Church of God in Christ, Mennonite

For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid which is Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 3:11


“Rejoice in the Lord, O ye righteous: for praise is comely for the upright” (Ps. 33:1). Recorded here is a command of God that we as Christians may sometimes overlook in our daily battle to do right. It seems to take so much spiritual energy to remain humble, to love mercy, to walk in justification by faith, and to keep one’s self unspotted from the world around us. However, as we turn our thoughts toward God and see how His greatness is expressed in such a variety of ways, there are many reasons why praise should overflow from our hearts and lives.

We read in God’s Word about His majesty and justice, and we are overwhelmed by His righteousness. We know that this holy God, who will not tolerate sin, is the author of the atonement, mercy, and forgiveness. As we experience His mercy for fallen mankind, we are awed by His love. To understand that God sent His only Son to die on that old rugged cross to personally redeem us is certainly cause for great praise and gratitude. To think that our names are written on His hands and that today He is interceding at the Father’s right hand for us, should cause a deep reverence and joy. Surely if anyone should rejoice and praise the Lord, it should be the Christian, for God has done so much for all of us.

As we study the vastness of the creation, we see the innumerable stars and planets, the atmosphere, and the depths of the oceans of the earth. The beauty of the rugged mountains, the ceaseless waves of the oceans, and the immenseness of the prairies show us just a small portion of God’s wonder. The intricacies, the colors, the aromas, and the variety in His creation make our hearts pause at the magnitude of His wisdom and power. In Psalm 107:8, the psalmist again writes, “Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!”

Many times our tendency is to focus on the negative events and issues in our lives. We become distressed and depressed instead of turning our hearts toward the great God of heaven. We do face the foe of our souls, and much evil is around us, but “greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). God’s power will triumph, and we can be “more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Rom. 8:37).

It is inspiring to look into the Word of God and see how He delivered His children many different times when they turned to Him in their troubles. We read in Acts 16:22-26 of the account of Paul and Silas in prison. There was much evil arrayed against them. They had been arraigned before the magistrates of the city, beaten with many stripes, and cast into the inner prison. There, locked in the stocks, Paul and Silas had to make a choice. They could have lamented their difficulties, focused on their hurts, and doubted that God cared about them. Instead, at midnight they prayed and sang praises to God. God’s heart must have rejoiced to see His children turning to Him in praise and adoration. Suddenly a mighty earthquake loosed the bonds of not only Paul and Silas but also of all the prisoners. And the end result of the prayer and praise of Paul and Silas was that searching souls found the Lord and were added to the Kingdom.

How should one properly praise God? Hebrews 13:15 reads, “By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.” Praise requires sacrifice. This sacrifice means surrendering our hearts, our wills, and our lives completely to God. There is no more harmonious praise than that which comes forth from a humble, surrendered heart. It is only through this sacrifice that the beautiful praise of love and unselfishness can motivate our actions and reactions. It is also from this sacrifice of praise that the chords of forgiveness can echo around the hurts, misunderstandings, and offenses that so easily want to beset us. This sacrifice of praise sharpens our vision to see beyond the temptations of the world around us and gives us the grace to rise above the sin and evil that encompass the camp of the faithful. This praise encourages the Christian to go forward continually, arrayed in the whole armor of God and walking in unity with his brethren, not hesitantly, but victoriously, even unto the end.

The Christian’s praise should also come from a heart of thanksgiving. We look around us at the weather, the price of commodities, the cost of living, the affluence of our brethren and neighbors, the seeming social success of others, and, too often, the spirit of complaining becomes more prevalent than the sacrifice of praise. We forget the many times God has kept us and taken care of us. We forget His many promises that He will be with us even unto the end of the world. We do not seem to remember that we are strangers and pilgrims looking for a heavenly city. Instead of complaining, the heart of praise will count its many blessings. Instead of bitterness, the song of gratitude will swell from our hearts, lives, and lips. Even as the temple singers sang day and night in praise to God, so the Christian’s song of praise should also rise heavenward continually. God’s heart is worshipped by the sacrifice of praise coming from a heart of thankfulness and adoration.

If we have praise in our hearts, it will shine forth as we come into contact with our neighbors, as we frequent places of business, as we come in contact with the wayfaring stranger on the street, and as we share with burdened and hurting souls that our lives touch. The sacrifice of praise continually is a tremendous witness for the cause of Christ.

From Messenger of Truth, Vol. 112, No 18, September 3, 2014