Sermon at First Presbyterian Church Lockhart

"Does Our Behavior Praise God?”

Jeremiah 2:4-13,  Psalm 81,  Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16,  Luke 14:1, 7-14

August 29, 2010

by James Greene


           Have you ever noticed how people behave?  I’ve always been fascinated in watching people.  It is interesting to see the way people act in a crowd, or on a busy street.  It is a lot like watching waves on a beach.  Each wave is different, yet each wave is similar in the way the water moves and behaves.  It is one of the key reasons,

I studied Sociology.      

In our readings we see the behavior of God’s people in both the Old and the New Testament.  It causes us reflect upon the question: “Does our behavior praise God?”


I  Behavior     Israel/Jacob – towards God 

In Jeremiah, we see the behavior of Israel and Jacob in their falling away from God’s Provision for His people.  God has been faithful.  He has fulfilled His promises.  He has taken care of His people and brought them up out of slavery, to the fertile land.  Their behavior has turned the land into a wasteland, and they turned towards Baal as their god.  In their behavior they had turned their back on God.  God pleads with them to change their ways and turn to him.  But the people were ungrateful and they abandoned God.  They polluted their lives with the ways of the nations around them.  They had forgotten the provision of God,  the heart of God’s Law, and  the teaching of God’s Word, was corrupted by their prophets.  They had become pagans  in their views and worship.  They did not praise God in their hearts or their actions.  They had given up their Glory.  Yet, God reminds them that they are not like the nations.  They have been called out, from the nations.


He reminds them how they had given up the living water and Spirit of God for the stagnant water and profane spirit of the world.  Their behavior had ruined them.  They have carved out their own lives, instead of relying upon the One who gives them life.  Their own works were not sufficient to replenish them. 


II  What is the Behavior of God?                 Jeremiah/Psalm

In Psalm 8, we see God’s caring heart for His people.  He has removed their burdens.  When they called upon the Lord; He rescued, He answered, and tested them.  God called upon them to hear Him.  It is because of their awareness of God’s graces, that their behavior was praise and worship to their Creator.  But God gives them over to the desires of their “stubborn hearts”.

           We see God’s behavior demonstrated, in His unfailing love, and the extension of His forgiveness, and His desire to restore His People.  It is a call by God to them to change their behavior and accept His offer of salvation to the people, that bear his name.  He calls us to a “better behavior” as His people.                                                     


III What does God ask of our behavior?  Hebrews

           It is in Hebrews, that we see the behavior standards of being Christian laid out in the text.  It is the way we live, that reflects our praise to God.  We are called to love each other and to show hospitality.  (even to strangers)  We are called to remember those in prison, and those mistreated.  These behaviors continue to apply to us today.  The writer calls us to be a moral people.  We are not to be concerned with the material wealth of this world. 


Like the Jeremiah, we are not to “carve out” our own wealth and future, (like the cisterns) but rely upon God’s supply in all things as our as the sustainer of our life.  Our behavior is a praise to God.  It is a witness of our thanksgiving to Him for “never leaving us or forsaking us” as the people of God and followers of The Christ.

It is part of the contours  (the terrain features)  of our life that reflect the imprint of God’s rule in our lives.    


           Our behavior is to be that continuing sacrifice of praise to God.  It is with these sacrifices and praise, that God is pleased.  It is the rule of God present everyday in our lives.  It is demonstrated in our behavior, and through our acts of graciousness that we extend to others.  It is in our reflection of God’s love, through us, and Christ dwelling within us.  It is the testimony of God’s presence working through us.  Our behavior (reflected out of our hearts) is to be a praise to God in every action.  Also, our behavior calls us to remember and pray for our leaders, and to be imitators of their faith.  With Christ our head (we as Christians) demonstrate through our actions, that we belong to Christ and imitate His example and behavior as His followers.


           We see an example of this today in our hymn after the offering.  The musical tune to the Doxology, that we sing, comes from the Old Hundreth hymn.  It was written for the Geneva Psalter during the Reformation in 1551.  The words for the hymn, were written by an Anglican  - Thomas Ken in 1674.  It is used as a traditional recessional hymn in the Anglican Church.  It is a reflection of our behavior, and actions, that it is right to praise God in all things, and for all things. 

IV The Behavior of Christians – example of Jesus   Hebrews/Luke


           Jesus’ behavior shows us The Way of The Father, and The Way to The Father. It is in our behavior, to be like Jesus, that we realize God’s call to us and within us, and God’s requirement of us as His people. 


In Luke Jesus teaches us about behavior.  In the parable he exposes the human tendency toward pride, and privilege.  He shows us that we should not take the places of honor, just because we think we have the right to them.  The honor comes from the host giving the banquet, not ourselves.  We forget that God is the host.  God is the one to honor us, but our behavior must represent and reflect God’s standard.     


The modern day example of this came from my experience in the Marine Corps as an officer.  It is custom and protocol, that when an entire unit was going to dinner, the officers and staff lined up at the end of the line.  This was so the enlisted personnel would go through the line and eat first.  Then the Non Commissioned Officers (the sergeants and master sergeants) would be fed and then the officers.  This is because the troops come first.  They were honored first, because if there wasn’t enough food, or portions, at least the troops would be fed.  The officers were then fed.  If there was any food left over, then people could return for seconds.  It is an honorable system and tradition, based on leadership by example.  Like that of Jesus, who preached and lived by example of the behavior that praised and honored God.                 



V  Does Our behavior Praise God?”


            In our everyday experiences, our behavior should praise God.  It is what we are called to do as followers of Jesus.  It is addressed to us that we act morally as the people of God.  It is the vision of the Gospel that calls us to a deeper and broader standard of behavior.  We are to reflect God’s new standard of generosity, that transforms relationships.  It is not just opening doors for people, or helping them when they have fallen down.  It is about being the living and caring heart of God to all that we meet and live with each day.

           It is not easy.  It is part of our service to God and our praise to God; to serve His people  in his name”.  It is the love of God towards God’s people that should be a part of our behavior and standard.  Just as God continues to care for His people even when they turn away.  He patiently calls upon and us to turn to Him in praise and worship that is our response to his providence and salvation in our lives.   


In the Name of The Father… The Son…. And the Holy Spirit…..    A-men