God Is… Praiseworthy

God Is… Praiseworthy

This morning, we continue to commit to know God by diving into the depths of who He is.
So far, we’ve learned quite a bit about who God is.  Seeing a fuller revelation of who God is leads us to the conclusion of what our response should be to all of these things.  God is master, awesome, our faithful rock, true, He is love, and what a powerful reminder last week that God is for us.  These things, and more that we’ll continue to learn about, lead us to this week’s truth that God is praiseworthy!
God has done all that He can to demonstrate over and over again His great love for us and the fact that He is not against us, He is for us!  However, our eyes are all too often not fixed on the Lord or the incredible blessings and provision around us.  All too often, our focus is on what we lack or what we desire.  Sometimes the old adage rings true that we don’t know what we’ve got ’till it’s gone.
When our eyes are fixed on the Lord, we can’t help but to give Him all of our praise!
Unfortunately, in order to see just how good God is, we sometimes need a bit of contrast in our lives.  In Luke chapter 7, we find the account of a very sinful woman who came to a Pharisee’s home to meet with Jesus.  She fell at his feet and washed his feet in her tears and perfume with her hair.  The Pharisee was offended and repulsed in his thoughts that Jesus would permit such a thing.  Jesus told a story:
Luke 7:41-47
41 “Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. 42 Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”
43 Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”
“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.
44 Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”
In the contrast with her sinful life, this woman understood and demonstrated by her actions just how great her love was for Jesus because of His willingness to forgive her many sins.  Her worship and praise to Jesus was powerful and so precious because of the contrast created by her previously sinful lifestyle.  Her love for Jesus was greater than that of this righteous Pharisee because of contrast.
This same contrast was created by the familiar story of Job.  With God’s permission, Satan put Job’s love for God to the test by being able to steal everything from Job.  Literally all of Job’s family, possessions, and health was stolen from Job.  To put things in perspective, verse 3 of Job chapter 1 states that Job was so blessed and had so many possessions that he was the greatest man among all people in the eastern world.  This was an incredible loss!  The only thing that remained with Job as his possession was his life and it was a very unpleasant and painful existence.  What did Job do in response to all of this?
Job 1:20b-21
Job fell to the ground in worship and said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
may the name of the Lord be praised.”
In the dark contrast from Job being the greatest man to having nothing, Job chose to praise God!
This morning, we are being challenged.  No matter what our lives may be like right now; whether we are like Job and incredibly blessed or like Job who had nothing or somewhere in between, we are reminded that our God is praiseworthy!
Our circumstances might not be good, but God is still good.  We may have grown weak in our faith, but God is still faithful.  Our love may have become lukewarm, but God is still love burning with an all-consuming fire of passion.  We may be weary, but God is strong.  We may be consumed by worry and fear and temptation, but God overcomes them all.
We’re going to read through Psalm chapter 107 this morning.  Many of us will be able to relate to some of these groups of people, but we can also have hope because what God did for these people, He will do for us today as well!
Psalm 107
1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
Right off of the bat, we’re reminded to praise God and to give thanks to Him.  Why?  Not because of us or where we are at right now.  We’re called to give thanks to God and praise Him because He is good and His love endures forever!
2 Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
3 those he gathered from the lands,
from east and west, from north and south.Ecclesiastes chapter 3 reminds us that there is a time and a season for everything in life.  Whenever we’re forced to endure times and seasons of trial, death, sorrow, sickness, brokenness, searching, and being torn down, we’re reminded of this truth that gives us hope.  These seasons will come to an end.  These seasons are giving us a story, they are a testimony in the making!  As we endure these seasons, we keep our eyes fixed on God and praising Him for the great and mighty things that He is going to do as He redeems us from these seasons.

No story worth telling exists unless there is an impossible challenge.  No testimony is worth telling unless we endure a season that only God can bring us through and out of!  What is a superhero without a villain?  What is a pioneer without the wilderness?  What is a cowboy without the fury of an untamed bull?
If you have been redeemed by the Lord, then you have a story to tell; your testimony!  I once was that, then Jesus, and so now I am this.  Don’t ever downplay or think little of your testimony!  It is our testimony along with the blood shed by Jesus that enables us to overcome the enemy.  It is our testimony that keeps us, and those who hear it, praising God!  Perhaps your testimony is a bit like some of these:1. The Wanderers

4 Some wandered in desert wastelands,
finding no way to a city where they could settle.
5 They were hungry and thirsty,
and their lives ebbed away.
6 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
7 He led them by a straight way
to a city where they could settle.
8 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
9 for he satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things.

