"WORTHY OF PRAISE"
First Corinthians 16.15-18
1. The subject of my message this evening is praise. I was once told by a lady named Bea Shirk, who was one of the most effective first grade teachers I have ever had the experience to pastor, that praise is the stuff that really makes people go. So Iím glad Shawna Carreker and Wenona Rigali praise our little Academy kids as much as they do.
2. Anyone who has read the Word of God realizes the significance of praise. Itís presented in the Bible as an integral and inseparable part of worship. You simply cannot be right with God without having praise of Him as a part of your daily lifestyle.
3. However, when the child of God is involved in that part of worship which is called praise, what exactly is he doing? Well, for one thing, he is speaking. When you praise you must speak.
4. "Yes, pastor, but what do you speak about when praising God?" Two things. When you are involved in praising the Lord you praise Him on two fronts. First, you ought to praise Him for Who He is. You just praise God for being God. He is, after all, worthy of praise and adoration and worship. Why, even if He had never done anything that benefited you He would still be worthy of all praise and glory because of Who He is. Amen?
5. Remember that fellow named Job? One of the things God accomplished when He allowed Satan to afflict Job was to prove that He is worthy of praise and worship, even from a creature who is not presently benefiting from anything He is doing.
6. Though he was receiving nothing from God at the time, that he was aware of, Job said, "Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him." Job also said, "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." He was praising Godís name.
7. But thereís another aspect of our praise of God. Thatís praising Him for what He has done. Thank God He doesnít, or has not yet, put us in Jobís shoes. Amen?
8. We ought to praise God for being God . . . merciful, just, righteous, holy, omnipotent, immutable. But we can also praise Him for what He does. He has saved those of us who are Christians, by calling us to His Son, Jesus. He has indwelt us by His Holy Spirit. He hears and answers our prayers, something an unsaved person has no assurance of. He meets our material needs. And the list goes on forever.
9. The child of God who isnít praising God is missing out on one of the greatest blessings of life. Every Christian ought to cultivate his personal praise of God. Hey, think about this for a moment. Isnít witnessing, in part, just praising God to a lost person? Sure it is.
10. This evening, getting back to the real area of expertise of that woman I mentioned, Bea Shirk, weíre going to examine another major area of a believerís praise. The praising of other people. Itís an area of my Christian life that I consider myself to be undeveloped, but itís an area that Iím determined to develop, by Godís grace.
11. Everyone needs praise. Amen? When you think about it, one of the primary reasons the Christian serves Jesus Christ is for that anticipated moment of praise that we will hear from His lips at the judgment seat of Christ, "Well done thou good and faithful servant." "You did good. Iím pleased with your life." Oh, what glory it would be for me to hear those words spoken by my Savior. I want to hear those words someday. Donít you?
12. And what person is really being honest when he tries to let on that an attaboy from a friend, from a spouse, from mom or dad, or a slap on the back from the boss, doesnít cause him to walk especially tall for a while? Isnít that right? "I donít care what he thinks." Sure.
13. Folks, praise is extremely important in a personís life, and Christianís lives are not exceptions. But letís get our theology straight on this matter of praising other people, because there is a great deal of inappropriate praise given out. And there is a tremendous amount of praise being improperly sought.
14. While we are to praise God for what He is as well as what He does, praise of other men should not be focused on what they are, but should properly be given only for what a person has done. And especially with Christians, praise should be given for those traits and characteristics that are particularly Christ-like, not for attention-getting behavior that kowtows or for childlike "Look at me, Dad. Look at me!" type of behavior.
15. Why is this? Let me explain and Iím sure you will see the truth of it. God is inherently good, inherently holy, inherently just and loving. You and I, however, are not. You and I are inherently sinful, inherently selfish, inherently undeserving of any kind of praise, if the Bible is to be believed. Amen?
16. So, this evening we are going to examine a portion of Scripture in which the apostle Paul praises a Christian family. And as we examine the text, keep several questions in the back of your mind:
17. First, ask yourself, "What is Paul praising these people for? Does he praise them for what they are, or for what they have done?" Second, ask yourself, "How does Paul praise these people? What are the ingredients in truly effective and heartfelt praise?"
18. When we finish our study tonight we ought to know enough about praise to know both when and how to praise in such a way as to really help people do right and be right, and to advance the cause of Christ through our praise of people.
19. Having said all that, please turn in your Bible to First Corinthians 16.15-18 and stand for the reading of Godís Word:
20. It is obvious that Paul is directing his words to the Corinthian Church about the family members of the household of Stephanus, as well as two other men who were certainly members of the Corinthian Church. His words are words of praise.
21. Pay careful attention, now, as we examine the two parts, the structure, of Paulís praise. I do this so you will know how to praise others, as well; your children, your friends, your spouse.
1A. THE FIRST PART OF PAULíS PRAISE INVOLVES EXHORTATION (15-16)
2A. THEREíS A SECOND VITAL PART OF EVERY ACT OF PRAISE. THE SECOND PART OF PRAISE INVOLVES EXULTATION (17-18)
1. Did Paul praise Stephanus and his household for their sinless perfection? No. For all we know, Stephanus might have dipped snuff when no one was looking.
2. But Paul did structure his praise of their Christian conduct in such a way as to really be a blessing to them and to encourage others to serve God and minister to other Christians in like manner.
3. You know, we have times in our Sunday School auditorium class and on Wednesday evenings when folks take the time to offer up a word of praise to God and give a brief testimony. At least they ought to be brief. I think that would be a good time to praise others, as well.
4. Not directly, like feeding the glory hogs of this world, but indirectly, to others, giving God the glory and at the same time teaching and showing others what God would have us to do.
5. But whether here or elsewhere, strive to be a good praiser. And as you think about praising others, find a place in your heart to forgive me. I simply have not developed the godly behavior pattern of praising people the way I should.
6. And itís not because there is little to praise here. From Mrs. Carrekerís continual and forever faithful service to me, to Violet Rodarte, to Julie Carlsberg, to Arjelia Mendez, and our nursery workers. There are so many of you who silently and invisibly serve in ways that merit frequent praise.
7. And there are others of you who do not live and serve in a praiseworthy life. But I assume much responsibility for that. Had I the habit of praising that which deserved praise you might long ago have learned what habits and practices were worthy of praise. I will acquire that habit.
8. And recognize, along with me, that a person doesnít have to be perfect to merit praise. I can praise the humility of someone who is lazy or the cheerfulness of someone who smokes cigarettes. When you praise someoneís behavior you are praising their behavior. You are not endorsing their entire lifestyle. So, donít be afraid to praise someoneís commendable efforts.
9. Finally, pray for me, that I might heap praise on you continually, as God gives me light and as Scripture permits. Let us band together with a common commitment to praise what in our children is praiseworthy, to praise what in our brothers and sisters in Christ is praiseworthy, and to praise God in all things. Amen? What a wonderful way to teach each other and to encourage each other as Christians.
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