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Worship Message - "Sing to the Lord"

Sing to the LORD
Thanksgiving Message #4 - 2015

In the Book of Exodus, the power of God is reported in wonderful ways.
The setting begins with the people of God being trapped in Egypt, forced to be slaves.

The treatment of the slaves was harsh. The people cried to God for deliverance. Eventually God answered the cries of His people. In a series of miracles, God secured their release.
 
The series of miracles were ten plagues God caused to hit the Egyptians, each one against a god worshiped by the Egyptians. Each plague proved God’s power and authority over anything and anyone else worshiped.

The plagues were turning water to blood, frogs, gnats, and flies, disease among the livestock, boils on the people of Egypt, hail, locusts, darkness, and the deaths of all the firstborn of the Egyptians.

Many times, as the series of miracles happened, the ruler of Egypt - Pharaoh - was just about ready to release the people of God. The ruler knew it was God who sent each of the plagues. That was announced by Moses, the leader of God’s people, and his brother Aaron. But each time, until the last plague, God caused the heart of Pharaoh to harden, which caused him to change his mind and keep the slaves.

The last plague, though - the death of all the firstborn of Egypt - took Pharaoh to the breaking point. He released the people of God. In fact, he begged the people of God to leave. That is how much he feared more of God’s power being shown.

It was not just Pharaoh who encouraged the people to leave. So, too, did common Egyptians. And whether it was fear of God or respect for God, who had shown His power, I do not know, but the people of Egypt gave the people of God gifts as they left. The people of God received jewelry of silver and gold, along with clothing.

The people of God escaped slavery in Egypt. They headed east toward the area of Sinai. But to get to Sinai, they would have to cross a portion of the Red Sea.

I am not sure how the people would have crossed the Red Sea. I assume some with some engineering expertise would have worked it out.

However, those engineer-type people did not have a chance to even consider a solution because a short time after the release of the slaves, Pharaoh changed his mind, perhaps because his work force was gone. He wanted the slaves back and sent his army to go after the people of God, capture them, and return them.

It was at the shore of the Red Sea the people of God looked back and saw the Egyptian army approaching. Imagine the terror that scene produced. The Egyptian army was behind them. The Red Sea was before them. There was nothing but flat land on either side of them, so there was nowhere to run and hide. The people of God were in trouble.

The people began to murmur against Moses, but listen to what Moses said in response. “Fear not. Stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will work for you today.” Then, at God’s direction, Moses lifted his rod and stretched out his hand over the Red Sea.

Suddenly, the waters of the Sea parted. That happened late in the day. When the waters were parted, God caused an east wind to blow. The east wind blew all night, which dried the sea bed. The next morning the people of God walked across the sea bed - the dry sea bed. They walked from the shore on the west to the shore on the east.

Can you imagine the sight those people saw as they crossed? Water on either side of them - water held back miraculously by God. A path that made it possible from them to cross without getting wet.

All the people of God crossed the Red Sea. At that point, the Egyptian army started across.

At first, the sea bed was still dry, but soon God caused the wheels of the Egyptian chariots to clog. That slowed their progress. Just about the time the soldiers began to sense things were not going as well as they had hoped - just about the time they were beginning to think that maybe God was against them - just about that time, God told Moses, who, with the rest of the people of God, was on the safe side of the Red Sea, to once again stretch his hand over the Sea.

When Moses did that, the waters of the Red Sea suddenly came back together. The result? All the soldiers, all the chariots, along with the charioteers and their horses - the entire Egyptian army - was drowned. The people of God were saved.

That brings us to the first of two passages for this message. A passage that fits this season very well. A passage that speaks of giving thanks to God.

The passage is the first 18 verses of Exodus 15. It is the earlier chapters of that Old Testament book that tell of the plagues and of the Red Sea rescue. In chapter 15 is an expression of thanks.

Verse 1. “Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the LORD.” The last part is important. Moses did not take credit for all that had just happened. He did not build up his leadership skills. He did not try to get people to praise him. No, he directed the people of God to thank God.

“Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the LORD, saying [we are going to think about some of what was sung], I will sing to the LORD, for He has triumphed gloriously.”

Again, the credit was given to God. What a reminder of what we are supposed to do when good things - when victories - happen to us. What a reminder that it is God who is to be sung to, praised, and thanked.

Moses added an announcement of what had just happened. He said, “The horse and his rider, God has thrown into the sea.” That of course referred to the Egyptian army. But again - this time verse 2 - “The LORD is my strength and my song, and He has become my salvation.”
 
For Moses, being saved was not a theoretical premise. Something to be thought about. It was reality.

