10/29/06, P21B

“Magnifying the Lord”
Psalm 34: 1-8

1I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad.
3O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together.
4I sought the Lord, and he answered me, and delivered me from all my fears.
5Look to him, and be radiant; so your faces shall never be ashamed.
6This poor soul cried, and was heard by the Lord, and was saved from every trouble.
7The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.
8O taste and see that the Lord is good; happy are those who take refuge in him.

ast year Billy Graham was interviewed by Oprah Winfrey. Oprah told him that in her childhood home, she used   to watch him preach on a little black and white TV while sitting on a linoleum floor.

She told the viewers that in his lifetime Billy has preached directly to twenty-million people around the world, not to mention the countless millions who have heard him whenever his crusades are broadcast. When she asked if he got nervous before facing a crowd, Billy replied humbly, "No, I don't get nervous before crowds, but I did today before I was going to meet with you."  Oprah's show is broadcast to twenty-million people every day.

When the interview ended, she told the audience, "You don't often see this on my show, but we're going to pray." Then she asked Billy to close in prayer. The camera panned the studio audience as they bowed their heads and closed their eyes just as in one of his crusades. Oprah sang the first line from the song that is his hallmark "Just as I am, without a plea," misreading the line and singing off'-key, but her voice was full of emotion and almost cracked.

When Billy stood up after the show, instead of hugging her guest, as is Oprah's usual custom, she went over and just nestled against him. Billy wrapped his arm around her and pulled her under his shoulder. She stood in his fatherly embrace with a look of sheer contentment.

How are we being called to magnify the LORD?

When I was about six years old my parents took me along to the Graham Dairy Farm for a committee meeting with Billy’s mother in the outskirts of Charlotte. I do not precisely recall but the meeting may have had something to do with young Billy’s next Carolina Crusade. My parents already knew that Billy

Graham was going to magnify the Lord in a major way. I have been a Billy Graham supporter nearly all of my life. In the early 70’s his Atlanta Crusade drew the largest crowds during the history of the now demolished Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. He out drew the Braves World Series. I was able to meet him at a kick off breakfast for clergy and related to him how I met his wonderful mother when I was just a child. Most agree that Billy Graham has been the most effective magnifier of the Lord in our age.

Many who have criticized his conservative theology have later had to say that he has made a major impact on the world in Jesus’ name. It seemed to effect little Oprah listening to him over the radio on a linoleum kitchen floor. We will never know how many of her fans took another look at our LORD as a result of Oprah’s story about how much Billy’s Graham’s LORD has meant in her life.

So, is there a way in which we can magnify the LORD?

Bethlehem, our huge Outdoor Drama of the Birth of Christ is coming up December first, second and third. Seven thousand people of all ages will be our guests and we need our membership to continue to support this ministry which is our major outreach to the community. We need to shout from the housetops that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem to save us from our sins!

Another way that you can magnify the LORD is by being a positive spokesperson for your church. Tell everybody that you know that we are feeling the spirit of new life in our church and invite them to visit with you. Most new members say that they were originally invited by a friend, co-worker or neighbor. Inviting your friends is the most natural and cost-effective way that we can magnify the LORD of our church. We all are already talking a lot, so let us bring Jesus into the conversation. Tell folks how wonderful your LORD is in your daily life.

Magnify means to enlarge beyond current boundaries. It means to increase and to give the clarion call.  Magnify can also mean to glorify or praise. Here again that is best done one on one by you to a friend, neighbor, or family members.

Talented musicians are often referred to as persons who “Magnify the LORD,” in song or with their instruments. Sometimes famous athletes, or popular personalities, can magnify Jesus Christ through their public opportunities.  There are a growing number of contemporary Christian authors within our popular culture who are able to share a positive statement in their media or in their interviews.

Of course, our media witness might turn out like that of the Yogi Berra story about an opposing batter who always crossed himself when he entered the batter’s box. Someone asked the Yankee Catcher if he thought it helped a batter to hit better, Yogi said, “Yeah, if he can hit!”

Actually, Yogi’s fame gave him a forum after his active career to share how much Christ had meant to his family and how he, and his wife, had established a medical clinic in Jesus’ name.

Some define our text as meaning that we are to magnify the Lord only in worship and praise. This can actually be a wonderful spiritual aspect of our worship. Through uplifting Christian hymns, choir music, the playing of instruments, the Pipe Organ, the guitar, we can have our hearts lifted above the mundane of life. Worship is God’s gift to us as we offer our best to Him. As we magnify the Spirit with open hearts we create an electrifying atmosphere in which worshipers can feel their faith being bolstered. Sermons fall flat whenever they do not at least aim at magnifying the LORD.

Let us close by reading our text again, as we magnify the LORD!

a sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor
10/29/06, P21B