Live A Life of Praise
On A Daily Basis
22 May 2016
Tamaki Uemura(植村環) was called Japanese Teresa Mother in Japan. Her father was a pastor and she also became a pastor. She built a nursing home for those struggling with leprosy. While serving and treating those patients, she contracted leprosy. When she suffered from leprosy, she wrote these words. "Even though I don't see things with my eyes, I'm thankful since my spiritual eyes are open and see God's glory. Some dust come into eyes since I lost my eyebrows. I realized how thankful it was that I had my eyebrows. I'm thankful that through this disease, now I have a thankful heart and can truly give praise to God." What an amazing confession! What wonderful praise! Who is the blessed person? It is the person who always gives thanks and praise to God regardless of his or her situation. Do you praise God in your life?
We often say the Hebrew word 'Hallelujah'. It means 'Praise the Lord' in English. 'Hallelu' means praise and 'jah' means God. We find this word in many songs of our hymn book. Händel Georg Friedrich composed an oratorio named "Messiah". In this oratorio, there are 53 songs. The 47th song is "Hallelujah". Our church choir sang this song on Easter Sunday this year. The word 'Hallelujah' is repeated many times in this song. After Handel finished composing this song, he shed tears and said these words, "I saw the glorious heaven and mighty God".
Why do we need to praise God? Isaiah 43 21 says, "The people whom I made for myself will make known my praise (NLV)." Through this verse, we find the purpose of God's creation of humans. He said that he created humans because he wanted to be praised by them. He orders all humans to praise him. We have a duty to praise God in our lives. There is no exemption.
I walk around the neighborhood almost every night. Since I walk around the neighborhood during the weekdays, many people recognize me. I greet them and sometimes, have a short conversation with them. While walking, I usually listen to Christian worship songs in the radio. Or I pray to God for church members. I love walking around the neighborhood by praising and praying to God. There is a home church in the neighborhood. Few members gather together every Sunday afternoons and have worship in the back yard of the house. They sing worship songs to God. I don't understand their language and it seems a Tongan church. Whenever I pass that place, I feel joyful. Sometimes, I stop at the entrance of the house and listen to their praises. Whenever I hear them praising God, I feel like my spirit is high.
However, in contrast to that home church, there is a house in the next block where people sing old popular songs with a karaoke machine almost every Friday or Saturday night. Sometimes, they sing Sunday as well. They have a party in the front yard of the house. When I pass that house, I hear their songs. I also love to hear them singing old popular songs. One night, I heard them singing the song named, 'Take Me Home, Country Roads' by John Denver. When they sang that song, I was also singing that song while passing their place. I constantly sang that song until I finished my walk that night. I also sang that song at home that night. I found myself singing that song even the next day, all day long. That song was on my lips for two days. I realized that when I passed the home church, I praised God and prayed to him. But my praises and prayers stopped when I passed the house where people sang with the karaoke. So now, whenever I pass that house especially on the weekends, I try to walk fast so that I don't lose my praise and prayers to God.
We find that the writer of today's Psalm praises God with his poem. He lists God's creations in the universe and says that those things also praise God as humans. Here we come to know that praising God is not only our duty but also the duty of all creations on the earth and in the universe. Sun, moon, stars and all creations of God have a duty to praise God. They know God, the creator and praise him with their own ways. We don't know how they praise God. But they praise God with their own ways.
When you talk about science, you may think that science is always contrary to Christian faith. There are many Christian scientists. They say that the more they study about the universe, the nature, and human body, the more they find the clear evidence of God's existence. These days, God's existence and the work of his creation are proved through science.
In today's Psalm, we also come to know that not only God did create all things but he rules them. All creations are under God's hand and his authority. They function under his order and law. Verse 6 says, "He has made them last forever and ever. He has set a Law which will not pass away (NLV)." Sun, moon and stars don't function accidently or randomly, but function under God's order and law that he has set for them.
While walking around the neighborhood during the night, I see the stars. We all know that the locations of the stars change according to the seasons because the earth turns around the sun. I love to see the stars of Orion while I walk. The location of Orion changes according to each season. Now I know where I can find the stars of Orion in the sky during each season. All creations function according to God's law and order.
