What does it truly mean to praise God? What is happening in that act?

Does God want our praise because God is lacking in affirmation or needs a confidence boost?

Could it be that it was our spiritual needs that God had in mind when commanding us to practice praise and to “give thanks in all circumstances”?

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I thank you because you answered me, because you were my saving help. The stone rejected by the builders is now the main foundation stone! This has happened because of the Lord; it is astounding in our sight! This is the day the Lord acted; we will rejoice and celebrate in it!

Psalm 118:21-24

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We live in a culture obsessed with winning. I'm sad to say that even preschool sports programs have their share of scary parents trying to live out their unfulfilled sports dreams through their poor (and usually disinterested) children.

I'm all for excellence, effort, and winning, but the Gospel takes the worldly wisdom of success and turns it inside out. Face it, Jesus failed. The bad guys won. They caught and killed our Lord. This is how it appeared to the disciples and everyone else who lived in Judea during Jesus' days.

But from God's vantage point, nothing could be further from the truth. What they saw as losing, God saw as absolute love. On the cross, selflessness and compassion were demonstrated in a way that would shape the future of all humanity. They won the day. Jesus won eternity.

Unlike our distorted understanding of winning, God's idea of winning doesn't involve dominating your opponent. Jesus rejected that approach. Instead, God's concept of winning is about saving them.

Wade Griffith

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God, you taught us that we become first by being last, that true winning means being a servant to others. Help me to recognize that the way of the believer is different than the way of the world. Amen.

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Maybe true praise is less in the singing and more in the doing.

Does God want another song to rise from your lips, or would God prefer an act of costly obedience to come from your hands, feet, or mouth?

Forget the palm branches today and instead commit to giving God the palms of your hands!

Wade Griffith

Wade Griffith is a husband, father and pastor in Birmingham, AL. He attended divinity school at Vanderbilt University and leads an inclusive church that warmly welcomes those who are not accepted in other faith communities. When he has a free moment, he enjoys backpacking, reading, running, gardening, Alabama football, and wrestling with his boys.

Reflections on the Way: Lord, I want to be a Christian - This is My Father's World

Ken Medema

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