Sermon by: Robert Austell; May 26, 2019; Psalm 145
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::: Music ::
We Will Remember (Tommy Walker)
Great is Thy Faithfulness (arr. VanderHeide)
OFFERTORY: Song Without Words, Susan Slade - flute (Richard S. Williams)
Here is Love (chorus) (Lowry, Rees)
O God Our Help in Ages Past (ST. ANNE)
:: Sermon Manuscript (pdf) :: This manuscript represents an early draft of the sermon. Some weeks the spoken version varies more than others from the early manuscript. Nevertheless, if you'd prefer to read than to listen, this is provided for that purpose.
To begin today, I’d like to ask you to think about something difficult you are facing today in the present. Alternately, think about something you worry about in the future. Think for a moment…
I won’t ask you to share that, but I’d encourage you to write it down in short form in your own Bible next to Psalm 145 or in the back… or take a short note on your phone. I want you to remember it during the sermon today and we’ll come back to it at the end.
* * *
In our civic life, this weekend is a memorial in which we remember those who have died in military service to our country. A memorial is an intentional remembering and it is important to do, not only in civic life, but in our own lives and faith.
We remember birthdays and anniversaries because they celebrate things that are important to us. They mark events of significance and can bring back memories and commitments from years past. We also remember things like deaths and wartime sacrifice because those also mark events of significance that can bring back memories and commitments from years past. Doing so can inform our present and inspire our future.
Likewise, memorials are an important part of our faith and spiritual lives. Specifically, scripture teaches us to remember who God is and what God has done. We do that to mark events of significance, to recall memories and commitments from years past. And we do so to inform our present and inspire our future.
Today’s scripture text is Psalm 145, which reminds us that one such form of spiritual memorial is praise. In summary, Psalm 145 says: Remember to PRAISE GOD!
Remember God to Praise
In one sense, Psalm 145 is one long rush of praise. It’s a little hard to dissect or organize. And there’s a reason for that. But I do want to suggest one loose way to look at it. It is a series of reflections or challenges on the importance of praise, punctuated by actual moments of praise. We sometimes see that in songs. The verses may be a call to praise, “Let’s all praise the Lord” and the chorus might be the actual praise, “Praise the Lord!” That’s kind of how this goes, with more meat and detail and poetry to it. Let’s look briefly…
Opening Pledge: I will praise (vv.1-2)
Psalm 145 opens with several ‘I’ statements that basically say in several different ways: I WILL praise the Lord. There are elaborations in terms of how to refer to God, frequency of the praise, and so forth, but that’s the basic gist. Then then in verse 3 there is direct praise around God’s greatness.
Praise is Public (vv.4-7)
In verses 4-7, we move back to calling for praise, with two noticeable developments. The call for praise is now issued to the people of God (not just the Psalmist), and the form of praise takes on a much more public nature. Praise is now described by words like DECLARE, SPEAK, TELL, UTTER, and SHOUT. We also see a broader description of what praise includes: it is both the character and the works of God. It is both who God is as well as what God has done. This section also moves into direct praise, now around God’s love, mercy, grace, and kindness.
God’s character and works are demonstrably praiseworthy. (vv. 10-12)
Finally, in a third section (vv. 10-12), we are back to talking ABOUT praise, now with God’s works as well as God’s people doing the public praise of God’s character and deeds. The focus seems to move toward God’s power and glory. Then in a much longer section of direct praise, the Psalmist spends eight verses praising God. I’d like to remind you of the first three examples of direct praise, then list these eight, for a total of 11 Praises to Remember.
11 Praises to Remember
1. God is Unimaginably Great (v. 3)
2. God is Gracious, Loving, and Kind (v. 8)
3. God is Good and Merciful (v. 9)
4. God Reigns (v.13)
5. God Helps (v. 14)
6. God Provides (v. 15)
7. God Satisfies (v. 16)
8. God is Right and Kind (v. 17)
9. God is Available (v. 18)
10. God Hears and Saves (v. 19)
11. God Judges Rightly (v. 20)
In order to recognize and engage in those praises, we must REMEMBER what God is like and what God has done. And that remembering is precisely what fuels our present praise and our future hope.
Remembering as a Resource
And so I would ask you this question: What do you remember about the character or involvement of God from the Bible?
That brings me to today and one more question: What do you remember about the character or involvement of God in your own life?
Think through that list that came from Psalm 145. Do you remember God being or doing any of those things in the Bible? in your life? Pick one… “God provides.” There are numerous examples of God providing in scripture. He provided water and food for His people wandering in the wilderness. He provided a lamb for Abraham to sacrifice. Has God ever provided for you? Can you remember?
What does remembering God’s character and involvement in scripture tell you about how God will meet you in your current challenge? What stood out to you in your remembering… that God was faithful, strong, near, forgiving, merciful, or something else? What about God’s involvement; what stood out… that God listens, delivers, saves, or something else? What did you remember from your own life? What stood out? Is that something you need to be reminded of… to remember?
I would encourage you to write these things down, to ‘mark’ them both to help in the current challenge and to remember in the future. Scripture even says we can use such things to teach the next generation about God. If answers to these questions didn’t come to mind in the short time I gave you to answer, I’d encourage you to write the questions down and work through them on your own. Here they are again:
What is a challenge you are facing right now?
What do you remember about the character or involvement of God from the Bible?
What do you remember about the character or involvement of God in your own life?
How do these memorials of God’s character and involvement inform the challenge you are facing?
If you were able to respond, I’d encourage you to write those responses down in your Bible or some other place you can find them again. Maybe you could mark them “Memorial Day 2019” or have a special page in the back of your Bible for “Things to Remember about God.”
Scripture says that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1) Trouble is, our memories are short and we forget that. Beloved, hear the Good News: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) Remember that and be encouraged! Amen.
Remember to PRAISE God
Finally, in addition to teaching us to remember God in order to praise, Psalm 145 also challenges us to remember to praise God. It was written as an acrostic to help God’s people remember it and remember to praise. In the original Hebrew, each verse starts with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. So it’s something like: A – always praise; B – begin your day in praise to God; C – continue praising throughout the day; and so forth. Rather than try to recreate that OR omit the memory tool embedded in the Psalm, I want to offer you a simplified way to remember the contents and the charge of this Psalm: PRAISE God!
The letters of ‘PRAISE’ can remind us of several of the essential challenges in this Psalm.
P – We are to PRAISE to speak back to God and to publicly tell of God’s great character and works.
R– In order to do that we must learn and REMEMBER who God has been and what God has done. We can read that in scripture, learn it from the testimony or public praise of others, or recognize it in our own life.
A– It involves ALL of life because God does not just dwell in temples or houses built by human hands. Rather, God has made everything and is involved with everything. That’s easy to see in the good and beautiful things; but God is also involved with the sad and sorrowful, the things that cry out for a Savior, help, and healing.
I– In order to participate in all this I must praise and remember God. God is there and working even if I don’t, but I will be blind to it. The Psalm began in the 1st person to engage us personally: “I will praise God’s name forever and ever.”
S– We must SEE with our eyes and heart, looking for God’s active presence in all of life.
E – We talked about the ‘all’: there is no place God cannot reach. Therefore, everything good or bad EXCLAIMS who God is and what God has done, whether positively or as a cry for God’s help.
If you put that P-R-A-I-S-E together with God at the end, PRAISE God can remind you to Praise, Remembering All I See Exclaims: God! If we remember to do that, we will see and know God as our very help in times of trouble and our hope for years to come. Amen.