Joel Osteen - An Atmosphere Of Praise
I want to talk to you today about An Atmosphere of Praise. We’re all creating an atmosphere around us by what we’re thinking, what we’re saying, our attitude. It’s easy to go around negative, "Look at this doctor’s report. This traffic is bad. These people did me wrong". Whatever you’re sending out, you’re going to draw in. If you’re creating a negative atmosphere, that’s going to attract discouragement, defeat, bad breaks. But when you create an atmosphere of praise, when you’re always thanking God for what he’s done, when you get up in the morning, and say, "Lord, thank you that I’m alive today. Thank you for my beautiful children. Thank you, that goodness and mercy are following me. Thank you that I’m surround by your favor. Lord, I thank you that you’ve made me invisible to the enemy", that faith-filled atmosphere is going to draw in favor, good breaks, peace, and joy.
Pay attention to what kind of atmosphere you’re creating. You can’t complain and see breakthroughs. You can’t go around talking about problems, how’s it not going to work out, this challenge is too big and reach your potential. That negative atmosphere is stopping your victory.
The scripture (Psalm 22:3) says that "God inhabits the praises of his people." He doesn’t inhabit complaints. He doesn’t inhabit frustration, worry, "Why is this taking so long? These children get on my nerves". That doesn’t get God’s attention. But when he hears you talking about his greatness, praising when you could be complaining, declaring his promises when you’re up against giants, thanking him that he’s working when nothing is changing, that’s when God says, "Let me step in. Let me fight that battle. Let me make a way. Let me bring promotion, healing, favor." One version says, "God is enthroned when we praise him." When you’re full of praise, you’re building a throne for God to sit on. When you go through the day grateful, focus on what’s right, spring in your step, smile on your face, being good to people, that’s not just having a positive attitude - you’re inviting God into your life, into your circumstances, into your emotions.
When you’re up challenges, things that seem too big, dreams that look impossible, you’ll be tempted to worry, live stress, complain. But the best thing you can do is give God praise. It may be too much for you, but it’s not too much for him. David said, "magnify the Lord with me." Don’t magnify your problems. Magnify your God. Thank him for who he is. "Lord, I thank you that you’re the all-powerful creator of the universe. God, I thank you that you’re the great I am. You’re my provider, my healer, my protector, my deliverer, my way maker." That’s what causes God to show up. Not begging him, "God, you’ve gotta do something." Not complaining, "It’s not fair". Not worrying, "What am I going to do?" That’s attracting the wrong things. Switch over into praise. That’s what attracts the most powerful force in the universe.
Victoria and I were at a nursery recently. Was this huge place. Several acres, all kinds of plants, flowers, and shrubs. And we’ve been looking for a half an hour going up and down the different rows, we came to this one particular type of flower. There were hundreds of bees around them. Everywhere you look, you could barely see the individual flower because it had so many bees on it. I asked the man working there, what was different about this flower, than the ones right next to it that had no bees. He told how that flower puts off a sweet smell that attracts the bees. There’s something called nectar, that the flower produces, that creates this aroma that draws the bees in. We saw hundreds of different types of flowers that day, row after row, but these were the only flowers that had bees on them. There were other flowers that looked the same. They were colorful, beautiful, they had smells, but they didn’t have any bees. These bees were looking for this specific smell of nectar. So, they passed over all the other flowers, until they came to these flowers.
The scripture says, our praise goes up as a sweet-smelling aroma before God. When you give God praise, you’re putting off that aroma that attracts God. God can smell praise. He’ll pass over person, after person, after person, then, he comes to you and he smells that sweet-smelling aroma. He hears you thanking him. Going around grateful, talking about how blessed you are, declaring his promises. "This is another day the Lord has made. I'mma rejoice. I’m going to live this day happy. Father, thank you that as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Yes, I have some big challenges, but God, I know you’ve been for me is more than the world being against me." I can imagine God saying to the angels, "I smell something. Do you smell it? There’s a sweet smelling aroma coming up. I'mma go find where it’s coming from." Your praise will attract God. He’ll pass over all these other people, and find the praiser. He’ll find the one that report of victory. The one that’s talking about how big their God is, and not how big the problem is.
