We have experienced a world transforming holiday last weekend with the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is cause for celebration in the midst of the chaos of our world. This is a time when the world does not have answers but God is our hope and refuge.
This is a time when we as a body of Jesus Christ should come together. If you are struggling with your life situation, let the leadership of the church know and we will see how we can help. It is thrilling for LEMC leadership to see the support and care that people in the church are giving. What a blessing you are to us as leadership and others in the community.
Today we want to get encouragement from the Psalms 145. This Psalm speaks about the greatness and glory of God. When we see what God has done, our hearts are uplifted and encouraged so that we can rise above our situation and be strengthened. If you have your Bibles ready, open up to Psalm 145. You can pause the streaming to get your Bible if you don't have it. David wrote this Psalm as an alphabetic psalm with the first word of each verse the next letter from the Hebrew alphabet. You Hebrew language scholars out there will know that here are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet but only 21 verses. That means that one letter ‘Nun' was left out. Some scribes tried to fix this by adding a verse that starts with ‘Nun' but the earliest manuscripts do not have that verse.
Today we will go through Psalm 145 verse by verse and get a better understanding. We understand that it was largely used for liturgical or worship purposes by the Jews. Psalm 145 was recited twice in the Daily Morning Service and once in the Evening Service of the synagogue. In the Talmud (a kind of Jewish commentary on the Old Testament - Berachoth 4 b) it was written that "Whoever repeats Psalm 145 three times a day may be sure that he is a child of the world to come." In other words if you would repeat this psalm three times a day, you will have eternal life probably because you would recognize who God truly is. We know that we are only assured of going to heaven by believing that Jesus died for our sins but if we would focus on this Psalm three times a day, we would praise God the rest of the day and have a great relationship with God living according to His precepts.
Let's look at this Psalm then, verse by verse.
Verse 1 reads, "I will extol You, my God, O King, and I will bless Your name forever and ever.
David begins this Psalm by declaring that God is the King. David was king of an earthly kingdom but here he spoke of the spiritual kingdom. He recognized that God was greater than he was as God was the ruler of the universe not just Israel.
The word extol means to exclaim loudly. Shout it out. Who is King and God? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. One of the Songs in the Handel's Messiah asks the question from Psalm 24: 8 - 10 "Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. 9 Lift up your heads, you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. 10 Who is He, this King of glory? The Lord Almighty – He is the King of glory."
The glory of the Lord has been manifest at various times. One time was when the tabernacle was completed. We read in Exodus 40: 34 - 35 "Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 Moses could not enter the tent of meeting because the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle." When God's glory is seen, a holy fear grips us and we can only stand or fall down in awe and praise. My prayer is that you would all experience that presence of God today. I pray that your life would be filled by God's presence in the person of His Holy Spirit and that this would be so powerful that it will shake you to the core of your being.
When you have an experience like that, you can only say wonderful things about God as David does here. We will bless and praise God for ever and ever.
2 Every day I will bless You, And I will praise Your name forever and ever.
Let me encourage you to begin your day with praise to God. When our day begins with being focussed on our great God and we think of all His acts of mercy, we intercede for others and pour out our hearts in gratefulness and gratitude. We don't just worship on Sunday for an hour in a building. Worship takes on a whole new meaning in this time of Covid19 where we don't get together in person but in spirit. If you are with your family, I encourage you to find ways in which you can praise God together. Get out some instruments, even if it is pots and pans and make a joyful noise to God. Worship EVERY DAY.
Some of us have more time to reflect and do this now than before when we so busy that we couldn't find time even to pray for our meals. I trust that we will allow our hearts to feel the joy and excitement that God gives us when we begin to contemplate the universe and everything that is in it.
Verse 3 tells us, "Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable.
What have you seen that proves that God is Great!! When I think back of the birth of our boys, we can truly marvel at God's creation. With little fingers and toes, eyes that smile and a giggle that would bring true joy. What do you think proves that God is great and that we cannot understand how God could do what He did?
We can never finish discovering God's greatness. Every day we can discover something new about God's creation, from the smallest part of an atom, to the chains of DNA, to the vastness of the universe. Natural man has no explanation for the intricacies and interdependencies of everything that works together. All show a great designer, a creator that proud, arrogant atheists and evolutionists cannot explain.
