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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Skip Heitzig » Skip Heitzig - Hallelujah (Psalm 150)

Skip Heitzig - Hallelujah (Psalm 150)

Skip Heitzig - Hallelujah (Psalm 150)
Skip Heitzig - Hallelujah (Psalm 150)
TOPICS: Playlist, Psalms, Praise, Worship

Let's turn to Psalm 150 as he begins. I'm going to ask you to do me a favor; could you stand to your feet? We're going to put the words of the psalm upon the screens and we're going to read this psalm together. It says in the Bible that "I will in the midst of the congregation declare your praise". So we open this up as sort of our statement of placing a value on God and his worship. So we'll read this together. Psalm 150, let's say it out loud: Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; Praise him in his mighty firmament! Praise him for his mighty acts; Praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with the sound of the trumpet; Praise him with the lute and harp! Praise him with the timbrel and dance; Praise him with stringed instruments and flutes! Praise him with loud cymbals; Praise him with clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord! Have a seat. Job well done.

And now, Father, we direct our hearts toward you. And no matter what emotional or spiritual or financial condition we find ourselves in, we are meditating on truths that speak of your worth, your value, your person. And as we enjoy this final song in your playlist, as we consider the lyrics, as we apply them to our lives, I pray that the Spirit of the living God would take the living Word of God and make it so powerfully meaningful to our lives, our hearts, so that it would translate into all of the relationships we have, there would be a noticeable difference that we have been in your presence, in Jesus' name, amen.

Praise is a universal language. I've had the opportunity to be in cathedrals in Europe, and thatched huts in Africa, and windowless concrete buildings in India, open fields in Thailand, all gatherings of believers together. And even though when they sang I couldn't tell you a word they said, it's as if praise bonded us together. It was a universal language. We were praising the same One. Praise is universal and in that universal praise there is one word, however, that no matter where you're from, no matter what language you speak, you always recognize a single word. And it's a Hebrew word, it's not a German or American word. It's not a dialect in Africa or India. It's a Hebrew word, but we all recognize it, and it's the word "hallelujah". And I've been in those places, and though I'm going, "I don't know what they're saying," when they go, "Hallelujah," I go, "I know that word". It's the only one that I can pick out.

It's so universal a word that that Hebrew word has now become a part of our language. It's in the American dictionary. It's in our lexicon and in the lexicon of every language around the world. It means "praise the Lord". But it's a Hebrew term, as I mentioned. Twenty-four times in the Hebrew, Old Testament, we find the word "hallelujah," and four more times in a single New Testament chapter, Revelation, chapter 19, "hallelujah," "praise the Lord".

One of my favorite stories has always been the story of the preacher who owned a horse and he wanted to sell his horse and he had it up for sale. And a guy was interested and came over to look at it. And he said, "Okay, I'll buy it". They negotiated the price, and the preacher said, "You know, you need to know that this horse responds to different commands than what you're probably used to. I trained it to respond to 'God' language. So if you want this horse to go, don't say, 'Giddyup,' doesn't even know what that means. You say, 'Praise the Lord,' and this horse was off. And if you want this horse to stop, don't say, 'Whoa'; it doesn't understand that word. You need to say, 'Amen,' and that horse will stop. So, 'praise the Lord' and 'amen,' those are the only commands you need to know".

So the man paid the fee, mounted the horse, and just gently said, "Praise the Lord," and the horse started walking. And he directed it happily toward his home. And as they were out across the field, suddenly a jackrabbit darted across the path and spooked the horse. And the horse took off into a full gallop toward a ravine with a 200-foot drop. The man panicked. He did not know what to do. He knew what this meant to him, and so just instinctively he said, "Whoa, whoa, whoa"! The horse kept going, kept going. And he suddenly remembered the command. "Oh, yeah, amen"! And just at the edge of the cliff the horse stopped. And by this time the man's just sweating, panting, and he went, "Oh, praise the Lord"! I suppose that would be the only time it would be inappropriate to say, "Praise the Lord," all other times are quite appropriate. You know, when I first heard somebody say, "Praise the Lord," I just felt a little awkward.

I was a new believer and I remember going to a church and somebody saying, "Praise the Lord". And I wanted to praise the Lord, don't get me wrong. I loved the whole idea of being a believer, but, I don't know, just somebody saying, "Praise the Lord". I did not want to be cliché. And some of the people that I knew that said "praise the Lord" a lot, they were just a little odd to me and I just didn't want to do that. Well, as I started reading the Bible, though, I found it all over Scripture. And what's the first phrase in Psalm 150? "Praise the Lord"! The psalm begins with that phrase and ends with that phrase. Not only this psalm, but Psalm 146, 147, 148, 149, and Psalm 150 all begin and end with that phrase "praise the Lord"; "praise the Lord," ten times in those psalms.

