1 Peter 2:9-10 Speaks to all Christians: You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
Beyond a doubt, this shows us what God has done to us and in us, and what is God’s expectation from us. Just think of this and let it sink in: God chooses us, He appoints us as royal priests, he sanctifies us as a holy nation, He redeems us through the blood of Jesus Christ as His own possession…
So that we may what? What does God expect? What’s our response to God’s grace and gifts? We declare His praises!
When and to whom does God expect us to declare God’s praises?
Praising God in prayer is where we begin, but not where we end. That’s what we want to consider today.
Did you notice in the reading of Ephesians 1:3-14 the repetition of the phrase, “to the praise if His glory?” Actually, praise to God doesn’t begin with what God has done for us or to us. Praises to God begin with recognition of God’s glory. God is glorious. Jesus Christ reveals God’s glory to us. John declared in John 1:14 The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory…
To praise God’s glory we first must behold God’s glory. This begins with believing in Jesus Christ. John 11:40, Jesus told Martha, “Did I not tell you, that if you believe you will see the glory of God?”
Praising God for His glory in prayer prepares us to proclaim His praises to others. Take a moment right now to bow with me and in silent prayer give praise to God for His glory. (Pause) Now let us all stand and turn to one another and complete this sentence: I praise God for He is…
It would be worth our time to take a year and read through the entire Bible focusing on the Glory of God and beholding His glory from creation in Genesis to the consummation in Revelation.
I think my prayers have been anemic as it concerns the praise of God’s glory. I know I am lacking there. Are you? God says my purpose is to declare the praises of Him who called me out of darkness into His marvelous light. And Ephesians is clear: God saved you and me that we might be to the praise of His glory.
In preparation for this lesson, I realized one sermon won’t cut it. Twenty-five minutes? Ha! Twenty-five years would not be enough! The riches and wonder of God’s glory can’t be fathomed! I’m ashamed to even enter upon such a holy matter without making it plain that God’s glory is beyond the scope of our grasp, yet He calls us into His presence and reveals to us that we are here to declare the praises of His glory! How does one declare what one does not know? We must freely admit we know in part, and see through a glass dimly! None of us can see the fullness of God’s glory and live to tell about it! Exodus 33:18-22, Moses wanted to, but God would not let him because the intensity would kill him. Yet what Moses saw caused Moses’ face to shine with a radiance that scared the Israelites. Moses would put a veil over his own face until the glory faded.
Throughout the history of Israel we see that God’s glory was revealed from time to time, and generally, they were terrified when it happened. Now, you’d think that after seeing the power of God as He revealed His glory in judgments against Egypt, and in rescuing them by opening up the Red Sea, leading them through it, and then drowning the Egyptian army in it… Then at Mount Sinai, God’s glory appeared to them in the cloud upon the mountain and God actually spoke the Ten Commandments to them, terrifying them so much that they begged Moses to have God speak to him and bring them God’s instructions or else, as they said, “We will die!”
You’d think that such revealing of the glory of God would totally, overwhelmingly change the hearts of these children of Israel and they would ever after be declaring the praises of God’s glory till they died. You’d think that, but you’d be wrong.
The glory of God does two things to people: for those who believe and seek Him, it draws us to Him and we can’t help but declare it. The Bible was written by such people. The praise of God’s glory begins in us when we become aware of God. We learn of who God is and what God has done. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Awareness leads some to faith in God. Faith moves us to seek God, to fear God, to love God and to obey Him. We grow closer to God and recognize His glory! Then comes prayers of praise to God for His glory which leads to declaring the praises of His glory to others. It’s part of our relationship with God. We declare the praises of His glory to Him, to one another, and to those around us until the whole earth is filled with the praise of His glory! Ultimately, God calls us to share in His glory! This is His reward to all who live under His will and declare His glory in this world.
But, for those who resist Him, the glory of God turns them off. They would rather glory in their shame or declare the praises of lessor things, even sinful things. Paul describes them in his letters as those who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Or those who exchange the glory of God who created all things for that which God created. They glory in this world’s things. They rejoice, not in God, but in anything else but God. Some even have a form of godliness, but they deny its power. Religion that is not to the praise of God’s glory is worthless… not worse, it is deceiving and demonic, leading people to think they know God, but in fact, they do not. Jesus will say to them, “Depart from me, I never knew you, you workers of lawlessness.”
While on earth we are allowed to choose to praise God and His glory or not. But when the glory of God appears on the last day, there will be no choice. Every knee will bow, every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord TO THE GLORY OF GOD THE FATHER! It will be supreme joy and fullness for those who chose Him in this life. In fact, we will all be transformed into His likeness and share in His glory forever! It will be ultimate horror, terror and shame for those who resisted Him in this life. In fact, these will all be cast out into eternal darkness, shut out from the presence of His glorious majesty, condemned to everlasting punishment.
So let me sum up:
Christian praise starts with God the Father of Jesus Christ. Praise doesn’t start with us or how things are going for us. Praise to God doesn’t begin with my circumstances, it begins with my awareness of His glory. That’s so important!
God is God. He is glorious. He is good. He is almighty. He is wise. He is Creator of all. He is over all. He is eternal, gracious and merciful, generous and compassionate. He is holy and just, righteous and true. God is judge of all. God is…
When we turn our attention away from ourselves and this world to God, all begins to be swallowed up in praise of His glory. All that seems so important to us, whether pleasant of painful here, fades into the background of His radiant glory.
Here we are in a sinful world where we can turn our thoughts and minds away from Him, even forget Him, and wallow in our own indulgences or miseries. Here we can walk in the darkness of evil and blame God for it. But, when He appears… When the glory of God is revealed in fullness of His presence and the splendor of His coming, what will occur?
Every knee will bow, every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the GLORY of God the Father! Nothing else will be able to come to mind. All who seek Him now will rejoice and receive the eternal inheritance of sharing His glory forever!
All who resist Him and reject His saving gospel here, will, in ultimate horror, be shut out from His glorious presence forever, and punished with the devil and his angels.
Praise is a crucial Christian expression here and now to shine the glory of God in this dark world. Let us join in the chorus of praise!