Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Dress Rehearsal for Heaven

Leslie Basham: Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: We all worship or praise something or someone. We’re made to worship. We can’t help ourselves. The question is, who or what do we worship? The fact is, most of us worship ourselves.

Leslie: It’s Tuesday, November 21st, and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Worshiping is happening all around you, whether you notice it or not. Every color in the sky, the song of each bird, the fragrance of the flowers—all of creation gives glory to God. Why wouldn’t you want to join in?

Here’s Nancy to tell us more about the worshiping happening all around us in a series called, The Power and Practice of Praise.

Nancy: We’re talking this week about one of the most frequently repeated commands in all of God’s Word. It’s the command to praise the Lord.

I want us to see that praise is not just intended to be something we do for a 12-minute music package when we come to church on Sunday morning. Praise is intended to be a lifestyle, a way of life, 24/7, learning to praise the Lord in every circumstance and situation of life.

We’ve been talking about some of the reasons that we should praise the Lord. One of the most obvious ones is that God commands us to praise Him. So if there were no other reasons, that would be enough. He says, “Praise Me.” God is glorified by our praise.

He said, “Whoever offers praise glorifies Me” (Psalm 50:23, NKJV). We saw that God is seeking worshipers. God is out today looking for worshipers. Will He find you as He’s looking throughout the earth, looking for those who praise and worship Him?

Today I want to give us a couple of other reasons to praise the Lord, and I hope through this we’ll come to understand that praise needs to be a top priority in our lives.

Let me just add, by the way, I think it’s not something that comes naturally. It’s something we need to learn to do. It’s something we need to be reminded to do. It’s something we need to practice. We need to be reminded of the priority of praise.

One of the important reasons to praise the Lord is that all the rest of creation praises the Lord. There are some remarkable verses throughout the Scripture, and I’m just going to pick out several here that talk about created beings praising the Lord.

For example, Job 38:7 is talking about the moment when God created the heavens and the earth. What was going on at that moment? Well, there’s a lot we don’t know, but there’s something we do know.

Verse 7 of Job 38 says, “The morning stars sang together” (NKJV). The stars sang. How did they sing? What did they sound like? Could you hear them?

Well, God heard them. They sang together. It was a choir of stars that sang together at the creation. And not only did the stars sing together; the passage goes on to say, “and all the angels shouted for joy.”

It was good, and they were responding to God’s revelation of His power. Remember, we said that praise and worship are my response to the revelation of who God is. God reveals Himself. He shows His creative hand in power, and when God created the heavens and the earth, the stars and the angels joined together in singing praise to God. Shouting for joy!

Psalm 148 is a wonderful passage that talks about creation praising the Lord. Let me just read some of those verses:

Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise him in the heights above. Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his heavenly hosts. Praise him, sun and moon, praise him, all you shining stars. . . . Let them praise the name of the Lord . . . Praise the Lord from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, lightning and hail, snow and clouds . . .

Did you ever stop to think, when that snow is falling and is covering the earth, that what it’s doing is praising the Lord? Nature is praising the Lord. It says,

You mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds, kings of the earth and all nations,
you princes and all rulers on earth, young men and maidens, old men and children. . . .

What’s he saying? Creation is praising the Lord. Does it seem right that the trees and the hills and the mountains and, as other passages say, the valleys and the pastures and the heavens and the earth and the seas and all that is in them should praise the Lord, and we, the objects of His love and His redemption should be silent? Does that make sense?

The Scriptures say that angels praise God, but there’s something that they can’t praise God for by their own experience. They look at us and they marvel at what it is to be redeemed. They’ve never experienced that. So we have something we can praise God for that the hills and mountains and trees and animals and birds and even angels can’t thank God for—the redemption love and grace and mercy of God.

We praise God not only because we’re joining in with others in creation when we praise Him, but we praise Him because praise is the primary eternal occupation of heaven.

That’s what they do all the time in heaven. So when Jesus prayed, “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10), that’s part of what He must have meant.

We get a glimpse of this worship going on in heaven in Revelation, chapters 4 and 5. You may want to turn there in your Bible.

