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Author:Rev. Sjirk Bajema
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Congregation:Reformed Church of Mangere
 South Auckland, New Zealand
 
Title:True Praise Is All Heart!
Text:Psalms 146 (View)
Occasion:Regular Sunday
Topic:Worship
 
Preached:2007-04-15
Added:2009-04-25
 

Order Of Worship (Liturgy)

* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.


PSALM 146

(Reading: John 5:16-30; Psalm 146)

 

True Praise Is All Heart!

 

 

Congregation in our Lord Jesus Christ...

 

     Psalm 146 marks the beginning of the “Hallelujah” psalms.

          This is the name given to the last five psalms in the book of Psalms.

              For the psalms are going to conclude looking up to the Lord in the most thankful and respectful way.

     All thoughts of confession and contrition are put to the side now.

          It’s the covenant God these are full of.

              “Praise the LORD,” each of these last five psalms begins.

                   And “Praise the LORD,” is how each of these five psalms ends.

 

     That’s why these psalms are called the “Hallelujah” psalms.

          For “Hallelujah” is the Hebrew for “praise the Lord”!

 

     So “praise” is the predominate word.

          There is no doubt God’s people here are all looking up in the most clearest and open way.

              This is where they show whose they really are!

 

     But isn’t it exactly when we hear the word “praise” that we wonder if that’s what we’re actually doing?

          We see so many other churches who have got into praise in a big way and we seem to do it in such a little way.

              It must be one of a church’s most despairing thoughts that somehow they aren’t glorifying God as they ought.

     Could it be true?

          Have we failed in this vital area for nineteen hundred years?

              Is it only of late that true praise has been rediscovered?

                   Did we miss the boat?

 

     Well, that’s what’s been said.

          And we’re told our dreary, cold, traditional and doctrinal Calvinism is the reason why.

 

     So, let’s take up that challenge.

          Let’s consider what true worship is.

              And let’s do that with no better a guidebook than The Good Book itself – God’s Word.

 

     For this is what Psalm 146 is exactly about.

          It is about true praise.

              And so, in the first place, let’s note from God’s Word here, TRUE PRAISE COMES FROM YOUR HEART.

 

      This is what the first two verses are about.

          For this is personal.

              And even though the man who wrote this may have been the one leading Israel’s worship, he’s declaring that it has to start in his heart first of all!

 

     So after the plural opening statement, “Praise the LORD,” the singular personal pronoun is used.

          “Praise the LORD, O my soul.”

              And he confirms it has to come from himself: “I will praise the LORD all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.”

 

     Notice, it’s praise all his life – as long as he lives!

          This is no mere mood of the moment.

              It could never be just what we can feel on that occasion when there is the special gathering!

     TRUE PRAISE COMES FROM YOUR HEART.

          It’s not from your emotions.

              It’s not what you feel together when the music gets to you.

 

     Could that be why Christians who get so uplifted by the experience on Sunday are so down-hearted on Monday?

          Is this why when so many profess faith there are so few who live by faith?

 

     Now, we must be careful that we don’t judge motives here.

          Only God sees the heart.

              But it’s the one who can burst out into a spiritual song anytime who shows there’s someone special living in his heart.

 

     And that’s the challenge to us!

          For do we rejoice in being His in every part of our lives?

              Are we those who work and play showing what’s in our hearts?

 

     As Spurgeon describes it, this is not about the well-tuned harp but the sanctified heart.

          And even if you’ve got the most terrible voice, completely lacking in melody, yet your soul will magnify the Lord!

              You see, while you live you will love.

     And while you breath you will bless.

          Time here is so short – so not a moment is to be lost doing what you’ll be busy with for all eternity!

 

     Can you be too dedicated in praising God?

          Is it possible to do too much?

              “No way!” the psalmist says.

                   He cries out he’s going to do it every day and in every possible way!

 

     So “praise” is not a certain time on Sunday.

          It’s not the part of worship service that gets you going!

              It’s what you’re showing as you’re going!

 

     We realise this more as we come to the second aspect to this psalm.

          For moving on from seeing that TRUE PRAISE COMES FROM YOUR HEART we realise TRUE PRAISE HAS HEART IN IT.

 

     Here we come to the verses 3 till 6.

