PRAISE IS AN ACTION
A. Introduction: We are living at the end of this present age, and the return of Jesus Christ to this world is
closer than ever. I believe that He will return within the lifetime of some of us who are sitting in this room
and listening to or watching this message.
1. When Jesus was on earth two thousand years ago, He warned His followers that tribulation and perilous
times will precede His second coming. Matt 24:21
a. Jesus identified religious deception as one of the factors that will make the years leading up to His
return particularly dangerous—specifically, the rise of false Christs and false prophets who preach
false gospels (Matt 24:4-5; 11; 24). We see this developing increasingly our the world today.
b. We are taking time to carefully examine who Jesus is and why He came to earth according to the
Bible, so that we are equipped to recognize false Christs and false gospels.
2. In recent lessons we have been emphasizing the fact that Jesus is God become man without ceasing to be
God. Jesus took on a human nature and came into this world to die as a sacrifice for the sins of
humanity. Heb 2:14-15; I John 4:9-10; etc.
a. When a person bows their knee to Jesus as Savior and Lord, on the basis of Jesus’ sacrifice, God can
justify that person, or declare them righteous and no longer guilty of sin. Rom 5:1
b. Once we are justified (or made right with God) through faith in Jesus and His sacrificial death, God
can then indwell us by His Spirit, the Holy Spirit. We become partakers of His life and Spirit
—born of God, sons and daughters of God. John 1:12-13; I John 5:1
1. The entrance of God’s Spirit and life is the beginning of a process of transformation that will
ultimately restore every part of our being to our created purpose—to be sons and daughters of
God who are fully pleasing to Him in every thought, word, and action. Eph 1:4-5; Col 1:20-22
2. Jesus is the pattern for God’s family. God wants sons and daughters who are like Jesus, in His
humanity—like Him in holiness, character, love, and power. Rom 8:29-30
3. Last week we talked about how we cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He works in us to make us
Christ-like, by learning to praise God continually. We have more to say about praising God tonight.
a. Jesus used the word picture of water to convey the idea that the Holy Spirit is a continuous source of
supply in us to strengthen, empower, and restore us to all that God desires us to be. The Holy Spirit
provides a well of water springing up and rivers of flowing water. John 4:14; John 7:37-39
b. When Jesus made one of His statements about the Holy Spirit, He was in Jerusalem at the Feast of
Tabernacles. At the celebration, water was ceremonially drawn from a pool near the Temple that
was fed by a fresh water spring. Celebrants sang passages from the Book of Isaiah.
1. Isa 12:2-4—(In the day of Messiah) with joy you shall draw water from the wells of salvation.
And in that day you shall say, Praise the Lord, call upon his name, declare his doings among the
2. The original Hebrew word that is translated praise (yadah) means the act of acknowledging
what is right about God in praise and thanksgiving. To proclaim His name means to talk about
who God is and what He does.
c. One of the primary ways that we cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He works in us to strengthen and
transform us (or draw water out of the well of salvation), is by praising and thanking God for who
He is, and for what He has done, is doing, and will do.
4. We tend to think of praising God as an emotional or musical response to Him. When we feel good and
all is well in our lives, we’re inspired to praise and thank God.
a. By all means, praise God when you feel good and when things are going well in your life. But
praise, in its most basic form, is not connected to feelings or circumstances. Praise is a verbal
acknowledgement of the virtues (or character) and works (or actions and deeds) of someone.
1. In our normal human interactions, there are times when it is appropriate to praise someone—to
acknowledge and commend their character or actions. It has nothing to do with how we feel or
the circumstances we’re experiencing in our personal lives.
2. We acknowledge or praise them because it is appropriate. It’s always appropriate to praise or
acknowledge God for who He is, and for what He has done, is doing, and will do.
b. It’s easy to praise and thank God when you feel good and things are going well for you. The
challenge is to praise and thank Him when you don’t feel like it and things aren’t going well.
1. James 1:2—James (half-brother of Jesus who came to faith following Jesus’ resurrection) wrote
that when you encounter life’s challenges you should count it all joy. Count means to deem or
consider. Consider this trial as an occasion to joy or be cheerful.
2. The Greek word that is translated joy means to be “cheer”ful, to rejoice, to be glad. It is an
action, as opposed to a feeling. Be cheerful rather than feel cheerful. When you cheer
someone, you encourage them and urge them on by giving them reasons to have hope.
3. When you acknowledge or praise God in the face of trouble, you don’t deny your situation or
your dislike for what is happening. You respond to the situation with praise to God.
B. How can you consider life’s pressures and difficulties as a time to rejoice or praise God? James followed
his statement with two words: Knowing this (James 1:3). There are a number of things we need to know in
order to respond to life’s hardships with praise. Consider these points. This isn’t an exhaustive list,
but it will get us moving in the right direction.
1. As we noted at the top of this page, it is always appropriate to praise and thank God no matter how you
feel or what is happening in your life. Praise and thanksgiving is the right response to God.
a. Israel’s great King David, who wrote many of the Psalms and was called a man after God’s own
heart (Acts 13:22), made this statement: I will bless the Lord at all times: his praise shall
continually be in my mouth (Ps 34:1, KJV).
b. The word translated praise is from a Hebrew word that means to express genuine appreciation for
the great actions or character of the object of the praise.
c. Praise isn’t first and foremost musical or emotional. It is a recognition and appreciation of the one
you’re acknowledging. It is always appropriate to praise God because of who He is. 2.
Praising and thanking God is an act of obedience. As God’s sons and daughters our mindset is
supposed to be not my will but your will. Matt 26:39; Matt 16:24-25; II Cor 5:15; etc.
a. It is God’s will that we rejoice and be thankful always: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give
thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (I Thess 5:16-18, ESV).
1. Notice that rejoice, pray, and give thanks are actions rather than feelings. The Greek word that
is translated rejoice means to be “cheer”ful (as opposed to “feel” cheerful).
2. When you begin to recount God’s greatness and goodness, and His past help, present provision,
and promise of future help and provision, it inspires gratefulness (thanksgiving), which helps
you do the will of God in the midst of your trial—always rejoice and give thanks.
b. When troubles come into our lives, unChrist-like character traits get stimulated—sinful anger,
complaining, lashing out at others; pay back and revenge; etc. Praise and thanksgiving help you get
control of these impulses and behaviors.
1. James also wrote: We all make mistakes, but those who control their tongues can also control
themselves in every other way (James 3:2, NLT).
2. If you get control of your tongue through a habit of responding to trials with praise and
thanksgiving, you will grow in Christ-like behavior.
3. Paul the apostle (who became a believer when Jesus appeared to him a couple of years after the
resurrection) connected praise and thanksgiving to being filled with the Holy Spirit, or experiencing the
Holy Spirit’s help in becoming more Christ-like in thought, word, and action.
a. Eph 5:18-20—And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery (over-indulgence), but be
filled with the Spirit, addressing (speaking to) one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs,
singing and making melody to the Lord with all your heart, giving thanks always and for everything
to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (ESV).
b. Filled comes from a Greek word that means abundantly supplied or permeated. To permeate
means to spread throughout.
c. When you choose to obey God and begin to acknowledge Him by praising and thanking Him
(acknowledging who He is and what He has done, is doing, and will do) you draw up water out of
the well of salvation. The Holy Spirit strengthens you to fulfill your decision to obey the Lord.
4. To the first Christians, hymns meant the Scriptures, specifically the psalms, which were spoken (recited)
or sung. Many of the psalms record peoples’ responses to God as they faced both the joys and sorrows
and hardships of life. In that context (in good times and bad), we see that they acknowledged God.
a. Ps 56 is a psalm written by David when he was being relentlessly pursued by people intent on killing
him. Note the statement he made in the face of serious, life-threatening trouble.
1. The enemy troops press in on me. My foes attack me all day long. My slanderers hound me
constantly, and many are boldly attacking me. But when I am afraid, I put my trust in you. O
God, I praise your word (v1-4, NLT).
2. The Hebrew word that is translated praise means to shine or to boast. In the face of fearsome
circumstances David responded by acknowledging (or boasting in and about) God and His
Word. In other words, he counted it all joy. He made a choice to rejoice.
b. In every situation and circumstance there is always something to praise and thank God for—His
goodness and His wonderful works to the children of men—for who He is and for what He has done,
is doing, and will do. Ps 107:8, 15, 21, 31
1. No matter what you are facing, it isn’t bigger than God. It didn’t take Him by surprise. He
sees a way to cause it to serve His purposes and His plans for good. Almighty God can
actually bring genuine good out of truly bad situations.
2. No matter what you are facing, it’s temporary and subject to change by God’s power, either in
this life or the life to come. And He will get you through until He gets you out.
c. When you acknowledge God, you bring glory to God and open the door to His help in your
circumstances. Ps 50:23—Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me (KJV), and he prepares the way so
that I may show him the salvation of God (NIV).