Revelation, chapter 4, you remember the apostle John was given a vision of the throne room of heaven, and God, who was seated on that throne, and the Lamb of God, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, who sits at His right side; and John paints the picture of what he saw in that remarkable vision.

He says in verse 6 of Revelation 4, “In the center, around the throne, were four living creatures.” Verse 8, “Each of the four living creatures had six wings and was covered with eyes all around, even under his wings. Day and night they never stop saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.’”

He is the only eternal, permanent, enduring fixture in the universe, so day and night they worship Him.

And then in the next chapter, Revelation 5:11-12, John said,

“Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels,” not just the four living creatures, but many angels, “numbering thousands upon thousands.” That’s a lot of angels who all day, all night, while we were sleeping last night, while we were complaining today, what are they doing? They’re worshiping.

Thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they sang, "Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”

And not just the four living creatures, and not just the hundred million angels, but now we see the expanded chorus, and look who’s in it. Verses 13-14,

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, [you hear the crescendo here, everyone joining in] and all that is in them singing, "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!“ The four living creatures said, "Amen," and the elders fell down and worshiped.

Oh that with yonder sacred throng,                                                          
We at His feet may fall!                                                            
We’ll join the everlasting song,                                                            
And crown Him Lord of all.

When we praise the Lord down here on earth, we’re joining in a great, enormous, eternal chorus that consists of angels and living creatures and saints and citizens of heaven, those who’ve gone before us.

My dad is there this morning. My brother David. Those that you’ve known and loved who died in Christ, they’re singing with that chorus this morning. So as we sing, you listen with faith, you can hear, we’re joining in.

Now, our voices are cracked and feeble by comparison, but what a privilege to join in with that angel choir! And in that sense we think that all of the years that we spend down here on earth are really just a dress rehearsal, a practice for what we will spend an eternity doing in heaven.

So here’s the question. How’s the dress rehearsal going? How much practice are you getting now in preparation for that eternal concert of praise in heaven?

Leslie: If you think about where you’re headed, it will make you a lot more likely to praise the Lord even if you’re facing a pile of problems today. Nancy Leigh DeMoss will be right back with the second half of our program.

Today’s message is part of series called The Power and Practice of Praise. The CD of this series could help you focus on where you’re headed and what you’re going to do in eternity. It would be perfect for days when the pile of problems seems to keep growing.

You can order a copy of The Power and Practice of Praise at ReviveOurHearts.com. When you order, we’ll also include a set of Christmas cards written by Nancy. Now let’s get back to the topic of praise.

Nancy: There’s a precious story told about President Abraham Lincoln. You can imagine that, as the president, he had an incredibly busy schedule. But one day, the story is told: A little old woman came to his office and asked to see him, and though he didn’t know why she had come, he graciously agreed that he would see her.

When she stepped into his office, he introduced himself and said, “What can I do for you?”

She said, “Oh, I didn’t come to ask you to do anything for me.” She had heard that there was a special kind of cookie that President Lincoln really liked, and she had made him some of these cookies and brought them to his office.

Now, you couldn’t do that today with the president, but back then you could/ And the story is told that with tears in his eyes, President Lincoln looked at that woman and said, “You are the very first person who’s ever come into my office not asking or wanting anything from me, but bringing me a gift. I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.”2

As I think of how moved a president was at the thought that someone would come to him, not wanting to get anything but just wanting to give and to express appreciation to him, and how much that meant to him, my heart goes to our heavenly King and President and Lord.

I wonder sometimes if God doesn’t feel, “You know, those people down there spend a lot of time coming into My office and asking Me for things.”

Now, God wants us to come into His office and ask Him for things, and that’s a big part of what prayer is all about. He tells us, “Come, bring your requests before Me.” There’s nothing wrong with that.

But I wonder sometimes if God isn’t longing for us to come and say, “I don’t want to ask for anything. I don’t want You to do anything for me. I just want to give something to You. I want to bring You a gift. I made something for You.”

