They were living in fancy houses and paying attention only to their own needs. Their primary goal was to create gain and pleasure for themselves. God explains that doing so results in loss and suffering.

Consider this verse:
 Psalm 37:4
4        Delight yourself in the Lord,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Does this verse mean God is a big bubble-gum machine where we put in a prayer and get out whatever we want?  Does the lesson of Haggai mean we have to build a temple to God to be blessed with material rewards? How can we praise God when so many bad things are all around us?


Feel free to comment and discuss by clicking the blue “comments” word below and we will continue to explore the power of praise next week. Oh, and thanks to Pastor Betty Johnson for bringing Haggai to my attention.

Today’s praise:
1 Timothy 1:17
To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

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