Christianity 201

May 17, 2014

The Sacrifice of Praise

Worship moment

Here at C201 we try to cover a wide range of devotional and Bible study blogs and websites. Today we’re visiting a Charismatic/Pentecostal site, Spirit Filled Christian Living where today’s post appeared under the title How To Offer A Sacrifice of Praise. Click to watch at source, and then take a look around; Charismatics don’t bite!

Early in my Christian life we used to sing a song called “We bring the sacrifice of praise.” It would usually be the first or second song sung in what was called the worship service.

This week I taught my congregation what it meant to bring a sacrifice of praise to God and I thought it would be good to share it with all of you as well. We will start by looking at the passage in Matthew 21 where Jesus talks about perfected praise.

Matthew 21:14-16

14 Then the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that He did, and the children crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant

16 and said to Him, “Do You hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes. Have you never read,
‘Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants
You have perfected praise’?”

In this example we have religious people who are complaining that the children are praising God. Jesus chides the religious leaders about their Bible knowledge. You see something happens when we allow a religious attitude infiltrate our lives. We lose our child-likeness. We become inhibited in our expressions of our hearts. It is this inhibition that becomes the sacrifice that we offer up to the Lord.

 Offering A Sacrifice Of Praise

Hebrews 13:14-15

14 For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come. 15 Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name.

There is a difference between praise and worship. Worship comes from a different place within our spirits than praise. Worship should be reserved for God alone (Luke 4:8). Worship is the art of losing self in the adoration of another.

Praise on the other hand is the joyful recounting of all God has done for us. It is closely intertwined with thanksgiving as we offer back to God appreciation for His mighty works on our behalf.

This morning I want to expand your perspective on what is praise and why we should grow beyond our comfort zones in our expressions of praise to God.

When I first gave my life to Jesus it was in a non-denominational church that was traditional in its praise and worship. It was a hymn singing church. The closest thing we got to what I would call intimate worship was singing “How great Thou art.” Most of what we did music wise was not satisfying to me personally.

Not long after that, I started attending a church that sang choruses. It was sincere and worshipful and I grew and flourished in my worship towards the Lord in that church. However it was worship and not praise. It was quieter and more worshipful which is not a bad thing, but it was not all that God has for us.

It was not until I went to Bible college and started attending the church my uncle pastored did I come to understand what praise is. It was a pentecostal church and that church knew how to simply praise God. Now it was not worshipful and they could have used some worship, but they knew how to praise God for what He has done for us. It was celebratory and jubilant. It was a sincere expression of thankfulness and excitement about what God was doing in their life.

I would suggest to you this morning that exuberant and celebratory praise takes a sacrifice. It takes making the choice to become child-like. It takes making the choice to lay down our dignity and inhibitions and give God the most expressive thanksgiving and praise that we can give.

The Fruit Of Our Lips

All of us have heard the expression that people make when they say are making an excuse about not singing or being demonstrative in their praise. “I worship God in my heart.” As much as it is true that praise comes from the heart, the Bible teaches that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. If you have praise in your heart, then it will come out of your mouth. The passage in Hebrews says that we are to offer up to God the fruit of our lips. You have to speak up. You need to sing up. Nobody cares if you are tone deaf. God smiles upon your praises. He loves the symphony of His people praising His name.

For some of you, you are afraid what others will think. You are afraid that people will look poorly on you. This fear starts in Jr. High School and we drag it into adult life. That fear is something that we need to lay on the altar as a sacrifice to God. We need to offer it up as the old man and not part of the new man.

I have found that when we lay this down, that we experience freedom in many areas of our lives. We see a release that we cannot get any other way. I am not sure why, but I know it is true.

Being More Undignified.

There is a famous Bible passage in 2 Samuel 6. It is the passage where David danced before the Lord with all his might.

2 Samuel 6:14-23

And David danced before the Lord with all his might, wearing a priestly garment. 15 So David and all the people of Israel brought up the Ark of the Lord with shouts of joy and the blowing of rams’ horns.

