************ Sermon on ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on February 7, 1999
"Praise the Lord"
"Hallelu Yah! Hallelu Yah! Hallelu Yah!" Thirteen times this Hebrew word is mentioned in Psalm 150. Thirteen times the psalmist calls us to "Praise the Lord!"
"Hallelu Yah! Hallelu Yah! Hallelu Yah! Praise the Lord!" Notice, our praise and our thanksgiving is to be brought to the Lord; to Yahweh; to the eternal, creating, covenanting, loving God.
"Hallelu Yah! Praise the Lord!" That's the reason why we are here this evening. That's the reason why we were here this morning. That's the reason why we were here last week. That's the reason why we will be here again next week.
"Hallelu Yah! Praise the Lord!" That's the reason why we sing, why we pray, why the CVC choir and band is worshiping with us this evening. That's the reason for this building, for the piano and organ, for our hymn books, for our activities and programs.
"Hallelu Yah! Praise the Lord!" That, dear people, is your purpose here on earth. That's the purpose of every living creature. That's the purpose of everything in heaven and on earth. All things, all persons, all creatures exist for one purpose and only one purpose – to "Praise the Lord," to say "Hallelu Yah!"
Topic: Praise to God
I witnessed a delightful instance of this after the 1989 World Series. Johnny Carson's Tonight Show had a 27th anniversary special. Johnny's final guest on the live program was L.A. Dodger pitching ace, Orel Hershiser. Johnny asked the pitcher what he did to keep himself calm before games and between innings. Hershiser, a very outspoken Christian, said he sang hymns. Johnny pressed him to sing for the audience. Hershiser caught Johnny off guard when he sang "Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow." Now, you must realize that Hershiser doesn't have the best singing voice. Yet when he finished, the audience surprised me by breaking out into a tremendous round of applause. It was wonderful to hear God's name praised on secular TV.
Now, in telling us to praise the Lord, Psalm 150 answers 4 questions: the where, the why, the how, and the who.
I The Where of Hallelu Yah! Praise the Lord!
A "Hallelu Yah! Praise the Lord!" Where is this to be done? Verse 1 tells us:
(Ps 150:1) Praise the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens.
We are told our praise is to be in the "sanctuary." Sanctuary is a Hebrew word which refers to God's chosen meeting place. In the Old Testament this place was Bethel, Gilgal, the tabernacle, the temple. In the New Testament the focus is no longer on a place; it is on a people. God is to be praised, to Him we say "Hallelu Yah," when the church gathers together for worship.
Many believers today have no place for the church. Instead, they worship God at home in personal devotions. Or, they praise God during a walk in the park or through the woods or when they are driving home. And yes, it is good to praise God at such times and in such ways. However, something is missing, our praise is lacking, if we do not also worship God within the church, in the assembly of His people.
B "Hallelu Yah! Praise the Lord!" Where is this to be done? Verse 1 tells us this is also to be done "in his mighty heavens." We see this praise brought by the angels of Christmas Day:
(Lk 2:14) "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." We also see this praise and thanksgiving in the many worship scenes found in the book of Revelation:
(Rev 7:11-12) All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, (12) saying: "Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!"
C "Hallelu Yah! Praise the Lord!" When we say this, when we do this, there is being done on earth what is also done in heaven. "Hallelu Yah! Praise the Lord!" When we say this, when we do this, earth and heaven speak with one voice. "Hallelu Yah! Praise the Lord!" When we say this, when we do this, the voices on earth unite with the voices in heaven and there is brought to God one mighty wondrous crescendo of praise.
There is much that separates the saints in heaven from those on earth – hatred, discord, envy, jealousy, anger, lust, pride, to name only a few. Yet, the saints on earth and those in heaven are one in their praise and thanksgiving.
"Hallelu Yah! Praise the Lord!" When you hear this, you are hearing the sounds of heaven itself.
II The Why of Hallelu Yah! Praise the Lord!
A Why are we to "Praise the Lord"? Why say "Hallelu Yah!" to Him? Verse 2 answers this question:
(Ps 150:2) Praise him for his acts of power; praise him for his surpassing greatness.
We are told that we praise God for "his acts of power." The psalmist has a number of things in mind. First, when He thinks of God's "acts of power" he thinks of God's mighty acts at creation – out of nothing making heaven and earth, dividing the earth from the sky and the water from the land, forming man from the dust of the earth and breathing into his nostrils the breath of life. As we look at creation and all that God has made we can't help but say "Hallelu Yah! Praise the Lord!"