Now, those homemade cookies that little lady made probably were nothing compared to what the chefs of . . . I don’t know, it wasn’t the White House then . . . whatever it was where the president lived; I’m sure he could have had fancier meals.

Sometimes when we bring our praise to the Lord . . . I don’t know about you, but I feel, this is kind of like my little homemade cookies. It’s not much, but God says, “I love it.”

God loves our praise. He loves it when we bring Him our worship. As much as you love it when your little child comes to you with a handful of crumpled dandelions, that you know are really weeds . . . but that child reaches out and gives those to you, and says, “I picked these for you, Mama.” You love it. Even though to us it may look like just a handful of crumpled dandelions or a tin of cookies, God says, “Whoever offers praise glorifies Me” (Psalm 50:23, NKJV).

In fact, the Psalmist says, “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify Him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs” (Psalm 69:30-31, ESV).

What’s he saying? More than any other gift I could bring to the Lord, it will please Him if I bring Him my song and my thanksgiving. You see, the Lord is supremely worthy of our worship and our praise.

Let me say, by the way, we’re all worshipers. We all worship or praise something or someone. We’re made to worship. We can’t help ourselves. The question is, who or what do we worship?

The fact is, most of us worship ourselves. We worship things. We worship this earth. We worship our own hopes and desires and our families and our houses and our time and our reputation. Those are the things that are precious to us.

But true worship is coming to see the incredible value and worth of Christ as surpassing anything else that might have meaning to me.

That’s why the psalmist said in Psalm 73:25, “Lord, who do I have in heaven besides You? And on earth there is nothing, there is no one I desire more than You”  (paraphrased).

Lord, You are more precious than silver.
Lord, You are more costly than gold.
Lord, You are more beautiful than diamonds,
and nothing [nothing, nothing that] I desire compares with You.3
 

The Psalmist said, “ I will call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised” (Psalm 18:3, NKJV).

“Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion” (Psalm 65:1, ESV).

It’s what we owe to Him. He’s worthy of our praise and our worship. And that’s what the angels said in Revelation, chapter 4, in John’s vision:

“You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created” (Revelation 4:11, NKJV).

He created us. He owns us. If we are His children, He’s bought us. He’s purchased us to be His own.

We owe Him all our praise. So, for the next few moments, I’d like us to just tell God how worthy He is and what it is that we love and admire and appreciate in Him.

As I was working on this session, I started to make a list of the reasons that He is worthy of our praise. I was going to read that list to you, but then I thought, why should we just talk about how worthy He is? Why don’t we just stop and tell Him?

So let’s bow our hearts before Him, and I’m going to worship and praise and express to the Lord some of the reasons that He is worthy. I’d like to invite you to join in your heart, and I’ll read these slowly; as I’m praying these things, don’t just be a spectator, but be a participant, and in your heart say, “Yes, Lord. I worship and I praise You for this reason.”

So Lord, we come into Your presence to praise You. We praise You for Your name. Lord, it’s great and highly exalted. Your name is wonderful. There is no one like You in heaven or on earth. We praise You for Your name, for all Your many names tell us about who You are and what You have done. They tell us that You’re a Wonderful Counselor, that You’re the Mighty God; You’re the Prince of Peace; You’re the Everlasting Father.

Lord, we praise You for Your holy and righteous character. We praise You for Your greatness. The Scripture says Your greatness is unsearchable. If we would spend all our lives trying to explore and fathom how great You are, we could just barely scratch the surface.

Lord, You are good. Your Word says You are good, and everything You do is good. So even when it doesn’t feel like what’s happening to us is good, we praise You that You are still good, and You’re the God who pours out good gifts upon Your children. In fact, we know that every good and perfect gift is from above and it comes down from You. So we thank You for lavishing us with your goodness.

Lord, You’re a God of grace. Your Word says You have abundant grace and abounding mercy. You don’t deal with us as our sins deserve, but You have mercy upon us, and You’ve given to us the riches of Christ. You’ve taken our sin upon Yourself, and instead You have given us that great exchange of Your grace that gives us the desire and the power to obey You. Your grace is so rich to us through Jesus Christ, and we thank You for it.

