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Knoxville, TN, United States
Interim Pastor of Evergreen Presbyterian Church (USA), Dothan, AL.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Was Jesus a Morning Person?

2016-05-22 Romans 14:1-12, Psalm 92:1-4

"Was Jesus a Morning Person?"


You know the song, Jesus in the Morning? 

Sing it with me.


Jesus, Jesus,

Jesus in the morning, Jesus at the noontime;

Jesus, Jesus,

Jesus when the sun goes down!


OK, here's the Old Testament version of that. Psalm 92.


It is good to give thanks to the Lord,

to sing praises to your name, O Most High;

to declare your steadfast love in the morning....

OK, stop right there.

Singing and declaring God's steadfast love first thing in the morning?


Maybe there are people who spring out of bed, leap to the window, throw back the curtains, and burst into joyous songs of Christian praise.

Maybe you're one of them.

You might want to keep that to yourself.


I like the morning. I really do.

It's quiet.

Even the dog is usually sedate, and for our dog, that's something.

Even he knows not to bring me toys until after I've had my coffee.


How about you?

Do you like the morning?

Do you like Jesus in the morning?

Or do you prefer him later in the day?

Do you think Jesus was an obnoxious morning person?

I just don't see it.

The writer of Psalm 92, though, this guy LOVES the morning.

He (or maybe she) embraces the rays of the morning sun like a Broadway spotlight from heaven, bursting forth in songs of praise to the Lord Most High.

In early morning, he sings for joy at the work of God's hands.

He grabs his lute, his lyre and his harp and starts jammin' in his jammies.


How grand are all your works, O Lord!

Your thoughts are very great.

The dimwits cannot know these things;

because they're not awake.


Although the wicked sprout like grass

you burn them up like toast.

The morning sun shines just for me!

I love you, God, the most!


Wouldn't she just be so great to live with?

No jury in the country would hold you responsible.

Psalm-writers were different.

Probably single.

In the real world, maybe the writer's actions didn't always match his intentions.

Even so, the psalm calls all worshipers of God to unbridled, timeless praise.

This scripture calls you and me to praise.

Big praise.

Loud praise.

Praise that starts first thing in the morning.

Praise that keeps on being sung, loudly, incessantly, all day long.


Praise all day.

Praise all night.

Praise from the choirs.

Praise from the workers.

Praise from the itty-bitty children.

Praise from the powers.

Praise from the pew-ers.



But what if?

What if you're not a morning person, but you still like Jesus and want to praise him, just quieter, under the blankets, 10 minutes later?

According to the letter to the Romans, that's OK.

According to the Apostle Paul, who wrote the letter, it doesn't matter if you leap out of bed, shouting, "This is the best day ever!"

And it doesn't matter if you roll over and pull the covers over your head for 10 or 60 more minutes.

It doesn't matter if you sing, or if you stumble into the shower muttering under your breath.

It's not about the singing.

It's not about what you do.

"Thou shalt sing praises, every day, like it or not" is not a commandment.

It's really not about your singing. Or lack of singing. Or your singing ability or lack thereof.

The Choir DOES get extra jewels in their crown, Scott, too, and Carla a whole crownful of gemstones. Diamonds. Tanzanite.


What matters is not so much how you sing, but how you see.

What matters is whether you see the day as an opportunity for praise, no matter what kind of person you are.

Morning person, night person, singing person, standing with your arms crossed during the hymns person.

And, says the Bible, there's no need to pass judgment on our brothers and sisters for these things or for anything else.


Do we see the day as a day for praise?

Or not?




In this country, in these days, on the Internet and cable news -- we're not focused on praise.

I think it's fair to say we're focused on the opposite.

Trolling, scolding, shaming, attacking, snarking, sarasti-fying.

Maybe it's just me.

Seems like everybody's looking for the worst possible in everybody else.

Could be it's just an election year.

Breathe deeply and wait for November.



