I want to start off by showing you the core scripture for this series. Take a look:
Isaiah 61:3 NKJV – …to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness…
In other words, God wants to give you joy for every area of your life where you are struggling, depressed, or just bummed out. Jesus came to replace that spirit of heaviness with JOY. Look at who you’re with right now and say, “Joy belongs to me.”
It belongs to you, but you have a part to play in this: you have to choose it. You don’t wait to feel joy. No, you choose it first and then your feelings will follow. So look at the same person and say, “You have to choose it.”
In part one of this series, we examined the life of the Apostle Paul and found that we will not be equipped to choose joy if we don’t choose to pray first. We must all develop a lifestyle of prayer if we want to experience joy.
The reason it works like this is simple. Prayer draws us closer to God. As we get closer to God, worry and anxiety are replaced with peace and our thoughts start to line up with the Word of God instead of thinking about all this negative stuff.
This is what happens when you pray and I probably don’t have to convince you that you need to be close to God in order to experience lasting joy.
Last week I explained how choosing joy is a life-changing choice. It doesn’t just change your life, but it multiplies your ability to make a difference in the lives of others.
I mean, just think about how you are blown away when you encounter someone who still has joy even when their circumstances suck. It inspires you. It helps you realize how godly joy is beyond circumstances.
Choosing joy has a purpose. It sure is nice to have in your own life, but even more than that, it enables you to make an incredible difference in the lives of others when you choose joy regardless of what is going on around you.
I told you that every week during this series I was going to give you just one choice that you needed to make. I already gave you two: we are going to choose prayer and we are going to choose to live out our purpose of having joy despite circumstances. What could the third one be today?
Well, it’s probably going to meet you with a little bit of resistance. So if you feel something inside that is kind of pushing back during the message today, it’s normal and you are going to make it.
What we are talking about today is actually found in the scripture we’ve been reading every week. But there is one thing in this short scripture that we have yet to dive into. Let’s look at it again:
Isaiah 61:3 NKJV – …to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness…
What in the world is the garment of praise? We can see in this scripture that it is the antidote to the spirit of heaviness.
We’ve already talked about the fact that the heaviness you feel is not always just circumstantial, it can be spiritual. And that scares some people. “How are we going to overcome these demons?”
I get it. The spiritual is an intimidating thing to think about because we can’t see it or touch it. Because of this we like to pretend that it is not there, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s there. It’s real.
Here’s an example. We want to believe that all sickness is a result of things in our natural world. Because of what we ate, or smoked or whatever. Allowing the wrong things in your body can definitely produce sickness.
But the truth of the matter is, sickness is often caused by demonic spirits. We know this because Jesus often cast out a demon in order to heal somebody.
But hear me in this. Whether you caused the sickness or a demon caused the sickness, Jesus already healed you from ALL sickness. Somebody say “all”. To receive healing, all you gotta do is get rid of the fear and unbelief.
We don’t have to fear demons. Jesus is greater, He is more powerful than anything the devil can cook up. The only way the devil can take advantage of you is if you let him by giving in to doubt, fear and unbelief.
Here’s the good news. You get to choose. You choose to believe the devil’s lie or you choose to believe God’s Word. What enables you to make this choice is when you put on the garment of praise.
The Garment of Praise
Let’s unpack this by starting with the obvious. It is a garment which means you have to put it on – you have to get dressed. This isn’t something that comes from the inside. It is not something you are always going to feel like doing. No, it is something on the outside. Something you grab and put on.
You ladies know exactly what I am talking about. All those times you look in the mirror, you’re in your undies and you don’t really like what you see. But you put your favorite dress on and all of a sudden you are filled with confidence.
Men, this is a little bit harder for you to understand because see yourself in the mirror unclothed, it doesn’t matter how big your gut is, you still smile at yourself and think, “Man, I look good.”
You are probably starting to notice a theme here in this series. All these choices we’ve been talking about are things we have to choose even when we don’t feel like it. And this one is probably the hardest one.
I mean, how many of you have come to church, not really feeling it but you came anyway, and then you just stood there during worship like you didn’t even care what was going on? Oh… you didn’t think I knew, huh?
Oh, I know. I can feel this attitude behind me without even turning around to look at that sour look on your face. At least now you know why the worship team keeps their eyes closed most of the time.