4 One generation shall praise Your works to another, And shall declare Your mighty acts.
I encourage you to pass on stories of God's great works. How has He blessed you and your family? What has He done in your life? One of the greatest thrills in life is seeing change and hope, when someone makes that commitment to ask Jesus to forgive sins. When lives are transformed by Jesus, we can experience one of the greatest joys knowing their eternal destiny is sure and they have a new hope and happiness in life. Gone are the nagging fears of what will happen after death. The new peace takes over a person`s life transforming relationships and lives.
5 On the glorious splendour of Your majesty and on Your wonderful works, I will meditate.
To meditate is to take time to think, to ponder and examine from various angles to understand. Here the Psalmist encourages us to meditate on the splendour and majesty of God and think about all the wonderful things that God has done and made for us. Can you think about a few wonderful things that God has done? How about a sun rise or sun set. I thought that the trees covered with snow was beautiful this past week was beautiful but not really welcomed at this time of year.
6 Men shall speak of the power of Your awesome acts, and I will tell of Your greatness.
What kind of awesome acts have you experienced through the power of God? Have you experienced healing, physical or emotional or a supernatural provision for daily life? Think of a few things that show the power of God and tell someone else after this morning's message. You could even pause this message and do that right now. That is the great thing about listening to this sermon, you pause any time and talk about an idea you had because of what God has done. You can also back up the message if you didn't quite catch what was said. The other great thing about having a message in this form is that you could send a link to others and share what God is teaching you. Tell others about God's greatness and the powerful awesome acts which you have experienced or heard about God doing in the lives of others. When is the last time you told someone of God's greatness?
7 They shall eagerly utter the memory of Your abundant goodness and will shout joyfully of Your righteousness.
Like water pouring forth from a spring, bubbling down a rocky ravine, we can bubble over with experiences of how God has been good to us. Our praise should be spontaneous, abundant, and continuous.
When we are struggling with issues in our life, we don't have freedom that God wants us to have. Some people don't want to deal with the emotional pain in their life. They struggle to find joy and peace but seek to mask the problems they have. Emotional pain is like an onion, when you peel off one layer and in the process of tearing up, people think that the problem is solved. Then they discover that there is another layer that they have to deal with. Often they do not have the emotional energy to keep working on their pain issues so they try to ignore them. Only when Jesus comes and heals their heart do they find real peace. Often people are mad at God for the pain that Satan has caused them so they don't go to Jesus to find healing because they think that He is the cause and not Satan. Jesus defeated Satan at the cross and is the only one that can heal hearts and bring true freedom and joy that will bubble up so that we can focus on God's goodness and not our past pain.
When someone has true freedom from their past, they will be able to express joy and exuberance for the cleansing they have received. They will feel clean and rejoice for the righteousness which Christ has given to them.
8 The Lord is gracious and merciful; Slow to anger and great in loving kindness.
God is forgiving and patient with us. Especially when we do not follow God's written word. Can you relate an experience where God was slow in not punishing us when we deserved it?
9 The Lord is good to all, And His mercies are over all His works.
Good to all - Matthew 5:45 tells us that your Father in heaven causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.
His Mercies show His compassion and tender love, like a mother caring for her new born. God does not deal with us as we deserve but He shows His mercy even when we are disobedient.
10 All Your works shall give thanks to You, O Lord, And Your godly ones shall bless You.
Sometimes being thankful is difficult. When we can't live like we are used to and have to stay at home, we need to realize that there are many things we can be thankful for. Have you been thankful for your circumstances? That is tough to do but when we look for the good in things our whole life finds new light and our thoughts are lifted to see the best in life. Negativity destroys, positivity builds up.
Verse 10 serves as a pivotal point of Psalm 145. It echoes the words of the first verse and the last verse that bracket this Psalm. There is a progression. In verse one it says "I will bless your name forever and ever" (v. 1). Here in verse 10 it says that "Your godly ones shall bless You". Then in verse 21 it says that "all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever".
