Sermon for 10/18/2020

Psalm 96:1-13; Isaiah 45:1-7; 1st Thessalonians 1:1-10; Matthew 22:15-22

I met this guy while I was away on a business trip, and he has a motto he lives by every day. He said listen carefully and Live by these 4 rules: Drink, Steal, Swear, & Lie. I was shaking my head “no”, but he then told me to listen while he explained his four rules. So here they are:

1. “Drink” from the “everlasting cup” every day.

2. “Steal” a moment to help someone that is in worse shape than you are.

3. “Swear” that you will be a better person today than yesterday.

4. And last, but not least, when you “lie” down at night, thank God you have freedom

Lord, I am not as good as I should be. I am not as good as I could be. But THANK GOD, I am better than I used to be; and still praising God and praying to improve!

Psalm 96 this morning is a unique psalm, in that the praise is for God Himself. Most praise psalms celebrate what He does or has done for His people. This rare form of praise reveals God’s universal reign and is an important understanding for praise throughout the Psalter. Praise raises our prayer life beyond ourselves to encompass the universe and all its inhabitants. In our worship and witness we spread the news of God’s prestige and honor which outranks all others. We let others know His glory by telling the miraculous acts He has performed for us, and all people are invited to worship and praise God.

Isaiah stressed God’s sovereignty in the universe. He remains in control of all He created. God can and does use people of all backgrounds to put His purposes into place. Here we see He changed the heart of Cyrus, king of Assyria, to decree the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem, and even documented this decree, so that others would be able to see that his desire was to take care of the people who had been removed from Jerusalem and surrounding areas, and taken into Babylon captivity. He not only let people return, but also searched for and found the inventory of all the possessions take from the Temple before it was destroyed. All these were returned, trees cut down and taken to help rebuild the walls. This non-believer, a king, recognized the power of prayer within the Hebrew community and though he himself was not a believer, he was guided by God to help significantly in the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s Temple and the restocking of supplies, as well as worship vessels. If this is not a cause for praising God, what is?

1st Thessalonians teaches us much about God; His love for us; His desire for us to be involved in the building up the church; and it begins with the very nature of discipleship. In short, we are not supposed to just sit around and wait for Jesus’ 2nd Coming! We are to be active in and outside of our own churches, taking the gospel wherever we go and as Francis of Assisi was quoted, “The the Gospel into the world and when necessary, use words!” We have been saved and this feeling is very powerful and exhilarating (or should be) today or if the time was 50 years ago! Every single day of our lives ought to be another opportunity to share God’s love with others. Do you? If not, why not? This is one of the greatest reasons for praising God, don’t you think?

Matthew’s Gospel this morning is another try by the Pharisees to trip up Jesus. In this example they say, “Teacher,” they said, “we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pat no attention to who they are. Tells us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?” Jesus knew what they were asking and said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me. Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” “Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?” Caesar,” they replied. Then he said to them, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” It then says they were amazed and they left him and went away.

The Pharisees were simply looking for a way to charge him with blasphemy. By getting Him to declare nonaliegiance to Caesar, they could get Him charge with a civil crime. This response does not answer all questions regarding our responsibilities regarding church and state, but it does provide a good sense of what we are to do. Each of us has a responsibility to give out of our gifts, skill,s and yes even our wealth to the church. It is not now, nor ever has been intended to be stockpiled in a bank account. It is intended to be used to help support community projects, food and clothing banks, and in a multitude of other ways.

When we come together to worship, we are to praise God, to give of ourselves towards the needs of the church and to thank God for all of our blessings. It is an honor to serve God in whatever way He calls us to. So, when you wake up, Praise Him; when you are blessed in some way, Praise Him; and when you help others Praise Him that we are able to serve Him. Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, we have the opportunity to Praise God and to go out into the world we live in, singing praises continually. Amen?


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