But I wonder if what you’re putting off is attracting God or causing him to pass by? "I don’t know, Joel, this inflation is really bad. My back’s been hurting. These people at work get on my nerves, and I can’t stand driving in that traffic". Instead of a sweet-smelling aroma, that’s putting off an odor. That attitude stinks. I can hear God saying, "Go get me some air fresheners. Go pick up some odor eaters." That stink is God away. We’ve all met people. We’re not around them 15 minutes and we can tell they’re bitter, they’re a worrier, they’re a complainer, they’re angry. Instead of a sweet-smelling aroma, grateful, good natured, joyful, they’re putting up an odor. Their attitude stinks, their words are negative, they’re focused on what’s wrong, they’re expecting the worst. Don’t let what you’re putting out keep you from your potential.
Other people can’t stop you. The enemy can’t stop you. The only one that can stop you is you. If you live negative, bitter, jealous, worried, angry, none of those things attract God. You need God to reach the fullness of your destiny. You can’t do it on your own. When you create an atmosphere of praise, you’re going to attract favor, the right people, healing, freedom, abundance.
It’s interesting how smell works. We had an animal that died behind our fence in the backyard. Raccoons, squirrels, something like that, but the smell was so bad, the stink so strong, that I didn’t want to go out in the yard. Sometimes, we’ll eat on the back porch, but it was so powerful, so offensive, that it drove me away. Victoria used to make this chocolate cake. It was so good. Homemade, right out of the box. She, she, no... That was funny, but I mean to say, not out of the box, but maybe I prophesied it or something. I don’t know, but she got this recipe from a friend that had been passed down and it was an amazing cake. So, when I walked in the back door from the garage, the kitchen is two rooms away, I’m not even close to it, but I could smell the aroma of that cake. She didn’t have to tell me she had made a cake. She didn’t have to come announce, "Joel, I cooked something for you", my nose knew exactly what she had done. That smell drew me to it. I couldn’t help it. I was attracted to it.
That’s how powerful smells are. I was pushed away from that stench in the backyard, and I was drawn to that sweet-smelling chocolate cake in the oven. What is your life putting off? What is your attitude putting off? What are your words putting off? Sweet smelling aromas? Or are you creating odors? Stinky attitudes, negative talk, worried all the time, that’s pushing God away. If you want to attract favor, joy, peace, creativity, start sending up some praise. Start thanking God for what he’s done. Start bragging on his goodness. Start declaring his victory over your life.
Instead of worrying, living stress, start believing that he’s in control, thanking him that he’s working out his plan for your life. Pay attention to what you’re putting off. God is attracted to praise. You can’t be neutral and think, "well, I’m not going to be negative, alright? I’m not going to complain." That’s good. You’re not putting out any odors, but you need to send up some aromas. "Lord, thank you for waking me up this morning. Thank you for giving me breath to breathe. Thank you that I’m healthy. Thank you for my family, for opportunity, for protection, for favor." That’s creating an atmosphere of praise. That’s what attracts the most high God.
The scripture talks about in Ephesians 5:19, "...making melody in your heart". Some people were always making something. Some people are making sadness, thinking about what they’ve been through, what wasn’t fair, what they lost, that’s drawing in more sadness, more discouragement. Other people are making worry, playing all the negative thoughts over and over, "What if it doesn’t work out? What if I don’t get well? I’ll never get out of this problem". That’s drawn in more stress, more heaviness. Why don’t you start making melody? Start having a song of praise in your heart. Instead of "These children are so much trouble", "Lord, thank you for blessing me with children". Instead of "it’s a pain to go to work", "Lord, thank you that I have this job". "Business is slow, I’ll never get ahead". "Lord, thank you that you’re my provider, that you make streams in the desert". "Yeah, the medical report’s not good. I don’t think I’ll ever get well". No, "Lord, thank you that you’re restoring health back into me". What are you sending up? Odors or aromas? What are you creating? An atmosphere of doubt, worry, mediocrity, or an atmosphere of praise, an atmosphere of victory, an atmosphere of abundance?