11 They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom and talk of Your power;
How can we speak of the glory of God's kingdom if we have not seen it or his power if we have not experienced it? When I look into the heavens and see God's handiwork I am in awe of the greatness of our God who made everything mankind can see and a lot more that we cannot see. When I meditate on His greatness, I want God's kingdom to come NOW! It is hard to wait.
12 To make known to the sons of men Your mighty acts and the glory of the majesty of Your kingdom.
What kind of mighty acts have you seen happen - in person, in the news, in missionary reports? Start praying and seeking God for Him to give you the opportunity to touch the lives of others. John 14:12 - Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and Your dominion endures throughout all generations.
God's kingdom is an everlasting kingdom - kingdom of all the ages - past, present, future. This is not a political kingdom but a kingdom that transcends borders, nations and continents. In the end God will gather up all His people from every tribe and nation.
One day when all who are saved, forgiven and loved will meet in heaven, we will sing God's praises and express to others from around the world how great and mighty our God is forever and ever. Rev 7:9 - 10. Anyone who thinks this may be boring has not yet understood the greatness, majesty and power of the Great God who created the universe and everything in it.
14 The Lord sustains all who fall and raises up all who are bowed down.
God will help those who are humble and struggling. This tells us that all who have problems can go to God and find refuge. When we have family, friends and acquaintances who are struggling we can point them to the Lord who will lift them up.
15 The eyes of all look to You, and You give them their food in due time.
When we pray before our meals, we are giving thanks to God who has provided us with health and strength for the tasks of the day. He causes plants and animals to grow so that we can enjoy great food. Not too many of us here have experienced real hunger for which we are grateful. Psa 104:27 - 28
16 You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.
In the ancient church this Psalm and especially verse 15 and 16 was recited at the midday meal.
Back in the 1970's we worked in Japan as short term missionaries and had our basic needs met. We were not making enough even to pay off our student loan from University. When we sensed God calling us to return to Japan we were asked to go to Seminary before we came back. We trusted God and after three years of Seminary in California, far from home, we came back debt free. God provided everything.
17 The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds.
Many people question God. Some may ask why a loving God would not keep the world from such a catastrophe as Covid 19. When people don't follow God's instructions and warnings we end up paying the consequences in disease, pain and even death.
I think that the boring Old Testament dietary laws were not just for the ancient Jews but holds valuable insights into healthy living for today. I was in a night market in Taiwan where all kinds of animals, reptiles, snakes, and various other animal parts were used to make drinks which were to make a man more macho. It was sickening. Seeing that I understand how easy it would be for disease to spread in those conditions.
18 The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.
Our calling on God is not just a selfish, "Help me now God and I will forget you later." but an honest prayer to God. It is not a bargaining call because God is not bribed with our feeble efforts. God uses and helps people who are open and dedicated to Him.
Everyone who truly seeks after God will find Him. God will abundantly bless those seeking Him with peace and joy as it tells us in verse 19.
19 He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and will save them.
Do you fear God? Do you stand in awe of the great creator God who made the heavens, the planets and all the earth. He is coming one day to judge every person who ever lived by one standard. Are you righteous? Not by man's standard of good but righteousness. Good is never good enough. We need to understand our wickedness and cry out to God for His forgiveness. 1 John 1:9 says that "if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Are you forgiven? Are you cleansed by the blood that Jesus shed on the cross for everyone?
20 The Lord keeps all who love Him, But all the wicked He will destroy.
God will keep everyone who loves Him. In this time of world crisis, God is caring for His children like a loving father who wants the best for his children.
Verse 20 also reminds us that there is a judgement coming and God will destroy the wicked. They will not be able to live in the glorious place God would like to prepare for them so that they could live with God forever. This world is temporary. We will praise God for ever and ever when we reach the golden shores as verse 21 tells us.
21 My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord, And all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever.
Paul wrote in Philippians 2: 9 - 11 "Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."
By sending Jesus to die for our sins and then raising Him up on the third day, we are free. Do you know what freedom means??? Freedom from fear, from guilt and shame, free from everything which we have said and done that has hurt others. God forgives every one for everything.
As we close, may you find hope and joy in the God who created the universe and as verse 5 tells us, let us meditate on the glorious splendour of God's majesty and on His wonderful works.