Praise & The Fight Of Faith
PRAISE AND THE FIGHT OF FAITH
A.     Introduction:  We are studying the fight of faith, the fight we all face to hold on to      God's promises in the hard times.     
1.     We have been looking at joy, one of the most important weapons we have in           the fight of faith.     
2.     The Bible tells us that when trouble strikes, we are to be joyful, not feel joyful.           Hab 3:17,18; James 1:2,3          
a.     To be joyful means to respond to your situation with praise.               
1.     The praise we are talking about is not based on emotions or music.               2.     When you respond to trouble with joy, praise to God means to speak                     out His virtues and His accomplishments. Isa 12:4           
b.     Your praise is not based on how you feel, but on the fact that praise is                always the appropriate response to God.               
1.     Praise for who and what He is.               
2.     Praise for what He has done, is doing, and will do.     
3.     In order to respond with joy in the difficulties, two things are necessary:
a.     You must have knowledge from God's Word -- knowledge of what He has  done, is doing, and will do.That information is found in the Bible.          
b.     You must choose to look at or consider your situation in terms of / in light of God's word. II Cor 4:18     
4.     In the last lesson, we looked at a major key to using joy as a weapon in the           fight of faith -- you must praise God before you see His help, while you are           feeling bad.          
a.     Praise in this case is an expression of faith -- praising God for what you                can't see based solely on His Word, His promise of help.          
b.     You're praising God before / without any physical evidence.               
1.     That is faith, and faith opens the door to God's help. Heb 6:12               
2.     Ps 50:23 -- Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me (KJV), and he prepares                     the way so that I may show him the salvation of God. (NIV)     
5.     In this lesson, we want to look further at the idea of praising God before you           see results.
B.     The Bible says praise and thanksgiving are to be in our mouths continually. Ps 34:1;      Ps 113:3; Eph 5:20; I Thess 5:18; Heb 13:15     
1.     Notice, these verses tell us that praise and thanksgiving are to come out of our           mouths:  continually, all day long, in everything, for everything.     
2.     These are not wall plaque verses -- God really means it!!  How is this possible?     3.     Remember, first of all, that none of this (praise or thanksgiving) has anything           to do with emotions.          
a.     Praise involves an act of the will in which you choose to list God's virtues                and accomplishments = say what He has done, is doing, and will do.          
b.     Thanksgiving is also a response based on a decision you make -- give                thanks as opposed to feel thankful.          
c.     Both praise and thanksgiving are acts of obedience to God.
C.     A major key to praising and thanking God continually, in good times and in bad, in      big difficulties and little ones, is learning to thank and praise Him for all the things in our lives -- good and bad. Eph 5:20     
1.     Let's be clear about what thanking or praising God for all things does not           mean.          
a.     That we believe the evil came from God -- we know it didn't.          
b.     That we approve of or accept the evil -- we don't.          
c.     That we believe evil is God's will for us -- it isn't.     
2.     What it means is that we know about and believe Rom 8:28.          
a.     God has promised to bring genuine good out of genuine bad for us.          
b.     Because of His all knowingness, God knew about this difficulty before He                ever formed the earth, and He already has a plan in mind to override the                evil in this difficulty and cause it to work for you instead of against you.     
3.     There has been much misunderstanding of Eph 5:20.          
a.     Some say we are to thank God for everything and passively accept it                because He is responsible for it and it is His will -- not so!          
b.     Others say thank God in everything but not for everything because not                everything comes from Him.     
4.     Many say it would be grossly wrong to thank God for something He didn't do,           something evil.          
a.     But, we thank God for the crucifixion of Jesus, yet the Bible tells us satan                and wicked men with evil motives were behind it. Luke 22:3-6; Acts 2:23; I Cor 2:8          
b.     The reason we thank God for the crucifixion is the good God brought out                of it -- the end result.
D.     All people struggle with the presence of evil, hardship, suffering in the earth, and      how to reconcile it with the fact that God is a loving God.     
1.     We must understand that men really do have free wills.          
a.     God allows man choices, and He allows the consequences of those choices.          b.     Evil, hardship, suffering is here because sin is here.          
c.     God is allowing it to run its course.               
1.     In terms of eternity, 6,000 years of human history is nothing.               
2.     God causes all of it to serve His purposes.     
2.     We need to spend less time on why -- that's just life in a sin cursed earth -- and           more time on what to do now.     
3.     You must understand, no matter how much faith you have, no matter how           committed to God you are, you will never get to the point / place in this life                where you no longer face difficulties, trials, etc.          
a.     That's life in a sin cursed earth.          
b.     Jesus said we would have tribulation in this world, but that we could be of                good cheer. John 16:33     
4.     You must build your faith in the fact that God can and will use the difficulties           and trials to serve His purposes -- maximum glory for Himself and maximum           good for you, and that He will bring genuine good out of genuine bad in your           situation if you will trust Him.
E.     The Bible is filled with examples of God turning bad into good.  Let's take some      time to build our faith by looking at a few examples.     
