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A Christian’s Heart
“A Praise-Filled Heart”
The idea of praising God for who He is, the Almighty God, Creator, Deliverer, Redeemer, Restorer, and Savior should be tantamount for all Christians.
To praise the Lord is to call attention to His majesty and glory. As expressions of praise we bless, exalt, glorify, magnify, and oh, by the way, thanking Him as well.
In fact, it’s God’s breath in our lungs that gives us physical and spiritual life, so we should pour out our praise to God.
The prophet Isaiah said we are to come together in order to proclaim His praise amongst the congregation, Isaiah 43:21. And in the future this is exactly what we’ll be doing in heaven, singing praises to the Lord, Revelation 4:11; 5:12-14; 7:12.
Psalm 33:1 (NIV) says, “Sing joyfully to the LORD, you righteous; it is fitting for the upright to praise him.”
Praising God should actually be in everything we do. The Apostle Paul addresses this in his letter to the Corinthians church and their lack of understanding in the worship of the Lord.
“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do,” Paul said, “Do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)
But King David in Psalm 138 brings out the ultimate expression of praise. Let’s take a look at verses one and two.
“I will praise You with my whole heart; before the gods I will sing praises to You. I will worship toward Your holy temple, and praise Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth; for You have magnified Your word above all Your name.” (Psalm 138:1-2 NKJV)
There are three aspects of a praising heart that are found in Psalm 138.
“I will praise You with my whole heart.” (Psalm 138:1a NKJV)
Someone said, “Man worships his work, works at his play, and plays at his worship.”
This describes our worship more than many of us would like to admit. We come to a worship service, where the Lord is the one we have gathered to honor, only to half-heartedly sing of His worthiness. We then leave thinking we’ve done something great for God.
Jesus kind of nails this on the head when He said,
“These people draw near to Me with their mouth and honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me.” (Matthew 15:8-9a NKJV)
King David learned that praise isn’t supposed to be half-hearted. Rather it is to be with one’s entire heart. He says it several times.
“I will praise You, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will tell of all Your marvelous works.” (Psalm 9:1 NKJV)
“Praise the Lord! I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright and in the congregation.” (Psalm 111:1 NKJV)
Half-hearted praise, therefore, is insincere praise. It’s praise without worth, and not worthy of those who call themselves believers in Jesus Christ.
If this then is so important, to praise God with the whole of our heart, then what does a whole heart mean? It’s praising God with the entirely of who we are. It’s leaving nothing behind but unreservedly giving praise to God.
Unreservedly is an interesting word, because when we say that we are to praise the Lord with the entirely of who we are, that means we’re to praise the Lord the same way we are to love Him, that is, with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, the first part of the Great Commandment.
Another way this could be described is that a whole heart is
A Heart that Praises God Alone
What this means is that there’s a readiness on our part to praise the one true God, thus making it contemptible to worship or praise anything or anybody else.
This is what King David means when he says he will praise the Lord God before all the other gods. Back in David’s time these false gods were idols that were made from wood, stone, and metal. People would bow down before them to honor and make sacrifices to them.
The prophet Isaiah says how ridiculous this really is to bow down and worship something made of wood, stone, and metal. He is basically saying, “Hey guys, would you just take a moment and think about it.”
“Half of the wood he burns in the fire; over it he prepares his meal, he roasts his meat and eats his fill. He also warms himself and says, ‘Ah! I am warm; I see the fire.’ From the rest he makes a god, his idol; he bows down to it and worships. He prays to it and says, ‘Save me! You are my god!’ They know nothing, they understand nothing; their eyes are plastered over so they cannot see, and their minds closed so they cannot understand. No one stops to think, no one has the knowledge or understanding to say, ‘Half of it I used for fuel; I even baked bread over its coals, I roasted meat and I ate. Shall I make a detestable thing from what is left? Shall I bow down to a block of wood?’” (Isaiah 44:16-19 NKJV)
Now, we may not bow down to blocks of wood, but when you think about is these blocks of wood represents our jobs or career, a significant other, our homes, cars, or possessions. These gods are anything and everything that takes us away from our total devotion to God.
And so a praise-filled heart is a heart that is whole, wholly praising the Lord God and Him alone.
The next aspect of a praise-filled heart is that it is
In verse two it says,
“I will worship toward Your holy temple” (Psalm 138:2a NKJV)
The word “worship” here in the Hebrew language means to bow down in reverence. It means to bring down, to have an attitude of lowliness. This is seen in Psalm 95:6.
“Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” (Psalm 95:6)
It is such a humble heart that God takes notice of, and David continues saying in Psalm 138.
“Though the Lord is on high, yet He regards the lowly; but the proud He knows from afar.” (Psalm 138:6 NKJV)
The Apostle Peter picks up on tis in his first letter saying,
“All of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” (I Peter 5:5-6 NKJV)
Humility isn’t denying who God made us to be; rather it’s being honest about who we are before Almighty God, that is, our weaknesses as compared to God’s strength. It simply means having a right understanding of our human condition as sinners in direct comparison to God’s holiness and righteousness.
