Day 14 – Give Thanks
Now some say because of this angels don?t sing. Well, angels do sing. I?ve heard them sing. Now don?t say they don?t sing. Now this doesn?t mean to say that they don?t sing, but here it is a declaration. It could have been they were declaring this verbally, without actually singing. It?s possible. But the real point about this is that they are narrating; they are narrating. These angels were angels of narration. They were announcing, they were telling a story, which is a good way to learn to praise God.
When you don?t know how to praise God or what to praise God for, get into this aineo kind of praying. Do it by narrating what He?s done for you, ?Thank You, Lord, that You saved me. Thank You, Lord, that on the 24th of December 1971 I realized that I was born again because You touched my heart and my life. Thank You, Lord, for the way that You have led me.? You can narrate His story, ?Thank You, Lord Jesus, for coming. I praise You for everything You?ve done for me at the cross.?
So then we have another word, epaineo, which is the word aineo with an intensifying prefix, and it means it?s a stronger form of aineo. It means ?to commend.? So in other words you don?t just narrate a story like you might expect a newscaster to do, ?Jesus Christ was raised from the dead today. Today forever will be known as Resurrection Sunday. And now for the weather.? No, no. No, no, no. You don?t do it like that.
If you are involved in this form of narration, you are involved with it, so the newscaster would turn into an evangelist, ?News at Ten,? as we have here in Britain and the gongs of Big Ben go boing, boing, and Trevor MacDonald, who is our newscaster, will say, ?I?ve got good news for you! Good news! You?ve had so much bad news, but I tell you this is good news. Jesus Christ is alive!?
And you see this kind of praising is commending something. It is commending something. We have this word in Ephesians 1:6, saying that we are ?to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.?
So we actually praise God by our very redeemed existence; our very presence commends God because we tell a good story about Him. Your life is a life of praise. How much more should it flow out of your lips? And we find this again and again. You can look at these verses yourself and get excited about the context.
And we have another word used in the New Testament in the praise vocabulary: humneo. It means ?to sing.? We get the English word ?hymn? from this. It?s derived from this and it literally means ?sung praise.? Now we have this in different parts of the New Testament. Humneo is used in Acts 16. I suppose it?s a bit similar to that word that we had in Hebrew, zamar, which means ?to praise with singing or with musical instruments.?
?But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.? I thank god that people listen when we praise God, and God listened, because He liked that song so much he began to tap His big toe in the time to the music, and that sent an earthquake down to that little prison and set them all free. So when you learn to praise God like that, you know heaven is behind you. Heaven is behind you.
Now in Matthew chapter 26 this word is used of what happened when they were having the Last Supper together in the Upper Room. Verse 30, Matthew 26, ?And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.? And this was probably the singing of the psalms, which were known by the Jews as The Great Hallel, the great praise?Psalms 113 to 118 and Psalm 136. So they would have sung one of these psalms there, or all of them, during that time. So it is interesting to see how this Old Testament and New Testament blend together in the life of Jesus and in the Christian church.
Now there are also a number of general biblical principles about praise, and we need to grasp these because it will encourage us to praise God all the more. God takes pleasure in His works of creation. All creation, including the angels, expresses its joy in praise. All creation does that. Psalm 104:31, ?May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in His works.?
Have a look at this verse: Job 38, here is God confronting Job and He says, ?Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?? Verse 7 of Job 40, ?Where were you when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?? Well the stars praise Him, the fields praise Him, the trees praise Him, all creation praises Him, and we must praise Him.
We also see that humanity was created to rejoice in God?s works, and we fulfill this by accepting His gifts. We find this again and again. Psalm 40:14-16,
Let them be ashamed and brought to mutual confusion who seek to destroy my life; Let them be driven backward and brought to dishonor who wish me evil. Let them be confounded because of their shame, who say to me, ?Aha, aha!? Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad in You; let such as love Your salvation say continually, ?The Lord be magnified!?
?Let all those who seek You rejoice and be glad.? We are called to do that.
The coming of the kingdom of God is marked by the restoration of joy and praise. Isaiah 9:2, ?The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.? This is the light of joy and celebration.