1.     Joseph -- Gen 39-50          
a.     Gen 45:5-8 -- God was in control of the situation.  Note, He didn't cause                it, but was in control of it.  And, He used the evil actions of the brothers toward Joseph to work good for both Joseph and the brothers.          
b.     Gen 50:20 -- What they did was evil -- the brothers planned to murder and                lie about it.  But, God used it for good.     
2.      Children of Israel at the Red Sea.          
a.     God led them through the wilderness on their way to the promised land.                Ex 13:17,18; 14:1-3               
1.     There were two ways to make the journey; both were difficult because                     that's life in a sin cursed earth.               
2.     But, God took them the best way.          
b.     God had a plan to use the wilderness and the sea to destroy their enemies.                         
1.     They could have rejoiced in the wilderness for the wilderness.                    2.     The Red Sea, this seeming great obstacle, was the very thing God used                     to defeat the Egyptians.     
3.     David used Goliath's own sword to cut his head off. I Sam 17:51     
4.      When Jehoshaphat and his army were attacked by forces greater than they could handle, God used the enemy to destroy the enemy. II Chron 20:22,23     
5.     In the Psalms, we see many examples of good coming out of bad.
a.     Ps 119:71 -- This verse scares us because, due to religious indoctrination, we automatically read some things into this verse which aren't there.               
1.     Affliction does not come from God -- it comes from satan. Mark                     4:14-17; I Pet 5:8,9               
2.     God delivers us out of affliction. Ps 34:19; Matt 12:24-26               
3.     God brings good out of affliction which comes from satan.          
b.     In other places, we see the idea that the wicked fall into their own pit.                Ps 7:15,16; 9:15,16; 35:8; 57:6; 94:23          
c.     We see it in Proverbs also.  Prov 5:22; 22:8; 26:27     
6.     We see the idea of God bringing good out of bad in the NT also.          
a.     Jesus thanked God for the apparent lack when the multitude followed Him  and there was not enough to eat. John 6:11               
1.     Note v23 describes the miracle as giving thanks.               
2.     Jesus wasn't thankful for the lack for lack's sake, but for what the                     Father could do with lack.          
b.     Paul could rejoice about being in jail because God made good out of it.  Phil 1:12
F.     It is vitally important that we learn to and develop the habit of thanking and      praising God continually.  The Bible says to do so.     
1.     Thanking and praising God for all things means:           
a.     That we recognize God has not fallen off His throne, deserted us, or been                caught off guard by our situation -- it was no surprise to Him.          
b.     That we praise Him, not because He sent the difficulty, but because He is                still in charge, still in control of the universe.          
c.     That we recognize He has a plan to override the evil intent in the situation                and bring genuine good out of it.     
2.     In every situation of life, there is always something to be thankful for and           praise God for.          
a.     The good we can see.          
b.     God's desire to bring good out of bad.     
3.     Thanking God in the difficulty for the difficulty demonstrates faith in the           promise God has made in Rom 8:28.          
a.     When something looks bad (is bad), and I praise Him for it, I'm expressing                confidence in God's promise for what I cannot yet see -- the good He'll                make out of the situation  II Cor 4:13;18         
b.     I'm calling what is not yet as though it were. Rom 4:17          
c.     Difficulties can make it look as though God has abandoned us.               
1.     When we praise and thank Him, we are saying:  I may not see                     evidence of your help, yet, God.  But I know you are at work, because                     you say so.               
2.     Faith agrees with God before it sees the results.     
4.     Praise and thanksgiving bring God's power on the scene like nothing else does.
G.     Conclusion:  If we can learn to thank God in everything for everything, His praise      will continually be in our mouths.     
1.     Difficulties, will come no matter who you are or how much faith you have.          
a.     But, if you can develop the habit of responding to them with praise and                thanksgiving, it will make all the difference.          
b.     Keep in mind, we are not talking about a response based on emotions, but                one based on knowledge of who God is and what He is doing behind the                scenes.     
2.     How do you do this?  You begin to speak out in the face of your difficulty:          
a.     Father, I know this did not come from you.  It is evil in intent and                purpose.          
b.     But, I'm going to praise you for it, nor for what I see, not for the evil in it,                but for what I know you can do with it -- bring genuine good out of                genuine evil.     
3.     Such a response robs the evil of its potential to permanently harm or hurt you.     4.     Keep these things in mind as you do it:          
a.     The times you most need to thank God in and for the difficulties are the                times you feel least like doing it.          
b.     It is hard to do, but, you have to do it if you are going to walk in the                victory God has for you.          
c.     Do you know why the Bible has to tell us to do the Word of God?  James                1:22 -- Because when we need to do it, most of the time, it is the last thing                we feel like doing.  If God didn't tell us to do it, we'd never do it.     
5.     When you praise God in everything for everything:          
a.     You are expressing your faith in God's promise and power.          
b.     You will not have a chance to complain. Phil 2:14; I Cor 10:10     
6.     A vital part of the fight of faith is praise and thanksgiving to God before you           see any results.  But, if you stand your ground, you will see results.
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