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Power of Praise - March 18, 2018

Psalm 145:1-21

Over the last month or so, we've been making our way through different types of prayers. Sometimes clearing the clutter of cultural platitudes and sometimes untangling scriptural intricacies. We have hopefully created some space for us to pray more freely and more willingly, knowing that God is

a good God who has our best interest at heart.

In a series on prayer, it only seems right that we would spend some time talking about prayers of thanksgiving and praise. This psalm is powerfully known as a psalm of full's all praise, from beginning to end, without lament. Just praise. So it stands out as special and set apart in its attitude. And it's set apart within the Jewish tradition....early rabbis said it should be recited 3 times a day. Twice in the morning and once at night. Among the psalms, it holds a place of honor.

And, if we could read Hebrew, we would see that it's written as an acrostic—using the full alphabet. One letter of the alphabet starting each line. Think of the name signs that are popular in Junior High. You write the name vertically....say, "Sarah" and then you come up with a word for each letter. Sarah is Smart. Sarah is Athletic. Sarah is a Reader. Sarah is Adventurous. And Sarah is helpful. Each letter of Sarah's name tells us a little bit about her. Well, the psalmist was a little more advanced but used the same tool. The psalmist uses the alphabet and writes it vertically and then does a phrase of praise for each letter. It's poetic. It's also symbolic...saying something from Aleph to Tav, A-Z (so to speak) is a way of saying, "we've said everything about God." An acrostic may seem a bit simple, but C. S. Lewis describes it this way: "It is a pattern, a thing done like an embroidery, stitch by stitch, through long, quiet hours, for love of the subject and for the delight in leisurely, disciplined craftsmanship." This psalm is linguistic art.

So what does the psalmist tell us? That God is good. That God is merciful. That God is all-encompassing. When we started our series, we studied a psalm and learned that the psalms are descriptive, not prescriptive....this isn't the psalmist wagging their finger at us telling us what we should do. This is the psalmist reflecting on his own experience....looking at others around him...and seeing God at work. This is about an attitude of appreciation and gratitude. It's not meant to be grandiose or theoretical. It's a reflection of real life.

If we got to verse 14 and following, we hear:

God gives a hand to those down on their luck,
gives a fresh start to those ready to quit.
God's there, listening for all who pray,
for all who pray and mean it.

I think the only way we can make those claims is if we have seen God at work. Think about it. If we only know something from what people do we describe it? Bob says skiing is fun. Or Mary says mangoes are delicious. Or Greg says McCall is beautiful. If we only know of something....from someone else, we often soften the claim but underscoring it's someone else's experience. After all, we don't want to be held liable if it turns out to be awful.

But if we have experienced something for ourselves...if we know it to be true, then we can make the claim because we have the experience to back up our claim. Then our statements become more like this: Skiing is fun. Mangoes are delicious. McCall is beautiful. It's not theory. It's fact. Grounded in our own experience.
The same is true of our experience of God. If we only know what we know of God because of what others say....then we often say, "Karen says God is forgiving." We might be so bold as to claim it as true "God is forgiving" but when pressed, "How do you know?" Then we lay it back on Karen...."well, Karen told me."
In this psalm, it's not just about theory or what other people say about's based on what the psalmist knows to be true...
God is magnificent;

God is all mercy and grace—
not quick to anger, [God] is rich in love.
God is good to one and all;
These are statements from the heart of the psalmist. And they're not conditional. God is magnificent. Not "God is magnificent in months that end in "y"." These statements have been tested and tried. The psalmist is confident.
So, how do we garner that kind of confidence for ourselves? I think if we want to take the posture of the psalmist, we have to practice a daily observation with the question "where do I see God today?" Do we see God reflected in the beauty of creation? Do we hear God in the laughter of a child or a friend? Do we taste God in good food? Or feel God when we are struggling? Do we know God through grace and compassion?
I think we have to practice our appreciation and acknowledgment of God in the good times and in the bad times...much like the rabbis teach...3 times a day. What might change in us if we affirmed God's goodness intentionally 3 times a day?

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Sunday morning parking at the church is available in the high school parking lot on Third Street across from the church and in the city lots west of the church. These lots are available only on Sunday mornings. A small lot for handicapped parking is available just off of Adams Street on the north side of the church, with an accessible entrance directly into the sanctuary. A lift operates between the Fellowship Hall (3rd Street level) and the Sanctuary. William Sound System Receivers and Headsets are available to assist with hearing problems.

322 East Third Street
Moscow, ID 83843


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The First United Methodist Church of Moscow, Idaho takes as our mission to be the body of Jesus Christ, ministering to a community which draws strength from its diversity. Our mission centers on the worship of God, expressed through varied forms of prayer, preaching, music, and ritual.  See more...

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