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Let’s talk about praise! Why do we praise the Lord? Well our Lord Jesus came sent by the Father, and He died for us to rescue us from sin, sickness, condemnation and death. But you can know the facts, yet if the revelation of His goodness doesn’t enter into your heart your praise is never full, because it then comes out of obligation and you wanting not to be the odd one in the congregation sitting and not worshipping. Praise is a form of worship and the readings are from Psalms 115-118, but I’ll bring out key verses that glorify what Jesus has done and the truth of His grace in which we are under. Now when praise and worship are mentioned in the bible, the person I consider a heavyweight in that division is King David. Now David though under the law, lived a life of praise because even under the law when God opens your eyes to His truth, you’ll see that He is a God of grace, though David was under the law. Psalms 115:1 begins with, “Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, and for thy truth’s sake.” Now pause for a second, David is saying to us, “give glory to God, because of His mercy and truth.” But what are His mercy and truth? Well, mercy here in the Hebrew means Chesed and Chesed means grace or lovingkindness. But for understanding, let the primary use of the word “Chesed” be grace. Now John 1:17 says, “the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” This means truth here does not refer to the law, if not it will be in the bible. So stop trying to divide grace and truth, they’re together. For what God has joined together, let no man put asunder. Anyway, David knew that the law which was centred on man’s works and efforts does not inspire praise. David was a king, but he was also a prophet and many of his psalms are full of praise because he says a time where grace was the covenant and not law. Proof? Psalms 32. Under grace, because of Jesus’ sinless blood that was shed, we have COMPLETE FORGIVENESS OF SINS, and sin is no longer imputed to us because, at the cross, ALL the sins of the world, past, present and future were put on Jesus. When you don’t even know that truth and live your whole life believing you’re only partially forgiven and can lose your salvation, your desire to praise will no small or even non-existent. That’s why when you are grounded in grace and grace wisdom, you’ll need to be muzzled before you can stop praising and be thankful to God your Father. The law that was given by Moses presupposes man’s strength, and he has none. Therefore, under grace, your life is characterized by thanksgiving—thanksgiving to the Father, because Jesus when He talked to the woman at the well in John 4, let her know worship is about the Father in spirit and truth. And the Spirit referred to there is the Spirit of grace that in Zechariah 12:10, God says, “I will pour on the House of David and Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and supplication and they’ll look to whom they pierced.” Supplication and prayers made with thanksgiving, praise, and worship are based on a revelation of the heart of the Father who sent His Son; our Lord Jesus Christ, to die. In the same chapter 115 of Psalms, David criticizes the worship of idols, as it’s a representation of man’s works and boasting in their works. But we who know the Lord can boast in Him because unlike objects, He can see, He can speak, He can hear, and He can love. He is the creator of all things, both seen and unseen. The works of man inspire no worship because you made it and therefore think something of yourself. Psalms 115:11 says, “Ye that fear the Lord, trust in the Lord: He is their help and their shield.” Jesus in the wilderness of temptation changed the word ‘fear’ which He quoted from Deuteronomy to the word, ‘worship’. Now realize praise and worship are offerings to God, but to be able to offer the offering of praise and worship, God has to give you a reason. The reason, therefore, to praise and offer thanksgiving is because of His grace and truth or “true grace” that came through our Lord Jesus Christ. Psalms 116:1 begins with, “I love the Lord because He hath heard my voice and my supplication.” Isn’t the total of the law to love by effort? Well, David loved the Lord and therefore obeyed and praised Him, because the Lord heeded his voice and his supplications. But what were His supplications? And remember supplications are requests or petitions brought before God. Now go to Psalms 21:1-2, “The king shall joy in thy strength O Lord, and in thy salvation shall he rejoice! Thou hast given him his heart’s desire, and hast not withholden the request of his lips.” Firstly, see how it began, king David is talking about the joy he experiences because of the Lord’s strength. Well, where did our Lord Jesus Christ show His strength? It was at the cross. The Father who sent His Son knowing He would die, and the Son who hung at the cross no longer helped by the Father because of the sins He was carrying. True love is strong and we like David rejoice in the strength of our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ who loved us too much to let us remain in the clutches of sin and death, and therefore offered a perfect sacrifice that puts to shame all the animal sacrifices of the Old covenant. Jesus did great work! He did a perfect work and He did it all for us! It’s because people don’t know how abundantly great the work He did was, and the heart of love that made it possible, that’s why even believers don’t do live a life characterized by praise and thanksgiving. If you knew the depth of God’s love for you to send His Son, you won’t have to be persuaded to praise. It’s because Jesus was strong even to the cross that we have salvation. If He was weak and died before taking the full payment of the sins of the world then we are not saved. BUT HE DID! So let’s rejoice in His strength and in the salvation He purchased for us by His blood. Blood that unlike animals only covered, but His perfect blood has taken away! All the sins of the world. The only sin that will send non-Christians to hell is the sin of unbelief in Jesus Christ, not their other sins-(John 16:9). So you can see where the foundation to love and praise God originates from. 1 John 4:10 says, we love because He first loved us, and sent His Son to be a propitiation for our sins. Yet! David under law, not even having the righteousness of faith in Christ still praised the Lord. How much more us who are under a better covenant!! We are so blessed in Christ that no matter how many lifetimes we have we cannot fathom the goodness of our God. Psalms 116:2 continues with, “because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon Him as long as I live.” David didn’t have complete forgiveness in Christ-like we do, David was under the law of sin and death and us under the sweet sweet grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. A better covenant than the law. Yet we do not praise. Why is that? Lack of knowledge and unbelief. Just like the Emmaus disciples after Jesus died and rose again. They didn’t know how glorious life has become for them as believers because they didn’t understand the person of Jesus nor His death at the cross. Wisdom is the principal thing so get wisdom and in all your getting, get understanding. If your heart is full of the knowledge of God’s love for you and the God-given understanding of His grace then you will praise without even music. You will sing till you can sing no more because you now understand just how good God is. When the heart of God is revealed, man’s response will be praise. Therefore endeavour to listen to messages that leave you with a sense of God’s unfailing love and His exceedingly abundant grace in the Lord Jesus Christ.

