Hebrews 13:15(KJV) 15By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.
This week we have been discussing giving glory to God. This is what strengthened Abraham’s faith enabling him to see his journey through to a positive end. We have defined giving glory to God as ascribing weight or honor to the Lord. When confronted with a difficult situation, what do we give more weight to, the problem or the power of God? If we consider the Lord to be greater than the problem, we are giving him glory.
We also found from the Greek word doxa, translated “give glory to”, that giving glory to God involves our opinion of God. Is our opinion of the Lord that he is greater than any situation I might face? If it is then there is no reason to worry. The classical Greek usage of this word involves a process. The process has four parts; opinion, conjecture, expectation ad then praise. Our opinion of God must be such that we will believe he can do what he said he would.
This opinion is based on conjecture. Although we tend to see this as a negative word, in the context of the Greek usage of doxa it is not. It means to form an opinion without sufficient evidence or proof. This is what faith does. We cannot prove in the natural that God will do what he says. We stand on his Word as the proof and then we see the result. Our opinion of God must be based on his Word not on evidence.
Finally we form our expectation of what God will do based on the opinion we form through our conjecture. That expectation becomes the cutting edge of our faith that brings us to possessing the promise. The last step in this process is the most important when it comes to releasing the ability of “giving glory to God” to strengthen our faith. We must praise God.
I want to state once more that we will never be successful in faith if we do not praise God. Throughout the Bible, we see the people of God win great victories when they choose to praise the Lord. Praise elevates our vision and our experience. There has been an emphasis in many charismatic circles on the power of worship. Worship is more intimate and, in some ways, could be seen as more spiritual than praise. In worship, we tend to sense the presence of God in a different way than we do in praise. However, we must never minimize the power of praise.
It is praise that produces victories. It is praise that strengthens and encourages our faith. This is because praise concentrates more on the ability of God while worship concentrates on the person of God. Both are important, but in a battle you need to reinforce what God can do, what he has done, and what he says he will do for you.
As we look at the process represented by the Greek word doxa, we find that the first three steps really lead to the last step praise. To give glory to God means to consider him more important and powerful than the problem. It means to have an opinion of his greatness that is beyond the physical evidence we have to prove that opinion. We then expect God to do what this opinion says he will do. However, in the end, if we will not express these things through praise we never really release them into our lives. We fail to reap the wonderful benefits that Abraham did when he gave glory to God.
What is praise? Everyone has an opinion. Does praise have to be loud? Can praise be just an inward expression? Is the essence of praise singing fast songs instead of slow songs? I believe praise works best when we are a little loud and when the music that accompanies our praise is full of energy, but to some degree, that is a preference. What we really need to know is what does the Bible say about praise and what does the New Testament in particular say.
Today’s scripture is a very pointed picture of praise. It defines praise in a number of ways. If we are going to give glory to God, we are going to have to do what Hebrews 13:15 calls praise. There may be a variety of ways to express it, but this is the New Testament definition of praise, which is the release point of giving glory to God.
First, let us consider that this verse says praise is the fruit of our lips. We have pointed out in this study that “death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Prov 18:21) There is no greater way to exercise this power than to use our tongue to praise the Lord. I believe that true praise must come out of our mouth. There is a certain power to meditating on God’s greatness, but to give glory to God in the way Romans 4 is talking about, we must let it come out of our mouths.
For some this is difficult. It is easy to let cursing come out of our mouths. It is easy to let complaining come out of our mouths. There are all kinds of things that easily flow from our lips, but often praise to God is not one of them. I find it interesting that there should be such resistance to this. Could it be that the devil knows the power of it? We need to be as bold to declare the greatness of God with our lips as the world is to curse with his name on their lips.
Praise is not just the fruit of our lips. It is the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name. If we are going to give glory to God and thereby strengthen our faith, we are going to have to put thankfulness on our lips. Praise can never be complaining. Praise always gives thanks. God has done many wonderful things in your life. If you cannot think of any right now, then remember this. If you are born again you will never see a day in hell. If you cannot think of anything else to be thankful for, start there.
We also see that praise needs to be continual. If we want to keep our faith strong, we need to cultivate a lifestyle of praise. Make a decision to practice releasing the good fruit of your lips daily. You do not have to be in church or even have music. Every now and then just open your mouth and declare, “Lord you are good and your mercy endures forever. There is no one like you, Lord. Thank you for all you have done in my life!” When you do that, you well find that strength is released into your life and your faith will be stronger for it.
Finally, we must understand that praise can be, and often is, a sacrifice. If you are feeling depressed or if you just do not feel victorious that is a good time to praise God. If you are not sure you have any faith, that is a good time to praise God. If you do not feel thankful, that is a good time to praise God. When we praise him if we do not want to or we do not feel it, that is the sacrifice of praise. It is the most powerful form of praise there is.
I have talked to many people who ask me, “If I sing and shout and dance when I don’t feel anything, doesn’t that make me a hypocrite?” My answer to them is, “No, it makes you a Christian!” Praise is not a matter of feelings. Praise is a matter of acknowledging the truth of who God is. God is almighty when you feel he is and when you do not. God loves you when you feel he does and when you do not. God is faithful to his promises even when we feel like nothing is happening. Praise is not about responding to a feeling, it is about declaring a truth. Feelings usually come later, but even if they do not, praise is valid and right.
I believe God wants you to possess the promises he died to give you. We are in the Christmas season. If I give a loved one a gift and they do nothing to possess that gift, I am hurt. God wants you to possess all that Jesus died to give you. The only way to do that is by faith. The only way to be successful in faith is to give glory to God. The only way to release the power of giving glory to God is to release praise to God. Read today’s scripture again and begin to put it in practice right now.