Even in heaven eternal praise will be made and the praises of heaven are both the praises of creation and the praises of redemption. There are two great songs of praise: One song of praise is the song of creation, which all creation sings. Then there is another song, the song of redemption, which we alone can sing, which we alone can sing, because we alone are redeemed, and we have this in the Book of Revelation. We see it again. Revelation 5:9 and 10, ?And they sang a new song.? A new song. What?s the new song? The song of redemption. The old song is the song of creation; the new song is the song of redemption.
You need to understand. This is a very important point. The two great acts of power that are revealed to us in the Scriptures that God has done is first of all His act of creation, in which He created the whole world, which must praise Him, and the second great act is His act of redemption, His mighty act of deliverance, and we praise Him for His deliverance. And that is the new song that we sing now; that is the new song that we are going to sing in heaven for all eternity,
And they sang a new song, saying: ?You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth.?
I?d like you to turn to Psalm 40, because Psalm 40 is a very significant verse or psalm in this respect. I?m going to tell you a story. I?m going to tell you a very, very sacred and precious story which I want you to treat with respect, and I certainly don?t like telling stories like this, because people can easily get the wrong idea, but I will tell you it in a moment.
I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me, and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth?Praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord.
Yes, this is the song of redemption, because the psalmist is saying, ?I was stuck, I was broken, I was lost, but You rescued me and delivered me and you put a new song in my mouth?a song of praise for my redemption.? And I want to say, if you?re not a praising person, I cannot understand it. I would even question, sometimes, whether people are born again if they don?t know how to praise the Lord.
And some say, ?Well, I praise the Lord in my heart.? You cannot praise God in your heart alone. If it?s in your heart, your mouth has got to hear about it; your face has got to hear about it; everybody has got to hear about it. Praise is the sacrifice of the fruit of your lips.
Now I promised to tell you a story. It?s a very, very sacred story, and I want you to take it very, very seriously. Some time ago I was in a meeting and I was praising God along with the congregation. There was a very, very special time of praise and worship. God was very near, and I discerned in my spirit as I was praising God that there was an angelic presence joining us in praise, and the angel was praising God along with us for the greatness and the majesty and the glory of God.
And then the worship leader introduced a song. It was a special song about all that Jesus has done for us in dying for us and saving our souls, and we began to praise all the more, and the angel stopped. And I thought, ?That?s strange. Why is the angel stopping?? And God showed me that the angel stopped for two reasons: Number #1, that was not His song. He has never been redeemed. He has never been lost. He has never sinned. He does not sing that song because it is the song of redemption.
The second reason was the angel was totally wonder-struck. If an angel came and stood visibly before you today, you would scream out in wonder and amazement and would have a fascination, ?What is it like to be in the presence of God?? If we could speak. ?What is it like being an angel?? We would be fascinated by that.
But the Bible says that the angels long to look into the things that we know. The angels are mystified when they look at this whole area of redemption. We are an amazement to the angels. I can imagine the angel saying to God, ?Watch them praising You, these glorious, righteous creatures. What have You done with their sin??
?I dealt with it. Their sins are washed away and removed forever.?
Oh, what grace is shown through redemption, far more than is shown through creation. I am not suggesting that is why God allowed sin to enter the world. I can?t suggest that. My theological understanding isn?t that deep. I think it is a mystery. But I tell you something: There is more glory and praise to God in the universe now because of the redemption that God has brought, and what was lost in the Garden of Eden is being restored and more beside.
There is a whole lot there for you to think about and to praise God about.
And we also know, coming back to the New Testament now, that personal praise is mentioned?yes, it is?but corporate praise is given a much greater emphasis. Most of the descriptions of praise in the Bible are corporate praise, when we come together to share in the presence of God.
Now I want to share one or two things about thanksgiving and sacrifice. We find again and again in the Bible that thanksgiving is related to sacrifice. There were times of thanksgiving and some certain sacrificial offerings were made. Now we know that Hebrews 13:15 says that praise is a sacrifice which is the sacrifice of praise, the fruit of our lips. But thanksgiving is also a sacrifice, and perhaps in some instances a much deeper sacrifice.
