We want to look at a key that God has given us in His Word, through which we can break through many prison doors. It is the key of praising God.
In this study we will look at a very important part of Christian life, which is often misunderstood and, in most cases, not understood at all. I want to begin with a verse in Psalm 106. Here it says, concerning the Israelites, who saw the Egyptians drowned in the Red Sea, ‘‘Then they believed God’s words, and they sang His praise’’ (Ps. 106:12). Notice the connection there between faith and praising God. We could say that when a man has faith, he will praise God. But, when a man has unbelief, when he does not believe God’s Word or God’s promise, then he will grumble and complain and murmur and criticize and find faults and be dissatisfied and discouraged and depressed. If any of these things are found in your life, it will indicate that, even if you think you believe in God and in Jesus Christ, you don’t really believe – Because if you believe His words, you will sing His praise. You will never have a complaint in your life concerning anything, if you believe in God and in His promises.
Now the Israelites, mentioned here in Psalm 106, could praise God only after God had destroyed their enemies, those Egyptians, before their eyes. Today, we live by faith. But the Old Testament people, like the Israelites, lived by sight. To live by sight means that they would see something happen before them – a miracle that God did for them – and only then they could believe. In the previous verse we read that, ‘‘after all their adversaries were drowned in the Red sea’’ (Ps. 106:11); When not one of them was left they believed God’s words. That is living by sight, i.e. after all your problems are solved, after the storm has been stilled, after the enemies have been drowned and the last one of them has been killed, then we praise God. That is to live by sight, and that is all they could do in the Old Testament. Anybody can do that. Even an unconverted heathen person would be thankful, when all his problems are solved.
But, in the New Covenant, now that Jesus has come, we don’t walk by sight, we walk by faith. We can believe the Word of God even before we see the enemies drowned in the sea. We can praise God while our enemies are still in front of us, like David said, ‘‘You have set a table before me in the presence of my enemies.’’ That means, my problems may not be solved, but I have faith in God, and I can praise Him. As I praise Him, I find that the problems will get solved. But they will never get solved, if we are always murmuring and complaining.
Do you know, dear friend, that the more you murmur and complain, you are really adding to your problem. It is not going to get solved at all. Maybe somebody harmed you. The more you get bitter against that person, what are you doing to yourself? – You are just destroying yourself. The more you keep that bitterness in your heart, it will destroy you more and more; it will destroy your body; destroy your soul; destroy your spirit; destroy your relationship with God. You won’t be able to enjoy life at all and you get ulcers in your stomach and all types of things. You see, when God gives us laws they are for our good. They are for the good of our body; they are good for our soul; for the good of our spirit.
There is a very close connection between faith and praising God. We see that also in the New Testament. In Hebrews 2:12, 13 we read some amazing words mentioned about what Jesus Himself does in the midst of a church. Here we read, in the words of Jesus, ‘‘I will proclaim your name’’ – i.e. the Father’s name – ‘‘to my brethren.’’ You can very clearly see from the previous verse that it is Jesus who is speaking: I will proclaim the Father’s name to my brothers- i.e. to you and me – ‘‘and in the midst of the church, I will sing Thy praise,’’ and again, ‘‘I will put my trust in Him.’’ Notice here again the connection between praise in verse 12 and trust in verse 13. Because we put our trust in Him, we sing His praise; exactly what we read in Psalm 106. We are told in Hebrew 2:11 and 12 that we are the younger brothers of Jesus and He is our elder brother who is praising the Father in the midst of the church. We are called to follow Him and His example and join with him in exalting our heavenly Father.
Now God is a very great King. He is the greatest King of all, the King of the Universe. Therefore He does not sit on any cheap throne of silver or gold; such thrones would be too cheap for Him. We read in Psalm 22 about the throne on which God sits (and that is good for us to know), – ‘‘Thou art holy O my God, Thou Who art enthroned upon the praises of Israel’’ (Ps. 22:3) – today the praises of the Church. So, how do we make a throne for God? – By our praises. Praise forms the throne on which God sits as a King. That is why heaven is a place of perpetual praise, like we read in the Book of Revelation – the angels are constantly praising God. That is the throne on which God sits.
