Message from the Pastor

A message and prayers based on Psalm 145:1-3, 8-21 and Matthew 20:1-16 shared on Sunday Sept. 20, 2020 by Pastor George Paraskevopoulos

Let us look to God’s Word

Psalm 145[a]

A psalm of praise. Of David.

I will exalt you, my God the King;
    I will praise your name for ever and ever.
Every day I will praise you
    and extol your name for ever and ever.

Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise;
    his greatness no one can fathom.

The Lord is gracious and compassionate,
    slow to anger and rich in love.

The Lord is good to all;
    he has compassion on all he has made.
10 All your works praise you, Lord;
    your faithful people extol you.
11 They tell of the glory of your kingdom
    and speak of your might,
12 so that all people may know of your mighty acts
    and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
    and your dominion endures through all generations.

The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises
    and faithful in all he does.[c]
14 The Lord upholds all who fall
    and lifts up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you,
    and you give them their food at the proper time.
16 You open your hand
    and satisfy the desires of every living thing.

17 The Lord is righteous in all his ways
    and faithful in all he does.
18 The Lord is near to all who call on him,
    to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him;
    he hears their cry and saves them.
20 The Lord watches over all who love him,
    but all the wicked he will destroy.

21 My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord.
    Let every creature praise his holy name
    for ever and ever.

Matthew 20:1-16

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

20 “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. He agreed to pay them a denarius[a] for the day and sent them into his vineyard.

“About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing. He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’ So they went.

“He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing. About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’

“‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered.

“He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’

“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’

“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius. 10 So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius. 11 When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner. 12 ‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’

13 “But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? 14 Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. 15 Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’

16 “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

Opening Prayer

We thank you, Heavenly Father, that you have answered us and have become our salvation through the human pilgrimage of Jesus Christ—doing good, healing the sick, suffering unjustly, dying bravely, and rising victoriously.  Show us by the faithfulness with which Jesus accomplished your will how we too may live gracefully under pressure.  Teach us by his example, when darkness and difficulty befall us, to gather our best friends around us and share our love as Jesus did in the Garden but most importantly to reach out to you with steadfast faith.  And we shall praise you forever through Christ our Lord who taught us to pray saying,

Our Father, who art in heaven,

Hallowed be thy name

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done

On earth as it is in heaven 

Give us this day our daily bread

And forgive us our trespasses

As we forgive those who trespass against us

Lead us not into temptation

But deliver us from evil

 For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen.

 Qualities of God I find Amazing!

Introduction: I love the hymn, My Saviour’s Love. Let me share the first verse for you. “I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene and wonder how He could love me a sinner condemned unclean. How marvelous! How wonderful! And my song shall ever be: How marvelous! How wonderful! Is my savior’s love for me!” I feel and share the hymn writer’s sentiments in that I stand amazed in the presence of my God and my Savior Jesus Christ today. There are many attributes of God that I find amazing. Let me highlight three!!!

I. I Stand Amazed at the Greatness of God

a) God reveals how great He truly is by the works He does. We can’t even search how great His greatness is. In Psalm 145:3, David said of God, “His greatness is unsearchable.”  We don’t have a good enough search engine to search all of the wonderful works God has done. Google can’t catalogue all that God has accomplished. The word for “great” in this verse means powerful, important, or great in size. The Psalmist says that God is so incredibly huge and powerful that we don’t even have the capacity with our little finite brains to take Him all in. I believe the slang word for large these days is ginormous – friends God is ginormous. The hymn writer captured this great truth in the chorus of the familiar hymn, “How Great Thou art!” “Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee How great Thou art, how great Thou art, Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee, How great Thou art, how great Thou art.” The psalmist David makes the claim that he will submit to God. David, the king of Israel, submits himself to God as his king. He praises God in this psalm because he knows from personal experience that His God is the greatest.

illust. A boy asked his father, “Dad, what is the size of God? How big is He?”

The Father looked up at the sky and saw a little plane in the far distance and asked his son, “What is the size of the plane in the sky?”

The boy replied, “It is really small. I can hardly see it in the sky."

Then, the father said, “Son, let’s go on a trip to the airport. I want to show you something.”

The boy jumped in his father’s truck and off they went to the airport.

As they approached the plane, the father asked his son: “Now, son, how big is this plane?”

The boy looked at the airplane and said, “Wow, Dad, that plane is huge! It’s a lot bigger than that plane in the sky, isn’t it?”

