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Worship Message - "Great is the Lord"

Great Is the Lord

Psalm 145

The past two Sundays, we have considered some challenges. The challenge to trust in God when foes rise up against us. That challenge is found in Psalm 3. The challenge to look to the heavens and into the Bible to learn of God’s glory, handiwork, and teachings. That challenge is found in Psalm 19, in which we are also challenged to pray to be forgiven for sins we have committed and for God’s help to be kept away from future sins. The wording at the end of that Psalm is, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” All of that is the challenge to be spiritually pure.


Trust God, learn of God, be spiritually pure. Those are things we are challenged to do. For this message, Psalm 145, in which we are challenged what we are to do when God helps us to trust and learn and be pure.


There are, according to Psalm 145, two things we are to do. The Psalm also has a long list of examples of God’s greatness. We will consider that list, too, but there are two things we are to do when God helps us and answers our prayers.


The first is found in verse 1 of Psalm 145. “Extol God and bless His name.”


What do those key words mean? To “extol” means to praise. To praise means to express approval or admiration or respect or gratitude. We are to express all those things to God.


How? Enthusiastically. As in thinking about what we express in thanks to God and being excited about thanking Him.


“Bless.” That means to call God holy, to wish Him well, to express thanks and gratitude to Him.


Concerning holiness, God is holy. He already knows that. Wishing Him well? He is going to be well whether we wish Him that or not. God does not need to be built up by us. He is fine without our good wishes.


However, we need to proclaim His holiness. We need to wish Him well. We need to do both those things as reminders to ourselves just how great He is.


When God helps us and answers our prayers, we are to extol Him and bless His name. But notice another important word in verse 1. The word “I.” David wrote, “I will extol God and bless His name.”


What the word “I” tells me is that David, at times, might not have had a lot of people around him extolling and blessing God, but that would not deter him from doing those two things. No matter what anyone else did, David was going to be much in praise and in thanks to God.


What a challenge for us. Are you the only one in your family who praises God? If so, that might be sad, but the lack of others doing what they are supposed to do is not to be a deterrent to you.


Maybe you are the only one on your block or the only one at school or at work who praises God. Again, that is sad, but again, it is not to matter what others around you do. You are to extol God. You are to bless His name. Even if you are all alone in doing those things.


How long is that to continue? Still verse 1. “Forever and ever,” including - verse 2 - “every day.”


What a challenge that is. I mean, some days get pretty busy, do they not? Some days we might not feel like being thankful. Difficult days or stressful days or sick days can bring that kind of mood.


Guess what. David was pretty busy himself. He was, after all, the king of God’s people. Many days he faced a lot of issues. Yet he was determined, as we must be, to extol and bless God every day.


Which hints at, if nothing else, making praise a habit. Not a habit in a bad way. Not an act we do without thinking, but something that will, over time, hopefully become a natural thing to do.


We may have to search for reasons to be thankful on whatever difficult days we have, but there will always be something.


And “forever and ever”? That extends beyond our days here in this life. As praising God becomes a habit, we can look forward to continuing to extol Him and bless His name in Heaven.


When God helps us to trust and learn and be pure, we are to extol Him and bless His name, doing so every day. As verse 3 states, “God’s greatness is unsearchable.” There is no way any of us can ever even begin to fathom how great He is. But the impossibility of fully understanding Him is not to keep us from comprehending as much as we can.


God is great. He is greatly to be praised. We are to extol and bless God, doing so individually. That is what we are challenged to do when God helps us and answers our prayers.


Listen to verse 4, which gives the second thing we are to do. “One generation shall laud Your works to another, and shall declare Your mighty acts.”


Yes, we are to individually talk to God about our appreciation for what He does. We are to do that whether anyone else does or not. But, at least as we have opportunities to do so, we are also to talk about Him with others. Including other generations.


As I read verse 4, I am reminded what happened in the Old Testament city of Nineveh. A great city that was filled with sin, the people of which did horrible things to non-Ninevites. The city the Old Testament prophet Jonah was told by God to go to to get them to repent of their evil.


Somewhat briefly, Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh. Part of his reluctance was his own safety. As just mentioned, the Ninevites did horrible things to others. They tortured and killed most visitors.


Another part of his reluctance might have been his opinion that Nineveh deserved to be destroyed, which God planned to do if the people of that city did not answer Jonah’s call to repent.


Jonah was reluctant to answer God’s assignment to go to Nineveh. His reluctance led him to getting on a boat destined to take him the opposite direction of Nineveh.


