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Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. PSALM 103:1
Praise can be defined in many ways. It can mean to extol in words or song, to magnify, to glorify excellent works, or to express gratitude for personal favors or benefits received.
One Bible dictionary defines praise as: "One of humanity's many responses to God's revelation of Himself ... Praise comes from a Latin word meaning 'value' or 'price.' Thus to give praise to God is to proclaim His merit or worth."
If you have seen any of God's excellent works or if you are grateful for anything God has done for you and you admire God, then you should praise Him. Scripture tells us that if we are breathing, we should praise.
We all like it when someone gives us praise. Everyone enjoys compliments. Suppose you finally bought a new suit with shoes and a purse to match? Your hair and makeup is fresh. You splurged and got the ultimate female combo (I'm not talking about a burger, fries, and a drink-I'm talking about the ultimate manicure and pedicure). You would have a fit if no one gave you a compliment at least once.
Men are no different: Your suit was madeespecially for you, your designer socks peek below the cuffs of your pants as you sit, and your 'gaters have the "boss gloss." Your tie and hanky are screaming along with your fresh hairstyle "look at me!" Tell me you don't swell when the compliments follow.
According to Genesis 1:26-27: "And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: ... So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." If we are made in the image and likeness of God and we like praise, wouldn't it stand to reason that God Himself likes praise? Later as you read some of the scriptures herein, you will see that God not only likes praise, He expects it from us.
Remember this: Everything belongs to God. It all started with Him. Thus, if everything you own belongs to God-He's letting you use His stuff. It's only right to thank Him for using what's His. Psalm 24:1 says, "The earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein." This is repeated again in 1 Corinthians 10:26: "For the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof." Let's look at the same verse from the Amplified Bible: "For the [whole] earth is the Lord's and everything that is in it." Exodus 19:5(b) says: "... all the earth is mine." Deuteronomy 10:14: "Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord's thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is."
God owns everything-even the air you breathe. If God decided to cut off our oxygen right now, and I'm not talking about what's in a tube that can be purchased (that's His too), none of us would be able to live. We couldn't even breathe without God! I'm going to paraphrase a joke to illustrate my point.
Several scientists went to God and told Him they figured out how to make a man without His help. Their man proved to be equal to the one He made. God's reply was "Really?" With a smirk on their faces and standing in a pool of arrogance-they replied "Really!" God then told them "Go ahead, let Me see what you can do." They began to pull their resources from a trunk, starting with a wad of dirt. God interrupted-took the dirt and politely said, "Get your own dirt-this belongs to Me."
You see, everything belongs to God. It's our duty and our privilege to praise Him!
When I spend time in God's presence, I feel like I can make it. I feel like somebody. My earthly situation before praise may be the same as it is after praise, but being in God's presence affects me in a positive way. The Word of God will have that same effect on you. You will be enlightened. You will read something several times and suddenly Holy Spirit will give you a new revelation that you never saw before. After reading His promises, you will experience hope that you never felt before.
Praise has one condition, however. If you want to feel good about what you're saying, then you need to have a personal relationship with God.
What if I said, "What a beautiful suit you had on last week," yet I didn't see you last week. You might respond by saying "I don't own a suit and I've never worn one." Wouldn't I feel dumb? I was trying to give you praise when I really didn't know you. If I really knew you, then I would have known that you didn't own a suit. Don't continue trying to praise God because of what you heard someone else say. Get to know Him and praise Him because of what you know about Him and what will make you lift up your hands in praise.
God's Word tells us what He expects from us. His Word describes His character and it tells us about Him as a Person. It tells us what He's done for us and what we can expect Him to do in the future. When you take time to read God's Word, and realize what He's done for you, you're better equipped to give Him the praise He deserves. You can accurately thank Him from the bottom of your heart.
The Bible, coupled with your life history, will give you all you need to know to praise God. We all have much to praise God for-our families, the predicaments He's gotten us out of, His mercy regarding our thoughts alone.
Reflect on your thoughts for a moment. God's forgiveness from your thoughts alone ought to cause you to extend your hands in praise. I know my thoughts and I know I'm not alone! I'm talking about vile, ugly thoughts. Clearly, God knows every thought that comes to your mind. Matthew 9:4 says: "And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, 'Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?'" Matthew 12:25 reads: "And Jesus knew their thoughts, ..."
You cannot allow your thoughts to run wild with sin. If the enemy brings you a thought and you cast it down, you have no problem with God. If you take that thought and begin to meditate on it, however, turning it over and over in your mind, that thought now becomes yours and not the devil's. You've taken that small thought and composed many thoughts from it. We need to do what 2 Corinthians 10:5 says: "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ." When a thought comes that is not of God, our responsibility is to "cast it down," not salivate and take possession of it.
I'm not just talking about those lustful and evil things that you know come from the enemy. I'm talking about the ones you've conjured up as well. Some of you have murdered more people in your thoughts than the serial killers who are locked up in prison. Some of you have gone to bed with more men and women than decency allows. And some of you have beaten your mother-in-law in your thoughts just this past week. The poor woman was lying on the ground bleeding and you continued to beat her in your thoughts. How many times have you strangled your boss in your mind? Too many to number! I'm making this comical because it goes down a little easier, but it's true.
These thoughts alone could land you in hell, but God through His mercy and grace keeps you. If you can't think of any reasons to praise God-praise Him for not putting you in hell for your thoughts! Proverbs 23:7 clearly says, "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he." Unchecked thoughts will produce-good or bad! So watch your thoughts.
Let's lift our hands right now and say, "Thank You, Father, for having mercy on me and my thoughts. Thank You for not condemning me when I meditate on things that I know are not pleasing in Your sight. I'll honor You in my thoughts. From this day forward I'll be careful and cast down anything in my thought life that's not pleasing to You."
You should praise God for everything, but you will have trouble praising someone you don't know. You can only go so far and then you're stuck. For example, what if your mother bought you three dresses: one black, one blue, and one brown. You could begin to shower praises on her for being so nice, so thoughtful, so caring. You could think of many things to say to your mother to thank her for those dresses and her generosity. You might even say, "Mom, thank you for blessing me with these three dresses. You're the best mother in the world!"
But what if someone blessed you with three dresses and the gift was anonymous? Your praise would change. You could give praise for the gift, but you wouldn't know who to praise. This is what happens when you really don't know God. You believe the tangible things you acquire are a result of something you did. You paid your money for your clothes. You went to school and you deserved the promotion you got. But look at Psalm 75:6-7: "For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south ... But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another." 1 Samuel 2:7 also says something similar to this ... "The Lord maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low and lifteth up."
If you didn't know it before, you know now from Scripture that God owns everything. He is the Boss. Surely He deserves our praise.
Excerpted from Lift Up Your Hands by Gloria P. Pruett Copyright ©2005 by Gloria P. Pruett. Excerpted by permission.
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