A major factor in always living in the Joy of the Lord is prioritizing praise and thanksgiving to God in our lives.
This post is the fourth in a series about Joy in the Lord. In the previous posts, we have looked at the importance of:
- Remembering all that God has done and is doing in our lives, both the big and small.
- Taking time to learn and know God’s promises, the ones already fulfilled and those awaiting fulfillment.
Now we come to another important element in our ability to find Joy in the Lord without regard to our present circumstances. It’s as self-evident as the others have been, but it is also an action we often skip over or do half-heartedly. It consists of making the time to praise and thank God for his activity and his promise in our lives.
Some refer to this as worship and would state it is a part of the intent of Sunday morning and Wednesday night church services. While such is true, it is only a part of what is needed.
The Obedience Factor | Prioritizing Praise and Thanksgiving
Scripture tells us:
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
Romans 12:1. The New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011. Print.
But Samuel replied:
“Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD?
To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.
1 Samuel 15:22. The New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011. Print.
God doesn’t desire for us to go through the motions of song and prayers of thanksgiving. According to Scripture:The best way to thank and praise God is with a life wholly devoted to obeying His will.Click To Tweet
The Desire Factor | Prioritizing Praise and Thanksgiving
A step beyond obedience is our motivation. Are we obeying because we have to, or are we doing so because we want to?
In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome…
1 John 5:3. The New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011. Print.
If being obedient to God is a burden in our lives, we are missing key elements in our relationship with Him. When we love some one, there is a desire to do those things which please them even if it means going out of our way to do so.
It all works together
See, when it comes to our relationship with God, nothing is compartmentalized. Everything works together because it requires the entirety of who we are. To desire to prioritize praise and thanksgiving in our lives compels us to be in love with God and unable to get enough of him. Psalm 42 describes the feeling of this yearning and praising as it opens:
As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
Psalm 42:1-2. The New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011. Print.
The writer is going through a difficult time, and yet he desires to enter into the presence of God with praise and thanksgiving. The Psalm concludes by stating:
Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
Psalm 42:11. The New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011. Print.
He is proclaiming this truth for himself and as an encouragement to others, “Even when circumstances have me down, I will praise my Savior and my God!” That is what desire for God does! It is not based on moment to moment issues. Rather, it is a pervasive need to remain in the presence of God in a posture of praise and thanksgiving.
Our Obedience and Desire | Prioritizing Praise and Thanksgiving
Can we be honest with ourselves? Are we forever wanting God in our lives? Is He at the pinnacle of our love? Are we striving to please him in sacrificial obedience? Do we find ourselves prioritizing praise and thanksgiving?
Or, is our focus elsewhere? Perhaps, satisfying ourselves?
Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him.
1 John 3:21-22. The New International Version. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011. Print.
If our desire is to do anything other than praise and thank God through obedient living, we will not experience the Joy of the Lord because we are not walking in right relationship with Him.Joy in the Lord comes from being obedient to Him. That is praise and thanksgiving pleasing to Him.Click To Tweet
If you want to know Him, if you want to know His smile, if you want to know something about this living realization that God is your God and that He has loved you “with an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3), that you are His child and that He will never leave you or forsake you (Heb. 13:5)—if you want this living witness of the Spirit, this ultimate assurance that is given through the love shed abroad in our hearts, going upward and back to Him in praise, worship, adoration, and thanksgiving, then begin to praise God for what you have.
Lloyd-Jones, David Martyn, and Christopher Catherwood. Seeking the Face of God: Nine Reflections on the Psalms. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2005. Print.