16 But as the Ark of the Lord entered the City of David, Michal, the daughter of Saul, looked down from her window. When she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord , she was filled with contempt for him.
17 They brought the Ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the special tent David had prepared for it. And David sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings to the Lord . 18 When he had finished his sacrifices, David blessed the people in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 19 Then he gave to every Israelite man and woman in the crowd a loaf of bread, a cake of dates, and a cake of raisins. Then all the people returned to their homes.

20 When David returned home to bless his own family, Michal, the daughter of Saul, came out to meet him. She said in disgust, “How distinguished the king of Israel looked today, shamelessly exposing himself to the servant girls like any vulgar person might do!”
21 David retorted to Michal, “I was dancing before the Lord , who chose me above your father and all his family! He appointed me as the leader of Israel, the people of the Lord , so I celebrate before the Lord . 22 Yes, and I am willing to look even more foolish than this, even to be humiliated in my own eyes! But those servant girls you mentioned will indeed think I am distinguished!” 23 So Michal, the daughter of Saul, remained childless throughout her entire life.

You will notice that David’s focus was on the Lord. He didn’t care what others thought of him. He didn’t even care what his wife thought. In fact, David said that He would even be more foolish than he had been. His intent was to praise God, not please people.

You will notice what the need to be respectable produced in Michal’s life. She ended up being barren. I have found that the need to please people and be respectable produces in our lives a spiritual barrenness. If you are in a dry and thirsty place and not seeing fruit in your life, check your need to be respectable and dignified. That could be the cause.

The Power Of Praise

There is a very famous passage that preachers quote all the time. It is found in Psalm 22.

Psalm 22:3

3 Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.

The King James version of the Bible puts it this way.

But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of Israel.

In this instance the King James version translates the passage best when it uses inhabitest for the Hebrew word Yashab. It means to dwell, remain, sit, abide, to sit, sit down, to be set, to remain, stay, to dwell, have one’s abode.

God makes His home in our praises. He dwells in those praises. Where God dwells, then His presence is manifested and where His presence is manifested then His power is present. That is the power of praise. When God’s people praise Him, He is there to establish His kingdom in their lives.

So what is the offering of praise that you have to give? Are you ready to lay down dignity, respectability, and self consciousness? If so, then you are ready to offer the sacrifice of praise! That sacrifice of praise will open the windows of heaven and bring the rain of the Spirit in your life.

July 18, 2012

Why Modern Worship Music is Praise, Not Worship

I know you guys like to go deep, so today’s post is no exception, but unfortunately the writer delves deeply into this topic, but leaves us without a key scripture verse today, so just to frame it up, we’ll begin with a brief repeat item.

The “speaking to yourselves in Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” phrase occurs twice in scripture.

In Ephesians 5: 18-19:

And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord (NASB)

and in Colossians 3:16

Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (NASB)

Christianity is a singing faith. No other “religion” (in quotation marks because Christianity does not meet much of the definition) can boast the volume of music that has been given to the world as has the Christian faith.


The verses give us the answer, we sing because:

  • the Spirit of God lives within us and causes us to sing (Eph. text)
  • the Word of God fills our minds and provides us with the lyric to which we give voice (Col. text)

Of course, we can’t omit the whole matter of “experience” as a classic gospel song reminds us:

I sing because I’m happy
I sing because I’m free
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know he watches me.

But this, too has its roots in the text. Happy and free because of the Spirit’s presence. Known, cared-for and loved as promised in the Word.

…That brings us back to today’s item with the provocative headline!  The writer is Father Christopher Smith, writing at the Catholic Education Center Resources blog.  You MUST click through to read this, I am simply reiterating his points without the supporting paragraph that goes with each one. If you leave a comment, please identify which item number you are responding to.  And please don’t leave a comment if you didn’t read the supporting paragraph for that item.

Father Christopher Smith, PhD, STD is administrator of Prince of Peace Roman Catholic Church in Taylors, South Carolina.  He is a member of the Church Music Association of America and contributes regularly to the Chant Café blog. He is also a member of the Catholic Theological Society of America and is a speaker on sacred music, liturgy, theology, and catechesis. Father Smith speaks Spanish, Italian, French and some German. He enjoys reading, kickboxing, and music.

