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June 30, 2019

Sermon Psalm 150  . . .“Praise the Lord!”

“Praise the Lord!”

Psalm 150

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus.

One day, or so the story goes, a pastor was walking past a pet shop, when he noticed a sign in the window:  “Christian Horse for Sale.”  Since the pastor owned a large ranch, he was immediately interested, and went into the shop.

The owner took the pastor out to the back, where he saw a beautiful Arabian stallion.  He agreed to allow the pastor to take a “test run.”

The pastor grabbed the reins.  “Giddyap.”  The horse ignored him.

“No, no,” said the owner.  “This is a Christian horse.  If you want him to move, you have to say, “Praise the Lord!”

The pastor did as he was told, and the horse started off on a leisurely walk.  But he soon found out that the horse wouldn’t stop.  The owner said:  “He won’t answer to ‘Whoa.’  It’s ‘Amen.’”
The pastor decided that he liked the horse, so he bought him, and took him home to his ranch in the country.  And just as soon as he saddled the horse back up again and said, “Praise the Lord,” off they went riding into the countryside.

Suddenly, the horse saw a rattlesnake crossing the path.  Frightened, he reared and bolted straight toward a cliff.  The pastor cried, “Whoa!” but the horse only ran faster.  In vain, he tried one word after another.

Until finally, he remembered the correct command and screamed, “AMEN!!!” just as the horse came to the very edge of the cliff.

The pastor was so thrilled that his life had been spared, that he raised his hands to the sky and shouted, “PRAISE THE LORD!”

The Bible is all about praising the Lord.  Moses wrote in Deuteronomy chapter 10:  “Praise Him--He is your God, and you have seen with your own eyes the great and astounding things that He has done for you.”  Daniel wrote:  “Praise the Lord, all people on earth!  Praise His glory and might!”  And Paul wrote in his letter to the Ephesians:  “Let us praise God for His glorious grace, for the free gift He gave us in His dear Son!”

But for all the times the Bible tells us to praise the Lord, nowhere is it louder and stronger than in the words of Psalm 150.  Please turn in your Bible to page 668 as I read the words of our text.

“Praise the Lord!  Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in His mighty heavens!  Praise Him for His mighty deeds; praise Him according to His excellent greatness!  Praise Him with trumpet sound; praise Him with lute and harp!  Praise Him with tambourine and dance; praise Him with strings and pipe!  Praise Him with sounding cymbals; praise Him with loud clashing cymbals!  Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!  Praise the Lord!

As you probably already know, the book of Psalms is a collection of songs, 150 songs and prayers from the hearts of men to throne of God.  And while some are songs of lament, like Psalms 13 and 22 and 44, others are songs of hope and praise.

And the book of Psalms is itself divided into five separate books, with each book ending in a resounding chorus of praise.  And Psalm 150, the very last psalm, is the brightest and best of them all.

As one author put it:  “Psalm 150 is in a real sense the culmination of the glory, the hope, and the praise, which should be in the hearts of the people of God.  This is the peak when you’ve come through all the valleys of life and all the pain of life, and you’ve ascended and climbed all the way up to the peak of praise, and you’re on top of Everest looking down over everything below you--you’re at Psalm 150--pure praise!”

Look at the text, and you’ll see that in six short verses, the psalmist tells us to praise God no less than thirteen times!  In fact, in Hebrew, every third word is:  “Hallelujah!”  “Praise the Lord!”  It’s as if the psalmist couldn’t wait to get the chance to say it again.

And notice the progression.  First it tells us where to praise Him.  Vs. 1--”Praise God in His sanctuary.”  That’s where we worship Him here on earth.  “Praise Him in His mighty heavens!”  It’s where He rules over all the earth.

Then it tells us how to praise Him.  Verse 3:  Praise Him with your breath (“with trumpet sound”).  Praise Him with your fingers (“with the lute and harp”).  Praise Him with your hands (“with loud clashing cymbals”).  And praise Him even in dance.

And who should praise the Lord?  Not just some of us.  Not even most.  Verse 6 says:  “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!”

And notice this isn’t an option.  It’s not, if you feel like it today, praise the Lord.  And neither is it, if the sun is shining, praise the Lord.  It’s a call to worship.  It’s a benediction.  It’s a command, an exclamation:  “Praise the Lord!”

But sometimes it’s not so easy to praise the Lord.  

A pastor tells of a trip he once took to a remote area down the Amazon River.  After a few hours, the guide landed the boat on the side of the river where there was a small hut and a small pond where a man who lived in a hut kept snakes.  He said the man would stoop down into the water, stir it up, then reach down and pull up snakes.  And sure enough, a few minutes later, the man reached down and pulled up a sixteen-foot anaconda that was bigger around than the man’s waist.

