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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

how do we praise? (ps 150)

How do we do this thing called praise?

Paslm 150 gives us an example, a principle, for praising. Listen one more time:

Praise Him with trumpet sound; praise Him with harp and lyre. Praise Him with timbrel and dancing; praise Him with stringed instruments and pipe. Praise Him with loud cymbals; praise Him with resounding cymbals. (vv. 3-5)
This is not an exhaustive list of praise specifics. In other words, once you've played all these instruments, you aren't done praising God. In another sense, this is a completely exhaustive example of the principle by which we should praise. I've tried to capture what I mean by that in the title of the sermon: Give Him everything you've got!

Why all the musical instruments? Well, for one, music is one important way to praise God. And the point here is that if you are going to praise God musically, if you are in the Temple of Israel surrounded by the musicians and instruments, you want to use everything at your disposal to praise God. You want to, in essence, "pull out all the stops" and hold nothing back from God. This isn't to say, musically, that you don't have times for quiet or single instruments, but that you are to use everything at your disposal in order to turn your praise toward God.

We try to embrace this principle in our approach to worship. Look at the back of your bulletin at the statement of our worship philosophy:

The style of worship at GS is an intentional blend of ancient, traditional, and modern forms of liturgy, prayer, music, and communication. ... We also intentionally gather as a family of believers of many ages and backgrounds, and so use all the means at our disposal to invite each worshiper into the presence of God.
"All the means at our disposal" - so if you played flute in high school, we have hopefully asked you to use that talent (rusty though it may be) to worship the Lord. If we can find music of 100 years ago, or 25 years ago, or this week, that is your "language of worship," we will try to employ it so that this diverse community of worshipers can worship together as one family.

And here's where Psalm 150 really breaks out in an amazing way. It's not just talking about music and instruments! The principle it is teaching is that we are to use and give everything we've got to serve and worship the Lord. So, in terms of music, we use trumpets, guitars, pipes, drums, and cymbals! But this Psalm applies just as well to you if your talents lie elsewhere.

Can you build for the Lord? You bet you can! Not only can you craft things that are solid and dependable, you reflect the integrity and dependency of the Lord you worship when you build that way. And you can use those gifts in ministry as well, helping with home repair or serving on the facilities ministry team of the church. When we have someone in the church who cannot afford and does not know how to repair a hole in their roof, you can praise the Lord with your building skills!

Can you cook for the Lord? You bet you can! Not only can you cook for your family in such a way as to keep them happy and healthy, you can cook for those in crisis or for the church family when they gather. Your creativity is a reflection of the Creator of the universe and can honor Him as you devote that talent and love to His service and glory.

Can you think for the Lord? You bet you can! You may have a job that requires analysis, comprehension, organization, and instruction. Not only can you do that job well and with integrity, in a way that honors and glorifies God, but you can use those gifts to praise the Lord. You can use those skills to help at church, to learn and study scripture, to teach a class, or to help someone with financial troubles figure out their finances and get on track.

Can you praise the Lord as an athlete? As a parent? As a seamstress? As a retired person? As a nurse? As an administrator? Yes... yes... yes - need I go on? The point of the "How" of Psalm 150 is that whoever you are and whatever you can do, it can all be done in a way that honors and praises God. Anytime you point someone to God or reflect the character of God or give God credit or declare God's worth - you praise the Lord.

That leads us to the final verse and question: WHO should praise God? If you had any doubt in what I just said whether it applied to you, whether your interests and gifts could honor and praise God, then listen to this last verse:

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. (v. 6)

With this callback to the Creation story, when God breathed life into the man He had made, this verse is saying that all human beings should praise God. If you are alive, if you have life and breath, as one created in God's image for the purpose of worship, YOU are to praise the Lord.

So, whether it be a trumpet, cymbal, voice, hammer, stethoscope, needle and thread, football, calculator, artist's brush, 18-wheeler, treasure, dreams, mind, or body...


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