Intro to PRAISE Newsletter Theme
Submission Deadline: March 29, 2015. Publication: April 7, 2015.
God desires praise. Two Hebrew words often translated as Praise mean “praise, give thanks, or confess, and to sing praise.” A third word translated “praise” is halal (the root of hallelujah), meaning “to praise, honor, or commend.” All three terms contain the idea of giving thanks and honor to one who is worthy of praise (Got Questions.com) and who is more worthy than God.
But there’s a problem, isn’t there? We don’t always feel like praising Him – I know I don’t. We can get distracted, discontent, frustrated, maybe even ungrateful. Ungratefulness is a sign of the Last Days, “For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy” (2 Timothy 3:2). Rather than be ungrateful, we are commanded to “Praise the Lord in song, for He has done excellent things; Let this be known throughout the earth” (Isaiah 12:5). The hymn of our lives should be, “O Lord, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; For You have worked wonders, Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness” (Isaiah 25:1).
Okay, so God deserves Praise. But when do we offer Him praise? Much of the praise men give to God is for the blessings they receive from Him when they receive them from Him. They raise their voices to acknowledge His goodness when they receive good things from Him. Is this wrong? Of course not, but this is not the end of praise, for a Believer: “Through [Jesus] then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name” (Hebrews 15:13). To praise God for good things we receive is no sacrifice on our part – it is our duty to acknowledge God’s provision. We don’t normally think to praise God when we aren’t in receipt of blessing. We don’t think to give Him glory when we are struggling or suffering. Yet, Paul and Silas give us a different example. They praised God after they have been slandered in Macedonia, wrongly arrested, severely beaten, and were languishing in a prison with no hope of a positive conclusion to the ordeal: “The crowd rose up together against them, and the chief magistrates tore their robes off them and proceeded to order them to be beaten with rods. When they had struck them with many blows, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to guard them securely; and he, having received such a command, threw them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:22-25).
How is that possible? How can people praise God when bad stuff happens to them? The simple answer is that they recognize the immeasurable, unquantifiable value of their eternal Salvation. They understand that a price-tag cannot be put upon it. They understand that nothing can be worth more than life eternal with God. “Sing to the Lord, praise the Lord! For He has delivered the soul of the needy one from the hand of evildoers” (Jeremiah 20:13). Though we are often distressed and we toil and struggle and suffer in this life, God will deliver our souls from the influence of evil – their grip cannot hold us, and we will be caught up to reign with Christ for all the ages of eternity.
Peter gives us some more insight into how we can praise God when things aren’t going well for us: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” So, though we suffer now, the proof of our faith will result in praise and glory in the end. But is that it? No, let’s read on: “and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:3-8). Beyond simply enduring now until we can praise God once we’ve received our inheritance, we are to rejoice and praise God NOW – in the suffering without sight of the promise. We are to praise God in the faith of His unseen promise to us.
For “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1) – those things hoped for but not seen are the bright treasures of our inheritance in Christ that He promised to us. For as Believers we have this assurance that “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him” (Romans 8:16-17), for God has“qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light” (Colossians 1:12b) to inherit a “city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10b), which is “the promise of the eternal inheritance”(Hebrews 9:15). This is why no matter what Believers endure, they can say, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3-5) That’s our inheritance. We are to praise God for it now even though we cannot see it – because He has promised it!
This doesn’t mean we can’t petition God, or cry out to Him from the anguish of our tormented souls. Of course we can – Scripture is very clear about that (look to the Psalms). And we will go through many days where we cannot but cry out to Him in anguish, pain, or frustration. Yet, we must always remember that the Believer has a higher calling than to simply praise God for the good they see around them or the good they experience in this life. The Believer praises God for His character, His mercy, and His Salvation no matter how their lives are going. In this way, the Believer never ceases to offer up praises to God.
Submission Deadline: March 29, 2015. Publication: April 7, 2015.