Humility is often referred to as the greatest virtue a man or woman of God can possess, because it’s getting the focus off us and onto the One who truly deserves it, that is, Jesus Christ. This was what the whole host of heaven sings.
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”(Revelation 5:12 NIV)
In the end it’s all about being humble. Our spiritual transformation comes through humility not pride.
So important is this quality of humility of heart that the Lord considers and agrees to dwell with only those who are humble.
“I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” (Isaiah 57:15)
Those spiritually aligned with God and those with whom God aligns Himself with, have a contrite and humble heart and spirit.
King David knew this when he blew it with Bathsheba. He said God really doesn’t require a physical sacrifice in order to get right with Him, instead the sacrifice God is looking for is a broken heart and crushed spirit over their sin, Psalm 51:17.
A humble and contrite heart is therefore what the Lord desires.
A praise-filled heart is also a heart that worships God. Worship is an Anglo-Saxon word better-pronounced “worthship.” It means to give worth or reverence to something or someone. In Greek and Hebrew it means to bow down in humility and submission.
To worship God is to humble ourselves in submission to Him. It’s expressing the same attitude as that of John the Baptist who said concerning Jesus, “He must increase but I must decrease.” (John 3:30)
And so a praise-filled heart is a whole and humble heart that worships the Lord.
Finally a praise-filled heart is
In verse three David said that when he cried out to God, God encouraged his heart.
“In the day when I cried out, You answered me, and made me bold with strength in my soul.” (Psalm 138:3 NKJV)
Encouragement is described as a cool breeze, or a cold drink, on a hot summer’s day. It revitalizes and refreshes our hearts. Therefore encouragement is a vital element for life in the Lord.
When we feel overwhelmed we need to find encouragement to help us overcome and be victorious.
King David knew that such encouragement was vital, not only for his health, but for his survival.
When David and his men returned from a potential disaster which would have found them fighting against their own countrymen, the town where they resided, Ziglag, had been invaded and burned to the ground by the Amalekites, who took not only their possessions, but families as well.
David and his men were so overcome with grief that they wept until they could weep no more. They literally had no more tears left to shed.
Once the shock and grief wore off, depression and potential retribution set into David’s men who now talked about executing him because they blamed him thinking this disaster was his fault.
But instead of allowing grief to rule his heart, David encouraged his heart.
“Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” (1 Samuel 30:6 NKJV)
To be encouraged when pain and problems threaten to swamp our souls, we need to start speaking encouraging words to our hearts as well, which is what David continued to do throughout his life.
“Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.” (Psalm 42:11 NIV)
Literally David counseled his emotions. He was telling his emotions what to think and how to respond to the crisis.
In the same way we need to encourage ourselves in order to get the fullness of what God has for us. We need to be careful not to be too critical of ourselves otherwise our hearts will take on that role, that is, we’ll have a critical and condemning heart. We can either be our own best friend or worst enemy.
When our hearts are encouraged and strengthen, then we’ll be able to praise the Lord without hesitation or fear and declare His mighty works to the world.
“I will extol You, my God, O King; and I will bless Your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; and His greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall praise Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.” (Psalm 145:1-4 NKJV)
This is what the disciples experienced after they were baptized in the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. It says that they immediately went out into the streets praising God for His mighty works.
“And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them (the disciples) speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, ‘Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear…them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.’” (Acts 2:6-11 NKJV)
Remember, these were the same guys who were hiding from the authorities. And as they prayed they were filled with the Holy Spirit who encouraged and emboldened them to witness to the very people they were hiding out from.
And so a praise-filled heart is a whole, humble, and encourage heart.
We can have a praised-filled heart when we focus on God through reading His word and finding out just how great and marvelous He really is.
The more we comprehend what God is like, the more we’ll give Him praise.
When we gather with other believers we need to have our focus where it belongs, on God and not on others, or the game coming up on TV, or what’s for lunch. When we’re not fully engaged in our praise, then we’re not really worshiping God. This applies not only to our singing songs of praise, but also when God’s Word is being read or taught.
“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:23-24)
Before this can take place, however, we must have the Holy Spirit within, who Jesus called in John 14:17, “the Spirit of truth.” Without the Holy Spirit there is no true praise or worship. It’s the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, who motivates and inspires our praise and worship, and who better since He is the third person of the Godhead.
But to have the Holy Spirit within we must first invite Jesus into our hearts to be our Savior and Lord. It’s only then that our bodies become the temple of the Holy Spirit with Jesus sitting on the throne. And then out of our hearts will flow these rivers of living waters, the river of the water of life, that Jesus said is no one less than the Holy Spirit.
It is only then that we can truly give praise to God, and praise is our way of showing God how much we love and honor Him.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study