Praising God Gives Us Joy
Therefore, joyful, heartfelt, hope-filled delight in the God of mercy is the essence of worship. Not the totality of worship, but it is the essence. That’s amazingly good news, that he would say the aim of the gospel is that the Gentiles would glorify God for his mercy (Romans 15:9). And I’ve unpacked “glorify” in terms of joy and hope and praise and song and exultation
And the reason that’s such amazing news is that we get the mercy, God gets the glory. We get the joy, God gets the praise. We get the hope, God gets the honor. Such a deal! This is the best of all possible worlds. That God would set up the universe in such a way that his praise and his glory and his honor would be a function of my joy and hope. Amazing.
So we are calling the nations to be glad! “Let the nations be glad” (Psalm 97:1)! And that’s not the opposite of “let the nations worship God.” That’s the essence of worshiping God, which is why the gospel is called gospel — euangelion [good news], not bad news.
Most would agree that He is what we love and value the most. So why is it so difficult for so many of us to praise Him? In Reflections on the Psalms, C. S. Lewis writs that praise is “inner health made audible”. Isn’t that beautiful?
Praise Gives Us Access to God
Psalm 100:4 says, “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise”. This verse refers to Moses’ Tabernacle in the wilderness. The Tabernacle was divided into three parts. The Outer Court, The Inner Court, and The Holy of Holies where God dwelt.
There was only one gate – one entrance – into The Outer Court. If you wanted to approach God, you had to go through the gate, into the courtyard, and finally into The Holy of Holies.
The gate you come through to approach God is thanksgiving and the court you enter is praise. Psalm 100:4 should be so much more meaningful in light of its historical context.
It pains me to see people skip the praise and worship portion of a service. Worse yet, I’ve led worship in conferences where the Pastor or visiting speaker would skip out on worship, and show up at the very end just in time to speak.
Praise and worship is not the opening act to the Pastor’s message! Praise softens the soil of your heart so the seeds of the message can be planted.
To have direct access to God, it is essential to come through praise.
Praise Changes You
Leading worship, I have seen a lot from the platform. I’ve seen the hardest of hearts melt. I’ve seen repentance. I’ve seen friendship restored and marriages heal. I’ve seen children coming back to their parents, and parents return to their children.
Praise can change you if you allow it to.
Praise changes relationships. It changes hearts. It changes mindsets. In praise, our focus shifts from us to the Lord. From problems to The Solution. From pain to promise. From hurt to hope.
Proverbs 27:21 says, “As the fining pot for silver, and the furnace for gold; so is a man to his praise.” Judson Cornwall says it this way in Let Us Praise. “So often, when we have heated our Spirits in worship . . . thoughts, desires, and attitudes rise to the surface.”
As we are broken and heated in the presence of the Lord, those negative attitudes rise to the surface of our hearts. We are then able to bring them to Jesus to be forgiven and cleansed.
In the fires of praise, God reaches out and melts down our jagged edges until we become smooth and pliable in His hands. Only then can we be molded into His image. We become so smooth and clear that when others look at us – when we look at ourselves, we see a mirror reflecting the image of Jesus.
Praise is a Relationship, Not a Ritual
Psalm 81:10 says, “I am the Lord, YOUR God . . .”. Isn’t it wonderful to know that He is ours and we are His? Praise brings us into a closer relationship with Jesus.
I love Exodus 25:8. God tells Moses to build a sanctuary that “I may dwell among them”. He didn’t want a cathedral shining with jewels to show His awesomeness. He didn’t ask for massive monuments or statues made of gold.
God asked for a simple tent. It wasn’t about the structure. It was about the relationship. He wanted a tabernacle just so He could be with us. That brings such tears to my eyes. The God of all of the earth could be anywhere, could have anything, could do anything, and yet He chooses to be with you, dear friend.
I’ve been in the most beautifully structured churches. They are gorgeous to look at, but the Spirit of the Lord is no where to be found. I’ve sat in simple living rooms with a handful of saints, and the presence of God is so strong it is tangible.
