How good it is to sing to our God,
for praise is pleasant and lovely.
PRAISING GOD REMINDS US OF HOPE
What happens when we praise God? For one thing, He is honored and revered. But it does something to us, too. As we focus on and worship Him with our praise, our spirits are lifted. For a time, we set aside our aches and pains, sorrows and hurts, and any other troubles and remember God’s great love for us. We remember the sacrifice of Jesus, who died in our place, and then rose triumphantly from the grave. Praising God reminds us of hope. We remember that:
He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.
He counts the number of the stars; he gives names to all of them.
Our Lord is great, vast in power; his understanding is infinite.
The Lord helps the oppressed but brings the wicked to the ground.
We were not able to attend church today, because my sciatic pain was a little too much. Instead, we first listened to a sermon, by Timothy Keller, entitled A New Community. It was based on Acts 2:40-47, but to get the whole story, read all of Acts 2. In Jerusalem at that time there were a number of people from different countries, who spoke different languages, who didn’t have much in common. There were believers and non-believers.
In that passage, we see that the number of believers grew substantially, after Peter’s sermon on Pentecost and in the following days. It wasn’t because Peter was such a good preacher or because the church had evangelistic programs, etc.
What caused so many from the larger community to come and join them? They saw that these Christians had new life, infused in them by the Holy Spirit, such that things like race, status, etc., didn’t matter. Christianity was inclusive, and they saw that all were equal in God’s sight, and they enjoyed being together.
PRAISING GOD COVERS ALL OF LIFE
Tim Keller summed up what those early Christians did with these three words: Learning, Loving, Liturgy.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching,
to the fellowship,
to the breaking of bread,
and to prayer.
These verses explain it more fully:
Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple,
and broke bread from house to house.
They ate their food with joyful and sincere hearts,
praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.
Every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
So how can these things draw people in? Yes, they enjoyed being together, were kind to all, took care of each other, but there was something more. There was a power behind what they did that is only present through the Holy Spirit, who enabled them to desire to learn, to have such love and to worship and praise. That covers all of life. Praising God is powerful.
“Praising God is the dynamite; praising God is the engine.”Timothy Keller
After that statement, he shared this quote by C. S. Lewis, because it is so fitting.
“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy, because the praise does not merely express, but completes the enjoyment.”C. S. Lewis
When we see beauty or something else that touches us deeply, we don’t just want to enjoy it on our own. We want to share it with others, to hear them say, “Yes, that is beautiful.” That way we share the moment together and that makes our enjoyment complete.
These early Christians loved to learn, loved to be together, loved to worship and praise. They had a joy that was unmistakable, so much so that they had to share it. As they praised and shared with each other, their enjoyment was made complete.
GOD’S LOVE ENCOURAGES US TO LOVE EACH OTHER
After pondering Tim’s words, we decided to watch our own church’s service online. It was almost like we were there, yet not able to join in completely. Still it was a blessing. Imagine our surprise when the sermon went right along what we had heard in Tim Keller’s sermon. This time the words were from 1 John 4.
Love consists in this:
not that we loved God, but that he loved us
and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Dear friends, if God loved us in this way,
we also must love one another. No one has ever seen God.
If we love one another, God remains in us
and his love is made complete in us.
(1 John 4:10-12)
No one has seen God, but we make Him known by our actions. He has first loved us, and because of His love we can love others. Besides the general revelation of creation, we are God’s representation on earth. When we remember His great love for us, we want to love Him more and will also want to show that love to others. We can do this by practicing the three things Tim Keller summed up for us: Learning, Loving, Liturgy. As we do these things with joy, others can’t help but see the love of God in practice.
PRAISING GOD REMINDS US OF HOPE AND GIVES US JOY
I began this post with the first verse of Psalm 147. Let’s end with a few more verses from that psalm. Will you join me in praising the Lord for His goodness and mercy to all creation?
Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; play the lyre to our God, who covers the sky with clouds, prepares rain for the earth, and causes grass to grow on the hills.
He provides the animals with their food, and the young ravens what they cry for.
He is not impressed by the strength of a horse; he does not value the power of a warrior.
The Lord values those who fear him, those who put their hope in his faithful love.
God’s love is eternal and unchanging. When we put our trust in His love, we are reminded of the value we are to our heavenly Father. I don’t know about you, but that gives me hope, fills me with joy and makes me want to praise Him.
My #oneword2022 is hope.