Michael Youssef - Aligning With Heaven
Today I want to show you how the praise-filled life can change us and can change us for good. Why am I saying this? Listen carefully. Because praising God is the one thing that you and I will do that lines us up with the courts of heaven. Praise is the one thing that we do that puts us in the same posture as the angels of heaven. Praising God is the one thing we do here on earth that puts us in agreement with what's going on in heaven. Revelation 5:12 tells us that in heaven they are constantly praising Jesus and saying, "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power, wealth, wisdom, strength, honor, and glory, and praise". I say amen belongs here.
You see, the angels and the believers who have gone ahead of us, all the believers who have gone ahead of us right now with the angels are praising Jesus. And when you and I praise the name of the Lord first thing when you wake up in the morning, we are literally aligning ourselves with them. Listen to me. When you and I die and get buried in the ground, our praises are not going to be buried with us. They're going to keep on rising forever and ever and ever in heaven. Our praises to God will never die with us. They'll never die. Listen, I want to be upfront with you. I always am. Developing the praise-filled life demands change. It demands change in us. It demands it, and you and I know change is not easy. I know that.
Most people don't want to change. Most people don't want to make an effort. They don't want to go to trouble. Most people just prefer their comfort zone and their routine. Well, I have to admit to you right up front that change is not easy. I know that. But here's the good news. Praise works. The praise-filled life works, but you have to try it, you have to practice it. You have to exercise it because praise will change you and is going to change you for good because praise will change your life, praise will change your attitude. Trust me. Praise will change your relationships. Praise will change your perspective, your sensitivities, and even your desires.
Someone maybe ask, "Well, Michael, how does a praise-filled life change my attitude? How can that be"? I'm glad you asked. Because when you take time to praise the Lord on a daily basis, most likely and most certain it has to be first thing in the morning, you're going to find that it is nearly impossible for you to harbor anger, bitterness, resentment, or hatred. When you take time to praise the Lord on a daily basis, to praise the goodness of God, the mercy of God, and the attributes of God, you will soon discover that negative spirit toward others and the positive spirit toward the Lord God cannot coexist. One is going to give up, and I know which one is going to disappear. Your praise may start sluggish. I know. Very sluggish and just... but you start anyway. Just move your lips. The Holy Spirit will fill them. Just keep moving your lips. Keep blessing God.
I know it might start not with a joyful attitude and not on the top of the world. I understand that. It's fine, but it may start very reluctant even, but as you persist in praise the spirit of praise is going to lift you up. Why? Because as we saw in the last message, your praise is an invitation to the Holy Spirit of Jesus not only to come and indwell you uniquely; but when the Spirit of Jesus come and indwells in you uniquely in the praise, he was going to come and reign supreme. At that moment, you're going to become loving, forgiving, and even praying for those who spitefully use you.
I have experienced this too many times to doubt it. I've experienced it too many, and I know many of you have too. As I open my mouth to honor the Lord for who he is, as I bless the Lord for the glorious things he has done, as I thank God for his grace and for his mercy and for his longsuffering with me, as I praise God for past provisions, as I bless God for past healings, I find myself uplifted from my current situation. But listen. You don't have to take my word for it. I'm a flawed man. I'm probably more conscious of that than anybody. I'm flawed. I'm a flawed person. But you don't have to take my word for it, take the Word of God for it. Okay? I just want you to take God's Word for it.
So I want you to turn to Isaiah 61. If you don't have your Bible, if you have your iPad, just type Isaiah 61. As you're finding it, as you're looking into it; Isaiah 61, it is a prophecy about the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is a magnificent prophecy because it took place, it happened, it's pronounced 700 years before the Lord Jesus Christ came into Bethlehem of Judea. As a matter of fact, you don't have to go to it now, but mark it down. Luke chapter 4, the Lord goes to his local church, sits down. That's what they did when they read the Scripture. He sits down, and they bring the scroll. And what does the Lord do? He reads Isaiah 61.
"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me because he anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and to open the prison door to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God". Look at verse 3. Coming up, verse 3 Isaiah 61. "To comfort all who mourn and provide for those who mourn in Zion, to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning". Now, here comes the clincher. Here comes the clincher. Are you reading it with me? Here comes the clincher. I want to show it to you demonstrably. You found it? "And the garment of praise, the garment of praise instead of the spirit of despair".
By the way, this is a garment of praise. It was given to me as a gift by the pastors in Beirut, Lebanon a few years ago. Now in your Bible, I want you to highlight a garment of praise. It's the garment that's wore in celebrations. I must tell you a couple of things about the garment of praise. You must understand, first of all, the garment of praise is not something you're born with. The second thing about the garment of praise, it is something you put on. And the third thing is the garment of praise is no good folded or hanging in the closet. It's not good to you. And the fourth thing I want to tell you is the garment of praise is something you choose to put on. You choose, you choose, you choose, you choose to put on.
When it comes to the garment of praise, listen to me, it is something that is given to you. It's like this garment of praise was given to me. It's given to you. It is something that is offered to you, and because of that it now belongs to you. It's now available to you. It is now at your beck and call, but here's the clincher. No one, no one, no one can wear it for you. In other words, no one can praise God for you. They may thank God for you, but they can't do the praises that you must do. You have to choose the praise-filled life. You have to decide.