Then the father put his arm around his son and said, “Son, God’s size is like this plane. It is the same one you saw in the sky from a distance and it looked so small. God’s size depends on how close or how far you are to him. The closer you are……the bigger God looks!”

b)Here in the opening verses of this psalm, David shows us that praise requires great thoughts of God and great thoughts of God fuel our praise. Notice the logic — great is the Lord and most worthy of praise. That means that our praise is tied to our view of who God is. If we believe that God is great, it moves us to great praise, but if our hearts have low views of Him, if we lack appreciation of His greatness, it will lead to a lack of praise and worship. I stand amazed at the greatness of God.  The one who is huge and almighty and all powerful yet gentle and kind, the one who made this world and the one who made us and worthy of our praise

c) Did you know that praise like love is one of those activities that we’re called to do now that we’ll continue doing in eternity. The apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:13, “And now these three remain, faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.” We pray now, but there will be a time when our prayers will no longer be needed. We believe, but there shall be a time when our faith will be lost in sight when we see Him face to face. We hope but a time is coming when what we hope for will come to glorious fruition. But, praise is with us now and will continue in heaven. We are to praise God “every day” regardless of how our day looks. When we’re up and everything looks good, we’re to praise Him. And, when we’re down and things look dark, we’re still to praise Him. Every day is a new opportunity to praise God simply because we know along with the psalmist that He is a great God.

II. I stand amazed at the Grace of God

a) If you look in verses 8 and 9 you will recognize that the words that David speaks in praise of God's compassion here come almost verbatim out of Exodus 34:6.  It's the passage when Moses says, “Lord, reveal Yourself to me. I want to see You, Lord.” It's the passage where the Lord passes in front of Moses but He shows him only His back and He says to him almost verbatim these words. “I am God, merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. I am good to all and My mercy is over all that I have made.” Almost verbatim David is quoting that great scene from Moses. In other words, David is saying here that God's grace and His mercy and His patience and His loving-kindness and His goodness ought to be praised. When Moses asked to see what God was like, the Lord said, “This is what I'm like. I'm gracious and merciful and slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.” You see this central attribute of God, His grace, His mercy, His patience, His lovingkindness, His goodness, His compassion ought to be praised. No wonder the apostle John said, “God is love.” And David says if you understand that you’ll praise God for who He is — His love and His compassion.

b) Asked to define grace, author Philip Yancey put it this way: I don’t even try. Jesus talked a lot about grace, but mainly through stories. Yancey continues, I remember once getting stuck in Los Angeles traffic and arriving 58 minutes late at the Hertz rental desk. I walked up in kind of a bad mood, put the keys down and said, “How much do I owe?” The woman says, “Nothing. You’re all clear.” I said I was late and she smiled, “Yes, but there’s a one-hour grace period.” So I asked, “Oh really, what is grace?” And she said, “I don’t know.... I guess what it means is that even though you’re supposed to pay, you don’t have to. Did you hear that? “Even though you’re supposed to pay, you don’t have to.”  Listen again to how the Psalmist put it but in a different translation, “The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and great in faithful love. The Lord is good to everyone; His compassion rests on all He has made.” (Psalm 145:8–9, HCSB) God shows that He is good not just by His great works, but also by His love. He is good to everyone, showing compassion, and grace. When it comes to your relationship to God as an individual, to our relationship with God as a church, what would you say is our greatest need? What is it, above anything else that we need as we approach God? What is at the top of the list for prime importance? I will tell you, because I know the answer! It is grace. It is compassion.  It is mercy.  It is to be looked upon by God, not as we deserve to be looked upon, but looked upon favourably. That is what grace is. It is a greater need than any other.  Because without it, we can never ever come close to God – we can never ever seek his face, we can never ever depend upon him and call him our Father. We need grace.  We need mercy. Mercy is at the heart of the Christian faith. Listen to what the apostle Paul says about our salvation in Ephesians 2.4. “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” God is not just merciful – he is rich in mercy! 

