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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Positive Side of Praising God

Do you find it easier to complain than to praise? Most of us may say that we would like to say that we are people of praise but it is more natural for most of us to complain.

Too many times I have asked my wife where she would like to eat when I have taken her out. She nearly aways says, "I don't care. Wherever you want to eat is fine."

Then, I drive to Taco Bell. As we pull up she asks, "What are we doing here? I don't want to eat here."

Again, I ask, "Where do you want to eat?"

"Well, not here," is her reply, "anywhere but here."

So I pull up to McDonald's and she exclaims, "Really? Really? Did you think that McDonald's is better than Taco Bell?"

"Then, just tell me where you want to eat!" I say a little exasperated.

You know the answer. "Well not here but anywhere else will be fine."

I have found that it is easier for her to tell me where she doesn't want to eat than to tell me where she would like to eat. I have found that without prompting she will lean on what is bad before what is good. I don't think she is unusual. I am just like her.

People in a drought are the ones who are positive about the rain. People who are in hunger are the ones grateful for the food. The blind are the ones who can appreciate sight. The deaf would praise God with their whole hearts if they could hear. Yet, the ones with the well irrigated fields, full stomachs, who see and hear clearly don't realize what we have. We are saying that we hate the rain, are very particular about the food, and speak of the ugly things we see and hear. We fail to see what there is to praise God for and therefore don't praise Him often.

I have heard that satanist boast that they can blaspheme the name of God for an hour and a half without repeating themselves while Christians can't praise the name of God for a minute and a half without repeating themselves. The satanists can easily see what they think are flaws in God while the Christians can't see the truth in praising Him.

So, what can I praise God for? I praise Him for being the One who loves me with an everlasting love. He is the One who knows me fully and forgives me completely. He is the One who created the universe and the majesty of the stars at night are a minute fraction of His creation. He is the One who is full of wisdom and power to change anything like it should be. He is the One who is holy. It is by His holiness that holiness is defined. He is the one who never changes no matter how late in the day or what the circumstances might be. He is the One who is ever-present. I will never escape Him no matter how far I run. He will never be far from me no matter how deeply I need Him. He is the One who holds all the power and authority in the universe. Nothing is beyond His ability.

That's not a complete list but just putting it together now has released the negative from my soul. Negativity has a way of getting control of me when I let it.

So praising Him is not just for His benefit. It changes me too.

Psalm 145:1-13 (ESV)
1 I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.
  2 Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever.
  3 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.
  4 One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.
  5 On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
  6 They shall speak of the might of your awesome deeds, and I will declare your greatness.
  7 They shall pour forth the fame of your abundant goodness and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
  8 The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love
. 9 The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made
. 10 All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all your saints shall bless you!
  11 They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom and tell of your power,
  12 to make known to the children of man your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
  13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures throughout all generations. [The Lord is faithful in all his words and kind in all his works.]




6 comments:

Craig Godfrey said...

What else do you expect when you pull up to McD's on date night? My wife would do the same...only she likes to do the driving these days so will have no one to blame but herself.

Try pulling up at the finest restaurant in town, and she will probably say 'I appreciate the thought dear, but we can't afford this'. Won't help fill your belly, but you might score some brownie points for the effort.

Regards
Dr Craig

Anthony Chia said...

Sorry, Ps Prentis, this is long, but I believe it is good.

There are 2 dimensions to praise and worship: One, we praise and worship God for who He is, and two, we praise and worship Him for what He has done for us.

We, for example, do NOT praise and worship Satan, although some people do(!), and the reason we don’t is because of who he, Satan, is. We praise and worship God because of His character, and is unchanging character, and so, reliable and dependable. We praise and worship God because of what He stands for (in fact, who He is), holiness. This is apart from what He has or has NOT done for us, specifically, say, today, this week or this month.

Because of who He is, we know already, He has done and is doing much in the “backdrops”, and what He did and is doing in such, were and are for our good. It is absolutely right to say there is no day where God has NOT done good to me. I woke up this morning, alive, God has sustained me; the sun is still in its place and shining, God has done good to me, even though, this good is also done for others, that the sun is still in its place and shining as before. God has put the celestial bodies in their place, and that act of God is providing good to me, all the time.

Many take such for granted, and they would NOT think they ought to be thankful to God, and so, won’t praise and worship God (re Romans 1:19-21). Some would NOT even notice it, if they have missed a heartbeat, so to speak; hopefully, something, and to different people, different thing, something/happening will make them sit up to the goodness of God. Some are so hardened of heart, I suppose, even when the sun drops from the sky, so to speak, they still don’t realise how God has been good to us, men, because of who He is.

