Pastor Eric Schroeder - The Eleventh Sunday After Pentecost - Sunday, August 8, 2021

Text: Psalm 145

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I know it’s August, but do you remember what Thanksgiving looks like? Of course, you do. If you have been to church on Thanksgiving Eve or Thanksgiving Day before, you can almost picture the decorations up front. In our part of the world, Thanksgiving generally coincides with the harvest season, and so there might be corn and pumpkins and squash, and maybe other fruits and vegetables on display as a reminder of God’s glorious provision of all that we need and all that we have. Some churches even have a wicker cornucopia, a horn of plenty, and it’s usually overflowing as a symbol of abundance. Today, we don’t have any of those decorations up front. But we do have Psalm 145 as a reminder of how today and every day is a good day to practice thanksgiving and praise to God.

We see that very point in the first two verses: 1I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. 2Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever. Now, I don’t know about you, but I get mixed feelings when I hear those words. On the one hand, they are good, and they are right, and they are most appropriate for any child of God to speak. On the other hand, they don’t describe my life nearly as accurately as I wish they would. How about you? How many of our days are filled with the desire for more? How much of our daily conversation is more negative than it is positive, complaining about this or that or those people? How often do we look to the future with fear or worry instead of confidence and hope because God is the King of the Universe and he is in control. I think it’s safe to say that today is a good day for all of us to listen to this psalm and adjust our thinking once again. The good news is that we’ll hear in each of four main sections of Psalm 145 that God is worthy of our highest praise, today and every day.

In fact, the first main section begins exactly that way. 3Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom. 4One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. 5They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works. 6They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds. 7They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness. Praise God for his greatness, for his goodness, for his mighty acts. Maybe this is a good time to ask what exactly that means: how do we praise God? It’s easy for us to picture a church service, right? We praise God by praying to him, thanking him, singing to him, bringing offerings to him; I suppose even carving out an hour or so to be here is an act of praise. But if this is the only time we praise God, then we’re missing out on 167 hours a week when we also could be praising God for his greatness.

We see it in these verses. Yes, singing is mentioned. But look at the other ways God’s people praise him: they commend [God’s] works to another generation, they tell, they speak, they proclaim. David says I will meditate on your wonderful works. In other words, we don’t just praise God when we are talking or singing to him; we have great opportunity to praise God when we think of him and then especially when we talk about him, when we proclaim to others young and old how great our God is.

If we’re wondering what to say, the next section helps us describe him. 8The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. 9The Lord is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made. 10All you have made will praise you, O Lord; your saints will extol you. 11They will tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, 12so that all men may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. 13Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.

Isn’t that what we love best about God? That he treats us infinitely better than we deserve? He is mighty, glorious, and good. And we are none of those by ourselves. We might try to be good sometimes, but we’d never measure up to God. And yet he is patient, gracious, compassionate, good, and forgiving, all for Jesus’ sake. Even in David’s day, his plan of salvation was on the way to completion, and as we look back now, we can see it fulfilled in Jesus’ perfection in our place, his innocent suffering and death as a substitute for sinners, and his glorious resurrection as God’s stamp of approval on all of his saving work. Through faith in Jesus, we are forgiven and counted among the saints who join in praise to the LORD, our gracious God, both now and forever.

The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made. 14The Lord upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. 15The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. 16You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing. Now that our eternity is bought and paid for with the blood of Jesus, our daily confidence might be considered icing on the cake. The Lord is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made. If God loved us enough to cancel our debt and set us free from the guilt and punishment our sins deserve, surely, he will keep the rest of his promises to watch over us, preserve us and protect us as we make our way along the path he has chosen for us. But this confidence doesn’t give us the freedom to ignore him; no instead, it inspires us to depend on him all the more. We know that there will be times when we fall, but he will uphold us. There will be times when we are bowed down, but he will lift us up. Because of his faithfulness, our eyes look to him regularly and even constantly, and we trust that he will provide food and everything else in what he determines to be the proper time.

Now, the honest truth is that from our limited perspective, what God does might not always seem right—his timing doesn’t always seem proper to us. One might argue that God isn’t satisfying my desires. Maybe some people point to the homeless, to people who go without basic needs, who are victims of horrible tragedies that no one should have to suffer. Yes, life in this world shows us many events and occurrences where God’s faithfulness might be called into question, either in our lives or those around us. But again, there is a cross and an empty tomb that prove God’s faithfulness. And if that’s where we turn, maybe we start realizing that the problems in our world don’t stem from a lack of faithfulness on God’s part, but a lack of faith on our part. Are we hesitant to give or to share because we are worried we might not have enough for ourselves? Are we so wrapped up in our own plans and our own desires that we crowd God’s plans for us? Are we so focused on our wants that we disregard the needs of others? Only you and God can answer that question for you. God, forgive us for failing to use our lives and our abundance for your purposes.

We’d better read on…the last section: 17The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made. 18The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. 19He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. 20The Lord watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy. Here’s a new thought, as these verses draw a line between those who love and fear God and those who are wicked. So which one are you? At best, we are both; we have to acknowledge our wickedness, the evil that comes forth from our corrupted hearts. If we don’t, we’re lying. Does that mean we are destined for destruction? We absolutely would be …. if God hadn’t been faithful to his promises. 18The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth…19He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them. God is completely righteous; he cannot tolerate sin. How can he tolerate sinners then? Well, David reminds us that God is also loving toward all he has made. So he poured out his full wrath against our sin when he punished his Son, so that all sins would forever be paid for. The word isn’t used here, but what is called for is repentance, calling upon God in the truth of admitting our sinfulness, and depending on him to give us the righteousness that is ours only through faith in Jesus, who gave his life for all. And so we live in humble repentance, and turn to God’s faithful promise of forgiveness, knowing that all is accomplished, all is settled, all is finished and all who trust in God’s salvation are declared righteous for Jesus’ sake. By God’s grace we’ve heard it before, but we never tire of hearing that God loves us and we are forgiven. What is our response? Well, we end the way we began.

21My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever. Let it be our intention and our reality that this psalm would accurately describe the rest of our day, the rest of our week, and the rest of our years (God-willing), because thanks to Jesus Christ, it already describes our eternity of praise to the LORD. In Jesus’ name. AMEN.