Second, when He thinks of God's "acts of power" he thinks of God's continuing care of all that He has made. When we think of the food on our tables, health and strength, season faithfully following season, we can't help but say "Hallelu Yah! Praise the Lord!"
Third, when He thinks of God's "acts of power" he thinks especially of God's saving acts: saving Noah and his family, bringing Israel out of Egypt and across the Red Sea, Israel's victory over Jericho, Gideon's victory over the Midianites, and – most importantly – the bloody cross and empty grave of Christ. When we think of God's mighty acts of salvation, we cannot help but say "Hallelu Yah! Praise the Lord!"
B Why are we to "Praise the Lord"? Why say "Hallelu Yah!" to Him? We are told that we praise God not only for "his acts of power," but also for His "surpassing greatness." We praise God not only for what He does but also for Who and What he is. We offer praise and thanksgiving to our Most High and excellent God.
There is a very important lesson here. Many people think gratitude is the same as praise. And yes, gratitude is often expressed as praise. But do we stop praising God when we seem to have nothing to thank Him for, when He seems to withhold His blessings, when His divine face seems to be set against us? Does that make God less praiseworthy? Of course not! In other words, God is to be praised simply because He is God, because of Who He is, quite apart from anything that He does for me.
III The How of Hallelu Yah! Praise the Lord!
A How are we to "Praise the Lord!"? How are we to bring a "Hallelu Yah!" to Him? Verses 3-5 give us the answer:
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, praise him with the harp and lyre,If the psalmist were living today, we know he would add
praise him with tambourine and dancing,
praise him with the strings and flute,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
Praise him with the organ and piano,We can praise God with any sort of instrument: with wind instruments, with stringed instruments, with percussion instruments, with electronic instruments.
praise him with the guitar and synthesizer,
praise him with the drums and keyboard,
praise him with the boom box and stereo.
We can also praise God with our bodies: our hands, our voices, our movements.
How are we to "Praise the Lord"? How are we to bring our "Hallelu Yah!"? The answer is: "with everything you have."
B The Bible indicates to us that the highpoint of God's praise is reached in our songs and music while we worship. It is especially in worship song and music that God loves to be praised. That's why John's vision of heaven in Revelation is filled with worship scene after worship scene – and the focus of every scene is the praise of God through song and music.
Topic: Praise to GodGod expects and wants everyone of us to be engaged in His praise. He expects it of the CVC band and choir, of ASAPH, of Trinity's choir, of quartets and duets and soloists, of organists and pianists. But He also expects it of those of us who should never join a choir on this side of heaven. A couple of weeks ago someone who had been in the nursery told me that my microphone was not turned off during a song. "You didn't sound too good," she said. That's the danger of modern electronics. Yet, as far as God is concerned, how we sound makes no difference to Him – just so long as His name is praised in song and music.
Title: Do You Have a Song?
Somehow, about forty percent of churchgoers seem to have picked up the idea that "singing in church is for singers." The truth is that "singing is for believers." The relevant question is not, "Do you have a voice?" but "Do you have a song?"
And, God never grows tired of hearing our praises either. No matter how many times we sing our songs or play our music, God never grows weary of them.
Topic: Praise to GodHowever, when it comes right down to it, our praise in song and music never once exhausts the Lord. He never grows tired of hearing our praises.
The praise chorus "We Exalt Thee" took on a whole new meaning when a mother heard her three-year-old daughter singing her version: "We exhaust thee. We exhaust thee, O Lord."
IV The Who of Hallelu Yah! Praise the Lord!
Who is to "Praise the Lord"? Who is to bring a "Hallelu Yah!" before Him? We interpret Psalm 150 far too narrowly if we answer, "human life" or "believers." Verse 6 says,
(Ps 150:6) Let everything that has breath praise the LORD. Praise the LORD. Everything and everyone in all of creation is to offer praise to the Lord. Listen to how Psalm 148 puts it:
(Ps 148:7-13) Praise the LORD from the earth, you great sea creatures and all ocean depths, (8) lightning and hail, snow and clouds, stormy winds that do his bidding, (9) you mountains and all hills, fruit trees and all cedars, (10) wild animals and all cattle, small creatures and flying birds, (11) kings of the earth and all nations, you princes and all rulers on earth, (12) young men and maidens, old men and children. (13) Let them praise the name of the LORD ...
We are being told to "Praise the Lord!" We are called to bring to Him a "Hallelu Yah!"
Let me tell you, if you don't live for the honor and glory of God, then your life is a waste, your existence is but a big fat zero, and your every breath is meaningless.
So let me ask you, do you "Praise the Lord"? Do you bring to Him your "Hallelu Yah!"?
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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