A Life Of Praise

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Philipians 4, Joshua 5 & 6, Acts 16, 2 Chronicles 20
Lesson Number: 

Lesson 9

A Life of Praise

(Philippians 4, Joshua 5 & 6, Acts 16, 2 Chronicles 20)

Introduction: A TED Talk I watched a few years ago addressed the issue of mental attitudes. The speaker said that before she made an important presentation she would raise both arms above her head - which would look like a “Y.” She said this practice gave her a feeling of confidence. Psalms 63:4 says “So I will bless You as long as I live; in Your name I will lift up my hands.” This speaker stumbled onto something that I believe God designed in us - praising God changes our attitude. Let’s dive into our study of the Bible and learn more about praising God and what it does for us!

  1. The Praise Effect
    1. Read Philippians 4:4. A university Bible teacher once told me that there were times in which he did not feel like praising God. I had great admiration for this man and wondered what I should think about his statement. What do you think about it?
      1. Our text tells us to rejoice always in God. Is it possible to rejoice in God but not feel like praising Him?
    2. Read Philippians 4:5. What does my “reasonableness” have to do with rejoicing in God? (Some of the oldest translations translate the underlying word as “modesty,” “meekness,” or “humility.” That suggests that rejoicing in God changes our attitude. It makes us more reasonable.)
    3. Read Philippians 4:6-7. What attitude results from rejoicing in God? (We have “the peace of God.” The university Bible teacher was missing the lesson that in the discouraging times when he did not feel like praising God, he could improve his mental state by praising God.)
      1. How does the TED talk lady’s discovery fit into these texts in Philippians? (She was holding her arms in the praise position. Just doing that gave her peace and confidence!)
    4. Read Philippians 4:8. I’ve always thought that this verse told me that it was improper to “think about” things that are impure or dishonorable. That immediately made me think of crime shows that I see on television. Consider the context we have discussed. What do you think Philippians is really teaching us in this verse? (I think this is mental health advice. Do you want to have a peaceful mind, then focus on things that are right and excellent.)
      1. One thing I should mention about the university Bible teacher is that he had a son who died. Are we promised an improved attitude towards God in the face of a horrific tragedy?
    5. Read Philippians 4:9. Is a positive peaceful attitude what God wants for us? (He is “the God of peace,” and praising Him gives us peace.)
  2. The Reason for Praise
    1. When God’s people left slavery in Egypt and headed for the land God promised to them, the walled city of Jericho was a huge problem standing in their way. Read Joshua 5:13-14. Joshua is the commander of God’s people. How do you explain that the “commander of the army of the Lord” is not on their side? (He says, interestingly, that he is on neither side even though he is about to side with God’s people.)
    2. Read Joshua 5:15. Who is this “commander of the army of the Lord?” (This is Jesus, no angel would say that the ground was holy because of his presence.)
      1. Think about this. God says that He is not on our side or the side of the “bad guys.” How much peace does that give you? (God is on God’s side. He asks us to be on His side too. This says a great deal about our life goal of giving glory to God.)
    3. Let’s read the battle plan in Joshua 6:2-5. Assume you had never heard this story before. Would this plan make any sense? (Of course not!)
      1. What have we read that makes this plan sensible? (The important army is that of the Lord, and not that of Joshua.)
      2. Apply this concept to the challenges in your life. If you are on God’ side, if you are working to bring glory to God, what problems can survive God’s army?
        1. Is this attitude a formula for peace and praise?
    4. Read 2 Chronicles 20:1-3. King Jehoshaphat learns that three armies are coming to get him (and his nation) and they are close. What is the first thing that Jehoshaphat does? (He turns to God in prayer.)
    5. Read the part of Jehoshaphat’s prayer found in 2 Chronicles 20:10-12. Is Jehoshaphat unfairly faced with this problem? (He tells God it is unfair. He hints that God might have previously made a wrong decision about the invading nations.)
    6. Read 2 Chronicles 20:17. What is asked of God’s people and what is not asked? (They are asked to “stand firm” but they are not asked to fight.)
    7. Read 2 Chronicles 20:20-22. Would you put the choir ahead of the soldiers?
      1. Notice the timing in verse 22. I read it as saying that when they began to “sing and praise” God set an ambush against their enemies. Their praise triggered God’s actions on their behalf. Do you read this the same way?
      2. How would you apply this “choir ahead of soldiers” to the problems you face in your life?
      3. Why do you think they had the army present?
  3. The Practice of Praise
    1. Jesus gives us the model prayer in Matthew 6:9-13. Read Matthew 6:9. What is the first line of our model prayer about? (Praising God! The first thing Jesus suggests that we do when we turn to God is praise Him.)
    2. Read Psalms 145:10. Who praises God according to this text? (God’s creation and God’s saints.)
    3. Let’s go back and see some of Jesus’ instructions given before the Lord’s Prayer. Read Matthew 6:6. Now compare Psalms 145:10-12. Should our praise be private? (Jesus tells us that our prayers, which start out with praise, should be private. But otherwise our praise is public.)
      1. When was the last time you publicly praised God outside of church?
    4. In Acts 16 Paul and Silas are beaten and thrown in jail in violation of their religious liberty rights. The charge is that their religious speech and practice harmed the business of others. Read Acts 16:23-25. What is unusual about this praise?
      1. Would you feel like praising God after having been beaten, put in jail, and locked in stocks so that you could not move to feel more comfortable?
    5. Read Acts 16:26-28. Why were the rest of the prisoners present? Why had they not run away?
    6. Read Acts 16:29-30. Why would the jailer ask two prisoners about what he should “do to be saved?” Do you think he normally asked that of his inmates? (The critical part of the answer of why the other prisoners were still present and why the jailer asked about salvation has to be the prayers and praise of Paul and Silas. Everyone who heard it sensed that something unusual was taking place.)
      1. Why would the jailer and the other prisoners think this was unusual? (Because it took place in a context that would, in their experience, normally result in anger and resentment. Praising at this time was remarkable.)
      2. What is the lesson for us? How can our praise be most effective? (Praising God in the middle of trouble and trials is the most effective praise. It is completely unexpected.)
    7. Friend, praise blesses you! It changes you. Not only does praise bring glory to God, but it is key to victory over the trials of life. When you praise in the midst of trouble, God not only fights for you, but you present a compelling witness for God. Will you determine, by the power of the Holy Spirit to make praise a central part of your life?
  4. Next week: Meekness in the Crucible.


Copr. 2022, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.

Traducido por Rafael