Sunday, September 19, 2010

Get Your Praise On and Get it Right

by Reverend M. Sylvia Ball

12What shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits toward me? [How can I repay Him for all His bountiful dealings?]
13I will lift up the cup of salvation and deliverance and call on the name of the Lord.
14I will pay my vows to the Lord, yes, in the presence of all His people.
Psalm 116:12-14 [AMP]

Spiritual Warfare

Yesterday I had one of those days.  Not a bad day, an incredibly good day.  The bad day was the day before when the enemy did a sneak attack.

Warfare is never wanted but in this case, it was unwanted and unexpected.  So, after a couple of sleepless nights I decided to practice what I preach and teach.

I made a conscious choice to catch the negative thoughts and exchange them for a word of thanksgiving and praise. Now, this was not easy to do; it had to be intentional.

Over time, however, something amazing happened.  I experienced an incredible peace, calmness and joy deep down in my soul.

From Stressed to Blessed

I can’t tell you when I made the shift from feeling stressed to feeling blessed.  All I know is that it happened.  And when I realized that my stress was gone, somehow a simple “thank you Lord” seemed so inadequate.

What about you? Have you experienced a time when you were so completely overwhelmed with the goodness of God that you found it hard to articulate your thanks?  Intuitively, we recognize that God wants us to maintain an attitude of gratitude.

It is good to praise the LORD
       and make music to your name, O Most High,
Psalm 92:1 [NIV]

In Psalm 50:14, Asaph reminds us:

Sacrifice thank offerings to God,
       fulfill your vows to the Most High,
Psalm 50:14 [NIV]

The Apostle Paul reminds us in Thessalonians 5:18 to maintain a constant state of thankfulness.   We are to give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 

Thank [God] in everything [no matter what the circumstances may be, be thankful and give thanks], for this is the will of God for you [who are] in Christ Jesus [the Revealer and Mediator of that will].
Thessalonians 5:18 [AMP]

In Romans 8:28, he reminds us that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

We are assured and know that [God being a partner in their labor] all things work together and are [fitting into a plan] for good to and for those who love God and are called according to [His] design and purpose.
Romans 8:28 [AMP]

When we experience emotions that encompass wonder, love and gratitude beyond words, maybe GOD is not so much looking for our words, but our actions.

In Psalm 116:12-14, the Psalmist, recalls the goodness of the Lord, searching out personal ways to show his gratitude. He asked; Lord, how can I praise you in a way that articulates my thanksgiving and most importantly, please you?  He wants to get it right. 

If you, like me, are wondering how to go beyond the WORDS of thanksgiving, if you want to get your praise on and get it right, the text shares three things for us to consider.

Think on God’s Goodness

The Psalmist says in verse 13, I will lift up the cup of salvation.  In Biblical times, the cup was symbolic of a person’s lot or fate in life.  Whatever God allowed to happen; whatever situation they found themselves in, they would think about it in light of God’s wonderful salvation.

Taking time to thank God for his goodness is a discipline that many of us find difficult to cultivate and maintain.  We are such busy Christians.  Wearing various hats and operating in different roles.  We are spouses, parents, care-takers, ministry leaders, employees, community service workers, students.  The list goes on and on and many of us wear our busyness as badge of honor.  We rush home, to work and to church, often arriving late, unable to resist sharing just how busy we are for the Lord. 

God did not call us to busyness, but he does call us to a time of meditation, a time of reflection.  “Be still, and know that I am God,” (Psalm 46:10a NIV).  This is a paradigm shift, from focusing on what we have done for God; it’s about what God has done for us.  Take time to think about God’s goodness.  Block out today’s “to-do” list, tomorrow’s challenges and yesterday’s successes and failures and spend time thinking about God’s goodness, this great salvation.
  • Think about the fact that we needed to be saved.
    • Just as a murderer needs a lawyer...
    • Just as a drowning person needs a lifeguard...
    • Just as a sick person needs a doctor...
    • We were sinners and we needed to be saved.
  • Think about the fact that God “worked our salvation with his own arm (see Isaiah 59:16).
  • Think about the fact that we are redeemed with the blood Jesus, adopted into His family.
  • Think about God’s saving and sustaining grace.
  • Think about the fact that we were chosen by Him.  We are “picked-people.”
  • Think about how our salvation is secure and we are sealed, in Him.
  • Think about how God consistently delivers, protects and shields.
What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for me? (Psalm 8:5 NIV).  This is how we can begin to get our praise on, simply thinking on the goodness of the Lord. 

