Revive Our Hearts Podcast

It is a Good Thing

Leslie Basham: You can’t truly worship God when your heart isn’t right before Him. Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Not all praise and worship is pleasing to God. There are records of at least five people in the Bible who lost their lives in the process of trying to worship God, or at least it looked like that’s what they were doing.

Leslie: It’s Monday, November 20th, and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Five people died. God obviously takes worship very seriously. I’m thankful for His mercy because I don’t always worship in the right way with the right heart. Nancy’s going to give us a biblical picture of worship all this week in a series called The Power and Practice of Praise.

Nancy: As we’re standing together in the Lord’s presence, let’s just join in greeting the Lord this morning with a psalm of praise. I’m going to say one line at a time. Let me ask you to just repeat after me that line, and let’s make this our psalm of praise to the Lord this morning.

It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord.

Audience: It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord.

Nancy: And to sing praises unto Your Name, O Most High.

Audience: And to sing praises unto Your Name, O Most High.

Nancy: Bless the LORD, O my soul,

Audience: Bless the LORD, O my soul,

Nancy: And all that is within me, bless His holy name!

Audience: And all that is within me, bless His holy name!

Nancy: Bless the LORD, O my soul,

Audience: Bless the LORD, O my soul,

Nancy: And forget not all His benefits:

Audience: And forget not all His benefits:

Nancy: Who forgives all your iniquities,

Audience: Who forgives all your iniquities,

Nancy: Who heals all your diseases,

Audience: Who heals all your diseases,

Nancy: Who redeems your life from destruction,

Audience: Who redeems your life from destruction,

Nancy: Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,

Audience: Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,

Nancy: The LORD is merciful and gracious,

Audience: The LORD is merciful and gracious,

Nancy: Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.

Audience: Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.

Nancy: He has not dealt with us according to our sins,

Audience: He has not dealt with us according to our sins,

Nancy: Nor punished us according to our iniquities.

Audience: Nor punished us according to our iniquities.

Nancy: (Aren’t you glad?) For as the heavens are high above the earth,

Audience: For as the heavens are high above the earth,

Nancy: So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him,

Audience: So great is His mercy toward those who fear Him,

Nancy: As far as the east is from the west,

Audience: As far as the east is from the west,

Nancy: So far has He removed our transgressions from us,

Audience: So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

Nancy: The LORD has established His throne in heaven,

Audience: The LORD has established His throne in heaven,

Nancy: And His kingdom rules over all.

Audience: And His kingdom rules over all.

Nancy: Bless the LORD, O my soul,

Audience: Bless the LORD, O my soul,

Nancy: And all that is within me, bless His holy name!

Audience: And all that is within me, bless His holy name! (Psalm 103:1-19, NKJV).

Nancy: Father, we do bow in Your presence this morning to bless You. You are great, O Lord, and greatly to be praised. We worship you. We bow our hearts before you. We give You praise and thanksgiving. We honor You. We magnify Your great and holy name. And I pray that in these moments, You would be teaching us how to be worshipers. Teach us how to praise You in a way that is worthy of You so that we truly may bless You with all that is within us. I pray in Jesus’ name with thanksgiving, amen.

The whole world looks different when we look at it through eyes of praise. In fact, I’m discovering that everything in my life takes on a different perspective when I see it through a thankful, grateful, praising heart. It’s praise that really has the power to transform what my circumstances look like.

Now, it may not change my circumstances, but it will change what they look like. I’m finding in my own life that learning to praise the Lord is a source of stability and sanity in the midst of just the normal, everyday stresses of life—the pressures, the problems. It may be financial loss, or as some shared with me this past week, the heartache of wayward children. It may be not having children—the heartache of barrenness. Or a situation in your marriage or in your workplace or in your church and it feels like it’s all falling apart. And it may be.

But when we start to see things through eyes of praise, it all looks different—takes on a different perspective—because we’re seeing it from God’s point of view, and we’re seeing that God is bigger and greater and more real than any circumstance we may be facing at that moment.

I believe that praise is one of the most important disciplines in the Christian life. It is a discipline. It’s a lot more than a feeling. It’s a lot more than an emotion. A lot more than something we do when we come to church for a few minutes. Praise is intended to be a lifestyle—a way of life.