David recognised the goodness of God towards us, men, can you? David’s psalm 8:3-4 - “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?”

Oh, God, how we take for granted your quiet grace flowing out to us, all the time.


Next, we also give thank-giving praise and worship to God, for what He has specifically done in our lives. Is it enough to have praised and worshiped Him for who He is or even for what He has done for us, generically (with other people also receiving along with us)? The answer is no; NOT enough. I give a simple illustration:

You have good parents, and I hope you have or have had (if you don’t, I pray you can learn to look to the Father God, for He is the perfect father; and He can be that perfect father to you, if you allow Him to). Good parents being good, they of course, do all the base things, like they will provide you (FOC) good food, clothing and shelter, and if possible, education, and if they are believing parents, teach you and encourage you in the things of the faith. When you were small, the breakfast was made ready waiting for you to eat; your school uniform ironed and ready for you to wear, before you go to school, and when you come back home, lunch or dinner were also provided for you. These formed some of the “backdrops” of your life. Many of us then, did NOT think very much about how good our parents have been. Some of us might have even considered it natural of them, the parents, to do all of those backdrops, for that was what they were – good parents and good parents do those things-what!

The more appreciative ones amongst us, might have thanked our parents from time to time, for all the goodness they did in the “background things”. But over and on top of these, there are many other things good parents do for their children, which their children ought to have noted and expressed their appreciation, too. For example, I did this:

cont...

Anthony Chia said...

cont. from above

My kids (or even your kids or any school kid) were supposed to take care of this: to bring whatever books, files, homework or project work, etc, to school according to their school timetables. One of my kids, repeatedly, forgotten to bring this and that, to school, and he would be punished for the oversight. Some of the times, I would separately bring the stuff to school for him; that was really NOT what I was supposed to do; it was the kid’s reasonable duty to take care of that. Shouldn’t he, my boy, be thankful for my coming to his aid for the specific problems he got himself into, which reasonably he ought NOT have gotten into?!

The process of him realising he was NOT doing his part, and then asking for help, and then learning, albeit over multiple occasions, to be appreciative and thankful, did him good. Especially, the last bit of it, the appreciation and thankfulness bit, when he repeatedly did that (for he repeated his mistakes), it NOT only showed his attitude (that he took NOT, his father for granted, after some time), it tenderised his heart (heart gets hardened when we numb our conscience) as he was before his father, and expressed his appreciation, each time.

I am NOT God, and so, occasionally, I would tell him I could NOT make it (can be that particular time, the punishment would NOT be too serious for the boy; or it could be I really I had something very important to attend to). That too, he soon learned to be appreciative. Do you know that God, sometimes, does the same, although NOT for the reason that He cannot be omni-present (or that He cannot send his angel); only I am limited, God is NOT; but God does want us to appreciate there is such thing as our reasonable duty that we ought to learn to take care.

Thanking God, praising Him and worshiping Him for it, the “He gone out of His way to help you, specifically”, is important. First, we need to understand that thanking, praising and worshiping, they are NOT blind, meaning you cannot say you express thanks when you thank nobody, you cannot say you praised and worshipped when you praised and worshipped nobody. Who do you express thanks, praise and worship to? If you are sincere, God will be right there, to receive your thanks, praise or worship.

When our child wants to express thanks to us, parents, do you tell your child, “My boy, when you express your thanks, just face any tree you can find, and say it to the tree, or if you cannot find a tree, just say to the grass!”? No; the same is with God, when you thank Him, praise Him and worship Him, it is NOT you are here, in this church hall, and God is light years away, in some corner of the universe, can’t see or hear you! When your heart is right, He is right there in the room with you, to give ear to your expression.

Nowadays, on the internet many interpretations are written for various verses in the Bible, and NOT surprising, Ps 22:3 is NOT spared. But I will still say Ps 22:3 fits right in here. And the version that fits it in, is the KJV: “But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.”

Some people, being legalistic, they would say, “If God has to inhabit the praises of God’s people, then we are bigger than God!” or “If God lives on the praises of His people, then God is here when we praise, AND God is NOT here when we do all of the other stuff, like praying, etc”. Some even suggested that mutual exclusivity of verses implied this cannot be translation, that God inhabits the praises of people, arguing that Scripture has this verse of, when 2 or 3 are gathered in His name, God will be in their midst, with no praise mentioned in this “gathering” verse! Or another said, “If God inhabits the praises of the people, we could manipulate God!”

cont...

