Joshua 6:1-5

Now Jericho was securely shut up because of the children of Israel; none went out, and none came in. And the Lord said to Joshua: “See! I have given Jericho into your hand, its king, and the mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days. And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. But the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. It shall come to pass, when they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, and when you hear the sound of the trumpet, that all the people shall shout with a great shout; then the wall of the city will fall down flat. And the people shall go up every man straight before him.”

Happy New Year to one and all!

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Those that know me know that I love to begin each year with a new annual theme. And for weeks I’ve been praying, listening and waiting for word from the Lord.  Well finally it has come. Let 2016 be known as “A Year of Praise!” This year will surely be known as a year of praise.

Inspiration for this theme came from a somewhat unlikely source: the story of Joshua at Jericho. And I say unlikely because even though the battle was won, the typical rules of engagement were not met. The army didn’t march up and smite the enemy with superior military tactics. The mighty men of valor didn’t get the opportunity to flex their muscles and beat up on the bad guys. In matter of fact, the victory was won by doing a very mundane and often boring activity - walking. For most of this battle all the people of God did was simply walk.

Oh yah, if you fast forward to the end of the story it is exciting and wonderful; but the beginning and middle are quite the opposite. For six days there was nothing but quiet walking around the same impenetrable wall to no avail.  The story of Jericho is undoubtedly a great lesson on faith, endurance, trust, commitment and spiritual resolve; but it is an unlikely story to evoke praise. At least not how we generally view moments of great praise and worship.

More often than not, we find occasion to praise either after or during a great move of God in our lives. Praise is generally a response to what the Lord has done or is actively doing. We praise God when the doctor’s report comes back favorable. We leap for joy when we get the raise at work.  We shout out loud when our trials and tribulations come to an end. Praise is that response that says, “thank you”. It addresses action and validates the maintenance of our faith. Praise is the ultimate “I told you so” to the enemy.

And this is why Jericho is so strange. The Children of Israel were instructed to praise before they won the victory. They didn’t win anything, yet the were rejoicing.  The enemy was still ‘at-large’. The threat was still looming over their heads. There was no proof, no evidence and no reason to believe things would change; except for one thing. The word of the Lord!

As we seek tangible and concrete things to change in our lives this upcoming year, I want us to focus on the significance of our praise and the power of our worship in bringing about the victory we are looking for. Praise is not some arbitrary exercise in futility. It isn’t just an emotional response to church jargon. Praise is the power of faith-filled purpose. 

In other words, we don’t have to wait to see the conclusion of the matter before we begin to give God the praise. Victory is not when the battle is won; victory is when God confirms he’s on your side. If God is on your side, you’ve already won.  And if you’ve already won, what are you waiting for…Give him the praise now!!

Dear Children of God, as the days and weeks of 2016 unfold, our faith will be challenged, our patience tested and our fortitude tried; but the resolution is at hand.  Our victory is as near as our praise. Praise is a formidable weapon against the tactics of the enemy. Every wall in your life must fall in the presence of the power of praise. Every Jericho situation has to come down when the anointing of God shakes it to the depths of hell. 

Though your circumstance may have lingered for a long time and it seems like it will never go away, I admonish you to join me.  This year it is going to fall, because this is our year of praise!

God Bless