c) We see the surprising grace of God demonstrated by Jesus in the parable He shares in our gospel today from Matthew 20 about the labourers in the vineyard.  It's a parable warning us to watch your heart. Watch out that you don't get an attitude that says, "Hey, I've done all this. What are you going to do for me, Lord? There are some still living today as those first labourers and are still approaching life asking, “What then shall we have?” It is easy to identify with the grumbling guys who worked sunup to sundown, through the heat of the day, and then watched in amazement as some slackers who worked for one measly hour, in the cool of the approaching evening no less, got paid a full day’s wage. Of course the full day worker EXPECTS more. Of course the full day worker SHOULD get more. It is only fair. More work should equal more wages. ”Hard work pays off.” That is why the parable in today’s gospel text is so unsettling and surprising at the same time. In Jesus’ story of the kingdom those who worked 6 am to 6pm got the same dusty denarius that the 5pm-6pm workers got. How is that fair? It’s not. But Jesus’ parable is not about the human category of “fairness.” It is about the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom that is wholly under God’s rule. I believe Jesus shared this parable to help us notice this about God and that is that God is more interested in why you do than what you do. He's interested in your motive. Motive is huge. And the Scripture says, "Wait until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men's heart. And then each man's praise will come to him from God.”(1 Cor. 4:5). God looks at motive. God looks at the heart. And how does God want you to be motivated? Not by "have to." He wants you to be motivated by "want to." He wants you to be motivated by love, that you love Him. You're willing to do whatever He says. Why? Because you love Him, that's the greatest commandment, to love the Lord with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, all your mind. The greatest privilege in life is to serve the Lord, to be in His vineyard serving Him and to do it for His pleasure. From a kingdom of God perspective this makes sense.

I stand amazed at God’s Greatness and goodness and grace and thirdly…

III. I stand amazed at God’s wise governance 

a) When we speak of the governance of God we are saying something about God’s rule and reign. That His rule is supreme and can be trusted.  Notice how David in Psalm 145 puts it in verses 10 & 11. David says God reigns and so He must be praised.  Look at what he says here. “All Your works shall give thanks to You, O LORD, and all Your saints shall bless You! They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom and tell of Your power, make known to the children of man Your mighty deeds, and the glorious splendor of Your kingdom. Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and Your dominion endures throughout all generations.” God is over all because He made everything. All of creation will praise Him and His saints, that’s you and I, will exalt Him as number one in our lives. God has no rivals. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and we should live in light of this fact. As we praise Him for His works around us, we will go on to bless Him for his works within us. David says I praise God because He reigns. He has an everlasting kingdom. His kingdom will not end; it will go on forever and ever. Earthly kingdoms come and go; God's kingdom goes on. Even David's earthly kingdom would come to an end, but God's kingdom will never ever come to an end. And this moves David to praise. But not everyone is comfortable with a God who reigns, who is in control or a God who calls the shots! 

  Illust. I remember reading about a boss who was complaining in a staff meeting one day that he wasn't getting the respect he felt he should. Later that morning he went to a local sign shop and bought a small sign that read: "I'm the Boss!" He then taped it to his office door.  Later that day when he returned from lunch, he found that someone had taped a note to the sign that said: "Your wife called, she wants her sign back!"

b) All kidding aside, why wouldn’t we want to give God the respect He deserves?  Why wouldn’t we want to trust our lives to a God who knows us better than we even know ourselves? I can’t think of someone better to be my boss, can you? David knows it. He says in the closing verses of this psalm that God helps the fallen, feeds His creatures, answers prayer, and protects His own, and therefore He should be praised. “The LORD is faithful to all his promises and loving toward all he has made.” (v. 13).  That's a verse to remember. Notice David has taken us on journey of praise for God in this psalm and in the first 19 verses not once does he mention the word wicked, but we were expecting it, right? We were expecting it because if you’re going to praise God for protecting us there's got to be somebody to protect you from. And there it is in verse 20: “The LORD watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.” And then he concludes with a promise that He is making to God and you see that promise in verse 21. “My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD.”

Conclusion: So like the song says, “I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus”.  Why?  Because He is a great God.  God is a giving and gracious God.  God is a wise ruler and He is the kind of God I can trust my life to and that is why I want to praise Him with all of my heart.

Let’s Pray: Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your Word. We thank You that supremely Your Word is a Word from You to us about Yourself. It reveals who You are and what You’re like and what You have done and are doing and will do. It reveals Your way of salvation. It reveals Your attributes, Your character, Your providence, Your rule, Your purposes, Your Savior, Your Gospel, Your grace. And so as we give attention to You this day, we pray that great thoughts of You will continue to lead us to great praise of You, in Jesus' name I pray, amen.


My Saviour’s Love: