When I started school in the first grade, I had a teacher who early on decided she didn’t like me. Her name was Miss Pine. It may have been because we weren’t one of the up and coming families in the community. Perhaps it was because our family went to church.
No matter how hard I tried to please her, nothing worked. At the end of the year, on my report card, she wrote, “Passed but on probation.” That meant that when the next school year started, I would be in the second grade, but I had one month to prove I could do second grade work or else I would have to repeat the first grade.
You can be sure I did everything I could to prove myself and, at the end of that month was told I could go on with the second grade. The problem was, Miss Pine also taught the second grade. Yes, as before, she promoted me into the third grade and again, on probation.
However, in the third grade, I had a new teacher who knew our family and cared about each of her students. Miss Pescod cared about each of her students. She would walk by my desk and say, “Leonard, your handwriting… On a paper she would write a note about how well I was doing. At the end of my third grade, I was promoted into the fourth grade with honors.
What made the difference? Someone who cared and praised me when I was doing well. I wanted to please that teacher. I wanted to give the very best I could. Praise makes such a difference.
Please go with me now to the very last Psalm — Psalm 150. It is about “Praising the LORD.”
“Praise the LORD!
Praise God in His sanctuary;
Praise Him in His mighty firmament!
Praise Him for His mighty acts;
Praise Him according to His excellent greatness!
Praise Him with the sound of the trumpet;
Praise Him with the lute and harp!
Praise Him with the timbral and dance;
Praise Him with stringed instruments and flutes!
Praise Him with loud cymbals;
Praise Him with clashing cymbals!
Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD!”
How do you feel when you read that Psalm?
To me, it says, “Let everyone praise the LORD and don’t be quiet about it!”
I want to make a distinction between my early schooling and the third-grade teacher praising my efforts; and, what happens when we praise God.
When we faithfully praise God, we discover His greatness and His goodness. He doesn’t do better because He is already the greatest. He is pleased to reveal more and more of Himself to us and we grow and do better.
In the Greek New testament, there are three words used to speak of ‘praise’. The most common word is ‘doxa’ meaning ‘glory’. Another form of that word is ‘doxazo’ meaning ‘to glorify’. Sometimes we sing the ‘doxology’ which is a hymn of praise.
The second word is ‘eulageo’ and it literally means ‘to speak well of someone or something’. We are familiar with the term ‘eulogy’ which is an address in praise of a deceased friend or loved one.
A third word used for praise is ‘epainos’. When it appears in scripture, it means ‘applause’. It is the idea of expressed approval or public recognition. This word, ‘epainos’ (praise) and the verb form ‘epaineo’ (to praise) are used sixteen times in the New Testament.
Again, and again, the scriptures teach us that everything we do in serving should be to the praise and glory of God. (1 Peter 4:11, “If anyone speaks, his speech should be like the oracles of God; if anyone serves, his service should be from the strength God provides, so that in everything, God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen.”
Regardless which of the three words is used, the primary object is praise to God.
I love the chorus we sometimes sing:
“Praise the name of Jesus, Praise the name of Jesus.
He’s my Rock, He’s my Fortress, He’s my Deliverer,
In Him will I trust. Praise the name of Jesus.”
When I sing that chorus, I feel my heart and soul open up like a flower that sees and embrace my Wonderful Lord and Savior. Through praise, I see Him more and more clearly. He isn’t changing. I’m changing and experiencing Him more fully all the time.
John Livingstone, a Puritan writer, wrote, “Alas, for the capital crime of the Lord’s people — barrenness in praises! Oh, how fully I am persuaded that a line of praises is worth a leaf of prayer, and an hour of praises is worth a day of fasting and mourning.”
Dr. Harold Lindsell, a former editor of Christianity Today wrote: “The continual offering of praise requires stamina; we ought to praise God even when we do not feel like it. Praising Him takes away the blues and restores us to normal.”
Lastly, because of my farming background, I really like what C. M. Henson said: “Praise is like a plow set to go deep in the soil of believer’s hearts. It lets the glory of God into the details of daily living.”
Today, why not make a list of some of the ways God has blessed you and then pause to praise Him for each of those blessings.
I close with the words of a wonderful hymn written by Fanny Crosby, who was blind for most of her life:
The hymn title is, “Praise Him! Praise Him!”
The chorus goes like this:
“Praise Him! Praise Him! Tell of His excellent greatness;
Praise Him! Praise Him! Ever in joyful song.”
Praising Him for Jubilee, my church family!