Ron Thomas
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By Pastor Ron Thomas
Rodgers Baptist Church
801 West Buckingham Rd. - Garland, TX 75040
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Living In The Praise Zone
Preached 8/24/2008

Text: Psalm 100. "Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.

2 Serve the LORD with gladness: come before His presence with singing.

3 Know ye that the LORD He is God: it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture.

4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise: be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.

5 For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting; and His truth endureth to all generations."

Introduction: While watching bits and pieces of the Olympic Games in Bejing China, I noticed that the competing individual athletes from the various nations of the world, had one thing in common. Before beginning their particular event, each took time to get himself or herself in a proper frame of mind. You might call it, ". . . in the zone." Each athlete understood the connection between proper mental preparation, and a great performance. I am not sure just what each athlete mentally visualizes during that moment before he or she competes, but I'm pretty sure it doesn't involve defeat.

As I reflected upon that, I thought about my own mental, spiritual preparation as I face each day, living my life as a child of God. How many bad performances do I turn out as a believer in this world, because I did not take the time, to get myself in a proper frame of mind? How many tests of faith did I fail, giving sin and Satan the victory, simply because I did not take the time to connect my spirit with God's Spirit, thoughts with God's thoughts. In this message, I am publicly declaring my desire and determination, to spiritually live " the zone." We might call it the Praise Zone. How much of your life is spent in the Praise Zone? By the way, there are other "zones" to choose. We can live in the Critical Zone, the Complaining Zone, the Angry Zone, the Doubting Zone, or the Defeated Zone. You should resolve to live each day in the Praise Zone!

A good portion of the Psalms, is involved with giving praise to God. The Psalms are filled with expressions of praise. Psalm 18:3, "I will call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised." Psalm 34:1, "I will bless the LORD at all times: His praise shall continually be in my mouth." Psalm 150:6, "Let every thing that hath breath praise the LORD. Praise ye the LORD." It has come to my attention, that seventeen of the Old Testament books, and eleven of the New Testament books, refer to praising the Lord. There are three hundred verses in the Bible as a whole, that speak of praising the Lord. If the Psalms and God's Word are filled with praise, why isn't that the case in our lives as God's people? Of all the people of the earth, Christians are the most blessed, yet as an outside observer looking in, an unbeliever would never know it! How much of our daily conversation is spent in praise to the Lord? Are we characterized by a spirit or attitude of praise? How much of our lives as Christians, are lived in the Praise Zone?

This psalm before us is a beloved psalm. For centuries, Christians have sung a hymn tune known as "Old Hundredth" based upon this psalm. You might best know it set to a Doxology. "Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow. Praise Him, all creatures here below. Praise Him above, ye heavenly host. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost." The original lyrics based on Psalm 100 were: "All people that on earth do dwell. Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice. Him serve with fear, His praise forth tell. Come ye before Him and rejoice." Psalm 100 or Old Hundredth, is a psalm of thanksgiving and praise. We often hear it read during the Thanksgiving Season, which is not a bad thing, but this psalm belongs to every day of the year! The demonstration and expression of our praise and thanksgiving to the Lord, should dominate our daily existence! Someone said, "Praise is acknowledging who God is and what He has done. Thanksgiving is acknowledging what He has done for you."

Praise has been defined as an awareness and declaration of our dependance upon God. Another definition states that praise is the human expression of honor and thanksgiving to God, for His character and action. However you define it, the question remains, "Does praise define you?" This short but beloved psalm gives us reason and needed inspiration to live everyday of our lives in the Praise Zone. The Praise Zone

The Praise Zone is international. In the Olympics, it didn't matter the event or the nationality of the competitor, American, German, Russian, Chinese, they all accessed "...the zone."

Verse 1 says, "Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands." God's goodness and grace has been revealed to the whole world, therefore, every person in every land should praise Him! Praise is for everyone, not just Jewish people. The poorest of nations and people on the earth, are included and invited to the Praise Zone. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world! Our mission mandate is to tell the whole world, "every creature" of God's redemptive love so that everyone, everywhere can praise Him!

The Praise Zone is multi-generational. Verse 5b ends, "...and His truth endureth to all generations." We hear much about praise in contemporary Christianity. You would think that praise is something that was recently discovered. It is a sad commentary, but it is in the last few years that American Christianity has coined the phrase, "worship wars." Churches and generations have fought and are divided over praise and worship! In many churches in this city and across our nation, the old and young do not worship together. What a sad commentary on American Christianity. Both young and old can place more value on a guitar, (to have it or not to have it) than God! People can worship their own individual taste, more than the truth revealed in God's Word.

