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Sermon of the Week 
Wednesday, February 03 2016

Send Judah First by Charles Elliott

The Old Testament, is a type, a shadow and pattern of things to come as well as a historical account of events which demonstrate Israel’s covenant with Jehovah God.

God is training Israel to depend upon Him as He reveals Himself in the ongoing struggles and trials they experience as a people and a nation. These patterns show us the values and principles which God is desiring to instill within their way of thinking and how they approach every life situation, to insure that they line up with the outcome He knows is best for them and for the future of all the earth yet to be touched by the covenant He is establishing in and through them.

Romans 15:4 “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

I want to focus on an important, fundamental principle which God is wanting to instill within His people. In the book of Judges, chapter 1, verses 1-12, Israel is preparing for battle and they inquire of the Lord, “Who will be the first to go up and fight for us against the Canaanites”? In other words, Who is it, that will lead us into battle? The Lord tells them ...Send Judah first.

Later, in Judges 20:18 they asked the Lord... “who of us shall go first to fight against the Benjamites”? The Lord replied, Send Judah first.

There are twelve tribes of Israel. 12 is the number of God’s government. For the purpose of this study, let’s take a look at the meaning of each of the 12 tribes….

The first is Reuben – it means “compassion” 2. Simeon – which means “God has heard” 3.Levi – means “agreement” 4.Dan - means “a judge” 5.Naphtali – means “warrior” 6.Gad – means “good fortune” 7.Asher - means “happiness” 8.Issachar – means “the rewarder” 9.Zebulun – means “honor” 10.Joseph- means “God has added” 11.Benjamin – means “strength” 12.Judah- means “praise”

Why should Judah be called upon to go first and to lead the nation into battle? We might have chosen the warrior, or strength, or good fortune.. But God chose Judah to lead the way…..and the scripture could be translated as, LET PRAISE GO UP FIRST, LET PRAISE LEAD THE WAY! This is good advice for us when facing struggles or battles. Let us lead with praise. This is both an act of faith and an attitude of submission. Praise God before the battle is entered; anyone can praise when the battle is over and won.

Only by faith can we praise from the start. Praise demands expression and demonstration…It flows up from a heart of thanksgiving, gratitude, and hope for a good outcome. It stirs faith and raises up the banner of God’s faithfulness, His love and His glory in the earth.

Picture if you will, the army going forth into battle and Judah is up front…with praise banners, with dancing and timbrels, with loud music and singing, trumpets are blasting and shouts are going up to God! The army coming up behind them are encouraged and enthusiasm fills each heart. Any fear is banished, discouragement has to go, and there is a clarity and sense of victory in the air.

2 Corinthians 10:3-4; “For though we walk in the flesh we do not war after the flesh: For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ”.

Praise and worship can break demonic strongholds that have bound us. Praise and the Word of God are able to pull down Satan’s barriers and blockades. Praise can clear a path through Satan’s stumbling blocks, traps and minefields.

In a church conference, everyone was given a helium filled balloon that had the word “praise” on it, and they were all told to release the balloon at any time in the conference when they felt a break-through in their situation, and a release in their Spirit concerning their need. By the end of the conference, only two thirds of the balloons had been released. Let your balloon go….release your praise to go before you, and bring a shift into your struggle.

Praise is about replacing your thoughts with the thoughts of God and demanding that the enemy deal with it. He can’t get over it, under it, around it or through it!!! The Word of God in praise, the Name of Jesus in praise, and the Blood of Jesus in praise, are weapons of God that transform and change our entire perspective and leave no place for the enemy.

A tremendous amount of power is released when praise is offered to God. This is a weapon that we often take for granted. When you take God’s thoughts and enter into praise, you become like a battering ram against the strongholds that Satan has erected against your mind.

When Satan was known as “Lucifer” the “Morning Star”, he began his Great Rebellion and Insurrection by complaining, becoming negative and skipping his morning Allelujahs. It must have seemed minor at the time, but hell expands it’s power whenever praise has gone sour and begins to be neglected. Praise is a daily discipline in every believer’s life, and fallen angels are those who grew negligent with their praise to God.

Satan hates our praise, because he knows that it was the turning point to his demise in heaven and it is the turning point to breaking his power here in the earth! …..

