Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Praise In Tragedy

2017 was the year of Prayer at The Church of Divine Guidance (CDG).  This year our pastor wants to continue the emphasis on prayer to add prayer our praise. Our Bible Studies and most of our Sermons will have an emphasis on praise this year as it enhances our prayer life.   These are my notes for the Tuesday Night Bible Study May 1st.  In the study I talk about how we can praise God in the midst of tragedy.

James 1:2 (NKJV)2  My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,

The Year In Review

I want to start by reviewing just a few of the things that we’ve learned this year about praise. 

The definition of praise is

      to express warm approval or admiration
      the expression of approval or admiration for someone or something
Although we praise men and when done right there's nothing wrong with praising a person for a job well done but we must be careful that our praise doesn't put that person on a petistle. When we do that we are in danger of making that person an idol, and the scriptures say that we are not to have any god before Him.   making the object of our praise an idol, but we must be careful that our praise doesn't put that person on a petistle. When we do that we are in danger of making that person an idol.
Deuteronomy 5:7 (NIV) “You shall have no other gods before me.
The primary object of the Christian’s praise is God
A definition of Christian praise is the joyful thanking and adoring of God, the celebration of His goodness and grace.

From the Holman Bible Dictionary

Praise comes from a Latin word meaning “value” or “price.” so to give praise to God is to proclaim His merit or worth.

Many terms are used to express this in the Bible, including “glory,” “blessing,” “thanksgiving,” and “hallelujah,”

The Bible tells us that all things praise God;

Starting with the angels;

Revelation 5:11-13 (NKJV)11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands,12 saying with a loud voice: "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!"13 And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: "Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!"

Psalm 19:1 (NKJV)1 The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.,

Isaiah 55:12 (NKJV)12 "For you shall go out with joy, And be led out with peace; The mountains and the hills Shall break forth into singing before you, And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Luke 19:40 (NKJV)40 But He answered and said to them, "I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out."

Psalm 148:10-13 (NKJV)10 Beasts and all cattle; Creeping things and flying fowl;11 Kings of the earth and all peoples; Princes and all judges of the earth;12 Both young men and maidens; Old men and children.13 Let them praise the name of the LORD, For His name alone is exalted; His glory is above the earth and heaven.

And to really emphasize that man the crowning jewel of creation is to praise Him;

Praise the Lord . Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens.  Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness.  Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre,  praise him with timbrel and dancing, praise him with the strings and pipe,  praise him with the clash of cymbals, praise him with resounding cymbals.  Let everything that has breath praise the Lord . Praise the Lord .
Psalm 150:1-6 NIV

We’ve learned that praising God is not a feeling. Praise is conscious admiration and thanks for who God is and what He does. It is an act of the will to praise Him by thoughtfully celebrating His goodness, His greatness, His majesty, His love, His grace, His mighty deeds on our behalf.

We praise God because;

● He’s worthy

Revelation 4:11 (NKJV)11 "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."

● He’s full of glory

Psalm 138:5 (NKJV)5 Yes, they shall sing of the ways of the LORD, For great is the glory of the LORD.
      He is great
Psalm 145:3 (NKJV)3 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; And His greatness is unsearchable.

● He’s wise and powerful

Daniel 2:20 (NKJV) Daniel answered and said: "Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, For wisdom and might are His.

● He’s good

Psalm 107:8 (NKJV)8 Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!

● He’s merciful and faithful

Psalm 89:1 (NKJV)1 I will sing of the mercies of the LORD forever; With my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations.

● He saves

Psalm 18:46 (NKJV)46 The LORD lives! Blessed be my Rock! Let the God of my salvation be exalted.

      He provides
Psalm 136:25 (NKJV) Who gives food to all flesh, For His mercy endures forever.

● He keeps His promises

2 Corinthians 1:20 (NKJV)20 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us.

● He pardons sin

Psalm 103:1-3 (NKJV)1 Bless the LORD, O my soul; And all that is within me, bless His holy name!2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, And forget not all His benefits:3 Who forgives all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases,

The reasons to praise God are limitless

To try to list all reasons to praise God is impossible,let’s just say we should praise God because of who He is and what He’s done.

Praise Is What Happens Before

I've said this a lot but it bears repeating praise is not what happens afterwards it’s what happens before.

Remember the Paul and Silas?

Acts 16:25-26 (NKJV)25  But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.26  Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed.

Or Jehoshaphat

2 Chronicles 20:21-22 (NKJV)21  And when he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who should sing to the LORD, and who should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army and were saying: "Praise the LORD, For His mercy endures forever."22  Now when they began to sing and to praise, the LORD set ambushes against the people of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated. 


• Praising God is more than merely using superficial catch phrases.  When we understand who God is and what he does, our praise vocabulary grows and becomes descriptive.

• We praise God because we have complete confidence in Him because He never changes.

• Biblical praise engages our minds, bodies, and our heart.

• Praising God enables us to see life from his perspective because it takes the focus off us.

With that as background, last Sunday Mikey started his message with

James 1:2 (NKJV)2  My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,

In his sermon he talked to us about changing our perspective when facing trials from worry, anxiety, and stress to one of praise. As it says in James we are to count it joy when we face various trials.   That doesn’t mean we are to be happy with the trial but we are to look beyond the trial and to what happens after we have endured. Just look at the next several verses:

James 1:3-4 (NKJV)3  knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.4  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Praise is what we usually do after we’ve been delivered from something or we’ve been healed, or God has gotten us out of a tough spot, and we should do that, but like I said before, and I'm really convinced  that  rea! praise is really something that we do before we’re out of the woods. 

We praise God in anticipation because we know from the experiences of those in the Bible, experiences of our friends and family membera, and our own experiences that God has our backs and the scripture at Romans 8:28 is true.

.29  For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.30  Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

So like Paul said in

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV)16  Rejoice always,17  pray without ceasing,18  in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

We are to have an attitude of joy, thanksgiving and prayer at all times, no matter the conditions or circumstances that surround us.

We Can Even Praise In Tragedy

How is it possible to rejoice, pray, and give thanks in the wake of a natural disaster, a terminal illness, sudden tragic death of a loved one, terrorist attacks  It’s personal because individuals are the ones affected.  Individuals die, individuals are wounded, individuals are affected physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  Families, made up of individuals, are impacted forever.

It’s easy to say, rejoice, pray and give thanks when we’re in church, surrounded by other Christians,  or talking to our Christian friends.  It’s easy for us, who are not going through tragic events, to say

Philippians 4:4 (NKJV)  Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!

But when we are the ones affected by tragedy how is it possible to praise God?

It’s easy for us to say everything works together for good when we aren’t under extreme stress, grief, or sorrow.  We may even start to question whether God loves us at all even though we say that we love Him. 

Obviously this doesn’t mean that we are to thank God for bad things and tragedies.  We don’t thank Him for accidents, sickness, and other tragic events, because He didn’t do or send them.  God is not the author of evil.   The author of evil is the devil, and the fact that we live in a fallen world things happen.   Scripture tells us that the whole creation is in a mess because of Adam and Eve's disobedience.

Genesis 3:17-19 (NKJV)17  Then to Adam He said, "Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat of it': "Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life.18  Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field.19  In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return."

Romans 8:18-22 (NKJV)18  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.19  For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God.20  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope;21  because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.22  For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.

It’s interesting that Romans 8:28 is just a few verses later. 

Romans 8:28 (NKJV)28  And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose

It’s actually an insult to God to thank Him for things He didn’t do.

It’s interesting that that this is just a few verses after it says we should count it all joy when we face trials.

James 1:13-18 NIV When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.  Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.

Satan is good taking tragedy, which he causes by the way, and blaming it on God.  If he can get people to believe the tragedy is from God he has an easy time in convincing them that God has failed and deserted them  That’s when we hear things like “Why do you serve a God who does or allows these kinds of things”.  Satan’s target is your mind and in destroying our faith in God.

What the scriptures about thanking and praising God at all times mean is that we are to stay joyful no matter what’s happening because we have the Lord, and in Him we overcome no matter what.

 Deuteronomy 31:6 (NKJV)6  Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you."

John 16:33 (NKJV)33  These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

Nehemiah 8:9-10 (NKJV)9  And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, "This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn nor weep." For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law.10  Then he said to them, "Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our LORD. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."

I said we are to remain joyful no matter what, not happy no matter what.  There’s a difference between joy and happiness. defines joy as "the emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation."

With this definition, we could say that "happiness" and "joy" are interchangeable. But that’s not biblical joy.

Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a Jesuit biologist and philosopher, once wrote, “Joy is the infallible sign of the presence of God.”

Tragedies don’t feel like they should be occasions for being joyful or happy.  Here’s the difference between happiness and biblical joy or the joy of the Lord.

Happiness is usually dependent on circumstances. If everything is going well I'm happy. If not, not so much.

Our joy should rise above circumstances.   This joy is not produced by something external that makes me feel happy. It is supernatural result of a life filled with the Holy Spirit of the living God.

Galatians 5:22-26 (HCSB)22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith,23  gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.24  Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.25  Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit.26  We must not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

James 1:2-3 (NKJV)2  My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,3  knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.


Praise is an act of the will. Creation has no choice but to praise God but we as humans do have a choice  We can choose to live in an attitude of resentment, anger and fear or we can choose rejoice even in tragedy.

We often talk about

 Philippians 4:4-6 NIV Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

God also gives us a joy that is impossible to describe.

