Worthy to be praised

Psalm 145:3  Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.

Nobody’s perfect, right?  Nobody is truly worthy of being praised.  Well, not exactly.  There is only one who is worthy of all honor we could possibly ever give Him and then infinitely more.  The God of the universe, our Father, is worthy to be praised.

It’s not all about what He does for us – for that we give Him thanks.  No, what we praise Him for is simply who He is.  Just His character alone makes Him worthy of worship.  So who is He?

He’s the beginning of all things, the eternal Creator, the sovereign and omniscient Lord who calls, commissions, protects, and provides.  He’s omnipotent and omnipresent, the first among equals in the Trinity, knowable and yet unknowable, a place to find refuge and comfort.

He’s our portion, our treasure, our Father who adopts us into His family, so good and great and just that He disciplines us for our own sake.  He makes no mistakes, shapes all things and brings all things to completion.  He’s a holy judge who is patient and rules out of love.  He is awesome.  And He is worthy of all praise and honor and glory – forever and ever.

Only He satisfies

Psalm 90:14  Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

Where do you find pleasure?  There are so many places in this world to look for fulfillment, but only one satisfies.  The things of this world are vain, fleeting, finite, and altogether incapable of filling the void in our lives.  They are limited and we’re just left wanting more, which leads us to continually search for that “one thing”.

The Psalmist knew the key to true joy that satisfies.  The Lord’s love endures forever, it doesn’t fade, it doesn’t rust or wear out, it won’t leave us.  We can be glad all our days if the place we look for fulfillment is in the Lord.  In fact, this joy does not have to be sought.  It’s a byproduct of seeking God first in our lives (Matthew 6:33).

When we prioritize God first, He adds to us blessings beyond what we can imagine (Ephesians 3:20) and the things this world has to offer seem like nothing in comparison.

 

New Law or Gospel Freedom?

Colossians 2:20-23 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch”  (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings?  These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

What is Christianity all about?  Have we vowed to follow Christ only to replace the Old Testament law with new law?  Is this new life just about more rule-following?  Observing some of today’s churches, you would think so!  Sermons so often focus on behavior modification or bettering the life of the Christian through specific actions. We trade in the true power of the gospel for the belief that being a good Christian means listening to the right music, wearing the right T-shirts, not swearing or drinking, and being “nice.” Congregants lack the joy of Christ because they fail to keep up with all of the things they are “supposed” to do.  Moralistic, therapeutic deism fails to deliver.

The truth is that no formula for behavior modification will ever work because the root of sin is in our hearts.  No amount of keeping up with strict law or disciplines or rituals will keep us from being what we are: fallen and sinful.  Religion seeks to justify the believer through their actions. True justification comes from Christ (Romans 4:25). Only He can liberate us from sin.

It can make us feel good for a while to try to earn our own merit, but in the end we will always fall short (Romans 3:23). We’ll never be good enough, do enough, deprive ourselves enough to be free from sin. If we fully rely on Jesus it means we trust that His sacrifice was good enough, that we don’t need to be under the law in order to receive forgiveness from God for our transgressions, that He died once, and for all (Hebrews 7:27-28).  Nothing we could ever do could make Him love us more.  And nothing we fail to do could ever make Him love us less.

 

That you may know

1 John 5:13-21   I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life. And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.  If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.  We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.  We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.  And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

What do you believe?  Where do you put your trust?  You may say that you believe Jesus has the power of eternal life, but if you don’t act as though He does, you’re not really believing.  John didn’t write his first letter to non-believers so that they would see the truth about Jesus.  He wrote it to Christians, so that they would actually believe what they say they believe.

It’s one thing to have the belief that Jesus died for your sins, one thing to go to church and fellowship with other Christians.  But it takes more to actually live it out.  If you know, without a doubt, that Jesus saves, then don’t ever worry about whether you’re forgiven.  If you know it to be true, don’t act timidly when He calls you to do something.  If you know He has all things in His hands, act like it.

John made this point by bringing prayer into the discussion.  True belief brings confidence and boldness.  Are you praying with confidence that God can answer you?  With boldness that He will hear you and give you your requests?  Pray in His name, according to His will, and He is able to provide all things.  There’s nothing He can’t do.  Do you believe it?

Testimony Concerning the Son of God

1 John 5:6-12  This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

Are you ever afraid to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with someone?  Are you ever timid to tell what you’ve seen and heard concerning the Son of God?  Don’t feel too bad, you’re not alone.  But we’re all called to share the Good News.  It’s our job to proclaim it to all the world.  But there’s more good news, the results don’t all rest on us.

The thing about being fearful when it comes to witnessing is that most of the work is actually done by the Holy Spirit, not by us.  There’s no reason to be shy about sharing when we realize that we’re just a vessel used by God to reach other people with His message.  He works in the heart of the person who hears the gospel and He works in you and me when we’re telling them.  The Spirit testifies and He does it in the hearer and through the teller.  Does that make you feel more at ease?

When you submitted your life to Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit made His home inside you and you are a walking, talking testimony for Jesus.  The Spirit declares the Good News.  We just need to be available to make it happen.  There’s no need to be afraid.  It’s not all up to us how things turn out.  It’s just our job to speak up and let the world know that Jesus is the hope for all mankind.