February 6, 2022

The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever.

Psalm 138:8

In these weeks of Epiphany, we are asking the question, “Where can my hunger for hope be fulfilled?”  We discussed the need for Scripture.  We are privileged to have the Scripture in our churches and our homes; we need to use that privilege and seek to know the Lord through its pages.  I read a very powerful statement on Facebook about the word of God: “If you are a Christian and you do not know the word of God, you are a soldier without a sword.”  We are needing that sword this very day to fight against the lies, conspiracies, fear, and anything else that the world is trying to make us believe that is contrary to the nature of God.  Devote yourself to Scripture; in the pages of the Bible, we find the true source of hope.  It is never the world; that is what our tempters want us to believe.  Another way that we find hope is by being faithful to our calling and through that, being faithful to God.  Part of being faithful is to pray.  Do not let anything in this world beat you so that God is not glorified.  We find hope in faithfulness because we see how much God believes in us, even when we do not believe in ourselves.  Giving God glory is this week’s focus.  Our hope is fulfilled through our praise.  Our themes are listen, pray, praise, and share.  Listen through hope in Scripture.  Pray by our faithfulness.  Praise so that God might be glorified.

What is something that you have glorified or given glory to?  Perhaps it is a person.  I have given a recommendation to a couple of people, which is of course an honor to be asked.  Perhaps you have spoken very highly of a book or a particular author that you want someone else to read.  Or you have told someone to watch the latest movie – maybe it is a classic that has been out for decades.  Whatever you recommend, you are suggesting to someone else that they check out what you have experienced because you think that it is worth checking out.  As Christians, we need to do the same thing for the church and for our God.  Talk about Jesus and what good things He has done for you.  Talk about your church and invite someone new.  What is the worst thing that can happen?  There is so much to gain, and not much to lose.

Are you wondering why we should glorify God?  First, we should glorify God because it is God who sends us.  God sent the prophet Jeremiah, which we read about last week (Jeremiah 1:4-10).  God sent the prophet Isaiah (Isaiah 6).  God sent Gideon and Moses.  God sends each one of us to share God’s message with the world in our own special way.  Also, God believes in us.  God would not send us if God did not believe in our capabilities.  No matter our age, experience, or background, God knows that we can be used for God’s greater glory.  If your boss sends you on a business trip, do you speak highly of him or her?  Do you tell people what company you are with?  I think that it is pretty likely that you do.  When I went on mission trips with my church youth group, we told people what church we were from and what state we were from.  We told people that we were a church.  In the same way, as we live our life, we need to glorify the one who sends us, just as Jesus praised God for being the one who had sent Him.

Second, we glorify God because God enables us.  God gave Moses the words to speak when he did not think he was capable.  When we are open to the Spirit working through us, God does work through us.  We do not really have the option of saying no.  We might recall the story of Jonah being swallowed by a whale, but still spit up on a beach where God found him and told him yet again to go to Ninevah.  If you say no to God, God will chase you down until you finally say yes.  A number of my classmates in seminary spoke of running from their call to another career.  Even if it was ten or twenty years later, they still found themselves in seminary.  Even if you have your doubts, believe that God makes you who you are meant to be.  If you doubt your ability to read scripture, know that God can enable you.  If you doubt your ability to serve on consistory, know that God can enable you.  If you doubt your ability to be a part of a group, allow God to work and join our group anyway.  If you have received an inkling to try something new, please believe in God’s enabling ability.  God is still molding you.  And that is a reason in itself to glorify the greatness of God.

Third, we glorify God because God saves us.  If someone were to save your life, do you think you would praise them?  What if you knew ahead of time that they would save your life?  Would you stay close by them?  We are privileged to know ahead of time that God will save our souls.  What better reason is there than to stay close to God and encourage others to stay close to God as well?  Just like we would encourage others to be friends with a good person, we should encourage others to be friends with a good God.  God sends us, God enables us, and God saves us.  These direct interactions that we have with God are in themselves justified reasons for glorifying God wherever we go and to whomever we meet.  God deserves glory.  God deserves praise.

Lastly, giving God glory draws us closer to God and to the hope that draws us to each other.  To glorify God is to recognize God for who God really is.  There is nothing greater that we see than God.  God amazes us.  God perplexes us.  Our God is an awesome God.  Our God is awesome because God created us.  God created this world.  God sustains us.  God is everywhere at all times.  Even the demons, who know who God is, glorify God when they are forced to bow to God’s power.  When you recognize God’s power, and show that you know God’s power, you have glorified God.  Not glorifying God amid all that God has done is like not saying “Wow” if you won the lottery.  There is such an obvious greatness that simply deserves to be cried out.

