Praise the Lord! This is a phrase you’ve likely heard many times, whether it be in church or in your Bible. It is indeed a very popular phrase in our “Christianese” language.
But what I want is for this phrase to mean more to you than it ever has before. That’s the purpose of this teaching – for our church to come to be a body of believers who truly know how to praise God and who live our lives to “Praise the Lord.”
Let’s look over at the last Psalm we have recorded – Psalm 150 – where the Book of Psalms comes to a dramatic climax. Yes, this psalm is a beautiful summary of the common theme we see in the first 149 psalms.
This Psalm reads – “Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary; Praise Him in His mighty firmament! Praise Him for His mighty acts; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness! Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet; Praise Him with the lute and harp! Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes! Praise Him with loud cymbals; Praise Him with clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!”
Notice how the first & last phrase that we see in this Psalm is “Praise the Lord!” This phrase comes from the Hebrew word that you’ve certainly heard before – the word “Hallelujah!” Hallelujah contains the Hebrew word halal, which simply means “praise”, and “jah” which is one of the Hebrew names of God, Yahweh or Jehovah. So now you know what Hallelujah means, don’t you? It simply means “Praise God” or “Praise the Lord!”
But what I want you to notice about this phrase/word is that it is a call to action. No, it’s not just there for informational purposes. It’s there telling God’s people what to do. So if I read in the Bible “Praise the Lord!”, what should my response be? It should be to praise the Lord, right? Yes, if the Scriptures say, “Hallelujah”, then I should stop what I’m doing and praise the Lord right then! Amen?
So I’d like us to do something fun throughout this series: Every time you hear the phrase “Praise the Lord!” I want the congregation to shout, “Praise the Lord!” And every time you hear the word “Hallelujah!” I want the congregation to shout, “Hallelujah!” Let’s practice right now – Me: Praise the Lord! (The congregation: Praise the Lord!) Me: Hallelujah! (The congregation: Hallelujah!)
You see, church, praising God is not just something we are to observe; it’s what we are called to do! I understand we have those in the church today who are specifically gifted to lead worship, sing, or play instruments in a praise service, but I think it’s interesting that the New Testament doesn’t specifically identify this as a gift or office in the Body of Christ. I don’t believe this is because we shouldn’t have a praise & worship team, but rather because we are ALL called to this office! Now you and I maybe should not be on the stage with a microphone. Like I’ve heard it said before – Everyone can sing. Not everyone should record, but everyone can sing. But everyone is called to be a praiser, not just a select few.
And that’s what I would like us to begin talking about this week – how praising God is our calling in Christ Jesus!
PURPOSED TO PRAISE
I remember having a conversation with someone before I was born-again, where we were discussing what the purpose of mankind is. We were pondering those universal questions- Why am I here? What is my purpose? Of course, being lost, I was not able to answer these questions, but when I had my encounter with Jesus in 2000, I knew immediately the core-purpose of every single person who has ever lived on the earth – It is to know God! Yes, the primary purpose for every single person who ever has or ever will be created is to have a personal relationship with their Creator, and the predominant activity in that relationship is to praise and worship Him as His creation!
But, you see, this is not only God’s primary purpose for mankind. It is also the foundational purpose for all His creation. In the Psalms, many references are made to different created things such as the sun, moon, stars, mountains, animals, etc. declaring God’s praise (See Psalm 69:34, 145:10, 148, and Psalm 150:6). Didn’t Jesus say that even the rocks would cry out (See Luke 19:40)?
So all of creation here on the earth is praising its Creator! But did you know that this is also exactly what is going on in heaven as we speak? Yes, if you study the Scriptures that give us a sneak peak into what is going on in heaven, you’ll find that continual praise & worship of God is the main activity of heaven’s residents.
So if it’s happening with all of His creation in heaven, and it’s happening with His entire creation on the earth, then I believe it is easy to conclude that the praise & worship of God is the primary purpose for everything and everyone God has ever created.
So if this is true (and it most definitely is), wouldn’t it behoove us, the crown of His creation, to join in? Yes, wouldn’t it be a good idea to begin fulfilling our divine purpose sooner rather than later? You see, there is coming a day soon and very soon when we are going to slip out of these tents that we call bodies and be ushered into the presence of God where, as we’ve seen, singing His praises will be our habitual tendency. Therefore, we ought to begin to do it now when we can do it by faith and please Him all the more. Amen?
