Sermon at First Presbyterian Church Lockhart

"In Everything – Praise God”

Jeremiah 29:1-7, Psalm 66:1-12, II Timothy 2:8-15, Luke 17:11-19

                                                             October 10, 2010                                

by James Greene

 

           In our modern world, we sometimes don’t see or don’t seem have the ability or the time to praise God in the midst of our lives, in the midst of our daily struggles, or in the midst of our chaos.  With all of the clutter and distractions, we seldom see God, working in our lives.  This happens in spite of our exposure to the Biblical texts.

           It seems we are more focused on re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic,  than on praising God for the life we have, and for the gift of the time we have, to be a part of His plan.  We need to praise God in our trials, in His Power, in our work, and in our healing.

 

Praising God in loss: a tornado had taken the family house, and there was nothing left except the ravaged fields around the farm.  The man came out of the storm shelter and viewed the debris that was their home and their farm.  The first thing that came to his mind, and to his voice was the Doxology.  He praised God, in the midst of his loss. 

           The title of today’s sermon is “In Everything - Praise God”

 

I  Praising God, in Exile  – Jeremiah

 

In Jeremiah, we see him writing and prophesying to those who have been taken off into exile (into Babylon).  He explains how God is the one who carried his people into exile.  He sends this message, with Elasah : - “God has made”.  Elasah is the one who kept Jeremiah from the lynch mob.   He is also an emissary of Zedekiah, the last king of Judah.

Jeremiah reminds them that they are to continue, praising God, in all things, even in their exile.  They are instructed to pray for the city of Babylon, and to help it prosper.  They are to settle down, to build houses, to grow gardens, to find wives, to build families, and to give their sons and daughters in marriage.  This is a long term plan, and he calls them to increase in number. 

 

They are to seek the peace and prosperity of the city.  They are called to pray for the city, that it may prosper, and they (in turn) may prosper.  They are to become good citizens in their exile.  They are not to rebel against the authority of the city.  In this way their behavior will praise God.  As the people of God they are to “be at home’ as they live out their witness as God’s people in that age.  Jeremiah calls them to reconsider their place in God’s economy – they are to be a witness to the nations, and their submission to the work of God in that age.   

It is their portion, and they are to wait upon and praise The Lord in their exile.

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  We are called to trust in God.  We are to trust Him even in the midst of our isolation and our enslavement.  Even in the times when it seems that we have been cast off.  But, like Jeremiah’s call to us across the centuries, we are to remember God, live our lives in praise, and wait upon The Lord.  We are to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.  Realizing that it may not come in our generation.

 

II  Praising God, in Power - Psalm

In Psalm 66, like Jeremiah we see the call to praise God in His Power.  It is a Psalm of praise and joy to God.  It is the response of the creation, to praise the Creator.  The works of God, praise God.  The highest honor of the created is to praise the Creator.  Our greatest glory is to sing praises to God and to honor God’s name.

Like the poem:

O' Lord, Because of you,      Life is.…    The grass whispers your name. 

The trees lift their leaves,      in praise of Your Creation. 

 

           The Psalmist calls to “all people” to praise God.

           Think of nature, and how it demonstrates the praise of God.  We need to see God’s works through the lens of scripture, and really see His power, His wisdom, and His faithfulness in them.  We are called to praise God in His power.  

Close your eyes and think of God’s silent power in a sunset,  in the power of a thunderstorm, in the silent power of light, and the physical power of water – in the rain, in the flood, in the tsunami.  Is there any doubt that we should not praise God in and because of His Creation?

 

We are to praise God with our heart, with all of our might, and with all that is within us.  It is because our God is a personal God.  He is the one who saves us, through fire and water.  It is because of Him that we are not consumed in the fire.  It is through God’s power and direction of our trials, that we are refined, like silver in its purifying.

It is our praise of God that shines through this process that strengthens us and refines us as God’s people.     

 

III Praising God in Our Work and Integrity - II Timothy

 

           In our Epistle letter, we see Paul explaining to Timothy, how in his handling the Word of Truth, as a workman, he is approved by God.  We are truly praising God in our works and in the integrity of our vocation, and our witness.  Even when we are faithless, God is still faithful, to His people.  This is the reason to praise God, not only because of his faithfulness, but also because He saves us because we endure.  We are to present ourselves to God, as one approved, because our work speaks of our praise of God.

           Paul also warns about quarreling over words.  It only ruins those who listen, and carries no value.  It reminds me of the phrase “Jive Talk” from the late 60’s that described useless, and unproductive talking.  It was a flood of words was used to confuse and distract people in a meaningless message.

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IV Praising God in Our Healing  - Luke

 

           In Luke we see Jesus healing as he is on the way to Jerusalem.  How many times are we called upon to do something, while we are in the midst of doing something, or going somewhere.  Jesus answered the call of the 10 lepers.  He tells them to go see the priest.  They are all healed on the way.  The Samaritan, the outcast of the Hebrew society, (as he realizes that he is healed) returns to Jesus praising God, in his healing. 

Jesus healed all 10 lepers, because they asked.  He wasn’t seeking their praise, but he was doing the work of the Father who had sent him: to redeem all people.  He was, faithful in his work, praising God.  He remained faithful to the Father.

 

The other 9 lepers didn’t praise God in their healing.  Yet, they were healed.

The Samaritan was healed by his faith.  His faith is what allowed him to praise God in the healing. 

 

Conclusion

 

So it is, with us (our faith is what allows us)  to praise God in our healing.  Just like ancient Judah we are to praise God in exile.  Just as the Psalmist we are to praise God in His power.

Just like Timothy, and Jesus we are to praise God in our work and our integrity.                                

 

           We are to be faithful, (like the Samaritan) and praise God, who is the One we serve.  Who is the One who heals us.  We are to remember who is the One who remembers us in and through the pain and hardship.  We are to praise God with all of our being, in all things.  It is in praising the One who saves us

 

We acknowledge the One, worthy of praise,  - our creator.

 

 We praise Him even in our afflictions, exile, our work,

 

our healing and in His Power ….

 

Because it is  In everything  that we should Praise  God

 

                      In the Name of    the Father,   the Son,   and the Holy Spirit.  Amen

 

 

 

 

 

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