Glorifying God is praising God.  There are plenty of reasons to praise God.  To be sure we praise God to the fullest, however, now that you all are fully convinced that glorifying God is the most important thing that you can do, we can turn to our scriptures to find out how exactly they suggest we can praise God.  In Isaiah 6:3, we see a wonderful example of outwardly expressed praise of God for others to hear; namely, Isaiah: “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.”

Psalm 138 asserts to us a number of ways to glorify God.  Verses 1-2 are an act of giving thanks to God: “I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise; I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness.”  One way that we glorify God is by giving thanks.  Giving thanks is an act of praise.  We often give thanks in our call to community and in our opening hymns.  Second, in verse 5, we see an act of prayer: “On the day I called, you answered me, you increased my strength of soul.”  Praying does increase the strength of our souls.  Calling out to God is indeed an act of prayer.  Calling out to God, and any form of prayer to God, glorifies God because it shows that we believe that God can make a difference.  We show confidence in God.  We recognize God’s greatness.  In addition to showing our thankfulness, singing our praises, we show confidence in God by praying.  Third, we share our stories.  While thanking God and praying to God may be done privately, and help our own confidence in God, sharing God with others glorifies God publicly so that others around us may also see and show confidence in God’s greatness.  In verse 7, we read the Psalmist say, “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve me against the wrath of my enemies; you stretch out your hand, and your right hand delivers me.”  If the Psalmist were to spread these words to others as a testimony to what God has done, he would be sharing that greatness of God and glorifying God through that.  Share that time that God has brought you through a trial.  Share the joy that you have in God even though you have enemies.  The promise is not that we will not have enemies, but that God will always bring us past them.  And finally, we can glorify God by listening.  We listen through Scripture, we listen through others, and we see the example set by those who have gone before us.  In Luke 5:5, Simon Peter answered Jesus: “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing.  Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.”  He fought through the discouragement brought on by failure.  He trusted the request of Jesus, and it paid off for him.  Perhaps the greatest restraint that we have faced in reeling in fish of our own is that we have failed to trust the words of Jesus in our most discouraging moments.

We can find hope by giving God glory.  When Jesus returned to the disciples, and especially to Peter, Peter responded, “My Lord and my God!”  He praised the name of the Lord when he realized that the hope he had in Jesus had not died with the crucifixion.  We glorify God because it gives us something to hope in.  We glorify God because God deserves it.  God sends us, enables us, saves us, and amazes us.  We respond by praising, praying, listening, and sharing.

If you wanted to focus on praising God more, I hope that have been given more reasons and more ways to do so.  We have been commanded by Paul to praise God continually (1 Thess. 5:16, Ps. 34:1).  May you be blessed in this season through your praise.  May praise be continually on your lips and may giving God glory give you more confidence in God’s own greatness and faithfulness!  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Scripture Readings:

Isaiah 6:1-8, (9-13)
6:1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple.
6:2 Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew.
6:3 And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
6:4 The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke.
6:5 And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”
6:6 Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs.
6:7 The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.”
6:8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”
6:9 And he said, “Go and say to this people: ‘Keep listening, but do not comprehend; keep looking, but do not understand.’
6:10 Make the mind of this people dull, and stop their ears, and shut their eyes, so that they may not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and comprehend with their minds, and turn and be healed.”
6:11 Then I said, “How long, O Lord?” And he said: “Until cities lie waste without inhabitant, and houses without people, and the land is utterly desolate;
6:12 until the LORD sends everyone far away, and vast is the emptiness in the midst of the land.
6:13 Even if a tenth part remain in it, it will be burned again, like a terebinth or an oak whose stump remains standing when it is felled.” The holy seed is its stump.

Psalm 138
138:1 I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise;
138:2 I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness; for you have exalted your name and your word above everything.
138:3 On the day I called, you answered me, you increased my strength of soul.
138:4 All the kings of the earth shall praise you, O LORD, for they have heard the words of your mouth.
138:5 They shall sing of the ways of the LORD, for great is the glory of the LORD.
138:6 For though the LORD is high, he regards the lowly; but the haughty he perceives from far away.
138:7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve me against the wrath of my enemies; you stretch out your hand, and your right hand delivers me.
138:8 The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Luke 5:1-11
5:1 Once while Jesus was standing beside the lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing in on him to hear the word of God,
5:2 he saw two boats there at the shore of the lake; the fishermen had gone out of them and were washing their nets.
5:3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.
5:4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch.”
5:5 Simon answered, “Master, we have worked all night long but have caught nothing. Yet if you say so, I will let down the nets.”
5:6 When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets were beginning to break.
5:7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they began to sink.
5:8 But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!”
5:9 For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken;
5:10 and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who are partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.”
5:11 When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.

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