Entering God’s Presence through Praise

May 11, 2017

What is praise? It is adoration, thanksgiving, appreciation, and worship of our Lord and Savior. Praise flows from a relationship of love and devotion from us to the Lord. Praise brings us closer to Him. It changes us and helps us grow in our faith. Praise reminds us of who God is. A life filled with praise places us in a position to receive God’s blessings.

C.S. Lewis said:

Only in acts of worship and praise can a person learn to believe in the goodness and the greatness of God. God wants us to praise Him not because He needs or craves in any sense our flattery, but because He knows that praise creates joy and thankfulness.

Praise is not something that we do for God. Nor is it something that we do in order to get God’s approval so that He will grant our desires. When we praise God, we are changed—even if our circumstances are not. While God is present everywhere, all the time, He is present in a special way when His people praise Him.

Words are the expressions of our hearts. The Bible says, “Out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34).

What happens to the person who continually complains about the problems and challenges of life?

If he only focuses on those things, he will lose sight of his eternal destiny. He may become pessimistic, even depressed. We all have tiring days, minor setbacks, and unexpected expenses. As believers, we can choose to find strength by praising God, or we may sink into despair.

Regardless of our problems or difficulties, when we praise God our focus shifts. We become aware, once again, of who He is and His love for us. Why wait? Praise God now and experience His power, which is capable of handling anything you might face.

You are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel (Psalm 22:3).

A Heart Commitment

May 10, 2017

Giving was a major emphasis of Paul’s ministry, especially during his third missionary journey. He understood that generosity naturally led to praise and worship of God. Unfortunately, when Paul thought of the Corinthian believers, he had to acknowledge that they had failed to keep their promises in the area of giving.

The Corinthian believers made a commitment to God. They had promised to support the poor through their gifts and offerings. However, when it came to doing this, they had not fulfilled their promise (2 Corinthians 8).

Praise always requires a heart commitment. Giving requires the same action. If we fail to complete the promises we have made to God, our hearts will be saddened, and we won’t feel like praising Him.

Therefore, before you make a commitment to give, ask God to show you what He wants you to do, along with how much he wants you to give. Paul appealed to the Corinthians to fulfill their promise by reminding them of the grace that had been given to them by Jesus Christ.

God’s mercy, love, and forgiveness had been poured out on their lives. He admonished them to “finish the work!”

Like us, these believers had been given much, and it should not have been a burden for them to give back a portion of what God had given to them. Every occasion we have to give to God needs to be viewed as an opportunity to praise Him for all that He has done for us.

Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously (2 Corinthians 9:6).

Praise through Giving

May 9, 2017

A group of Christians approached another believer about making a major contribution to a particular campaign. They did not know that this man had a serious problem with giving. He found it difficult to praise God with the money the Lord had given to Him.

After this group of men told him what the need was and challenged him to give a certain amount, he responded: “I understand why you think I can give this large sum of money. I own a large company, but there is something you do not know. My mother is in an expensive nursing home. My brother, who had no insurance, died and left a wife and five children. My son is deeply religious, and he is working with the poor and makes less than the national poverty level.”

The men responded humbly by saying that they did not know any of this. “Well, then,” the man said, “you also need to know that I have not given them a penny. Why would you think that I would give to your project?”

Only God can soften the hardened heart of the person who refuses to give to others. After reading this account, the image that comes to mind is one of a person who is bitter and void of true peace and contentment.

Praise and giving go beautifully together because both honor the Lord. They also teach us to set our heart’s devotion on God and not on ourselves. The way to blessing is a way that is outlined by sacrificial giving.

Charles Spurgeon writes, “To bless the Lord is never unseasonable. Our thankfulness is not to be kept secret. What a blessed mouthful is God’s praise!”

Our ability to praise God through giving is our personal testimony to His faithfulness. Do you trust Him enough to give all that you are and all that you have?

My heart is steadfast, O God; I will sing and make music with all my soul (Psalm 108:1).

Give of Yourself

May 8, 2017

One of the high points of a worship service should be the time the offering is collected. Many people, however, fail to realize the great blessing that is theirs through giving to God. They withhold their time, talent, and money from the Lord and, by doing so, miss a tremendous blessing.

True praise incorporates giving. In fact, we cannot praise God adequately without giving something of ourselves to Him through prayer or praise.

In Exodus 23:19, God admonishes us to honor Him with the “firstfruits” of our crops. We give to God because we know He loves us and has given more of Himself to us than we could ever give back.