Maybe you haven’t been homeless and wandering from city to city or perhaps you have been.  Many of us have been wanderers as we stumbled from one thing to another trying to satisfy the desires of our hearts as they hungered and thirsted within us. Of course, only One satisfies the desires of our heart with good things that result in life and life abundant.  Praise be to Jesus!
2. The Oppressed10 Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness,
prisoners suffering in iron chains,
11 because they rebelled against God’s commands
and despised the plans of the Most High.
12 So he subjected them to bitter labor;
they stumbled, and there was no one to help.
13 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
14 He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness,
and broke away their chains.
15 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
16 for he breaks down gates of bronze
and cuts through bars of iron.

Maybe you haven’t been physically imprisoned in slavery or perhaps you have been.  Many of us have been oppressed and shackled by the slavery of addictions.  Many of us have been subjected to the darkness of depression, loneliness, or fear.  Praise be to Jesus who breaks those chains, gates, and bars of oppression and sets us truly free!3. The Rebels

17 Some became fools through their rebellious ways
and suffered affliction because of their iniquities.
18 They loathed all food
and drew near the gates of death.
19 Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress.
20 He sent out his word and healed them;
he rescued them from the grave.
21 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
22 Let them sacrifice thank offerings
and tell of his works with songs of joy.

Some of us can relate to the parable of the prodigal son all too well.  Maybe you’ve spent your life and resources on wild living and have found yourself eating with pigs or maybe you haven’t.  After all, that’s what we initially think of when we think of rebellion.  However, many of us, and I mean followers of Christ, fall into this category.  We have allowed ourselves to be defined by all of the things that we’re against.  We are rebels.
Now being a Christian and living in obedience to the word of God does mean that there will be many things that we are against.  Yes, we are against sexual immorality, abortion, lying, stealing, drugs, drunkenness, etc.  However, when people see our lives, there is one thing that should mark us and that is our love for one another.  If people know us and recognize us for what we are against rather than the Jesus whom we are for, then we may be foolishly ensnared by rebellion.  If we fast and pray for things that we are against, then we may be foolishly ensnared by rebellion.  If we loath food because of what the company spends its money on, then we may be foolishly ensnared by rebellion.
What’s the solution?  Instead of crying out to God in rebellion about what we are against, we give Him thanks for His unfailing love and the many good deeds that He has done for us.  We sacrifice our voice that was once raised for causes that we’re against in mourning and instead raise our voice to tell of His good works and with songs of joy.  We choose to be marked by who we are for and not what we’re against.
We look to Jesus, the example for our lifestyles.  Yes, Jesus was against everything that we are against.  However, He didn’t raise up disciples who rallied together against all of these things.  He raised up disciples who went throughout the earth and manifested the love of God and the Kingdom of God.  His disciples then, and still today, are to be marked by their passionate love FOR Jesus and FOR others (John 13:35).
People do not break free from sexual immorality, addictions, lying, stealing, etc. by agreeing with those who are against those things.  People only break free from these things by faith in Jesus Christ who sets them free!  We do not gain freedom by being against something in rebellion, we gain freedom by being for Jesus and being set free by Him.  Praise be to Jesus, our healer who sets us free from our rebellion!
4. The Adventurous Entrepreneurs
23 Some went out on the sea in ships;
they were merchants on the mighty waters.
24 They saw the works of the Lord,
his wonderful deeds in the deep.
25 For he spoke and stirred up a tempest
that lifted high the waves.
26 They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
in their peril their courage melted away.
27 They reeled and staggered like drunkards;
they were at their wits’ end.
28 Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress.
29 He stilled the storm to a whisper;
the waves of the sea were hushed.
30 They were glad when it grew calm,
and he guided them to their desired haven.
31 Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind.
32 Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people
and praise him in the council of the elders.Maybe you’ve never navigated the choppy waters of starting your own business, or maybe you have.  Many of us have faced the ups and downs of life that left us at our wits’ end.  When faced with these storms, we can have hope knowing that if God guided these adventurous entrepreneurs safely to their destiny, that God will also quiet our storms and guide us into His plans and purposes for our lives.

Regardless of what group you may be able to relate to,
43 Let the one who is wise heed these things
and ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.
Let us ponder the loving deeds of the Lord.  Pondering the awesome works of God leads us into an attitude of thankfulness and reminds us that no matter where we are currently, our God is praiseworthy!