Palm Sunday, Praise
Palm Sunday: Praise
On this Palm Sunday morning, I want to share with you some thoughts that God is laying on my heart for us today, and for these uncertain days we are living in.
Last night, in our time of prayer on Zoom, I was getting an impression about how significant praise and worship is at this time. I had a sense that someone needs to initiate global times of worship. Where all the church is focussed upon worship. Bringing glory to God. Praising His name. And in my spirit, I sensed God’s desire for such a time of worship. His desire for Unity in the body, where we come together in praise and worship.
And then, this morning – it hits me. Palm Sunday. A day of praise. All around the Christian world.
Luke 19: 37 When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen:
38 “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”[a]
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!”
40 “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
Did you notice that the whole crowd of disciples were praising God? That’s more than the 12. That’s all those who were following Jesus as he entered Jerusalem. They didn’t know what the immediate future held, … they didn’t know where the week was taking them … but they were praising Him, … as the scripture says – for all the miracles they had seen. They were praising Him simply based upon what they had seen, and what He had done.
How much greater is our reason for bringing Him praise. Because … after the cross, the resurrection, and the indwelling of His Spirit – we can truly know who Jesus is, that He is Messiah, King of Kings, our redeemer, our Savior … the fulfillment of all scriptures … the very Word of God … whose promises are sure and true. He is eternal God, our healer and our provider … He loves us with a love deeper and more profound than we will ever comprehend. He and He alone is worthy to be praised.
We may not know all the workings out for this coming week, and the weeks to follow – but we know who He is. Eternal God – worthy to be praised.
When you think of Praising God, what do you imagine?
Dancing, singing, clapping hands, a joyful noise.
Yup. That’s all praise. But there’s more to it.
In these days we are in, we are being called to worship. We are being called to praise. And I want to spend a few minutes looking into praising God in these circumstances within which we find ourselves.
First, take a quick look at Proverbs 27:21.
The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold, but people are tested by their praise. NIV
Now I know that this verse is actually talking about how we handle the praise of other people, and how that reveals the true nature of our character. But I just can’t shake the thought that we are in a crucible experience right now. And I can’t shake the belief that something amazing, something purifying, something affirming, something strengthening does occur in our hearts when we praise God – no matter what the circumstances. I don’t want to bend the meaning of scripture, but this verse absolutely brings me to the importance of praising God.
- I want to keep this short, so let me look at just a few things. This topic is bigger than a single talk.
In these days, (as in all days, but let’s focus upon today) we are being called to worship, being called to Praise God.
Praising God involves both declaration and thankfulness. DECLARATION and THANKFULNESS. Declaration of who God is, and thankfulness for Who He is, what He has done, and what He promises to us.
Let’s look at a few scriptures. You can take the time to stop, read the scriptures, and then come back.
Looking again at 2 Chronicles 20: 21. Jehoshaphat calls His people to praise in times of threat and uncertainty. They worship, they receive a word from the Lord, and then … 21 After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his[a]holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:
thanks to the Lord,
for his love endures forever.”
They praise God for who He is (Holy), and they sing His praise, thanking Him for His enduring love. Do you see the thankfulness for Who He is, what he has done and what He promises?
Another story of praise.
We know that David praised the Lord with heartfelt exuberance. We know the story of David dancing before the Ark as it was returned to Jerusalem. His wife Michel was none too pleased, and David’s response was that He would be more undignified than that in his praise. He wasn’t going to worry about what others thought, or how it would appear. He was a man after God’s own heart, and He was a man of praise. Just read Psalms 145 – 150. These are powerful Psalms of praise.
In fact, on Tuesday evening when we get together for our ZOOM Bible study and prayer at 7 pm, I want us to look at Psalm 145.
But for now, I want us to turn to 1 Chronicles 16: 7 – 36. Take some time to read through this scripture. David is giving instructions on Praise in the Tabernacle of David. All throughout, you will see Declarations, and Thanksgiving for who God is and what He has done. As you read through, take the time to praise Him by praying these scriptures.
Go ahead. I can wait. 1 Chronicles 16: 7 – 36.
Isn’t that amazing?
