What Is Your Praise Temperature?
Praise is a thermometer of your enjoyment of Jesus
When Jesus Christ becomes the subject and object of our praise, individual and congregational lives will gloriously change. There is a positive spiritual climate that permeates those who let "God inhabit the praises of his people" (Ps. 22:3). May I ask you, "What is your praise temperature?" For those who desire a deeper experience of the fullness of the Holy Spirit described in Eph. 5:1819, a key is to let your love for Jesus come out through your mouth. One definition of praise is "the verbal response of the Christian to Gods love in Jesus Christ."
Why Should The Christian Praise?
In Psalm 103:4 the psalmist exclaims, "Bless the Lord, O my soul!" as his whole being responds to the greatness of God. Few Christians are "Lost in wonder, love and praise" as the great hymn "Love Divine, All Love Excelling" states. Yet we find it very common to be "lost" in earthly praises and can get quite fanatical over touch downs, slamdunks and home runs, but somehow feel it "beneath our religious dignity" to get excited about Jesus.
One reason is that we spend so much time with our prayer needs that "praising the Lord" takes a back seat. Not only does Ps. 100:4 tell us that we enter his presence with praise, but also in the New Testament we are instructed "to declare the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Pet. 2:910). In the Lutheran liturgy we have an example of a praise to Jesus that even involves "saints, archangels, and all the company of heaven" (Sanctus).
It is not government or synodical officials that have commanded praise, but God commands his people to praise him (Ps. 47:1). If your doctor said your body needed certain foods for health, wouldnt you follow his advice? God has done more than offer advice, but has commanded us to praise him because he knows that we need to release our love for Jesus as part of our spiritual health. Today mankind is searching for "spiritual experience" through such dangerous methods as drugs, the occult, new age, etc. Through the release of the Holy Spirit in praise we Christians have a lasting "experience" of God that not only blesses the praiser, but also is a positive witness to others that Jesus lives. The temperature of your praise is not only your personal business, but it can be very important in preparing the way for sharing the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ with others. People are attracted to Christians who joyfully praise the Lord amid a world of many negatives.
Remember and reflect on the greatness of Gods love to you in Jesus Christ, until you find your whole being responding in praise to "such love so amazing, so divine . . ." (Hymn: "When I Survey The Wondrous Cross")
The Ingredients Of Powerful Praise
1. Praise is first and foremost Biblical rather than "Lutheran" or "Pentecostal." Isaiahs famous vision (6:14) shows the high praise that continually surrounds the throne of God in heaven. In fact, many of the Bible descriptions of praise (dancing, leaping, etc.) do not always fit with our traditions. Remember, the Saints in heaven have no "hangups" over the forms of praise to Jesus Christ. We should be open to liturgical worship as well as to the "free" forms, as long as the worship is genuine, that is, motivated by the Spirit out of love for Jesus.
2. One of the most powerful types of praise is when it is sung. Over three hundred times the Bible commands us to sing praises. Remember what happened when Paul and Silas sang praises to God in prison at midnight (Acts 19)? Throughout the history of the Church every revival had certain praise hymns at its very heart. Would this not also be true of the Reformation and the hymn "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God?"
3. Praise also enables us to deal directly with the unseen spiritual world. Paul says in Eph. 6:12 that our enemy is not flesh and blood, but a "host of spiritual wickedness in heavenly places." One of the reasons Satan fights so hard to keep us from breaking free into praise is that he knows the power that praise has against him. Who went forth in the front lines of Jehosaphats army (2 Chron. 20:21)? It was the praisers. Praise raises the temperature under the enemy (a spiritual "hotseat") and he wants nothing to do with the beautiful aroma of Jesuscentered praises blending together in the body of Christ. I would not be in the ministry today if it had not been for the supernatural praise songs that came out of my inner being during a time of deep depression. The Holy Spirit was sighing with words I didnt even want to sing (Rom. 8:26). Praise God the victory over that depression came as Jesus Christ became the subject of my thoughts and words once again! Perhaps this is one of the reasons Satan has such a lying campaign against "speaking in tongues." This manifestation of the Spirit is basically another language to praise the Lord more abundantly.
Getting Rid Of Praise Hindrances
1. Being ruled by our emotions. One of the most destructive emotions is a "heavy spirit." Isaiah 61:3 encourages us to take off the garment of heaviness and put on the garment of praise. Many times when we feel "down" we say we cant praise because we "dont feel like it." Yet, how many of us would get up in the morning if we let our "feel like it" dictate our action?
We must choose to praise God whether we feel like it or not. God will allow us whatever feelings he deems proper after we start praising. Refusal to praise God could be rebellion against his Word. It surely is an indication of a need to bask again in his wonderful love no matter what the circumstances of life may be. Jesus love for us does not change with the weather or with our personal pain or pleasure. His love is the same forever! Hallelujah!
2. Sin and guilt also frequently clog up the praise channel. Deal with sin through receiving Gods forgiveness through the means he supplies, the good news of his forgiving love for us in Christ made concrete in confession absolution and Holy Communion. Then remind yourself that you are forgiven and let the shed blood of Jesus wash away the guilt feelings.
3. Failure to forgive others is another serious blockage to praise. Let Gods forgiveness of you motivate you to decide to forgive others and then get your eyes off your failures and back to a forgiving God in Jesus Christ. Stop condemning your past it is ruining your present and destroying your chance for a praisefilled future.
4. Fear is another hindrance to praise. In fact, it is perhaps the most crippling of human emotions. No wonder Jesus said many times to his disciples, "Fear not!" Frequently our fear of what people think, fear of tradition, and self these and other fears can block the release of praise from our lips.
5. The selfcentered person finds it difficult to praise. This applies to the selfexalting as well as the selfabasing (falsely humble) people for both are calling attention to self, rather than losing self in the greater reality and greatness of Jesus Christ and servanthood in his Body. Thus:
6. The final hindrance to praise is getting the body involved along with our mind and mouth. Since Jesus redeemed the whole man from sin, he also desires that the whole man thank and praise him. Scripture has many examples of the body getting involved (clapping, dancing, raising the hands, shouting, etc.) in praise to God. Spiritual wholeness often needs the body to participate in loving praise to the Savior. Certainly we need to caution against a mere display of emotion empty of true worship, but let us also encourage the raising of our hands, etc., in praise to the Lord. For "heavens sake" why not clap for Jesus isnt he greater than the usual objects of praise (sports stars, etc.)?
To all of this some will object saying, "Cant I just praise the Lord silently in my heart?" Suppose a wife asks her husband, "Please tell me you love me!" To that request the husband replies, "I cant say it, for thats only emotionalism; isnt it enough to just keep my love for you inside in my heart?" Friend, love must be verbalized for it to be complete, if between husband and wife or between the redeemed and the Redeemer. So it is true, the Lord inhabits the praises of his people. Satan inhabits the complaints of people. Both have one thing in common in that they magnify the power of the one motivating the action so, Praise The Lord!
Let your love for Jesus flow out of your whole being and you will experience the "Joy of the Lord that is your strength" (Neh. 8:10). It is not merely the "possession" of your love for Jesus that produces this joy, but also the "release" of that love in praise that moves you into a worship that transcends the temporal and links you up with the eternal praises before the throne of the Lamb. What is your praise temperature?
Rev. Delbert Rossin
1065 Kings Way
Nekoosa, WI 54457