He gets you out in some barren, desolate wilderness…and here comes praise! He gets you in the place of pain and sickness…and here comes praise! He works to destroy your hopes and dreams….and here comes praise! He tries to isolate you and shuts you in all alone….and here comes praise! He tries to overwhelm you with fear and worry….and here comes praise!

Satan hates our praise because our praise attracts God’s presence. Oh, how we need His presence! King David said "In Your presence is fullness of Joy." When we praise Him He shows up right in the middle of our circumstance to bring us the victory! When we get good at praising God for what He's done in our past we'll realize what He can do in our present, and ultimately we will be assured what He will do in our future! What we exalt, is what we give power to in our lives.

Psalm 43:5 “Why are you cast down, O my soul? and why are you disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is my God, the glory and lifter of my head”.

The bible tells us that An alliance had been formed by Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, to go up together against the tribe of Judah, with such overwhelming forces, that they could easily defeat them and make slaves of them.

The bible records in II Chronicles 20: 22, “When they (Judah) began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah”. Read on and you find that Judah’s praise brought such confusion upon the enemy, that they turned on one another and destroyed one another, without Judah needing to do anything more than praise the Lord!

PRAISE NOT ONLY BROUGHT PROTECTION, BUT IT BROUGHT ABUNDANT PROVISION. And if you look at verse 25, it says, “And when king Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah came to take away the spoil of them, they found among them in abundance both riches and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away: and they were three days in gathering of the spoils, it was so much”.

There are two kinds of people, there are those who do the work, and those who take the credit…. When we give praise to God, we’re giving Him all the credit, for in Him we live and move and have our being. To praise Him is to compliment Him, for He alone is worthy of all the glory, and the honor, and the praise.

A little boy asked his mom to play a dart game with him…He said, “Mom, I’ll throw the darts and you stand here and say, “Oh, that’s so wonderful”….(Believe it……even God likes to be complimented)

To praise Him is to appreciate Him as the giver of life and breath. The author of every good thing in our lives, and the rewarder of the faithful.

PRAISE BRINGS FREEDOM... Paul and Silas were arrested for preaching the Gospel. They were brutally beaten, cast into prison, and put in chains. They had every reason to be angry, depressed and defeated. They were in pain. They were weary. They were completely cut off from the church. They were at the mercy of evil and unscrupulous men. But even though they were in prison, the prison wasn’t allowed to get into them….

Inside their spirits, they were free! Because their praise couldn’t be stopped by bars of iron on the windows, the chains and shackles on their bodies, or the prison walls that confined them. When they locked Paul up, he had them right where he wanted them and they couldn’t get away! At the midnight hour, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God. Suddenly, a violent earthquake shook the foundations of the jail. All the doors were immediately blasted open, and all the prisoners' chains broke off.

In the midnight hour when things are dark, Send Praise first! When you can see no help in sight, Send Praise First! When you feel mistreated or misunderstood, Send Praise first! When you are facing physical or emotional pain, Send Praise first! Don't wait for things to get better. Praise Him and things will turn out for the better, no matter what it may look like!

We need to praise Him with Singing - O sing unto the Lord a new song: sing unto the Lord, all the earth. Sing unto the Lord, bless His name; shew forth His salvation from day to day. (PSALM 96:1)

We need to praise Him by Clapping Our Hands - O clap your hands, all ye people; shout unto God with the voice of triumph. (PSALM 47:1)

We need to praise Him by Lifting Our Hands - Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the LORD. (PSALM 134:2)

We need to praise Him with Music - Praise His name in the dance: sing praises unto Him with the percussion and strings. (PSALM 149:3)

We need to praise him by Kneeling Down Before Him – “Let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. (Psalm 95:6)

But I believe the praise that brings Him the greatest pleasure, is The Sacrifice of Praise….The sacrifice of praise is a clear demonstration that we are transforming instead of conforming! The sacrifice of praise is about true love that puts the Lord before ourselves. The sacrifice of praise always pays a price, and it always costs something more than the uncommitted will pay. It is expensive and it is of great value in heaven’s economy.

When you give the sacrifice of praise, the benefits show up not only in someone else’s account but the eternal benefits show up in yours as well. This kind of praise is a giving thing, not a grabbing thing.

