What God is Like

What God is Like

TEXT: Psalm 145

Over the past six weeks we have been hearing stories of God’s goodness and faithfulness in the lives of real people. You’ve heard testimonies from members of the church family and you’ve heard the range of stories in Psalm 107 and in the ministry of Jesus. Today we are continuing the theme but turning a few pages to Psalm 145.

In most cases we’ve heard stories of the past, whether in scripture or in the stories our friends have shared. But today I’d like to ask you to think about a piece of your own present story: something difficult you are facing now. Alternately, think about something you worry about in the future. Think for a moment…

I won’t ask you to share that, but I’d encourage you to write it down in short form in your own Bible, on your bulletin, or take a short note on your phone. Keep that thing in your mind and we’ll come back to it at the end.

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Scripture teaches us to remember who God is and what God has done. One of the reasons we have focused on our stories and songs is that remembering what God has done in our lives can be a real source of encouragement to others (and to ourselves!). Memories can inform our present and inspire our future.

Today’s scripture text is Psalm 145, which reminds us that one form of spiritual remembering is praise. Praise celebrates who God is and what God has done, and strengthens our faith and hope that God can and will do it again.

Remember God to Praise

Psalm 145 is one long rush of praise. It is a series of reflections or challenges on the importance of praise, punctuated by actual moments of praise. We sometimes see that in songs. The verses may be a call to praise, “Let’s all praise the Lord” and the chorus might be the actual praise, “Praise the Lord!” That’s kind of how this goes, with more meat and detail and poetry to it. Let’s look briefly…

Opening Pledge: I will praise (vv.1-3)

Psalm 145 opens with several ‘I’ statements that basically say in several different ways: I WILL praise the Lord. There are elaborations in terms of how to refer to God, frequency of the praise, and so forth, but that’s the basic gist. Then then in verse 3 there is direct praise around God’s greatness: “Great is the Lord!”

Praise is Public (vv.4-9)

In verses 4-7, we move back to calling for praise, with two noticeable developments. The call for praise is now issued to the people of God (not just the Psalmist), and the form of praise takes on a much more public nature. Praise is now described by words like DECLARE, SPEAK, TELL, UTTER, and SHOUT. We also see a broader description of what praise includes: it is both the character and the works of God. It is both who God is as well as what God has done. This section also moves into direct praise in verses 8-9, now around God’s love, mercy, grace, and kindness: “The Lord is gracious and merciful; HESED!”

God’s character & works are demonstrably praiseworthy. (vv. 10-12)

Finally, in a third section (vv. 10-12), we are back to talking ABOUT praise, now with God’s works as well as God’s people doing the public praise of God’s character and deeds. The focus seems to move toward God’s power and glory. Then in a much longer section of direct praise, the Psalmist spends eight verses praising God. I’d like to remind you of the first two examples of direct praise, then list these eight, for a total of 10 Praises to Remember.

10 Praises to Remember

  1. God is Unimaginably Great (v. 3)
  2. God is Faithful and Good (vv. 8-9)
  3. God Reigns (v.13)
  4. God Helps (v. 14)
  5. God Provides (v. 15)
  6. God Satisfies (v. 16)
  7. God is Right and Kind (v. 17)
  8. God is Available (v. 18)
  9. God Hears and Saves (v. 19)
  10. God Judges Rightly (v. 20)

In verse 21 the Psalm ends back with ‘me’ and ‘us’: “My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord” and “all flesh will bless His holy name forever and ever.”

In order to recognize and engage in those praises, we must REMEMBER what God is like and what God has done. And that remembering is precisely what fuels our worship, faith, and hope in the present and in the future.

Remembering as a Resource

And so I would ask you this question: What do you remember about the character and involvement of God in your life?

That’s really what we have been getting at with the “My Story, My Song” series, with the January Sunday school class on identifying your own faith story, with Psalm 107, and with the personal testimonies. We’ve been giving example after example about what others remember about the character and involvement of God. Remember the refrain of Psalm 107: God is good, God is faithful, God is involved. What do YOU remember about the character and involvement of God in your life?

Think through that list that came from Psalm 145. It’s a resource and tool to help you remember through praise. Do you remember God being or doing any of those things in the Bible? in your life? Pick one… “God provides.” There are numerous examples of God providing in scripture. He provided water and food for His people wandering in the wilderness. He provided a lamb for Abraham to sacrifice. Has God ever provided for you? Can you remember God providing for you?

What does remembering God’s character and involvement in scripture tell you about how God will meet you in your current challenge? What stood out to you in your remembering… that God was faithful, strong, near, forgiving, merciful, or something else? What about God’s involvement; what stood out… that God listens, delivers, saves, or something else? What did you remember from your own life? What stood out? Is that something you need to be reminded of… to remember?

I would encourage you to write these things down, to ‘mark’ them both to help in the current challenge and to remember in the future. Scripture even says we can use such things to teach the next generation about God. If answers to these questions didn’t come to mind in the short time I gave you to answer, I’d encourage you to write the questions down and work through them on your own. Here they are again:

What is a challenge you are facing right now?

What do you remember about the character or involvement of God in your own life?

How does remembering to praise God’s character
and involvement inform the challenge you are facing?

Scripture says that “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1) Trouble is, our memories are short and we forget that. Beloved, hear the Good News: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) Remember that and be encouraged! Amen.

Remember to PRAISE God

Finally, in addition to teaching us to remember God in order to praise, Psalm 145 also challenges us to remember to praise God. It was written as an acrostic to help God’s people remember it and remember to praise. In the original Hebrew, each verse starts with a successive letter of the Hebrew alphabet. So it’s something like: A – always praise; B – begin your day in praise to God; C – continue praising throughout the day; and so forth. Rather than try to recreate that OR omit the memory tool embedded in the Psalm, I want to offer you a simplified way to remember the contents and the charge of this Psalm: PRAISE God!

The letters of ‘PRAISE’ can remind us of several of the essential challenges in this Psalm.

P –   PRAISE speaks back to God and publicly tells of God’s great character and works.

R –   REMEMBERING what God has done cultivates faith and hope in our present and future.

A –   ALL of life is under God; there is no place God cannot reach us.

I –    INVOLVED – God is involved in human life!

S –    SHARING God’s story and our story is an encouragement to others!

E –   EACH of us is part of praising the Lord.

God is worthy of our praise and our praise reminds us that God is good, God is merciful, and God is involved. That’s Good News for you and for me. Amen!

Leslie Pack sharing “My Story, My Song” testimony

Some Music Used

  • Preludes
    • Great Are You, Lord
    • We Will Remember (Walker)
    • Lifting Those with Heavy Loads (Youngblood/Boesel)
    • Holy, Holy, Holy – Rick Bean, jazz piano
  • Holy, Holy, Holy
  • Goodness of God
  • God of Wonders
  • CHORAL BENEDICTION: O Christ, Surround Me (arr. Simms)