Winning Our Praise
It is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.(Psalm 147:1)
We praise what we enjoy because the delight is incomplete until it is expressed in praise. If we were not allowed to speak of what we value and celebrate what we love and praise what we admire, our joy would not be full. So if God loves us enough to make our joy full, He must not only give us Himself; He must also win from us the praise of our hearts- not because He needs to shore up some weakness in Himself of compensate for some deficiency, but because He loves and seeks the fullness of our joy that can be found only in knowing and praising Him, the most magnificent of all Beings. If He is truly for us, He must be for Himself!
God is the one Being in all the universe for whom seeking His own praise is the ultimate loving act. For Him, self-exaltation is the highest virtue. When He does all things for the praise of His glory, He preserves for us and offers to us the only thing in all the world that can satisfy our longings. God is for us! And the foundation of this love is that God has been, is now, and always be for Himself.
God is an unshakably happy God. He does everything He does to preserve and display that glory, for in this His soul rejoices.
All the works of God cumulate in the praises of His redeemed people. The climax of His happiness is the delight He takes in the echos of His excellence in the praises of the saints. The praise is the consummation of our own joy in God. Therefore, God’s pursuit of praise from us and our pursuit of pleasure in Him are the same pursuit. This is the great gospel! This is the foundation of Christian Hedonism.
Gratitude, thanksgiving, and praise are all in the same family of expressing appreciation to someone for blessing us, giving us some special gift, or doing something special for us. Often as humans we may give a gift in return or do something special in response as recipients of someone’s expression of love or appreciation. But can we give to God who owns it all and has created everything?
Genesis records that everything God created, “he saw it was good.” All this He presented to Adam for his enjoyment. What then did Adam have to offer?
I’m not sure if everyone responds this way, but for me, I enjoy doing things for or giving things to people who appreciate my effort. I find it a pleasure to find ways to bless them and my satisfaction is seeing them enjoy the fruit of my effort. I want no gift in return, their appreciation is enough.
This is what brings God satisfaction. The Bible says that after God created Adam, He brought all that he had created to Adam and Adam gave it names. What a delight it must have been to God to see His masterpiece, the object of His love enjoying his gifts. In a small way, this is what I love about Christmas. My great joy was watching my children and now my grandchildren opening their gifts. When I see the wonder in their eyes and watch with delight as they enjoy their presents my heart is full.
Jesus captures this essence when He says:
7 “Ask and keep on asking and it will be given to you; seek and keep on seeking and you will find; knock and keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who keeps on asking receives, and he who keeps on seeking finds, and to him who keeps on knocking, it will be opened. 9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will [instead] give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will [instead] give him a snake? 11 If you then, evil (sinful by nature) as you are, know how to give good and advantageous gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven [perfect as He is] give what is good and advantageous to those who keep on asking Him.
Often when I hear people talk about their church service, their conversation is about, “What did you get out of the service?” And the response will be about a word or a touch or some blessing. All this is good. My question is, “What did Jesus get?” The Bible says that where two or three are gathered together in His Name, He is in the midst, so what does He get?
Worship then is our gift to God. It is our expression of gratitude, thanksgiving, and praise. It is when His children respond in such a fashion that God’s heart is filled. A story from the NT illustrates this. Jesus meets 10 lepers who beg Him to heal them. He does. They go their way rejoicing in their gift of healing and a second chance of life. As they go, one turns back and finds Jesus and gives Him worship and praise. The other 9 are still healed and no doubt enjoy their gift but the one gives back to the Lord the gift of praise. Let us be the one and as we consider all the wondrous blessings and gifts we have received from our Heavenly Father, let us worship, let us praise, and let us offer up to Him thanksgiving. As we gather as His people, let us no longer refrain from expressive worship. Let us not delay our gift until we get to heaven. Let us give God the enjoyment of receiving our praise now and in eternity.
We frequently remind ourselves to show gratitude to others who had been good to us, parents, teachers, mentors and the like. Should we not also remember to give to God, the source of all good things the same?
Who or what then will give God the praise of which He is worthy? Shall it be us or will it be some rock or tree?
As soon as He was approaching [Jerusalem], near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the entire multitude of the disciples [all those who were or claimed to be His followers] began praising God [adoring Him enthusiastically and] joyfully with loud voices for all the miracles and works of power that they had seen, shouting, “ Blessed (celebrated, praised) is the King who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven and glory (majesty, splendor) in the highest [heaven]!” Some of the Pharisees from the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples [for shouting these Messianic praises].” Jesus replied, “I tell you, if these [people] keep silent, the stones will cry out [in praise]!”
Dr. John Thompson