If you look to 1 Chronicles 29: 10 – 13, you read David’s praise to God after the gifts for building the temple had come in. This praise is a beautiful prayer of Declaration ending in Thanksgiving. Notice that praise is not only found in the exuberance of singing and dancing. It is heartfelt prayer, and for all I know, David sang these words. As the prayer goes on in verse 14, we see, declaration and confession that God is our provider, and we see intercession for David’s son and his nation. At the end of the passage, David asks everyone to praise God, and they bow down and prostrate themselves before God.
Here you can see praise as heart felt prayer and worship.
Another story of praise.
In Daniel 2, we read that King Nebuchadnezzar has had a dream, wants it interpreted but will not tell his advisors the dream. They tell him they need to hear the dream first, … & he gets so upset with them, that he declares the execution of all his wisemen in Babylon – and that includes Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach & Abednego. The friends stay up all night in prayer, and the Lord gives Daniel both the dream and the interpretation.
Read Daniel 2: 19 – 23. Here again, we see praise is Declaration and Thanksgiving.
In Daniel 4: 34 -35, Nebuchadnezzar himself praises God. Here again, we see praise as Declaring who God is. Note in verse 34 – there is an explanation of praise. Nebuchadnezzar states, “Then I praised the most high: I honoured and glorified him who lives forever.”
To praise is to honour and glorify.
There are instances of praise throughout the New testament as well. When Peter heals a lame man, … when Jesus heals blind Bartimaeus.
And of course, during the triumphal entry to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
And that’s today.
This is a day of praise, and we have been called to be a people of praise. A people who bring honour and glory to God. Today, and every day.
And this morning, I just wanted to bring attention to Two keys in Praise: DECLARATION AND THANKFULNESS. Declaring Who God is, and Thanking Him for who He is and what He has done, and what He promises.
How we praise physically can vary. According to scripture, we sing, we dance, we play instruments, we pray, we raise our hands, we raise our voices, we bow down, we lay prostrate. In fact, our very lives , in surrender to Jesus, and empowered by Jesus, can bring Praise to God.
Let’s read 1 Peter 4: 8 – 11
8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen
Whatever we do, when we do it in the name and power of Jesus Christ, we praise God through Jesus, who by His grace gave us the gifts and strength and desire to honour and glorify God – and that is Praise.
So, How we praise physically can vary.
Why we pray is clear: to honour and glorify God.
And the two keys of praise are Declaration and Thankfulness.
So, what about our Praise as we go through this Covid 19 experience, with all the uncertainty of the future? We don’t know what will happen tomorrow, let alone the end of the week, or month or season.
Not knowing shouldn’t halt our praise. In fact, uncertainty should move us to Praise. To DECLARE and be THANKFUL. To declare His goodness, His very Nature. To sing and speak that out into the atmosphere, into our homes. Into the heavenlies. AND to express our thankfulness for who He is, for what He has done, for what His word promises to us.
We know the final verses of Habbukuk 3: 17 – 18. In his prayer to God, he promises
Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior.
May that be our promise, our declaration before the Lord.
Some of the scriptures we looked at today can be your prayers and songs of praise. Use them. Declare them. Allow Holy Spirit to lead you through those praises and into your personal time of heart felt praise to God.
When a downcast attitude about these days tries to surround your heart – Praise.
When your daily focus and thoughts begin to get pulled towards worry, the latest news, and fear: Praise.
When you find the words you are speaking are being shaped by worry, fear, frustration and desperation: Praise.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so.
In your homes – sing, dance, get on your knees, pray, lift your hands to heaven – & Praise the Lord. Whatever you can do to serve one another, the people in your home or building, the neighbours around you, do it to the glory of God. Make phone calls, send messages, keep practicing this social distancing out of love rather than mandate, … it can all be praise.
May your very home be a resting place of His presence, a Tabernacle of David – where Praise – where Declarations of Who God is, and Thankfulness for Who He is, What He has Done, and What He has promised, … all go forth – all to the Honour and Glory of God.
Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”[a]
“Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
Lord God, we thank you for your word. We thank you for your presence. Holy Spirit lead us to be a people of praise.
May the love of the Father, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the communion of the Holy Spirit rest upon you and abide with you, now and forever.