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Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Dean Hamilton (31/10/34-16/5/2018)

On sunday 3/6/18 I once again had the satisfaction of leading the worship service at Parkrose Village United Congregation at Everard Park.

We had a long serving member of our congregation and former much loved Church of Christ Pastor Dean Hamilton, leave us a short while ago to enter Heaven.

As a tribute to Dean ,and to enable him to minister to us once more, I chose to retell a message he gave at Parkrose a couple of years ago when he was well.

He had emailed it to us at our request.

Here it is in his words but I did leave out some of it but aimed to maintain the essence of what he shared with us.

He called it “Our duty of thankfulness”

Dean's Words.

"I came across some interesting prayers last week – they were all prayers of children.

Here is one from Debbie – age 7: Dear God: Please send a new baby for Mommy. The baby you sent last week cries too much.

From Angela, age 8: Dear God, this is my prayer. Could you please give my brother some brains? So far he doesn’t have any. 

From Lois, age 9: Dear God: Please help me in school. I need help in spelling, adding, subtracting, science, reading, history, geography and writing. I don’t need help in anything else.

Most of us delight in the prayers of children. They are not afraid to say what is on their mind; to God and to most people. They are very uninhibited when it comes to asking anything of God.

Have you noticed how often that most of our prayers are “asking” prayers? While it is true that we are encouraged to ask of God, there is more to prayer than just asking for things.

If you look at the Book of Psalms, many of these prayers and hymns are songs of praise. 

The first words of the last psalm, Psalm 150, is “Praise the Lord.”

The first words of Psalm 149 are “Praise the Lord.”

The first words of Psalm 148 are “Praise the Lord.”

The first words of Psalm 147 are “Praise the Lord.”

The first words of Psalm 146 are “Praise the Lord.”

Well – you get the point.

We don’t spend enough time praising God – praising God is not like thanking God. When you thank God, it is a prayer of thanking God for the specific things he has done. Giving praise to God is more of an adoration for what makes God who He is. 

Thanking God is somewhat self-centered – “Thank you, God, for what you did for ME.”

Praising God is more God-centered – “Praise you, God, for what you are.”

And praising God is something many of us forget to do.

This is something we have to be reminded to do, because praising God does not come naturally.

We have become so self-centered in our lives – and even in our worship. 

Have you ever thought about how worship has become self-centered instead of God-centered?

We judge the quality of worship by how it blessed, or failed to bless US. We don’t think about whether or not God was blessed by our worship.

There was a time when we judged the music by whether or not it glorified God. Now we judge church music by how it entertains US.

Even our prayers focus on asking for things WE need, and they become self-centered.

Praising God keeps our worship and our lives focused on God rather than on self-centered themes.

But we can take some positive action to change our attitudes and develop a praising heart, mind and spirit. 

I read about one man who decided to keep a “Gratitude Journal”’ Each day he looked for things for which he was thankful and entered them up at the end of each day. At first he found it hard to get started – and some days he jotted just a line or two – but as he got into the habit he gradually discovered that his praising spirit was growing, he was developing a spirit of thankfulness until he found his life was growing in happiness and he was becoming a happier person to all the people who were\ important in his life. Later he wrote a friend and related how this had become a real blessing for him – he wrote “It simply comes naturally to me now, and I am just a happy person in general”

We need to slow down to count our blessings and to regain a proper perspective on our lives.

And to make sure we learn to give God his proper place in our lives as the one who makes it all possible for us to live well.

We need to develop a “thankful eye.” Well, you‟ve heard of a thankful heart, but what is a “thankful eye”? Simply put, developing a “thankful eye” means that you have the ability to see things God is doing in your life. You can see the hand of God in the circumstances of your life, even if they are unpleasant or not the things you would have chosen. It is the ability to see something and recognize it as being a blessing from God when other people either do not see it at all, or see it as something else. Look at it this way. God is a good God, and it is part of His very nature to bless His people. It‟s just part of who He is. We can do nothing to deserve those blessings, and yet God many times lavishes them upon us in measureless amounts. His blessings surround us, yet most of the time we are not aware of them. One of the surprises of heaven will be the discovery of the blessings God heaped upon our lives when we did not recognize them as such, nor give Him glory for them. 

