Those of you who know me have almost assuredly been instructed to ‘Dedicate Your House to the Lord” at one point or another. It’s something we’ve done at every home God has provided for us since 1977. It’s something we’ve done for family and friends, churches and businesses. It’s something God always honors.
But occasionally, despite the act of dedication, things will go a bit wonky.
This morning, during our quiet time, we read Pastor Jack Hayford’s January Ministry Letter. Here he completes the equation eloquently. He talks about doing everything I’ve always suggested, and adds the element of continual blessings and praise. Please give this a read. I promise it is wise counsel for each of us.
January 2019 *** Is your house being dedicated to the Lord
The start of a new year has always been something I have looked forward to. In fact, I would even say that the start of a new year is one of my favorite times of year! I was especially excited about the start of 1982, because my family and I were settling into a wonderful new home. We still had boxes to unpack and pictures to hang, but overall, we were feeling especially blessed as we headed into this new beginning.
There was just one nagging problem. In the weeks following our move, a wave of sickness rolled over our family and left just about everyone under the weather. First, both our boys came down with colds. Next, my youngest son’s fiancé caught some other illness entirely. Finally, a swollen gland developed on our daughter’s neck for a wholly unknown reason.
Now, none of these illnesses were serious—just pesky ailments—but this wave of sickness negatively impacted our family as we tried to settle into our new home. One night, I just laid awake in bed for a while and thought about the situation.
There had to be a reason for this recent outbreak of sicknesses in our family. I remember thinking, “Something is going on here…”
I wondered if there was something wrong with the house. But our home had been sweetly prayed for and the spiritual atmosphere cleansed before we moved into it. Members of our church had helped us remodel the house and had been flooding our home with love and prayers for months.
We had dedicated the house to the Lord, and we had covered every room in the house with prayers for God’s protection and blessing. Spiritually, it seemed like everything should be in order, but there was something that was obviously still not quite right.
As I laid there, I prayed for wisdom and asked the Lord to help me understand what was happening and how to respond to it. The Lord answered almost immediately by showing me a vision of a big inflatable tent, the kind that is kept erect by air pumps and fans constantly filling it with oxygen. The middle of this tent was partially collapsed, and the top of it was sagging down. The instant I saw this vision, I knew what it meant and how the Lord was asking me to respond.
The tent in this vision represented the condition of the spiritual covering that we had put over our home. This covering was sagging and deflated, and I felt the Lord clearly tell me the reason. There had not been a regular flow of praise since we had moved into this house.
While it is important to formally dedicate our homes to God, it is even more important that we understand this is not meant to be a one-time process.
We must continue to dedicate our homes to God by creating an atmosphere of continual praise.
This was a sobering revelation, but I did not feel a sense of condemnation coming from the Lord. It wasn’t like He was saying, “You haven’t been regularly praising Me, so now you’re going to get it!” It was quite the contrary. Like a loving Father, He graciously reminded me that praise sets up a mantle of protection around us and our homes!
Praise creates a spiritual atmosphere that our adversary cannot move into and cannot advance through. Praise is a powerful weapon that you can use against the devil, and it insulates us from his attacks.
In response to this vision from the Lord, we got up the next morning and walked through every room in our house praising the Lord. As we did this, Anna and I sensed the atmosphere in our home becoming more buoyant. We continued doing this every morning, and we could sense the atmosphere in our home rising higher and higher. Within a few days, everybody in our family had fully recovered.
What I learned from this experience is that no matter how busy I might be, I must maintain a continual flow of praise to God. As believers, we must continuously praise Him because, praise and thanksgiving is our very breath. Praise is our spiritual oxygen.
Just think about how important oxygen is to our physical bodies. We absolutely must have it. People can survive for a period of time without food and water, but we must have a flow of air at all times. The same is true for believers when it comes to praise. We need to be offering up praise to our Heavenly Father on a constant basis. To be spiritually healthy and to have spiritually healthy homes, we must create and maintain a sustained atmosphere of praise.
Of course, you may be wondering if that is really possible in the fast-paced and high-pressure lifestyle that so many people and families live in. You may be thinking about how members of your home are constantly on-the-go and wondering how offering continual praise will practically work.
The Bible gives some helpful guidance. Hebrew 13:15 says, “Let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.”
Notice how that verse compares our praises as believers to the sacrifices the Israelites made in the Old Testament. That’s significant because in the Old Testament the Lord gave the Israelite priests specific instructions about how to maintain the altar upon which they offered these sacrifices. One of these instructions was that a fire was to be kept burning on the altar. This fire was never to go out.
Personally, I find this command encouraging because tending this fire was one of many things the priests had to do. They had to offer prayers for the people, and they had to shovel the ashes off the altar and take them outside the city and bury them. The priests also had to wash and care for their ministry garments. In other words, they had a very busy schedule!
Yet even in the midst of all this “busy-ness,” they managed to keep the altar fire burning.
As modern day believers, you and I can do the same. We can keep the fire burning in our lives and homes by offering continual praise to the Lord. Please hear this, Loved One, offering continual praise to the Lord doesn’t mean we have to join a monastery where all we do is walk around and praise God. We can keep the flame of praise burning in our hearts and homes while we go about the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives.
We can offer up praise while we’re getting dressed in the morning. We can speak or sing out praise to God while we go to work. We can lift up praise in our hearts while we are at the grocery store. We can walk through each room in our homes once a day and thank the Lord for the people with which we share our home and the blessings He has filled our homes with.
In other words, keeping the flame of praise burning in our hearts and homes involves us creating a lifestyle of praise. Morning and night, there are opportunities to lift our hearts in worship to Him. As we identify these moments and make praising God part of our daily routines, we will see our lives and homes filled up with spiritual oxygen, and we will see how praise surrounds our homes and lives with divine protection.
Praise changes our character, our countenance, and our lives. Praise also changes the atmosphere and dynamics in our homes. The more that we offer up praise to the Lord, the more spiritual life we will see flourish in our homes and families. As we enter 2019, I encourage you to find new ways to praise the Lord. As you do, you will see the atmosphere and dynamics in your home being filled with new spiritual life, and you will experience the power of praise insulating and protecting your life, family, and home.
Loved One, I pray this upcoming year will be a year that we seek to continually dedicate our homes and lives to the Lord by leading praise-filled lifestyles, and that we will find every opportunity to keep the flame of praise burning in our hearts and lives.
Ever praising Him,
Pastor Jack Hayford
Follower of Christ, writer & artist.