Time and time again sacrifices were themselves gifts given to God, and at times those offerings were made during a period of thanksgiving. That shows us that when we come into the presence of God and we are giving thanks to Him it is not wrong to offer some sacrifice alongside the sacrifice of our thanksgiving. Now we don?t bring animals, but we can show our appreciation to the Lord financially, and I believe at times God will lead us to make a sacrificial offering to Him as we are giving thanks to demonstrate that we need?well, that we need His grace and we appreciate His grace.
Now you will find so many references to the different sacrifices that were made, the holocaust sacrifice?these are found in Leviticus chapter 1 through to Leviticus chapter 7. The holocaust, or holy burnt offering, the oblation or serial offering, the communion or peace offering, the sin offering, the reparation or guilt offering. Now of these two sacrifices, of all these sacrifices, two are especially significant for us.
The holocaust, which means the burnt offering, the holy burnt offering, and which means every part of the offering, including or except the skin was burnt to God. Now this shows us that when we come, we give God everything and so when we thank God, we are yielding everything to Him.
And then the fellowship or communion offering, which in many ways could well be the Bible?s way of preparing us in the Old Testament for the communion service and the communion in the New Testament. It certainly foreshadows the communion service as far as we are concerned.
I want to just touch, for a few more moments, on thanksgiving and giving. Now we know from the Old Testament the people of God were called on to give their tithes, one-tenth of their annual income, and this provided income for the religious leaders and also for the poor. But then on top of that they were to give many, many other sacrifices and free-will offerings from the remaining nine-tenths of their income. And these free-will offerings were used, at times, for particular projects. There were the occasional thank offerings that people gave as an expression of thanksgiving for God?s goodness. Then there were also specific offerings taken for specific purposes.
In Exodus 25 we find God that records the instructions for collecting and collecting materials needed to build the tabernacle, and these offerings are very, very precious in God?s sight. He records everything that is offered. I want you to notice some things from this kind of offering. It was a voluntary offering; a voluntary offering.
Exodus 35:5, ?Take from among you an offering to the Lord. Whoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it as an offering to the Lord.? It was a specific offering: onyx stones and stones to be set in the ephod and the breastplate. It was a purposeful offering. The whole purpose of it was to build this tabernacle. It was divinely motivated.
Verse 21, Exodus 35, ?Then everyone came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing, and they brought the Lord?s offering for the work of the tabernacle of meeting, for all its service, and for the holy garments.?
Now what was happening here? God was moving on their heart. They came with a willing heart, and it says in the end of verse 22, that is ?every man who made an offering of gold to the Lord.? You see, we were?they were offering to the Lord because the Lord had touched their lives.
And then, surprisingly, the offering was stopped. Maybe here in our situation we find the offerings go on and on and on, but not there. Why did it stop? Because there was enough. There was enough. So this passage makes clear that we should give willingly, generously, enthusiastically, and as our hearts and spirits are stirred by the Holy Spirit.
I?m not talking just about being stirred emotionally. I?m talking about being stirred by the Spirit. If everybody, when offering time comes, does exactly what the Holy Spirit tells them to do, then there is always enough?more than enough, more than enough, because God always pays His bills. God always comes through.
And now we have a section on thanksgiving that was found in the prayer of the Apostle Paul. I just want to cover some principles before we finish this session, because we are going to come in another session to look more in detail at Paul?s prayer life, but Paul prayed and gave thanks for fellow believers. Yes, he did. We need to do it.
Paul prayed and gave thanks for food. It?s important for?this is an important thing. I?ve mentioned it several times today that I was surprised as I prepared these studies at how much God speaks about that and how much it has happened. Paul gave thanks for Jesus, Paul gave thanks for his ministry, Paul gave thanks for victory, and he also gave thanks for the very special gifts that God gave him through other people.
Now because of all of this, the Apostle Paul really does stress the importance of giving thanks in all circumstances, for all circumstance, and I take you back to Ephesians 5, where we saw earlier that God says that thanksgiving must come; thanksgiving must come in all circumstances. If we don?t learn to thank Him in all circumstances, we will be in difficulty. Mix your praying with you thanksgiving.
Ephesians 5:19-20, remember, ?Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.?
As we learn to be anxious for nothing, but in everything in prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let our requests be made known to God, as we mix our thanksgiving with our praying, God hears our prayers and they become effective. God bless you.