What You Focus on Tends to Expand

Feeling a bit overwhelmed?  Try Putting on A Garment of Praise. 

Have you felt it? It’s as though the COVID-19 pandemic and threat of Coronavirus re-emerging were not enough. To them, we have now added race-relational tension.  And for added strife, here in California, we’re now entering wildfire season.

There just seems to be a general heaviness in the air.  Our joy appears to be under unusual attack.  As I’ve shared previously but seems to bear repeating; it’s as though God really is trying to get our attention and call us back into a full fellowship with Him.

Perhaps you’ve heard the expression, “whatever you focus on tends to expand.”  There’s some scientific truth to this.  It’s how our brains have been hard-wired.  More specifically, scientists refer to it as experience-dependent neuroplasticity and it means that our experience changes our brains.  If you’d like to learn more about this, take a look at this article.

To summarize, each of us has a brain that is designed to be malleable and open to influence.  It is constantly shaping itself to be the best brain it can be for us. Your experiences are the catalyst and fuel; and everything you see, feel, experience, sense, and do is slowly but surely changing the architecture of your brain; providing subtle but continuous instruction on how it can build to support you.  Between the walls of our skulls, billions of neurons (brain cells) work together to shape us into the people we are. Different neurons are responsible for different parts of our experience.  Our five senses, basic executive functions, normal “tasks” like eating, breathing, sleeping, sensing threat, and our fight or flight response, loving, laughing, learning – all are affected by our ever-developing brain cells.

…truth is, as long as it’s alive, your brain will continue to build and change – whether you like it or not.  That’s why it’s so important to do what you can to influence and build it in the direction you’d like it to grow.

As with nearly every situational or circumstantial challenge in which we find ourselves; whenever we are feeling overwhelmed or weakened; when we experience a “spirit of heaviness,” Biblical scripture offers guidance and assistance. In Isaiah 61, it is prophesized that Jesus’ promises to give us a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.  Jesus, himself, again references this passage in Luke 4, proclaiming that it is fulfilled in Him.

So what might it look like for us to put on a garment of praise in place of our spirits of despair?
In Hebrews 13:15-16, the author encourages us;  15 Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name. 16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Praising Jesus and professing his name to others for all He has done for us is an intentional choice we should make, even (and especially) when life is difficult. Our enemy, Satan, would have us believe that we aren’t strong enough to handle everything life throws our way, and he’s probably right; at least not on our own.

But when we put on the garment of praise Jesus provides, we recognize the enemies’ lies and can stand up against them.  So you see, our praise can serve not only as a garment but as a defense against all the lies of the enemy.

Nehemiah 8:10 Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.
Isaiah 41:10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Exodus 15:2 The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.
Psalm 121:1-2 I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
Psalm 119:164 Seven times a day I praise you…
In Psalm 34, verses 3 and 4, David calls us to “magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt his name together.  I sought the Lord and he heard me and delivered me from all my fears.”

Which would you rather magnify; your fears and struggles or His strength, His peace and His joy?

Maybe you’re not actually despairing in these times but you’re just tired or getting kind of sick of all the strife. Praise can help renew your energy and improve your overall demeanor. When we magnify the Lord with our praise, our problems actually get smaller.

I’ve read that, “It’s a mistake to wait until you’ve no problems, fewer problems or your problems are solved before you praise the Lord. Praise is one of the great Scriptural keys to problem-solving because it gets your focus on God, the problem solver.  It works like this. When you begin to praise him – even with a heavy heart, you experience a new sense of hope and joy. Through worship you are reminded that God is bigger than the situation you face; that he’s not only capable of managing your concerns but willing, wanting and waiting to. 1

Whatever we face is not a surprise to God.  He’s out in front of every situation; every circumstance and He will lead us through when we praise, call upon, and trust in Him.

Charles Spurgeon said: ‘My happiest moments are when I am worshipping God, really adoring the Lord Jesus Christ…In that worship, I forget the cares of the church and everything else. To me, it is the nearest approach to what it will be in Heaven.’
Discipleship requires discipline.  Any new habit takes a little time, repetition and a bit of hard (heart) work to develop.

Sing to Him a new song (Psalm 35:3).  Fill your days with praise.  You can begin right now.  Before you close your eyes for (or when you awake from) some rest; praise God for all he’s provided and done.  Don’t just take work breaks or coffee breaks, take ‘praise breaks.’  Begin to praise God for two things: (1) His attributes. His power, love, grace, favor, guidance, etc. (2) His acts. Recall his goodness to you. Go ahead; take off the spirit of heaviness and put on the garment of praise. 1

As has also been said, “The road won’t always be easy but it will be worth it.”― Cas McCullough
…right here with you,

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