The Lord’s Message:  Praise the Lord

The Lord’s Message:  Praise the Lord
Date:  August 27, 2023
Where:  Tilghman United Methodist Church
Scripture Reference:  Psalm 138

            Is anyone feeling in the dumps today?  As your Pastor, I suggest that you read this Psalm several times and this will make you feel better.  This Psalm has to be one of the happiest psalms in the Bible.  Not only is this the happiest psalm, but it also teaches us about who God is, what God does, and how humans should respond to God.

            Let us pray. 

            Let us start with looking at what the Psalmist says about who God is.  At the end of verse 2, the Psalmist says that God has “exalted your name and your word above everything.”  God is Holy.  God’s power and wisdom exceeds everything else.  There is a song called Above All.  Listen to the lyrics for the song, “Above All” by Michael W. Smith. 

Above all powers, above all kings
Above all nature and all created things
Above all wisdom and all the ways of man
You were here before the world began

Above all kingdoms, above all thrones
Above all wonders the world has ever known
Above all wealth and treasures of the Earth
There’s no way to measure what You’re worth.

            This is what the Psalmist is expressing in this psalm.  God is above all.  That is who God is.

            What does God do?  In this Psalm, God is showing steadfast love, faithfulness, answering humans, increasing strength for the person, speaking, regarding the lowly, preserving, reaching out, delivering, and fulfilling God’s purpose for humans.  God is not just letting our lives drift aimlessly along, but if we let God intervene in our lives, then God is at work in each one of us.

One of the main themes flowing through this psalm is the Doctrine of God’s Providence.  It is through God’s Providence that creation is made, not in an abstract way, but in an orderly manner.  God’s Providence also intervenes in the world and in the lives of individuals.  God has a purpose for you and me.  The Christian theologian, Paul Tillich, says that “Providence is a permanent activity of God.  He is never a spectator; he always directs everything towards its fulfillment…through the freedom of man and through the spontaneity and structural wholeness of all creatures.”

 Now some might think that if God is ordering everything, then we do not have free will.  They would be incorrect.  God allows us to have free will.  Free will is the highest form of love.  Even with our free will, when we do not like the circumstances of our free will we pray, asking God to intervene in our lives.  Our prayer for ourselves and others is to call God into action, God’s Providence.  God do something in our lives and the lives of our loved ones.  This week, I have had the opportunity to pray for a woman whose breast cancer has come back after 12 years.  I was given the opportunity to pray with a family that is grieving the loss of a loved one.  I had the opportunity to pray for the members of this church.  I had the opportunity to pray for this country, our leaders, and the world.  I took advantage of all of these opportunities.  I am sure that there were many opportunities that I missed.  In every one of these prayers, I asked, and I expected God to intervene.   I expect and I know that God will answer every one of these prayers. 

Our response to God for answered prayers should be thankfulness and praise.  After God answers our prayer, even if it is not the answer that we were hoping for we, like the Psalmist, should say, “I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart.” 

Our praise is not a thought, “I think I will Praise the Lord.”  Nor is it an emotional experience, or being in a state of happiness, I will praise the Lord.  We can praise the Lord despite our emotions or feelings.  In order to Praise the Lord, this cannot simply rest in our thoughts, emotions, or feelings, but has to reach to the depths of our heart.  Our whole being engages in this praise.  From our mind, body, and heart, we praise the Lord. 

Our praise for God is greater than anything else.  There is nothing in creation that is worthy of this praise.  So, we praise God before all the gods of this world.  “Before the gods, I sing your praise.”

We praise God in the church, before all the congregation,” I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness for you have exalted your name and your word.”  I know that some of you are afraid to lift up praise to God during our time of praise.  You might be afraid that your praise is not worthy enough.  It is worthy and God is deserving of your praise.  Some might be afraid to lift up hands because some may see me.  Who cares?  Some might think I would like to come to the altar and pray, but I am afraid that some one might think there he or she goes to the altar, they must really be having a lot of problems.  That is the other person’s problem, not yours.  Exalt your praise to God.  Lift your hands.  Come to the altar.  The Psalmist knew that in the church, we should express our praise to God.  God is worthy of our praise because of his steadfast love and faithfulness. 

Expressing praise is not only because God is worthy of our praise, but we need and receive the benefits of Praising God.  I started off this message by telling you that if you are down in the dumps this morning my prescription is for you to read this psalm over again and again.  The Psalmist says, “you increased my strength of soul.” I found in scripture that there are seven benefits to praising God.  First, praise lifts our soul (Psalm 42:5-6).  Second, praise helps us sense God’s presence (Psalm 140:13).  Third, praise enlarges our perception of God (Psalm 69:30).  Fourth, praise reveals solutions we cannot see (Psalm 73:16-17).  Fifth, praise helps us remember God’s blessing (Psalm 105:1,5).  Sixth, praise enlist God’s protection (2 Chronicles 20:6-12, 14-17).  Seventh, praise breaks chains and opens doors (Acts 16:25-26). 

Our praise does not just strengthen our soul, but it strengthens the souls of others.  Our praise spreads across the world.  It becomes global because we tell others about God.  They in turn tell others, who in turn other tell others, until all the earth knows about who God is and what God does.  “All the kings of the earth shall praise you, O Lord, for they have heard the words of your mouth.  They shall sing of the ways of the Lord, for great is the glory of the Lord.”  (John 4:39-42)

            God does not only work in the lives of the kings or leaders of the earth, but ordinary people.  God exalts those that are considered low.  “For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he perceives from far away.”   God made a shepherd boy named David king.  God called a Moabite idol worshiper, Abram, to leave his country and go to the land that God would give to him and his descendants.  God would rename him Abraham, father of many.  God called a murderer, Moses, out of the desert to lead His people, the Israelites out of Egypt to the Promised Land.  God called a young woman, Mary, who was betrothed to a man named Joseph, to become the mother of His only Son, Jesus.   (Luke 18:9-14)

            The last verse tells us how our daily lives should be lived out in praise to God.  “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me, your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.  Do not forsake the work of your hands.”  We can use our talents and gifts for the Lord.  Martin Luther believed that all Christians have a purpose in life that can be lived out in the world in any occupation.  He wrote, “The same is true for the shoemaker, tailor, scribe, or reader.  If he is a Christian tailor, he will say:  I make these clothes because God has bidden me do so, so that I can earn a living, so that I can help and serve my neighbor.  When a Christian does not serve the other, God is not present.”  The work of our hands mirrors the praise we feel in our heart. 

The Psalmist reminds us that we should respond with praise to God for His steadfastness and his amazing love and grace.  We should praise God in the presence of others, so that they can know of who God is and what God does.  We should live out our praise daily in loving service to our neighbors.  Praise is not only important for God, but we also receive the benefits for our soul.   So let us:  Praise the Lord!  Amen.

August 29, 2023 11:48 am