How to Live in Praise, Even in Trials
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. (Ephesians 1:3-6)
How can we live a life of constant praise? In the Book of 1 Thessalonians 5:18 calls for us to give thanks “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” And in Ephesians 5:18-20 calls for us, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; 19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;
Christians are meant to be people of praise and worship.
Why do we often fail at this? Why is our praise often so shallow? Some people only worship at church. Others praise God only in good times, but not when things are bad or difficult.
In this text, we will see from the beginning of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, which starts with praise to God. Chapter 1:3-14 is one long run-on sentence in the Greek language. But not only is it one sentence, but it is also one long praise to God. In verse 3, Paul says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” In verse 6 he says, “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.” and finally in verse 14, he says, “Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” Many theologians believe that Paul is actually singing a song that models a Hebrew blessing song in verses 3-14. These blessing songs always began with “Blessed are You, Lord God.” Similarly, Paul here declares, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” (verse3).
At this time, Paul was imprisoned in Rome for preaching the gospel, but his heart was not in prison. While chained next to a Roman soldier, his heart was free and lost in worship. And he seeks to draw the Ephesians and us into continual worship as well—worship not dependent upon our circumstances. Worship is a continual thing that our hearts, spirit and soul are intuned with regardless of the circumstances.
In this song, Paul praises God for the great riches given to believers in Christ (verse 3). This would have resonated with the Ephesians, as Ephesus was considered the bank of Asia. The Temple of Diana, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, was there. It was not only a center for idolatrous worship but also a depository for wealth, housing some of the greatest art treasures of the ancient world. However, Paul is saying that the wealth of believers is even greater than that of the city. Therefore, they should praise God no matter their circumstances. This is true for us as well.
How can we live a life of ever resounding praise regardless of our circumstances? How can we develop consistency in our worship?
Jesus says in John 4:23 that the Lord seeks worshipers who worship in spirit and truth. In this, I believe we see why we often do not worship God. One of the components necessary for worship is truth or doctrine. We cannot truly worship what we do not know or understand. We cannot worship someone if we don’t know how worthy he is. Hallelujah to the Lamb of God. I thank God for the revelation of His word so I can impart it to others. There are real components that will lead us in the spirit of worship. If we do not possess them then our worship will be in vain.
Sadly, many Christians lack true worship and true joy because they lack doctrine. They lack the word of God. Often people say, “Don’t give me doctrine! Give me Jesus!” However, they are one and the same. John’s favourite title for Christ was the “Word” (John 1:1). He was the communication of God, as he taught the words of God (John 12:49). For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.
To compound this situation, 2 Timothy 4:3-4 describes how, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”
We are in a season of church history where people don’t want sound doctrine. Therefore, the teaching in the church is often weak and our worship suffers.
Paul’s praise is full of theology; it is full of doctrine. His focus is not on his circumstances, but on the wonderful grace of God. This is worship that an immature Christian can never really offer; it is rich in doctrine. As we study this text, my hope is that we also may worship more fully as we understand what God has done for us and what he is doing in us, and begin to focus on those things.
Here are the Big Questions: What does Paul praise God for in his blessing song? How can we implement worship in our daily lives, especially when going through trials?
CONTINUE TOMORROW …..