Moments in the life of a Pastor

Walking with God

12 A Proper Perspective on Praise – Part 1

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Ephesians 5:19-20

“Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

After telling us to live by the power of the Holy Spirit by giving Him control of our lives Paul then reminds us to live a life of praise and thanksgiving. Continual thanksgiving should be the outflow of a life filled with the Spirit of God. Paul doesn’t call us to practice praise periodically but perpetually. The words always giving thanks for everything remind us of Paul’s instruction in I Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” What about your thanksgiving is it continual or contingent? Paul also reminds us what comes out of our mouths is tied to what’s in our hearts, “Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart” What leaves your lips is a reflection of your life. Paul is talking about a continual attitude for Christians, an attitude of the heart, one which impacts how we relate to each other. How do you speak to others is it with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, are your words ones of praise or poison? Do you see people as a pain or as a privilege? How much time do you spend complaining and how much complimenting? The issue for many is not that we don’t have an attitude of thankfulness but that our thanks is contingent and conditional not continual. So how do we have a continual attitude of thanks, especially in all circumstances? I think this has to do with our perspective of praise and thanksgiving, for without the proper perspective we will always make praise provisional. There is a great story about perspective by a young lady writing home from college:

“Dear Mom: Sorry I haven’t written sooner. My arm really has been broken. I broke it, and my left leg, when I jumped from the second floor of my dormitory…when we had the fire. We were lucky a young service station attendant saw the blaze and called the Fire Department. They were there in minutes. I was in the hospital for a few days. Paul, the service station attendant, came to see me every day. And because it was taking so long to get our dormitory livable again, I moved in with him. He has been so nice. I must admit that I am pregnant. Paul and I plan to get married just as soon as he can get a divorce. I hope things are fine at home. I’m doing fine, and will write more when I get the chance. Love,

Your daughter, Susie

P.S. None of the above is true. But I did get a “C” in Sociology and flunked Chemistry. I just wanted you to receive this news in its “Proper Perspective!”

If we are going to be thankful in all circumstances, we need a proper perspective of both our circumstances and our Creator. There are many attitudes that can steal our praise and turn our gratitude into grumbling . Probably the biggest attitude that poisons peoples praise is that of pride. This is the attitude that says, “Nobody ever gave me anything, I worked hard for everything I have.” The result of this kind of attitude is that we feel that we have no one to thank but ourselves. Another attitude that keeps us from living a thankful life is a critical spirit. A critical spirit is consumed with constant complaining, instead of being grateful this person is a grump, always finding something to complain about. Another attitude that keeps us from being grateful to God is carelessness. It’s hard to be grateful when you take God for granted. The Israelites grumbled because they had no food so God miraculously sent manna to cover the ground each day except the Sabbath. In order to eat they didn’t have to plant or weed all they had to do was harvest yet they still found a reason to grumble. They went from complaining about having no food to having to eat the same food. Here they were fed and full, with a miracle straight from God every day yet they were no longer satisfied. They went back to their moaning because they wanted more than a miracle. The problem wasn’t God’s gracious provision it was the peoples attitude. Have you gotten carless and caught up in an attitude of complaining, Are you going to live a life of griping or gratefulness?  If there is any nation that ought to be thankful to God and grateful for his goodness it ought to be America. And if any people in America ought to be thankful to God and grateful for his goodness it ought to be Christians. Yet how many Christians are caught up in a life of complaining, how many are living with a critical spirit? Paul as he preaches about praise reminds us that thanksgiving should be:

  • Expressed

In Psalms 107 David says “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good His faithful love endures forever” We should express our thanks to God and others. We are quick to express our problems to God but what about our praise? As has been stated before only one of the ten lepers came back to express their praise to God yet all ten expressed their problems.  Living a life of gratitude involves not just grateful thoughts but actions, and attitude directly impact our actions. Are you living with an attitude of gratitude, and how is your gratefulness to God being revealed? Does it show in your speech, if gratitude is not part of your thought life it won’t be part of your talk life. Today many are more prone to outbursts of anger than praise. We live lives filled more with frustration than fulfilment because we are no longer grateful to God. Is it possible that we are more stressed and sicker as a society today because we have stopped singing our song of praise to God for all that He has done? Thanksgiving is the healthiest of all human emotions and it is not only good for the giver but also good for those who receive it. A thankful heart will endear others to us, praise attracts where anger poisons. Just as a thankful life draws people to us it will also draw us closer to God. A closer walk starts with worship, but if we are ungrateful, if we do not express our thanksgiving, then it can have the opposite effect. In Romans 1:21 Paul says, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” Gratitude and being ungrateful are like opposite ends of a magnet, depending on which is pointed depends on whether it attracts or repels. Those who are ungrateful to God end up with hearts that are hardened. So how do you say thank you to God, how are you expressing you gratitude?

  • One way we can express our gratitude to God is in the time that we give to Him. How much time do you spend with Him outside of a weekly worship service?
  • A second and often overlooked way we can say thank you is by forgiving others. In Matthew 18:21-35 we see the parable of the unforgiving servant. Here was a man who wanted the master’s mercy but was unwilling to share that mercy with others. In verse 35 Jesus tells us that we are to forgive others from our heart not our head. Is there anyone you need to forgive?
  • We say thanks by serving Him, how and where are you currently serving the Savior?
  • When we share His Plan of salvation, who are you sharing His salvation with?
  • When we reach out to the hurting and hopeless with the healing power of God’s love. Who are you loving?
  • When you give God your best instead of your left overs. Let’s be honest when it comes to left overs we all eat them but we don’t like them as much as we did the fresh meal. What are you giving to God is it your best or are you putting Him on the backburner. This week think about how you are expressing your gratitude to God.

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