Verse 8 says that God controls the weather. It says, "Fire and hail, snow and clouds, and wind storms, obeying His Word. It clearly says that wind storms obey God's word." We know the story that the disciples of Jesus met the furious wind in the middle of the sea. They were afraid of the wind. Then Jesus rebuked the wind and the wind immediately calmed down. God created all things and they are under his order and law.
Does the wind of life blow in your life? Does the wind of life break your things? Does it part or scatter your things? Believe that God controls the wind of life. Believe that he can calm down the wind of life. He can resolve all situations. Believe that he protects your things from the wind of life. Believe that he saves your life from danger. Now you have to give a praise of thanksgiving to him.
There was a Christian singer named Ira D. Sankey. He helped the ministry of Pastor D. L. Moody. In 1876, he was spending a Christmas Eve on a steamboat on the Delaware River. In the middle of the party, people asked him to sing for them. He stood in front of people and was going to sing a Christmas Carol. But all of sudden, the words of the hymn "Saviour, Like a Shepherd Lead Us" popped into his mind. It was the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. He chose to obey the Holy Spirit. He sang that song. "Saviour, like a shepherd lead us, Much we need thy tender care. In thy pleasant pastures feed us, For our use thy folds prepare. Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! Thou hast bought us, thine we are. Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus! Thou hast bought us, thine we are. "
When he sang that song, every heart was stirred by his song. At the end of the song, one man who had a rough looking stepped forward to Sankey. That man asked, "Did you ever serve in the Union Army?" Sankey answered, "Yes, in the spring of 1860". The man asked, "Can you remember if you were doing picket duty on a bright moonlight night in 1862?" Sankey answered, "Yes, I do," Sankey asked him with surprise. "Were you there too?" The man answered, "Yes, I did, too, but I was serving in the Confederate Army. That night, I saw you standing at your post. You were my enemy at that moment. I took my musket and was going to shoot you. At that instant, you began to sing a song. The song was 'Saviour, like a shepherd lead us'. I could hear every single word clearly. I began to think of my childhood and my mother. My mother had sung that song to me many times. When you sang that song that night, I was moved. I began to think of the savior Jesus. My arm dropped to my side. I couldn't shoot you." Mr. Sankey knew that he could have ended his life at that moment but his song to God saved him from that man. Mr. Sankey threw his arms about the man who had been his enemy."
Most of you have watched the movie named 'Titanic'. This movie was based on a true story. You see a man named Wallace Hartley at the end of the movie. He was a bandmaster of his band on the ship. Whenever his band had a concert on the ship, his fellow band members always played a couple of hymns at the end of their concert. Wallace did it because he wanted to spread the gospel to the people on the ship. When the ship was sinking, Wallace saw people trying to escape from the ship. He decided to spread the gospel to people at that moment. He played the song "Nearer My God to Thee". When he played, his band members also joined him.
Many of the survivors said that he and his band continued to play until the very end. None of the band members survived. When they played, people thought about God. I believe that they also gave praise to God until the last moment they died.
About 10 years ago, I served a church in Pasadena of Southern California. There was a senior member who suffered from leukemia. I visited him several times in the hospital. One night, I visited him again because he was very sick. His wife was taking care of him. I delivered a very short message to him. At the end of my sermon, I sang a hymn, named "Amazing Grace" for him. When I came back home and was resting at home, I received a phone call from his family that he passed away. I was sad to hear of his death. At the funeral, the family asked me to sing the hymn "Amazing Grace". After the funeral, his wife came to me and said that she was very thankful that I sang that song for her husband before he died. She said that the hymn really touched her husband and her. One year later, I had to leave that church. On the last Sunday, she came to me and shed tears before me. She said "Thank you" by holding my hands.
There is power in our praise to God. When you praise God, God is pleased and he blesses you. Do you feel frustrated or depressed? Are you disappointed by people? Have you experienced failure in your life? It is time for you to praise God. When you praise God, you will experience God's peace in your heart. When you praise God, you will experience God's encouragement for you. When you praise God, you will experience his healing and restoration in your life.
Rev. Dr. David Choi
Last modified 31 May 2016.