When the Holy Spirit comes into our hearts, He brings heaven down into our hearts. We can now prepare a throne of praise for our God to be enthroned upon in our hearts, in our homes, and in the church. So, when we praise God, we are actually saying, ‘God, you are King and here is the throne we have prepared for you to come and sit upon.’ Do you want God to dwell in your heart? – Very simple, prepare a throne for Him. You want God to dwell in your home? – Prepare a throne for him there. Do you want God to dwell in the church? – Prepare a throne for Him there.
What is the throne? – A throne of praises. In other words, let your life be filled with the spirit of praise, not necessarily of words. We can’t always be praising God, 24 hours of the day! We have got work to do, we have to sleep, and we have to do so many things. It is the spirit of praise – let your home be filled with the spirit of praise. In other words, totally eliminate all grumbling, all complaining, all murmuring from your life, because that destroys the throne on which God is supposed to sit. On the other hand, when you grumble and complain, or get angry and lose your temper and get irritated, you are actually preparing a throne for Satan!
So you see, two thrones that you can make in your life, in your home: one is the throne of praise, giving thanks to God always for all things in the name of Jesus Christ, a throne on which God will sit; or, a throne of complaining, murmuring, grumbling, dissatisfaction, discontentment, which you offer for the devil to come and sit, whether it is in your life or in your home, or in your church. And that is why the Bible says, in Philippians 2:12-14, that when the Holy Spirit is working in our heart, He seeks to eliminate all grumbling, disputing and murmuring from our lives completely, because He wants to prepare a throne in our hearts for our heavenly Father. That is what the Holy Spirit has really come for.
You know, we have lived all our lives with our own self sitting on the throne in our hearts. That means, we listen to self, whatever self wants; we do, whatever the self likes. We please ourselves, we live for ourselves, and we want to enjoy ourselves. And then one day, when we say, ‘Lord Jesus, come into our hearts,’ what place do we give Him in our hearts? He is not going to come like a visitor or a guest, but many Christians treat him like that, you know.
How can you prepare a throne for Christ; for God, in your heart? This is how you do it: by praising Him under all circumstances. In the New Testament, we can do that. You see, in the Old Testament, they couldn’t praise all the time, because, first of all, the Holy Spirit was not dwelling in people’s hearts in those days, and secondly there was no guarantee that God would make everything work together for their good. How could you praise God for something when you are not sure whether it is working out for your good?
But today, things are different. Today, the Holy Spirit has come to dwell in our hearts. He has made it His permanent home, and there, He prepares a throne for the Father. He works in us to deliver us from our sinful nature and He works outside of us as well. We are told in Romans 8:28 that God is working in all the circumstances in our life to make everything work for our good. Now, if everything is working for your good, outside you and inside you, is there any reason for you to have a complaint about anything? – Certainly not. Then, why don’t you give up all complaining and praise God?
Here’s the answer: You don’t really believe. You don’t really believe what God says in Romans 8:28 that He causes everything to work together for good. You see, it is only when we believe that Word, that God is Almighty; that God is Sovereign, we can praise Him. Look at the stars sometimes and see how great God is. Do you think it is difficult for Him to handle that small, puny situation that you are facing? It may be a difficult boss or a difficult landlord or some particular problem you are facing; do you think that person or that circumstance is too difficult for God to handle? Of course, He can handle it. What is there that God can’t handle?
But, He can’t do that for you till you start praising Him, till you say, ‘Lord, here is the proof of my faith; I praise You. I want to thank You. I want to exalt You. I want to acknowledge that You are on the throne of heaven, and I don’t have any complaint about the way people are treating me, about my circumstances, or about anything in my life. I believe that You are in total control.’ Is it enough to say that in words? No, we praise Him from our heart, in spirit. As we praise Him, we acknowledge that God is in total control. That is how we honour Him. And when you do that, you will discover how God makes a way for you out of that situation.
This is part of the Basic Christian Teachings Series, a set of 72 short messages presented by Zac Poonen. You can download the audio mp3 files or listen to Basic Christian Teachings by clicking here.