BE GRATEFUL. PRAISE GOD
A. Introduction: In this lesson we want to talk about praising God. Praising God is one of the most important things you can do for your own good, for the good of the kingdom, and for the glory of God.
B. Let's begin with some general statements about praising God. When we think of praising God we usually think of music and worshipping the Lord in church. But that is not what we are going to discuss.
1. Praise to God at its most basic level has nothing to do with music and worship in church. To praise someone means to talk about who they are and what they have done.
a. For example, I taught high school history for many years. There were times when a student displayed a character trait or achieved a scholastic goal and it was appropriate for me as their teacher to praise them for it.
1. It had nothing to do with how I felt or if I was having a good day or a bad day. I praised them because they were deserving of praise.
2. It had nothing to do with music. I did not walk over to their desk strumming a guitar and then sing to them. I simply acknowledged what they were (honest, trustworthy, etc.) or what they had done (aced a test, written an insightful paper, etc.).
b. Praise is not an emotional response to God (II Cor 6:10). It is the appropriate response to God. It is always appropriate to praise the Lord for who He is no matter how we feel or what is going on in our lives. Ps 107:8,15,21,31
1. There is always something to thank and praise God for in every situation: His goodness and His wonderful works to the children of men.
2. There is always something to thank and praise God for in every situation: the good that He has done, is doing, and will do.
3. Even when things are going badly there is always something to praise God for: the good that we see and the good that we will see because He has promised to work all things together for good for those who love Him. Rom 8:28
2. There is tremendous power in praise. In Ps 8:2 David spoke of a strength that is so powerful it can stop the enemy and still the avenger. Yet babies and nursing children can demonstrate that strength. In Matt 21 we find out from Jesus what that strength is. It is praise to God.
a. v14-16--Jesus went into the Temple where He healed the blind and the lame. In response children began to praise Him. Hosanna was an expression of praise and adoration. It meant “Save Lord”.
b. When the priests and scribes complained to Jesus about what the children were doing He told them that the children were fulfilling Ps 8:2. In His answer Jesus defined the strength that stops the enemy and stills the avenger as praise to God.
c. Ps 50:23 says: Whoso offers praise glorifies me (KJV) and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God (NIV).
3. Let's look at some spectacular examples in the scripture of people who prayed a prayer of praise to God and it ended in spectacular results that brought much glory to God and great good to many people.
a. II Chron 20--Three enemy armies came to battle against King Jehoshaphat and the armies of Judah.
1. They were hopelessly outnumbered and did not know what to do. So the king and all of Judah came together to seek the Lord's help. Note the prayer they prayed.
a. v6--They did not start with the problem. They started with the bigness of God. They magnified God instead of the problem.
b. v7--They remembered God's past help to them against their enemies and His promise that the land that was being attacked belonged to them. It was given to them by God Himself.
c. v8,9--They proclaimed the fact that God dwelled with them in the Temple and that they could turn to Him for help in time of trouble and He would hear them.
d. v10-13--Then they stated the problem, their helplessness in the face of it, and their dependence on God: We don't know what to do but our eyes are on you.
2. v14-19--Then God spoke to them through His prophet promising that He was with them and they would not need to fight. He would save them. So they praised God for His answer. They went to bed that night with no change in the situation, only the word of the Lord that He would help them.
a. v20,21--The next morning when they went out on the field to battle Jehoshaphat put the praisers out in front of the soldiers.
b. v22-26--When Judah began to praise confusion set in among the enemy armies and they started to fight each other. Judah did not fire a shot but they won the battle and took a great spoil from the enemy.
1. The very coalition of armies that came against Judah to destroy them, in the hands of God, became the vehicle of their deliverance because the enemy armies destroyed each other. God turned genuine evil into good.
