Tuesday, April 13, 2010

When is God Worthy of Praise?

So this morning started out pretty well. It was a gorgeous morning-sun shining, birds singing, all the cliches that you need for a great day. Lily and I even left a little early, which NEVER happens. I got her to school, walked her in, got my goodbye kiss and headed out. On my way to the car I got to visit with a couple church members, pick on a few kids, and just generally engage in activities that put a little spring in my step. I get to the car and think, "This is going to be a great day." All the way to the office I'm thinking about the Lord, how good He is to me and my family; I'm thinking about my text for Sunday's sermon, praying about it, etc. All in all, things are going fantastically well. And then, as I was about to turn left at an intersection, I happened to look back to my left and see a car coming over the hill, a car that wasn't there the first time I looked. Fortunately I had plenty of time to wait for them. As I made my left turn (after looking 3 or 4 additional times) I thought, "That could have been a little messy." And I couldn't help but think how differently my morning would have gone had I pulled out in front of this car and gotten T-Boned. Now understand, the other car was moving at a pretty good clip; and I wasn't wearing my seat belt (I know, I know, save your comments; I promise to wear it next time). Had I gotten hit, it would have been directly on my door, with the other car probably going about 50 miles an hour. As I said, would have been a little messy. And as I rolled that thought around I was struck by another thought; had I pulled out in front of the car and gotten hit would God be any less worthy of praise?

Important question, isn't it? Because it gets to the heart of what we believe about God. Is God worthy of praise only when He does good things for us? Should we praise Him only because of what He does? Or is God worthy of praise regardless of what happens, i.e., should we praise Him because of who He is?

Very important to consider. Our answer demonstrates what we believe about the worthiness of God. And maybe the best illustration of how we should respond is found in the life of Job. We remember his story well, but the problem is that we know it so well we sort of gloss over it. We read about him losing everything without pausing to consider the implications of that. He lost everything. The Bible records that in rapid-fire succession, Job was informed that he had lost his fortune and his family. Now put yourself there. Your day stars like any other. Maybe you're having a cup of coffee at the local diner. And you see a friend's car pull up, skid to a stop and your friend gets out of the car running; he comes to you as fast as he can and breathlessly announces that he just came from your house and it had burned to the ground. While he's talking another friend runs up and says that all your investments have just failed and you're left with nothing. And while he's still talking another person runs up, tears in his eyes, and tells you that all your children were just killed in a freak storm. Now let all that sink in. What emotions would you feel? What would you want to say to God? We know what Job said. He tore his robe and shaved his head (both signs of intense mourning), and then said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away: Blessed be the name of the Lord."

I could imagine I would want to say a lot of things if I received such news; but "blessed be the name of the Lord" isn't at the top of the list. But why shouldn't it be? According to scripture, God is worthy of praise; that means He deserves it. Not because of what He does, but because of who He is. His nature is praiseworthy; who He is demands our adoration and praise. One of the hardest lessons we have to learn is that God's worthy isn't dependant on our circumstances. God is worthy of praise whether the sun is shining or it's cloudy outside. God is worthy when I've got money and when I'm broke. He's worthy when good things happen and when bad things happen. God is worthy. No matter what happens in my life, He deserves the honor and the glory and power and the worship, forever. Today, remember the worthiness of God; and praise Him regardless of what happens.

Father, thank You for being worthy of praise. Thank You for being so majestic, so awesome, so incredible and incomprehensible that you are worthy of praise regardless of what happens in my life. Help me to see beyond myself, take away my selfishness and help me to see Your worth. Help me to praise you in all things. Help me to join with Job and say, "Blessed be the name of the Lord." Amen.

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