The Best Advice I Know
Dr. Jim Denison
A friend recently sent me some good advice from kids:
Never trust a dog to watch your food (Patrick, age 10).
When your dad is mad and asks you, “Do I look stupid?” don’t answer him (Michael, 14).
Never tell your mom her diet’s not working (Michael, 14).
Stay away from prunes (Randy, 9).
When your mom is mad at your dad, don’t let her brush your hair (Taylia, 11).
Never allow your three-year-old brother in the same room as your school assignment (Traci, 14).
Don’t sneeze in front of mom when you’re eating crackers (Mitchell, 12).
Puppies still have bad breath even after eating a tic tac (Andrew, 9).
If you want a kitten, start out by asking for a horse (Naomi, 15). Never try to baptize a cat (Eileen, 8).
Don’t pick on your sister when she’s holding a baseball bat (Joel, 10).
Never hold a dust buster and a cat at the same time (Kyoyo, 9).
This morning I am going to give you the greatest single piece of advice I have ever received. This advice will explain why you are here, and what your life’s most fulfilling purpose is. It will tell you how to find God, every day; how to defeat your enemies and opponents in life; how to respond to discouragement and frustration, and how to experience the power of God in your life and soul.
You might be thinking that one piece of advice could never do all this. But it can. It has in my life, whenever I’ve followed it. It will for you as well.
Let me show you why it’s so, and how it works.
Why should we praise God?
When Jesus was asked, “What is the most important thing God has ever told us, in all his creation and revelation?” you remember his answer: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and soul, and mind, and strength” (Matthew 22:37). According to the Master of the Universe, worshiping God is the most important activity in life. This is the best advice I know.
Why? Why is it this important? Why worship God? John’s revelation of heaven answers our question. Consider these facts:
Praise thanks God for all he does for us. The people of heaven, this vast multitude beyond counting, wear “white robes” (v. 9). These refer to priestly robes like those the pope wears today, but even more to robes of victory such the Roman generals wore. What makes them white? “They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (v. 14). Blood on a garment is one of the hardest stains to remove, but not this blood. Jesus’ blood bleaches out all the stains of sin in our lives. His forgiveness removes them forever.
So we all wear white robes of victory. Not Baptist robes and Presbyterian robes and Catholic robes. Not just robes for the choir, but for all of us. Robes of victory.
And we hold “palm branches” as well (v. 9). These were used by the Greeks and Romans as victory signs at the Games, like our gold medals today. We are dressed in white robes and hold palm branches of eternal victory, in Jesus.
Then look at our future with him (vs. 15-17): never again will we hunger or thirst or feel the scorching heat of the sun. Jesus himself will be our pastor, leading us to springs of eternal water; and God himself will dry our every tear.
No wonder they praise God! Has God saved your soul? Has he given you victory? Is this your future? Then how can you not thank and praise him?
Praise frames the universe. From beginning to end, all that is worships God. When God was busy creating all that is, “the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy” (Job 38:7). When time comes to its final end, the great multitude in heaven shouts “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God” (Revelations 19:1).
And between beginning and end, this is why we exist: God says that we are “the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise” (Isaiah 43:21). We exist to praise God. If we don’t, Jesus said that the rocks would cry out for us (Luke 19:40).
Praise leads to God. Where is God located? What’s his address? Psalm 22:3 declares that God inhabits the praises of his people. Psalm 100:4 teaches that we enter God’s gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Wherever people are praising God, God is there. No matter the circumstances of their lives, they have found God.
A little girl came home from church to discover that her bedridden, depressed father had written over his bed the words, GODISNOWHERE. She smiled and exclaimed, “God is now here!” When we praise him, he is.
Praise leads to the blessing and power of God. Are you afflicted by others? Listen to Psalm 149:6-9: “May the praise of God be in [his people’s] mouths and a double-edged sword in their hands, to inflict vengeance on the nations and punishment on the peoples, to bind their kings with fetters, their nobles with shackles of iron, to carry out the sentence written against them. This is the glory of all his saints. Praise the Lord.”
Do you have enemies? Listen to Psalm 8:2: “From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.”
Are you discouraged? Listen to Isaiah 61:3: God will bestow on you “a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”
Are you in the belly of a fish, physically or emotionally? Remember what Jonah did: “I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the Lord” (Jonah 2:9). And God’s response? “The Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land” (v. 10).