Now, one of the reasons—and there are many that we’ll talk about—that praise is so important (and certainly not the least important) is that the command to praise the Lord is one of the most frequently repeated commands in all of God’s Word. I have a hunch it may also be one of the most frequently neglected or disobeyed commands.

God has been challenging me as I’ve been doing this study in recent weeks to evaluate my responses. When someone says, “How are you doing?” My typical response is, “Oh, I got so much going on. I’m so busy. I’m so pressured. I don’t have time to do everything I need to do.” As I’m starting to listen to myself, I’m realizing how often I’m casting the spotlight on myself or on my circumstances rather than casting the spotlight on the Lord and His greatness.

When we learn to praise the Lord, that’s really a key to experiencing the reality of God’s presence in our lives. We’re going to see that praise is one of our most powerful weapons against the Enemy, against Satan. Praise is the key to pleasing God, and we’ll see why that’s true as we get into this series.

Praise is really at the heart of why God made us. It’s at the heart of why we exist. We’re going to talk about worship and praise and thanksgiving. Let me just start with a couple of simple definitions. We’re going to think of praise as verbal or visible adoration of God. Now, we’ll expand this definition a lot in the days ahead, but for now just think of it as verbal or visible adoration of God. The emphasis in praising God is on who He is.

Now, thanksgiving flows out of praise. And thanksgiving is my expression of gratitude to God for what He has done, not just for who He is, but for what He has done. There’s a lot more to praise than what most of us may have realized. We’re going to explore and find out what does the Scripture have to say about what is praise. And why should we praise the Lord? What’s the purpose of praise? How can we prepare our hearts for praise?

Not all praise and worship is pleasing to God. In fact, the Scripture says that there is some praise and worship that God absolutely detests. There’s some worship that can be actually dangerous. Not true worship. But in the Scripture, there are records of at least five people in the Bible who lost their lives in the process of trying to worship God. Or at least it looked like that’s what they were doing. So we’re going to talk about the heart of praise—preparation for praise.

Then we’re going to talk about the practice of praise—some practical how-to’s. How do I develop a lifestyle of praise? Then I want us to talk about something that is a tough subject, but it’s so important. That is, how do we offer the sacrifice of praise? How do we praise God when our eyes are filled with tears? When it costs us something to praise Him?

Scripture teaches us that God loves praise and that God is actively looking for worshipers. That’s what Jesus said to the woman at the well in John, chapter 4. He said, “The Father is seeking for those who will worship Him in Spirit and in truth” (verse 23, paraphrased). So I’d like to ask you as we start this series, would you just say, “Lord, I want to be the kind of worshiper that you’re looking for”? Then would you do what I’ve been asking the Lord to do over these last days as I’ve been preparing for this series? I’ve been saying, “Lord, would you teach me how to praise You in a way that is worthy of You?”

I feel like I’ve just gone back to school, and I’m heading into kindergarten—just starting to understand more of what it means. Let me tell you, as you pray that prayer—“Lord, teach me how to praise You”—expect that God will give you opportunities to learn. Those may not all be easy opportunities. He may create some circumstances in your life that will test whether you’ve learned the material. I’ll share some of those tests that I’ve experienced as we get into this series.

Leslie: This series is called The Power and Practice of Praise. Nancy Leigh DeMoss isn’t finished and will be right back with the second half of today’s program. I hope you’ll be able to slow down this week as we think about giving thanks and truly praise and thank God for all that He’s provided.

If you’d like to learn how to do that better, you can order a copy of Nancy’s teaching on CD. Just visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

We also recommend a book by Ruth Myers called 31 Days of Praise. This is one of my favorite devotionals. It’ll take you through one devotional entry every day for one month, inspiring you to worship God no matter what’s going on in your life. It’s a great way to get into the habit of praising God. You can find out more about 31 Days of Praise at ReviveOurHearts.com, or call 1-800-569-5959.

If you’re at home or in your car, no one’s going to care if you talk out loud, so I hope you’ll participate as Nancy continues her teaching.

Nancy: We’re going to see that praise and worship are really our response to God’s revelation of who He is and what He has done. So I’m going to read several selected verses from the Psalms, and as I read each verse, I want to ask you to respond out loud with just this one phrase: “Praise the Lord, for He is good!” Let’s try it together.