Giving is an integral part of worship and praise, but it is not restricted solely to the area of finances. Jesus explained this to His disciples in the Parable of The Sheep and The Goats: “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40). We actually praise and honor God when we show kindness and care for someone else.

You may be wondering if God really cares whether or not you give. He does—but not because He needs your gift. What He desires is your declaration of faith in Him.

Through giving, we acknowledge God as the One in control of all things. We also testify to our dependence on Him, and that we are only stewards of what He has given to us. Regardless of your financial status, God is the One who has provided for every need you have. He is totally faithful. Therefore, He is worthy of your praise, honor, and worship.

Each of us can give a portion of our time, talents, and wealth to the Lord. When we do, we acknowledge Him as the source of all blessing.

Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the Lord your God (Exodus 23:19).

A Turn for the Better

May 7, 2017

God’s glory is revealed in the praises of His people. When we lift our voices of praise to God, He is honored, and we are blessed.

However, God’s blessings are not always material in nature. The richest people are those who have developed an intimate relationship with the Savior through personal prayer and praise.

Praise was a hallmark of David’s life. As a young man, he learned to worship God through songs of praise that expressed his deep devotion to the Lord. While his brothers may have enjoyed the comforts of home, David was confined to tending to the family’s sheep. But it was there, in a lonely pasture, that David wrote his greatest songs of praise to the Lord.

King David wrote:

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast (Psalm 139:7-10).

Christ knows when we rise in the morning, and when we lie down to sleep at night. He is the revelation of our heavenly Father—the one person who knows us completely and loves us unconditionally.

Perhaps you feel as though you have come to a dead end in your career, a relationship, or your spiritual life, and there is no way for your life to make a turn for the better. Maybe you think that God has forgotten you. Lift your eyes up to the Lord. Praise Him! He is your salvation, and He indwells the praises of those who love Him.

He will not forget His promises to you.

Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands (Psalm 63:3-4).

Praising the Name of God

May 6, 2017

History books tell us of an incident in the life of Napoleon. A man once approached the French emperor and said, “I am very pleased to meet you! You see, my name is the same as yours.”

Knowing that the man had a poor reputation, Napoleon was incensed and exclaimed: “Either live up to your name or change it!”

We may not take names very seriously in our culture, but in the Middle East, a person’s name is given in honor of a beloved relative, or because it has been in the family for generations.

In Bible times, a name was chosen very carefully and very deliberately in order to indicate what kind of person the child would be. Also, a name was reflective of a person’s character, personality, and abilities.

This is why some of the names of the people in the Bible were changed. Peter’s original name was Cephas, but Jesus changed it to Peter, meaning “the rock.” Abram was changed to Abraham, which means “the father of many.” From God’s perspective, a new name is consistent with a new mission.

God’s name, however, never changes. He is Jehovah, which means “the self-existent one.” He is self-sufficient. He does not need anything nor anyone in order to exist. However, He desires our worship, praise, and fellowship. He loves us with an everlasting love.

The more we learn about Him, the more we understand His faithfulness, justice, and mercy. When we grasp the depth of God’s sovereignty, we also realize His wondrous gift of grace was given with a purpose. Not only do we receive salvation, but we also receive His name! We become members of His family—joint heirs with Christ. Now that is worthy of all our praise!

Praise the Lord, O my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name (Psalm 103:1).

The Pride Factor

May 5, 2017

If praise is such a good idea, why do we resist doing it? There are two apparent reasons.

First, Satan tempts us to complain rather than to praise God. In fact, the enemy will do all within his power to stop us from glorifying the Lord by filling our thoughts with images of fear and defeat. He also knows that when we exalt the Lord, God quickly exposes his dark deception.

Carnality is the second reason people fail to praise God. The unregenerate human mind discredits praise as not being logical or intellectual.

We praise God when we are willing to submit:

  • Ourselves to the Lord. Praise overflows from our lives once we yield ourselves to the Lord and stop resisting His will. We can’t praise Him if we are trapped in disobedience.
  • Our intellect to the Lord. Praise involves faith. It is only when we trust Christ fully that we learn to praise Him for His goodness and mercy.
  • Our social status to the Lord. Many times, the greatest hindrance to praise is our position within the community or a company. God wants us to come to Him in humility desiring only His honor and fellowship.
  • Our reputations to the Lord. When our eyes are set on ourselves, we cannot praise God. The only way to practice the joy of praise is by setting the focus of our hearts on Jesus Christ. When we do this, our lives will overflow with His goodness and mercy. We will become men and women of praise who are filled with God’s love and mercy.

God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5).