WHAT DO YOU DO?
But like I’ve already said, praise is not only our purpose, it is our calling too!?! In other words, praising God is not just something we do; it’s who we are. Let me explain …
You know, when we meet someone new, we might ask them “how are you doing?” but that usually leads us to another question that we are much more interested in learning the answer to – “What do you do?” Yes, we are very interested in finding out what people do for a living.
So what do you do for a living? Most of our immediate responses would be – “I’m a banker, a cashier, a housewife, a pilot, a lawyer, etc. etc. etc.” But I think we need to see ourselves as more than what our physical/natural occupation is. I believe we need to see ourselves as what we were all created to be in Christ Jesus – Praisers!
Did you know that’s what the Bible teaches us? First Peter 2:9 says, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
Now I know that a lot of people read this verse like it was being written to Israel because all of these things were how the Lord referred to them, but I want you to notice what Peter went on to say in verse 10. He said, “who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.”
So his audience here was a people who once were not a people. That doesn’t sound like the Jewish community to me – for they had been the people of God for hundreds & hundreds of years to this point. No, this is obviously describing Gentile believers because, during their lifetime, they were definitely not a people, but now had become the people of God through the blood of Jesus’ Cross. Amen?
So First Peter 2:9 is talking to you & I. We are those who were once not God’s people. We are those who once had not obtained mercy. But now, we are a part of God’s people, having received mercy! Praise the Lord!
This is who we are, saints! We are a chosen generation! We are a royal priesthood! We are a holy nation! And we are His own special people! But what do we do? What is it that we do because we have been made all of these things through the mercy of God? Well, notice the next part of First Peter 2:9: It says, “…that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”
The word “proclaim” here is only used this one time in the New Testament and comes from a word that was a combination of the word “out of” and “angel or messenger.” So it describes a messenger like an angel and what comes out of that messenger.
Let’s consider angels for a minute: If you had an angel before you and asked him – “What do you do?” – what do you think he would say? He would probably respond with – “I am a servant of the Most High God! I go where He tells me to go! I do what He tells me to do! I say what He tells me to say!”
You see, angels were oftentimes, what? They were God’s messengers! Yes, they are God’s representatives that come to tell someone the word of the Lord! So this is what came “out of” them.
But what else do you think God’s angels would say that they do? I guarantee you that one thing you’d hear them say is that they praise & worship God! Yes, one of the most important jobs & privileges that angels have is to PRAISE THE LORD!
Well, it’s the same with us! We too are called to “proclaim” the same thing – Peter described it as “the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light!”
So this is to be our spiritual vocation! Yes, it is our occupation as His chosen generation, His royal priesthood, His holy nation, and His special people! Our job is to declare the praises of Him! Amen!
Isaiah 43:21 forecasted this by saying, “This people I have formed for Myself; They shall declare My praise.”
So I guess when someone asks you what you do for a living, you might say, “I’m an appraiser” because that’s what you are – “a praiser.” You know, there’s a reason they are called “appraisers.” That’s because they are someone whose job is to assess or estimate the value of something. Isn’t that what “a praiser” is doing as well? By praising God, we are showing how much we value God.
FOR A LIVING
Now sometimes that question is not just “What do you do?” It’s “What do you do for a living?” And what that obviously means is what is your job/occupation that you earn your income from and live off of.
Well, this is something that’s important to understand about being a praiser: not only is it what your spiritual vocation is, but it’s where your spiritual income comes from. In other words, praising the Lord isn’t just something we do to benefit the Lord. No, it is loaded with benefits for the one who “does their job.” Amen!
Let’s look at a psalm that shows us both our response to having this responsibility and occupation and also the benefits of doing our job well – the 103rd Psalm. Now Psalm 103 is one of my personal favorite psalms – namely because we see our benefit package in Him.
Psalm 103:1 starts off by saying, “Bless the Lord, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name.”
So, as it has likely been with all of us when it comes to our jobs, we don’t always feel like getting up and going to work. Sometimes our flesh would just love to call in, roll over, and go back to sleep.
Well, it’s like that with the vocation of praise too! There are going to be countless times where it’s the right time to praise Him, but like it is when our alarms go off in the morning to get up and go to work, we must grab ourselves by the ear and rise up & praise Him! Amen?
