Public Praise for Answered Prayer

Psalm 138

Highly disturbing trend in Christian world. Probably choose as starting point, when pace significantly picked up: October 1, 1949 and establishment of People’s Republic of China. Soon followed by expulsion of all Christian missionaries from China. Missionaries kicked out, missionaries can’t get back in, now what do we do? Go as someone other than missionary – businessman, teacher, technician, tourist, whatever skill/trade in demand. Then talk in code about what you’re doing, use code names for contacts so don’t get in trouble. Not just China, is how it works in any “closed” country regardless of location and philosophy. Not just the Communist countries, includes Muslim areas and others. Continues to spread, beyond what we think of as basic missions to other aspects of ministry.

“We will be sharing about the most sensitive aspect of our work: outreach to Muslims. While we do live in a free country, we tend to operate parts of our ministry as if we were in a closed one.” later email, “God willing, during the first half of January. I plan to go on a “missions trip,” though you will never hear me publicly call it such!”

I know, many might say “you’re not out there trying to do missions where it’s really dangerous”. True, but don’t we say we believe the Bible to be the word of God and “the only sufficient, certain and infallible rule for saving knowledge, faith, and obedience.” So what does the Bible tell us?

Jesus said to his disciples, “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.” Matt. 10:16 But did he have covert missionaries in mind? Did Jesus expect the Twelve to traipse around through Israel with only their secular vocations showing? Well, v. 27ff:

“Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops.And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will.But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven.But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.”

Weren’t to throw their lives away, were expected to live up to their identity. Makes you wonder how the Gospel would advance if modern missions looked more like the 1st generation. Would Paul’s prayer be closer to fruitiion: 2 Thess. 3:1 “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified”? Really sad part is – not a new idea with Jesus! King David had it right 1000 years before the Twelve. And so did countless believers before and since. Is only in the last century the western Church has lost her courage.

a. Introduction v.1-2

look at how David begins his psalm of personal testimony: “I will praise You with my whole heart” – no boundaries, no limits, no holding back, no reserves

commits to being totally engaged in sincere praise and thanksgiving to God – nothing would silence him, nothing more important, was conscious determined choice to praise

sole desire to praise God, not grudging or coerced – “I will sing praise” – remember last psalm, no singing when compelled

is truly the overflow of his heart that comes out in praise to God – like an artesian well that defies every effort to cap it

notice where he declares his praise: “before the gods” – out in the open for all the world to see and hear… using outside voice

if he did have any fear about how praise of true God would be received, love/loyalty/thankfulness/trust quickly overcame it

certainly didn’t fear gods of the world – knew they were powerless; if that is true, followers of those gods pretty limited also

see also left no question who it was he was praising – “I will worship toward Your holy temple” – praising, thanking, worshiping the God who is worshiped there, not there or there

did not hide behind generic terms for deity – made it plain object of his praise was Yahweh, God of Jews, worshiped in Jerusalem Tabernacle

equivalent of our praying to Heavenly Father in Jesus’ name, instead of simply “God” – clear identification of who we mean

close parallel: someone charged with dispute resolution, told parties up front, “going to approach resolving this way Bible says”

three particulars about God David had in mind and intended to praise: God’s grace, his greatness, and his goodness seen in answered prayer

A. God’s grace v.1-3

your lovingkindness

chêsêd is a comprehensive term that spans full range of God’s benevolent relationship with his people – no aspect of our lives or relationship with God outside the scope of loyal love

is loyal love that sets the tone for all God’s dealing with his children – given God’s holiness, our lack of, that’s really good thing: Lam. 3:22Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not.”

your truth / faithfulness

basic root idea is firmness or certainty; expresses the basic concept of support and is used (in some forms) in the sense of the strong arms of the parent supporting the helpless infant

God never skips a beat, misses an opportunity; is dependable in every circumstance without exception

“David before the false gods first sang, then worshipped, and then proclaimed the grace and truth of Jehovah; let us do the same before the idols of the New Theology (theological liberalism).” CHS

your word

better word order: “You have magnified Your word and Your name above all” – God has exalted his word, his promises and thus his name above all else

God throughout human history in general, David’s history in particular, made huge promises, seemingly impossible ones to keep… in human strength/wisdom… and kept every one

your answer

yes, God answered prayer, by itself sufficient cause for praise; but how did God answer? way above and beyond expectations

asked for help, God supplied help for immediate… plus boldness and courage and strength to more than get by, to do well

how does that show God’s grace? What of it is deserved? earned? Is unquestionably all of grace – Sola Gratia!

B. God’s greatness v.4-6

when God speaks

Mark 1:22 “And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.”

matters not what level of society, degree of influence – when God speaks, all who hear respond as God intends them to; his presence, his greatness demands certain kind of response… from all

add to that God’s glory and majesty – Rev. 1:13-15 “and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest.The hairs of his head were white like wool, as white as snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire,his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters.”

only one response: “when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead” (v.17)

when God acts

pagans ooh and aah when they see wonders God performs – struggle with giving credit to God, not someone/something else

is always right for us to do our part to draw their attention to One who deserves the praise, give him praise when recognize God is at work

when God condescends

true greatness shown by condescension, not distance or aloofness – 9/11 anecdote

God has further to stoop than President Bush… and he does… regularly; be sure to thank and praise him for that

C. God’s goodness v.7-8

you revive

walking thru danger is one thing; walking in midst of danger something else, prompts different needs – ongoing challenge just like chronic ailments drag you down

God recognizes moment by moment needs, revives and restores… from perspective of one who walks beside: Ps. 23:4 “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me.”

you guard

from vantage point of walking beside, pushes back every enemy to keep them at a distance – we live in a bubble, only what God allows comes inside it

good Shepherd, good God knows limits / abilities of his sheep; does two things: sets proper limits, supplies adequate resources

you deliver

God always delivers from what would overcome us – moves enemies out of the bubble, maybe out of this life; sometimes takes out of situation, temporarily or permanently

God is only one who has greatness and goodness to deliver from evil to good – others may promise, cannot reliably produce

you accomplish your purpose

is crucial that God we entrust our soul to can infallibly achieve his purpose; is just as important that it be a good purpose, comforting when his purpose is for our good

God does all that he pleases but not a tyrant; in accomplishing purpose, does it in way that results in good for his people

So when you have opportunity to praise God, how will you do it? Quietly, unobtrusively, off to the side or even out of sight? Or, with God’s help, will you praise with loud voice, publicly, clearly giving thanks to one true God? Let’s be like David!

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