The young and the elderly can live together in the Praise Zone. Our challenges and perspective may be different, but our need is the same! Every generation of Christians needs to praise the Lord. Jesus said that if we do not praise Him, the stones will cry out! God can replace you with a rock!

The Praise Zone is intentional. While there are occasions when you are overtaken by a spirit of praise, most of the time if praise is going to occur in your life, you must make it happen! Notice the phrase, "come before His presence," in verse 2; "enter into His gates," in verse 4a, and "enter into His courts," in verse 4b. These phrases speak of a journey to the Old Testament Temple, God's House of worship and praise. Jews had to go out of their way to place themselves in God's courts of praise!

Each of these phrases express responsibility and determination to get ourselves in a position of praise. We have come to think of praise as a shallow activity, that it has nothing to do with engaging the mind, much less Bible doctrine. Nothing could be further from the truth. True praise begins in the region of our will.

This is an area where believers have to learn to grow. Our old sinful fleshly nature is not inclined to notice God's blessings and praise Him. We naturally focus on our problems and demand God to fix them now, before we even consider praise! We naturally focus on how we want things to be, instead of on how God has orchestrated our lives! It is the spiritual believer who through a determination of the will and trained spiritual senses, can see the hand of God in things around him or her. It takes time, effort and determination to stop our minds and discipline them to consider God's Word and to learn to see what is good from God. It takes more effort to learn to sing praises, when the world wants us to sing about anything else.

The Praise Zone is personal. The phrase "come before His presence" in verse 4, speaks of entering through the various courts of the Temple, right to where God dwells in the most holy place. The word "presence" is derived from a Hebrew word for face. We are not invited to worship a distant deity, but a very personal God.

How many worship services do we experience without "entering in?" How many days pass in our lives as Christians, without once acknowledging God's goodness and grace, ...even in the problems? It ought to shame us! Everyday you live, every worship opportunity presented in church, is your own personal choice to "enter in." No one can get you into the Praise Zone and keep you there. You must make up your mind to live there with God's help!

One thing is certain, for believers, the Praise Zone is always an option. No matter what you are presently experiencing, there is always reason to give God praise. The Praise Zone is not subject to the ever changing tides of life. Job said it best in Job 1:21, "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." The Praise Zone rests upon an enduring relationship with God! Verse 3 says, "Know ye that the LORD He is God." We tend to focus on ourselves. We see everything as it relates to us. Did you know that most of the Psalms of praise, are focused on who God is, rather than what He has done for us? What are we focusing on as we go through a day? Someone has observed: "If you praise and worship superficial things, your life will become superficial. If you praise and worship perverted things, your life will become perverted. If you praise and worship evil things, your life will become evil. If you praise and worship the true God, then your life will become godly."

God is our Creator, we are His creatures. Verse 3a. "Know ye that the LORD He is God: it is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves." The God who made us, knows us better than we know ourselves, and has a plan for our lives.

God is our Father, we are His children or offspring. Verse 3 continues, "...we are His people." Acts 17:28 says, "For in Him (in God) we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also His offspring." As our Heavenly Father, He will not spoil us or harshly over discipline us.

God is our Shepherd, we are His flock or sheep. Verse 3 concludes, "...and the sheep of His pasture." As our Shepherd, we can know that the Lord cares for us in a careful tender way. We can be confident in His leadership and protection in our lives! Jesus as the Good Shepherd in John 10 said, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand."

We not only praise God for who He is, we praise Him for how He is.

God is good. Verse 5a begins, "For the LORD is good." In all of life, we can be sure of this one thing, the Lord is good. The fact that God is good, means that He is kind, gracious and generous. We never need doubt God's goodness. We may not understand the things God brings or allows in our lives, but we must always know that it is for our ultimate good. Whatever God does is perfectly timed and absolutely appropriate!

God is merciful. Verse 5b continues, "......His mercy is everlasting." The Hebrew word translated here as "mercy," is also translated as lovingkindness. God's mercy is His desire to love and bless His people! In short, we can count on God treating us better than we deserve, ....forever!