Some of you have never put on the garment of praise and so that spirit of heaviness just kind of looms over your life. Well I believe today is your day to make a choice to put on praise and kick that heaviness to the curb.
The Psalmist gives us great instruction on how to praise:
Psalms 95:1-2 NLT – Come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come to him with thanksgiving. Let us sing psalms of praise to him.
Sing! Shout! Be thankful! This is our invitation to you every Sunday. That’s why the worship team works so hard to create an environment that makes it easier to put on the garment of praise.
And that’s why it’s so important for you to be here. I’m thankful for technology. I’m thankful this message can reach people everywhere online. But if you can be here in the room, you should be here in the room.
If you live too far away, you need to find somewhere where the people of God put their praise on and go be in the room with them. Listen, we can’t let the fear of COVID keep us meeting together because any kind of fear we allow in our lives will always lead us to a place of heaviness.
But when we come together and put on the garment of praise, the spirit of heaviness must bow to the name of Jesus and leave our lives.
If you’ve been struggling with depression, this is the choice that will set you free. Choose to praise, not because you feel like it, but because you believe God’s Word. Here is why praise is so important:
Praise focuses on God, not me.
We live in a culture that is all about me. Have you ever noticed how you can take anything and turn it into something about yourself?
Someone tells us they are hurting and we respond with, “Yeah, I remember when I felt that way…” We think we are offering sympathy, but the only thing we’ve accomplished is making the conversation about ourselves.
Or how about when your spouse is sick and all you can think about is how inconvenient it is for you? Mmhmm. You think you’d never do this, but now that I’ve pointed it out, it’s going to hit you like a rock the next time you do it.
The point I am trying to make is that we need some help keeping our focus on God instead of ourselves.
The verse I am about to show you has been a bit peculiar to me. The way it describes praise is somewhat perplexing. But I think I get it now:
Hebrews 13:15 NLT – Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name.
Praise is a sacrifice because we have to shift our attention from ourselves to God. We have to bring our stupid feelings to the alter, sacrifice them, and choose to praise God whether we feel like it or not.
Speaking of feelings, your’s are probably hurt now, huh? Well that’s okay. They needed to be sacrificed anyways.
Here’s another reason praise is so important:
Praise reminds me of eternity.
If all we thought about was what is going on here and now, we’d probably never praise.
How many of you have felt like a hypocrite when you’re singing about how you have the victory, yet you fought with your family all the way to church? Or we are singing about healing, but you feel sicker than a dog?
Well, this is actually the purpose in praise. It allows us to take our minds off our circumstances, our symptoms, our feelings and look forward to what God promises us in His Word.
This isn’t hypocritical – it’s how we build ourselves up in faith. It’s how we gain God’s perspective instead of wallering around in our own very sad and warped perspective.
If we could live our lives with God’s perspective, with eternity in mind, nothing could shake us. The circumstances and the symptoms wouldn’t even bother us because we realize they are only temporary.
Praise pulls you out of the temporary and opens your mind to the eternal. The more time you spend with eternity in mind, the more peace and joy you will experience in your life.
Here is a great example of what I am talking about:
2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NLT – We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed.
In other words, “I know stuff is going on right now, but I ain’t scared. I’m not even bothered. Because I know in the end, I win because Jesus has already overcome the world and He lives in me.”
Just a few verses down we get clarification on this:
2 Corinthians 4:16-17 NLT – That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!
Your present troubles may seem big, but they are really small. And they won’t last very long. That’s why we don’t fear our circumstances or our symptoms or what is going on around us because God works all of it for our good.
Let me show you one more scripture that drives this home:
James 1:2-4 NLT – Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.
Let me give you one more reason praise is so important:
Praise is outward, not inward.
Have you ever realized that the only way to spread the good news about Jesus is to let what has taken place in you come out so others can see it?
When you give your life to Jesus, your spirit is born again. It is made perfect. You’ve sealed eternity in heaven. All this takes place on the inside. You’re good. But if you never let it come to the outside, you probably won’t take anyone with you.
We all know people who are saved, but what took place in their spirit has never made its way to the outside. So you kind of look at them and you wonder, “Hmm. You sure don’t act like you’re saved.”
