Ansell: The power of praise and drawing a picture of God


I taught on the power of praise yesterday (I’m writing this Monday morning).  Praising God is part of our worship.  Psalm 147:1 tells us, “Praise the Lord!  For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.”

Nicholas Herman was a French monk, and he served in the kitchen at his monastery.  He wrote a small book you might be familiar with under the name Brother Lawrence.  The book was titled, "The Practice of the Presence of God." When Brother Lawrence was lying on his deathbed he said, “I am not dying. I am just doing what I have been doing for the past 40 years and what I expect to be doing for all of eternity.” Those gathered around him asked, “What is that?” Brother Lawrence replied, “I am worshipping the God I love.”

Listen, can we talk?  If you don’t like church now, you are not going to like Heaven later.  I say that because Heaven is going to be like church, but after drinking too many cups of coffee or too many cans of Red Bull. Heaven is going to be worship and praise at hyper speed.

God says in Isaiah 43:21 that we were created to “declare” His “praise.”  We are here today, alive and breathing to “bless the Lord at all times (good and not so good);  His praise shall continually be in our mouths (Psalm 34:1).” This is what we do: God wants His church (Who is the church? The church is you and it’s me) to have a reputation of being joyful, hopeful and faithful. There is nothing about a gloomy, dull Christian that is attractive. In fact it’s a contradiction. Christians should be an excited people, always confident that God is working everything (everything means everything) out for their good (Romans 8:28), therefore adoration for the Lord should be in our hearts and on our minds and in our mouths rolling off of our tongues. Making “joyful noises” should be natural and a habit (Psalm 98:4).

There’s a story about a little boy that was drawing his picture and his dad asked him, “What are you drawing?” The boy said, “I’m drawing a picture of God.” The dad chuckled and shared that no one knows what God looks like; the boy replied, “They will when I’m finished.” That’s what praise does. It draws a picture of God. In Psalm 18, the psalmist is praising God and he is describing God, drawing a picture of God when he writes, “You light a lamp for me. The Lord, … lights up my darkness. In your strength I can crush armies, with … God I can leap over a wall.” That’s a picture of an omnipotent, empowering God who cares about His kids and He expresses His love and concern in very tangible ways.

In 1st Timothy 2:8, the Apostle Paul tells a young-middle aged pastor named Timothy that, “men in every place of worship should be found praying with hands lifted to God.”  This is the posture of praise, hands lifted up high. It’s not easy for some of us to be these demonstrative Christians. I’m a Baptist, and I’m an uptight conservative that is so far right that I have come back up on the left. I’m also a recovering Pharisee (legalists), so if I can do it, so can you. Go ahead, raise a hallelujah, shout hallelujah, sing praises to the Lord, give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love endures forever (Psalm 107:1)!  He told me to tell you that.