May 13: Praise His Holy Name

How much spontaneous praise have you witnessed, experienced, or committed over the past few days? How often has the person or work of God been exalted or praised by someone in your hearing or by your own lips recently?

We are bombarded with messages all day long. We flick on the TV to catch the weather report, and hear all the bad news, scandals, trivia, gossip, etc. We switch on the computer and are faced with links to some silly, entertaining, or even profane sites. We engage in conversations all day long at work, school, or other social situations, but how much of that is praise?

Even at church, what percentage of our conversations are centered on praising the Lord? We talk about our kids, jobs, weather, sports — sometimes the closest thing to a faith-based conversation is the Cubs fan saying, “Wait until next year!” This is not to say these aren’t legitimate topics of dialog, but let’s come to grips with the realities of the majority of our conversations, even in “sacred” settings. Praise may not make up half of our discourse even at church.

This is because praise is not the mother tongue of fallen man; it is the language of heaven. For us to truly praise, we have to overcome our flesh and walk ever more in the Spirit, to see with spiritual eyes, to know with a mind enlightened by the Spirit, to hear His voice above the blaring banality of the din around us.

For us to praise we have to embrace the humility that knows that there is Someone greater than ourselves. We need to stop trying to explain everything (or reject those things we cannot explain and embrace wonder and accept mystery. God doesn’t call us to limit our minds but to understand that our minds are already too limited to grasp the all the ways of Almighty God.

These Spirit-led qualities are something we have to cultivate if we ever hope to be fluent in praise. Desiring to see with praise-oriented eyes means we don’t just look at a bloom and think “flower,” we gaze at it with the wonder of its intricacies, appreciate its beauty and design, and rejoice in the eyes that we’ve been given to take in all the glories of what God has created. This kind of sight only comes with intention and practice. Such experiences can extend to the savoring of the flavors of our food instead of inhaling it, enjoying the caress of the breeze upon our cheeks, taking the time to look deeply into the eyes of people we encounter during the day and thinking about how much God loves them. These acts, even if only done a few times during each of our frenetic days, can turn our hearts into praise-making organs. And as Jesus said, “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.”

For us to sing, “Praise His Holy Name” with meaning, we must ask: Do we really delight in His holiness? Does it awe us more than a little bit that He is a holy, searching, cleansing fire? It is only through the eyes of the Spirit we can begin to grasp by faith how totally unlike anything or anyone this holiness makes Him. His holiness is something He guards jealously for it is essential to Him, and truly He alone is holy.

As humans we relate to His holiness not so much through understanding or experience but by contrast to our unholiness, and by revelation of the Spirit. As we contemplate the holiness of God, He makes us aware of our sin and that vast gulf between who He is and what we are. For the redeemed, the praise of His holiness is born out of the wonder that One so holy can love us, draw us, have anything to do with us at all apart from condemnation and wrath. While holiness may be a nebulous concept to us at best, the more we become aware of our own sin, the more we are in awe of and in praise of His holiness and willingness to cleanse us.

His name is something else He guards jealously (Ez.36:20-23), as we’ve noted in other devotionals.
And since there is only one name that can take a sinner in peril of wrath and eternal judgment and bring salvation, cleansing and peace, we praise that name. Again, the more we are aware of our justifiable peril, the more precious and praiseworthy that name will be to us.

So when we are praising His holy name, we are exalting two of the things most valued by the Lord, and which He invites us to admire and appreciate about Him.

Allow–invite–the holy searching fire of the Lord to bring to light those yet unyielded, stained, and sinful places in your own life. Ask Him to use that fire to cleanse away the impurities so you can draw even closer to Him. Ask Him to remind you of the impassible chasm between us and how He Himself bridged it though His sacrifice. Then you will truly, and with renewed passion, Praise His Holy Name.

by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministries

throne, and he would be judged by that standard, his tune changed — Mercy! Mercy!

When we keep this quotient in mind, it becomes much easier to release our offenders. But remember, they aren’t being released from God’s justice; He will see to that. They are being released from our own judgment, vengeance and bitterness. What we need to realize is, when we release our grip on them, it is we who are freed. And our hands are now empty to receive the mercy of God — a mercy we SO need!

The lyrics of this song say, “Beautiful, that’s how mercy saw me . . .” When we truly understand the depths of our sin, it is hard to imagine that God, through His mercy, can see us as beautiful. But I want to challenge each of us to take this to the next level: can your eyes see those in need of your mercy as beautiful? Can you get beyond “let bygones be bygones,” which is a mild form of mercy, to the point where your eyes of mercy actually see those who have offended you as lovely? Can you see them as broken and so lost and look past all their faults? Can you see beyond what they were to what God can make them to be? Can you see them through merciful eyes — the eyes through which God sees them?

Hard? Yes! But if we want God to look at us with that level of mercy, we need to strive to extend that mercy to others. The only way to do that is through the cross. We grow in mercy as we remember how desperate we are for it ourselves, making us able to extend it to others.

by Sheri Cook, Director of Special Ministries