Praise Week: Get Loud

“Shout with joy to God, all the earth! Sing the glory of his name; make his praise glorious!” (Psalm 66:1-2)

King David had a volume issue. He had this expectation that people praising the God of the universe should crank it up to 11 sometimes. He wanted to hear joyful shouting and loud singing – but not just noise. He wanted it to be both loud and “glorious,” excellent, good.

praise_337We’re tuning in to Psalm 66 this week to think about what it means to praise God. Sometimes we think of praising God as doing whatever the worship leader tells us to do for the 20 minutes before the preaching starts. Read the screen and follow along.

We’ll see, though, that David praised with a purpose. There was a method to his glorious worship shouting. We’re going to look at a few ways we can learn to praise and worship our glorious God on purpose, as well.

Think: How often do you shout with joy? Sporting events? Concerts? How often do you shout for joy to God? Does your church get loud and excellent when praising him? How could you make it even better?

Pray: Ask God to help you to shout with joy to him when the time is right and to sing the glory of his name and to make his praise glorious.

Do: Find the right time and place this week and do what today’s verse tells us to do.

Praise Week: Notice and Say It

“Say to God, ‘How awesome are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you. All the earth bows down to you; they sing praise to you, they sing praise to your name.’ Selah (Psalm 66:3-4)

Here is worship boiled down to its essence: “Say to God, “How awesome are you deeds!” Of course!

praise_337That kind of bottom-line praise requires two things. Step 1) Notice something awesome about God. Step 2) Tell him about it.

The first step doesn’t just happen. Sometime you have to work to notice what God is doing and why it is awesome. But he will help you to see it.

The second step can feel unnatural, too. Doesn’t God already know what he has done that is awesome? Yes, but we never talk to God to fill him in on what he doesn’t know. We talk to him to fulfill our purpose, and we are built to worship him. His commands are always loving to us, including the command for us to give him praise.

Think: What is the most recent awesome thing you know God has done in your life? How often do you talk about his awesomeness to him?

Pray: Ask God to help you to notice the awesome things he has done and is doing and to praise him for them.

Do: Make a list of ten awesome things about God or that God has done. Then say to him, “How awesome are your deeds!”

Praise Week: Remember and Rejoice

“Come and see what God has done, how awesome his works in man’s behalf! He turned the sea into dry land, they passed through the waters on foot – come, let us rejoice in him.” (Psalm 66:5-6)

Does anyone ever read these verses that doesn’t already know about God’s parting of the Red Sea back in the time of Moses? Did David expect that some of his readers would really have forgotten about that miraculous rescue when God turned a sea into dry ground to get the Israelites out of Egypt?

praise_337Nope. David knew everyone already knew about that. But remembering the major moments when God came through for us – even if we’ve heard them a thousand times – makes a huge difference. Those moments are evidence of three important things:

1) God is powerful.
2) God uses his power for us.
3) God really cares about us.

Why not rejoice again that the God who saved us – and answered that prayer and then met our needs in an incredible way that one time – is still the God who loves us today and will work on our behalf tomorrow?

Think: What are some of the major moments of your life with God that you can remember and rejoice over again today?

Pray: Ask God to help you to keep remembering the works he has done on your behalf and keep rejoicing in him.

Do: Make a quick timeline of some of the major moments in your life in which you know God was the one who was working on your behalf. (Hint: Don’t forget the moment of your salvation and any big answers to prayer.)

Praise Week: When God Brings Pain

“For you, O God, tested us; you refined us like silver. You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs. You let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and water, but you brought us to a place of abundance.” (Psalm 66:10-12)

How do you deal with the undeniable reality of painful moments in your past when you are praising God? What’s the best approach? Should you pretend like those moments never happened? Is it impolite to bring them up in the middle of praising God for His goodness to you?

praise_337Right in the middle of this great psalm of praise to God, David reaches back to a painful time in Israel’s history – and says that God did it to them on purpose. He makes a choice to believe that God was responsible both for bringing them into that terrible season and bringing them out of it again.

Would a good God really “test” his people and use hard times to “refine us like silver”? Yes, he does – and the fact that he does is evidence that he is good and loving and powerful. David saw that God cared about his people too much not to use terrible circumstances to draw them into the place they would find the most meaningful and satisfying life – in closer relationship with him.

Can we praise the God who takes us into and out of life’s most difficult times?

Think: Have you noticed that God has used some of the harder times of your life to draw you closer to him? Do you believe the best life is lived in leaning more closely on God?

Pray: Ask God to help you to praise him for being your good God even during the most difficult times of your life.

Do: Read Job’s shocking statement about this idea in Job 13:15, then listen in Hebrews 12:7-11 says about hard times and our Father’s loving discipline.

Praise Week: Tell Someone

“Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue.” (Psalm 66:16-17)

This is going to make me sound a little vain, but it’s true: I really like it when I overhear my wife telling someone else nice things about me. It makes me feel tall – especially if she doesn’t know that I can hear what she’s saying.

praise_337Of course I know she likes me most of the time, but when she tells someone else that she likes me or that I’ve done something good it feels even more authentic and meaningful. I feel really valued and respected and appreciated.

I think it’s meaningful to God, too. David, of course, praised God to God, but He also praised God to others. Out loud. He made it part of his natural conversation to mention to everyone all the great things God had done for Him.

You don’t have to sing and clap when you praise God to your friends and family members. You don’t have to close your eyes and sway. You can just say it: “God did this good thing for me; he is a good God.” It matters to God, I think, and it matters to you because you are giving credit to the one who really deserves it.

Think: How often do you mention God to others in a positive way? What good things have you said about him out loud in conversation, lately?

Pray: Ask God to help you to praise him out loud to your friends and family members.

Do: Notice this week when people praise God in normal conversation with each other.

Praise Week: Don’t Cherish Sin

“If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.” (Psalm 66:18-19)

What do you cherish in your heart? Or to take the greeting card flavor out of it, what do you really want most? The word for cherish in this verse means something that is “aimed for” or “looked forward to.”

praise_337David had just said that he prayed to God for help – and God helped. But, David warns, if he had been asking God for help while really wanting most to do something sinful – and especially if he had been asking for God’s help to do a sinful thing – God wouldn’t listen.

And, really, what would be the point of praising God for His goodness while spending the rest of the time “aiming for” sin? If God’s goodness is praiseworthy, why not tell your heart to aim for that, instead?

Think: Can you control what you cherish in your heart? Have you ever felt like you “loved” something sinful? How likely are you to sincerely praise God or to ask for his help when you’re living for sinful things?

Pray: Ask God to help you not to cherish sin in your heart. Thank him that he graciously forgives all the sins of those who put their faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection to save them.

Do: Watch your heart this week and stand guard over it to keep it from aiming for sin.

Praise Week: He Loves Us?

“Praise be to God, who has not rejected a my prayer or withheld his love from me!” (Psalm 66:20)

What exactly does God owe us? Maybe it’s too easy to say he doesn’t owe us anything. He did create us, after all. And he is just to his creatures, giving good gifts to all.

praise_337But he does not owe us love. We do not have the right by default to have the God of the universe love us and hear out prayers.

David ends his praise psalm – and our praise week – amazed that God, the God of all, has not rejected his request. In fact, God has proven his love for one among the billions in time and space again and again.

Does God love you? Does he hear your prayers and answer them? Then let’s praise him today.

Think: Why do you think it’s so easy for us to get bored with the idea that God loves us and listens to us? How much does that matter to you?

Pray: Praise God for loving you and responding to your prayers because you come to him in the name of Jesus.

Do: Look forward to your next opportunity to praise God.