Louis Albert Banks tells of an elderly Christian man, a fine singer, who learned that he had cancer of the tongue and that surgery was required. In the hospital after everything was ready for the operation, the man said to the doctor, “Are you sure I will never sing again”? The surgeon found it difficult to answer his question. He only shook his head no. The patient then asked if he could sit up for a moment. “I’ve had many good times singing the praises of God,” he said. “And now you tell me I can never sing again. I have one song that will be my last. It will be of gratitude and praise to God.” There in the doctor’s presence the man sang softly the words of Isaac Watts‘ hymn:
“I’ll praise my Maker while I’ve breath,
And when my voice is lost in death,
Praise shall employ my nobler power;
My days of praise shall ne’er be past,
While life, and thought, and being last,
Or immortality endures.”
A body is not crippled ’til its heart has ceased to praise God. Scripture views the glorifying of God as a six fold activity: praising God for all that he is and all his achievements; thanking him for his gifts and his goodness to us; asking him to meet our own and others’ needs; offering him our gifts, our service, and ourselves; learning of him from his word, read and preached, and obeying his voice; telling others of his worth, both by public confession and testimony to what he has done for us. Thus we might say that the basic formulas of worship are these: “Lord, you are wonderful”; “Thank you, Lord”; “Please Lord”; “Take this, Lord”; “Yes, Lord”; “Listen everybody!” This then is worship in its largest sense: petition as well as praise, preaching as well as prayer, hearing as well as speaking, actions as well as words, obeying as well as offering, loving people as well as loving God.
Turn to Exodus 15, and imagine for a moment what happened at that glorious sunrise where the Children of Israel were safely on the East bank of the Red Sea. They saw with vivid reality the complete destruction of Pharaoh and the Egyptian army. As the crashing noise of the returning waters subsided, there was a deep stillness, a hushed awe as the tremendous truth dawned upon the audience of over 2 million people. At first there was a quiet whisper, you could almost hear someone ask, is this a dream? Then someone said in a quiet voice, “I will sing unto the Lord,” then some else a little louder, “for he hath triumphed gloriously”; Now others a little louder, “the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.” And now with one voice the people sang, “The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation.” And then with exultant shouts they sang at the top of their lungs, “He is my God, and I will prepare him a habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” What a chorus of praise is rendered to God from the hearts of the Children of Israel.
Worship precedes the victory. We need to remember that praise gives us the proper perspective. As we praise and worship God, it puts other things into their rightful place in our thinking. On the West side of the Red Sea, they were terrified of Pharaoh and his army, on the East side of the Red Sea they knew that God was great and Pharaoh a bloated corpse on the beach.
C.S. Lewis wrote,
“I think we delight to praise what we enjoy because the praise not merely expresses but completes the enjoyment; it is its appointed consummation. If it were possible for a created soul fully to ‘appreciate,’ that is, to love and delight in, the worthiest object of all, and simultaneously at every moment to give this delight perfect expression, then that soul would be in supreme blessedness. To praise God fully we must suppose ourselves to be in perfect love with God, drowned in, dissolved by that delight which, far from remaining pent up within ourselves as incommunicable bliss, flows out from us incessantly again in effortless and perfect expression. Our joy is no more separable from the praise in which it liberates and utters itself than the brightness a mirror receives is separable from the brightness it sheds.”
Have you yielded your life to Jesus Christ? Andrew Murray wrote, “God is ready to assume full responsibility for the life wholly yielded to Him.” Christ, the mighty warrior, will come and defeat all those who oppose His absolute sovereign rulership over this earth, but that rulership must first come to fruition in our lives.
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