To praise God and to give Him the honour is one of the most important aspects of our Christian walk. It is somewhat sad to see that quite many Christians today are almost reluctant when it comes to praise God and to honour Him. Oftentimes, praise and worship only happens as part of a church gathering and even then the praise is confined mostly to singing a few praise hymns together. With these observations I don't intend to condemn anyone, much rather the opposite is true, instead of condemning I rejoice in my heart that God is being praised this way! However, I am also aware how much more we really should be praising and honouring God for He has done so much and is at work within us so that we owe Him our thanksgiving all the time and that we should praise and worship Him all the time.
In this small study, I would like to point out the almost forgotten aspect of praising and worshipping God, and I would like to encourage hereby to utilize the situations and opportunities we each have every day for praising and worshipping Him in due fashion more than ever, and that we thank God and give Him the praise and the glory He deserves. God is the creator of the heavens and the earth, all men are in His grace to even be able to breathe and to live. But, how quickly does man forget such truth and takes totally for granted what really is by no means to be taken that way. We want to remember Him and we want to praise Him and worship Him for His great goodness and grace in a big way.
God has saved us in Christ and redeemed us. In him we have been made to be children. This working of God had a specific goal in mind about which we would like to read some more in Eph 1.
According as he [God] hath chosen us in him [in Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
Here it is reported what God has done for us in Christ. We read that God did already chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and without blame before Him. God has pre-ordained us to be His children through Christ. This happened with one goal in mind which is added at the end of the sentence, "to the praise of the glory of his grace." God has done this to the praise of His glory. What God accomplished in Christ for us was done to the praise of the glory of His grace. When we think of the redemption which we have been so graciously given, we should immediately find words of praise for our heavenly Father.
Something very similar is found two more times in this section of Eph 1, where we are told of the greatness of what God did do in Christ.
In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
After a number of tremendous blessings we are told that in Christ we have been made heirs, that we have been predestinated for this inheritance according to God's purpose and the counsel of His will. After that follows the remark that God has done this so "that we should be to the praise of his glory". We are not just "to be something", no! He has made us what we are in Christ so that we should be to the praise of His glory. His glorious grace has had its effect on our lives and in us and we now are actually cause that His glory should be praised.
In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
We, the believers in Christ, have been sealed with the holy spirit which is the earnest or token of our inheritance until our full redemption. We have become God's possession, we belong to Him and that once again is said to have been for a certain purpose: We are His purchased possession and have received the seal of holy spirit so that we would be to the praise of His glory.
It is really remarkable that in this section three times it is mentioned that we are to be for the praise of God's glory. We are what we are because of God's grace so that God would receive praise. God has made us what we are in Christ so that His glorious grace should be praised. Oh, that we now would really live in all things in a way which does bring glory, honour and praise to God as someone just even sees us and realizes that we are believers in Christ!
This section is part of a tremendous eulogy, a praise of God which came from the lips of the apostle Paul and which gives us a great example how we too should praise God for His manyfold blessings.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
At the thought of God having blessed us in Christ Jesus, Paul only knows one true and appropriate answer. "Blessed be the God and Father ...!" Yes, indeed, BLESSED BE GOD!
Already in the Old Testament, we see that there has always been reason to praise God and to magnify Him.
Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.
Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.
Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.
Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.
Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.
Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD.
Hallelujah! Praise the LORD! God, as the LORD, should be praised and magnified! Here we see several aspects of praising God: God be praised in His sanctuary, in the firmament of His power. He is to be praised for His mighty acts and according to His excellent greatness! There are forms of praise involving music which is to be played and sung to His praise! Finally, the last verse of this Psalm sort of summarizes it all and includes all living beings: "Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD!"
No man has an excuse which might exempt him from following this instruction! No man can live without God, even the God-rejectors and blasphemers and those who deny God and claim there is no God -- they still owe it to the God whom they reject and deny that they can even speak such words for without Him they couldn't breath nor utter any words with their lips.
All life only exists because it is God who sustains it, because God has worked and is still at work. Man's great duty is to praise his Creator, God, and to give Him honour and glory and praise for His wonderful works and for all that God constantly provides.
My heart is fixed, O God, my heart is fixed: I will sing and give praise.
Yes, may our hearts also be fixed, may they be prepared to sing and give praise unto God! Here we learn that giving praise is linked to a fixed heart. We must have our heart prepared for praise, it must be fixed on God and the things of God, for if we are not ready in our heart and if our heart does not know the great goodness and grace of our heavenly Father, there will hardly be a praise coming out of our mouth and past our lips. Jesus said, " for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh." (Mat 12:34). This point of a prepared or fixed heart is emphasized by the Psalmist in the repetition of the expression "My heart is fixed!"
Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name.
My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:
When I remember thee upon my bed, and meditate on thee in the night watches.
To praise God and to bless Him does not reach an end, no! We have reason all the days of our lives to praise Him! The joy of the heart is then expressed in a praise coming from our lips.
We can't hold on to bitterness, sadness, distrust, wrath, hate and such things in our hearts and then at the same time think that we could praise God with a cheerful heart. We perhaps could fool one or the other of our fellow men, but let us not deceive ourselves God is not fooled! We are challenged to change our hearts, so that we can truly sing praises unto the LORD honestly from our hearts.
Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.
God be blessed, and we should bless Him our whole life long, and that not only once a week or perhaps once a month when we receive our paycheck, no every single day we are to praise and bless God.
Psalm 107:31 and 32:
Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!
Let them exalt him also in the congregation of the people, and praise him in the assembly of the elders.
These verses show us that God is not only to be praised in the little chamber at home. In the congregation, the church, the assembly, when God's people come together, there is an opportunity to praise God. God is not only to be praised in quietness and in our own private prayer lives, but He is to be praised in the congregation and before others.
O Praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people.
All men have reason to praise God and to glorify Him! This includes all the heathen, all nations. Not only could Israel, God's chosen people, praise and glorify God, but the other nations were to do it just as much.
In the gospels we see a few more examples where praising God or glorifying God is mentioned.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Jesus exhorts his disciples to live in a way that their walk might lead to a glorification of the Father with those who see them walking in those good works.
But when the multitude saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men.
Here, Jesus had just worked a miracle when he healed a lame man, and that caused reverence and marvel amount the people and the praised God, they glorified Him for His wonderful work.
And immediately he received his sight, and followed him, glorifying God: and all the people, when they saw it, gave praise unto God.
After the healing of this blind man, the reaction to such a showing forth of God's power was that both the healed man as well as the people of God glorified and praised God! The weather and the latest news about the Roman occupying forces or the latest figures from Wallstreet were no longer the topic of discussions, but rather God had become the top story.
"Praise" and "to praise" are used differently today. The word for "to praise" from the Greek text actually means "to speak well of someone" or "to speak something good about someone". Thus in the word "praise" we also see that we are to speak well of our God in front of other people. That is how we praise Him. We have this meaning of "to praise" today as well, and we are very glad when someone else is praising us in front of people. If someone has done something good he is being praised before others. This is the same also with God and the good things He works! But He deserves so much more than just anybody else.
Praise and giving glory are directed to Him who causes all the good, He is to receive the recognition and the thanksgiving in appreciation of His achievements. Appreciation from all is due Him and He himself or His work is the object of praise. We give him honour when we praise Him, when we speak well of Him before other men. We declare before men how much God means to us and we make known to others how much He has done for us in our lives.
Some people today also know a slightly different kind of praise which is designed for a different purpose. This is the praise used in order to motivate someone. Praise as reward for something good or right, in order to exhort someone to an even more worthy endeavour or more attention to detail. Well, God certainly does not need that kind of praise from us, for He is not learning from us nor does He need any motivational support from us whatsoever! He is sufficiently motivated!
When we praise God and come unto Him directly, it is a confirmation of our thankfulness, our recognition that He is God and that He has blessed, protected and kept us. We constantly have reason to acknowledge God's wonderful working in our lives and to give thanks unto Him.
And, perhaps more than ever before, we should consider to praise our great, big, wonderful God in our conversations with others and within the church. It must not be such a hard thing to speak well of our God! What else should we speak anyway? And yet, how often do we still fall short to praise God and to speak of Him in the various situations we are in every day.
Perhaps I see an elderly lady in need of some help, and I quickly go over and offer her my assistance which she accepts hesitantly. Later on she might remark, "This is very nice of you. Thank you very much. We do not see this very often nowadays." Quite often a quick remark like "That's alright. Don't worry!" follows in response and onward we go. But, let's think for a moment why am I helping this lady in the first place? Several years ago, when I was not a Christian, helping others would perhaps not even have crossed my mind. Only after I was saved by God's grace and mercy and after I began to rearrange my life according to the Word of God more and more did I begin to act in the way it would happen now almost "automatically" with this lady. Helping her was a result of what God has worked in my life, it is an expression of how I now live out of His grace. I should use such an opportunity to praise God and to speak well of Him to her because He made such a change available to me in my life. Instead of, "That's alright. Don't worry!" I should better say, "Well, it really is because of God's grace that I do what you have just experienced here. Is it not wonderful what God can work in Christ in a person's life? I didn't use to help others in such situations, but now it's a joy to me to help someone and to serve God this way." God would certainly be more praised that way, He would receive honour for the good He has worked in my life!
Ephesians 3 closes with another tremendous statement about the topic of praise and giving glory to God.
Ephesians 3:20 and 21:
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,
Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
Yes, God can do exceeding abundantly above all we might ask or think. Only, if and when He does what are we then going to do in response? Do we just expect God to work in such a way and take it for "granted", as if God owed it to us? Or do we recognize every time anew in which great measure God shows us His grace and mercy and great love, which then motivates us to give him praise and glory?
Let us wake up and give Him glory! Oh that we may never just think of "taking God" and using Him as a means to achieve our own goals and aims in life, but that we might notice and know that we owe Him everything and that He is the Creator of the heavens and the earth, who rules over all and to whom all creation is to give praise and glory at all times.
He is now our heavenly Father, therefore let us join in praising Him and in giving Him glory and honour in Christ. Let us speak with boldness of His great works and in so doing give Him praise. He deserves our praises and our thanksgiving and our giving glory to Him in the church, world without end. Amen!