Nancy and Audience: Praise the Lord, for He is good!

Nancy: Now, as I read each of these couplets from the Psalms, you respond, “Praise the Lord, for He is good!”

Praise the Lord. How good it is to sing praises to our God. How pleasant and fitting to praise Him.

Audience: Praise the Lord, for He is good!

Nancy: Great is our Lord and mighty in power. His understanding has no limit.

Nancy and Audience: Praise the Lord, for He is good!

Nancy: The Lord sustains the humble, but casts the wicked to the ground.

Nancy and Audience: Praise the Lord, for He is good!

Nancy: He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving.

Nancy and Audience: Praise the Lord, for He is good!

Nancy: He covers the sky with clouds; He supplies the earth with rain and makes grass grow on the hills.

Nancy and Audience: Praise the Lord, for He is good!

Nancy: He provides food for the cattle and for the young ravens when they call.

Nancy and Audience: Praise the Lord, for He is good!

Nancy: He heals up the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Nancy and Audience: Praise the Lord, for He is good!

Nancy: The Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love.

Nancy and Audience: Praise the Lord, for He is good!

Nancy: Praise the Lord from the heavens, praise Him in the heights above.

Nancy and Audience: Praise the Lord, for He is good!

Nancy: Praise Him all His angels, praise all His heavenly hosts.

Nancy and Audience: Praise the Lord, for He is good!

Nancy: Praise Him sun, moon, praise Him all you shining stars.

Nancy and Audience: Praise the Lord, for He is good!

Nancy: Praise the Lord kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers of the earth.

Nancy and Audience: Praise the Lord, for He is good!

Nancy: Praise Him, young men and maidens, old men and children.

Nancy and Audience: Praise the Lord, for He is good!

Nancy: Let them praise the name of the Lord, for His name alone is exalted.

Nancy and Audience: Praise the Lord, for He is good!

Nancy: His splendor is above the earth and the heavens. Praise the Lord.

Nancy and Audience: Praise the Lord, for He is good! (Psalms 147 and 148, NIV)

Nancy: Worship and praise. It’s my response, our response, to God’s revelation of Himself. That’s what we just did as we were quoting that Psalm together. I was reading something from the Psalms about what God is like, about His character, His name, His ways, His creation; and you were responding by saying with your lips, “Praise the Lord, for He is good!” In fact, let’s just say that again.

Nancy and Audience: Praise the Lord, for He is good!

Nancy: I hope that by the time this series is over, phrases like that one will be resounding, resonating, ringing through your heart and not just on your lips, but in your heart and in your life. Not just when we’re sitting in a room studying the Word of God together, but when you leave here and you get in a traffic jam, or somebody rear-ends your Suburban from behind you. I’m trusting that for all of us our response is going to be increasingly . . . say it with me.

Nancy and Audience: Praise the Lord, for He is good!

Nancy: God has revealed throughout the Scripture so much of His heart and His ways to us. Everything we learn about God, everything we learn about what He has done, about what He is like, gives us cause to say again . . .

Nancy and Audience: Praise the Lord, for He is good!

Nancy: In fact, you see this theme all the way through the Scripture. Think, for example, about that passage in the book of Exodus where the children of Israel who had been slaves in Egypt for 400 years . . . I mean, talk about coming to the place where you feel this is hopeless; this will never end—much as you may feel in your marriage. It may not be 400 years, but maybe it feels like it’s been 400 years. And you’re thinking, “This is hard.”

You may be crying out to the Lord as the children of Israel did in their distress; and in God’s providence, He heard their cries. He sent a Deliverer. He sent judgment on the Egyptians. Then He took the children of Israel out of Egypt, took them right to a dead end at the Red Sea and then God did the miracle. We’ve all seen the movie and heard the story and told the story. But I hope we never get over the wonder of what it is that God would have sent His power to send the children of Israel through the Red Sea, which is just a picture of what God has done in redeeming us from sin, from Satan. It’s a picture of salvation.

Well, as the children of Israel walked through on dry land and then looked back and saw those waters come crashing back and destroy and flood over the Egyptian army hot in pursuit of them, it was amazing. God had just revealed His redemptive power, His love, His mercy, His grace, His judgment. It was awesome! Now, that’s a word we ought to reserve for God because only God and His works are truly awesome. This was awesome!

