Become – Worship – The Power of Praise – Stephen Orr 10/10/21

Passage: Luke 10:21-22

Acts 2:46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

The Power of Praise

Celebration is vital to our ability to live fully worshipful lives, that demonstrate our relationship with God.

To praise someone or something is to speak well of them or it. It comes naturally whenever we come across something that delights us. We’ll instinctively go on about a great movie we’ve seen, or something great our kids have done for us. We praise all sorts of things.

Sam Allberry, ‘Why Bother with Church?’

For the Christian, praise takes a more meaningful, powerful and life-changing place in our lives – as it did in the early church. We praise God!

Acts 2:46-7 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Supremely, this church praised God, in a joyful (glad), wholehearted (sincere) way. Joy in God seemed to mark their corporate life, whatever they were doing together. They knew their God to be unfathomably good and enjoyed reflecting that in the way they spent time with one another. 

Sam Allberry, ‘Why Bother with Church?’

Acts 2 gives us a powerful picture of a community that praises God through the power of the Holy Spirit. Here we see the change it made to their lives and the community around them.

Although praise is a word we often use, it’s actually difficult to define.

Praise words in the Old Testament:

  • Halal : from the root ‘making a noise’ 
  • Yada : originally associated with the bodily actions and gestures which accompany praising
  • Zamar : associated with the playing or singing of music

Praise words in the New Testament 

  • Eucharistein : to give thanks 
  • Aineo : to praise, celebrate
  • Doxazo : to glorify

PRAISE – An expression of worship which recognizes and acknowledges God as the ultimate source and giver of all good gifts. In the Bible it encompasses a number of elements. 

We praise God because of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection and for sending us the Holy Spirit.

In Luke 10:21 & 22, we see Jesus responding with praise to God for the ministry of those he sent out. They were becoming like him and introducing others to Jesus (doing as our vision states). As we consider these verses they help as to praise God.

Praise comes through Joy

The connection between joy and praise:

Psalm 71:22 I will praise you with the harp for your faithfulness, O my God; I will sing praise to you with the lyre, O Holy One of Israel. 23 My lips will shout for joy when I sing praise to you–

Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

James 5:13 Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise.

“Therefore praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed confirmation…. In commanding us to glorify him God is inviting us to enjoy Him”.

CS Lewis in ‘Reflections on the Psalms’

Praise is a mark of of God’s people and for His Glory

The connection between praise and glory:

1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.

The act of praising implies the closest fellowship with the One who is being praised.

Praise in the Holy Spirit 

The Holy Spirit activates the church’s praise:

Ephesians 5:18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit. 19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Praise is specific. Name it

I praise you because… ” We actually need to verbalise the reason for our praise, as Jesus himself did.

A place of worship is a place for listening—listening to God speak. But it is also a place for answering, responding to what is spoken. God’s words initiate a conversation. We come together as a congregation in worship to speak “through prayer and praise” with the God who speaks with us.

Eugene Peterson

Name the Spiritual Blessings in Christ

Ephesians 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will– 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

Praise as an act of witness

When Jesus praised God (Luke 10:21 & 22) it allowed him to express to all around something of the greatness of God. 

2 Samuel 22:50 Therefore I will praise you, O LORD, among the nations; I will sing praises to your name.

2 Corinthians 9:13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.

Praise is a way of life 

Psalm 35:28 My tongue will speak of your righteousness and of your praises all day long.

How we live can encourage others to praise God. 

Matthew 5:16 In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

The goal of God through Jesus is that everyone will praise God:

Philippians 2:10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Praise arises from the habits and drives us to them

Foundations: Love, The Bible, Prayer, Community

Silence and Solitude: Mediation, Fasting, Retreat

Sabbath: Slowing and Rest, Simplicity, Creation

Service: The Holy Spirit, Spiritual Gifts, Hospitality

A healthy church will be thinking about how they can declare God’s praise to their community, in both their gathered meetings and when their members are scattered throughout that community during the week. They will exhort each other to live in a way that reflects the beauty of the gospel, and equip each other so that they are ready to speak the truth of the gospel to those who ask them the big questions of life.

