Praises

 

Praise the Lord, all nations
Extol him, all peoples!
For great is his steadfast love toward us,
and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.

Praise the Lord!

 
Psalm 117
 
This is one of my current problems: I forget to praise God.
Sounds crazy right? If you know me, you know that I LOVE to worship. 
Whether it’s leading a congregation, in the crowd or jamming out to some UNITED in my car, I am always worshiping God; 
but lately I don’t catch myself praising Him too often. 
Worship comes easy, praise, not so much. 
 
Here’s where you may be asking yourself, What’s the difference?
Let me try to define.
 
Praise is expressing a warm approval or admiration of something or someone; expressing respect or gratitude to a deity.
 
Worship is showing the feeling or expression of reverence and adoration for a deity
 
Praise seems to be a word to describe the rejoicing that takes place after something good has happened. We praise God for what He has done. 
When the Israelites were freed from Egypt, they built an altar and praised God. 
Worship takes place out of an expression of adoration or reverence. A more humble approach. A response to who God is. 
 
Again, let me be clear, I have no problem with worshiping or praising God if we leave it to these two dictionary definitions. 
But when I look into the context they are used in scripture, I begin to understand that each of them bring a different element to the entire worship experience, and that I cannot leave these to words separated by how our current dictionary defines them. 
 
As I read Psalm 117, I was struck by how short this entire chapter was. Just two verses, entirely on praising God. 
This praise seems to be a reminder that EVERYONE should be praising God, for His love is steadfast and His faithfulness endures. 
And that’s it. The whole freaking chapter. No conflict. No problems. No asking God to do something. Just a praise simply because of WHO God is. 
A praise reminding us of His love and faithfulness. 
 
This chapter doesn’t seem to stick with the dictionary definition of the word PRAISE. 
Now, if you’re like me, you’re familiar with praising…because you’re a sports fan. 
I love going to football games or watching on TV and praising anytime my team scores. 
I am expressing my “warm approval” or “adoration” of what they just did.
But according to Psalm 117, praise can happen just from a place of worship; as in an expression of adoration for WHO a person is, rather than WHAT they have just done.

 

This philosophy would change the entire game. If this were true, I should be praising and cheering on my team whether or not they do something good or bad.

If they score a touchdown. “YAAAAAY!”
If they throw an interception. “That’s right! Hit them where it hurts!”
The players would be so confused as to who i was rooting for.
 
As confusing as this is when we apply this principle to our world, when we apply it to God it seems to make more sense. 
Go ahead and this about this phrase for me:
 
God is good.
 
Just let that sink in for a moment. 
 
Your definition of whatever is GOOD comes as an extension of WHO God is
There can be no GOOD outside of God and God cannot do anything that is not GOOD.
He is the very definition of what is GOOD. 
 
He is the finest steak you’ve ever had and now compare every other steak to. 
He is the perfect passer rating.
He is the finest espresso.
He is the standard. 
 
And this is what our praise surrounds, the GOOD He has done in our lives, to which I have no problem doing.
I LOVE praising God when He shows up and does AMAZING things. 
In fact, this type of praise is what leads me to my most intimate times of worship. 

I see what God has done, that He has forgiven me, healed me or someone close to me.

Maybe He came through and answered a prayer I’ve had for a really long time and in turn I give Him glory, praise and my thankfulness leads to an intimate time of worship where my adoration for Him has grown now that I have associated the GOOD He has done with WHO He is

And there is nothing wrong with that. 

 
In fact, I think that’s how we keep our faith moving forward. 
Reminding ourselves what God HAS done and that He WILL pull us through. 
 
But I think our praise can go deeper. 
 
I think we can praise out of a heart of worship. 
I think, that I NEED to strive to be able to praise God when He hasn’t done anything at all. 
To praise God when He hasn’t spoken to me. 
When He hasn’t pulled me through and I’m still stuck in the middle.
When my prayers are unanswered and I’m waiting for a response.
 
When an interception is thrown. 
When I’m injured and out of the game. 
Doesn’t God still deserve our praise?
 
This is where I’m stuck. 
I love worshiping God because of WHO He is,
and I love praising God for WHAT He has done, 
but I struggle to combine them both; 
to praise God because of WHO He is and WHAT He hasn’t done yet. 
 
To Praise God is a response for what He has already done, 
but to Worship God in Praise is to thank Him for what He hasn’t done yet. 
 
Praise is your Worship in Faith.
 

Psalm 71:6 says “I’ve hung on you from the day of my birth, 
the day you took me from the cradle; I’ll never run out of praise.”

 

Notice, a reminder of WHO God has been leads the Psalmist to say that “he will never run out of praise.”
This suggests that God is who He is no matter what happens and still deserves to be praised no matter what your life may currently look like.
Praise is the sustenance of God.

 

This is the kind of praise revealed in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

 

God’s will is for us to give Him praise NO MATTER WHAT.
It’s easy to Praise God when things are good, but what about when things don’t look good.
When we can’t make sense of our lives, or what He’s doing.
Where are our Praises then?
This is where I’m at.

 

It seems like each year my life gets better, it also becomes a lot tougher.
The faith that got me through last year isn’t the faith that is going to get me through this year.
I have to grow. I’m forced to.

