Praise the LORD! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heaven! Praise him for his mighty works; praise his unequaled greatness! Praise him with a blast of the ram’s horn; praise him with the lyre and harp! Praise him with the tambourine and dancing; praise him with strings and flutes! Praise him with a clash of cymbals; praise him with loud clanging cymbals. Let everything that breathes sing praises to the LORD! Praise the LORD!
It’s Sunday! I love today every time it comes around. Ever since I began going to church although not much more for rolling out of bed early, the moment we arrived and the music started something inside me suddenly became alive. In the midst of corporate worship something begins to stir, the atmosphere changes despite the condition of its members and the doors to our heart fly open and for some they encounter Jesus for the first time all week. As a teenager, a group of friends went to a major theme park for a night of worship. Christian bands representing every type of music imaginable set up all over the property and you could wander from about from group to group. In front of a magical castle, I closed my eyes and lifted my hands to the Lord for the very first time. Singing in the midst of so many to a starry sky, it was if we stood in the court of God before His Throne. I didn’t want it to end. But sadly it did, the bands packed up and the park closed but my thirst for such an experience only made me want more. There is something about praising God that changes everything from the inside out. Praise to God takes us out of our ordinary life, momentary circumstances and troubling situations high above the noise of this world to a place that is our refuge and strength. The enemy does not want us to get there because he knows it is where we are set free. We must learn to live in this place and give proper praise to Jesus.
What is proper? It is what is fitting and right. The conformed behavior established by certain standards, but we must know what those “standards” are to make our praise proper. Proper is not only a standard but distinction. Our praise in all things in every season throughout our entire life belongs to God. We worship Him for who He is but we praise Him for something different. Worship is not because of anything God does but simply because of Who He is. Knowledge of God is essential to worship Him. It is the very thing that allows us to grow deep and profound respect for Him. If we worship God for who He is, our worship will not change even if our circumstances do because He is our God. The personal revelation of God and Jesus Christ should change how we live based on their divine character and its significance in our life. But praise is different. We can believe in God and Jesus but never surrender our heart and life to them. Praise is the result of God’s Investment in our life. Praise expresses acceptance, approval and admiration of God’s Presence in our life. It is to value what Christ did for us. Respect for God is one thing, but a relationship with Him or falling in love with Him is completely different. We are the Bride of Jesus Christ. We must love Him back to make a successful union. Praise is a product of that love. It is not a legality like worship. “Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9-11) Where is the choice there? Praise is our public and private decision to entrust our life to Jesus giving Him charge over every outcome. It is our commendation of Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. Praise presents, mentions, and commends the Lord as worthy of confidence. It is the product of His Spirit inside of us. We have been given the freedom to choose who we will give our life to and praise expresses our choice.
John 7:37-39 (NLT)
On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)
Jesus promised that “rivers of living water will flow from our heart.” Whose heart? Those who come to Him and anyone who believes.” Why isn’t living water flowing through your life? Are you thirsty? Water needs a source to flow from or one of two things will happen. It will either dry up or grow stagnant. When Jesus left us, He did not leave us alone but gave us His Spirit. As we thirst for more of Jesus, we will pursue Him. Jesus told the woman at the well that true worshippers will worship in Spirit and Truth. (John 4:23) We have the Spirit but many lack the Truth. If praise is an expression of approval and admiration there must be some action that we are endorsing. The Fruit of God’s Spirit is “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) These attributes and qualities in our life are evidence of the Spirit moving in us. Without living water to nourish and sustain such productivity it will dry up. We must thirst for the Lord. We must satisfy this thirst with more of Him. Nothing else will cultivate His Glory and Goodness in our life so we will have nothing to really base our praise upon. Jesus has given us the Holy Spirit to take His Word and work through our life so that His Promises will come to pass and God’s Purpose will be fulfilled. It is a good plan with a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) But as the passage goes on to reflect, we only find the Lord when we seek Him wholeheartedly. It is the only way to release God’s Potential in our life. (Jeremiah 29:13)
Philippians 4:8-9 (NLT)
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