Lord, how we thank You for Your faithfulness. You never change. You never fail. You’re always the same. Morning by morning we see new evidences of Your faithfulness.

Lord, we confess that it’s not our faithfulness that keeps us clinging to You, but it’s Your faithfulness that keeps clinging to us. When we feel we cannot hold on one more moment, we’re assured that You will hold on to us. You are faithful, and we worship You.

Lord, we worship You because You are holy and righteous and pure through and through, O Lord. You are holy, and we worship you.

Lord, You’re also too loving to let us stay the way we are; but in Your love and Your mercy and Your wisdom, You’re changing us and conforming us to the image of Jesus Christ.

Lord, how we thank You for Your wondrous works, for Your creation, for Your redemption, for the forgiveness that is ours through the blood of Christ.

Thank You for Your promises. They are always true. You always keep Your word. Thank You for Your provision, for meeting all of our needs, not only in the past, but the promises that You will meet all of our needs, forever.

Lord, we thank You for Your counsel. I will bless the Lord who gives me counsel.

We thank You for Your judgments, for Your Word says they are true and righteous altogether.

Lord, how I praise You and worship You for the hope that is ours. We live in a fallen, messed up, mixed up world. We feel so the ravages of sin around us, and we live in tough relationships. We face challenging circumstances for which it seems there are no solutions. Yet Your Word says You will perfect that which concerns us.

So Lord, we have hope. We have hope of heaven, hope of eternal life, hope of eternity spent in Your presence, where forever we will join with the saints, the citizens, the angels of heaven, saying blessing and honor, glory and power, riches and wisdom and strength be unto You who sit at the right hand of God. We praise and worship You, O Lord!

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been focusing your heart on God’s incredible character. It’s the kind of worship you can experience every day, and I hope you are learning to become more of a worshiper during our current series called The Power and Practice of Praise.

We recommend another resource that will help you learn to worship God more fully. It’s the book 31 Days of Praise by Ruth Myers. It leads you in a daily devotional and points you toward God’s goodness even in the midst of tough circumstances. Learn to make praise a daily part of your life. Find out how to order 31 Days of Praise at our website. You can also call 800-569-5959.

Have you ever felt spiritually dry? You know, praise is the cure during times like that, and we’ll find out why tomorrow.

Now, let’s join Nancy for a final thought.

Nancy: The year was 1800. The citizens of the little town of Feldkirch, Austria, right on the Austrian border, were in a terrible dilemma. They didn’t know what to do. You see, Napoleon’s massive army was preparing to attack their little town, so a group of leading citizens of the town hastily called a meeting to decide what they should do.

It happened to be that they were meeting on Easter Sunday, and the people had gathered in the little church. The pastor rose and said, “Friends, we’ve been counting on our own strength, and apparently that has failed. As this is the day of our Lord’s resurrection, let’s just ring the bells, have our service as usual, and leave the matter in His hands.” So the council accepted his plan, and the church bells began to ring in preparation for the recognition for the Lord’s Resurrection Day.

Well, when the enemy troops of Napoleon heard the sudden peal of bells, they concluded that the Austrian army had arrived during the night to defend the town, so before the service ended, the enemies broke camp and left.4

The battle was averted because the people rang the bells and carried on with their service of praise and worship. What a picture this is of what is often the way of God as we begin to cry out to Him in praise and worship, even sometimes when we’re hopelessly outnumbered or surrounded, when the enemy’s coming up against us. This happens in many different ways, and we feel that all is lost, there’s no way out.

We decide to praise the Lord anyway, to acknowledge His goodness and His reign and His rule and to lift up praise to Him, and we see that the enemy is threatened by our praise. Often he’ll just leave off his attack, much like what happened to the citizens in the Austrian village.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

Unless otherwise marked, Scripture quotations are from the New International Version of the Bible. Verses marked NKJV are from the New King James Version of the Bible. Verses marked ESV are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.

1“All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name.” Edward Perronet.

2Our Daily Bread, June 4, 1997.

3“More Precious Than Silver.” author unverified.

4Source unknown.

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