Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Meaning of Praise”

“The Meaning of Praise”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Praise is so important that an entire book of the Bible is primarily focused on it. I speak of the book of Psalms. Therefore, it necessary to define praise; to identify the object of praise; and to enable deep and critical thought concerning praise. Just look around our great city. We are blessed with an extraordinary number of churches. I suggest that the reason is God has “built” man to praise Him. Praise and worship go hand in hand. God made us for worship which requires praising the object of worship, Him.

Webster’s Dictionary defines praise as expressing approval or admiration. It continues the definition by including the idea of giving glory. The essential ingredient in praise is that it requires an object.

Since the Garden, men have had the desire to praise. All too often praise was given to other men or places. Men will praise someone or something that considered worthy. Praise and worth are connected.

You might take a little test. Think about that which consumes your time and money. Then, consider whether the consumers you identify are worthy of your praise. In other words, would you choose to praise the one(s) to whom you give so much of your time and finances?

You may not agree with me at this point, but I am seeking to get you to think about worth. As you examine the definition it is clear that praise and worth are connected. The psalmist identified the greatest object of worth. Psalm 146, written by a man carried along by the Spirit of God, described a singular commitment to praise God! He said that he would declare praise to God throughout his entire life which he acknowledged was given by God.

Why would he make such a commitment? The answer is God alone is worthy of man’s praise! God alone saves man. Every instance of deliverance from oppression is by the sovereign hand of God. Only God is eternal. Opposed to this all men die. There are no exceptions. The only hope for man is God. Only God gives eternal life, a life that will never end. God raises the dead. He gives those whom He chooses eyes to see the truth, Jesus. Jesus defined eternal life as knowing God and the One whom He sent, even Jesus Christ, John 17:3.

In addition, we see injustice all around us robbing us of hope unless we look to God who is perfectly just. The Bible declares that He will execute perfect justice. And, the Bible, God’s word written, is always true and altogether reliable. The psalmist affirmed the holy justice of God and wrote: God “executes justice for the oppressed, (God) gives food to the hungry.” Jesus said that God the Father will provide everything that is needed for His children.

If this isn’t enough to convince you of God’s worthiness to be praised, then know that God is King. He rules all of His Creation. God’s absolute and sovereign rule of all Creation is not relative. That is, you may be thinking that I write such things because I’m a Christian Pastor. Indeed I am. And, not only do I write these things, but I actually believe them! But, to paraphrase a great philosopher, if something is not true for all it’s not true at all. God is the Creator and Ruler of His Universe. Jesus said that “all authority in heaven and on earth” was given to Him. God who made us for worship is the only worthy object. Praise, which is part of worship, is to declare the character and deeds of the object. As we understand praise in this way, we likewise know that God is its only worthy object.

I’ve come to the end. Praise is the act of declaring the attributes and deeds of God who is the only rightful object of man’s praise. God alone is worthy of our praise. I pray that God has used me to guide your thoughts about this very important aspect of life, namely to praise Him.

“Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do His will, working in you that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Hebrews 13:20-21

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “The Holy Day”

“The Holy Day”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor of Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
Relax, I’m not suggesting that Christians should observe some arbitrary day in the year. I am declaring that God established one day in seven to be holy, set apart to Him. From “the beginning of the world to the resurrection of Christ…” that day was Saturday. Since Christ’s resurrection the Christian Sabbath is Sunday (The Westminster Confession of Faith, Chapter 21, Par. 7).

The Protestant Reformation did not change the Sabbath Day from Saturday to Sunday. Some Pope of the Church of Rome did not change the Sabbath Day. The early Church began to worship on Sunday, the Lord’s Day, Acts 20:7; 1Corinthians 16:2; Revelation 1:10.

Christians know that God’s command, “keep holy the Sabbath Day” is still binding! If you profess Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior, you will make worship on the Lord’s Day your top priority. Christians worship on the Lord’s Day not only because God has commanded it, but because God has given them a desire for Him.

Sabbath observance demonstrates four aspects of life in Christ. First, it is the time when God’s people gather to praise Him as the Creator. Second, God’s people gather on the Lord’s Day to remember His salvation. Third, God gave man the Sabbath to call men to rest from their normal labors and be reminded that we are all equal in Christ. Fourth, the Sabbath Celebration on the Lord’s Day is a time during which God’s faithfulness is celebrated by those who declare their membership in the Covenant community.

Those who have been born again by the Spirit of God desire to worship Him on the Lord’s Day. The word of God declares that Christ is the reality of the Sabbath Day revealed in the Old Testament, Colossians 2:16-17. There is an eschatological meaning of the Sabbath. The Sabbath points to the final “rest” promised by God to all genuine Christians.

God’s order of salvation revealed in Scripture is necessary in understanding who God expects to worship Him on the Lord’s Day. The order of God’s salvation is: Effectual Call, Regeneration, Conversion, Justification, Adoption, Sanctification and Glorification. Each step along the way is by God’s action. In other words, a Christian is one who has been saved, is being saved and will be saved by God’s grace alone in Christ alone through faith alone.

Christians, those made “new creations” don’t go to church. Christians are the church. The visible church, the one we see, is defined as those who profess faith in Jesus Christ and their children. Therefore, genuine Christians know why corporate worship on the Lord’s Day is their top priority. Even though there are times when we might be prevented from worship on the Lord’s Day, we still have the desire to be in the presence of God with God’s people. Some Sundays, we might not “feel” like going to church. Yet, we know that we belong at church on Sunday. When we miss corporate worship, we miss being encouraged by our brothers and sisters. More, we miss being lifted up by our sovereign God.

God made every one for worship. Men and woman will worship someone or something. All men intuitively know that worship is not an option. Worship, in its plain meaning, is to bow down before and serve the object of worship. The Christian bows down before and serves God and in the process is “served” by God!

The worship manual of the Old Testament Church and the New Testament Church, the book of Psalms states the Christian’s desire to worship God. Psalm 122:1, “I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the LORD!”’ God places in each believer a desire to gather with God’s people to declare His praises and to hear Him speak both in the reading of Scripture and in the Proclamation of Scripture. As a result, believers are edified or if you choose to use this word, fed.

God commanded His people to “Keep holy the Sabbath Day.” Christians keep the Sabbath holy by worshiping Him on Sunday, the Lord’s Day. As we worship Him, we remember that He is the Creator and we are His creatures. We are reminded of His deliverance out of the bondage to sin. We know that we have been designed by Him to rest in Him. And we affirm that we are members of the Covenant Community.