Thirteen times in Psalm 150 the word "praise" appears in virtually every line of the lyric, "Praise, praise, praise". Praise is so much a central part of the life of the believer, it is mentioned in the Bible 307 times, "Praise the Lord". It comes from two Hebrew words put together, "hallelujah" does: halal, which means to boast or brag; and then the shortened form of Yahweh, Yah, "the Lord"; brag about the Lord, or say something good about the Lord, or honor and admire the Lord, or express your approval of the Lord. Now let me say this: we praise whatever it is we enjoy. If you enjoy the Lord, praising him, bragging about him, saying something good about him will not be hard for you. If you do not enjoy the Lord, it's going to be much more difficult.

As Vance Havner used to say, "Whatever's in the well will come up in the bucket". So if praise is in the bucket, it means it's in the wellspring of your life and your heart. What I'd like to do with you as we go through Psalm 150 and end our series, our Playlist series, is give you a picture of praise. And I'm going to give you the frame, the framework of praise. I'm going to give you four sides to that frame. There are four questions that this psalm answers: it answers the Who? question, the Where? question, the Why? question, and the How? question. And that provides a perfect frame to put praise right in the middle. So let's ask and then answer the first question: To whom is praise conveyed? Well, you know the answer: It's the Lord. And it says, "Praise the Lord"! followed by "Praise God," followed by "Praise him, Praise him, Praise him", all through the psalm.

Now that answers the Who? question: To whom is praise conveyed? To the Lord. God wants praise exclusively. You are to praise God without any rival, without any competition, solely, singularly to praise him. When God gave the Ten Commandments, I think right around the middle of the Ten Commandments, he makes a statement that has bothered some people. He gives the commandments and then he says, "For I, the Lord, am a jealous God". And some people think that I ought to make an apology on behalf of God explaining why God would use such a term, "I'm a jealous God". I don't apologize for it. If you're married, you get it. Husbands, if you're married to a beautiful woman or, your woman is beautiful because she's your wife, and she should be called that by you, but you don't want to share her with anyone. There's a jealousy that comes over you at the thought of sharing her with another man, "Out of the question"!

So jealousy relationally is a good thing. And the Bible says that we, the church, are the bride of Christ. And as the bride of Christ he is to get our total admiration, our total adoration, our absolute devoted praise. In the book of Revelation, John was getting all of these messages and visions about the future. And it became so overwhelming, at one point he decided to actually get down and praise the angel giving him the revelation. And when he started doing it, the angel said, "Now, stop doing that. See that you do this not. I am your fellow servant. Worship God". So I think it's safe to say, it's biblical to say that God does not want angels worshiped, saints worshiped, preachers worshiped, and he certainly doesn't want you to worship yourself. He and he alone is the One to whom praise is directed. And this is such an ongoing theme in Scripture, is it not? That's the first commandment, right? God said, "I am the Lord your God who delivered you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods besides me".

In that one commandment there's a lot of things going on. God is saying, "This is who I am to you, this is what I've done for you, and this is what I want from you". This is who I am to you: "I am the Lord your God". This is what I've done for you: "I've delivered you out of bondage". This is what I want from you: "You will have no other gods besides me". God wants and deserves your exclusive praise. Then in Isaiah chapter 42 verse 8 he declares, "I am the Lord that is my name. I will not give my glory to another, nor will I share my praise". He wants it all. He deserves it all. So, that's the first part of the framework, the Who? question. Who gets it? God gets it. Before we go on to the second one, though, I want to ask you three questions. I want you to take a little test. This test will help you evaluate how God-centered your life is, how much praise of the Lord is in your life.

So I'm going to ask you three simple questions. First is a question of your thoughts, second is a question of your motives, and third is a question of your actions. Okay, you ready? Now, you take this test internally; you don't share it with anyone. This is just you, your heart. First question: What do you think about? "Well, I think about a lot of things". No. What do you think about when all the activity of the day is done and you settle? When you are alone with your thoughts, what do your thoughts gravitate to?

