THE POWER OF PRAISE
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THE POWER OF PRAISE

A SERMON ORIGINALLY DELIVERED AT
THE FEDERATED CHURCH OF ATHENS

8 JANUARY 1995

By Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor

SCRIPTURAL REFERENCES:

Psalm 147:12-20
Jeremiah 31:7-9
            31:15-20
Matthew 3:13-17
Ephesians 1:3-6

There's a condition of our spirits that can literally move mountains.

Do you know what that's called?

It's faith!

Now, if faith is the condition that can move mountains, then doubt is the condition that makes mountains out of molehills.

It's all really just part of our attitude.

So, if we work on our attitude, we'll learn how to turn our doubts into faith.

Anyone can go around saying, “This won't happen!”

And do you know something?

If that’s the way they feel, they are likely to bring about that nonoccurrence.

But if we take a positive attitude, we can actually help things come to pass.

In the spiritual realm, praise is the key that can unlock many a faith door.

So this morning, we're going to look at a few of the praise/faith/healthy attitude relationships contained in the Bible, and see how we can apply its teachings to our lives today.

Let's begin by taking a look at Jeremiah 31:7-9 and 15-20.

But before we look at these verses, we must remember that the Israelites of the north had already been led into captivity and that many of the south also had been, or were about to be.

Hear what Jeremiah says for the Lord:

7. For thus says the Lord,

"Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob,

And shout among the chiefs of the nations;

Proclaim, give praise, and say,

'O Lord, save Thy people,

The remnant of Israel.'

8. "Behold, I am bringing them from the north country,

And I will gather them from the remote parts of the earth,

Among them the blind and the lame,

The woman with child and she who is in labor with child, together;

A great company, they shall return here.

9. "With weeping they shall come,

And by supplication I will lead them;

I will make them walk by streams of waters,

On a straight path in which they shall not stumble;

For I am a father to Israel,

And Ephraim is My first-born."

We have to hear what the Lord is calling us to do.

We are to praise Him with a positive attitude, even when things are bad.

We are to have the faith in Him that He will make things better, that is, if our heart and soul are devoted to Him.

We are simply to praise God because He is God, and that we would not be here but for God.

We are simply to praise God because He is faithful to fulfill all His promises.

Now, let's skip down to verse 15:

15. Thus says the Lord,

"A voice is heard in Ramah,

Lamentation and bitter weeping.

Rachel is weeping for her children;

She refuses to be comforted for her children,

Because they are no more."

Rachel is the mother of Joseph, who is the father of Ephraim; thus, she is symbolically the mother of northern Israel.

Notice the negative attitude expressed: "She refuses to be comforted."

In essence, northern Israel, who has been defeated by her enemies and taken into captivity, refuses to be comforted.

Since she refuses to accept comfort, it cannot come to her.

But note what the Lord says:

16. Thus says the Lord,

"Restrain your voice from weeping,

And your eyes from tears;

For your work shall be rewarded," declares the Lord,

"And they shall return from the land of the enemy.

17. "And there is hope for your future," declares the Lord,

"And your children shall return to their own territory.

The Lord is telling them that He will restore them, but they must be willing to accept His offer.

18. "I have surely heard Ephraim grieving,

'Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised,

Like an untrained calf;

Bring me back that I may be restored,

For Thou art the Lord my God.

Now, do you hear the positive request?

"Bring me back that I may be restored,

For Thou art the Lord my God."

It's not only the beginning of a positive attitude; it's also the beginning of praise.

19. 'For after I turned back, I repented;

And after I was instructed, I smote on my thigh;

I was ashamed, and also humiliated,

Because I bore the reproach of my youth.'

God answers Ephraim as He does anyone who honestly calls upon Him.

20. "Is Ephraim My dear son?

Is he a delightful child?

Indeed, as often as I have spoken against him,

I certainly still remember him;

Therefore My heart yearns for him;

I will surely have mercy on him," declares the Lord.

God does hear a repentant heart, and He forgives.

Isn't this something to praise the Lord for?

Now, we don't have to make a mistake or sin in some manner to praise God for His forgiving nature; we can do it at any time, because it's part of His nature.