Remember? The boat sailed into a horrible storm. The only thing that saved the boat was Jonah admitting God was after him, after which he was thrown overboard, after which he was swallowed by a big fish, in which Jonah stayed for three days before being regurgitated onto the shore from which the boat had sailed.


Following that experience, I guess Jonah figured he better do what God told him to do. Jonah did go to Nineveh. He did preach the need for repentance so the people of that city could escape destruction.


The result? Jonah was not tortured and killed. Instead, he was listened to so well that the people, from the leader on down, did admit their sins. They did repent. And yes, God did spare the city and its people.


All that is in the Bible. It is a report that has a wonderful ending. However, I have read historically that 100 years later, the people of Nineveh were as evil and as wicked and as sinful as they had been leading up to Jonah’s visit. So it was that 100 years after Jonah’s visit, God did destroy the city.


What that tells me is that while the Ninevite adults at the time of Jonah did indeed repent and turn to God, they must not have shared their faith with their children - with their younger generation.


So it was that, apparently, the children did not learn righteousness. They returned to sin. They were destroyed.


We do not want that to happen, do we? Which is why it is important, even now, for one generation to laud the works of God to another. To declare God’s mighty acts. For adults to make sure the younger ones know and learn, as verses 6 and 7 have it, God’s “acts,” His “greatness,” His “abundant goodness,” His “righteousness.”


According to verse 5, we, as David did, need to meditate on - think about and pray about - who God is. But we are then, as often as God answers our prayers and helps us, to extol Him and bless His name, doing so individually, and we are to share with others, including those of other generations, how great and how good God is. That is what we are taught - what we are challenged - to do in the first part of Psalm 145.


In the rest of the Psalm there is a long list of examples of just how great God is. Let’s also consider those examples today so we can be reminded of what we can extol and bless God for, and so we will know what to tell others about Him.


Verse 8. “The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”


“Grace” and “mercy” are interesting words. Mercy is not giving us what we do deserve. Grace is giving us what we do not deserve.


What do we deserve? Because of sin, we deserve condemnation and punishment, but for those who believe in God - for us in New Testament times, those of us who know Jesus as the Savior from sin - we avoid condemnation and punishment. Jesus paid the penalty for us on the cross. Those of us who accept that sacrifice are given mercy.


What do we not deserve? We do not deserve forgiveness. We do not deserve being in the presence of God. But those of us who have accepted Jesus do get those gifts.


God is gracious and merciful. He is slow to anger. What a wonderful gift that is for those who are not yet Christians, and for those of us who are Christians but sometimes struggle to live as righteously as we should. God could become angry at every rejection and every little slip up. His anger could be so strong He could banish us from His presence. But that does not happen.


In fact, for those who again and again refuse His offer of salvation through Jesus, God still does not become angry. He is sad, maybe disappointed, but not angry, shown in His always continuing to invite people to accept Him.


Why is God slow to anger? It is because of His steadfast love. And again, He might be sad or disappointed in us, but His love for us will never end. He always has been and always will be ready to help us accept Him and then help us to grow spiritually.


The LORD is gracious and merciful .He is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Verse 9. “The LORD is good to all, and His compassion is over all that He has made.”


Of course, not everyone acknowledges God’s goodness, but He is good to all, ever willing to forgive any and all who will repent, whenever they reach that point, and ever willing to encourage and empower righteous living, doing that with any and all who will ask for and accept His help.


The LORD is good to all. And His compassion? Listen to the meaning of that. Compassion means having concern for the suffering or the misfortunes of others. The LORD’S compassion is over all that He has made.


I make quite a few visits to hospitals and doctor offices and wound care facilities. Those places serve a lot of people who suffer from various misfortunes. How good verse 9 is. What a wonderful reminder that anyone in any of those places is not alone. God cares. Will we remember that if we are there? Will we share that when we visit others who are there?


That, of course, is speaking just physically. There is also spiritual suffering. Suffering that comes to those who do not accept Jesus,and to those who choose to not obey Him. God has compassion on those kinds of people as well. Remember when David wrote that God is slow to anger? God does love even sinners,which sinners are to take to the level of accepting Jesus.


The LORD is good. He has both physical and spiritual compassion on all He has made. A similar thought comes quite a few times in verses 14 through 19.


Verse 14. “The LORD upholds all who are falling [those suffering from whatever problems or stresses are being experienced], and He raises up all who are bowed down.”