Anthony Chia said...

cont. from above

To me, what David was trying to express was that despite, he then, NOT seeing the hand of God for him (Ps 8:1-2) (NOT yet), God was righteous (I use a lesser word to holy, just to make it easier to understand), and God was always being praised (or thankfully praised) (by the Israelites, the people of God).

Now if I eat plain bread always (like for every meal), it is either I love plain bread, like it so much, that when you say there is plain bread, I would come to devour it, or I really don’t like it, but it is about the cheapest stuff I can afford, so, I eat it so very often! Now, God is NOT me, the latter (reason) cannot be the case for God; if He doesn’t like, He does NOT need to eat it, does He?! Of course, NOT. It (His inhabiting the praises) is because God loves it, the praises. If He does NOT like it, He can, NOT eat it, silly; He is God!

We just had Palm Sunday (and Easter is coming). In the first Palm Sunday (Luke 19:37-40), when Jesus was entering Jerusalem, and when multitudes and Jesus’ disciples praised God, some Pharisees told Jesus to stop His disciples. Jesus answered, “"I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out."

Jesus said the very stones would praise God. In other words, God wants the praises; if there was no praise, God would make the stones praise Him.

True praises speak of who God is. This scene was an “enthroning” scene. Where God is enthroned, who He is, just necessarily “occupies” or “fills” the place or atmosphere. The same was shown us of the throne in Heaven. In the Book of Revelation, God was shown enthroned, and praise was in the air – the 4 heavenly creatures (although NOT stones) were praising God, 24/7 (day and night). Praises and worship of Him show who God is. It is so wrong to insinuate we, men, are bigger, because God “needs” us to praise Him, or that we could manipulate God! So very silly, God “needs” you to share the Gospel or do the Great Commission, you are bigger than God; you can manipulate God?

An acceptable way of viewing praise and worship is that it is part of or an element of His manifold glory. Scripture speaks about us to ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name. How do we do that? Ps 29:2 gives us one important way – “Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness.” It is part of God’s glory, if you don’t give it, He will make the creatures or even the stones, to cry out the praise and worship.

What we are to go away with, on this (this revelation on “God inhabits the praises and worship”), is: Where God is enthroned, praises and worship will most likely to be present, as a manifest of His glory; and when there are praises and worship done in spirit and in truth, God is most likely to come there. We don’t manipulate Him (and don’t do that, please); we invite Him to come to take the seat of highest honor in the house, so to speak, with our praise and worship, and He will come.

Why praise and worship is for our good! Because He is invited, and when He comes, who He is, is here. One manifest of who He is, we have talked about, is praise and worship is present when He is present (praise and worship itself can be spirit-lifting for those present; that too, is a reason why I praise and worship God like there is no tomorrow, in church services; blessing to the body); other elements of who He is, are likely to manifest, too, and it will be good and goodness to us.

If you cannot picture it (how it can only be good to us), think of how Ps Prentis “said” that “from the negative, you can see the positive”! Now, picture the horrible Satan gate-crashes your party; what would happen. Now, think about God is here, in your party.

cont...

Anthony Chia said...

cont. from above

Now, if you still cannot get the picture, think of yourselves as children having family time with our parents; what would the loving parents do? Their love manifest forth. The mother will go to the kitchen and see if she could come up with some food and drinks. Dad may say, “Son, I remembered you wanted this nice backpack that you could use to go mountain-climbing. Here, I did get it for you. I thought I will give it to you sometime, but well, you can have it now!” When God is here, who He is manifests; His glory manifests, His holiness manifests, His love manifests, His goodness manifest, His grace and mercy manifests. How can you be in all of these, brought on, because God is here, because you have invited Him by your praise and worship, when the sweet aroma of it reaches Him, but will NOT be touched by God, if you allow Him to; and that (allowing) must include allowing God to “do to us” what He considers best for us. The good parents, when they know how certain food is NOT good for you, they would bring out, none, to you, for they stock none of it, in the fridge! Only good can come to you when you truly praise and worship Him, the good God, because He comes.

Anthony Chia, high.expression. Lord, I learn, even as I pen this comment. Thank you, Lord. Amen.

Anthony Chia said...

Sorry,

Where it reads Ps 8:1-2, it should have been Ps 22:1-2.

At this line -

To me, what David was trying to express was that despite, he then, NOT seeing the hand of God for him (Ps 22:1-2) (NOT yet),....

Anthony