FIRST-PERSON: Seven reasons to praise the Lord

DALLAS, Ga. (BP) -- The Duke of Wellington, the British military leader who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo, apparently was an extremely difficult officer under whom to serve. Brilliant and demanding, he rarely gave compliments to his soldiers. No doubt due to mellowing in his old age, he gave the following reply when asked if he would do anything differently, given another chance at life: "I'd give more praise."

While that's a good life lesson to apply in human relationships, it's infinitely more important in our relationship with God. So rather than looking back at the end of your life and wishing you had praised more, start now. Here are seven reasons why you must not wait:

1. The Bible commands it. As the Psalmist says, "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord" (Psalm 150:6).

2. Praise ushers us into God's presence. Obviously, it's the blood of Jesus that paves the way for our forgiveness from sin and relationship with God (Hebrews 10:19). That being said, our perpetual praise opens the door to deeper levels of personal fellowship with the Lord. Therefore, "enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise" (Psalm 100:4).

3. Praise is where God lives. Wait a minute! Isn't God omnipresent -- everywhere, all the time? Absolutely. Yet His presence is manifested in an especially intense way in an atmosphere of praise. The Bible says God is "enthroned upon the praises of Israel" (Psalm 22:3).

4. Praise promotes productivity. According to Scripture, the earth yields its produce in the presence of praise (Psalm 17:5-6). Does this mean crops are actually going to grow better where praise is present? Perhaps. Why not? Whatever your feeling on the matter, I like Jack Taylor's commentary in his book "The Hallelujah Factor": "When we praise, productivity is maximized, fulfillment is realized and frustration is neutralized" (p. 31).

5. Praise chases away despair. There's no better way to beat the blues than to change our focus from self to God. Such a shift produces "the oil of gladness instead of mourning" (Isaiah 61:3).

6. Praise is an effective weapon against the devil. I firmly believe Satan, once the good angel Lucifer and God's praise leader (Isaiah 14), was kicked out of heaven and doomed to destruction due to his desire to be like God. He has hated praise ever since because of its reminder of what he gave up and can't regain.

7. God is worthy of it. "The Lord is great and worthy of our praise" (Psalm 145:3 NCV). While it's obviously good to praise and encourage those around us, God alone deserves our heartfelt worship and supreme allegiance.

Two missionaries traveled to southern Mexico to work among the Chol Indians. Among other ministries, they labored 25 years to translate the New Testament into the local language. Today, more than 12,000 comprise the Chol Christian Community -- which is financially self-supporting. What's most amazing, however, is that even though locals didn't know how to sing when the missionaries arrived, they've since became known as "the singers." "They love to sing now," wrote George Sweeting in "Psalms of the Heart," "because now they have something to sing about" (pp. 70-71).

As believers, we not only have something to sing about, but Someone to praise. So whether it's privately or corporately, musically, verbally or otherwise, let the praises begin.

Todd Gaddis, online at toddgaddis.com, is pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Ga. This column first appeared at LifeWay.com/pastors.
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