C. Paul wrote the Epistle to the Philippians while he was imprisoned by the Romans. At the time he wrote, he
did not know if he would be released or executed. We aren’t going to do a detailed study of the epistle, but
consider a few key points related to our topic.
1. Paul has close relationship with Christians who lived in the Greek city of Philippi (Paul established the
church). He was writing to inform them of his situation, and to comfort and encourage them.
a. From this epistle we get insight into the importance counting it all joy or acknowledging (praising
and thanking) God in the face of difficult circumstances.
b. This letter is sometimes called the joy letter. Although it is a short letter, Paul used the word joy
five times and the word rejoice eleven times. These two Greek words are related. Joy (a noun)
comes from rejoice (a verb), which means to be “cheer”ful.
2. In this letter (epistle) we find an example of what counting it all joy (based on knowledge) looks like.
We see what it looks like to praise and thank the Lord in a difficult circumstance.
a. After his initial greeting, Paul assured his friends that God was already bringing good out of his
difficult circumstances. Phil 1:12-19
1. Paul informed them that what had happened actually helped the gospel spread. He told the
Philippians that everyone (including all the soldiers in Caesar’s court) know that he was jailed
because of his commitment to Jesus.
2. Paul wrote that it made many of the Christians in Rome bolder in telling others about Jesus.
Some were doing it out of genuineness, others out of jealousy and a desire to add to his pain.
3. But either way, Paul said, I rejoice and will rejoice because Jesus is being proclaimed. Rejoice
is the Greek word that means to be “cheer”ful.
b. Note that Paul chose to rejoice based on the good he could see as well as based on the good he knew
that he would one day see: Yes and I will rejoice. For I know that through your prayers and the
help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance (Phil 1:18-19, ESV).
1. The Spirit of Jesus is the Holy Spirit (Rom 8:9). Jesus is in us by His Spirit. Remember that
at the Last Supper Jesus promised that He and the Father would send another like Himself (the
Holy Spirit) to indwell believers. (Review our earlier lessons on the Trinity if necessary.)
2. This is the letter where we find Paul’s statement that he could get through everything he faced
(do all things) through Christ who strengthened him. I have strength for all things in Christ
Who empowers me—I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses
inner strength into me (Phil 4:13, Amp).
c. Paul stated that either way this situation turned out (I live or die) it will end well. If I get out, I’ll
keep preaching the gospel of Jesus. If I die, I go to be with Jesus. It’s a win, win. Phil 1:20-24
3. In this letter Paul also connects rejoicing (choosing to praise and thank God) to exhibiting Christ-like
behavior in the midst of life’s hardships and challenges.
a. Paul wrote: Dearest friends, you were always so careful to follow my instructions when I was
with you. And now that I am away you must be even more careful to put into action God’s saving
work in your lives, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving
you the desire to obey him and the power to do what pleases him (Phil 2:12-13, NLT).
b. He told these people to obey God (His Law concerning right and wrong as revealed in Scriptures)
with reverence and respect for who He is—Your Creator, Lord, and Savior.
1. In the original Greek, the phrase put into action God’s saving work in your lives has the idea of
accomplishing or finishing. Remember that the end result of salvation is full conformity to the
image of Jesus—becoming Christ-like in every part of your being. Rom 8:29; I John 2:6
2. Live with the consciousness (awareness) that God is working in you to help you do what is
pleasing to Him. The word working (energeo) means to be active, operative, effective.
c. Note the very next thing Paul wrote: In everything you do, stay away from complaining and
arguing, so that no one can speak a word of blame against you. You are to live clean, innocent lives
as children of God in a dark world full of crooked and perverse people. Let your lives shine
brightly before them (Phil 2:14-15, NLT). Consider one more statement from Paul:
1. Rejoice in the Lord always—delight, gladden yourselves in Him; again I say rejoice. Let all
men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness—your considerateness, your
forbearing spirit. The Lord in near—He is coming soon (Phil 4:4-5, Amp).
2. Rejoice is the same Greek word that we’ve been pointing out. It means to be “cheer”ful as
opposed to feel cheerful. Remember, this was written by a man imprisoned by Rome and
facing possible execution for his faith. Praise is an action, not a feeling.
D. Conclusion: Both Paul and James emphasized the importance of responding to life with thanksgiving and
praise. When you see trouble, emotions rise, and thoughts begin to fly, that’s the time to harness your mouth
with praise. Not only does this put your focus on Almighty God, you begin to draw water out of the well of
salvation, as the Holy Spirit in you strengthens you to face whatever comes your way. More next week!