          And what a contrast these verses hold!

              For the verses 3 and 4 tell us of what has no heart while the verses 5 and 6 tells us of He who has all heart!

 

     Let’s turn then to the first subject.

          Did you notice who the psalmist uses to illustrate the one who you can’t depend on?

              He calls them “princes.”

             

     So he goes to the most powerful position then known amongst mankind.

          He declares even those high-born men to be but mortal.

              Men who cannot save you.

                   Indeed, men who are nothing.

 

     I mean, how many of you haven’t been broken-hearted because someone let you down?

          And that’s been repeated countless times before!

 

     In fact, doesn’t history teach us that all men are so much like princes?

          Because it’s all appearances!

              They cannot help you with what you really need.

 

     When Isaiah speaks of the coming Messianic kingdom he exposes all those earthly rulers.

          He says in chapter 32 verse 5, “No longer will the fool be called noble nor the scoundrel be highly respected.”

 

     But the description that really puts man in his place in found in verse 4.

          Because we are going to return to the dust.

              It’s how Genesis 3 verse 19 pictured it so long before.

                   Because of our sin that’s our end – and that’s the worth of all our work.

 

     Friend, it’s no use praising men.

          Much as people like to do that, to make gods out of their heroes, they cannot save them.

              They will only disillusion them even more!

 

     TRUE PRAISE HAS HEART IN IT.

          And the one with the heart for it is the covenant God.

              The “God of Jacob” in verse 5 is the only One you can look to.

 

     It’s interesting that this title is used here.

          Usually when the covenant God is mentioned, the name of Abraham is used.

              And if there is more than one patriarch mentioned it is often Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

                   So why Jacob alone here?

 

     Well, it could be a collective term.

          So it represents all of Israel, which is the  other name for Jacob.

             

     But it could also be because of who Jacob was himself.

          He is the man God befriended and transformed.

              Who could forget Jacob’s wrestling with God in prayer?

                  

     The one, like Jacob, whose help is the covenant God, is “blessed.”

          That’s the word which begins verse 5.

              It’s the word which has appeared some 25 times before in the psalter.

                   The word which literally means “happy is he”.

         

     So it’s a beatitude.

          And as we know from our Lord’s teaching in Matthew 5 beatitudes are what brings out the heart of things.

              You see, they get to the heart of things!

 

     Verses 5 and 6 declare the very opposite to verse 3 and 4.

          For here is the One who you can trust.

              This is the One who does save.

     Here is He who lives for all eternity.

          His plans will come to pass!

    

     Of course you’re blessed if you praise Him!

          You will be happy!

              Which is what verse 6 goes on to bring out.

     He who made heaven can make a heaven for us.

          He’s even making us ready for heaven!

 

     And the One who made the earth can look after us while we’re on this earth.

          He will also help us to make good use of this world while we’re in it.

 

     The way verse 6 ends really wraps up describing the One who alone has the heart.

          For the Lord remains faithful forever!

             

     His promises never fail.

          But how many of ours have fallen by the wayside?

             

     The contrast couldn’t be greater.

          Yet that only seems to inspire the psalmist even more!

              He’s really getting into giving God the credit He’s due.

     Because that’s what praise is.

          And so we consider, in the third place, TRUE PRAISE ACKNOWLEDGES GOD’S HEART.

 

     We have to be careful here not to become too familiar with the verses 7 till 9.

          We have heard these words said so often throughout the law of Moses, the prophets and in the gospels.

              We know, in those famous words of Micah 6 verse 8, that we are to act justly and love mercy and walk humbly with our God.

 

     But you look again at the verses 7 till 9.

          There you see God’s heart.

              For you see His mercy – His love for the unlovable.

     And who is that?

          Where do you see the most unlovable person on the planet?

 

     You only need to look in a mirror.

          So these words are not about someone else – someone poor financially.

              It’s about me!

                   His love has touched me!

 

     It’s still very personal, isn’t it?

          This is all about you – and me!

 

     And where do we especially see this mercy?

          Ah, like Father, like Son.

              For isn’t this what Isaiah 61 prophesies about the coming of the Messiah?

     Jesus quoted those words as He began His ministry.

          In Luke 4 He reads that scripture.

