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Sermon 12/7/08
Psalm 34:1-3 - We Are Glad

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We Are Glad

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together” (Psalm 34:1-3)

At Friday Study Ministries we have been blessed and we praise the Lord’s Holy Name. As this is written, we’re getting close to five million visitors to our Church On The Net at www.FridayStudy.org. Men and women have received Christ through this online church and others have recommitted their lives to the Lord. We’ve had visitors from more than one hundred and fifty countries. Many contact us requesting prayer and as we pray, our hearts are touched by them. It’s God who has done this and we are “glad” at this work He is doing through ordinary people.

Much has surprised us through the years and our Prayer Team has been part of the wonder God has brought to us. One surprise has interestingly been how FEW praise reports we've received through the years. One of our Board Members pointed this out a few years ago and it still is the case. We know there have been many answers to prayer because sometimes months and even years later we have asked, in person or by email, “How did your… situation turn out?” and sometimes they barely remember the urgent prayer request from some time before, but when they do, it’s often, “Oh yes, I got the job,” or “the operation went very well…” God does answer prayer.

Another surprise involves the TYPES of prayer requests received. Relatively few have asked for more faith, or the leading of the Lord in their lives, or that He would take them into active ministry. Most have asked for a job, healing from some disease, reconciliation with a family member, and so on. That’s actually fine, really, for any prayer is an expression of faith in God that He hears and answers our needs.

Some have asked for prayer for the governors, presidents, kings and other officials in their countries, which is certainly a good thing, but most have instead passionately asked for help with some personal emergency situation of the moment. And we're likely to not hear from them until the next emergency.

Is this a criticism? It certainly is NOT, because the world of full of people who don’t pray at all and we praise the Lord for those who are willing to pray to Him. And it is noted that the troubles of this world are God’s training ground, allowing us discomfort and various needs which teach us to call out to the Lord.

The next step, after we begin to learn to pray, is to THANK Him for the good He has done in our lives. Here’s what the Apostle Paul advised us to do: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks,” and then he added, “for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). When Jesus gave us a model prayer, which we call “The Lord’s Prayer,” His suggestion was to START every prayer with praise to God. The prayer begins, “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name…” (Matthew 6:9). Our God ALWAYS answers prayer, even including those times when “No” appears to be the response. Other times, the seeming lack of an answer is actually, “Not yet” or “Wait,” which does not mean “No” at all. Many years of receiving appropriate “Yes,” “No” and “Wait” answers will eventually show us that praising the Lord is the greatest prayer of all, for we discover that He is indeed wonderful, and through praise, we find His joy.

When this was being written, we were with Dennis Stinson, a quadriplegic friend of many years who is on our Church Board. My wife, Genevieve, was showing him pictures and talking with him, and suddenly, as these things happen, the thought of praising the Lord in difficult circumstances came to mind and I began to scribble these words on a piece of paper. Dennis has seen me do this on numerous occasions in the past and he noticed what I was doing from his hospital bed. He smiled, but then on his own volition, he began to tell us what he sees as his mission in life. This brave man who has been paralyzed for almost nine years, but has sensation in his whole body and experiences severe pain every day, told us that his call from God is to help others become - grateful.

It takes great effort to do what he does. To simply be lifted up and placed into his power-driven wheelchair is very painful for him. And the simple act of just getting in and out of bed is exhausting. Dennis has a condition called “spasticity” in which it is becoming difficult for him to use the forearm that does move a little bit, to steer his chair. His friend, Jeff, stays alongside him on Sunday mornings and does most of the steering for Dennis’ wheelchair as the two “walk” to church, a distance of a couple of miles.

Those who are paralyzed, or blind, and/or deaf or are disabled in a myriad of unfortunate ways are unnoticed heroes among us and they keep on living lives that are very brave. They walk among us, if they can walk, and are unseen by most and are made fun of by others. Dennis knows a lot of other quadriplegics and has talked to us about them. They often live in “less-advantaged” areas and he tells about those who have been lifted out of their chairs and laid on the street, while their wheelchair is stolen and then sold for money.

We tend to think of the “call of God” as attending a seminary, purchasing a one-way ticket to another country, preaching the gospel in a far-off land, visiting prisoners, and so on. Dennis is called by God to show others, folks like you and me, referred to as “Able-bodied” people by the disabled community, that it’s time to become grateful for what we have. If you can talk, see, tie your shoes, dress yourself, feed yourself and walk, you have much to be thankful for. Do you thank God for who and what you are? The call of God for Dennis’ life is that you will finally see how blessed you really are and become grateful to the God who has given you – everything.

Today’s Scripture was written by David, who was “very much afraid.” The man he feared at the moment was “Achish the king of Gath.” David pretended he had gone insane and acted in a bizarre manner so Achish would not see him as a threat (1 Samuel 21:10 – 22:1). In those dark circumstances David wrote these words: “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; the humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together” (Psalm 34:1-3). Will you be grateful to the Lord and praise His Holy Name as David and Dennis have done?

I praise You, Lord. I offer You my life and want to become a blessing. I boast not in myself, but in You. I magnify your Holy Name. Thank You for all You do for me. I am grateful. In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries

www.FirstChurchOnTheNet.org
www.FridayStudy.org
Write to: Letters@FridayStudy.org

"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
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