Learning to live a life filled with gratitude means that we train our eyes to look for the blessings of God which are all around us. It means that we deliberately take some time to hunt for them. It means that sometimes we might have to think for a while before we come up with something which qualifies as a blessing, or it might be staring us right in the face when we get up in the morning. A thankful eye sees things others never notice. A thankful eye sees past the present, and sees deep into the future. A thankful eye is tuned to watch for the workings of God in our present life. 

Would you like to learn how to be more thankful than you already are?

Here‟s how: 

1. Understand that expressing gratitude to God is not an option 

2. Slow down to count your blessings. 

3. Regain a proper perspective on your life 

4. Remember where your blessings come from. 

5. Develop a “thankful eye.” 

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17)

Some more reasons for praise.
Every one of the Praise Psalms will include a collection of reasons as to why we should praise God.

In the Psalm we as our Old Testament lesson we are given a brief and poetic set of reasons as to why we should praise God.

First, we should praise him because God is someone we can trust. He will not fail us.

Psalm 146 says, “Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing.”

We too often place our trust in wealth, position, material things, power, military might and think we “have it made”.
But money can’t save us. Just ask someone who has become unemployed and who finds the money disappearing from savings accounts.

We like to trust technology. All the gadgets we have are nice, but they are not dependable. Just ask someone whose computer has crashed.

What will you put your trust in?

Ultimately, it is God alone we should trust. Why? Because He alone is eternal. Everything else will someday disappear. But God existed before creation and He will always exist.

If you begin to develop an attitude of praising God, then you will find that you put your trust in God, not in things that will fail you.

Second, we should praise God because He gives us hope. 

Psalm 146 says, “Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them.”

God has a track record.

There is reference here to Jacob – a reminder of the history of God and his people in the Old Testament. We know what God did for Jacob – and we know what God has done for his people through the centuries. In other words, God has a track record in which you can find hope.
The psalmist talks about God creating the heaven, the earth, the sea and everything in them. You can look around at the glories of the universe.

God has made an awesome universe. I can see some of that wonderful universe and because I know about God’s track record in creating and maintaining the universe, I have hope.

People put their hope in things that have no track record. Or at best, a poor track record.

Where do you find your sense of hope?

If you begin to develop an attitude of praising God, then you will find that you put your hope in God, not in things that will fail you.

Finally, we should praise him because God loves us.

In our Old Testament lesson, we read, “God upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets prisoners free, the LORD gives sight to the blind, the LORD lifts up those who are bowed down, the LORD loves the righteous.”

This is a huge universe.

It amazes me that God – who made this universe and sustains this creation – pays attention to us at all.
In the grand scope of the universe, we are so insignificant.

And yet, in the heart of the creator, we are loved.

For that reason alone, we should have the attitude of praise for God.

I will finish with reading the beautiful Psalm 8  

Psalm 8 Living Bible (TLB)

8 O Lord our God, the majesty and glory of your name fills all the earth and overflows the heavens. You have taught the little children to praise you perfectly. May their example shame and silence your enemies!

When I look up into the night skies and see the work of your fingers—the moon and the stars you have made— I cannot understand how you can bother with mere puny man, to pay any attention to him!

And yet you have made him only a little lower than the angels[a] and placed a crown of glory and honor upon his head.

You have put him in charge of everything you made; everything is put under his authority: all sheep and oxen, and wild animals too, the birds and fish, and all the life in the sea. O Jehovah, our Lord, the majesty and glory of your name fills the earth."

Below is the order of service.


Order of Service

Welcome and Opening Prayer

Call to worship: Psalm 100

Hymn: 8. “All things praise the Lord most high.”

Announcements: Geoff

Bible reading: Psalm 146

Hymn: 356  “Dear Lord and Father of mankind.”



Church Prayer:

Hymn: “Give thanks with a grateful Heart”

Sermon: “Our duty of thankfulness”

Hymn: 76  “Holy,holy,Holy! Lord God Almighty”

Benediction and Vesper:  Now unto Him

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