I was watching something funny on YouTube. This man dresses up like a bush. He’s covered with green leaves all over his face, his whole body, and he crouches on the sidewalk. When people walk by, they think it’s a bush. He stands up and scares them. It’s all just for fun. About half of the people, when he stands up, the first thing they do is let out a curse word. Oh, blank. It just comes out without them even thinking about it. The scripture says (Matthew 12:34), "Out of the heart, the mouth speaks". Whatever is in you is going to eventually come out of your mouth, especially when you’re under pressure. Well, about 10% of the people, when they were scared, instead of cursing, the first thing they screamed was Jesus. Same situation, but one’s cursing, one’s praising. What’s the difference? It depends on what you’re full of. You’re going to be full of something, either worry, doubt, bitterness, complaints. Or you can be full of praise, full of thanksgiving, full of hope, faith, victory. I want us to be so full filled with praise that even in unexpected difficulties, first thing we do is call on the name of the Lord. We declare his goodness. We talk about how great he is.
By early 20s, I was driving home from work one evening on the freeway, and it had been raining really hard. I went to change lanes, and I hit this big puddle of water, and lost control of my car. I started spinning around across three lanes of traffic, I hit the concrete barrier there in the middle, and it catapulted me, and I started spinning back across those same lanes. This was at rush hour. I looked up at one point, this eighteen wheeler was right in front of me. I was facing the wrong direction. It was like I could reach out and touch his front grill. I didn’t have time to pray. I didn’t have time to think about it. But I heard myself say, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus", came out of my mouth three times. Next thing I knew, I was over on the shoulder. Somehow, that truck had missed me. The driver pulled over, he walked up to my window. The first thing he said was, "Boy, you must be living right, because when I brace to hit you, this big gust of wind blew my truck into the other lane". I’m so glad I said "Jesus" and not Blankity Blank. If I had said something else, I may not be here. When you stay full of praise, it will come out when you need it.
In the scripture, God told Jonah to go to the city of Nineveh, but Jonah didn’t want to go there. He got on a boat headed the other direction. They encountered a huge storm, and they all thought they were going to die. And Jonah finally admitted to the crew that he was the problem. They said, "Thank for telling us", and then they threw him overboard. It should have been the end, but God and his mercy had a big fish waiting for Jonah. It swallowed him. Jonah was sitting in the belly of this whale. You can imagine how it smelled inside a whale’s digestive system. Gases, fluids, foods, it would have wheat, so stinky, almost unbearable. In Jonah chapter two, for eight verses, Jonah talked about how bad his life was, how he was in the depths of despair, and how he surrounded by vast waters, how he didn’t see a way out. All of that was true, but complaining doesn’t get God’s attention. Sending up odors, "God, this isn’t fair. Why did this happen? These people did me wrong", that doesn’t cause God to respond. What attracts him are sweet-smelling aromas.
You may be in a stinky situation. Like Jonah, you could describe everything wrong. How you weren’t treated right, how you’ll never get well. That’s creating an atmosphere of doubt, defeat, negativity. That’s going to keep you where you are. After complain for eight verses, Jonah had a change of heart. He must have tuned in Lakewood, he said in verse nine, "God, in spite of my difficulties, I’m going to offer up the sacrifice of praise with the voice of Thanksgiving". In the middle of the well, he started saying, "Lord, thank you that you’re still in control. Thank you that your mercy is bigger than my mistakes. Thank you that you didn’t bring me this far to leave me. That what you started in my life, you will finish". I can hear God saying, "I smell an aroma coming from inside a well. Should be stinky, should smell offensive, and odor but it’s a sweet-smelling aroma. It’s a song of praise. It’s a song of victory". The next verse says, "God commanded the fish and he spit Jonah up on dry land".