So what did the children of Israel do? God had just revealed Himself in a spectacular way. Well, Exodus 14 tells the story of the deliverance through the Red Sea. Then we come to the first verse of Exodus, chapter 15, and what does it say? “Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD: ‘I will sing to the LORD, for he is highly exalted.’” (NIV).

I would like to sing this, but they tell me I shouldn’t sing on the radio, that I ought to keep that for the shower. But they sang this. I’m going to read it. They sang this song to the Lord. “I will sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted. The horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea. The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise Him, my father’s God, and I will exalt Him” (verses 1 and 2, NIV).

So what happened? God revealed Himself to His people. He revealed His power, His deliverance, His salvation, His character. And what did they do? Their hearts welled up in a response of praise. Say it with me.

Nancy and Audience: Praise the Lord, for He is good!

Nancy: They spoke it. They sang it. I think they probably shouted it. I mean, this was the most remarkable thing they had ever seen and they couldn’t help themselves but respond. All through the Scripture whenever God heals and redeems and rescues His people, you see them responding. Say it again.

Nancy and Audience: Praise the Lord, for He is good!

Nancy: Think about that passage in Acts, chapter 3, where the man who was crippled and a beggar was sitting outside the temple. The most he was hoping for from Peter and John as they came to worship that day and to pray at the temple—he was hoping maybe just for some spare change. But he got something a lot more than he was hoping for. He got healed! “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,” Peter said, “rise up and walk” (verse 6).

The Scripture says that when this man whose life was hopeless saw the power of God revealed in his behalf, he responded. What did he do? Verse 8 of chapter 3 of the book of Acts: He went “walking and jumping, and praising God” (NIV). I don’t know what he said because the Scripture doesn’t tell us, but he may have been saying . . .

Nancy and Audience: Praise the Lord, for He is good!

Nancy: I don’t think he was being shy or reserved. He was a man who just spontaneously out of a response to the greatness of God said . . .

Nancy and Audience: Praise the Lord, for He is good!

Nancy: Think about that passage in Luke, chapter 17, where Jesus revealed His grace and His power by healing ten desperate lepers. Their lives were hopeless, and let me say your life was hopeless until God reached down and saved you. Scripture says we were without God. We were without Christ. We were without hope in this world. We were condemned. We were under the judgment of God.

We were worse off than that leper. Those ten lepers came to Jesus; He healed them. Then the Scripture says that one of them, when he saw he was healed, came back praising God in a loud voice.

Now, I always get a little uncomfortable with those kinds of Scriptures because I’m not the kind of person who likes shouting. I don’t shout at ballgames. I’m just not . . . We were taught in my house you don’t shout unless there’s a fire. Well, there’s another time that it’s okay to shout, and that’s when you’re responding to God.

Over these days, we’re going to talk more about how to praise God and this is one of the ways: with a loud voice. This leper threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked Him. Jesus was moved by this response of praise. He said, “Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” (Luke 17:18). You see, the one who came back was a Samaritan. He was an outcast, a reject, but he was the one who realized what a great, great thing the Lord Jesus had done for him.

I wonder if Jesus doesn’t look around at us. We were in worse condition than those lepers because leprosy is only a physical, terminal condition. But sin had ravaged our lives in a way that would have cost us eternally. As Christ has redeemed us and healed us and restored us, I wonder if He doesn’t look down from heaven sometimes and say, “Is there only this one who has returned to give praise and thanks to God?” Are you in the “one” or are you in the “nine” who experience His healing and His grace and His mercy but you forget to respond?

O Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder,

Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made.

I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,

Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee.

How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

And when I think that God, His Son not sparing,

Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in.

That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing,

He bled and died to take away my sin.

Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee.

How great Thou art, how great Thou art!

Nancy: In light of who He is and what He has done, how adequately are you responding? Are you expressing your praise, your love, your gratitude to Him? Say it with me one more time.

Nancy and Audience: Praise the Lord, for He is good!

Nancy: Amen.

Leslie: Okay, the rest of day you’ll be saying, “Praise the Lord, for He is good.” Wouldn’t you rather have that stuck in your head than anything else? Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been telling us about the power and practice of praise.

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The whole world, all of creation praises the Lord. Find out how tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

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

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