Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Living a Life of Praise

Oh how I struggle with praise.  There was a short period in my life where "Praise God" was continually on my lips.  It didn't matter who was standing in front of me.  It could be a Christian or non-Christian.  I said it often and I meant it, but I have found myself lacking in praise lately.  (I should probably title this blogsite "Confessions of a Pastor."  I seem to do a lot of that here).

This week for our Salt n Light campaign we are talking about praise and specifically, how praise plays a part in our being salt and light to the world.  It is challenging me.  To a certain extent, I feel like I am a negative person.  I'm always looking at what is wrong around me.  I often find myself dwelling on the negative instead of the positive.  I don't often look for ways to praise God.  I know this has got to change.

One might ask "What is praise exactly?", and I might answer "Praise is more than just thanks to God.  A lot of people equate praise with thanksgiving, but praise is much more.  I think the best way to define praise is exaltation.  Problem is, exaltation needs to be defined as well.  Praise is pointing out the magnificent and wonderful things about God.  It can include thanksgiving but it is not limited to.  God needs to be praised all all times in all circumstances.  It is not just when we are thanking him for what he has done."  That's my answer and I'm sticking to it.

Of course, that would be a very short definition of praise because I truly believe that praise is a lifestyle that every Christian should strive to attain.  Praise involves a constant looking at others besides oneself.  It is constantly seeing magnificent and wonderful things about God.  It extends from looking for those things of God to looking for praiseworthy things in God's creation.  This includes other people.

Our biggest struggle in life is our selfishness.  Our desires confound lots of things in our life.  Imagine what life would look like if we weren't always looking out for ourselves.  Imagine what life would be like if we constantly looked for ways to praise God for who he is, what he has done through creation and what he has done not just through our lives but the lives of others.  I think life wouldn't be such a struggle.  Praise actually benefits the individual doing the praise.  In a way, praise can be seen as self serving.  There shouldn't be any misunderstanding of what I am saying.  Praise should always be sincere without the thought of oneself, but the knowledge that praise is beneficial to a person should free them up to strive for a life of praising. 

I will admit that it is hard to develop this lifestyle.  We are so consumed with ourselves.  So I suggest that we start somewhere simple.  One of our SNL small group members said that he begins his day with praise.  When he gets up he praise God before he does anything else.  This might be a very simple place to start.  After we have developed a habit of praising God in the morning (and according to some "experts" that should take 3 weeks of consistency) we could move on to something else such as striving to find one thing during the day we can praise God about.  After another "expert" confirmed 3 weeks we could move on to something else.  The point I am trying to make in all this is we need to try and develop a lifestyle of praise and it need not be difficult.  Start out simple and slowly move forward.

I am going to work on how I praise.  In fact, I'm going to start right now.  I praise God because he knows what is best.  Not only does he know what is best, he is constantly working in the lives of those who seek him.  As long as I am seeking him I know he will guide me in knowledge and understanding of his word.  I know that he will continue to help me develop and become more like Christ.  He doesn't hold back from those who seek.  I praise him because he is a loving, benevolent and generous God.  I don't know where I would be without him.  I praise you Lord for who you are!!

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