Summary: In this sermon, which is another in the series on "Keys to Spiritual Growth," we look at two more keys that will help you grow spiritually.
Today we continue in my sermon series on “Keys to Spiritual Growth.” My foundational text for this series is 2 Peter 3:18:
"But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen" (2 Peter 3:18).
Several years ago I received a newsletter from John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church in Pasadena, California. This is part of what he wrote:
"Several summers ago I took a three-month sabbatical from Grace Community Church. During that time I wondered if I should pastor another church because I kept asking myself, ’How can I keep teaching the same things to the same people?’
"As my family and I traveled across the country, people asked us Bible questions everywhere I went. I was amazed because they were all asking the same questions—they wanted to know basic spiritual truth.
"At the same time I searched vigorously in my Bible for new sermon material. Yet everything I read sounded like the same simple truths only with different words. God used that to teach me something important: the Christian life is not merely a quest for something new, but also a matter of remembering the Lord’s established truths and remaining faithful to them."
John MacArthur continued by saying that the Lord impressed on him the need to periodically review and teach key biblical truths that should be vitally active in every Christian’s life.
This is consistent with Scripture. Speaking of essential biblical truths Peter said in 2 Peter 1:12-13: “So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body.”
That is why I am taking you through this series of messages, which I am calling “The Keys to Spiritual Growth.” I want to remind you of specific biblical truths that will help you grow.
Today, let’s look at two more keys that will help you grow spiritually. These keys are:
1. Praising God, and
2. Loving God.
I. Praising God
First, a key to spiritual growth is praising God.
I don’t believe a Christian can grow unless his or her life is characterized by praise.
In Psalm 50:23 God says, “Whoever offers praise glorifies me” (NKJV). If you want to glorify God, praise him. That is another simple key to growth.
Proud people don’t praise God—they’re too consumed with themselves. But humble people, people who are captured by the grace of God, are in awe of him, and praise pours from their hearts.
A. The Example of the Psalms
Let me draw your attention to the example of the Psalms.
Praise is so much a part of God’s pattern for his people that he gave us a hymnbook filled with it. The psalms are great hymns that were sung and spoken by the people of Israel. God wanted them to constantly offer him the praise of which he is so worthy.
Listen to what Psalm 86:9-10, 12 says: “All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name. For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God. . . . I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.”
Praising God is equated with giving him glory.
B. The Aspects of Praise
What exactly does it mean to praise God? Some think it is singing a song. Some think it is saying, “Praise the Lord! Hallelujah!” Some think it is waving your hands in the air. Some think it is silent prayer. What is the right answer? How do we praise the Lord? According to the Bible, true praise involves three aspects.
First, true praise involves reciting God’s attributes. Praise expresses the character of God.
Some people study the New Testament almost exclusively because it reveals many truths that were mysteries in the past. But one great reason to study the Old Testament is that it so powerfully reveals the character of God, enabling us to praise him better.
For example, Habakkuk praised God for his character—that he is a holy, almighty, eternal, covenant-keeping God (Habakkuk 1:12-13)—and that praise solved a great problem in his own heart. He didn’t understand why God was going to judge Israel by sending the evil Chaldeans to conquer them (Habakkuk 1:6-11). Habakkuk wanted God to revive and restore his people, but they had overstepped the limit of his patience.
In the middle of his confusion, Habakkuk remembered, “God is holy—he doesn’t make mistakes. God is a covenant-keeping God—he doesn’t break his promises. God is eternal—he is outside the flux of history.” Following his praise, Habakkuk was able to say, “The righteous will live by his faith” (Habakkuk 2:4). He felt better even though his circumstances had not changed. God did allow the Chaldeans to overrun Israel for a time, but Habakkuk knew his God was strong enough to handle any circumstance.