I’ve changed his title in the headline above, because I believe he is mostly addressing the modern worship movement as practiced in most Evangelical churches and blended with hymns and liturgical music in more traditional churches. I address that more at the end of this first section.

Here’s the link: Why Praise and Worship is Praise but Not Worship.

Outline of points:

  1.  P&W music assumes that praise is worship.
  2.  P&W music assumes that worship is principally something we do.
  3. P&W music assumes as its first principle relevance.
  4. P&W music assumes as its second principle the active participation of a certain age group
  5. P&W music self-consciously divides the Church into age and taste groups
  6. P&W music subverts Biblical and liturgical texts during the Mass
  7. P&W music assumes that there can be a core of orthodox Catholic teaching independent of the Church’s liturgical law and tradition
  8. P&W music consciously manipulates the emotions so as to produce a catharsis seen as necessary for spiritual conversion
  9. P&W music confuses transcendence with feeling
  10. P&W music denies the force of liturgical and musical law in the Church in favour of arbitrary and individualist interpretations of worship
  11. P&W music prizes immediacy of comprehension and artistic ease over the many-layered meaning of the liturgy and artistic excellence

Let me again state that where he is using the phrase P&W music, I believe it is more correct to say “Modern Worship.” The reasons he gives are rooted in a deep understanding of Roman Catholic spirituality, but are overshadowed with the assumption that only certain styles or genres of music are an appropriate part of a liturgy, i.e. a worship service. This assumes that would be impossible to make the mass (or an Protestant worship service) more culturally relevant to people overseas, or that an encounter with God through worship is not going to have a deep emotional element. (If the end result is rooted in, for example, Gregorian chant; to impose this on people in other countries is not unlike the fringe groups who insist that only the King James Bible saves, and therefore, they must first be taught King James English.)

I also think it is important to remember that today’s modern worship is an outgrowth of the Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) movement, and today’s CCM has its earliest roots in the Catholic folk masses of the early 1960s. (See this video as an example.)

But I also believe it not wise to be too dismissive of the writer’s passion about the qualities of worship music we aim for; and I have reproduced this here because I believe there is application here for Christians of all stripes. This is, I believe, the type of thinking more of us need to be exposed to, even if we ultimately disagree.

He ends with a more positive restatement of the same eleven points:

  1. The Church’s musical and liturgical tradition is an integral part of worship, and not a fancy addition.
  2. While Praise is a high form of individual and small group prayer, it is not Worship as the Church understands the corporate public prayer of the Liturgy.
  3. Worship is not principally something that we do: it is the self-offering of Jesus Christ to the Father in the Holy Spirit, the fruits of which are received in Holy Communion. Worship is Sacrifice and Sacrament, not Praise.
  4. Relevance is irrelevant to a liturgy which seeks to bring man outside of space and time to the Eternal.
  5. Participation in the liturgy is principally interior, by the union of the soul with the Christ who celebrates the liturgy. Any externalizations of that interior participation are meaningless unless that interior participation is there.
  6. The Church’s treasury of sacred music is not the province of one social-economic, age, cultural, or even religious group. It is the common patrimony of humanity and history.
  7. The Church must sing the Mass, i.e., the biblical and liturgical texts contained in the Missal and Gradual, and not sing at Mass man-made songs, if it is to be the corporate Worship of the Church and not just Praise designed by a select group of people.
  8. Orthodox Catholic teaching on faith and morals must always be accompanied by respect for the Church’s liturgical and musical teaching and laws.
  9. The deliberate intention to manipulate human emotions to produce a religious effect is abusive, insincere, and disrespectful of God’s power to bring about conversion in the hearts of man.
  10. While music does affect the emotions, sacred music must always be careful to prefer the transcendent holiness of God over the immanent emotional needs of man.
  11. The Church’s treasury of sacred music inspires and requires the highest attention to artistic excellence. It is also an unfathomable gift to the Church, and must be presented to the faithful so that they may enjoy that rich gift. 

~Father Christopher Smith