 

And I’m very thankful that God’s sovereignty doesn’t want me to be stagnant; but that doesn’t come without walking through some uncertainty in the present.

 

And when I read the book of Psalms, I’m reminded that I cannot just worship God, I must give Him praise;
not simply the praise for completing a request of mine, but a praise centered around WHO He has been this whole time and the HOPE of WHO He will continue to be.

 

“Praise” is mentioned in the book of Psalms over 137 times.
Some of these songs and poems were written in the darkest and most uncertain times of David and the other writers. 
Yet, their main message rings true; PRAISE GOD for WHO He is, for WHAT He has done, and for WHAT He will do.

 

God is good, all the time. 
The time has no affect on when God is good. He just is.
So don’t let the time have an effect on when you let God know that He is good.
He is good regardless of what time it is.
He is good regardless of whether I tell Him or not. 
So why does God want us to praise Him if He doesn’t need it?
God’s praises are for us

 

 
God wants us to praise Him through the uncertainty, through the pain, through the unknown.
This is putting your FAITH into action.
Praise: letting your FAITH be turned into HOPE and your HOPE turned into WORSHIP.
To praise God is to call attention to His glory.

 

Worship isn’t for God. Worship is for you. 
God doesn’t need your worship, but through your worship,
God can shape you;
HIS worth shaping WHO you are by WHO He is.
 

 

Let’s let our Praise be a reminder of WHO God is no matter what time it is. 
No matter the problem. 
No matter the uncertainty. 
Let’s magnify the LORD amidst our problems. 

 

Let’s focus on HIM, for WHO He is, for WHAT He has done and for what HE will do. 
 
Father, teach me to Praise you.

Thoughts… pt1

Thoughts while reading 2 Kings chapter 17
______________________________________________

What a hard pill to swallow; the list of debauchery in Israel.
I can’t help but to think of the current state of America, or even the current state of American Christians; my current state.

How many graven images have we begun to worship?
How many idols have we set before ourselves?
Whose guidance and approval have we intertwined with our pursuit of identity?
How many commandments have we abandoned to look for a better way?
Our own way.

The not-so-wise counsel of the world has not only become our desire, but we claim it to be our truth.
What images have we set before ourselves of our own creation that take our worship and leave us feeling worthless?

Oh how we have let down our children.
Those alive, we have taught to devote their time to distraction and instant satisfaction.
And those no longer, we have sent to the grave to satisfy our own selfish nature.

Is anything holy? Is anything sacred?
Have we so fixated our focus on the pursuit of self-betterment that we have completely taken our eyes off of the only One who can make us good?

Is the LORD angry with me;
or have i brought the anger of the LORD to myself?
Comparison is what we use to save us from the same fate of Israel in 2 Kings 17.
We tell ourselves that the world has changed.
We tell ourselves that we aren’t as bad.
We tell ourselves that Grace abounds.

Grace abounds. Yes indeed; Grace abounds.
Not so we can keep on sinning; but so in our pursuit of Christ, He picks us up when we fall short.

To live is Christ; therefore, we should live.
In order to truly live, our nature must fall.
To truly live, we must live by the nature of Christ. The nature of His Spirit.
It cannot be my power, your power; it must be by His Spirit.

That is when truth begins to live; when we live by truth.
Everything else is a lie.
Everything else falls short.
Everything else leads to broken promises and empty dreams.

Truth is truth because it stands alone in echoes of eternity.
The earth is so tangible to us.
But don’t let tangibility shy you from the truth of its finite nature.
Heaven, as intangible as it seems, exists infinitely.
Beyond that; yes beyond finite and infinite planes of existence lives truth.

For God alone is before all things and after all things.
He begins all things and ends all things.
Nothing lasts longer than our God.
He is love, He is truth.
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” – Matthew 24:35

Father let me not pass away.
Let my temptation pass away.
Let my desires pass away.
But never let your presence pass away from me.

You will find Him

2 Chronicles 15:15
“All Judah rejoiced concerning the oath, for they had sworn with their whole heart and had sought Him earnestly, and He let them find Him. So the Lord gave them rest on every side.”

When they swore with their whole heart and sought Him with their whole desire, the found Him.
Jeremiah 29 also tells us that we will find God when we seek for Him with our whole heart.

How often do we stop looking for God when we don’t find Him on the first try?
How often do we stop relying on prayer when it’s not answered when we first ask?
If my whole heart is in something, I don’t usually give up after one failed attempt. Or even two fails, three…and so on.

If my whole heart is in something, no matter how many times I may fail to get what I was looking for, I still try and try and try until it finally happens.
God tells us that if we seek after Him with our WHOLE heart, WE WILL FIND HIM.

Not only will we find Him, but in 2 Chronicles, God gave them REST after they found Him. Finding God doesn’t come without Him wanting to give us something.

What are you seeking God for?
Are you seeking Him in order to receive something?
Or are you seeking Him just to find Him?

Because you WILL find Him if you seek Him with your WHOLE HEART.
Not a selfish heart. Not to gain something.
But a selfless heart yearning for a connection to HIM.
And you WILL find Him and He WILL give you rest.

 

 

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