2. Note that v27 describes their victory this way: The Lord made them to rejoice over their enemies.
3. In Jehoshaphat and Judah's situation praise stopped the enemy and stilled the avenger. Praise prepared the way for God to show them His salvation.
b. Acts 16--Paul and Silas were in the city of Philippi preaching the gospel when Paul cast a devil out of a servant girl. That spirit had enabled the girl to tell fortunes and her masters had used that skill to make money for themselves. Angry that their “gold mine” had come to an end, they complained to city authorities who arrested Paul and Silas, beat them, and threw them in jail. v16-24
1. v25-27--At midnight the men prayed and sang praises to God. Suddenly there was a great earthquake and they were loosed from the prison. Consider several points.
a. Did these men feel like praising God? Probably not. They had just been severely beaten and were now chained up in the darkest, innermost part of the prison. What was their crime? They were doing the work of God and set a captive girl free from satanic bondage. b. Why then did they praise God? Because it is always appropriate to praise the Lord for who He is and for what He has done, is doing, and will do. Because the scripture says when the wicked come against you and things look dark, that is the time to praise the Lord. Ps 119:61,62
2. v28-34--God brought great good out of their situation. Not only were Paul and Silas delivered from jail but the jailer and all his house were saved.
a. Tradition says that the jailer became the pastor of a church that was established in Philippi.
b. Genuine bad -- unjust imprisonment -- became genuine good as Paul and Silas were released from jail and the overseer of the prison became the overseer of a church.
3. In their situation praise stopped the enemy and stilled the avenger. Praise prepared the way for God to show them His salvation.
4. Why is praise to God so powerful?
a. Because it is an expression of faith in God. Faith is believing without seeing. Faith is believing before you see. Faith is believing until you see (II Cor 5:7). When you praise God for His help before you see or feel any help that is an expression of faith in God and His promises to help you.
b. Another reason praise is so powerful is that it can keep you from complaining. Complaining is the opposite of thankfulness. It is an expression of ungratefulness.
1. When trouble comes our way, for most of us, everything in our flesh wants to and does complain. Often times our prayers to God are nothing more than a litany of complaints with an “Amen” stuck on the end.
2. There are several serious problems with complaining.
a. Number one, the Bible says we are supposed to do all things without complaining.
b. Number two, complaining can actually make things worse because it opens the door to the destroyer in your situation. I Cor 10:10
3. But you can harness your mouth with praise and stop the complaints from coming out.
c. When you are thanking and praising God you are doing the will of God. You are in agreement with God.
1. I Thess 5:18--No matter what happens, always be thankful, for this is God's will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (NLT); Under all circumstances give thanks to God (20th Cent).
2. John 6:11--Jesus thanked His Father in Heaven for lack (five loaves and two fishes in the face of 5,000 men plus women and children) because He knew what lack could become in the hands of God -- more than enough.
5. This is not a good luck charm or a formula to end your troubles. It has to come out of your perception of reality and what you know about the way things really are.
a. You know that nothing can come against you that is bigger than God.
b. You know that it didn't take Him by surprise. He already has a plan in mind to cause this to serve His purposes of maximum glory to Himself and maximum good to as many people as possible.
c. You know that everything you are looking at is temporary and subject to change by the power of God.
d. You that that God will get you through until He gets you out.
C. Conclusion: We have it backwards. We think: I'll praise God when I feel better. I'll praise God after I see His help in this situation. But the one who sees things the way they really are praises God before he feels better or sees anything change.
1. Why praise the Lord before you see or feel His help? Because it is always appropriate to praise the Lord for who He is, for what He has done, is doing, and will do.
2. Why praise the Lord before you see and feel His help? Because that is the order in the kingdom of God. It's praise first, then the increase (Ps 67:5,6). It's praise first, then the deliverance (Acts 16:25- 27). It's praise first, then the victory (II Chron 20:27).
3. Praising God doesn't necessarily guarantee immediate deliverance. But it will lift you up in the midst of your troubles and you are now working with God. That is a good place to be when you find yourself in the midst of trouble. Habakkuk 3:17-19
a. Learn to talk continuously about who God is and how wonderful He is. Learn to talk about what He has done, is doing, and will do in your situation. Eph 5:20
b. There is always something to thank and praise God for in your situation -- the good that you can see right now and the good that you will see went God brings genuine good out of genuine bad.