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Journey Through the Psalms: God Reigns

Sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth. Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the Lord made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the Lord, all you families of nations, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts. Worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth. Say among the nations, "The Lord reigns." The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity. Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the treens of the forest sing for joy. Let all creation rejoice before the Lord, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness. Psalm 96

This morning, we're looking at Psalm 96. Psalm 96 falls into a grouping of psalms that are referred to as enthronement songs, of recognition of the fact that God... That the Lord is king. Now, in this morning, some that we read, it wasn't until later where it's explicitly said in verse 10, where it says, say among the nations, the Lord is king. But if you look a little further along, Psalm 97 begins with the words, the Lord is king of Psalm 99. The Lord is king.

So Psalms 93, and then 95 through 99 are the ones generally considered these Psalms of enthronement that basically recognize and acknowledge the sovereign Lord, the Creator and Ruler of all things. And so this Psalm begins like many, and there's a lot to be said about it begins with that wonderful sentence, Oh, sing to the Lord, a new song. Sing to Lord all the Earth. Sing to the Lord and bless His name. It's an invitation to join together in worshipping and praising this wonderful... This amazing God.

And the next few verses, we should worship this God, talking about that there is no other God like this God, that all of those other people have their little G-gods, they have their idols, they have their things that they believe in, but this God formed all things. This is the God who spoke and brought all creation into existence, and then we hear a little bit about what that looks like, that we should ascribe to the Lord, ascribed the Lord... Oh, families of their earth then ascribe to the Lord. Glory and honor, and ascribe to the Lord the glory due to his name and bring an offering and come into His courts and worship Him, there's instructions about what we should do, but particularly in this psalm, that word as scribes, MNR, SV, it's in the NIV, I believe King James uses the word give, but what does this word describe me, because honestly, it's one that we don't use a lot, very often. In some translations, it uses that word give, but it also seems a little difficult when we think about it. What does it mean? How do we give God glory and honor? How do we give God that which God is due? Because the truth of it is, What do we actually have? That we could give to God that God needs or that God's lacking in.

The answer is nothing. God lacks in nothing, God truly needs nothing from us, and yet God desires our worship, our love. God desires those things of us, and it's our place to ascribe or Give acknowledgment to recognize, to say, You know what? These are the qualities of God. And not that it's gonna amount to a hill beans or change anything, but I'm gonna humble myself and I'm gonna say, Yep, that's Right. God is... Due those things. God deserves those things for me, God deserves those things from all of creation, every person should be singing for the praise of God, because He's good and He's just, and He's fair. In fact, the end of this Psalm talks about God coming, hE is coming in judgment. Now, for most of us, I think judgment isn't something that we get excited about or long for, bring the judgment on, I can't wait. We don't want that kind of judgment to come, and yet this psalmist is saying, You know what, we need to consider who this judge is, that this is the God of creation, this is the God who will come and judge in righteousness. And Judge in His truth, He's gonna be equitable, He's going to be fair about it. So in that regard, what do we have to fear? So this psalm is one in which we're invited to join in this praise of God, the Psalmist declares why God deserves this, and then gives some instructions about what we should do and what it may look like, so how do we today relate to a text like this?

There are a number of things that I see of importance in here, but the biggest one is the acknowledgment of God's sovereignty, God's authority, God being rightfully the person to reign, and The fact that God does, that God reigns over all of creation. All it was, all that He is all that will be. God is sovereign and Lord of all of it, and our job is to ascribe or recognize that God is that right and just Person to be sitting on the throne, and that our response is worship and praise.

So this matters for a lot of reasons, but the biggest one that I have found in my life is that there's a phrase in Latin, its origin is not real clear, but it's a believed to have emerged around the 5th century, but it was one of the Roman Catholic Popes that coined a phrase, “Lex Orande Lex Credende”, and in some translations are some versions of it, there's a third statement, “Lex Vivende”. Now, for all of you that aren't versed in that Latin, I had to look it up to know what it meant as well, Lex Orande literally would mean the law of prayer, Lex Credende, the law of belief, Lex Vivende, the law of living.

And so roughly, what this means is out of the law of prayer or out of the structures and shape and the way in which we pray and worship, come the way of belief, which then out of that comes the way of living. So in our application of that, how we pray, how we worship what we worship informs and shapes the things that we believe, and in turn, the shape and understanding of those beliefs inform and shape how we live our lives day-to-day. So in this psalm, The Law of prayer, the way of prayer, the structure of prayer begins with the invitation to praise God, to acknowledge the authority of God, to acknowledge the righteousness and the honor and splendor and might that belong to God. The life of prayer is lived out in how we worship, and how we worship shapes what we believe and understand particularly about God.

