Isaiah 38:18-20 (TLB)
18 For dead men cannot praise you. They cannot be filled with hope and joy. 19 The living, only the living, can praise you as I do today. One generation makes known your faithfulness to the next. 20 Think of it! The Lord healed me! Every day of my life from now on I will sing my songs of praise in the Temple, accompanied by the orchestra.”
Dearly beloved, it is with great joy that I welcome you to TREM Int’l HQ 2017 Annual Thanksgiving. You will agree with me that God has truly been faithful to us. Despite the recession that occurred during the course of the year, various natural and man-made disasters, and diverse challenges, the Lord still preserved you. He has been your shield and buckler, from January right up until this very day, the 17th of December; indeed our God is worthy of all praise and adoration. Today, we just come to say thank you Father, thank you for your lovingkindness and tender mercies towards us, thank you for preserving us, thank you because we are not in the best of hospitals, but we are here to worship and exalt your Holy name. We are here to give you our very best, knowing that you have done much more for us.
Child of God, you have so much to be thankful for. Like Big Mummy will say, if you can think, then you can thank. Take time to think of where you were this time last year and where you are today. Yes, you might not be where you want to be, but you are not where you used to be. Touch yourself, you are still around, that is enough to give Him praise for. You can never quantify His mercies towards you; our incredible God truly deserves incredible praise.
In our text today, the ancient Prophet Isaiah looked at himself and stated the obvious: the dead cannot praise God. Only the living – you and I, can praise God. Why then will you hoard your praise, why won’t you give Him the very best that He deserves. The fact that He has given you breath means you can praise Him. David says “Let everything that has breath, praise the Lord” (Psalms 150:6). He went on to say: “think of it! The Lord healed me”. Let me ask you: has the Lord ever healed you? Some people died of common headache and fever, but you have had several headaches, but you are still around. Some people sneezed and collapsed and died, but you have sneezed several times, yet you are still around. You may think you have seen the worst, wait until you hear the challenge of the other person, then you will realise that you have reasons to praise God.
Beloved, make a quality decision like the ancient Prophet to live a life of thanksgiving to God. Sing songs of praise in the morning, noon and night. Tell of His wondrous works. Has God ever paid your bill? Thank Him for it. Has He ever healed you? Dance before Him. Have you ever experienced His mighty deliverance? Extol His name. If you can think, beloved you can thank.
Even after today, don’t ever remove your dancing shoes. Praise God in spite of the challenges. Let the praises of God never depart from your mouth. Don’t allow any situation or circumstance stop your praise. The story is told of a boy who was crying for not having shoes, until he saw his mate without legs singing and worshipping God. No matter the challenge you may the facing today, it is not enough to stop your song. Even in the night season, there is a song to sing. Praise gives the devil a black eye. Praise refocuses you to the goodness of God. Praise takes you from where you are to where you want to be. Praise is the key that unlocks the doors. Praise God anyhow. Praise Him in all the languages that you can – praise Him in tongues and in your understanding. Put on tapes of praise.
I prophesy over your life that rejoicing will never cease in your life. God will cause you to laugh and they that hear your testimony will laugh with you in Jesus’ name.
In His Royal Service,
Dr. Mike Okonkwo
The Presiding Bishop