Well, this is exactly what David was doing here: He was giving Himself a little pep talk, talking to his soul, and telling himself what time it is! It’s time to bless the Lord!
Now why would one have to do this? It’s because their soul is going to not want to bless him at times. These times are usually when things are tough, when life is throwing you lemons, or simply when your emotions are down. This is when a child of God has to do something like David did here – start talking to your soul.
Let me give you a good example of this from the New Testament:
Many of us are familiar with trials that the apostle Paul went through and how he was imprisoned on multiple occasions.
Well, in the Book of Philippians, we have the backdrop of one of these extremely difficult circumstances. He told this church how his imprisonment had actually turned out for the furtherance of the Gospel (See Philippians 1:12). He talked about how, as bad as this situation he was in was, that one of the hardest things was how he was hearing about people on the outside preaching Christ for spite, “supposing to add affliction to his chains.”
So let’s put this into perspective: Suppose you were a successful businessman, and you were arrested and put into a jail even though you were innocent. And this imprisonment was one of the closest things to hell you had ever experienced. Then you learned that there were people on the outside who were trying to steal your business and you knew that they were doing it just to hurt you. That would be a pretty bad day, don’t you think?
Well, that’s pretty much what Paul was going through. People were preaching Christ just to spite him. He knew that there were people who were trying to inflict even more suffering on him by taking his “business.” But I want you to notice what Paul said in Philippians 1:18 – “What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is preached; and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice.” Wow, I just love that! What a remarkable attitude Paul possessed! Instead of getting hurt and offended by the wrong motives of others, the apostle Paul’s only concern was that Christ was being preached, and that caused him to rejoice.
But notice the terminology he used here – “…and in this I rejoice, yes, and will rejoice!” The force of this statement just resounds with passion and conviction, does it not? It is as if he was saying, “I will rejoice in this and, yes, I will most definitely continue to rejoice in it!” But why such a bold statement? What is the cause for such an emphatic proclamation? To me, it is quite simple—the apostle Paul was giving himself a little pep talk like David did in Psalm 103.
I am sure Paul was dealing with the same temptations in his heart to be discouraged and offended like any normal human being would be regarding these things. I am certain that he had to take those “woe is me” thoughts captive. But here in this verse I believe Paul was making this declaration, not just for their information, but to inform his own soul that it was “rejoicing time.” Amen! Yes, he was telling himself— “Paul, you will rejoice in this! Oh yeah, you are going to rejoice about it!”
Saints, this is an extremely effective and biblical way to keep those negative emotions in check. That’s right—sometimes we just need to talk to our soul and let it know who is in charge.
Again, as King David said in his 103rd Psalm: “Bless the Lord O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!” This opening verse of this psalm was not just poetry; David was actually talking to his own soul. Yes, he was telling himself that everything within him was going to join together in giving praise to God. Bless the Lord, forevermore!
So, what the apostle Paul was doing here to counter the offense and discouragement that he was likely being tempted with was telling those unruly emotions that he was not going to yield to them. In fact, he was telling his soul exactly what it was going to yield to—praise. He was telling his mind, will, and emotions – “You are going to praise the Lord!” In short, he was telling his soul what it was going to do rather than let his soul dictate whether he was going to be happy or not. Yes, Paul chose to both look at the positive side of things and take up the reins of his heart. In so doing, he was choosing joy. Amen?
Now back to the 103rd Psalm …
David goes on to say in verse 2 – “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits.”
So now, not only was David just telling his soul to praise the Lord, he tells it to not forget all of his benefits.
Now don’t let the wording here confuse you. This does not mean that we can forget some of them, but to make sure we do not forget all of them (as I interpreted this statement when I was child). No, it means not to forget any of the benefits that we have as His covenant people. But I want you to also see how what King David said shows us how to not forget any of them. There is a major solution that he gives us in these first two verses to help us not forget any of His benefits.
Notice how David uses the phrase- “blessing the Lord”- three times in these two verses. This is a significant part of remembering His benefits…What does “blessing” the Lord mean? The Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “bless” (the way it is used in Psalm 103:1&2) as “to praise, glorify, or magnify.” So, in the context of Psalm 103:1&2, “bless” is basically a synonym for “praise.”
