************ Sermon on Psalm 145 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on May 3, 1998
"Come! Celebrate the King!"
I God's Greatness
A For a decade now Michael Jordan has defined basketball. He has a vertical jump so high you would think he has rocket boosters in his shoes. He can change directions so smoothly and so quickly opposing players rarely have a chance. Michael's greatness lies in his awesome athletic ability.
During the Winter Olympics – like most guys – I didn't much care for the figure skating competition. But even I watched a tiny figure of a girl, a 15-year-old Tara Lipinski, as she had a flawless performance the last night of competition and won the gold medal. Her grace and poise was simply remarkable.
I don't know about you, but by the end of the Winter Olympics I was getting sick and tired of all those horns that blew every time Happy Harada did one of his ski jumps. But his final jump was tremendous. He came down the run, pushed himself high off the end, floated through the air like a feather, and landed an astonishing 137 meters down the slope. "I did it! I did it!" he exclaimed, before breaking down in tears.
The Visalia Times Delta sponsored a youth essay contest about gang membership and violence after the shooting death of one of our police officers last Fall and all of the violence leading up to it. I heard two of the winners read their winning essay this past week. Both essays were outstanding. As I was listening I couldn't help but think of two Bible passages: "a little child will lead them" (Isaiah 11:6); and, "From the lips of children and infants ..." (Psalm 8:2).
B Whether I am talking about Michael Jordan or Tara Lipinski or Happy Harada or the two essay winners my point is this: it is easy to recognize greatness – that quality that pushes individual human beings over the heads of the crowd.
Greatness is easy to recognize. Especially the Lord's! Did you catch what the psalmist said?
(Ps 145:3) Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.When David looks at the Lord – just like people today look at Michael Jordan or Tara Lipinski – he recognizes greatness. But David is not alone. Many believers since his time have also recognized the Lord's greatness. I think of the original author who penned the words to the Children's folk song My God Is So Great:
My God is so great, so strong and so mighty!I think of Rich Mullins. He wrote the song Awesome God:
There's nothing my God cannot do!
The mountains are his, the rivers are his,
the stars are his handiwork too.
Our God is an awesome God,Those believers who look at God with the eye of faith cannot help but recognize His greatness.
He reigns from heaven above
With wisdom, power and love,
Our God is an awesome God.
C Greatness is easy to recognize but this does not mean all great people are alike. I suspect that if you were to strap figure skates on Michael and put him on the ice, little Tara Lipinski would skate circles around him while darting back and forth like a butterfly. Tara may excel on the ice, but on the basketball court she would be stepped on like a bug. Give Happy Harada a basketball and I doubt if he could make 10% of his shots.
In each and everyone of these cases, the greatness is only in one area: basketball, or ski jumping, or figure skating, or essay writing. Every once in a while you may meet someone who is outstanding in a couple of areas – but these people are but exceptions.
Our Lord, on the other hand, is great in everything that He does. There is not a single area in which He does not excel. There is not a single thing in which He is not head and shoulders over the crowd. Our God is so great, so strong and so mighty! Our God is an awesome God.
D Human greatness is easy to recognize but it lasts for such a short time. Fifty years from now, if the Lord has not come back first, people will say, "Michael Who?" And at that time I doubt if 100 people outside of Japan will remember Happy Harada. As for Tara, there is a good chance that by then she won't even be skating any more. Though it is easy to recognize, human greatness just does not last. For one thing, as our bodies and minds age they become less and less capable of those feats of greatness. For another thing, eventually someone will come along who will out shoot Michael, out skate Tara, or out jump Happy.
God's greatness, on the other hand, is forever. It is an enduring greatness. Listen to what the psalmist says:
(Ps 145:4-5) One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. (5) They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty ... Our God is so great, so strong and so mighty! Our God is an awesome God.
II God's Greatness In ...
A In his song David praises God's greatness in four different areas.
First, David praises God for His greatness in the area of redemption. It is redemption that David has in mind in verses 4-7:
(Ps 145:4-7) One generation will commend your works to another; they will tell of your mighty acts. (5) They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful works. (6) They will tell of the power of your awesome works, and I will proclaim your great deeds. (7) They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.What kind of works is David thinking of? Let me recite them for you. When He sent a great and mighty flood, God saved and protected believing Noah and his family. God gave an elderly Abraham and Sarah a child even though it was humanly impossible for Sarah to bear a child anymore. God sent the ten plagues upon Egypt in order to force Pharaoh to let His people go. God killed the Egyptian firstborn but passed over the households of His people. God led His people Israel through the midst of the Red Sea on dry ground while in the same sea He drowned Pharaoh and his whole host. God made the walls of Jericho fall down. God gave victory to Gideon and 300 men against a Midianite and Amalekite army of 140,000.
We look at God's greatness in all of these acts of redemption and we have to say the same thing God Himself said when Sarah laughed about bearing a child: "Is anything too hard for the Lord?" (Gen 18:14). Our God is so great, so strong and so mighty! Our God is an awesome God.
Since the days of David God has continued to show His greatness in the area of redemption. He made a virgin conceive and bear a son. On Good Friday He made three hours of darkness come upon the land at midday. He split the temple curtain from top to bottom. He opened the graves of many holy people and raised them to life. And, three days later He raised His Son from the grave.
We look at God's greatness in all of these acts of redemption and we have to say the same thing the angel said to Mary: "For nothing is impossible with God" (Luke 1:37). Our God is so great, so strong and so mighty! Our God is an awesome God.