Later, he said he got to thinking about that snake.  You see, an anaconda doesn’t bite its prey like many other snakes do.  Instead, it wraps itself around you and squeezes you until you can’t breath.  Then when you try to breath, it squeezes even tighter.  It won’t bite.  It might not even break your bones.  But it’ll kill you just the same.

And that’s exactly what Satan does to us.  He lures God’s people to places we should never go, and to do what we should never do.  Then before we even know what’s happening, over times of disappointment and despair, he squeezes the Spirit’s breath right out of us.

Singer and songwriter Matt Redman knows that all too well.  He was only seven when his father died.  When he was ten, he learned that it was by suicide.  Then when his mother remarried, his stepfather abused both him and his mother.  Still, he walked himself to church every Sunday, even when the rest of his family chose to stay home.

Later, in his book, Finding God in the Hard Times:  Choosing to Trust and Hope when You Can’t See the Way, he writes:  “It’s a little like looking at the moon.  We’ve all seen a full moon and know its form.  But we don’t always witness it like this:  Some nights we see a half moon, at other times, just a small sliver.  And on some occasions we see almost nothing at all--just the faintest outline hidden by a cloudy night sky.

“Yet the point is this:  even when the moon is hidden from our view, we are still convinced of its existence and true form because of what we’ve seen in the past.”

And he writes:  “The same is true of our walk as worshipers of Jesus.  At times, painful life circumstances seem to obstruct our view of Him and His goodness.  But we have seen the form of the Lord many times before--in life and in Scripture--and know Him to be as good and as kind as He ever was...Our Father in heaven has an incredible track record.”

That’s why he could later write a song he called “Ten Thousand Reasons.”  He said:  “Bless the Lord, O my soul.  O my soul, worship His holy name.  Sing like never before, O my soul.  I’ll worship Your holy name.”

Now I know you might be saying, “Just wait a minute!  That’s not my personality!  I’m a quiet and reserved person.  I only praise the Lord on the inside.”

Oh really?  Let’s imagine for a moment that it’s Superbowl Sunday and your team is behind by five points in the final seconds of the game.  And on the very last play of the game, the quarterback for your team drops back and throws a long pass.  Then the end catches the pass, outruns the defense, and somersaults into the end zone to give your team a one-point victory.

Now let me ask again--just how quiet and reserved are you?!

If you love the game, you get excited about it.  And if you love the Lord, you’re excited about what He’s done for you, what He’s won for you, and for the gathering of His people as they come together to praise His name.

That’s why the psalmist couldn’t help but write:  “Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in His mighty heavens!  Praise Him with trumpet sound.  Praise Him with the lute and harp, with tambourine and dance, with strings and pipe and cymbals, with loud clashing cymbals!  Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!”

So when you’re on vacation, and you see your little ones playing in the sand, say, “Praise the Lord.”  When you leave your doctor’s office, and through the wonder of modern medicine the infection is gone, say, “Praise the Lord.”  When your family fragments, then comes back together for a holiday, say, “Praise the Lord.”  When your company recognizes your years of service, say, “Praise the Lord.”  When your marriage is good, better than it’s been before, say, “Praise the Lord.”  When your church is healthy and helping you to grow, say, “Praise the Lord.”  And when food is in your pantry and dinner is on the table, say, “Praise the Lord.”

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!”

In October of 2012, the Opera Company of Philadelphia brought together over 650 choristers to perform a “Random Act of Culture” in the heart of a busy shopping mall.  Accompanied by one of the largest pipe organs in the world, the Opera Company infiltrated the store as ordinary shoppers and burst into a rendition of the “Hallelujah Chorus” at high noon.

People with shopping bags stopped to raise their hands.  They pulled phones out of pockets and purses to record the moment.  The busyness of a crowded mall suddenly stopped in its tracks, making everything else seem so small.

“Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!”

And all this is possible because of Jesus--your Savior and mine.  He’s the wellspring of wisdom, the doorway of deliverance, the pathway of peace.  He’s the King of kings, the Lord of lords, and the Prince of Peace.  His life is matchless.  His goodness is limitless.  His mercy is everlasting.  There’s never been, nor will there ever be, anyone like Him.

That’s why, no matter who we are, no matter where we are, and no matter what we do, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!”

 

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.  Praise Him all creatures here below.  Praise Him above ye heav’nly host.  Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.  In the name of Jesus.  Amen

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