We cheer at ball games and concerts to make ourselves heard and give encouragement. We applaud performers to show approval and affection. We pay money and give prizes to the winners of competitions to encourage top performances. It helps them, but what does it really do for us? We get involved to be sure, we get the approval of others who agree with us, and maybe we influence the outcome, just a little, but do we get any of the power those in the spotlight have?
We saw in lesson eight the unending truth that the universe is big beyond our reckoning. What is our responsibility here? We are the highest form of life on this planet, but we worship the God who created a universe at least 30 billion light years wide. Our power is over life on earth, but to believe there is God is to believe there is larger life that has larger power. The key to unlock that power and put it in our lives is to understand the responsibility of praise.
9. Praise and Power
I will praise You, O Lord, with all that I am and all that I do.
I will rejoice and sing your name out loud.
The enemy will fall back and die at your coming.
You have upheld me and our just cause by your existence on Zion, the Throne of Truth.
The liars are rebuked, the wicked are destroyed; You have erased their names forever.
Enemies of the truth, your destruction is total, even your cities will be forgotten.
But the Lord endures forever and His throne is prepared for judgement.
He will see the truth in the world, and uphold those who cherish it.
He has become a safe refuge for the troubled and oppressed.
Those who know His name will put their trust in Him, and will be seen by Him.
Sing praises to the Lord, all who are ruled by His kingship, declare yourselves.
He remembers your trouble and hears your anguished cries.
Have mercy on me, O Lord, deliver me from hatred as You deliver me from death.
I will sing praises in your fair kingdom and rejoice in my eternal fortune.
The liars fall into the traps they make and trip over their own deceit.
The Lord is known by an even hand, but the wicked hold to that which fails. So it is.
The wicked become Hell, along with the nations that forget there is God.
The needy will be remembered, their expectations shall not perish forever.
Rise up, O Lord, show them who is King. Let the liars be judged by your truth.
Make them afraid, O Lord: that they will know they are only men. So it shall be.
Finding power in our lives is about praise, about knowing what praise is and how to give it: genuine praise, heartfelt praise; joyous, imaginative and creative praise. Not saying ‘Praise the Lord’ over and over, but the action of praising. It is acting as if you knew you were already in his kingdom and appreciating it (Mt 21:15-16). It's shocking and awesome and it puts a smile on my face every time I think about it.
It’s the joyful anticipation of a child in a toy store, or the amazement of an airplane ride or seeing mountains for the very first time. It could describe an assembly of believers on the Sabbath. There is one in us who has dreamt of that perfect place, who longs for it and is willing to try to make this world more like it, hopeless though it sometimes seems. We do it now, and five minutes from now for it is the cash that buys our ticket and the work that earns our bread.
Lesson nine speaks of winning a battle to the death with enemies that are full of hatred for us. We read in history books about famous people and their battles and we wonder what it was really like to have been there. Most men fight for the friend that is next to them, and in fact the highest ideals we have are the service we give to others and for the community. We are citizens of the Kingdom as well, and it is our responsibility to give praise to its maker. We are engaged in a battle and the outcome will be our own life or death. All that is good and productive, including those who praise it, will be protected by it and will be preserved. That which is evil and destructive will suffer.
We can give praise by our work and by our celebration, but the easiest and most logical way to give praise is simply to smile. Imagine the smile you’d have if all your dreams came true, and more besides. Know you are lucky enough to have found the truth and because it is real, it has also found you. Smile a little all the time because it shows praise. We smile because it is our responsibility to know happiness, and to show it.