When you praise in the midst of trouble, when you talk about God’s goodness, when you don’t see how it can work out, when you send sweet-smelling aromas while you’re surrounded by things that stink, that’s when the most high God will go to work. If God will cause a whale to take Jonah to the shore, so he can fulfill his destiny, even after he made mistakes, God will cause your child to get back on course. God will cause that medical report to turn around. God will cause you to break the addiction, to meet the right person, to have that baby. The question is, what are you sending up? Complaints, doubts, worry? No, be a Jonah. In the middle of the stink, in the middle of the challenge, send up an aroma of praise. Send up faith, send up hope. "Lord, thank you that there’s nothing too hard for you. That what you have purposed for my life will come to pass. That no person, no bad break, no sickness, no addiction, that all the forces of darkness cannot stop what you have planned."
The Psalmist said (Psalm 150:2), "Praise him for his unequal greatness. Praise him for his mighty works. Praise him for his majestic power." You may be limited but he’s unlimited. We’re natural, but he’s supernatural. When you don’t see a way out, you’ll be tempted to complain, but you gotta turn it around and praise him for who he is. "Lord, I praise you that you’re bigger than this sickness. I praise you that you’re stronger than this addiction. I praise you that you’re greater than this trouble. I praise you that you’re more powerful than these people". You could be enough defeat, doubt, complaints. Instead, you’re sending up sweet-smelling aromas, bragging on the goodness of God. Those aromas set miracles into motion. That’s when God will show up and do what you cannot do.
But sometimes, we’re waiting for the circumstances to change, then we’ll give God praise, then we’ll have a good attitude, but that’s backwards. You have to give God praise first. You have to have that song in your heart when nothing is changing. Seems like it’s never going to work out, but you’re still thanking God that he’s making ways where you don’t see a way.
See, the Israelites were in slavery for 430 years, and was very unfair. They were forced to work long hours, given quotas that they couldn’t meet. Psalm 137:1 says, "They wept at they thought of Jerusalem". They were so discouraged and so disheartened. They used to be joyful. They used to talk about the greatness of Jehovah, how he done amazing things. They were filled with praise, but now they were in captivity, things hadn’t worked out. They didn’t just lose their freedom, but they lost their praise. They made the mistake in captivity to quit sending up the sweet smelling aromas. It’s easy to do. When we’re in difficult times and life is thrown us a curve, we look back at what used to be, and think about how great that was, and how far we are from that. It’s tempting to be negative, discouraged, talk about how it used to be. They sat by the rivers of Babylon. When they could have been thanking God that he was going to bring them out, instead, they spent that time weeping, discouraged over what they had lost.
Verse 2 said, "They put away their harps and hung them on willow trees." Their captors asked them to sing the songs of Israel. They’d heard about the joy, the dancing, all these happy, uplifting songs, but the Israelites entered back, "How can we sing songs of the Lord while we’re in a foreign land." Their attitude was, "once God delivers us, then, we’ll sing." "Once I get well, Joel, once my child gets back on course, once my, you know, the inflation goes down, then, I’ll get my heart back. Then, I’ll get my joy back." No, praise is what’s going to cause it to turn around. While you’re waiting for things to change, while you’re believing for breakthroughs, the enemy would love for you to hang up your harp, to get discourage, start complaining, sit around, talk about your problem. No, that’s when more than ever, you need to give God praise. Praise activates his power. Praise causes angels to go to work. Praise opens prison doors. Praise breaks chains. Praise defeats giants. Don’t hang up your heart. You can praise your way out. If you’ll start sending up sweet smelling aromas, you’ll be amazed at what God will do.
When my mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer and given a few weeks to live, she was tempted to hang up her harp. She’d been so healthy, so energetic, now, she weighed eighty-nine pounds. Like the Israelites, she didn’t see a way out. That sickness had her in captivity, looked like that would be the end, but she didn’t make the mistake that they made. She kept her heart. In the middle of that challenge, when every voice said she would never make it, medically speaking, it wasn’t possible, she kept sending up praises, "Father, thank you that you can do the impossible. That the number of my days will fulfill. Thank you that I will live and not die, and declare the works of the Lord."
