United Church of God

Update from the President: August 17, 2017

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Update from the President

August 17, 2017

Plans are well under way towards groundbreaking for our new video recording studio at the home office in Cincinnati! We are now at the stage of securing building permits from both Miami Township and Clermont County.

The most recent studio planning meeting was held on Aug. 4, with Mark Bredemeier (KBA Architects), Mike Barnard (M.L. Barnard, Inc.), Peter Eddington, Rudy Rangel, Tim Sipes and myself.

Ambassador Bible College students are arriving for the new academic year. We plan for a class of 24 and that includes five international participants.

Our Youth Corps (now part of Good Works) successfully completed a few projects this summer. In Chile, we held a leadership training program and taught English. In Ghana, Malawi and St. Lucia, we held youth camps. Go to our newly redesigned Good Works website at http://goodworks.ucg.org to read more about what we do with Good Works and Youth Corps.

Tapping the Power of Praising God

There exists a biblical benefit that we may not be tapping into its full potential. Numerous times, the Bible tells us that we are to actively praise God, even several times a day. Why does God want us to do this? Is God an egocentric Being who needs the attention of His creation?

Of course not. God is all-powerful and all-knowing. He is deserving of our admiration and open appreciation. Giving and presenting such praise has major benefits for those who love and worship God. Let's consider what the Bible shows us.

When teaching His disciples how to pray, Jesus instructed them first and foremost to acknowledge, honor and revere God's name—the very essence of the Almighty. As we read the familiar verse: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name" (Matthew 6:9). This phrase in Greek includes elements of approval, acclamation, admiration and applause!

So, what exactly does praising God accomplish?

Praise, in the Bible, represents positive affirmation and appreciation. There are a variety of Hebrew and Greek words translated "praise" in English. They can mean to celebrate, rejoice, adore, commend, give thanks or salute. When we praise God, we thank Him for His warm and loving approval. Our praising God calls attention to His glory and offers our admiration for His great works.

It's important to note that praising God is a biblical command. As God revealed to the prophet Isaiah: "This people I have formed for Myself; they shall declare My praise" (Isaiah 43:21).

Christ set us an example by personally praising His Father. Acknowledging the infinite wisdom of God, Jesus openly declared: "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure" (Matthew 11:25-26, NIV 1984).

Praising God changes our lives and has a powerful impact on our relationship with God.

Praising God also helps us focus on the beauty of God's creation, and the power and might that He possesses. It also helps us focus on His character and love for us. As we focus more on the power and wonderful attributes of God, our minds become filled with thoughts of God and His love for us. That helps put our personal problems and challenges into perspective.

As we take the time to comprehend the magnitude of our Heavenly Father, it can move our thoughts and emotions. We then desire to express our gratitude, admiration, and appreciation for who He is, and all He does for us continually.

Besides the physical aspects of God's creation that are to be praised, the relational characteristics that God shares with us are even more amazing and wonderful. That includes His grace, mercy, kindness, forgiveness, patience and His love for us in a multitude of forms.

The book of Psalms has been called the book of praise because God is frequently admired and praised, even when the writer of any given Psalm may be in distress.

Praise of our Heavenly Father is an important aspect of our relationship with the Creator. The Bible shows that praise is not limited to prayer. Biblical examples of praise can be conveyed in the form of words, singing, and playing musical instruments.

When we speak highly of God, we should express it not only to Him but appropriately to others when the opportunity arises: "Sing to him; yes, sing his praises. Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds" (Psalm 105:2, NLT).

Praising God focuses our minds on Him and is a positive way to cope with the negative and troubled world we live in. We may find it difficult to praise God when things aren't going well, but that may be one of the best times to do so. Focusing on the powerful attributes of God is humbling. It puts life's problems in the proper perspective. It takes our focus off of what is not going right in our lives and focuses on God's ultimate plan for us and humanity. Being in a humble and grateful frame of mind helps us to be reminded of what a great sacrifice our heavenly Father and Jesus Christ made for us.

Consider this example: Paul and Silas finally arrived in Philippi to preach the gospel for the first time in Europe. But things quickly went badly. They were arrested and imprisoned. But this didn't daunt them from doing the work that God had given them: "Having received such a charge, he [the jailer] put them into the inner prison and fastened their feet in the stocks. But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were loosed" (Acts 16:24-26, emphasis added throughout).

This event startled the Philippian jailer. Panicked, he was going to commit suicide. Paul calmed him and then preached a sermon to him and his household. They came to believe in Jesus Christ and were baptized.

The point? In the darkest dungeon, Paul and Silas were able to sing praises to God and God's power was displayed to them and others.

So let us show forth His praise, not only with our lips but in our lives, by giving ourselves to His service. God is love (1 John 4:8), and by praising Him and gratefully acknowledging the gifts we are given, we humbly reflect that divine love.

As we learn to praise God for His wonderful works and love for us, we anticipate the time when God the Father will deliver the ultimate and all-important praise to us. As we receive the benefits of learning how to acknowledge and praise God today, we can all consider that time when God will state these magnificent words of praise to each of us: "Well done, good and faithful servant. . . Enter into the joy of your lord" (Matthew 25:21).