So what does “blessing” (or, praising) the Lord have to do with us not forgetting all of His benefits? Well, when you praise the Lord, what are you doing? You are proclaiming the goodness and greatness of God through declaring who He is and what He has done. So, in essence, you are recalling all of His benefits when you bless Him, right? You see, a great benefit of glorifying and magnifying the Lord through praise is that it helps us to not forget His benefits. In other words, it causes us to constantly recount all that He has done for us and be less likely to forget them. And guess what that does? It will cause you and I to experience them more!
I wonder how many people miss out on certain “benefits” that they have in this life simply because they stay ignorant of them. I’m sure that many of us have missed out on certain benefits of jobs we’ve had or other things we’ve been part of simply because we weren’t mindful of them.
Well, being God’s child and a part of His kingdom, we have many different benefits that we are meant to take advantage of. So if you and I are employed to praise the Lord, then what are those benefits? Well, Psalm 103 goes to describe a bunch of them …
Verse 3 says, “Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases.”
By far, the most important benefit is this first one – the forgiveness of all our iniquities! No, not just some of them; all of them! I see this as the salary portion of praise’s employment package! It’s certainly the greatest and most important part of our job as praisers. But like it is with most people in this world’s workforce, it seems like most Christians are only concerned with their salary. Yes, it’s evident that most believers only know about the forgiveness of their sins. In other words, that’s the only part of their benefit package that they consider. It’s the big one. No doubt about that. But it’s not all that we have in our benefit package.
One benefit that the body of Christ does not esteem like it needs to is the next one – our medical/health insurance.
You know, if you’ve ever had to pay for your own health insurance out of pocket, then you probably know just how invaluable having health insurance included in your job’s benefit package is. It’s expensive! And oh, how expensive can physical issues be.
Well, as we are promised in Psalm 103:3 among many other places, we have been given free health insurance! He heals ALL our diseases by the stripes of Jesus, being our Jehovah Rapha!
On top of that, some types of medical insurance cover prescription drugs too! And that’s covered under Jehovah Rapha’s insurance program as well: We are told in Proverbs 4:20-22 that God’s Word is “medicine” to all our flesh. So not only are we promised divine healing, but we are promised divine health because we have been given an unfailing medicine that will heal “all our flesh.” Amen!
Saints, our health insurance—the stripes of Jesus—have already paid for our prescription. Amen! And in God’s kingdom, there is no co-pay. There is no deductible that needs to be met. It’s already been paid for 100% by our Great Physician!
But what else do some businesses offer as part of their benefit package? Well, with some jobs we might get “life insurance.”
Well, Psalm 103:3 gives us another benefit of our covenant with the Lord: It says, “Who redeems your life from destruction.”
So guess what else we have as a benefit? Life insurance! We have been given the benefit of the God kind of life – which unlike life insurance in the world, can be experienced now! The Bible calls it eternal life, resurrection life, and abundant life! This is the life of God and it’s a part of our benefit package in Him! Amen!
But then notice what verse 3 goes on to say and then verse 4 – “… Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, Who satisfies your mouth with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
Hmmm … So we see here the word “crowns” and then how He satisfies our “mouth” with good things. What benefit does that make you think of? Dental insurance! Lol!
I wonder how aware the Body of Christ is that we have the benefits of God crowning us with lovingkindness and tender mercies and also satisfying our mouths with good things so that even our youth is renewed. These are just a few more things that the Lord desires for us to taste and see!
So I think you get the point. There are a ton of benefits that the Lord has given us as we walk in our calling of declaring His praises! I’d encourage you to continue looking at the 103rd Psalm as it contains many more awesome benefits of our employment in the “Father’s business.”
But unlike our jobs, these benefits are not just things we can partake of annually, quarterly, monthly, or weekly. No, these benefits are promises that we can experience DAILY – for as Psalm 68:19 says, “Blessed be the Lord, Who daily loads us with benefits, The God of our salvation!”
But let me give you just one more very important benefit of God’s kingdom that we can also experience in our jobs on this earth – retirement planning benefits!
I know a lot of us have taken advantage of things such as 401(k)s, etc. at our jobs which help better prepare us for retirement, but there is no better retirement package than what we have in the kingdom of God. Our future is so bright, you have to squint to look at it.
Saints, as much as God desires to bless us in this life, our retirement package is loaded! And I can guarantee you that the more you and I live our lives to praise the Lord through thick & thin, the more we are seeing being contributed to that retirement package. Amen!