Now I understand that life can have ups and downs and you can think about a lot of different things. It can be heartaches and troubles and relational issues and financial issues. But for the most part, in your life when your mind settles, what do you think about? You know, it's like a compass. You can take a compass and point it in a lot of different directions, but you just set it on the desk or table or pulpit, and the needle will point to north. And your mind, like a compass, thinks about a lot of things during the day, but once it just sets and settles, does it ever go to the Lord? Does it ever just go, "Oh, Lord, praise you". And that's important, because the Bible says in Proverbs, "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he". So that's the first question: What do you think about?

Here's the second question. This is going to be a harder question to really answer honestly. It's a question of your motives. Why do you do what you do? Why do you say what you say? Why do you text what you text? Why do you post what you post? Are any of the motives of any of those things having to do with trying to impress people or get people to like you, or is it more important to you to have God approve? That's a harder thing to answer, quite honestly. But it was Paul who said, "Thus we speak, not as pleasing men, but as pleasing God who tests our hearts". So, first, a question of thought; second, a question of motives; here's a third question of activities, and it's of your service to the Lord: How are you presently serving the Lord? How do you serve him? Jesus said, "No man can serve two masters; he's going to love one and he's going to hate the other". Joshua, to the people of Israel said, "Choose you this day whom you will serve," because whatever it is you serve is what you praise.

So, that's then the first part of the framework. It's the Who? question: To whom is praise conveyed? Answer: To God alone, exclusively. Let's take the second part of this frame of the picture. It's the Where? question: Where does praise take place? Now, if I were just to ask you right now randomly: "Hey, where should praise take place"? I bet most of you would say, "Anywhere, anytime. Anywhere, anytime, by anyone, praise can happen". And you'd be right. The psalmist says all of that. However, he mentions two places in particular, and I want you to notice them in Psalm 1, "Praise God in his sanctuary"; and then, second, "Praise God in his mighty firmament".

Now, let me ask you the question: What do you think is the sanctuary he's referring to? Anyone at all? Temple in Jerusalem; that would be his context. When he says, "Praise God in the sanctuary," I'm sure he was thinking of the public feast, the daily sacrifices, the festivals of people gathering together in the sanctuary of God to worship him. Now we know there's no temple today, and we know that we're the temple of the Holy Spirit, so we don't go to a specific place. But, needless to say, when we gather together corporately in what we call the sanctuary, the direction of it, the tone of it, the purpose of it is for praise.

Now, some of you know, probably most of you know that this wasn't built to be a church, this was built as a sports complex. This was, this building, this room you're sitting in was a soccer field when we bought it. It had AstroTurf. Where there is badly stained and poorly chosen carpet, there used to be AstroTurf, and we pulled it up and we sold it. But it was a sports arena, it wasn't a church. But when we bought it, we dedicated it, and we said, "From now on it's a sanctuary. From now on there'll be praises sung and there'll be the Bible taught and we will direct our thoughts toward the Lord in this place". But then notice what else he says. He says, "Praise him in his mighty firmament," literally "in the expanse of the heavens". So he's saying, "Praise God on earth and praise God in heaven". That's sort of a way of saying "everywhere". It's as if he's summoning all of the humans on earth and all of the angels in heaven to join corporately together in the singular anthem of praise.

Now, just for a moment I want to take your mind to the heavens. Would you not agree that in time (in terms of the size of the crowd and the beauty of the location) heaven is going to be the greatest praise event ever? Right? When John in Revelation saw a little picture of it in Revelation 4 and 5, he said, "I saw four living creatures and I saw twenty-four elders bow down. And then I looked out and I saw, gosh, as far as the eye can see". He said these words: "I looked again, and I heard the singing of thousands of millions of angels around the throne, and the living beings, and the twenty-four elders". So he saw this huge, momentous gathering in the heavens, and listen to what they were doing: "And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: 'To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise, forever and ever!'"

So, the thought here of this psalm is this: Let God be praised on earth as well as in heaven. It's the same thought that Jesus had when he taught us to pray and he said, "When you pray, say: Our father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven". When you and I praise on earth, it's the one activity that is mirroring, matching what is going on in heaven. His will is being done on earth as it is in heaven. So right now, right here on this earth in our lives, praise ought to fill our lives like praise fills the halls of heaven. I mean, think about it, it's going to be part of your eternal occupation, don't you think you ought to get a little practice now? I've said it before, and I've said it in this series, and I'll just say it again, because we're going to move on, but this is inappropriate when we gather to sing. I'm sorry, that doesn't work. You can sit in front of your computer and do that. But when you're here in a place where God's people are gathered together and there are songs to be sung and a Lord who is alive to be praised, we engage in worship, we sing those anthems of praise to him.