So, if we praise God more often, so that we are more aware of His presence before us, we also are less apt to do things against the Lord's will.

Doesn't that make common sense?

If we praise God more often, we may not have to pray for Him to restore us, for we wouldn't lose what He gave us in the first place.

Therefore, isn't praise the power to move the mountain of sin that can destroy our lives?

Sure it is!

But we all forget and make mistakes; so if we have angered the Lord and have been punished, as was Israel, then we should still praise Him for who He is and because He promises to restore all who repent.

Psalm 147 is a psalm of restoration and praise for Jerusalem.

Listen to verses 12-20:

12. Praise the Lord, O Jerusalem!

Praise your God, O Zion!

13. For He has strengthened the bars of your gates;

He has blessed your sons within you.

14. He makes peace in your borders;

He satisfies you with the finest of the wheat.

15. He sends forth His command to the earth;

His word runs very swiftly.

16. He gives snow like wool;

He scatters the frost like ashes.

17. He casts forth His ice as fragments;

Who can stand before His cold?

18. He sends forth His word and melts them;

He causes His wind to blow and the waters to flow.

19. He declares His words to Jacob,

His statutes and His ordinances to Israel.

20. He has not dealt thus with any nation;

And as for His ordinances, they have not known them.

Praise the Lord!

If we have listened carefully to these words, we can apply them equally to our own nation.

We have all of these things now.

If we don't want to lose them, then we should be praising God more often for what He has given us, so that we won't lose it.

It's wonderful that we have a God who loves us and forgives us and restores what he has taken away.

But how much more wonderful it would be if we held on to it in the first place.

But we still don't have complete peace, for there is still evil in the world.

So part of our praise today should be to thank God now for the perfect peace He has promised to give us in the future.

This is amplified in the play on words in verse 19, where the Lord "declares His words to Jacob," the deceiver who sought his own way, and didn't listen.

And then the psalmist says, "His statutes and His ordinances to Israel."

Jacob and Israel are the same physical person, just as we are before and after our re-birth.

It wasn't until Jacob wrestled with God, and began to listen, that the Lord changed his name to Israel, because them he was changed spiritually and would understand and follow the Lord's statutes and ordinances.

It is praise that helps get is to the point in our lives, and it is praise that can keep us for forgetting.

There is also an added bonus to our praising God: He also praises us.

An example of this is shown when Jesus was baptized (Matthew 3:13-17):

13. Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him.

14. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, "I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?"

15. But Jesus answering said to him, "Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he permitted Him.

In other words, when we are obedient to the will of God, we fulfill all the righteousness that is presented to us.

And what fulfills all the laws and commandments of God?

It is love.

16. And after being baptized, Jesus went up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove, and coming upon Him,

And the same Holy Spirit that came upon the man Jesus also comes upon all of us who truly believe.

17. and behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased."

God should be able to say the same things about each of us.

He should be able to say to each of us, "You are my beloved child; in you I am well-pleased."

God wants to praise us, just as He praised Jesus.

Thus, part of our obedience to God is giving Him something for which to praise us.

And then, as Paul teaches us, we in turn should praise God for choosing us (Ephesians 1:3-6):

3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,

4. just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love

5. He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,

6. to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved [Jesus Christ].

We are to bless God for blessing us.

We are to praise God for saving us.

We are to praise God for praising us.

We are to praise God for giving us all that we have.

And we are to praise God for what He will give us in the future.

We are to praise God.

Amen.

In our closing hymn for this morning, "O Holy Night", we have a remembrance of several reasons why we are to praise God.

Open your hymnals to that hymn, and note the words.

The world, then as now, lay in sin; but the Father gave us the gift of His Son to restore our souls.

So we should feel the thrill of hope.

We should rejoice.

We should praise God.

We should praise Him because He taught us to love one another.

We should praise Him because all the chains of sin and oppression come off, when we freely let Him into our lives.

As we sing this hymn of His first coming, let's consider why we should praise Him, and then do praise Him, for He is coming again.

Amen?

Amen.

Your Comments are welcome

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