We’ve all been there. That’s how we start our journey with Christ. But we can’t stay there because eventually we become the Christian that drives people away from Christ because of our bad attitude.
Praise is a great way showing what happened on the inside. Because no matter how you feel, your spirit is lit about serving God. It is jumping for joy about what God has done for you.
But some of y’all been looking a little stuffy. You’ve been singing, “I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart… where?” Like, where is it? We can’t see it! It’s time to let that joy come to the outside through praise.
Psalms 35:18 NLT – Then I will thank you in front of the great assembly. I will praise you before all the people.
It’s a bit scary to praise God in front of people, but I don’t know what we are scared of. Those around us don’t even think bad of us like we assume they do. In reality they are probably jealous, if anything, that you have so much freedom.
But I think it’s clear now why it’s called the sacrifice of praise because you are going to have to do it when you don’t feel like it. When you’re having a bad day, when you’re tired, when you’re afraid of what others think, praise anyways.
Seems kind of strange to have to sacrifice something in the middle of a series about joy, but here we are.
I heard a story recently about a guy who was raised in a very formal church. There was a sit down time and a stand up time. You didn’t laugh. You didn’t talk. And as a kid, if he didn’t behave, he got a Sunday afternoon whoopin’.
The only saving grace was his grandma. She didn’t mind if he chewed gum during service, but his dad did. So his grandma would lay his head down in her lap, shove the gum in, chew, chew, chew, spit it out and sit back up.
Shout out to all the grandmas who break the parents rules so the grandkids can have some fun in life. You know who you are.
So, church wasn’t too exciting for this guy. But in his early adult years, he decided to go to a church that was a little more free. He stood up in a reverent position for worship and was blown away by what everyone else was doing. They were singing and dancing and swaying and shouting.
He had two things going through his head at this time. The first one was, “These people are nuts.” But it was immediately followed by, “I think I want what they have.”
So, maybe that’s where you are. You might think this praise thing is a little crazy, but there is a tension inside because you want it anyways. Well all you gotta do is take the next step.
You can go all in and just start dancing, but most people have to get there one step at a time. Start by actually smiling during worship instead of standing there with a frown.
Then you might get your foot going, start swaying a little bit. Eventually you’ll be head bobbing, shoulder swaying, raising your hands and bouncing around. Come on somebody, you know, that looks a lot like freedom. And it is. And I want you to have it.
People struggled with praise even back in Jesus day. The religious people back then were very serious and reserved. But look at what happened shortly before Jesus went to the cross:
Luke 19:37-40 MSG – …the whole crowd of disciples burst into enthusiastic praise over all the mighty works they had witnessed: Blessed is he who comes, the king in God’s name! All’s well in heaven! Glory in the high places! Some Pharisees from the crowd told him, “Teacher, get your disciples under control!” But he said, “If they kept quiet, the stones would do it for them, shouting praise.”
The devil wants you under control. He doesn’t want you making all that racket because he knows your praise will not only free you, but lead those around you towards Jesus.
That’s why we have to choose praise. That’s why we have to put on the garment of praise. So we can tell the devil to take his BS and shove it.
There are so many great reasons to choose praise even when you don’t feel like it. One of the best reasons is to make the devil cry. He just runs off like a scared puppy when we put on the garment of praise.
I want to end today by giving you a Bible school experience. Don’t worry, it is not going to be boring and it is not going to take very long.
The Bible was not originally written in English. The Old Testament was written in the Hebrew language and the New Testament in the Greek language.
The reason this is important to know is because both the Hebrew and Greek language have far more words than the English language. So, you often come across a word in the Bible where we use one word to explain several different Hebrew or Greek words.
You can use what’s called a Strong’s concordance to look up these words and their meanings. When you dig in and do this, you gain so much more understanding than simply reading the English Bible.
There are actually seven different Hebrew words translated to “praise” in the English Bible. In other words, we’ve taken seven expressive words – words with lots of meaning – and condensed it down to one single word.
So, I want to take you quickly through all seven of these so we can all have a full understanding of praise. After this, we will all know exactly what choosing praise looks like. Here’s the first one:
1. Halel: To rave, boast, celebrate, to be clamorously foolish.
Kind of sounds like a Saturday at a football stadium, am I right? People will spend their whole day traveling to these games, getting there early, spending all their money on concession food. Then they’ll spend the whole next week telling their friends how awesome it was.