Moses and the people he led had just seen evidence of that. Without God, they would never have escaped Egypt. Without God, they would have been captured and returned to slavery. Perhaps any who would have resisted would have been killed. But God was with them. God had saved them. God truly had become their salvation.

“This is my God,” David sang, “and I will praise Him. I will exalt Him,” which means he would think and speak highly of God.

In verse 3 through 5, David again proclaimed what the LORD had just done. Again, he took no credit. The credit was given to God. That was confirmed in verse 6. “Thy right hand, O LORD, glorious in power, Thy right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy.”

I am intrigued with the phrase, “Thy right hand,” including the significance of the word “right.” I looked that up and found this. Hand signifies power. The right hand denotes omnipotence. Thus, right hand means divine power. That is what had destroyed the enemy of God’s people. What had, according to verse 7, “overthrown the adversaries.”

Verses 8 through 10. The adversaries - the Egyptians - had “bragged” about their power. They had been very confident the people of God would be captured and returned. But God had stopped the Red Sea, allowing His people to cross it. It was God who then caused the waters of the Sea to come back together, causing the enemy to “sink like lead.”

Verse 11. “Who is like You, O LORD, among the gods?” Of course, there is only one God. But some worshiped other gods. Our God, though, had proved His power over any and all other gods anyone might worship. “Who is like You, O LORD, majestic, terrible in glorious deeds, doing wonders.”

Why had God done that? Why does God still do wonders? Verse 13. Because of love. The steadfast love of the LORD. Love shown to those He has redeemed.

It  must  be  pointed out that God loves everyone. He wishes all to be saved. But His love can be more easily shown to those who are saved. In our case, to those who have been redeemed from sin. Those who accept Jesus. It is those people - hopefully all of us - who can see His love.

The hope? The hope of Moses? The desire of God? The hope is that those who are not redeemed will recognize the power of God.

Of course, His power may at first cause fear. Real fear. Verses 14 and 16. Some people who heard about God’s power “trembled.” The people of Philistia experienced “pangs,” which I think refers to stomach problems caused by fear. “The chiefs of Edom dismayed. The leaders of Moab trembled. The inhabitants of Canaan melted away” with terror and dread.

When first hearing about God, there might be fear. But God does not want that to last. That is what Moses sang in verse 17. “LORD, Your goal is to bring them in and plant them on Your mountain. The place, O LORD, which You have made for Your abode. The sanctuary, O LORD, which Your hands have established.”

Verse 18. Moses ended the song with a wonderful proclamation. “The LORD will reign forever and ever.”

In the Book of Exodus, God worked miracles. The result was the release of His people from slavery and then those same people being saved from disaster at the Red Sea. Right away, the people, led by Moses, praised the LORD, which was one way of thanking Him for His power.

Have you been released from some kind of slavery? Have you been saved from a threat of some kind of disaster?

We often hear of disasters averted as we drive. One popped into my mind as I worked on this message. It happened a year or so ago. I was on I-80, returning from a ministers’ meeting in Kearney.

About halfway back to Lincoln, a car passed me, then slowed down. So I passed. As soon as that happened, the driver sped up and passed me before slowing again.

That happened two or three times. The last time, the other driver slowed while still in the passing lane.

I know better than to do what I did. I started passing the car on the right. As my front bumper got about even with the back door of the other car, the driver very quickly started back into the driving lane.

I had no choice but to veer to the right, which could have been disastrous. But guess what. At that exact spot was an exit off the interstate. I simply took the ramp and - after stopping for a minute to get my wits back with me - I proceeded to the entrance ramp, got back on the interstate, and continued my trip home.

Have you been saved from some disaster? Have you been released from some kind of slavery? If you have a Christian, you have been released from slavery to sin. You have been saved from the disaster of Hell.

Sing to the LORD. Praise Him. Thank Him. Do that, knowing it is His right hand - His divine power - that has saved you and released you. It is not you who has done that. It certainly was not me in the I-80 incident. In that case, I was saved from myself since I know it is not proper driving to pass on the right. It is not us, but God, who releases and saves.

Therefore, thank Him, which the people of God, along with Moses, their leader, did in Exodus 15.

However, in the very next chapter - chapter 16 of Exodus - the people became disgruntled. It seems they were hungry, which caused them to again murmur against Moses, plus Moses’ brother Aaron. Instead of asking God to help them again, they murmured. Which God heard, whereupon He decided to help them, despite their lack of asking. God provided quail and then manna.

A short time later - chapter 17 - the people of God again murmured, this time because they were thirsty and there was no water. One more time, the people did not ask God for help, despite Him proving over and over again He is certainly able to help and willing to do so.