Sam Allberry, ‘Why Bother with Church?’

May our lives of praise seek to fulfil these verses:

Romans 12:1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God–this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.

For Reflection

  1. What is going on when we praise God? Skim through The Power of Praise above: has anything in this section expanded your understanding of praise?
  2. Re-visit the section, Praise comes through Joy: what do you think about the link between these two things? What about the times when we simply don’t feel joyful though? What do you find helpful at such moments?
  3. What things can block our praise? Any thoughts on moving beyond the block?
  4. What do you think of the idea of naming specifics in praise? (Is this something you do?)
  5. Consider the final quotation from Sam Allberry alongside Romans 12:1. Pause to think of how tomorrow might look for you. How do you react to these two quotations in relation to your own situation?

Apply

What have I found interesting? 

What has challenged my life, attitudes and actions

How would this habit help me to become more like Jesus?

How would this habit help me to introduce others to Jesus?

What practical steps do I need to take to incorporate this habit into my life?

Is there there anything I need to pray about, explore further or extra help I need?

Is there someone I should to share with, pray with or encourage

Become – Worship – The Power of Celebration – Stephen Orr 03/10/21

Passage: Amos 5:21-24

Psalm 34:1 I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips. 2 My soul will boast in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. 3 Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together.

The Power of Celebration

Celebration is vital to our ability to live fully worshipful lives that demonstrate our relationship with God.

“There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”

Abraham Kuyper

We are called to an everlasting preoccupation with God.

AW Tozer

In Amos 5 we see a strong reaction and warning from God against the nature of the people’s worship. What was wrong with their worship and what does he expect?

Read, consider and discuss the follow section from the book Why Worship?

How does the worship we share in as a church community overflow into the different aspects of our lives throughout the week? What difference does following Jesus and being loved by him make to our ordinary, every day lives? The truth is that, with Christ, there is no ordinary – every encounter, every task, every situation brings with it divine possibility. So, how would things change if we realised that our gathered worship has the power to shape us and then send us out into the world to worship all the time and everywhere?

As Romans 12 vs 1 – 2 tells us, ‘True and proper worship’ is to offer ourselves as living sacrifices. All of our life is an act of worship. It is so much more than being together as a church community or singing and praying.   Whether we are looking after our family, working, spending our money, enjoying time with friends, greeting our neighbour, gardening, cleaning the house, completing a business deal, operating on a patient in hospital, teaching children at school; anything and everything we do can be worship if we do it in God’s power and strength, in a way that is true to God’s way and that gives glory to him. Our places of worship are wherever we are on our frontlines throughout the week, the places where we connect with the people among whom God places us and where we are able to demonstrate the love and purposes of God to his world. No matter the people we are with and what we’re doing, we can all worship God every moment of every day. ’

Lyn Weston, Chapter 7 in ‘Why Worship?’

Celebration together is important to our ability to function as a loving community. How do you react to the assumption in the quotation below? How does it challenge us – especially in the world of COVID – as we seek to celebrate?

Take away the unifying experience of weekly worship together under the same roof, and the bonds of affection have frayed.

Collin Hansen & Jonathan Leeman, Rediscover Church

In the Old Testament, the people of God celebrated using feasts set down by God. As part of these feasts we see:

  • They travelled together singing song about God
  • They ate together
  • They sacrificed together
  • They made offerings to God together

What can we learn from these aspects of celebration that will help us to celebrate together in a way that provokes us to worship God at all times?

Apply

What have I found interesting? 

What has challenged my life, attitudes and actions

How would this habit help me to become more like Jesus?

How would this habit help me to introduce others to Jesus?

What practical steps do I need to take to incorporate this habit into my life?

Is there there anything I need to pray about, explore further or extra help I need?

Is there someone I should to share with, pray with or encourage