God is faithfully true to His Word. Verse 5 ends, ".....and His truth endureth to all generations." Human laws and rules are constantly changing. There are some human laws that need to change, but remain on the books. For example: In Kentucky, it remains the law that a person must take a bath at least once a year. In Massachusetts, it remains against the law to put tomatoes in clam chowder. In Phoenix, Arizona it is still illegal to walk through a hotel lobby with spurs on. God's truth is never outdated or out of style. What was true for past generations, is truth for every generation. What worked for past generations, works today and for future generations. God's promises extend to every generation.

Today, you can make your own personal commitment to live your life from this day forward, in the Praise Zone. Why live in the Praise Zone? What happens when we praise God?

Benefits of Living In The Praise Zone1. Praise magnifies God. When we praise, our focus is solely upon God and His power, ...not our problems! God is bigger than our problems and pain. God is so big, He can use our suffering, pain and problems to accomplish His eternal purpose in our lives!

2. Praise humbles us. Pride refuses to bow. Ego and praise will not acknowledge anything or anyone greater than self. When we see the greatness of God, we gain a proper view of ourselves. Praise removes all pride and ego.

3. Praise reveals our devotion to God. When I hear a child cry "dad" or "paw-paw," my head turns and my heart melts. I can't explain why, but it feels good to be identified and connected with my children and grandchildren! It is the same when we praise the Lord, we are declaring our devotion and allegiance to God. As God's children, praise is one way we reveal our identity and connection with the Heavenly Father.

4. Praise motivates us to holy living. In your house, there are drawers and doors that you had just as soon leave closed. Why? They are full of junk that you have stashed away. It is not that there is anything bad in those drawers or closets, but all that junk displaces needed space. It is the same with our lives and hearts. Praise demands that we open ourselves, our hearts to God, which often times reveals the clutter that has displaced His presence in our lives! Often times, praise demands our confessing secrets and sin. Praise is a purging, purifying agent. It cleanses the soul! The more we praise and worship the Lord, the more we desire to be like Him!

5. Praise increases our joy! Verse 1 says, "Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands." Verse 2 speaks of "gladness" and "singing!" Joy, gladness, and singing, is the constant companion of praise. Christianity ought to be contagious! Joy is contagious! In Romans 14, Paul tells us that the "kingdom of God" is not about living in fear, keeping someone's rules, but the joy of a pleasing relationship with God, fueled by the Holy Spirit! We obtain joy from pleasing those we love!

6. Praise establishes our faith. Praise and thanksgiving is verbalized faith. Someone said, "If you thank God after the fact, that is gratitude. If you thank God before the fact, that is faith." The greater we see God, the greater our sense of confidence and trust in Him and His ways. Praise confesses our trust in God, especially in times when we don't have a clue about what is happening in our lives, where we are or where we are going.

7. Praise elevates our emotions. We have different sets of emotions, one is positive one is negative, one is productive and the other is destructive. Praise is the enemy of pessimism, depression, and discouragement. The set of emotions that includes worry, fear, and doubt, cannot co-exist in the atmosphere of phrase. An attitude of praise gives us an emotional upgrade!*

If you want to see a difference in your relationship with Jesus Christ and in your daily walk with Him, determine to praise Him every day! Commit yourself to a life of praise and fellowship with God through Jesus Christ.

The well-known English preacher Charles H. Spurgeon wrote something that would be good to remember as you begin each day. He said, "Let your thoughts be psalms, your prayers incense, and your breath praise."

Are your thoughts praiseworthy? There are 150 psalms, each pointing us to God's presence, purpose and power! In summarizing a criteria for our thought life, the apostle Paul said in Philippians 4:8b, "....if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Find the good and praise it! Better yet, find God and praise Him! Let your thoughts be praiseworthy!

Are your prayers invested only in petitions, seeking something from God, or are your prayers equally employed with praise to your God? On vacation, we attended the Baptist Church in Creede, Colorado. As the morning service began, the pastor challenged the congregation to pray silently for five minutes. There was a requirement however on our prayers to the Lord. We could not ask God or petition Him for one thing. Our five minutes of prayer must be spent in praise. For five minutes, we searched for reasons to thank and praise God! God loves for us to praise Him! It is like the most pungent, aromatic fragrance to God, when we praise Him with our prayers! Psalm 141:2 is the desire of our heart when we are living in the Praise Zone. It says, "Let my prayer be set forth before Thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice." Let your prayers be incense!

Praise should be as natural as breathing for the child of God! Let your breath be praise!

Will you praise God today? Will you leave here with praise for God in your heart and on your lips? Will you determine to focus more upon praise? Make your commitment today, to Live In The Praise Zone!

* Credits: "The Benefits Of Praise", By Charles Stanley

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