The more defeat that came against her mind, the more praises she sent out. You have to be more determined than the enemy. When the going gets tough, the tough have to get going. Maybe today, you need to go get your heart back. You let that set back, that breakup, that loss, not just steal your joy but take your praise. You’re wondering when God is going to do something. God is waiting for you to send up some aromas. If you’ll start putting out the right things, like those bees are drawn to the nectar in the flower, your praise will draw in the most high God. It doesn’t inhabit our doubts, our fears, our complaints, our worries, praise is what causes God to work.
I would hear my mother going through the house, thanking God for his goodness, talking about how he was turning things around. In the midst of that difficulty, she was making melody in her heart. She could have been making worry, making discouragement, making fear, but she chose to create this atmosphere of praise. She knew that God can smell praise, that he’s drawn to praise. So, she kept her harp and she kept sending up praises. It didn’t happen overnight, but she started getting better and better. That was December of 1981, here we are 41 years later. She’s still going strong. 89 years old, still healthy and whole.
What kind of atmosphere are you creating? What are you sending up all through the day? "Well, I’ll never get well. I’ll never meet the right person. I can’t accomplish my dreams. I don’t have the connections." Do yourself a favor, go get your harp, get your song back, get your praise back, get your vision back, get your dream back. God is still on the throne. He still has a destiny for you to fulfill. What’s in your future is greater than anything you’ve seen in your past. You and God are a majority. There’s not an obstacle you’re facing that he can’t turn around. Not a dream he’s put in your heart that he can’t bring to pass.
Second Kings chapter three, the Israelites, along with two other armies had been traveling through the desert for 7 days. They were going to sneak up on the Moabites and attack them. They thought there would be streams or well along the way, but they couldn’t find any water. They didn’t know if they continue on. Well, King Jehoshaphat asked the other two kings if there was any prophet, so they could ask God what they should do. They said, "Well, Elisha is nearby." Well, Elisha didn’t want to have anything to do with those other two kings. They didn’t honor God. He was annoyed by it all, but because of his friend, King Jehoshaphat, he agreed to do it. He said in verse fifteen, "Bring me someone that can play the harp."
Elijah knew he couldn’t hear from God in that setting. He was upset, irritated, he had to change the atmosphere. The scripture (2 Kings 3:15) says, "While the harp was being played, the power of the Lord came on Elisha and he began to prophesy." It’s amazing what God will do if you’ll create the right atmosphere. When there’s doubt, worry, frustration, that’s keeping us from seeing the goodness of God. Like Elijah did, bring in the harp, turn up the praise, create an atmosphere of faith, hope, expectancy. That’s what causes God to show up.
And this shouldn’t something we do every once in a while. Really, it should be a lifestyle. David said, his praise should continually be in our mouth. All through the day, under our breath, we’re making melody in our heart, thanking God for his goodness. Grateful for for what he’s done. Talking about his greatness.
Just like that bee is attracted to the smell and the flower, God is attracted to the smell of praise. My question is, what kind of atmosphere are you creating? Worry, doubt, complaining? That’s sending out an odor. That’s pushing away the good things. God is looking for that sweet-smelling aroma. You may be in a difficult situation with things coming against you - don’t hang up your harp. The enemy would love for you to start complaining, live bitter. No, keep the praises going up. Keep thanking God that he’s working. Keep declaring that you’re coming out.
One thing I’ve learned is: you can’t keep a praiser down. If you’ll stay full of praise, I believe and declare: like with Jonah, negative situations are about to turn around. Like Elijah, because you’ve got your harp up, you’re going to see favor that you’ve never seen, new doors are about to open, healing, divine connections, the fullness of your destiny, in Jesus name. And if you receive it, can you say amen today? Amen.