There's a man who was visiting a church, and it was a little church in Connecticut. And it was more of a formal church and a formal liturgy was given. And there was a part in the service called the Eucharistic liturgy, and at that point there were kneelers in the pews, and people got on their knees and they sang "Hallelujah". And the word "hallelujah" was the words they were singing. And this visitor, this man noticed one woman with her arms raised heavenward while she sang "hallelujah". What caught his attention wasn't so much that she had her hands raised, it's that her hands were twisted, were gnarled, were diseased, crumpled up. Next to her were walking crutches. And he just looked at that picture of that woman like this with those hands raised, and he thought, "Dear Lord, how could a woman like that with that kind of suffering lifting up those arms sing 'hallelujah'"?

That's an important question and that brings us to the third part of the frame. That's the Why? question: Why should praise occur? That question is also answered. Verse 2, "Praise him for his mighty acts; praise him according to his excellent greatness"! Two reasons are given: we praise God for what he does, and we praise God for who he is, no matter what he does. Okay? We praise God for what he does, and we praise God for who he is, no matter what he does. We praise him for his mighty acts. Every service when I ask people, I said, "So can you think of one of the mighty acts of God"? The first answer that came out, that's why I didn't do it this time, because now I can anticipate it, somebody said, "Creation," which is a good answer. When we see creation, which is a mighty act, when we see the intricacies of God's creation, it should lead us to be amazed and to praise the Lord for the ingenuity of the Creator, the immensity of Creator.

The other night I was with my family. We were in a little restaurant. We were eating outdoors and it was in the evening and the clouds were going by and they were changing color. And my little grandson, Seth, kept pointing up, saying, "Papa, sunset". And just a little while later the clouds would change into a pink hue, and he goes, "Papa, sunset". And then they'd get a little darker and more purple, "Papa, sunset". And he was so enthralled by the change of the color in the sunset, and it dawned on me, that's precisely how God intended creation. That's the kind of response God wants as we observe creation. We look at it and we go, "That's beautiful! That's amazing! Praise the Lord! I appreciate that art and that beauty".

So the intricacies of creation help us to appreciate the ingenuity and the immensity of the Creator. That's what it says in the book of Psalms. We actually read Psalm 19, "The heavens declare the glory of God; the firmament shows his handiwork". So as we look upward, we should say, "Praise the Lord, that's a mighty act". And then when we look inward at us, that's a mighty act. Here we are, God formed us. The Bible says we are "fearfully and wonderfully made". And I know we spend a lot of time looking at the mirror, and that's always a losing game. But if you were to look inside of your body, and I remember studying this years ago, but I'm always amazed at the human body. You have in your body about thirty trillion cells. That's what they tell us, the average human body has thirty trillion cells.

Now some have many more than that, some have much less than that, but that's the average, thirty trillion. In a single cell of your body you have what's called DNA molecule, deoxyribonucleic acid. It's basically a blueprint. It's an instruction manual that tells that cell how to act every single moment from birth till death. It's a set of instructions. Now, if you were to take one human cell and translate that DNA material into text, into written book form, one cell would produce 4,000 volumes of literature. Essentially, one cell would fill this whole stage from bottom to top all the way back with books, one cell. If you were to translate all thirty trillion cells of your body into text, into written information, it would fill the Grand Canyon forty times over to overflowing. "Fearfully and wonderfully made". So when you look outward, you should say, "Praise the Lord"! when you look inward, "Praise the Lord, those are his mighty acts".

Now the mightiest act of all, however, isn't creation, it's redemption. The mightiest act of all is God sending his Son from heaven to earth to pay for our sins. No wonder in Second Corinthians 9 the apostle Paul, thinking of that act, said, "Thanks be to God [or praise be to God] for his indescribable gift"! So many mighty acts: creation, redemption, preservation, provision, all of that. So, we praise God for what he has done, but we also praise him for who he is. Now listen carefully, this is important, because sometimes in your life you can't readily think of what he does, your life is all about the bad stuff. "I'm going through a trial and feel overwhelmed by the situation and circumstances in my life".