1 Peter 1:6-9 (NKJV).6  In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials,7  that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,8  whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,9  receiving the end of your faith--the salvation of your souls.

Joy  which is better experienced than expressed because there are no words to describe it.   It is a joy on account of the glory of God, which the believer lives in the hope and faith of; and by it saints may know a little what heaven itself will be.  - Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

Christian joy is not dampened by affliction or other harsh circumstances, because it is rooted in our relationship to God. 

Psalm 34:1-4 (NKJV)1  I will bless the LORD at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.2  My soul shall make its boast in the LORD; The humble shall hear of it and be glad.3  Oh, magnify the LORD with me, And let us exalt His name together.4  I sought the LORD, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears.

 We are to bless God at all times, not just when things go smoothly. We are to bless Him when things go wrong, too. We are to boast in the Lord even when all looks bleak. Our prayer should be similar to David's or one like this, "Father, I love and appreciate You. I know You are going to bring the answer I need because You are a good God, and You care for me. I trust You, Lord, no matter what I see with my natural eyes. I am looking through the eyes of faith, and I believe You are sending my answer. I love You, Lord, no matter what happens." When we keep this attitude of praise in the midst of our trials, we come through victoriously”

None of these things are possible if you are trying to do it on your own.  The only way to rejoice, pray, and give thanks amidst tragedy is with the help of God’s Spirit, The Holy Spirit.

John 14:15-18 (NKJV)15  "If you love Me, keep My commandments.16  And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever--17  the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.18  I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.

 John 14:25-27 (NKJV)25  "These things I have spoken to you while being present with you.26  But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.27  Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
I don't mean that all your problems go away when you give thanks, but  they stop being such a problem. What goes on around you no longer controls what’s going on within you.  You start to live from the inside out.  Thanksgiving changes our mindset from that of a victim to that of a victor.
You can't control the problems that come into your life but you can control how you respond.
Romans 8:31-39 (NKJV)31  What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?32  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?33  Who shall bring a charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies.34  Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.35  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?36  As it is written: "For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter."37  Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.38  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,39  nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
A friend sent me this a couple of years ago;

Imagine the God of the universe speaking these words to you… ;

Thankfulness takes the sting out of adversity. That is why I have instructed you to give thanks for everything. There is an element of mystery in this transaction: You give Me thanks (regardless of your feelings), and I give you Joy (regardless of your circumstances). This is a spiritual act of obedience—at times, blind obedience. To people who don’t know Me intimately, it can seem irrational and even impossible to thank Me for heartrending hardships. Nonetheless, those who obey Me in this way are invariably blessed, even though difficulties may remain.

Thankfulness opens your heart to My Presence and your mind to My thoughts. You may still be in the same place, with the same set of circumstances, but it is as if a light has been switched on, enabling you to see from My perspective. It is this Light of My Presence that removes the sting from adversity.

Ephesians 5:20 (NKJV) giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Yes, with the Holy Spirit who lives within us we can praise God even in tragedy.
One final point. Our praise in all things must be real and not fake.
While the Bible contains frequent injunctions for people to praise God, there are also occasional warnings about the quality of this praise. Praise is to originate in the heart and not become mere outward show.

Matthew 15:8-9 (NKJV)8  'These people draw near to Me with their mouth, And honor Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me.9  And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.' "

Jesus confronted the religious leaders of his day for appearing to do all the right things but inwardly neglecting to show justice and mercy. He called them “hypocrites” and “blind guides”

Matthew 23:23-24 NIV “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.  You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

Remember what I said earlier ;

Praising God is more than merely using superficial catch phrases. We need to expand our praise vocabulary.

True worship is your response to how great you know God to be. We should worship Him with everything we have, everything we are, and everything we do.

When we worship in spirit and truth we do what Paul urges us to do in;
Romans 12:1 (NLT)1  And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.

Because God sent His Son, Jesus, to die for you—because God loves you so much—because God has done great things in our lives—our only natural response to all of that should be the sacrifice of our whole lives.  Our worship in spirit and truth.

Your faith in God is enhanced with praise.  Praise affects you, and it affects God.

Psalm 22:3 (KJV)3  But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.

Praise touches everything and every part of your life. A lack of praise affects you in a negative way because remember praise takes the focus off you and places it on God.  Lives that are not constant with praise and thanksgiving are not spiritually healthy.

Praise is not the thing that comes when everything's going right in our lives; it is the driving force of our lives. When we start praising God in the middle of our problems, our problems become so small that we hardly remember them at all, they become an afterthought in the wake of our praise. Always remember,

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NKJV)16 Rejoice always,17 pray without ceasing,18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

I'll end with something else that I always say; When you live a life of praise it’s who you are and what you do.

Bible Study Audio

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