THE WEAPONS OF PRAISE
by David Sisler
One day Jesus painted a word picture, a parable, with an image that would have been familiar to his listeners. “No one,” he said, “pours new wine into old wineskins.”
When vineyard workers sealed freshly pressed grapes in a new, supple wine skin, the fermentation process began. The skin was soft and flexible. It could expand with the fermentation. Jesus’ listeners knew if they put new wine into old skins, the new wine would burst the skins, the wine would run out and the wineskins would be ruined. The old skins had already been stretched as far as they could stretch. Their capacity to receive new wine was greatly limited.
The message was clear. When Jesus comes to live inside of us, he brings the new wine of his presence. The intensity of that new life causes us to expand. If we do not allow him to give us new, soft hearts, the new wine will cause our old, dry skins to burst. The wine will be lost. Our past – our perceptions, plans, prejudices, and predictions – are cracked and dry.
Jesus must soften us and make us useable. If we do not allow him to do that work of new creation in us, we will never know the joy of his new, sweet wine. We will burst open like an old bag trying to hold new, fermenting wine.
Part of the new wine that we need to enjoy today is praise. Praise opens avenues for God to minister to us. Look at one incident in the life of God’s people under the leadership of King Jehoshaphat.
Israel was no longer one unified kingdom, but a divided nation. The northern kingdom, still called Israel, consisted of ten of the original 12 tribes. Judah was the southern kingdom, the remaining two tribes. Jehoshaphat ruled Judah.
Early in his reign a three-part military alliance attacked Jehoshaphat’s nation. Faced with odds they knew to be overwhelming and forces they knew they could not defeat, the people called on the Lord. Jehoshaphat prayed, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.”
God answered through his prophet Jahaziel: “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you.”
The next morning Jehoshaphat led his army to the battle site. He stood in front of his people and declared, “Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld.” Then he set one of the most peculiar battle arrays even seen on a field of combat. He “appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness.” The advance party went ahead of the army, not with swords, but with songs.
Never was an army so unaccountably destroyed as the tri-part coalition that attacked Judah. Two members of the alliance turned against the third and when they had finished slaughtering them, they turned against each other. Their destruction, at their own hands, was complete. The Bible says, “No one escaped.” After the victory Judah spent three days carrying home the spoils of the battle.
What was Jehoshaphat’s secret weapon? Praise! “As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated.” The people did the praising and God did the fighting. Praise set the stage for an incredible victory. Praise opened the way for God to work a miracle for his people. Praise won the day!
In your own life right now, you may be facing overwhelming odds. You do not know which way to turn. You do not know how to proceed. Before you make another move, begin to praise God for his power in your life. The larger God grows in your faith, the more you will see his all-sufficient power available to meet your every need. Faith grows as you begin to trust God in praise.
Copyright 2003 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.
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