Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Philippians 4:4 NLT
TODAY’S THOUGHT Don’t you just love it when you going through a tough time and someone decides it is a good time to quote this passage to you—“be full of joy and rejoice.” There are times I don’t feel like rejoicing. Have you been there? Perhaps you hit rock bottom emotionally when you found out someone you love had cancer or that your kid was on drugs or that your spouse was cheating on you. In those tragic moments, what do you do? Did Paul write this passage in total ignorance? Doesn’t he know life can suck at times? Was he just living a life of luxury and ease and didn’t understand where the real people live? Paul understood that life sometimes sucks. He wrote this passage from a prison in Rome. He understood pain, disappointment, and hardship. In Acts 16, Paul wound up in prison not for committing a crime against humanity, but for preaching the gospel of Jesus and ministering deliverance to a girl living in bondage. He and his buddy Silas were arrested, beaten, and thrown in prison. It would have been a great moment for them to have a pity party, but that was not what they chose to do. When you read Acts 16 you find that Paul and Silas decided to praise God in their pain and in prison.
Three quick thoughts. First, we must praise God for The Who not the what. We don’t praise God for the pain and disappointments. We praise God because of Who He is. He is still God in the good times and the bad times and all the in-between times. Paul praised God because of Who He was. Second, we must praise God before the provision comes. It is easy to praise after we get the promotion, the good physical report, or the perfect partner. But real praise is when we are in the prison, and we praise in our pain. Praise proceeds the provision. In prison Paul was not praising because of his provision. He was praising before the provision. Thirdly, our praise proceeds His presence. God shows up when we choose to praise Him. It is impossible to praise God without God showing up. After they praised God, He showed up and shook the prison, broke the chains, and opened the doors. God’s presence can shake up our world—but we must start our praise before we sense His presence.
TODAY'S PRAYER Holy Spirit help me today to be a person of praise. Help me to praise You for Who You are. Help me to change the atmosphere of my prison by my praise.
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