Once again, God helped, but the point is how amazing it is that people can so quickly forget the power of God. Power that is shown over and over and over again. How disappointing it must be for God to not be recognized for what He can do.

Sometimes, that extends even to the point of forgetting to thank Him in the first place, which takes us to today’s New Testament passage. Luke 17:11-19.

One day, Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem. I assume His disciples were with Him, but on that day, as He entered a village, He was met by ten lepers.

As required by law, the lepers stood at a distance. They no doubt shouted out their condition, which was also required by law. But they shouted something else. They lifted their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”

It is interesting the lepers knew who Jesus was. Otherwise they could not have called Him by name. They knew His spiritual power. Otherwise they would not have called Him Master. They knew of His kindness to those who suffered. Otherwise they would not have asked Him for mercy.

The ten lepers called out to Jesus. When Jesus saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.”

That could not have made much sense to the lepers because those with that disease were not allowed to go to anyone, let alone enter a town. Since the priests were in that town, what Jesus said made no sense.

However, the lepers obeyed anyway. As they went they were cleansed.

Apparently nine of the ten continued their walk to the priests, which was what Jesus had instructed them to do. But one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back. As he turned back, he praised God, doing so with a loud voice. Upon returning to where Jesus was, he gave Him thanks.

Jesus said to the one who had returned, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine? Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this one. This foreigner,” that referring to the one being a Samaritan, which made him despised by pure Jews.

“Did only one return to give thanks?” The implication, I think, is that the other nine were not going to come later to thank God. It was going to be as if they would not think about giving thanks for what had been done for them.

Jesus said to the one who had returned, “Rise and go your way. Your faith has made you well.” Jesus was pleased with that one, but how sad that the others who had been released and saved from illness did not do like Moses and the people of God did in Exodus 15. The other nine did not thank God for His power.

That of course brings the challenge for us to remember to thank God. That challenge comes from Luke 17. We are to be thankful when good things happen to us. That is also the challenge from Exodus 16 and 17. We are to remember God’s power when facing future problems. We can and should remember His past blessings, using those memories to continue to rely on Him, rather than murmur when there are future problems.

We need to remember to thank God, which some people did a few Sundays ago. Some wrote some of the things for which you thank God and shared the list with me. I am naming some of those things during the messages leading up to Thanksgiving Sunday, including these to mention in this message, some of which relate to spiritual things, which remind us of God’s releasing and saving power.

Here’s one. “God’s forgiveness of sins.” Are we all thankful for that? We should be. What wonderful releasing and saving it is to be free to be godly rather than continuing in sin.
    
“Heaven” was on a list. That is the ultimate reward for accepting God’s forgiveness. For accepting the Savior from sin, that being Jesus.

“Grace and mercy.” Three people wrote that on their lists Both grace and mercy are part of salvation, mercy meaning not receiving what we deserve, including punishment, grace meaning we do receive what we do not deserve, including God’s love.

All that was expressed this way on one of the lists. “The many opportunities He has given me and the many times He has and the many times He will still have to show me His love and forgiveness throughout my many failures in life.”

Thinking of what is recorded in Exodus 16 about the people murmuring about being hungry, “food” was listed on some lists of thanks. How good it is to remember that God is the source of our food. How important it is to remember to thank Him for it.

And thinking of the passage in Luke about healing, four people - I have reported this one before, but it fits so well today, I will repeat it - four people had on their lists, “health.” One added, “quick recovery from surgery.” Another had, “healing power.” Again, how good to remember that God is the giver of health. How important to be like the one in Luke - the one who was thankful for being healed.

May we know it is God who gives us release, salvation, and victories. May we remember that whenever we receive any of those things, we are to be thankful to God. May we be thankful throughout this season of thanksgiving.

Today’s closing song is Jesus, We Just Want to Thank You. That is the wording in the first verse. The second and third verses will remind us to praise Him and to tell Him we thank Him. The last verse is the challenge to show our thanks by serving Him.

Since Jesus is God, what we sing will be to God as well.

Jesus, we just want to thank You,
Jesus, we just want to thank You,
Jesus, we just want to thank You,
Thank You for being so good.

Jesus, we just want to praise You,
Jesus, we just want to praise You,
Jesus, we just want to praise You,
Praise You for being so good.

Jesus, we just want to tell You,
Jesus, we just want to tell You,
Jesus, we just want to tell You.
We love You for being so good.

Jesus, we just want to serve You,
Jesus, we just want to serve You,
Jesus, we just want to serve You,
Serve You for being so good.

Give God the credit for all the good things that happen. Thank Jesus for His healing power and all His other blessings. Let’s thank Him and praise Him and tell Him and serve Him, now and always. Amen.

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