God doesn’t want anything to dwell in but us. He wants relationship with us. That relationship comes through praise.
The problem comes in when ritual takes the place of pure praise. A.W. Tozer said, “Worship is no longer worship when it reflects the culture around us more than the Christ within us.” In 1962, Tozer grieved, “It is scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction was God.”
He inhabits the praises of His people. (Psalm 22:3). He dwells in, lives in, and abides in our praise. My dear friends, He just wants a relationship with you.
Praise Defeats the Enemy
The first mention of praise in the Bible is at the birth of Jacob’s son, Judah, in Genesis 29:35. Judah means praise. No matter where you see the name Judah in the Bible, it always means praise.
Revelation 5:5 tells us that our Lord Jesus, The Lion of the Tribe of Praise (Judah) has overcome! So many of us walk around in fear of the enemy. Whether it is “the devil” you fear, your own thoughts, or your next door neighbor, we often walk around fearing our enemy and what he/she could do to us.
In 2 Chronicles 20:21, King Jehoshaphat “appointed singers unto the Lord, that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the Lord; for his mercy endures for ever.” The choir and the orchestra went ahead of the warriors! It worked. The enemies were defeated and Judah never even had to take out their swords!
How many battles do we needlessly fight; drawing our swords of worry, our shields of fear, and our words of war? What would happen if we simply trusted that the Lion of the Tribe of Judah has already won the battle?
What would happen in our lives if we put away our warring words, and lifted our voices in praise?
Judson Cornwall said, “Saints who would learn to do battle for the Lord should first learn how to praise, for God sends praise as the shock troops to drive the enemy back before the rest of the army is allowed to join the battle.” (Let us Praise, pg. 44-45)
We could write a hundred more pages about the truths of the power of praise, but these four offer us a start into why praise should be a part of our everyday life. Praise gives us access to God. It changes us from the inside out causing us to be a reflection of our father. Praise is about relationship with our creator, and not just ritual. Praise defeats our enemies and brings us closer to God’s will for our lives.
What The Power of Praise Can Do
- Praise gets our focus off ourselves and back on God.
- Praise brings us to a place of humility
- Praise makes the enemy flee.
- Praise leaves no room for complaining and negativity
- Praise makes room for God’s blessings over our lives.
- Praise invites His presence.
- Our spirits are refreshed and renewed in His presence.
- It paves the way for God’s power to be displayed, miracles happen.
“When we lift our hands in praise and worship, we break spiritual jars of perfume over Jesus. The fragrance of our praise fills the whole earth and touches the heart of God.”
― Dennis Ignatius
Chapter 27 Questions
- Pg 207: Thrasher shared a story about David Wilkerson and his encounter with a gang and his sudden burst of praise which made the gang to flee. Share a time when you experienced an outburst of praise! ( It doesn’t need to be as dramatic as Wilkerson’s! )
- Share a favorite psalm of praise ! Or….do you have a favorite praise song ?
- Pg 208-214: Discuss each “Worship “ section…
- Pg 208: “as a person becomes or focuses on God’s glorious character, he is transformed into His image “
- Pg 209: “ Worship delivers a person from the lie that there is someone or something other than God who is worthy of our ultimate trust, affection and adoration “
- Pg 210: ” Worship gives purpose and meaning to relationships since the deepest fellowship with others is found in inviting them to worship the Lord with us “
- Pg 210: ” It is logical that if we are occupied with the object of our faith in praise and worship, our faith will be strengthened “
- Pg 210-211: God declares Himself to be enthroned upon the praise of His people , ….Today He manifests Himself in His church “
- Pg 212: ” In worship we can be drawn to God and see His eternal perspective “
- Pg 213: ” The Lord alone is to be worshiped and served……for we will serve the one we worship. “
- Pg 214: ” Use the occasion to praise Jesus Christ every time I was discouraged ….Satan so hates the genuine praise of Christ that his fiery darts of discouragement are not effective against us when we respond in praise”.
- Share any thoughts /insights from the book or the notes.