Here is something I read about that. God stoops down and takes the arm of whoever is falling. He is there to hold that person steady. He brings up the chin of whoever is overwhelmed by life, holding the person’s head above the problems.


In verse 15, there is another reminder that God will not force any of His blessings on anyone. We have to want and accept what He offers, but to “those who have eyes that look to God,” the promise is that “He will give them the food” they need.


God is generous with that and with other help He gives. Verse 16. ‘He opens His hand to satisfy our desires.”


He will do that because - verse 17 - “He is just and He is kind in all His ways and in all He does.”


Verse 18. “God is near.” He is near to “all who call upon Him.” To all who call upon Him “in truth.”


Have you ever heard anyone say that when they pray, it seems to them like their prayers go no higher than the ceiling of the room they are in. That is usually said with unhappiness, as if God is not close enough to hear.


But listen. God is near to all who call on Him. So even if your prayers do not reach higher than the ceiling, so what? God is everywhere. He does hear. That is how He knows - verse 19 - how to fulfill “the desire of all who fear Him.”


There is that reminder again. We must fear Him - respect Him and be in awe of Him and show that fear by obeying Him - and we are supposed to cry to Him. The promise is that when we do fear and cry, He will save us.


There are a few other examples of what we can extol and bless and tell about concerning God. In verse 11, His glory and power. In verse 12, His mighty deeds and His splendor, In verse 13, His kingdom is everlasting. His rule will endure always. In verse 20, the LORD preserves all who love Him. The wicked He will destroy, but those of us who love God will be preserved by Him.


What a wonderful list of things for which God can be extolled and blessed. What a wonderful list of things we are to talk about with others, including other generations. Therefore, David ends the Psalm as he began it. Verse 21. “My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD.” David was going to do that whether anyone joined him or not. “And let all flesh bless His holy name.” That was David’s continued call for all God’s people to proclaim and thank God for His greatness. To do that forever and ever.


By the way, I want to add this. In verse 10 are the words, “All God’s works shall give thanks to Him.”


Last week we talked about how the heavens - the sun, the moon, the stars - tell of God’s glory and handiwork.


We know, of course, there are other parts of nature that represent Him.


I am thinking of flowers. Are you amazed, as am I, that there are so many different varieties of flowers? So many colors of flowers. So much detail in each flower. God did not give us just one kind or one color or no color. He spent so much energy making the flower part of His creation so entertaining. For that we can extol Him.


A few nights recently we had our windows open. Especially after some of the rains, from the waterway in the commons area behind our house came the sounds of toads. The sound level made it seem there were thousands of them. It was probably more like they all had good lungs, making it seem there were more than there might have been.


And then, between 4:00 and 5:00 each morning, the birds are up and ready for a new day. It sounded like dozens and dozens of them, though the sound of that, too, might simply be an indication of the lung capacity of the birds.


All around us we can see God’s handiwork. His creation. Through beauty and sound, it is as if the flowers and the toads and the birds and the sun and the moon and the stars speak of Him. If they can do that, so can we in word and in the beauty of how we live our lives.


Let’s extol God. Let’s bless His name. Let’s do that individually and to others. Let’s do that this day and every day. God is worthy of all that because He is great.


The closing song for today will be our way, at this moment, of proclaiming the greatness of God. It is the chorus Great Is the Lord. As we sing, let’s think about all that makes Him great and worthy of praise.


Great is the Lord, He is holy and just;

By His power we trust in His love.

Great is the Lord, He is faithful and true;

By His mercy He proves He is love.


Great is the Lord and worthy of glory!

Great is the Lord and worthy of praise.

Great is the Lord; now lift up your voice,

Now lift up your voice:

Great is the Lord! Great is the Lord!


Great is the Lord, He is holy and just;

By His power we trust in His love.

Great is the Lord, He is faithful and true;

By His mercy He proves He is love.


Great is the Lord and worthy of glory!

Great is the Lord and worthy of praise.

Great is the Lord; now lift up your voice,

Now lift up your voice:

Great is the Lord! Great is the Lord!


Great are You, Lord, and worthy of glory!

Great are You, Lord, and worthy of praise.

Great are You, Lord; I lift up my voice,

I lift up my voice:

Great are You, Lord! Great are You Lord!


Say it with me please, which will remind us of the need to praise God individually and together.


I will extol You, my God and my King.

I will bless Your name forever and ever.

Every day I will bless You and praise You.

Because of Your greatness, God,

our mouths will speak Your praise

this day and forever.

Amen.


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