In baseball, there is a play that’s called a Sacrifice fly. If a runner is on 3rd base... and there are less than 2 outs... the batter can try to hit the ball deep into the outfield... knowing that the ball will be caught... and he will be called out... but he sacrifices himself, so that his teammate can score a run for the team.

In the Gulf War, there was a young soldier who was seriously wounded. His arm and leg were so badly smashed that they had to be amputated. The surgeon waited beside his recovery bed to tell him the bad news when he regained consciousness. When his eyes finally opened, the surgeon said "I am sorry to tell you that you have lost your arm and leg." "Sir," said the soldier, "I did not lose them, I gave them -- for my country."

It is in the joy, for the privilege of sacrifice….. the joy for being able to sacrifice, that the sacrifice of praise is truly offered.

In 2 Samuel 24:24 “King David said unto Araunah, I will not offer anything unto the LORD my God of that which cost me nothing”.

The sacrifice of praise is when we still praise Him when... our loved one is sick... We praise Him when we have a lot more questions than answers….We praise Him when it’s 90 degrees and the air conditioner has stopped working, the roof is leaking, the car stopped running and we just got a bad report from the doctor…

It is in those times when our praise life needs to be strongly established, and praise becomes our go-to attitude! It’s the choice we’ve already made in advance.

I used to know a lady in our church, who worked as the cashier in a convenience store, and one day I asked her what she would do if she saw someone coming in with a gun to rob the store. She told me that she had a plan. She would duck down, slip out the side door by the counter, go into the ladies bathroom, lock the door, and climb up on the top of the toilet tank, in case they shot through the door. Well sure enough, I found out that everything she said came to pass, and they shot through the door. But because she had climbed up on the tank, she wasn’t hurt by the bullets coming through the door.

Just as she had a plan in case she was robbed….We need to pre-condition ourselves with a praise plan, when times get rough!….. (say it with me now, “I will bless the Lord at all times, His praise shall continually be in my mouth”)

Jeremiah 33:10 Thus says the LORD; Again there shall be heard in this place, which you say shall be desolate without man and without beast, even in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem, that are desolate, v11 The voice of joy, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride, the voice of them that shall say, Praise the LORD of hosts: for the LORD is good; for his mercy endures forever: and they shall bring the sacrifice of praise into the house of the LORD. (Jeremiah had a praise plan)

Psalm 91:1 He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. v2 I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust”. You can see how David and the people, are being pre-conditioned for praise….(they had a praise plan)

Job 13:15, Job says, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him”. (He had a praise plan)

Listen to Habakkuk in chapter 3 verse17 “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines, though the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat, though the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls v18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. v19 The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places”.

(Habakkuk had a praise plan)

Christianity without praise is dull and lifeless. Christianity without sacrifice is meaningless and a sham. Christianity without a sacrifice of praise is not really Christianity at all.

Is it any wonder that Jesus is called the “Lion of the tribe of Judah” (or praise) for it is out of praise that He comes forth. It is with the sound of praise that He entered the virgin’s womb. It was with the sound of heaven’s mighty praise that He came forth from the tomb and ascended into heaven!

Hebrews 12:12 “Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees v13 And make straight paths for your feet, so that those who are lame will not be turned away; but rather let them be healed….v22 For you are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, v23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, v24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks of better things to come”.

When we praise, the devil hears the Lion’s roar!!! Before we spend hours just talking about the problem and how bad things are….Let praise go first. Before we wear ourselves out and expend our energy shadow boxing with things that really are not our enemy….Let praise go first. When we’re neck-deep in the heat of our spiritual battle…..Let praise go first.

Let praise lead you into that job interview….Let praise lead you into the courtroom…. Let praise go ahead of you as you face illness…. Send praise before you as you deal with your financial problems, or those difficult decisions and choices. God says “Send Praise First”

Let’s close with the Song….”We bring the sacrifice of praise, into the house of the Lord we bring the sacrifice of praise, into the house of the Lord. And we offer up to You, the sacrifices of thanksgiving. And we offer up to You, the sacrifices of joy”.

:I will praise Him, I will praise Him, Praise the lamb for sinners slain. Give Him glory all ye people. For His blood can wash away each stain”.

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