And, we have to say that today God has continued to show His greatness in the area of redemption. He takes men and women who are dead in sin, and makes them alive in Christ Jesus. He takes men and women who are alcoholics, drug addicts, perverts, murderers, homosexuals, lesbians, and murderers and changes them into children of light. Our God is so great, so strong and so mighty! Our God is an awesome God.
B Second, David praises God for His greatness in the area of compassion. It is compassion that David has in mind in verses 8-9:
(Ps 145:8-9) The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. (9) The LORD is good to all; he has compassion on all he has made.God revealed this side of His greatness to Moses. Moses had been on the mountain top with God. While He was up there the people became impatient and made a golden calf. When Moses came down from the mountain he destroyed the calf and ground it up into powder. The people were punished with the plague and 3000 were struck down by the sword. Moses was discouraged that the people fell into this sin just days after receiving the Ten Commandments. He wasn't sure if he could continue anymore. He wasn't sure if God would remain with the people to bless them and guide them. So in desperation Moses cried out, "Now show me your glory" (Exodus 33:18). Do you remember God's response? God allowed Moses a glimpse of His back. But seeing God's back was not seeing God's glory. God's glory was revealed in something else. When God passed by Moses He said something:
(Ex 34:6) "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness ...That revelation of the compassion and mercy of God was the revelation of His glory. God's glory is that He is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. The people had just sinned; they had sinned grievously; they had forsaken God and went back to the paganism of Egypt. And God shows His glory to Moses – the glory of His compassion and grace and mercy. In showing His mercy in the midst of sin God was displaying His greatness. His compassion and mercy are so wondrously great. Our God is so great, so strong and so mighty! Our God is an awesome God.
God's compassion and mercy are so wondrously great. He was willing to forgo the punishment of Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of 10 righteous people. Time after time during the wilderness travels the people of Israel showed themselves to be a wicked and stiff-necked people – think of the golden calf, the complaining about water and manna and quails, the rebellion after the report of the spies, the jealous murmurs against Moses, and so on – yet God forgave them time and again. He forgave wicked Nineveh, the mortal enemy of His people, when the people and king of this city repented. His compassion and mercy are so wondrously great. Our God is so great, so strong and so mighty! Our God is an awesome God.
What God did for Israel, what God did for Nineveh, what God was willing to do for Sodom and Gomorrah, He also does for you and me because of Christ His Son – He shows compassion to us and is willing to forgive us. His compassion and mercy are so wondrously great. Our God is so great, so strong and so mighty! Our God is an awesome God.
C Third, David praises God for His greatness in the area of kingdom, rule, and authority. It is kingdom that David has in mind in verses 10-13a:
(Ps 145:10-13) All you have made will praise you, O LORD; your saints will extol you. (11) They will tell of the glory of your kingdom and speak of your might, (12) so that all men may know of your mighty acts and the glorious splendor of your kingdom. (13) Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations.
David identified this kingdom of God with the people and the nation of Israel. How great were the works of the Lord in establishing this kingdom. Think of David slaying Goliath. Think of David conquering Jerusalem by coming up through the water shaft. Think of David defeating the Philistines. Think of how every nation at that time had to pay tribute. Our God is so great, so strong and so mighty! Our God is an awesome God.
Many years later King Nebuchadnezzar in Babylon used almost the same words as David. Nebuchadnezzar, if you remember, boasted in his strength and power and did not acknowledge that the power was God's. As punishment he lived with wild animals for seven years. At the time of his recovery Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged that God was a mighty king:
(Dan 4:34-35) His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. (35) All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: "What have you done?"Our God is so great, so strong and so mighty! Our God is an awesome God.
In Christ, of course, this Kingdom has already been established. And, on the day that Christ returns it will be fully established so that all the world will see that God and His Christ are King of everything. Our God is so great, so strong and so mighty! Our God is an awesome God.
D Fourth, David praises God for His greatness in the area of faithfulness. It is God's faithfulness that David has in mind in verses 13b-20. God's faithfulness is shown in four ways. He gives help to the falling (vs 14). He gives food to all His creatures (vs 15-16). He answers those who pray (vs 18-19). He gives protection to all those who are His (vs 20). Our God is so great, so strong and so mighty! Our God is an awesome God.
III Celebrate God's Greatness
A Let's go back, for a moment, to Michael Jordan. Hardly a week goes by without at least one of his moves being displayed on sport's broadcasts across the continent. And, Tara's winning routine was shown on TV four or five times during the weeks after the Olympics. And replay after replay showed us Happy Harada's record-setting jump.
Do you know why these events were replayed time after time? When we see or experience something really great, we just have to let others know. There is something about greatness that we want to praise and celebrate. We just have to tell someone, "That was incredible."
B Our God is so great, so strong and so mighty! Our God is an awesome God. So David has to tell everyone about this God. That's why David continually praises God in Psalm 145. In fact, Psalm 145 is an alphabet of praise and celebration. It is not obvious in the English, but in the Hebrew each of the verses begins with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.
Our God is so great, so strong and so mighty! Our God is an awesome God. That's why David calls us to praise and celebrate Him:
(Ps 145:1-2,7) I will exalt you, my God the King; I will praise your name for ever and ever. (2) Every day I will praise you and extol your name for ever and ever ... (7) They will celebrate your abundant goodness and joyfully sing of your righteousness.Like David, we just have to tell someone about our great and awesome God. Like David we want to bring to God an alphabet of praise and celebration
Our God is so great, so strong and so mighty! Our God is an awesome God. So come! Praise and celebrate the King!
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