The greatest respect a person can voice is sincere praise. The greatest appreciation a person can show is sincere praise. The greatest admiration a person can declare is sincere praise. Sincere praise shows honor as nothing else can.

Unfortunately, the word praise has been attacked and robbed. Throughout the Bible praise is a powerful word that has a special significance to God. But in our humanistic, selfish, skeptical society the word has lost its meaning. When the word praise is used in contemporary conversation, it commonly means flattery, a tool of manipulation. In our religious vocabulary, often the word praise is a spiritual negative.

I have been a Christian for 46 years. I have preached full time for 36 years. I grew up in a Christian home. There has never been a year in my life when I did not attend church assemblies three times a week.

Yet, I have never known a congregation that specifically taught Christians how to praise God. I have never been asked to lead a Bible study of Biblical praise.

  1. The Bible is literally filled with occasions when people praised God.
    1. In Exodus 15 the Israelites that day had escaped from the Egyptian army to the safety of the other side of the Red Sea.
      1. When the sun rose that morning, they faced certain death--they were trapped between the Egyptian war machine and the waters of the Red Sea, and the grave was their destiny.
      2. Before the sun set that day, they were on the other shore of the Red Sea, the Egyptian war machine was in ruin, and the bodies of the Egyptian soldiers floated in the sea.
      3. God made it happen.
        1. God led them to safety.
        2. God destroyed the army that pursued them.
        3. And they knew that it was 100% an act of God.
      4. In relief and awe, they broke into jubilant song--a song composed that very moment as they praised God.
        1. It began with these words: "I will sing to the Lord for He is highly exalted" (Exodus 15:1).
        2. Verse 11: "Who is like You among the gods, O Lord? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, awesome in praises, working wonders?"
    2. In 1 Chronicles 16, David successfully brought the holy ark of the covenant into Jerusalem and placed it in a special tent.
      1. The ark of the covenant was the most sacred object in Judaism.
        1. Verse 4 states that David appointed some Levites to minister to the ark.
          1. Did they minister to it by keeping it clean and protected? No.
          2. They were appointed to minister to it, "...even to celebrate and to thank and to praise the Lord God of Israel..."
          3. They ministered to the ark by praising God.
        2. Verse 7 states that David assigned Asaph and his relatives to thank God.
          1. Immediately following that assignment is a psalm of thanksgiving and praise (verses 8-36).
          2. Listen to just verses 8-14: "Oh give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name, make known His deeds among the peoples. Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; speak of all His wonders. Glory in His holy name; let the heart of those who seek the Lord be glad. Seek the Lord and His strength, seek His face continually. Remember His wonderful deeds which He has done, His marvels and the judgments from His mouth, O seed of Israel His servant, sons of Jacob, His chosen ones! He is the Lord our God; His judgments are in all the earth."
    3. The book of Psalms is filled with praises offered to God.
      1. One of the most common admonitions in the psalms is, "Praise ye the Lord."
      2. In Psalms 22 David cries out in anguish with these familiar words, "My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?"
        1. Then David expressed deep anguish and repentance.
        2. Then he praised God: "I will tell of Your name to my brothers; in the middle of the assembly I will praise You. You who fear the Lord, praise Him; all you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him, and stand in awe of Him, all you descendants of Israel" (verses 22,23).
      3. Psalms 117--"Praise the Lord, all nations; laud Him, all peoples! For His lovingkindness is great toward us, and the truth of the Lord is everlasting. Praise the Lord!"
      4. Psalms 135:1-3--"Praise the Lord! Praise the name of the Lord; praise Him, O servants of the Lord, you who stand in the house of the Lord, in the courts of the house of God! Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing praises to His name, for it is lovely."
    4. In Luke 2, an angel announced to some shepherds the birth of Jesus.
      1. Immediately after the announcement, a multitude of heavenly beings (to many to count) praised God.
      2. These are their words: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased" (Luke 2:14).
    5. This same gospel of Luke ends with the apostles praising God (chapter 24).
      1. The resurrected Jesus explained that everything that happened to him happened to fulfill what God said in the Law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms.
      2. He opened their minds so that they would understand the scriptures.
      3. He commissioned them to be his witnesses who preached repentance for the remission of sins in his name.
      4. Then he took them to Bethany and ascended into heaven.
      5. Listen to the closing of Luke: "And they returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple, praising God" (Luke 24:52,53).
    6. Acts 2 tells us about the first 3000 people who became Christians.
      1. Verses 46 and 47 tell us how these Christians acted.
        1. Every day they went to the temple.
        2. Every day they met in homes to eat with each other.
        3. They shared their meals with gladness and sincerity of heart.
      2. And they did something else every day: "...Praising God and having favor with all the people."