Hear me out, please. This is important. True praise is the river that flows out of your heart, and that river is fed by your gratitude to God and thankfulness to God and praise to God. Here's something I hope you'll never forget. Don't ever forget what I'm going to tell you. From God's point of view, he has given us a zillion reason why to praise him. He's given us a zillion reason why to praise him, and furthermore, he does give us the desire to praise him. And wouldn't you know it? Because he gets blessed by your praises, he blesses you back. Isn't that an amazing God we have? Isn't that an amazing God we have? But you're the one who has to do the praising. You're the one who must wrap yourself up with the garment of praise. You have to do it, and you have to do it on a daily basis. You're the one who must keep that garment of praise 24/7.
Question, does this mean that you'll never be tempted to take off the garment of praise? Of course not. Temptations come to all of us. But every time the enemy of your soul offers you a garment of despair, what you do you overwhelm him with the garment of praise. Amen. Every time he tempts you to put on the garment of discouragement under the guise of just being realistic, you put on the garment of praise and you keep on wearing it and you keep on wearing it. But there's something else I need to tell you about the garment of praise.
"Isn't that Michael... is not a preacher, a evangelist, or a theologian"? No. The Lord himself, the Lord himself is the one who contrasts the garment of praise with the spirit of despair. The one who made us, the one who redeemed us, the one who loved us, the one who died on the cross for us, he is the one who makes that comparison. The Lord himself does that. And in the Old Testament when a person is experiencing utter despair, it leads them to tear up their garment, literally ripping the fabric as a sign of deep sorrow. The ripping of the fabric is a sign of the ripping of their hearts and how they are heartbroken. It's a sign of being emotionally torn by sadness.
Let me give you some biblical examples of the tearing of the fabric as a symbol of the tearing of the heart. That's why Joel, you know, he says, "Tear your hearts, not your garments". For example, you find in 2 Samuel chapter 13 Tamar the daughter of King David when her wicked, evil step-brother raped her, she tore the ornamented robe in despair. In Job chapter 2, verse 12 when Job's friends saw what happened to him, they couldn't help it but tear their own clothes.
In Ezra 9:3 when Ezra saw the unfaithfulness of God's people, he tore the tunic and the cloak. Question, what is Jesus's message when he sat in his local church and opened the Scripture to Isaiah 61 and says, "This has been fulfilled in your years," meaning, "This prophecy now fulfilled in me the Messiah. I am the one of whom Isaiah 61 is speaking". And he says this to them. And first of all they're kind of not very responsive, but then later he told them a story from the Old Testament that indicated that he came to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews and that's when they took him into this precipice in Nazareth and they wanted to throw him down. "What do you mean, the Messiah came to save Gentiles? He's only come to save Jews".
But what is he saying? Why did he sit there and read the chapter of Isaiah 61 and Luke chapter 4? Because he's telling every one of us that in him the Christ you can exchange your torn garment of sadness with his garment of gladness, that in him the Christ you can replace your garment of despair with his garment of praise, that in him the Christ you can throw away the garment of sorrow and cloak yourself with his healing and the garment of his power and forgiveness, in him the Christ you can cover up your nakedness of discouragement and despair with a beautiful garment of joy.
Now, beloved, it is only in the lifting up of the name of Jesus that evaporates the cloud of discouragement. I don't know of any other way. It is when you move your lips in praise and worship and adoration on a daily basis that he moves his power and his strength and his joy in you. It is when you fix your eyes on Jesus and the praise of Jesus will he changes your desires, he will change your relationships, he will change your perspective, and he will change your sensitivities. Can I get a witness?
Well, if that's not enough, let me give you another reference from Isaiah 40 beginning at verse 28. Mark it down. I'm going to read it for you, but mark it down. "Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord, the everlasting God, the Creator of the end of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary, and he increases the power of the weak. Even youth will grow tired and weary, and young men will stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord..." Can you say that with me? "Those... they will renew strength". Hallelujah. "They will soar on wings of eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint".
I need to tell you true story as I conclude. It's a wonderful story. It's an incredible example to me and I pray to you, best example of how the garment of praise can overwhelm the spirit of despair and discouragement every time. His name was George Frideric Handel. I'm sure you know the name. He was all alone in his room one day feeling depressed, discouraged. Actually, he was feeling thoroughly and utterly dejected. He was despondent, and he was weary. His soul was sick within him. You see, a few days earlier, his orchestra was thrown out on the streets after rehearsal. The next day the concert audience jeered him, and he convinced himself he is nothing but a failure. He is just utter failure. He felt there was nothing left for him but to leave London. And while he's in the middle of this dark mood, this dark mood of despair, there was a knock on the door. Interrupted his despair.
A friend came with a manuscript for an oratorio, and he asked Handel, "Will you please write the music for it"? Handel refused. He say, "It's over. I'm done". But then he took a second look at it and he saw the title Messiah, Messiah. And Handel did love praise the name of Jesus. He loved the praise of God. So he read it, and all of a sudden, he literally recovered because the spirit of praise began to cover him like a blanket from head to toes, and he immediately went to work three straight weeks without a break and he came up with what we know today as Handel's Messiah. "Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah".
It's okay, guys. Your job is safe. And thus, my beloved friends, the garment of despair was replaced by the garment of praise. Today, you and I and millions of others around the world can be blessed with that magnificent music, the so-called Handel's Messiah, and it was born out of the spirit of despair being replaced by the garment of praise. I'm about to finish, so I don't want to lose you in the last couple of seconds, okay? There is no telling how God can use you and you and you and you and every single person at the sound of my voice; yes, you at any age, at any stage, at any condition, and in any place. He can use you. The question is, will you say, "Yes, Lord. Yes, Lord. I will take the garment of praise, every day have it cover me, and I will live the praise-filled life".