We're focused on productivity.

What'd you do today?

What're you going to do today?

How many things are on your to-do list?

How many things did you check off your list?

And we've got all these tools to make us more productive.

We can talk on the phone while we're driving.

We can Snapchat each other in church.

At least, theoretically.

Your grandkids can.

It's so awesome to be alive in 2016.

Everything is awesome.

And people are yuckky.


But neither the writer of the psalm, nor the Apostle Paul measure their days by their productivity or the snappy wit of their Facebook posts.


Think about that.

They didn't care.

That's a foreign concept for most of us.

We're not used to thinking like the Bible.

We're used to thinking like... everyone else.

We measure our days, and we praise God for... the works of OUR hands.

I did this today, I posted that today, therefore it's a good day.

Praise the Lord.

If I get this done by the end of the week, if I achieve that goal, it'll be a good day.

And if we don't?

If someone gets in our way, if - perchance - the highway's under construction and we can't move....

That's a Bad day.

Bad karma.

Low achievement test scores for May 22th.


The Apostle Paul tells the Romans, who are constantly monitoring their achievements by comparing themselves to other people these words: (And see if they don't apply to you)


"We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's."


It's not about your achievements.

Your achievements can be good.

They can get you praise.

Praise is good.

It's good to matter.

Much better than antimatter.

But praise, morning praise, nighttime praise, praise of God isn't about the work of OUR hands.

The Bible tells us, praise God for the works of whose hands?

God's hands.

It's a good day, because of the works of whose hands?

God's hands.

We praise, we sing, we sleep, we wake not because of the works of our hands, but because of the works of whose hands?

God's hands.


And, here's the clincher.

And this is big.

Your life has meaning because of the work of God's hands?

Your hands, your voice, your works matter, but in the end, your life has meaning because of the work of God's hands.

Because in life and in death, you are God's work.

You are God's productivity.

You are God's song.

Morning, noontime and nighttime, you belong to the Lord.

We all do.

We ALL do.



So, Paul asks, why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister?

Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister?

Why do you say snarky things behind their backs?

Why do you post evil things about their political party affiliation?

Why do you laugh when they get what's coming to them?

For, it says, we will ALL stand before the judgment seat of God.

For it is written, 'As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.'

If that sounds rough, sorry. It's in the Bible.



Which brings us back to the Psalmist, the guy to lived to praise, early in the morning.

He praised God, but he was also kind of grumpy.

He was grumpy about the people who weren't like him, the people who didn't praise the same way, time and volume he did.

He was a little judgmental about the people who didn't want to hear his singing, any time of day.

He's a big, green grouch around the middle of the Psalm.

Psalms are like that.

They're really pretty cool.

Those guys let it all hang out, good, bad, angry, mean.

But the Psalmists also knew enough to get over themselves.

Number 92 starts out by talking about how great it is that he can rise and sing.

Then, how much he dislikes those who don't. They're toast.

But he ends the psalm singing about neither himself nor any other human being.

It ends by singing about how great God is, how God our rock and how God is our righteousness.

The psalmist knows it's not about him, not about his singing.

The song's not about how many steps of praise he can put in, in one day.

It's about God's works, and God's care.

About proclaiming in all hours that the Lord is upright, the Lord is his grounding.




However you greet the day – whether it's with a song or with a slap of the snooze bar – however you greet the day –

all your days are the work of God's hand.

Not yours.

You are the work of God's hand.

Those people around you today – and tomorrow?

They're the work of God's hand, too.

Whether that makes you want to sing for joy or moan the blues really doesn't matter.

If we live, we live to the Lord.

And if we die, we die to the Lord.

So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's.

When your alarm goes off next time, let it also be a reminder of something more than, "Hey, wake up."

Let it also be a reminder that in life and in death, in sleep and in waking, you belong to God.

We belong to God together.

You are the Lord's.

And not the other way around.

Praise God almighty for that.