  2. We have declared for decades that our serious goal was to be Christians like people were Christians in the New Testament and to be Christ's church like Christians were in the New Testament.
    1. We see all this emphasis on praise in the Old Testament, in the gospels, in the apostles, and in the first congregation.
      1. We see an emphasis on praise that we have never placed on praise.
      2. It is tempting to say, "Well, that was just the initial excitement of the very first congregations--they were excited because Jesus was resurrected.
    2. Look with me at Ephesians 1.
      1. Paul began this letter by blessing God, the Father of Christ, Who has given us every spiritual blessing in Christ (verse 3).
      2. God chose us in Christ before the world was created, and He intended that we be holy and blameless before Him (verse 4).
      3. God predetermined that He would adopt us as His children through Christ "to the praise of the glory of His grace" (verses 5,6).
      4. Then look at verse 12: since they were the first to discover hope in Christ, they "should be to the praise of His glory."
      5. Look again at verse 14: God has pledged that we would receive our inheritance; God would redeem His own possession--and Christians are that possession; and God would do this "to the praise of His glory."
      6. Paul declared that Christians exist:
        1. To praise the glory of God's grace.
        2. To praise the glory of God's hope in Christ.
        3. To praise God's glory for giving us our inheritance.
      7. It is impossible to be what God intended us to be without praising God.

  3. God's trumpet has sounded, Christ has appeared, and we are talking to Jesus Christ. Please picture yourself in this conversation.
    1. Each of us stand awestruck before the Lamb of God.
      1. "Lord, I surely am happy to stand before you as a Christian--I was a member of the West-Ark Church of Christ for 25 years before you returned."
      2. Did you place your faith in me as your resurrected Savior? "Oh, yes sir!"
      3. Were you redeemed by my blood? "Oh, yes sir!"
      4. Were you a part of my people? "Oh, yes sir!"
      5. Did you praise me? "What?" Did you praise me? "I think I know what you are asking."
        1. "I absolutely opposed the use of instrumental music in worship. There was just no authority for it. So I never attended worship where there was an instrument."
        2. But did you praise me?
        3. "I absolutely opposed the use of multiple song leaders. I did not know anything specifically wrong with it, but I knew it was dangerous--you just never know where something like that will lead."
        4. But did you praise me?
        5. "Well, one time I changed my membership because a congregation had a singing group; and I knew it was just an excuse to start a choir."
        6. But did you praise me?
        7. "I was very emphatic about the kind of songs the church should sing."
        8. But did you praise me?
        9. "I prayed a lot of prayers--in fact we never ate unless we prayed."
        10. But did you praise me?
        11. "I taught some Bible classes."
        12. But did you praise me?
        13. "I read my Bible through once every year from the time I was thirty years old."
        14. But did you praise me?
      6. "Lord, I am not sure what you are asking. I know the Bible used that word. I think people in the Bible did that. But the only teaching I heard about praise was what you shouldn't do. I was told that was all I needed to know."
    2. And at that very moment you could see past Jesus and looked directly at the great throne of God.
      1. And you saw the four living creatures with six wings and full of eyes and heard them saying ceaselessly:
        1. "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God, the Almighty, who was and who is and is to come" (Revelation 4:8).
        2. And you listened as they gave glory and honor and thanks to God.
      2. And you saw the twenty-four elders fall down before God, and take their crowns off and place them before God, and worship Him saying, "Worthy are You, our Lord and our God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and because of Your will they existed and were created" (Revelation 4:11).
      3. And you saw the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fall down before Jesus, and they sang a new song that praised Jesus for using his blood to purchase the people who became God's kingdom and God's priest (Revelation 5:8-11).
      4. Then you heard thousands and thousands of angels saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing" (Revelation 5:12).
      5. And every created thing in heaven and on earth joined their voices and said in unison, as one single, deafening voice to both God and Jesus: "To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever" (Revelation 5:13).

And Jesus looked at you one more time and asked, "Did you praise me?"

How do you glorify God? How do you honor the God who gives you breath? How do you honor the God who keeps the earth turning? How do you honor the God who needs nothing from you? You praise Him and honor Him by trusting His Son. You praise Him and honor Him by treating your wife and your children properly. You praise Him and honor Him by the way you pray. You praise Him and honor Him by the way you sing. You praise Him and honor Him by the way you act as His son or daughter. You praise Him and honor Him by the way you interact with other Christians. You praise Him and honor Him by the way you reverence and honor His Word. You praise Him and honor Him by your awareness that nothing else matters but the will of God.

You begin to do all that by giving yourself to Him, by accepting His gift, by accepting His grace. Let Him wash your sin away in the blood of His Son. You can live only because you live in Jesus Christ.

The day will come when every knee will bend and every voice, saved or lost, will join in chorus and say, "Worthy are you for glory and honor and praise."

Partake of His resurrection in baptism. Honor Him for His salvation.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 5 April 1998

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