              As the verses 18 and 19 there say, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.

                   “He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

 

     And when verse 8 of the text ends by saying, “The LORD loves the righteous,” doesn’t it all come together?

          For those who are oppressed and hungry and imprisoned and blind and burdened are the truly blessed.

              They are the Lord’s own whom He has loved out of their misery!

 

     Congregation, this is what we read of in John’s gospel.

          For in verse 25 of chapter 5, the Lord declared, “I tell you the truth, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.

              “For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself.”

 

     TRUE PRAISE ACKNOWLEDGES GOD’S HEART.

          You see, you are completely humbled.

              You’ve been brought to the point when you see yourself as you really are – the most desperate sinner in need of the Saviour!

 

     Matthew Henry notes that the name of the covenant God is mentioned specifically five times in the verses 7 till 9.

          He says there’s to be no doubt in praising God that it’s an almighty power at work for us.

              That glory of God is showing itself just as much in relieving those in misery as it is in riding on the clouds of heaven.

 

     Dear believer, can you see how the psalmist draws it all up before God?

          His praising the Lord is a frank and sincere acknowledgement of who he himself truly is.

              And that’s nothing – he’s absolutely nothing!

                   But in the Lord He’s got everything!

 

     Don’t tell me you’re not praising God after seeing that!

          Even if it for the millionth time!

 

     And it’s definitely what the unbeliever will come to finally see.

          For while by then it will be to late to be saved, on the day of the Lord they will know the truth we also read in John 5.

              It’s there in verse 27 that Jesus says the Father has given Him authority to judge because He is the Son of Man.

 

     And so we come to the last aspect in this praise psalm.

          For verse 10 ends saying TRUE PRAISE DECLARES HE RULES HEARTS.

 

     Of course, this psalm will end praising the Lord.

          That’s the hallmark of being one of these last five psalms.

             

     But let’s compare the earlier part of verse 10 with how this psalm began back in verses 1 and 2.

          For there the psalmist vowed his own personal and life-long praise for God.

              Now that praise is Zion’s and is for all generations.

     It’s gone from the one believer’s lifetime into the Church’s entire history!

          For this God is not the God of the dead but of the living!

 

     You might recognise that quote.

          For God not being the God of the dead but of the living in what Jesus replied to those Sadducees who denied the resurrection.

              They had tried to put God down on their own earthly finite level.

     But Jesus took it far beyond that.

          He showed them quite comprehensively how true believers will all be alive in a far greater way than any could ever have imagined to be.

 

     Dear friend, do you see?

          Is this all putting you firmly in your place?

              Then join with me!

     Praise the Lord!

          And praise Him from your heart.

              Because true praise is all heart!

 

     So true praise is what Christians and churches have been offering up constantly throughout the ages.

          True praise wasn’t rediscovered last century.

              For then you would have a very small god.

     A god who depends on a small period of history and only certain moments in that time.

          And on top of that this god depends on people doing it!

              That’s not what Psalm 146 has just said.

    

     An elderly woman once asked to visit President Abraham Lincoln.

          While he was a very busy man, he let her in, not knowing what she wanted from him.

 

     As she entered Lincoln’s office he rose to greet her and asked how he might be of service.

          She replied that she had not come to ask a favour.

              She had heard that the President liked a certain kind of biscuit, so she had baked some for him and brought them to his office.

 

     With tears in his eyes, Lincoln responded, “You are the very first person who has ever come into my office asking not, expecting not, but rather bringing me a gift.

          “I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

 

     Congregation, true praise is not giving God a list of requests.

          Instead, it’s simply bringing Him the gift of our gratitude and love.

              That’s why you can be sure He’ll be pleased.

                   Amen.

 

 

PRAYER:

Let’s pray…

     O Great & Glorious God, we stand so awestruck before You.

          Because You have done it all – through and through.

              You have so moved that Your Spirit has touched us for all eternity.

     O, please keep us praising You.

          For in looking to You we will have all we ever need.

              That’s why we pray in Jesus Name, Amen.


* As a matter of courtesy please advise Rev. Sjirk Bajema, if you plan to use this sermon in a worship service.   Thank-you.
(c) Copyright 2007, Rev. Sjirk Bajema

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