So let me explain how I've experienced this in my life. When I was growing up, there were these weekly trips to the grocery store with my mother, and from the time I was old enough to not have to write in the shopping cart, but maybe being able to walk along, there was a litany that my mother would go through as we were walking from the car into the grocery store, I do not want to hear, I want... Or can we get... Now, having children of my own, I understand why that litany was necessary, in fact, I think I've probably adopted it myself, but In your prayer life, How much of your prayer life is more like the God I want... Or can I get...

How often is your prayer life more than just dumping out your laundry list of God, here's the checklist of all of the things that I want You to do and go... Versus the Psalmist who's coming and saying, You know what, we're not asking anything of God, our sole purpose is to honor and to praise God above all us. Now, it doesn't mean that we can't have conversations about God with the things that are going on in life, because we do, but first and foremost, the Psalmist is saying we need to honor and praise God for who God is, and he doesn't just stop by... God is good, but he goes on. And the rest of the Psalms are many of the other Psalms go on and on and on about the greatness of God, ascribe to God the glory that's due to Him, glory and strength, and splendor and honor and power and might. All of these things that are used to lift, God up and praise God, and friends, those things that are repeated are the things that are remembered.

Those things that are repeated in our prayer lives begin to shape our understanding of who God is, because if our prayer life is more like my childhood trips to the grocery of I want and can, I get our perception, our understanding, our belief about who God is, is going to be shaped by those prayers, and we're gonna see God as this cosmic gene whose sole purpose is there to grant our every wish, that's a faith that's rooted more in what the psalmist calls the little gods of the people or idols, We don't worship an idol, we don't worship with a man-made object that's there to grant our wishes and are every whim. We stand before a mighty God who should leave us breathless and falling to our knees to honor and worship Him for His goodness and His love. And so if our belief and our understanding of who God is as shaped by our prayer life, our worship practices are living day-to-day and are shaped by those things that we believe. So out of the law of prayer comes the law of belief, which informs the law or the way in which we live our lives.

So what does it mean to live a life, worshipping and honoring and believing in this mighty God, to whom we are invited to ascribe worship and splendor and honor and glory? It means that we live a life free from fear, a life that's not driven by the wants of our stomach, our appetites, our desires... It's about living a life that knows that there is a God who is capable of all things, a God who desires good for this world, a God who yes, Will come to judge, but His judgments will be fair and truthful and righteous. The message of the Psalms is much like the message that Jesus came to proclaim. John the Baptist called people that re-orient their lives as well. Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. Turn your lives around, turn from your ways and begin to recognize that the kingdom of this God of glory is coming, not just in some far off place, but coming into your midst. Jesus throughout the Gospels, pointed people in the same direction. There are a number of places where he addresses it. With the one that comes to mind for me is in the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness.”

It's about having our hearts and our minds and our very being reoriented and pointing to this God in saying, Do you see how good He is? Do you see all of the wonderful things that He has done? Our lives, much like all of creation, are to be signs, not jumping around flailing her arms, saying, Look at me, look at me, but rather look at God, look at God. When we gather to worship, I don't come up here to pray, to preach for my own glory, I do it for the glory of God and to help direct our hearts and our minds to God. When Phyllis sits down at the piano or the organ, and makes wonderful music. She's not doing it to get attention for herself, but to point us to God, when Marlene in the choir gets up here and sing these wonderful anthems, they're not doing it saying, Look at us, but rather look at the God that we're singing about... When all of you gather and lift your voices in prayer and in song. We're joining with the Psalmist, they may be the old classic hymns, they may be things that we've sung time and time again, and yet the invitation is to sing to the Lord a new song.

Friends, the new song that we are invited to sing is a song that focuses on God and God alone, it focuses our hearts, our minds, our lives, it focuses our worship, our prayer, you focus our belief and our convictions that focuses our daily living on a just and loving God, who sent His Son, that through Him and in Him, we might experience the fullness of life. That life is only possible through Jesus, that life is only possible because the God who reigns on high is just and merciful and righteous in all that He does. So may we join with the Psalms in lifting our voices to praise this God.


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