After a time of thinking on the goodness of the Lord, the psalmist tells us that the natural outflow of our thinking will be calling on the name of the Lord. An involuntary utterance unto the Lord will flow out of us.  That is pure praise, not prompted by a praise leader or fixed rote praises to the Lord. Psalm 116:13b …call on the name of the LORD.

Call Him by Name

We know the Lord as Creator, Judge and Savior, but there are other names for God that we come to know only through life’s experiences or trials, sickness desires and needs. It is in these crises that God reveals Himself in ways unique to our situation.

When GOD called Moses and Moses said; who shall I say sent me? Moses wasn’t asking GOD “what should we call You?”  He asked “who are You, God?”

GOD responded saying “I AM Who I AM.”  In other words, “Moses, I will be continuously present for you, provide what you need, no matter what the situation.”

Abraham came to know Him as Jehovah Jireh my provider, GOD told him to sacrifice his son; Abraham was going to go through with it until GOD provided a substitute.

Think about your most recent trial, through the situation, GOD showed Himself in a unique ways.  When you think on His goodness to you in a personal ways, then He becomes a personal God and you can call Him by name and make it personal.

If you were sick; you might call Him HEALER.

If you prayed and He answered quickly, you can call Him “YOU who HEARS PRAYERS.

If you were in some form of bondage and He brought you out, call Him LORD MY Deliverer.

Maybe your life was void and in your seeking He provided in a unique way, call Him the Lord that satisfies.

Maybe you went through a dark and lonely time and He manifested Himself in a special ways.  You can call Him THE LORD my LIGHT and the God Who is there!

Just like our natural parents love to hear us call them mommy and daddy, our God delights in hearing us call Him by the name that is personal to us.  After all, it is acknowledgement that we recognize Who brought us out. 

Maybe you are going through a trial right now.  Why not get your praise on right now.  After all He is a faithful God and this is not your first, nor will it be your last trial.  What has He been to you in past situations?  Think on the goodness of your God and you just may hear yourself calling Him, a firm rock, your hiding place, your very great reward or Prince of peace.  Do you want to get your praise on?

Think on the goodness of the Lord, call Him by name and then serve Him.  

The Psalmist says I will fulfill my vow in the presence of all His people.  Have you noticed that everything the Psalmist says is personal?  How can “I” repay the Lord, “I” will life up the cup of salvation, “I” will call on the name of the Lord and “I” will fulfill my vows to the Lord in the presence of all His people. 

The fact that he owed the Lord for everything that God had done for him, personally, the solution is personal.  Yes, he is going to fulfill his vow in the presence of the people, but he does not say that he’s going to talk to the people about his service.  Think about it this way; when we come to the house of the Lord, for worship or service, we bring a contribution.  Sometimes, our presence in the worship experience can bless someone else.

Our presence is an affirmation of our faith, so we don’t say to everyone, “I’m here because of my faith in God, and our presence speaks for us.” 

It’s Personal

When I went through my trial last week, it was all personal.  My struggle, my tears, my prayers and my praise!   And, so it is for you, getting your praise on is personal.  That old adage, actions speak louder than words, is true. Words are not always required to give praise and thanksgiving to the Lord, but action is.

What are some ways to service the Lord?  Privately meet the need of hurting person, give without announcing to anyone.  Speaking words that edify and build up; admonishing someone in private and keeping it private.  Sincerely forgiving and praying for those who hurt you. When we pay our vow to the Lord we do the things that God requires of us, we perform our reasonable service!  We present our bodies as a living sacrifice and what we do, not what we say, becomes a sweet smelling fragrance in the nostrils of our God!

You see, praise and thanksgiving flows from our knowledge of God.  HE does not love us like a punitive judge or arbitrary moody dictator.  His love is based on His own unchanging nature.  We may change, but He never does and it for this reason that we are thankful; it is for this reason that we want to praise Him.  So, you were wondering just how to get your praise on.  Know this; you don’t need a praise team, a worship leader or a public gathering.  Simply take up your cup, for it overflows with such a great salvation.  

Call the Lord by name, for He has done great things in your life, and fulfill you vow.  Give service to the Lord, not to impress the people in church, but to simply show your love for God. 

Go ahead, get your praise on!

Rev. M. Sylvia BallFor more than 15 years, the eloquent and vibrant Sylvia Ball has been serving the Lord Jesus Christ through preaching and teaching.

Sylvia is deeply committed to rightly dividing the word of God so that men, women and children will come to know Christ personally, and in doing so, each will be encouraged to walk in their God given purpose.

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