-King Jehoshaphat, who ruled over Judah was faced with a great crisis. Enemies were coming against him and he was afraid, but he looked to the Lord. And with the wisdom of God, he sent forth praises ahead of the army of Judah. Can you imagine the fear in the hearts of the worship leaders? Yet they trusted God singing praises with each step they took. And because they decided to trust God even though the situation was dire God who is the same yesterday, today and forever, came through for them and confused the enemy and the people of God won the battle without drawing a single sword. There’s a principle here that can even be found in the book of Philippians 4:6. “Be careful(anxious) for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” Jehoshaphat sought the Lord and accompanied his supplication with thanksgiving even to the brink of the battlefield. And what happened? God gave him victory! Just because we are saved and seated with Christ in heavenly places doesn’t mean issues won’t arise, but us who are under a better covenant than David and Jehoshaphat, washed by the blood of the Son of God and now declared the righteousness of God in Christ, how much more for us to be bold in our prayers accompanying them with praise and thanksgiving knowing that we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus who loved us and still loves us and gave Himself for us, to the glory of God the Father. You already have the victory in Christ so let thanksgiving fill your mouth. Because if praise is not in your mouth in the day of trouble, what will be there will be complaining and negativity which cannot help you. Know your Father and God, and be strong in the strength of the Lord Jesus Christ: in whom we have perfect salvation and the forgiveness of sins. 

-Psalms 116:12, David says, what shall I render to the Lord for all His benefit? I will take the cup of salvation. So how do you make God feel like God in your life? Take from Him. To receive from Him is to declare that He can do more for you than you can do for yourself and that’s why when you receive the Holy Communion, it’s a form of worship because you’re remembering Jesus and the salvation from sickness and disease He bought for us by His death at the cross by His blood. And God the Father is pleased when Jesus is given the rightful place which is the midst of our lives. When Jesus, His grace, His love, His righteousness and everything of Him is your focus, you’ll be so full of praise to God and like me will come to a place of great frustration because the English language is too finite to worship a loving God who is so BIG! Praise the Lord people! YES, Praise the Lord! He is a good God and a loving Father. Even verse 17, David says I’ll offer to You(God) the sacrifice of thanksgiving. Now for us under grace this is not bulls and goats, our thanksgiving must be on the foundation of the finished work of Jesus Christ and His strength alone! That’s why when you come to God talking about His Son, He is pleased because your focus is in the right place and your thanksgiving is no longer out of obligation, but out of a revelation of the love of God in Christ. Psalms 116 is so full of the promises of God that are now ours in Christ and unlike David who could fall out of fellowship with God, we are seated with Christ in heavenly places, in the presence of our Abba and our Lord Jesus Christ, to forever enjoy the fullness of His grace that was given as gift of His love. Death is conquered! Sin is conquered! and now we can reign in life with praise and thanksgiving on our lips to a good God!

-Again grace and truth appear in Psalms 117 addressed to the gentiles; David spoke of the merciful lovingkindness of the Lord Jesus and His truth which endures forever. Keep grace and truth together they’re not to be separated. Praise the Lord! The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ! 