Proper praise is produced when we live in agreement with God and alignment with Christ. Otherwise, we are approving His Presence in our life. There is no admiration outside of a relationship because we do not have full knowledge. We cannot credibly or convincingly recommend that which we have no knowledge of. I can recommend Jesus as Savior because He saved me. I can recommend Jesus as Lord because He has led me to a better life. I can recommend Him as Healer because Jesus has healed my children of devastating illnesses not one time but six. As I learn to trust in, rely no and turn my life over to the Lord – He produces things in my life that are praiseworthy. In order to continue the cycle of living water rushing through my life, I must fix my thoughts on what is true. His Word is Truth for every believer. It is valid and relevant to our life. Every single thing in it applies to us the modern day believer. I would be cautious of any religion, doctrine or denomination that ignores or excludes as single principle found in His Word. Our thoughts lead to action. As we begin to discover new truth in the Word of God, it acts as two-edged sword exposing those things in us that much change to further live in agreement with God and alignment with Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 4:12) This is not a legality or forfeiture of freedom but acceptance of mercy and grace that allows us to return to God and have His Glorious Standard for our life again. Probably the most important part of this statement is not to just read the Word but “keep putting into practice all you have learned.” Peace with God produces peace in life. Through Christ, we become overcomers not subject to natural outcomes but impossible possibilities. You will commend Christ when He becomes your Savior and Lord because as we surrender our heart and mind to Him our life changes. Living water begins to revive, restore and renew every facet of our life until the Goodness of God is undeniable and His Glory uncontainable until we emit proper praise rising from a full and confident commendation of Jesus to others.
Psalm 34:1-3 (NLT)
I will praise the LORD at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. I will boast only in the LORD; let all who are helpless take heart. Come, let us tell of the LORD’s greatness; let us exalt his name together.
Proper praise is permanent praise. Praising the Lord is not determined by our circumstances but rather by our commitment. I will praise the Lord at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. I will boast in the Lord. Each statement contains “I will”. We must make such a commitment in our everyday. We must be transformed by the renewing our mind. (Romans 12:2) Our mind must be changed from the thoughts of this world to the thoughts of God. You cannot do that successfully continuing in old ways and practices but must allow God’s Spirit to work His Word, Will and Way through our heart and mind to become in agreement with Christ. This and only this solidifies our commendation of the Lord allowing us to give praise confidently to God rather than just going along with a worship leader or Christian band in a group of others – it becomes the place we live in our everyday life without the lights, music, instruments, or production. Praise is a product of who we become in Jesus Christ changing our attitude and actions to represent our acceptance and approval of the Lord in our life. Moving through Psalm 34, we find these words: “Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him! Fear the LORD, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the LORD will lack no good thing.” (Psalm 34:8-10) We will never satisfy hunger if we do not eat. We cannot stop thirsting without water. Praise will not flow from our life without constant interaction with the Lord.
Psalm 103:1-5 (NLT)
Let all that I am praise the LORD; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s!
Every single thing that I have tried from God’s Word led by His Spirit has worked. Every single time, the Lord has delivered without fail. I wish I could honestly say that I trust the Lord all the time with everything but alas I am only human and fall short time and time again. If I asked you today, “Why do you praise the Lord?” what would you tell me? What has the Lord done for you? The truth is that Jesus has done so much more than we realize that we can go back in time and see Him. He is with us now. Christ is our future. We just need our eyes opened to see and our ears opened to hear. We cannot properly praise a Savior and Lord who we not know. There is no relationship between a bride and groom without intimacy. To properly praise the Lord requires a commitment that goes beyond a few words and hand gestures in church. “Let all that I am praise the Lord with my whole heart” is a desperate, thirsty and hungry cry that moves the Hand of God and Heart of Christ every single time. There are so many good things that the Lord has done we have no knowledge of because we do not recognize Him. There are things that He is doing which we are resisting due to ignorance. There is a future and hope worth having that if we can align, accept and approve Him we will have. Such revelation allows our faith to be turned to confident hope and complaints to confident praise. The Lord is filling my life with good things. I must give Him proper praise!
Psalm 5:11-12 (NLT)
But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them sing joyful praises forever. Spread your protection over them, that all who love your name may be filled with joy. For you bless the godly, O LORD; you surround them with your shield of love.