It wasn’t awesome because you sat there like a bump on a log. It was awesome because you and everyone else around you celebrated and acted clamorously foolish.
Anyone ready to act foolish here at church today? Maybe we should.
Let me show you a verse where this word was used. We actually already read this one earlier:
Psalms 35:18 NLT – Then I will thank you in front of the great assembly. I will praise (halel) you before all the people.
Uh oh. You thought you could save this one for when you were by yourself in your house. But no, we are supposed to celebrate and act clamorously foolish IN FRONT OF all people.
Looks like we have some work to do. I better start seeing some of you act foolish because of how excited you are to be here worshiping the Lord.
Here’s the next one:
2. Yadah: To acknowledge in public.
Not Yoda. That’s the little green guy. Yadah, to acknowledge God in public.
Some of y’all think your faith is private. But that would be like me taking off my wedding ring before I leave the house, going out living my day, and then putting it back on when I got home. “I’m yours babe, but nobody else needs to know because I got you right here in my heart.”
You all know full well Beth would just just slap me if I actually did that. You’d find my hair and teeth all over the floor after that fight. And rightfully so.
God is no different. We offend God when we keep our faith private. You may remember when Jesus said, “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.”
This is a big deal. This matters to God. So what do we do?
Psalms 138:1 NIV – I will praise (yadah) you, Lord, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise.
The only reason we keep it quiet is because of all the people out there that elevate themselves above God, which is exactly what this verse is talking about. Go ahead, praise your God right in front of them no matter what they think.
Here’s the next one:
3. Barak: To bless by kneeling or bowing.
Wow. This one stirs up some political anguish, doesn’t it? But I am not going to get into that, so push it aside so it doesn’t mess this one up for you.
But basically, this one means that you humble yourself before God and thank Him for giving you all these things you don’t deserve.
You don’t necessarily have to kneel physically, although you can. This is something that takes place in your heart. Let me show you:
Psalms 103:2 NLT – Let all that I am praise (barak) the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.
That’s good stuff. Here’s the next one:
4. Zamar: Making music to God with strings.
Now you know where this whole music thing comes from. This is why we do music in church – because it is a form of praise to our God.
And you know what? This is the word David uses to wrap up the book of Psalms. Take a look:
Psalms 150:4-5 NLT – Praise (zamar) him with the tambourine and dancing; praise him with strings and flutes! Praise him with a clash of cymbals; praise him with loud clanging cymbals.
Now you know why we have drums and guitars and singing. Now you know why it’s kind of loud when we praise. God likes it when we praise Him loudly!
Plus, we are just warming you up for heaven. If you don’t like how loud it is here, you going to have an adjustment to make when you get to heaven because it is going to be much louder there when we are all praising God.
Here’s the next one:
5. Shabach: To address in a loud tone, to shout.
When your loved one has been away for a few months and you go to meet them at the airport, you don’t just stand there and say in a calm voice, “Nice to see you.” No, you shout, “Wooo! I’m over here!! I’ve missed you so much!!!”
You do the same thing when your team scores the winning touchdown. You don’t sit there quietly and say calmly, “Good play.” No, you jump out of your chair and shout for joy.
Why is this normal everywhere else but we can’t seem to muster it up for our God? It’s no wonder so many Christians are living such pitiful lives. They have no idea who God is. Because if they did, they’d be shouting when we praise Him.
God has the power to do anything in your life. He can heal you. He can bring you provision. He can bring you a spouse (if you don’t have one already). But we’d rather sit in our pity and not acknowledge His power.
Let me explain it to you in a story. There was a pregnant woman who had been outside for hours in the Oklahoma heat. Funny thing is, she was on the front porch of her air-conditioned house this whole time. The door was unlocked.
She knew it was cool inside, but sat out on the porch hoping that the neighbors would notice and feel sorry for her and come give her attention.
Can I tell you something? God wants you to walk through the door. He’s already provided healing for you. You just have to receive it by believing His Word more than you believe your symptoms or the doctor’s report.
He’s already provided more than enough financial provision for you and your family. You just have to receive it by saying goodbye to your pity party and realizing who you are in Christ.
