God Is Awesome

Psalm 47

Much of church today has lost sense of what it means to worship God. For some it’s sit / stand / kneel / pray / rinse / repeat – catholic calisthenics. For others, go as spectators to an event, watching show on stage but not really participating. Loud, soft, fast, slow, with or without a praise team aka cheerleaders, perhaps a worship leader intent on crafting a mood through words / music / actions. Might even be presented as “let’s do some praise and worship before the pastor comes”. Worship is all about music, reading Bible and preaching is something else.

Bible doesn’t make those kinds of distinctions. Let’s take one classic NT text for example:

Rom. 12:1I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” ESV

Worship involves all of you, “your bodies”, presented to God for his use – using all of you to give praise and adoration and thanksgiving to God. Should flow out of relationship, have markings of fruit of the Spirit. If lives have same character as God as described in Gal. 5:22-23, then worship must give expression to “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control”.

Rather than take psalm strictly verse-by-verse, will consider 3 themes intertwined throughout: call to praise God issued by the choir; reasons to praise God, why we should praise him; method of praise to God, how we should praise him.

A. call to praise

7 imperatives – a song, yes, but sung by choir to congregation rather than with

clap, shout, sing 5x

the song includes praise – is a psalm of praise, also commands praise

when you tell others to praise God because…, you are praising him in the process

really a call to put first commandment into action

“clap your hands” – “shout to God” — come and get involved

to “love God with all your heart, soul, mind, strength” (Matt. 12:30) requires praising him with all your heart, soul, mind, strength

culture and personality have influence on how demonstrative someone is in public

should only be matter of degree when talking about worship

praise should be expression of adoration and joy and thanksgiving

God is deserving of all that on 2 counts: his being and his works – who he is; what he’s done, doing, will do

being fully engaged in worship encourages proper worship

by conscious act of will worshiper directs heart, mind, voice toward God; God responds, fervency grows

James 4:8Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Psalm 22:3 But You are holy, Enthroned in the praises of Israel.

praise of God’s people serves as a throne for God – praise provides greater glory than anything else God could have designed for that purpose

B. reason for praise

God is

victorious (1) – exhorted to shout out to God in celebration, with loud songs of joy; for King to be enthroned, must have prevailed over his enemies

true for King Jesus – victories were won at Cross, empty tomb; what is left is mop-up operations

awesome (2a) – his capacity to fill his defeated foes with terror and his people with fearful respect NET notes

not popular to think of God in this sense, prefer “gentle Jesus meek and mild” who loves everyone

if he’s not awesome – he’s not worthy of worship, he’s not able to defend against enemies

think about who they are – they don’t want just your stuff, they want your soul

universal sovereign (2b, 7a, 8a, 9c) – great king over all the earth, ruler over the nations, even those charged with protecting (civil authority) belong to God

applies to Kim Jong-Un (N Korea), Mohamed Morsi (Egypt), Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Iran), Vladimir Putin (Russia), Barack Obama (US), Xi Jinping (China) [shee jin-ping]

powerful (3) – along with his people has already subdued much of the world; from “least of all peoples” (Deut. 7:7) to a people in every nation

providential (4a) – doesn’t simply provide big picture stuff, picked out specific inheritance, Canaan, small token of heaven, the real inheritance

loving (4b) – all God’s acts performed to bring glory to himself and good to his people because he loves them

exalted (5a, 9d) – “has gone up” in context: “has ascended his throne”; Christ, 2 states – humiliation, exaltation – experienced 1st, conception to burial; 2nd, resurrection through ascension and onward

majestic (5b) – going up + trumpets = celebration of majesty being enthroned; shouldn’t surprise since Christ has “ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things” Eph. 4:10

unlike worship of idols, Christian worship with voice and instrument more than just sound; is where God is enthroned, present among his people as well as in the heavens

righteous ruler (8b) – God presently ruling, governing his creation; is a righteous rule: God does what is good and right and just, frequently overruling evil intents and actions of sinful creatures

eternal (9b) – “the God of Abraham”; Jesus said “before Abraham was, I AM.” (John 8:58), they tried to stone him

not a king only until the next election, transfer of authority to next generation; is the eternal king of all creation

C. method of praise

clap (1a) – time for joyous celebration, the event itself and every time it is remembered; not living in the past, God’s enthronement is present reality, ongoing cause for joy

“Such expressions of pious and devout affection as to some may seem indecent and imprudent, yet ought not to be hastily censured and condemned, much less ridiculed; because if they come from an upright heart, God will accept the strength of the affection, and excuse the weakness of the expressions of it.” Matthew Henry

shout (1b) – requires energy, exuberance; fans go hoarse, even lose voice at big game – how can people of God do less

no excuse for lackluster worship in country where there is freedom of expression; not just about the volume, must be strong emotion fueling praise

sing (6, 7b) – whole earth called to lift voices and instruments in praise to God, acknowledge his sovereign rule

since no end to God’s goodness, should be no end to praise; true now and in next life also

side note: no biblical instruction on how to listen to music, only how to perform/produce it; worship is to be interactive – even when voices are silent, mind and heart must be engaged

with excitement / enthusiasm (1b) – our hero has won, received the trophy, led the parade to the winner’s stand (his throne) — should get us excited

each day our hero is adding to collection of trophies – each new convert a trophy of his grace, to be displayed at final ceremony on the last day — should keep us excited

with understanding (7b) – not only an emotional experience, proper worship requires use of mind

obviously emotional response is expected by God, emotions part of who we are as made in his image

but,… emotions should flow out of what our mind understands about God, what the Holy Spirit is teaching and prompting us to do and think and feel

right understanding lasts more than just the moment; it’s what we know about God, how we use that to recognize his presence and work that carries us through the week, not just what we feel on Sunday morning

I know, preaching to the choir! will help you understand family/friends who attend other churches, or not at all

right worship with right emotion follows right understanding

D. focus of praise

duh, God, of course

not so fast, think a moment – if God is focus of praise, his awesomeness is reason for praise, what about when we can see him with our eyes? when we can experience him without hindrance or barrier? when we can see and hear his response to our worship? when we have the angels as back-up singers?

worship and praise of our awesome God not just for now, it’s forever; this is just warm-up

one last point: “The second stichos [line] in verse 8 points to Yahweh’s enthronement: “God has taken his seat upon his holy throne.” …God’s ascension to the throne initiates his reign as king and judge.” Leo Perdue

40 days after first Easter, Lord Jesus “was taken up, and a cloud received him” (Acts 1:9); 7 weeks earlier, had been crowned, now exalted to his throne

is presently ruling over his creation since “he must reign till he has put all enemies under his feet” (1 Cor. 15:25)

unlike OT saints, when we praise our awesome God we look in both directions – celebrating his enthronement, anticipating our glorification when fully redeemed we will be able to praise him with all our beings

The final scene of this age has not been staged and played out yet. In God’s eyes, though, it is done. Thus,

Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Phil. 2:9-11

God grant that when we praise and worship our awesome God it be with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, giving him the glory that is his due.

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