Bad things have happened and are happening. And so you're not, like, counting all your blessings of all the things he has done. At that moment, that's when you turn to the second reason to do it, which supersedes all other reasons: you praise him just for who he is, just for who he is, his attributes: he's all powerful, he's ever-present, he's all-knowing, he cares for me. That's who he is. We "praise him according to his excellent greatness"! Did you know the word "praise" comes from a Latin and later on a French word that means price, price. When you declare praise, you are declaring the value of God irrespective of what you are experiencing. That's why that lady could raise those hands up in that church like this, because of who God is in her life. So we don't praise God for what we can get out of him, or we don't praise God because when we do it makes us feel really good.

"Those songs make me feel good". Cool, but there's a higher purpose, just for who he is. There's a berry, a little fruit in Africa. It's called the "taste berry". That's what it's called, taste berry. And you know why it's called that? Because when you put it in your mouth, it changes the taste of everything. Now listen to this, this is intriguing: when you eat a taste berry, it's sweet and pleasant. And if you eat something, after you eat the taste berry, for up to an hour, I've been told, it still tastes good. So you could eat sour fruit after you've had a taste berry, your taste buds are so altered by the taste berry, that even the sour fruit tastes pleasant and good, sweet. That would come in handy for some restaurants I've been to. I'd love to just eat a taste berry and then, "This is awesome"!

Listen carefully, praise is the "taste berry" of the Christian life, it's praise. When you make a declaration of praise, no matter how you feel or what you're going through, it takes the sorrow and even makes that pleasant to the taste, much better than without it. So, for who he is. So we have taken this picture and we have three sides of the frame: the "who", that's God; "where", everywhere, earth and heaven; "why", because of what he does, because of who he is. And here's the fourth part completing the picture: How? How is praise to be expressed? Verse 3, "Praise him with the sound of the trumpet; praise him with the lute and the harp! Praise him with the timbrel and the dance; praise him with stringed instruments and flute! Praise him with loud cymbals", my apologies that the Bible actually says the word "loud".

Some of you may be offended, but it says it, so I'm going to read it, "loud cymbals; praise him with clashing cymbals"! Sorry, the word "clashing" in is there. It will offend some of you, but it's in the Bible, so I'm going to read it. "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord". So that answers the How? question. How are we to praise the Lord? Two ways: with instruments man has made, and with breath that God has given. Three verses are devoted to eight instruments that are listed. And I'm not going to go through all the instruments and say now they were made and what they sounded like, 'cause they're lost in antiquity, many of them. But suffice it to say that music was always important to God's people in the proclamation of praise.

In the Old Testament we find Levitical choirs and instruments that David commissioned and some that he made himself. We have an interesting story in the Old Testament of a king sending worshipers out, musicians out as the front line of infantry in a battle. They would go first. I don't know if they wanted to get rid of their worship team or what it was, but they were out there giving glory and praise to God. Then we come to the New Testament, we read about psalms and hymns and spiritual songs that make melody unto the Lord. So music is a part of our expression and praise to the Lord. It's part of the art that forms around praise.

Most of you know that Martin Luther was not only a great reformer, but an author. What some of you may not realize is that he was also a lover of song and he wrote songs. He wrote worship songs. He even played an instrument, I'm told. He wrote these words; I want you to hear them: "Next to theology," writes Martin Luther, "I give to music the highest place and honor. Music is the art of the prophets, the only art that can calm the agitations of the soul. It is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents that God has given to us". And then he says this, shows his cantankerous side: "If any man despises music, as all fanatics do, for him I have no liking". Don't mess with Martin. "For music is a gift and the grace of God, not the invention of man. Thus it drives out the devil and it makes people cheerful. And one forgets all wrath, impurity, and other devices".

There's power in song. There's power in music. And I think God intended that to be. Have you ever heard a song on the radio that you haven't heard for a long time? But what you hear it, your mind goes back to when you first heard it and it's like you can even enter into the emotions you first felt. "Oh, man, I remember when I first heard that song. I remember that night". And sometimes it's a good memory. "Oh, that's our song, honey. That's the song we heard when we dated". Still to this day I can hear worship songs that were sung years ago that I remember, and it just brings back the emotion of what I was go through, what I felt the Lord was leading me through. So powerful. So, singing is such a part of who we are and how we express our praise.

There's a couple that left Moody Bible Institute and became missionaries to the southern Chol Indian tribe in Mexico. They had to get to this remote area by mule and by hand-carved canoe. And they got the this area to minister to the Chol Indians and they spent twenty-five years, the next twenty-five years of their life giving their lives to translate the New Testament in the Chol language. But what the missionaries said is that this was a people who did not know how to sing. They had no songs. So, when the missionaries were there, they not only taught them the Scripture, the gospel, but they taught them music, so much so that anyone who came to Christ learned songs. And the rest of the unconverted tribe referred to the Christians as the "singers," not Christians, but "those are the singers".

