Matthew 6:9b; Psalm 96:1-9
Victor Lyons, Pastor
First Avenue Baptist Church, Rochelle
Who do you revere in your life?
What place does God hold in your life?
Honor and shame were important elements in the ancient world. Deeds that would bring honor were valued, and shame was to be avoided. Shame usually meant cowardice, lack of generosity, and neglect of doing one’s duty.
It became the responsibility of the community to praise those who brought honor to themselves and to the community as a whole. To withhold praise where praise was merited was listed upon the sins of a people. Paul in a very early letter to the Thessalonians exhorted them to give them recognition to those who labor among you…to regard them very highly in love because of their work (1Thess. 5:12-13 HCSB).
Jesus warned his disciples not to seek the praise of men as one’s ultimate goal but the approval of God. Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of people, to be seen by them (Matt. 6:1 HCSB).
There must be a balance between legitimate praise and hypocrisy in which good deeds are done for the wrong reason.
According to the Old Testament, our highest praise belongs to God. Indeed, Psalm 22 sings forth the following words: But You are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel (v.3 HCSB).
Prayer begins with a desire to honor God.
Matthew 6:9b; Psalm 96:1-3
The Psalmist honors God and calls for God’s people to sing, praise, proclaim, and declare. Here we see the call for a thousand songs, a thousand sermons, and a thousand Gospel conversations as we live out our lives in honoring God. Personal testimony as well as general works of creation reveals His wonderful works.
Technology plays an important role in communication today. From the invention of an alphabet to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. and who knows what will come, communication goes forth.
Five hundred years ago, a hand-copied book was worth a small farm or a medium-size vineyard. Then a German goldsmith names Johann Gutenberg began work on moveable type, building and innovating Chinese block printing. In 1450, the printing press was invented, and by 1455 the first Bible was printed. By 1500, 260 towns in 17 countries had printing presses. 10 million copies of 40,000 works had been published! (Donald L. Brake, A Visual History of the English Bible, 2008, 70-82).
Bibles were now available to ordinary citizens. The dreams of John Wycliffe and Jan Hus were fulfilled, and the hopes of Martin Luther and the other reformers just became easier. Within weeks of their delivery, Luther’s sermons would be printed in German, and translated then printed in many other languages.
Today as the internet opens up ways of communication never imagined, the church must fill the empty pages with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Personal testimonies can make a bridge to those around the world who need to know that there is a Savior and precious is His name.
God’s splendor and majesty call us to honor him.
This call to praise God is no provincial, isolated calling. There is an awareness of the nations and an awareness of the gods. He is the one true God among the idols. This exclusiveness sometimes causes discomfort, but it is the truth!
Telling people that they have a sinful nature is uncomfortable, but it is the truth.
Isaiah would later prophesy about the nations coming to worship God! (Isaiah 60). John would see a vision of every nation present around God’s throne (Revelation 7).
Not only do we honor God for His creation but also for what He has done in our lives. In His presence resides splendor, majesty, strength, and beauty.
Everything in our lives is to be an offering that honors God—including our prayers.
I am pleasantly surprised that some newspapers still carry prayers, religious articles, and advice columns from Christian leaders like Billy Graham and Josh McDowell.
I am cautious and sometimes alarmed when I hear the word hate speech. For many it is a euphemism for a certain group to eliminate the Christian competition in the public arena. In America free speech is precious.
Live it Out
Our lives should be a praise to God’s presence in us.
We should communicate our praise of God everywhere (in word and in print).
We should praise God with our personal testimony.
Our prayers should be filled with praise for God.