Why Praise God-Part 1

Judges 5:1-5

1 On that day Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang this song: “When the princes in Israel take the lead, when the people willingly offer themselves—praise the Lord! “Hear this, you kings! Listen, you rulers! I, even I, will sing to the Lord; I will praise the Lord, the God of Israel, in song.

“When you, Lord, went out from Seir, when you marched from the land of Edom, the earth shook, the heavens poured, the clouds poured down water. The mountains quaked before the Lord, the One of Sinai, before the Lord, the God of Israel.

Extended Warranty

When I bought a computer laptop, the salesman offered an extended warranty. “Will this computer work properly without extended warranty?” I asked. “Yes!” he said. “But in case you have troubles, you can use the warranty for repairs needed,” he added.

When salesmen offer extended warranty for products, they would also present possible problems that may happen. Can you see extended warranty as business style of bribery or extortion? Extended warranty does not make a computer work better. Right?

When I was a new believer, I approached God like salesman selling extended warranty. I prayed and asked God, “Lord if you let me pass this exam, I promise that I will be a good testimony to your goodness.” The Lord let me pass the exam but I forget my promise. That situation reminds me that a seemingly answered prayer request does not automatically make a believer does what’s right before God. Why?

God’s grace is unconditional. He blesses as He pleases. God does not demand us to please Him. Obedience to Him is pleasing to God, and exhibits life lived to its fullness.

Before it happened, Prophet Deborah declared victory over Sisera. Deborah may have expected Barak to get the honor of victory over Sisera but the Lord designed it for Jael, the wife of Heber. Was it because Barak hesitated? After the Israelites defeated the Canaanites, they praised the Lord. What? Why praise God for their obedience to Him?

1. Obedience

        1 On that day Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang this song: “When the princes in Israel take the lead, when the people willingly offer themselves—praise the Lord!

Our obedience proves that the Lord is worthy to be praised. The Israelites were called to fight against the Canaanites. Prophet Deborah told Barak to lead 10,000 men from Naphtali and Zebulun. The people followed the lead of Barak. Both Barak and the 10,000 Israelites collaborated and cooperated to bring victory over the Canaanites.

When leaders lead and people willingly get involved—praise belongs to the Lord.

“Hear this, you kings! Listen, you rulers! I, even I, will sing to the Lord; I will praise the Lord, the God of Israel, in song.

This song of praise is also a command for rulers, kings, and authorities to heed and consider. It was not because of Barak’s ability that they won. It was not because the people followed him that they won. It was because the Lord called leaders to lead, and He also placed willingness in the heart of the people to follow instructions.

Should praise not given to the leaders and the people? Praise was offered to the Lord, who granted Israel victory over the Canaanites. Read Romans 12:6-8: We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.      

The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ unifies us with the gift He bestowed to each of us. Praise belongs to God for bringing us to work together for the good of the church. Members of Christ’s body whether leader or ordinary member must know that all praises belong to our Lord, and not to any of us. It’s God’s grace that compels us to obey.

Does the Bible teach us to praise the church for choosing leaders? Did God order us to praise chosen leaders? Did God command us to praise leaders for good leadership?

Did God instruct to praise church members for following leaders who are willing to lead?

To appreciate the participation of members is good but remember that all praises belongs to the Lord. Christ made everything happened according to His design and plan.

If all praises belong to God, what is left for us? What benefit us for obedience?

God has designed it that obedience to Him is how life must be lived to its fullness. Life to its fullness can never be experienced outside obedience to God. He rewards and prepared incentives for obedience so that the highest praise belongs to the Lord. He called us to participate and get involved to His work to experience life to its fullness.

In contrast, the Lord also prepared punishment for disobedience. Life outside obedience to God is reserved for punishment. The Lord has already decreed punishment for those who chose to live outside obedience to Him. It says in Hebrews 9:27, 27Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.

We choose a particular lifestyle that others may consider as beautiful, wonderful and enticing. But if such lifestyle does not agree with God’s commands, such lifestyle is just wasted life. It’s like someone building a mansion just to tear it down.

Tudor Mansion

In June 2002, a farmer secretly builds his £1m (British pound) or about CDN$1.7 million mansion without permission. In 2007, the man was forced to dismantle his home after council officials discovered the grand structure.

For 10 years, he appealed to keep the structure. A judge rejected his appeal, and handed a 3-month prison sentence if he won’t tear the property down by June 6, 2016. In March 2016, demolition work began.

Can we compare the farmer to a foolish man? It says in Matthew 7:26-27, 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

The farmer may not build his house upon the sand but the same result. It pictures a lifestyle lived outside the boundaries of God’s design. People don’t want to play by the rules because the human’s heart is wicked. But God has given us righteousness in Christ.

It says in Romans 9:30, 30 The Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith.

And in Romans 10:4, Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

In reality, we fail to live a lifestyle of righteousness because of many obstacles.

2. Obstacle

“When you, Lord, went out from Seir, when you marched from the land of Edom, the earth shook, the heavens poured, the clouds poured down water. The mountains quaked before the Lord, the One of Sinai, before the Lord, the God of Israel.

Edom was a problem to Israel. The earth is full of problem to us. Mountain is an obstacle to smooth travel. But no problem is too big before the Lord. The Canaanites had advance military equipment but they were destroyed when Israel obeyed.

Problems can make life restless but Christ offers us rest by obeying His teachings. His teaching is a highway to fullness of life, and by heeding them we find rest. We also experience the fullness of life He offers to all who believe in Him.

What can we interpret when it says, “the clouds poured down water?”  Rainwater is blessing to plants, and poured out wherever it wishes to fall. God pours out blessings when He desires to bless. Again, blessing is supreme gladness. It is the experiential result of benefits or rewards that God included in His commands.

When it says, “the earth shook and mountains quaked before the Lord,” there’s no obstacle wide or high can hinder obedience to God. It’s God’s grace at work when we obey Him. Problems, as high as mountains, can make life more beautiful, actually.

Beautiful British Columbia

Have you seen a plate number with “Beautiful British Columbia?” What made British Columbia beautiful is its mountainous terrain. Huge mountains may represent huge obstacles in life like problems but they make life more challenging and beautiful.

Extreme enthusiasts love climbing mountains because life without problems is like everyday driving in the highways of the prairies. It’s tiring kind of life, I suppose.

Nevertheless, unending problems could make life very tiring also.

Peter interpreted how to find in rest in Christ by giving our anxieties to Him. It says in 1 Peter 5:7, Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

Mental Illness

In any given year, 1 in 5 people in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness. Mental illness affects people of all ages, education, income levels, and cultures. Approximately 8% of adults will experience major depression at some time in their lives. A complex interplay of genetic, biological, personality and environmental factors causes mental illnesses.

How can we live a life pleasing to God with mental illness? Like physical illness, mental illness is obstacle to obedience. In Mark 12:30, 30Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

Loving God is God-centred. Anxieties steal away our focus on Him. It is by faith we can love God, and by His grace, we overcome problems. Seek God’s grace. Ask God for His empowerment. Obedience to God is God-centred. Praise Him for that!

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