Now today there are over 12,000 believers in that tribe. It's a self-sustaining community. But what an interesting thing, they're "singers". And the missionary John Beekman said, "The reason they sing is because now they have a reason to sing". And every one of you has a good reason to sing, to lift your voice up, and so we sing and we praise with instruments that God has given or that man has made. And then, finally, with breath that God has given. Verse 6 sums it up, and we close. "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord"! Can I sum it up by simply saying, praise God by any and all means possible, by every conceivable instrument, but what you blow into or play with strings or bash together, or just if you can't play anything, and all you can do is this: hhhuuuuu. "I don't got much, but I got a breath". Good, then use it for the right reason.

Last week we saw that you could use your breath for the wrong reason, like gossip and complaining, and foul language. The highest way to use your breath is praise. And did you know that's the goal of all creation? Did you know that? The goal of all creation is this: "That as the name of Jesus Christ every knee should bow, every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord".

I'm going to close with this story, and I promise I will close with this story. But this is so important, I don't want you to miss this. Years ago there was a little boy who lived out in the country. And he had never in his life been to a circus. He had wanted to. He heard about what a circus is like. He heard that a circus was coming to town and he said, "Daddy, please, can I go to the circus on Saturday? I've always wanted to go". The father agreed and said, "If you finish all your chores by Saturday morning, then Saturday afterwards you can go down and go to the circus".

So it happened. He finished all his chores, and Saturday after he his chores were done his father gave him a dollar to pay the fare to go to the circus. So you know how long ago this was and where this was. Today, popcorn is like thirty bucks. You know, if you go to the fair, you know, you'll pay a hundred dollars for a corn or something. So anyway, it was a dollar to get into the circus back then. So he takes the dollar and he runs toward the town and he sees out in the streets people gathering together. And he looks to the crowd and sees on the street a parade. And there's caged animals that are on trailers going by, and then there's a marching band that goes by, and then another more marching band that goes by, and then another marching band that goes by.

And then, finally, at the end of the parade was a clown kind of dancing and doing tricks. The boy was just so excited, he walked down to the clown, since that was the last event in the parade, and gave the clown the dollar bill, turned around and he went back home. He had never been to a circus before and thought that was it, when all that was a parade leading to the circus tent where the circus would take place. But he paid his dollar and he went home and he missed the circus.

I can't help but think that there's many people that come to church exactly like that little boy, they come for the parade. There's the parade of worship songs and prayers and instruction and a final song, and they go home missing the main event, which is an actual encounter with the living God. Everything else is just a parade. The main event is where my heart connects with his heart in meaningful praise in a congregation of people. That's the main event and people miss it every week. Praise will transform you. It will change you. It is a declaration based not only on what he does, but who he is. And so I ask you: Who is he to you? Is he Lord? Is he Savior? Is he central to your life? Or is he just peripheral and you're okay with just the parade?

Father, those are true but convicting words to hear. Honestly, our heart yearns to make real contact, meaningful contact, that "praise" is our praise to you, and that we're confident that when it is uttered or sung, that you hear it and you like it, you're pleased with it. That's where the connection is made. Sure, we can understand a text and outline a text and analyze a text, but unless we really apply it, we've just seen a parade and we've missed the main event. But we want the main event. We come here because we really of the relationship with the living God. We want earth to connect with heaven. We want our heart and your heart to be as one. And so, Lord, I pray that that would happen. It's a prayer that I pray, that we pray every single week, but I pray it again, Lord. I pray that we would be transformed by the truths that we hear and we take these to heart, and that because we've been in your presence, others would notice it. Thank you, Lord, thank you for all that you have done for us. Thank you for who you are, irrespective and regardless of what you have done, or what you have not done or not allowed. You're still worth it.

You might be here this morning and you don't know Christ personally. It's all foreign to you, all of this, but your heart yearns to be forgiven and to be right with God. Right where you are just say to him this, say:

Lord, I know that I need you. And I know that I'm a sinner. I confesses that, I admit that. I know that I need you and I'm willing to turn from my sin and turn to Jesus as my Savior. I believe that you sent him from heaven to earth. I believe that he died on a cross. I believe that he rose from the dead. And I turn from the past and I turn in the present to Jesus as my Savior and my Master . Help me to live for you, give me the strength, in Jesus' name, amen.

Are you Human?:*