-Psalms 118:1, “O Give thanks unto the Lord for He is good: because His mercy endures forever.” The biggest problem among believers today is that they’re so fearful of God’s judgement even though Jesus already bore it and they forget that even under the law, the truth of God’s heart is: His grace endures forever. We serve a gracious God whose heart is full of nothing but love and in whom we have righteousness through the cross. He could have left man to themselves or better yet destroyed us, yet, His heart is not like that. You misrepresent God your Father in your head and wonder why you’re not a person of praise. If only you knew the greatness of His love for you and the exceedingly abundant goodness of His heart. Like David in verse 5, and side note, the number ‘5’ in Hebrew represents grace. But I won’t go into that here. David said, “I called upon the Lord in distress and the Lord answered me and set me in a large place.” When you know the heart of the One to whom you’re calling out to and accompanying your prayers with thanksgiving for His goodness, the Lord will set you on a large place where you’re planted on solid ground. But by virtue of being Christ, we are already on that large place, the place of victory—because we as children of God are seated with Christ in heavenly places. Therefore if David under law needed to call to be set in a large place and yet was thankful, how much more you and I who God has raised with Christ to a large place permanently through the cross? Isn’t our life supposed to be characterized by praise? People we are on victory ground in Christ! You are not trying to be righteous by effort, NO! You’re justified by faith in what Jesus has done. You are not sick trying to be healed, NO! Christ has borne your sicknesses at the cross and was buried with them and was raised without them. Therefore, you’re the healed experiencing lying symptoms from the father of lies, who wants you to forget the true grace that you enjoy in Christ Jesus! Praise the Lord! You are more than a conqueror in Christ Jesus! Be glad! Let your joy be so full to overflowing for you’re under a better covenant. A covenant where God has done everything, your part is to receive His salvation with thanksgiving in your heart. Too many times believers when something happens run to man first, and then come to God to pray with worry and doubt in their heart not even discerning the goodness of His person and the covenant of grace they’re under. Verse 9 says, “it’s better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.” You have an INFINITELY POWERFUL AND GRACIOUS GOD! Yet you’re running to man? This is because you don’t see Him as your help. Your heart has not seen even a glimpse of the revelation of His love. If not you’ll know the futility of the works of man. Acts 2, after the Holy Spirit fell, the disciples spoke in new tongues; the wonderful works of God! This means the Holy Spirit in you that came only after Jesus was glorified, loves to testify of the wonderful works of God.  And what is as wonderful as the cross, on which our Lord Jesus Christ hung after suffering physical pain, also endured the spiritual pain of being the sacrifice for all the world’s sin. That means, to praise is to remember that everything we have or need originates in the Lord and therefore we should boast foolishly in Him who is our hope. The first response of the Holy Spirit coming on them was that they spoke! Praising God and declaring His wonderful works! Hallelujah! We serve a gracious Father! Be glad you’re enjoying His love for you. 

-One interesting phenomenon I have observed in my life is that, after an amazing session of praise and worship in my times with the Lord and the church, the people are excited, they’re energized, and there’s screaming, dancing and all-round joy in the House of God. Verse 14 of psalms 118 says, “the Lord is my strength and song, and is become my righteousness.” Whenever you praise God you’re the one who gains. You receive a fresh infusion of strength, you’re singing praises under your breath with joy in your heart in the Spirit, and you’re conscious of the beauty of the salvation you have received in Christ Jesus. Come on people! Praise the Lord! He is worthy! He is GREAT! Praise the Lord forever! Now the next verse, verse 15, and side-note, 15 is the number of fullness or rest in the Hebrew. Now in verse 15, David says, “The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacle(dwelling place) of the righteous: the right hand of the Lord does valiantly.” You can see that praise and worship has a connection to righteousness. Under the law, you can lose your right standing before God, because it depended on your efforts which are futile and below nothing before God, but under grace, WE ARE THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD IN CHRIST! How much more rejoicing should be in our tents, how much more words of HIS GREAT SALVATION be uttered out of our lips. If only you knew how much you were loved, forgiven and wonderfully saved. You would praise as David said, “from the rising of the sun to it’s going down the Lord’s name is to be praised!” And what is His name? JESUS! Our Lord Jesus Christ, the firstborn of creation, the first fruit of the saints who sleep and the saints who will see His coming, our beautiful saviour full of grace and truth and the anointing of the Holy Spirit! How great is our saviour! Rejoice in His strength O children of God! Be exceedingly glad in the light of His glorious countenance. For David said, “they looked to Him and they were radiant.” By beholding His radiance we are radiant, we become as He is by beholding his beauty. Again O congregation of the righteous, Praise the Lord!

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Resting on the finished work of our Lord Jesus Christ at the cross, and the faithfulness of God our Abba.

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