You are a child of God, by golly! It’s time to start acting like it. Go through the door!
When we remind ourselves of who God really is, we get excited with a shout of praise. Anyone excited right now and just want to shout it out?
Psalms 63:3 NLT – Your unfailing love is better than life itself; how I praise (shabach) you!
Alright, we got two more. Here’s the next one:
6. Towdah: To lift hands in adoration.
Now you know where we get the hand thing. You’ve probably asked yourself that question, “Why does our worship leader always ask us to lift our hands?” Towdah.
Let me show you:
Psalms 50:23 NKJV – Whoever offers praise (towdah) glorifies Me; And to him who orders his conversation aright I will show the salvation of God.
In other words, we lift our hands because God likes it. It glorifies Him when we lift our hands.
Don’t you want to do something that God likes? Well now you know. Lift your hands. And you don’t even have to wait for a worship leader to tell you to.
Here’s the last one:
7. Tehilah: Exuberant singing.
I didn’t say tequila. Some of you are thinking, “I’ve found my verse!” No, no, no. I said tehilah which means ‘exuberant singing’. So actually, it kinda gives you the same result as tequila. The verse is even funnier:
Psalms 34:1 NIV – I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise (tehilah) will always be on my lips.
Now that’s funny. But here’s the deal – God likes exuberant singing. He likes it when we are full of energy and excitement when we sing praises to him.
I know it’s a stretch and seems weird at first to be so excited at church. But it’s only because we’ve believed a lie. We think we are supposed to be calm and reserved as the people of God, but the truth is, God wants us full of joy.
Last week I told you guys how the devil is out to steal our joy. He can’t have happy Christians because Christians who are full of joy take a lot of people with them to heaven.
When you push past your feelings and insecurities and decide this isn’t about me, this is about God. So I will choose to praise Him with energy, publicly for all to see. Because someone that sees is going to be drawn to God as a result.
On the flip side, when we choose not to praise God, we’re elevating ourselves above God. Simple as that. And it’s a slippery slope from there.
Listen to me. What I’ve shared with you today is the Word of God. This is not Kade’s idea. This is not the church’s idea. This is what God wants. He wants us to praise Him with energy, with expression, with volume.
Some of you have just never been given permission to praise like this. You thought you had to behave at church. But now you know, God wants you to act foolishly clamorous at church. So bring it.
Some of you are just so concerned about what other people think that you are always holding back. There’s been times where you wanted to let loose, but you held it in because of who was sitting next to you.
We’ve gotta stop making praise about us.
Praise is for God. Period. Even if people did call us crazy, it doesn’t even matter. Because this isn’t about us. This is about bringing glory and honor to God.
But let me remind you. You have to choose it. You have to choose to praise regardless of how you feel.
For all the control freaks out there, I know, this is going to be hardest on you. So let me help you out. You think you can control things. You think you can control what other people think of you. But here’s the truth:
The only part of life that we can control is our reaction.
Let that sink in. If you really want to be in control, then you choose joy regardless of the circumstances. You choose praise even when you don’t feel like it. You choose to elevate God instead of elevating yourself.
The Bible says that heaven throws a huge party every time someone says yes to Jesus. There must be a never-ending party going on up there. Heaven is going to be a good time, no doubt about that.
I want to be real with you though. Saying yes to Jesus is more than a prayer you say one Sunday morning. It’s more than the emotions you feel after a sermon that touches your heart.
Saying yes to Jesus is saying goodbye to your old life and yes to new life in Christ. Some of you have been in church for a long time, but you’ve yet to do that. Well, heaven is blowing up balloons now to get ready for your party.
It’s time to say goodbye to me, myself, and I and say yes to Jesus. Yes, I will follow you. Yes, I will do what you Word tells me to do. Yes, I will choose joy.
If that’s you, I want you to have that conversation with Jesus right now. Between you and Him, make that commitment.
Salvation Next Step
If you just prayed that prayer, we want to support you along the journey that’s ahead. But we can’t support you if we don’t know. So we set up an easy way for you to tell us. Simply text the word Jesus to 918-373-9883.
We’re not going to bug you. We’re not going to spam you. We are just going to help guide you through your next step. We’re here for you. So please, go ahead and send that text.